Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    Hello dear readers, It’s June and half of the year is almost gone. But we still have rain at times and it’s good for the grass and all the plants in our garden.  Although lately, it’s been getting to more sunny now, I’m sure that everyone is enjoying the outdoors. June is a very important month for [...]

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Raise the Filipino Race

Raise the Filipino Race thumbnail

by Ida Beltran-Lucila

There  was  an  article  a  couple  of  months  ago  stating  that  Tagalog  is  the  fastest  growing language  in  Canada,  the  most  common  immigrant  home  language  in  Edmonton,  and  the second most common in Calgary.  This also reflects a broader  immigration pattern showing that the Philippines has been  the  biggest  source country  for  the past  couple of years,  surpassing India  and  China.    Furthermore,  the  Philippines  seems  to  be  playing  a  more  vital  role  in Canadian trade and foreign policy, with Prime Minister Stephen Harperʼs visit to the country  last November.

It is difficult to determine whether this piece of immigration news is a positive or negative turn around for our country.  On the one hand, it shows the quality of our citizens in its ability to be qualified and readily accepted by a first world country.  On the other hand, an increase in Filipino immigrants means a strong desire for the people to leave their mother country and a drive to look elsewhere for something that the native country can no longer provide.

What does this increasing visibility in a foreign country signify and entail?  For whatever reasons for our leaving the Philippines, we are inadvertently ambassadors of our country, a reflection of our race and culture, in the adopted country, and are no longer just after our own interests, living lives in our individual ways.

In this new year, it is an appropriate time to reflect on what we show of our culture, in our daily living in foreign shores.  In a multi-cultural society as Canada, do we lift up our race?  Or do we put it into shame?

In one of my internet browsing moments, I chanced upon a forum discussing the traits of Filipinos as observed by both Filipinos and by people of other nationalities/race, abroad.  A lot of people have remarked about the Filipinosʼ traits: hospitality, respect for elders, generosity.  In the same breadth, there were comments about: crab mentality, fatalism, short memories, tactlessness, lack of discipline, racism, colonial mentality.  This does not mean though that weʼre the only culture/race who exhibit these traits – only that these are the predominant ones that characterize us.

The discussions on Filipino traits somewhat perplex me, with certain contradictions.  Some say weʼre hardworking – others say weʼre lazy, respectful – rude,  caring – gossip monger.  But in fact, there is an ambivalence with some traits and it is our choice on how to use them.  The fatalistic attitude may show true faith and spirituality for some, but at the same time, be an excuse for human weakness.  What other people refer as our “short term memory” may be good in the sense that we do not hold grudges, but at the same time we never learn from the errors of the past.  The motto of “utang na loob” (indebtedness) is good but may be carried to the extent regardless of moral measures and outcomes.  Loyalty, whether to an individual or to a group, is Arts and Culturea way of putting otherʼs welfare ahead of ours but can result in turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to their faults and errors.

In the end, how we live and act is a personal choice.  Driving around the city, I see bumper stickers and displays of “I am Filipino”, “Proud to be Pinoy” or signs of the Philippine flag and map.   As we live our lives and raise our children in foreign shores, will we choose to replicate the negative traits, the very traits that we fled from but inadvertently display in our adopted country?  Or do we raise the Filipino race to our ideal?  However we define success in our individual lives, we eventually define ourselves by highlighting our values.

Observing our penchant to honor and put in pedestals Filipinos with great achievements like Manny Pacquiao, Lea Salonga, Arnel PIneda, CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida, among others, it is obvious that we all love a hero.  So why not be a Filipino hero in your own individual way?

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Fun Test: How Filipino Are You?:
• You point with your lips.
• You answer “Malapit lang!” – no matter the distance – when asked how far away a place is located.
• You say “ano” this and “ano” that.
• You call the parents of your friends and your own parentsʼ friends Tito and Tita.
• You watch Manny Pacquiao fights.
• You draw a rectangle in the air when asking for the bill in a restaurant.
• You are noisy and can cope with a lot of noise.
• You are not fazed by disasters, man-made or natural.
• You refer to power interruptions as “brownouts”.
• You use fingers to measure the water you need to cook rice.
• You feed all your visitors.
• Your pantry has Spam, vienna sausage, corned beef, and sardines in it.
• You eat fried Spam and hotdogs with rice.
(compiled from various sources)

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