Filipinos are a funny people. We want change but we are not sure whether to look forward or to look back. Not surprisingly, we are again the butt of jokes of the international community. Just recently, I heard that a foreign news commentator from Australia remarked that politics in the Philippines is just like a swapping of seats between the Aquino and the Marcos clan. He came to this conclusion after announcing that Imelda Marcos just got voted in as a Congresswoman. The same Imelda Marcos who was accused of stealing the people’s money was voted in by the same people she stole from. Another foreign correspondent went on to say “You can’t make this stuff up” — an indication of how bizarre these circumstances are. The situation is so funny, it’s sad. We have to be prepared then for more comments about Erap Estrada’s famous near-win as soon as word gets around.
Who wants to be called Filipino nowadays?
It is the right time to be asking ourselves the question: who are we? Are we just consumers? Are we just organisms whose main function is to eat and consume whatever it is the corporations are selling us? Are we just a bunch of fools being played by whoever are in positions of influence, be it the media or the politicians? As soon as we can accept who we are then it is easier for us to move on and live our lives. With Noynoy’s win and Erap coming in second, it is fair to say that we are a bunch of fools. Those who don’t want to be associated with the word “fool” have it in their power to do so. To distance ourselves from the word “fool”, we need to cut off the invisible barriers that prevent us from reaching an age of enlightenment. Whether it is religion or tradition that’s preventing us from moving forward, we need to be prepared to disengage. This is the only way we can move forward.
In every crises, there is an opportunity to be found. Now that we know that we cannot rely on anybody but ourselves, we need to use the head above our shoulders even more. We need to look at things again with a fresh set of eyes and consider these recent events as a rebirth. It doesn’t matter that the majority of Filipinos would rather live in the past, what’s important is that those of us who seriously want to change look to the future. It is us that matters now. We need to use our eyes to see our world for what it is, and act accordingly. Independence, ability, intellect, knowledge, and skill – those are the things that matter. We need not ask about anyone’s ranking in society, their profession, their religion and what region they come from, what is important is what the person can do.
We have the ability now to talk freely and openly debate and discuss the arguments and counter-arguments we put forth — at least in cyberspace and with anonymity, but then that is a start. We should be more interested now in everything around us. I know it sucks but we need to be aware of our surroundings. The best way to support any government is to regard their policies with a critical mind, a clear imperative considering these affect all of us. It is only in this way, that we can end the cycle of influential people treating us like fools and making us the butt of jokes.
Remove the guilt.
During his time (1452 to 1519), Leonardo da Vinci had to keep all his wonderful discoveries to himself. His curiosity led him to understand a lot about human nature. He wanted to know what it is like inside the human body – how the muscle, bones and tissues functioned, so he asked the hospitals to give him bodies of people who had died which he then dissected and examined. He was also the first to hypothesize that the Earth might revolve around the sun and not the other way around and also imagined the possibility of a machine that could fly. But unfortunately, such sorts of knowledge were considered heretic during those times. For that matter, anything that didn’t have a Biblical basis — like da Vinci’s discoveries — were considered false. You can be burned at the stake if found to be harboring heretical ideas. We all know that can hurt. So all these things were just kept in his notes.
We here at AntiPinoy.com are curious people. We want to dissect and explore what it is that constitutes the Filipino people. Every now and then, commenters here throw in a few guilt laden responses like “Where is your pride in the Filipino?” or “Why are you putting Filipinos down, where is your shame?” These kinds of questions are valid in the sense that, every idiot has the right to ask stupid questions. So in response to those questions, I too would ask more: Where can you find pride in the act of voting for someone mediocre like Noynoy instead of someone more competent? Where can you find pride in the act of voting for an accused thief like Imelda Marcos or a plunderer like Erap Estrada? I say we get rid of the guilt of mocking these kinds of decisions by so-called Filipino “patriots”. For by mocking them, the message just might, just might get through their thick skulls that it is wrong to be putting the same people in government over and over again.
Every now and then, commenters would tell Filipinos who live overseas that they have no right to criticise the Philippines anymore because they had “abandoned” the country already. Well, helloo! The recent events would be an opportune time to remind these kinds of commenters that Philippine society in general does not value ideas of intellectual consequence. This is why Filipinos with real talent and skills leave en masse. Filipinos who have talent get rewarded and recognised in foreign lands more than in their own country. This is evident in the way the Filipino voter had dismissed such high achievers as Dick Gordon and Gilbert Teodoro in this year’s elections. Filipinos who live abroad have as much right to complain about what is happening in the country because Filipinos who live abroad still have families and friends who live in the country and as such, still have a stake in how it is run. Perhaps some Filipinos who live abroad just don’t want to be associated with fools anymore, just ask Jim Paredes about this, he is now an expert migrant and a reformed “patriot”.
We are citizens of the world.
It is hard to be a Filipino. Being Filipino comes with a lot of baggage. You have to do this, you have to do that. People would come up and say, Aren’t you Filipino? How come you are not eating rice? There is no rule that says we need to behave in a certain way to be a “true” Filipino. We just need common sense and do what is right for us, for the people around us and for the environment. A basic understanding of how things work like our bodily functions, basic human needs, and how the environment works should already inform us of the proper ways to behave. If we understand that smoking is bad for our health, then we should quit. If we understand that throwing garbage in places where we are not supposed to throw them will cause flooding later on, then we shouldn’t do it. We need not complicate our lives. We have to get rid of this need to know someone’s ranking in society before we open ourselves to his or her ideas. Fixating on the inconsequential is not helpful. Let us channel our curiosity instead towards solving the mysteries of our existence. We might discover that we are not just here to consume what “they” are selling us.
Let’s try not to be the butt of jokes. One of these days, the international community may not find us funny anymore.