One recent discussion with a commenter saw him state that he is looking for the “pure” Filipino, a culture that is untainted by foreign influences. Some people like him believe that there is a Filipino culture free of any influence from foreign sources. They believe that achieving this “pureness” is done by excising foreign influences, and that it will be good for the country.
Unfortunately, this will never be true.
Another recent article saw Benign0 of Get Real Philippines propose the elimination of Tagalog as a medium of instruction and the maintaining of English only as such (although it does not mean we cannot learn our local languages). Again, this raises the issue of allowing foreign influences into our culture. Some feel that using English is copping out to other countries and being a traitor to our own culture. I beg to differ; as I explained in a comment, English can help unite our different ethnicities, which is has done since American times.
In the thread back in Antipinoy where the topic was first raised, BongV posted a lengthy comment containing the article “The Fabricated Philippine State” by Joseph Fallon that explains the history of the Philippine identity. Bong’s starting comment is right: there is no such thing as the “pure” Filipino. Get over it.
One of the myths some have about other countries is that they were able to develop their cultures without outside influence. Japan is often cited as an “independent” culture. But look back into their history. Japan during the start of the imperial era actually copied China, and hence the similarities in their lettering system, dress and architecture. Look at our western world. America is not an original culture. It took from Britain, which is turn took from most of Europe, which took from Rome, which took from Greece, which took from Crete and Egypt, and so on. Even ancient cultures like Sumer and Egypt are thought to have not originated on their own. Thus, every modern culture today is a “tainted” culture. No country at all has a pure culture. We are all melting pots of the entire human race. That goes for the Philippines as well; there was foreign influence even before, when the old bahag-wearing tribes and datus were dealing with Chinese and other cultures.
Any claim to have a “pure” culture may be a hint to claiming a “pure” race, and that comes dangerously close to Nazi beliefs, which claimed that there is a pure race and their culture that is the highest of all. And the Nazis believed that this race and culture can only be protected from “mixing” and desecration by destroying the other “races.” And thus, that is racism, nationalism and genocide all rolled into one. Cultural purists in the Philippines may be at risk of being like this.
I will quote in entirety a Wiki Answers entry to the idea of “pure Filipino values:”
“I don’t think Philippines have a pure Filipino values of their own. All the values exhibited at present are acquired from various cultures.
Respecting the elderly and being a close-knit family is also the same as with our neighbouring Asian countries. Predilection for new technology and cartoons came from the Japanese. Siesta, fiesta and fatalism came from the Spaniards. And so on.
The values that our families brought us up with display the strength of our moral fiber.”
On the last statement I offer again my article on family values.
And there you have it. There are sure to be so many reputable sources aside from the above saying that the Filipino culture cannot be “pure.” Even the word Filipino – the Philippines itself – comes from King Philip II, the Spanish King during Magellan’s time (so being “Filipino” actually means paying homage to King Philip – sorry purists, you just shot yourselves in the foot).
On another note, perhaps God created resources distributed in different parts of the world to teach people that they should get along to be able to access the resources the other has. Hence, we have international trade. The Philippines should not close up to this setup just because it wants to be proud. All it is doing by isolation is shouting to the world that it is not the village idiot when in fact it is the village idiot.
The problem with the “pure” Filipino belief is that it is pure sentimentalist drivel without a practical purpose in mind. All it looks for is pride. But making pride a prime pursuit often leads to folly. It is vanity; it is arrogance. I always argued that if we ever drop the foreign influences, such as Spanish and American colonialism, we would go back to the days of alibata and wear only bahags. We would become backward, without technology and our factionalism today would be more violent, as was most likely in ancient days.
A wish to find the “pure” Filipino is probably based on trying to find someone else to blame for our defective culture. It may even be part of triumphalism, the belief that Filipinos are always good and perfect, and should prove themselves as superior to the rest of the world. The movement thus can be considered an expression of anti-foreignist sentiments from vested interests to pass the buck. It’s also just a “feel good” pill. However, our defective culture has nothing else to blame but ourselves. Even without our former foreign colonizers around, we still bear the same laziness and bad habits, as well as the social structure, that keep us backwards, and yet we keep blaming the colonizers for it. Why don’t we change the bad habits and social structure then?
And race has recently been debunked as a “natural” feature and is proven to be a mere social construct. Culture is also a social construct. And so is the nation.
One of the problems with the attempts to achieve a “pure” culture is that they can be based on falsehood. Much like the lunar buggy or the fluorescent lamp purportedly being invented by Filipinos. Much of the attempts to inspire a dollop of nationalism in our people have been marred by lies and exaggerations. Perhaps it is a reflection of how bankrupt we have become as a culture.
I reiterate. There is no such thing as a “pure” Filipino. A Filipino is part of the Malay race in East Asia right? And when we look at Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, some of them look so much like Filipinos. We are of the same race, cut from the same mold, endure the same weather and have similar cultures. And they also had foreign influences. Let us stop pursuing this false notion of a “pure” culture and embrace these foreign influences along with indigenous parts, because together, they define our culture.
For a closing thought, let me offer the opinion of Nusaybah Muti, who posted his paper about Filipino culture on Scribd:
“The Philippines is surely a melting pot of the world’s cultures. Yet, out of that pot, it has made a distinctive product that is only one of a kind – Filipino! We should all be very proud of this heritage.”