Filipinos, is that all you got?

We tend to laud Pinoys who make it big with their talents and capabilities and make it known to the world that we can do something big. Yet the selection of talents is very limited. Obvious example is Lea Salonga who’s an internationally renowned singer, along with Charice Pempengco. Same with APL of Black Eyed Peas and Jasmine Trias. Arnel Pineda who joined Journey is so celebrated today, especially with his recent rendition of the Philippine National Anthem at the Pacquiao-Clottey bout. Of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao himself in boxing, and Bata Reyes and Django Bustamante in billiards. There’s Efren Penaflorida, whose CNN award can be considered controversial, but Pinoys make a fiesta of it nonetheless.

But besides this, we hear little of other Filipinos who are lauded abroad… and rarely other kinds of achievements than those mentioned here.

Not that I’m disparaging the people above. I agree that they have helped put our country on the map. But the question needs to be asked: is that all we’ve got?

It’s always a Filipino boxer, singer, dancer, actor, sportsman or similar who becomes known. They’re always in the showbiz, sports or performing arts fields. Famous Filipinos come from really narrowed sectors in life. We have never heard of a Filipino biotechnologist, nuclear physicist, international poverty researcher, sci-fi or fantasy writer or anything else, something other than what is popular. Heck, Filipina porn stars are a lot more well-known too.

Of course, one can say that the Philippine science and technology fields are so neglected. But who cares in this country? Most Filipinos want to be famous entertaining or punching somebody while raking in the money, instead of finding a cure for AIDS or submitting a program for solving poverty in his home country. And those Filipinos who are trying to find a cure for AIDS or solving poverty, seem to be pushed into the background or out of the country.

This seems like shameless plugging, but I’d like to use myself as an example. Back in 2002, I joined a Yahoo group on science fiction writing where I later found a publisher calling for submissions. I dropped in some of my short stories, and thus Gate Way Publishers came out with my short story collection, SFRP2003. I’m not really earning much from this. But it is one achievement I feel proud of. This is because it’s something different from a singer or boxer. But that sad part is that it hasn’t created waves in the world. Anyway, I do presume Filipinos care less about one of their own being a science-fiction writer than a singer. But I sure wish there were other Filipinos doing the same thing I do here.

Can someone else worth mentioning step up to the challenge and be famous for something else than being a singer, boxer or book kariton-pusher (or anything as common as those)? But then again, I mean that this person should only be doing their job right, and not just trying to draw attention to themselves (reportedly the book kariton-pusher was). Fellow Filipinos laud someone else and then ride on their popularity to boost their own ego. They will go for the pretty-faced entertainer or sportsman who’s always the favorite of bettors.

Finding renowned Filipinos around is sadly marred by some hoaxes. That Flores invented the fluorescent lamp is a hoax. I searched and found the name Irene Mora, supposedly the first Filipino astronaut, but even this was declared a hoax. Tsk. Even in such a thing, deceit is used to try and make Pinoys famous.

So far, my own choices for praise include Filipino comic book artists Fred Carillos and Whilce Portacio, who excelled in comic book drawing in the U.S. Even Rex Navarette (maker of “Maritess and the Superfiends”) seems pretty laudable as a stand-up comedian and. Jo Koy had recently been featured in this blog. But there’s more than just performers. There’s a Filipina F-16 fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force named Monessa Catuncan, and there’s General Edward Soriano in the U.S. Army. But I wonder if these guys are well known compared to Efren, Lea or Pacquiao. In addition, we have to move beyond these.

Lately, I’ve discovered Marni Eusebio Cueno, one of our UP Los Banos graduates who have gone abroad for greener pastures. But his search for these pastures has led to a nobler goal: finding a cure for AIDS. He’s researching on using plant matter as a source for AIDS vaccines. He enjoined another Filipino scientist, Antonio C. Laurena, in this. They may not be good in singing (I assume) nor are they ragingly famous as Anjanette Abayari and Charice… but they sure deserve more exposure because of their goal. Should they succeed, wouldn’t that raise the bar for Filipino fame?

We have though the shadow of infamous Filipinos to break out of. Ferdinand Marcos is listed as one of the “Killers of the 20th Century,” and there are many who would agree. Wife Imelda is most known internationally for her 3,000 pairs of shoes, televised on international TV in 1986. Versace killer Andrew Cunanan may be less known to home countrymen, but not to Versace fans and family (There’s even a musical about him!). Negative images exist of Filipinos around the world that we should try to break.

I still believe the void is big for a Pinoy who’ll make it big in something else than the usual. But it’s an even bigger void for the people who believe that Filipinos should excel more in singing, dancing and boxing, and less in finding an AIDS cure or being a fighter pilot, or finding viable alternative energy resources. We sure have lots of potential choices not just in the country, but as OFWs around the world as well. They should be given the chance to shine beyond the mere generic brand name “OFWs”.

Who the Filipinos appreciate is a reflection of their rather primitive aspirations in life as a culture. It’s time to raise the standards of these aspirations.


About ChinoFern

Just another nobody on the Internet who believes even nobodies should have a voice... because the Internet provides that.
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39 Responses to Filipinos, is that all you got?

  1. prEttyNDistress says:

    You forgot to mention “the most trusted politician” according to Reader’s Digest….

    I’m just kidding!! Don’t shoot me!!! hahahahaha……..

  2. Bert says:

    I always find it odd how Filipinos react to criticisms. You don’t have to get angry and worsen the situation in calling attention to yourselves by exchanging racist slurs. If foreigners say we’re mediocre, then we should just keep our mouths shut and work hard at becoming great. I remember what the legendary Lee Kuan Yew said when asked if he was ever bothered by Caucasians calling him a “chink” during his University years in the UK. He said something to this effect (not the exact words): “I am not bothered by such name-calling. I made it my motivation, however, to strive to one day give that name a better meaning.” And look how Singapore catapulted itself to First World standards, in spite all the obstacles like lack of natural resources and hostile neighbors. These days, the word “chink” doesn’t doesn’t pack that much of a derogatory punch. Nowadays, when China sneezes (i.e. starts moving around their more than $1 trillion reserves), the entire Western World takes notice. That’s how a progressive people should behave.

    Don’t trifle with your time. What you do most of the time is bound to be what you’re going to be good at. Likewise, the reverse is true. No wonder we’re good at singing, dancing, hustling in billiard halls, putting a ball in a hole, exchanging insults, and punching people for stealing your turn at the microphone when Sinatra’s “My Way” starts playing.

  3. brianitus says:

    Hi. I totally dig what you’re trying to point out. You can also blame traditional media for feeding the public the regular fare – what sells. Marry that idea with a public that does not know better or less discerning…and you get the Philippines of today, where heroes are for entertainment..

    Anyway, I’ll share some of my other thoughts on why we’re at a wall.

    If there is one thing that I see lacking, it’s the “sense of empowerment” among the Pinoys. How to attain that on a national scale, i do not know. The way I understand it, a greater sense of empowerment will allow us to wean ourselves from the shallow understanding of the “idols” of today — regardless of their field. Take away the “loser” and “victim” mentality and you will understand the Pinoy “heroes” of today as just ordinary Pinoys who chose to empower themselves to reach their current stature. The desire to do has to be firmly implanted in the national psyche. It isn’t just hope that we need.

    Sadly, the role of idols and heroes in this country appear to have been relegated to positions fit only for posters. People forgot that they can be “heroes” in their own right, too. In my thoughts, if we only look at our chosen idols and heroes, not emulate them, we will all amount to nothing.

    I remember telling an old boss of mine how much I admired his style of work and thinking. He asked me this question: “So WHEN will you be like me?” He didn’t say I couldn’t. It’s all a matter of WHEN I will do it.


    • ChinoF says:

      Sorry for the late reply, but I just got to read this in full only now. A remarkably big lot of sense you’ve made. Media, lack of sense of empowerment and victim mentality. And you got it, I’m still waiting for the “hero” who’ll say that… “So WHEN will you be like me?” I guess all the so-called fans actually want is, “we don’t want to be like you, we want to ride on you.” 😛

  4. Bert says:

    By the way, ChinoF, there is one very unheralded Filipino who’s actually a very respected name in the field of Evolutionary Biology in the US. Check out the name Dr. Michael Purugganan. Quote: “Dr. Michael Purugganan received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines (1985), an M.A. from Columbia University (1986) and a Ph.D. in Botany with a Global Policy minor at the University of Georgia (1993). After obtaining his Ph.D., he did postdoctoral research as an Alfred P. Sloan Molecular Evolution Fellow at the University of California in San Diego, studying the evolution of development (1993-1995). Dr. Purugganan is a leader in the field of Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics and his work focuses on identifying the molecular basis for evolutionary adaptations that occur in nature.”

    I managed to catch an opportunity to hear him talk last year, here in the Philippines, for the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday. You can imagine the uneasiness of some in the audience who were religious Fundamentalists (* I think you are aware that Darwin’s Theory doesn’t sit well with these people because they think it contradicts the creation story of the Bible). I do wonder if there will come a day when Filipinos slowly drop superstition and embrace science and critical thinking.

    • HusengBatute says:

      It is unfortunate that Pinoys would rather build their pride on boxing, singing, cheap entertainment, or the like instead of on profound breakthroughs in pursuits, like your example, that elevate the rest of humankind to new heights and which may even usher a new era in civilization.

      In my book, Dr Michael Purugganan has done far more than Manny Pacquiao to prove that Pinoys are more than just the “niggers of Asia” (who just box, rap, entertain, open their legs wide for a buck or passport, and wake their neighbors up through karaoke showdowns.)

      The reaction we should make out of Adam Carolla’s comments should be one of reflection and realization, and not mindless protestation. Pinoys are in for a surprise if they think collective outcry rather than genuine improvement would keep more comments like those from being generated elsewhere.

  5. ChinoF says:

    Bang bang! Oops, that’s a water pistol, hehehe.

    Agreed, media is one of the culprits in creating a false image of “heroes,” creating an unnecessary need for “heroes” and for narrowing Filipino perceptions of how they should be famous. We Antipinoy bloggers recognize the role media plays in dumbing down our society.

    Thanks for mentioning that guy. True, he’ll be black sheep for being a supporter of evolutionary theory, but being eminent in a science field is so important. At least mentioning Dr. Purugganan here is a start. 🙂

  6. Mike Portes says:

    We just love to bet on Pacquiao, vote for Peñaflorida and adore Lea Salonga but FAIL TO EMULATE and REALIZE THAT THEY ARE PRODUCTS OF HARD WORK and DISCIPLINE

    • brianitus says:

      Just by emulating these three, you’ll be one heck of a Pinoy.

      You’ll have an awesome combo: the tiyaga to teach like Efren P; the sweet voice of Lea so people will listen; Pacman’s fists if they don’t.


  7. Mike Portes says:

    Oh you forgot to mention what the government did to Daniel Dingle’s great invention.
    “water-powered cars and the harnessing of ocean waves to generate power – which are now a reality in other countries – if the government authorities paid due attention to the local inventors who first discovered the technologies for these alternatives to expensive oil as early as the 1980s.”

    • ricelander says:

      Thanks for the link. I was trying to recall the name.

    • ChinoF says:

      I was looking for this info too. Man, Dingel has a blog now! He needs it. Thanks for this link too.

    • rafterman says:

      Daniel Dingel’s Water Car is a Hoax…

      Inventor, 82, gets 20 years for ‘estafa’

      By Allison Lopez
      Philippine Daily Inquirer
      First Posted 03:11:00 12/20/2008

      Filed Under: Crime, Automotive Equipment

      MANILA, Philippines—Daniel Dingel, 82-year-old inventor of a “water-powered car,” has been convicted of “estafa” [swindling] and sentenced to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court.

      The court also ordered him to pay $380,000 in actual damages.

      Dingel, who has never revealed the secret to his invention, which he began in 1969, questioned the verdict but said he did not mind going to jail at his age. As of late Friday, he remained at large.

      “‘Hindi ko naman kailangan ng pera’ [I don’t need the money],” he said. “I had bigger offers but I never took them. I never asked the government for a single centavo … I just want to help.”

      Dingel was found guilty of taking $410,000 from Dr. John Ding Young of Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese company, which gave it to him as research and development funds.

      The decision, written by Judge Rolando How of the court’s Branch 257 and released on Dec. 9, said Dingel defrauded Young when the inventor failed to fulfill his obligation of developing his “hydrogen reactor” and creating experimental cars in 2000.

      Veteran lawyer Frank Chavez, who was approached by Dingel on Friday, said he would immediately appeal the court decision before it became final on Christmas Eve.

      “I am taking up his case and will see to it that his conviction is reversed,” Chavez said. “Mankind will benefit from his invention … How will we know his secret if we put him behind bars?”

      Chavez, a former solicitor general, said he was impressed when he rode Dingel’s “water-powered” Toyota Corolla sedan.

      Preliminary understanding

      In his testimony to the court, Young said his group eagerly approached Dingel in November 2000 after hearing that he had discovered a way to extract hydrogen from ordinary water to power his 1996 Toyota Corolla.

      The unique device — a “hydrogen reactor” resembling a 12-volt battery — impressed the Taiwanese when Dingel demonstrated how it powered and fueled the car’s engine. They were also told that fuel from water had clean emissions as it did not produce carbon the way gasoline did.

      Convinced that the invention was genuine, Young and his group drew up a broad outline and signed a “preliminary understanding” with Dingel for several projects.

      On Nov. 30, 2000, the inventor flew to the Formosa Plastics Group headquarters in Taipei and received $30,000 in goodwill money and $20,000 for research and development after signing a joint venture agreement.

      No replies

      Young said Dingel asked for $300,000 to buy three cars to be used as prototypes for the invention when he returned to the Philippines.

      He said that after receiving the money by wire transfer, Dingel avoided replying to his emails on the progress of the project and instead sent copies of letters from other foreign investors offering Dingel larger sums of money.

      Young said that in September 2001 Dingel declined to sign the amended agreement when he was asked to go to Taipei to discuss mutual concerns on the project.

      Young said he kept his end of the bargain by sending another $60,000 in additional funds for R&D as stated in the joint venture agreement.

      He said it was then that Dingel began ignoring his communications. He said he sent demand letters for the return of $410,000 were but Dingel did not give the amount back.


      In his defense, Dingel said he backed out of talks with the Taiwanese after he was pressured to divulge details of his project, which he said he refused to do to protect his invention.

      Dingel said that after touring the plant in Taipei he was invited to become the company’s consultant and was asked to tour Formosa Plastics Group plants in Texas. He said he declined for fear for his life.

      “‘Tumanggi ako kasi alam ko may pinatay na imbentor ng water-fueled car’ [I declined because I know another inventor of a water-fueled car had been murdered],” he said, referring to Stan Meyer, who allegedly received threats from oil companies and was allegedly poisoned in 1998 because of his pioneering invention.

      Dingel admitted signing the joint agreement but said he did not know what he was signing at the time. He said an envelope containing $30,000 was given to him in appreciation of his consultancy work and $300,000 was remitted to him only as an incentive for submitting his drawings and designs.

      The court found Dingel guilty of misappropriating the funds he received from Formosa Plastics Group.

      Judge How said Dingel admitting that he received the funds and documentary evidence from Yung, such as the joint venture agreement, showed that the funds were given for “specific purposes.”

      “Mr. Dingel did not use the money for the purpose it was intended,” the court decision said. “…He excused himself from producing or developing the prototypes allegedly after entertaining the notion that his invention would be stolen. Since he thought of it, he should have returned the money to Dr. Young and told the latter to forget his invention.”

      The decision said that instead of returning the money, Dingel withdrew $375,603.89 from his bank account and left only $500.

      “He admitted withdrawing the money after learning that a suit had been filed against him,” it said. “His act of immediately withdrawing the money indicated bad faith on his part.”

      Judge How said Dingel failed to support with evidence his claim that he had earned the money and therefore had no obligation to return it.

      He said Dingel’s reasoning that he did not read the joint venture agreement before signing it was “too flimsy to be given an ounce of consideration.”

      “He did not purchase the three cars, [he] did not work on his research and [he] did not develop the invention … Mr. Dingel’s misappropriation of the money has no doubt resulted to damage and prejudice of Dr. Young and the FPG in the sum of $380,000,” the decision said.

      In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dingel said he was still willing to sell his biggest secret — on condition that the buyer would hire 200 Filipinos and their families.

      He said the royalties to be paid to him would go to a foundation he would set up for the poor.

      The Department of Science and Technology has dismissed Dingel’s invention as a hoax. Edited by

      • ChinoF says:

        Ah yes, I had heard it was considered a hoax. Then later on someone else comes in and says it isn’t, then another comes in and says it is, then it isn’t, then it is, then it isn’t, then it is, etc.. Anyway, if it wasn’t a hoax, we’d have been using the cars a long time ago.

  8. ilda says:

    It seems to me that majority of Filipinos just want to be famous and wealthy. They don’t really want to do or create things that will actually help the community without thinking of fame or without thinking of the monetary rewards first.

    I noticed that we are also a nation of quick fixes. We want to see results happening overnight. Meaning, if something is so hard to do and would take years to build, we don’t want to do it. Hence, we don’t have a lot of innovators. We’d rather be dancers, singers and actors, occupation that are easy to do and pays a lot of money. Problem is, there are only a handful of Filipinos who are world class in this department

    How to become a successful Filipino

    • ChinoF says:

      You got that right. Wrong goals in life. All thanks to our corrupt and self-seeking media. Local shows that portray poor/dumb=good and rich/intelligent=bad, and shows that promote mediocrity like Wowowee. Plus our conservative culture that promotes form over substance and resists change in anything, even for the better. There’s a lot to combat in our backward culture.

    • ChinoF says:

      Onga pala, doesn’t that harken back to your other comment that Filipinos are generally insecure? It’s coming out in their wishes. They want fame and glory thinking these are sources of security.

      Also, quick fixes and wanting to be famous and wealthy shows that Filipinos always want the easy way out. They do want to avoid hard work (or even smart work), and be comfortable without working. You got it right there. Please read Ilda’s article linked above, folks.

  9. miguel says:

    hindi naman natin kasi hinahanap yung mga kilala sa buong mundo na pinoy pahtologist or pinoy na pinaka magaling sa sabong…. kung nasaan ang reach ng utak hanggang dun lang ang kita… kaya ka nga nagreresearch eh… hindi nawawala ang galing ng pinoy, dumadami lang ang ginagawa natin sa pagpapagaling kaya hindi natin nakikita ang iba pang nagpapagaling sa ibang larangan… media lang naman yun eh, kung maTV ka e ang putok ay boksing ang ipapalabas nila e yung mga bayani ng boksing, pero kung gusto mo magsulat may palanca awards din naman na kinikilala ang mga bayaning manunulat…. makakadating ka din dun…

    • ChinoF says:

      You have a point. Pero yun nga… magreresearch pa. Maganda pa sana na may kilalang Pinoy sa ibang larangan bukod sa pagkakanta at pagsasayaw (o kahit pulitika) na di na kailangan ng research para kilalanin.

  10. miguel says:

    yung kay marcos pala, crack down yun ng NPA na napagusapan ng buong estado (mga militar, mga senador, mga congressmen, mga businessmen at kungsino-sino pa(isipin mo bakit hindi natigil yun hanggang ngayon!)) kailangan gawin. tas dagdag ko yung si Onel de Guzman yung sa “I LOVE YOU” virus Reomel Ramones… tapos chong sino yung pinaka kilalalang tao sa Bosnia and Herzegovina?…

    • ChinoF says:

      Bosnia and Herzegovina? Alam ko sila Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic saka Ratko Mladic yan a. Bakit, may Filipino pa ba sa gera diyan?

    • Jay says:

      The “I love you virus” creator isn’t really a huge deal when you think about it. Yeah sure he’s working with the US government now since the Philippine government wasn’t interested in his services anyway. Besides, making viruses for Windows Systems is so child’s play.

  11. J.B. says:

    One great thing that Filipinos did that is truly “remarkable” is that they bring their “hambog” everywhere. This attribute actually spare them from taking anti-depressant medication because they have away of fighting the onslaught of loneliness when planted overseas.

    There should be a national awarding among us Filipinos — the most “hambog”. It”s very powerful and effective psychological weapon. Perhaps advanced nations whose citizens suffer from depression should learn a thing or two from us.

    • ChinoF says:

      I’m doubtful though that this is uniquely Filipino. 😉 Anyone with common sense and strength of heart and other traits can do this. I wonder though if this applies to Filipino OFWs who, after enduring a long time away from their spouse, decide to strike up an affair (all they wanted is sex, not the spouse pala, hehehe).

      • J.B. says:

        Other nations have tall poppy syndrome but I don’t think it is comparable to Filipinos hambog in terms of degree. I know a lot of our countrymen squaring off on the streets of developed countries yelling to others “alam ko na yong mga baho nyo”. I haven’t heard something similar with other races.

  12. Bert says:

    rafterman, it’s a good thing that you brought up that overlooked article: “Daniel Dingel’s Water Car is a Hoax.” There’s science and there’s pseudo-science. And in the Philippines, we have a lot of the latter. We have a lot of these so-called inventors of many snake oils that’s purported to cure a whole gamut of ailments, from cancer to arthritis. We also have inventors of “fuel-saving” devices, which has been conclusively busted in the Mythbusters show. We even used to be known for psychic surgeons. These are charlatans, in case you didn’t know. A lot of foreigners got duped into these fraudulent treatments and many of them ended up returning home to die. Famous people who got duped into psychic surgery was Andy Kaufman and Peter Sellers.

    When a Filipino hypes up a so-called “groundbreaking” or “revolutionary” invention, we mustn’t be too quick to accord him/her hero-worship (our national pastime) just because he/she is a Filipino. The invention or discovery must pass through strict, scientific testing—preferably from an independent, outside party—or better yet, tested by a skeptics organization.

    • ChinoF says:

      Ah so here’s another tale of what would’ve been… had it been legitimate. However, when you look at it, a water-powered car seems to be a very farfetched idea. It probably reflects that Filipinos like to attempt the impossible, like fly without wings, or be able to beat the system every time… and become sore crybabies when they fail. It’s probably this inferiority complex and insecurity they feel… and they want the easy way out. Or the easy way to become famous.

  13. ka fredo says:

    Aren’t we known for our quack doctors and faith healers too?


  15. Pingback: The Truth about “World-Class Filipinos” | Anti-Pinoy :)

  16. Mad Man says:

    I guess this is a good indicator we’re not an intellectual people. The saying “those who can’t think, they fight” (or something like that) can explain why we Filipinos excel in boxing. It’s been decades, but Filipinos are still raving about their moon buggy and flourescent light. But our scientific inventions and discoveries are questionable and still in dispute…

  17. Mad Man says:

    I think a more accurate term is “Filipino temerity.” Pinoys tend to be very self-satisfying and often have an inaccurate assessment of themselves. Achievements should come first before pride, not vise versa which is the case with Pinoys. And even if you achieve something great in life, being proud is still not advisable because humility is still the best way to go.

    I’ve seen so many Pinoys who bought a Mitsubishi Gallant and they start acting like they’re richer than Bill Gates. I’m a half-German “mestizo” and I’m very attractive and quite a chick magnet but I don’t go around being “hambog,” because there’s always a Tom Cruise out there who’ll me look like crap if I stand next to him.

    In college, I used to hang out more with exchange students and they commented Pinoys are so “light-hearted,” they tend to laugh even at the face of adversity. To them, this behavior seemed “inhuman and annoying.” I guess we’re not popping Prozac because we don’t have the intellect of the other nationalities that need it. A heightened intelligence means a more realistic and accurate perception of the situation or problem at hand, so depression ensues. It may very well be the price of intelligence and greatness. But atleast they made their nation great….and respectable.

    Our “hambog” ways will just make us laughable.

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