Publisher's Note

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    by C.K. Now that winter is over and spring had finally sprung, it’s time to spend more outdoors than indoor activities.  I’m  sure that even the pets we have wants to wonder around in this wonderful weather.  I just got a glimpse of the crocuses on our rock garden and a few perennials  coming back from [...]

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Page added on September 21, 2010

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Why We Filipinos Are The Way We Are

Why We Filipinos Are The Way We Are thumbnail

In the aftermath of the hostage-taking fiasco that brought the whole world’s attention to the Philippines and its people, I have decided to write down some of the opinions I have formed from thoughts that have been percolating in my mind for a long time now. I have always struggled with the fact that the Filipino as a people has never really seen success in terms of its reputation and economy. Sure we may have had a few successes here and there, but surely nothing substantial to be completely proud of as a nation. I know deep inside that we Filipinos have a lot of good qualities in us, but why can’t we get our act together? Then it occurred to me that perhaps it’s some of those qualities we treasure that are constantly putting us down.

I have been living outside the Philippines, and have been immersed in non-Filipino cultures for quite some time now, so I often catch myself looking back at the Philippines and its people. They say that to truly know yourself, you must be willing to step back and see yourself from the outside. What are some of our good qualities that could possibly be holding us back from reaching our full potential?

1. We Filipinos are family oriented:  As can be seen in many Filipino homes; several generations of the same family live together under the same roof, from grandparents to grandchildren. This is a good thing, but it’s also not without ramifications. Many parents refuse to let their children go even as they become adults. As a result, the children fail to become fully independent and self-sufficient, and this becomes a lifelong handicap in their bid to become successful. This could also be bad for the parents themselves, because they never get the chance to rest and rejuvenate after raising their children. The poor parents are unable to save and prepare for their golden years, so they’re forced to depend on their children who are already trying hard to support a family of their own. The children are unable to save enough to become financially stable, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again, generation after generation.

In more progressive societies, children leave the family home as soon as they become adults. They are forced to spread their wings, and they learn to stand up from their failures. They are forced to save up and to be creative knowing that their parents are no longer around to help them each and every time. At the same time, the parents get some much needed time for themselves. They are able to save up for their retirement, and they do not become a financial burden to their children who are themselves trying to build a future. The family bond is still there of course, but gone are the financial obligations that can cause family squabbles.

2. We Filipinos are a humble people: Humility is undoubtedly a good virtue, but it sometimes gets twisted into something that can poison us. We’ve become a self-depreciating people, as a lot of us openly or secretly dislike the distinctly Filipino features that we see on each other’s faces. This unrelenting fascination with mestizos, mestizas, and foreign-looking people do not serve us well. An officemate of mine back in Washington was astonished at the skin whitening commercials printed in the Filipino magazine that I once showed him, and was wondering why anyone would like to turn white. This desire to exchange our perfectly healthy bronze-colored skin with the light-colored variety that ages much faster and is so much more vulnerable to skin cancer is illogical. I also think there is something disturbing and unnatural about a person having little or no attraction towards members of his own people. Many of us are like tigers that would rather mate with lions instead of our own fellow tigers, just because we think lions are more attractive, and that our tiger-stripes are unsightly. For some reason, we have let ourselves become brainwashed into believing that we are ugly and unworthy. This mentality results in poor self worth, and it makes us susceptible to being content with just remaining subservient to other nations and peoples. Why has it become totally acceptable that we hire foreigners to manage our Filipino corporations, while we send Filipinos abroad to become maids? It appears that overlooking our own greatness has become the norm. The first step to being successful is to feel good about yourself, and if you can’t even get the first step right, then forget about it… You’re screwed.

3. We Filipinos are explorers, and we can be found all over the world: This would be nice if the Filipinos around the world are actually there to explore, and not to serve as cheap labor, or to escape the miserable state of their own country. The reason Filipinos are all over the world, is because we are unable to become successful in a country run by our own kind. We try to escape the chaos and misery caused by our fellow Filipinos, so we find ourselves living in every other country on the planet not ruled by other Filipinos.

4. We Filipinos are happy go lucky, and we always make do with what we have: This would be nice if we lived in a stagnant world with no technological advancements. Otherwise, we will be left behind by everyone else. This way of thinking limits our creativity when we easily get satisfied with what we have. Early American pioneers never got satisfied with the way they did their farming. They thought the animals were too slow and inefficient, so they invented tractors – Tractors that they now make billions of dollars out of through export. They also got tired of walking, so they mass-produced the automobile. The Japanese were never content with the cars coming from America, so they made their own. Now they have Infinity, Lexus, Acura etc…  Ferruccio Lamborghini was not satisfied with the 250GT that he purchased from Enzo Ferrari in 1958, so he made his own car. The Koreans weren’t satisfied with just buying American and Japanese cars, so now they have Hyundai and Kia. The list goes on and on. We Filipinos on the other hand got satisfied with the Jeepney that we created 65-years ago, so it remains unchanged until today – Uncomfortable, noisy, unsafe, and outdated.

5. We Filipinos are immensely talented: We Filipinos can realize our own greatness into fruition if only we can make our own talents work for our benefit. Sure we are good boxers and singers, but winning boxing titles and singing contests do not really help the economy. It won’t help raise the country’s GDP and Per Capita Income even if Manny Pacquiao won the WBF IBF World Heavyweight Title, and Charice won the American Idol contest twice. I would rather have one Filipino Bill Gates or Henry Ford, than a thousand Filipino Mike Tysons and Michael Jacksons. We need to develop and utilize the right talents that will help the Philippines become a strong vibrant nation. We need creative homegrown people who will generate sustainable growth from within the Philippines.

Perhaps we will not see a progressive Philippines in our own lifetime, but I would like my great grandchildren to return to a country that they can be proud of. We deserve a country which other countries will send workers to, instead of recruit temporary workers from. A country where we see our women as the most beautiful of all, and the rest of the world is just second rate. A Philippines that my great grandkids can come home to, and decide to stay in because it is one of the most prosperous countries on earth.









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