This is a thought I had long arrived at before, seeing the authoritarian and conformist culture that pervaded in the country, and made lives miserable. BongV had recently explained how Filipino authoritarian and old-school parenting is apt to produce wimps. I also reasoned that the voters are heavily influenced by the media and mostly anti-intellectual messages because the culture itself appreciates that.
My saying “not the government” is because people are saying “patalsikin si Gloria” (kick out Gloria) or “patalsikin siya,” whoever is in power. I think people are focusing on the wrong things to “patalsik.” Who we elect is our own fault. It is a product of our culture. Thus, what I propose: patalsikin ang culture natin.
Some Filipinos may be proud to boast that their culture is a caring, loving, and beautiful culture. But when you analyze more deeply, it is also an intolerant, inflexible, anti-intellectual and oppressive, and therefore ugly, culture. It is the culture that deceives people into thinking that they’re doing right when if fact they’re doing wrong, and yet they scratch their heads wondering what they’ve done wrong.
Proof of this is seen everywhere.
When Erap became president, some people were aghast that a gambler, drunkard, womanizer and crime lord was elected to the highest office of the land. But what does that tell about the culture of the people?
We elect a leader who we believe will follow the people’s will, but later on, the people will go to the streets wanting this leader to resign. So when Erap left, GMA took over, and now nearly everyone wants her out. It’s funny since GMA had even more votes than Erap when she was elected for vice president.
We have a culture of hypocrite masculinity. We have a religious culture, and we have men who can pray the rosary and go to mass everyday. But they later get drunk, they hit on their neighbors’ wives, bear many children, and then blame the government for not supporting them.
We have a culture wherein “go forth and multiply” is practiced by the squatters and jobless (and even encouraged by the Catholic church), while the well-off and rich know better than to generate armies of children.
Ours is a culture of “Binuhi sa Nurse,” where the OFW mothers and wives send money home, and that money is used by husbands and sons for their hypocrite masculinity.
Children today, when they grow up, want to become artistas instead of true artists, graphic designers, computer engineers and doctors. All thanks to the stupidity that is Wowowee and local TV (that is in the hands of manipulative oligarchs like the Lopezes).
We seem to be the only known “balikbayan box” culture in the world, wherein huge boxes of consumer goods are what OFWs bring home to their families. Filipino culture is heavily consumerist, and yet they wonder why their country can’t push itself up on the world scale.
We have a culture wherein shouting seems to be the only way to use a cellphone when inside a public vehicle or even a church when a mass or service is going on!
We have a culture wherein, instead of excellence, Filipinos pursue puede na yan, bahala na and impunity.
We have an arrogant triumphalist culture, that we boast to other countries’ people that Manny Pacquiao can beat up their boxers and we use racist insults in doing so. And yet when foreigners like Adam Carolla and Chip Tsao react to this and criticize us, we get mad at them and act like stupid adolescents, even if they were right after all. We act as if no nation has the right to joke or insult us, and that we have the right to bully them. And yet we like to imitate foreigners, like in using a lot of skin whitening products or copying their shows like American Idol and Big Brother.
Our culture is anti-intellectual; it puts logic in the backseat and makes emotion the king of all decision-making.
And thus we have a culture wherein we blame the government for our problems, but fail to realize that we ourselves have corruption and are thus responsible as well for our condition.
The problem is when someone objects to all these. For example, when abroad, an OFW decides to not subscribe to The Filipino Channel because they don’t like the bias and mediocrity of local TV. Other Filipinos will chide him as unpatriotic and “un-Filipino,” or even a traitor. The poor person who used his head will be the subject of unwarranted criticism and hate from fellow countrymen for the rest of their OFW term.
Yes, Filipino culture is itself perhaps one of the most tyrannical elements of the country and is helping keep it backwards.
I believe one solution is that people should develop the gall to question and object to our culture when they see the need to. We should not be afraid to say culture is “evil” and stupid. We already know that James Fallows described it as a damaged culture. And BenK even said that the Philippines is a failed state – all thanks to our culture.
As an example of my approach, I’d like to look at local customs and traditions that we can object to or criticize. Some may recall that the Bocaue Pagoda tragedy was because of people overloading a pagoda that was even hastily made with shoddy material (rotten wood, rusted nails, etc.). They would rather build a life-risking boat than skip on the tradition. Another is the Nazareno procession at Quiapo, where people die yearly because of their foolishness. Or even the traditions during Holy Week where people are literally nailed to crosses. If people won’t celebrate a tradition without going through unnecessary risks for these traditions, then best scrap the traditions. But there are people who will obstinately say that these are “part of our culture” and can’t be done away with.
If people think destroying a tradition is cruel or harsh, let’s look abroad. Perhaps a worse tradition than anything in the Philippines is the African custom of cutting a female’s clitoris as a puberty rite. This is clearly cruel mutilation and should be stopped. Yet some will say it is their tradition and forms part of their culture and identity. You have to run roughshod over culture to do the right thing.
The ironic thing is that culture is not law, yet it is treated as something more sacred than law. But like law, culture is manmade. It isn’t a natural thing. People concoct what they put in their culture. Sometimes it happens unconsciously. We must take advantage of this trait to influence people around us to change the culture into one that is more thoughtful and much less ethno- and egocentric than before.
I’m sure there are people who’ll say to me, “So you don’t like the culture here? Then leave!”
I am a citizen of this country and have every right to have my voice heard and make real the kind of society I see as the right one. Culture can be a deadly enemy, and we have every right to disobey and object to it. If anything is the problem, it’s our culture. Because no matter what president we elect, it’s our culture that will either raise our country to heaven, or drive it into the deepest pits of hell.