Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forgive me Iya, I no longer watch TV

My rejoinder was too philosophical and the kids seemed to have missed the point. So, here is a less abstract reply to a young disciple of Manong Benigs.

“Arnel Pineda, Charice Pempengco, and boxing champion Manny Pacquaio, these are the few world-renowned Filipinos who have instigated a sense of so-called “Pinoy Pride” among the attention-seeking Filipinos who, after realizing within themselves that as a state, we have achieved practically nothing, would bask in to the achievements of the individuals mentioned in order to feel some sense of self-worth. However, I do not blame people like Pacquaio for precipitating a false sense of pride among the Filipinos. After all, it’s not their fault their “kababayans” have a distorted culture.”

- It seems Ms. Justimbaste has been remiss in her history books. Her professors should be castigated. If she wants to measure Filipino pride on personalities, then let us mention a few Filipinos who are “world-renowned.” Let’s start with the first guy to use the word “Filipino” to mean all inhabitants of the Philippine islands – Jose Rizal. Indonesian revolutionaries greatly admired him long after his death. There are still Indonesians who name their children Rizal. There are scholars on either side of the Atlantic who have written about him and the Philippine revolution. Then there’s Cory Aquino. People Power is a big deal. We invented it. It is a formula that has been used successfully and unsuccessfully around the planet. Google “Tiananmen Square” and “Velvet Revolutions.” Cory was also one of the first female heads of state.

To be more contemporary, why don’t we throw in Tony award-winning Lea Salonga? The first Filipina to play lead in a musical shown at the West End? And at age 18 to boot. If you like comics you should have heard of Whilce Portacio. If you like to read you should have heard of F. Sionil Jose and Jose Villa. So as not to be accused of being high-brow, let’s throw in Bryan Boy. I do not read his blog but I know of him. He jetsets now, he has a bag named after him. He has been gracing big-name fashion shows around the world. The kid must know what he’s writing about. And all he has is guts and talent. I am Filipino and I am proud of these people who came before me. It is a pity the young are not more curious about their heritage. If you are reading this and do not recognize half of these people, that is a tragedy.
“When Filipinos showcase this tremendous pride, they would do it excessively as if a single person like Charice Pempengco can save the entire Philippines from its mayhem of unfortunate events. They would completely delude themselves that the Filipino race is superior among others without actually taking in to consideration that other countries like the United States of America also have their fair share of talented people without actually rubbing it in to the international community’s face. I find it rather gloomy when I come across Filipinos with unwarranted pride for I believe the reason behind this is that we no longer have other more important things we can be proud of hence, people mentioned earlier in this article serve as the only excuse we have for having such “pinoy pride”.

- I do not know what kinds of Filipinos Iya has been mingling with. Perhaps people who work in showbiz? That is, people who make it their business to know about the latest chismax? Because the past few months I have been dreading the automated elections. I have not really been paying attention to the goings-on in the celebrity world. I was focused more on the campaigns. But May 10 went by without a hitch. We have a president to win the largest mandate of the people. Then I found out we are the first country in this region to have national automated elections. I call that balls. Charice, poor girl, I do not expect her to save my country. But I am proud that she and Arnel Pineda are one of the first few people on earth to have achieved global stardom through Youtube. Its really quite remarkable, the flattening tendencies of 21st century technology, no? And based on sheer talent.

“Such great is this pride that when people like Claire Danes dare say something about the unruly condition of the country and how dirty our surroundings are, we would bash them incessantly, forcing them to make a public apology.”

- Claire Danes was an ignorant little girl when she made those comments about Manila. It wasn’t her fault she’s tactless. I agree the city of Manila making her persona non-grata was a bit much. But you know the Atienzas are first class #($*@!

“Then again, it is hard to defend why our country’s environment is dirty anyway. Apparently, it doesn’t occur to them that in order for people to stop saying negative things about our country, we should be very wary of our actions.”

- I have called this capital ugly many times. And not only because I’ve lived in Paris. It is ugly because it reflects the injustice of the society it purports to cradle. It is hard on the pedestrian, on the ordinary person. The public spaces, what is left of them, are neglected and unsafe. The only “nice” places to go are places of consumption – and to frequent these places one has to have money. No money – no pretty. How unfair is that?

“Instead of doing that, we would just further humiliate ourselves to our country’s defense by making ourselves look low by making sorry excuses for our country’s downfall”

- Maybe you’d like to clarify what you mean by “downfall”? Because that implies a period of grace.

“Another thing I realized about this inappropriate pride Filipinos have is that our people have very low self-esteem.”

- If I were to summarize my pride in being Filipino, it would be pride in resistance, especially the period after the Marcos regime. I also take pride in the resourcefulness of millions of Pinoys around the world who roll with the punches given the liability that is our system of government. They just do what they need to do to survive. In that there is a kind of pride, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of self.

“I do not know if Filipinos will actually agree with me that as a nation, an effort should be done not just by one citizen but by majority of the population. No, I am not talking about another people power protest for I honestly think it’s irrelevant.”

- I agree with the first sentence, but you must explain the second.

“Our well-known pinoy pride has resulted to us not working hard enough to be recognized in our own ways. We love fence-sitting on other people’s achievements because it is only through that that we feel important and appreciated. This pride is present in the minds of Filipinos due to the reason that we feel so small compared to other countries and so we hide behind this facade and continue to praise people like Pacquiao endlessly as if not doing so makes one disloyal to the country.”

- I’ve never watched a Pacquiao match. Well, I may have watched the first two. After that – meh. But on Chatroulette I happened on a Pole once. The only famous Polish I know is Pope John Paul II. Requisite Chatroulette etiquette means having to say where you’re from. I told him I was from the Philippines. The Pole’s face lit up. Pacquiao had just won his nth match. Imagine my absurd feeling of satisfaction when this person on the other side of the planet, a kid who knows nothing about the Philippines, described to be the circumstances of how Pacquiao beat his opponent. Complete with statistics! Isn’t that amazing? I didn’t feel a need to tell him there are other Filipinos more “worthy” of his high regard. For that kid, Pacquaio was just the greatest boxer that ever lived.

“I’ve figured out that some of countrymen are too lazy to actually make an effort so that they can be praised themselves.”
 - Iya, you must have at least one relative working overseas. You can’t accuse him or her of being lazy. Manong Benigs, now that is one Filipino expatriate who doesn’t lack for pride.

“Another disturbing attitude is that we attribute being Filipino to the success of people like Pacquiao as if we are the best race that ever walked this planet.”

- Where are these Filipinos? I’d love to meet them.

“It is when our surroundings are clean. And it is when our Human Development Index has increased (I do not believe that the GNP is the best gauge for development). From what I can see, it would ostensibly take a painstakingly long time given our track record.”

- This is something we can agree on 100 percent. Like you I have high expectations. Because I have been around longer than you I imagine my frustration has surpassed yours. But there is way to be critical without being hateful of others. Especially the people who don’t deserve it. If you’re going to critique – critique structures of power. Critique people in power.That way you're not just being a boor.


Trolly said...

We clean hotel toilets like no other peoples on earth too!

I mean, no other race can recreate that sparkling clean shine on a porcelain toilet in the least amount of time at the lowest rate on a per hour basis. NOBODY.

That has to count for something. So come on! Be proud my fellow Filipinos!

Trolly said...

Same goes for old people's bums.

In fact, in my original post, replace "hotel toilets" and "porcelain toilets" with "retiree's bum" and you'll get another...

International achivement for our race!

Be proud, my countrymen. Be proud.

Trolly said...

We also run the world's shipping fleet.

And when I say "run", I mean "take orders from sea captains".

That's three achievements for you!

sparks said...

lol, welcome back trolly. same sentiment as you in this post.

"“Nation-building” has been the dream of our forefathers and the heroes who liberated this nation. In their imagining, I wonder if they ever thought our destiny was to supply domestic helpers, nurses, construction workers, caregivers, seafarers and entertainers to nearly two hundred other nations on the planet."

so what do you do over at nsw? lay brick?

Trolly said...

Our forefathers spent their days doing back-breaking farm work tilling the hard soil with the help of acarabao and bending up and down innumerous times planting rice shoots.

Imagine if someone told them "you know, you can earn your three squares and a little bit more by scrubbing porcelain instead".

They must not believe it! Can that be possible? To eat have food security, without the arbitrary capriciousness of the weather and the gods who can wipe out an entire harvest?

What a dream that is! We are living that dream sparks! Be thankful!

Trolly said...

But of course, to faux middle-class inteligentsia indios such as yourself, scrubbing toilets and asses doesn't hold the same respect, dignity, and job fulfillment as holding a law degree or some shit like that.

We encourage our countrymen to be aspirational skilled "brain" workers to serve the needs of the new economy.

Well one financial armageddon later, these "brain" workers are scrambling for the few "brain" jobs decimated by very same "brain" workers in the financial sector of the Anglo countries.

Suddenly, those with work experience in manual skills, washing asses included, have more job security than the rest.

Trolly said...

So come on sparks! Enough with this ridiculous notion that being a "mere" OFW is something that we should elevate above.

OFW's have tangible contributions to other members of the human race, especially old people.

That's much better than a douchebag highly paid, educated ivy league, investment banker asshole like Manuel Roxas and all the other douche bags aspiring to be like him.

Trolly said...

The very kind that you serve at the moment. Are you still a slave of a senate committee or some shit like that sparks?

And yes, I did lay bricks at one point in my life. Good guess sparks!

Anonymous said...


sparks said...

lol, i've been putting it off since i've been deleting spam from chinese bots, but thanks trolly i'm turning on moderation.

i asked if you were a bricklayer because i know of millionaire bricklayers on the gold coast. i'm guessing you're not as modern as you think if you were offended. secretly you're ashamed by bluecollar work, a pity.

also a pity you clearly didn't read my post on ofw remittances. tut tut you're getting lazy.