Friday, October 1, 2010

The Filipino and Catholicism

Last Thursday, Carlos Celdran, the original walking tour guide, artist, blogger, activist and Reproductive Health  (RH) Bill supporter did the unthinkable in this largely Catholic nation...he disrupted a holy mass and was promptly thrown in jail!  A lot of comments and reactions were made, both good and bad, but what struck me was the validation of a personal observation. I am not a religious person and I often forget to pray...but I have always had both a strong faith and conscience. Still, I never really had deep thoughts about God and religion until maybe in my mid 30's when life-changing experiences propelled me to seek more purpose and meaning in my life...which logically (at least for me) led me to understanding why I was a Catholic Christian.   But for the majority of Filipinos, Catholicism is nothing more but trappings.  They were born to Catholic parents, baptized at birth or usually before they learn to walk or talk, undergo catechism and have their first communion, get confirmed before they get married in church and the cycle continues.  How many of these Filipino Catholics really understand and know the religion they practice? Thus, people like Carlos Celdran do irrational things and even get supporters!  Perhaps if  people understood clearly why the Catholic Church takes a stand against policies like the RH Bill, disrespectful and irreverent acts against the Church would not happen. The Bishops and the clergy need to go down to the level of understanding of the people and do better in their pastoral role. They should stop talking in abstract language and putting out thoughts only they understand.  They should begin talking in the language of the people in order to avoid wrong perceptions.  They should do as Jesus did...teaching in parables, something that people at that time understood, bringing His message across.   A lot of comments regarding Celdran made free use of the word "dogma"  in relation to church teachings on contraceptive use,  a clear indication of the lack of understanding for the word.  Media played it up further by declaring that the Bishops will advocate "civil disobedience"... encouraging people not to follow the RH bill hardly constitute civil disobedience! Unfortunately, like the rest of humanity, the Church itself is not perfect...there are so many problems besieging it that pastoral work suffers...and in the end, the conflict between church teachings and the world continues.

And the Reproductive Health Bill?  Being in the medical profession, I am for planned and responsible parenthood.  However, because I know what I am talking about in terms of maternal and child health, I also believe that another bill addressing Reproductive Health is unneccesary, redundant and will only add to the confusion of the already confused populace.  The RH bill  suggests that there is a need to address reproductive health issues of women because the country lacks services for these, when in fact all these are already in place in Department of Health Programs namely: Family Planning, Natural Family Planning , Safe Motherhood and Women's Health, Breastfeeding Program / Mother and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, and Adolescent and Youth Health and Development Program .  It's ridiculous to have another law when the old laws cannot even be implemented well.  The answer to our population problem is not birth control.  Birth control distribution and availability will not prevent fetuses found in garbage will not end the problem of abandoned babies... nor will it create a more stable economy for the country.  Anybody who believes the last one should live in Cuba or Mongolia...both have a low fertility rate and birthrate but you don't see their economy growing any faster.    What it will inevitably result to and this is evidence-based as shown by US statistics is more separations/annulment or divorce, more adultery, increasing STDs, and yes, plummeting birth rates eventually ,which shouldn't really make everyone happy as its negative effects far outweigh the positive.  So if not contraceptives, what then?  How about good old abstinence?  I know it's hard but it works!  Or maybe we should just follow the Brazilians.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


(Author: Unknown/ source: PDI, 1998)
FROM the 1896 Revolution to the first Philippine Republic, the Commonwealth period, the EDSA Revolt, and the tiger cub economy, history marches on. Thankfully, however, some things never change. Like the classics, things irresistibly Pinoy mark us for life. They’re the indelible stamp of our identity, the undeniable affinity that binds us like twins.  They celebrate the good in us, the best of our culture and the infinite possibilities we are all capable of. Some are so self-explanatory you only need mention them for fellow Pinoys to swoon or drool. Here, from all over this Centennial-crazed country and in no particular order, are a hundred of the best things that make us unmistakably Pinoy.
1. Merienda.Where else is it normal to eat five times a day?

2. Sawsawan. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes. Favorites: toyo’t calamansi, suka at sili, patis.

3. Kuwan, ano. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys understand exactly what you want.

4. Pinoy humor and irreverence. If you’re api and you know it, crack a joke. Nothing personal, really.

5. Tingi. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life’s essentials in small affordable amounts?

6. Spirituality. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.

7. Po, opo, mano po. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference, filial respect–a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.

8. Pasalubong. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.

9. Beaches! With 7,000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the emerald isles of Palawan–over here, life is truly a beach
10. Bagoong. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.

11. Bayanihan. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.

12. The Balikbayan box. Another way of sharing life’s bounty, no matter if it seems like we’re fleeing Pol Pot every time we head home from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.

13. Pilipino komiks. Not to mention “Hiwaga,” “Aliwan,” “Tagalog Classics,” “Liwayway” and”Bulaklak” magazines. Pulpy publications that gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel, characters of a time both innocent and worldly.

14. Folk songs. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a passing jeepney or tricycle.

15. Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day, shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It’s a Pinoy celebration at its pious and riotous best.

16. Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino lower mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper our storytelling.

17. Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy ingenuity, this Everyman’s communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting ride. If the driver’s a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your seat.

18. Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with puto. Best when mined with jalape¤o peppers. Messy but delicious.

19. Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena’s and Constantine’s search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies–and the most beautiful gowns.

20. Balut. Unhatched duck’s embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt and suck out that soup, with gusto.

21. Pakidala. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery system for overseas Filipino workers who don’t trust the banking system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as well.

22. Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood ecstasy before M & M’s and Hershey’s.

23. Kamayan style. To eat with one’s hand and eschew spoon, fork and table manners–ah, heaven.

24. Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect with vinegar, sublime with beer.

25. Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty “Kain tayo!” invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no matter how skimpy or austere it is.

26. Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff. Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family recipes.

27. Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio, before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined grown-up tastes.
28. Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.

29. Tricycle and trisikad, the poor Pinoy’s taxicab that delivers you at your doorstep for as little as PHPesos3.00, with a complimentary dusting of polluted air.

30. Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk: munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there’s the colorful cart that recalls jeepney art.

31. Yayas. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is almost like a surrogate parent–if you don’t mind the accent and the predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.

32. Sarsi. Pinoy rootbeer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.

33. Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian, langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya, singkamas–the possibilities!

34. Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens, public officials, all-around controversial figures: Aurora Pijuan, Cardinal Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo, the Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon, Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino, Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap, Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V.

35. World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga, Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori.

36. Pinoy tastes. A dietitian’s nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue), bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon, longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno and garbanzos. Remember, we’re the guys who put sugar (horrors) in our spaghetti sauce. Yum!

37. The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las Pi?s Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.

38. Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets. How the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.

39. Barangay Ginebra, Jaworski, PBA, MBA and basketball. How the verticaly-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports obsession that reduces fans to tears and fistfights.

40. People Power at EDSA. When everyone became a hero and changed Philippine history overnight.

41. San Miguel Beer and pulutan. “Isa pa nga!” and the Philippines’ most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts, corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy, crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.

42. Resiliency. We’ve survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, and Tamagochi. We’ll survive Erap.

43. Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and merchandising vehicle remains the best way to “walk the dog” and “rock the baby,” using just a piece of string.

44. Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee a good time for all.

45. Ninoy Aquino. For saying that “the Filipino is worth dying for,” and proving it.

46. Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and passion on a public stage.

47. Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to scoop water out of a bucket _ and help the true Pinoy answer nature’s call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.

48. Pandesal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well with any filling, best when hot.

49. Jollibee. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it’s invaded the Middle East, as well?

50. The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed waters.
They’re Pinoys, too, and they’re here to stay. Now if some folks would just stop turning them into daing.

51. Pakikisama. It’s what makes people stay longer at parties, have another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk and still make it home.

52. Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do it well!

53. Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the sun.

54. Handwoven cloth and native weaves. Colorful, environment-friendly alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north to the malong of the south, it’s the fiber of who we are.

55. Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if you watch the same movie several times.

56. Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus enabled to play life by ear.

57. Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost anything.

58. English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our chances in the global marketplace.

59. The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, but still the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we’d all be glued to TV.

60. Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket’s paradise, but you can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a bonus.

61. Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified without having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig.

62. Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they can’t say the same for Filipinos.

63. Filipinos. So maybe they’re bolero and macho with an occasional streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like one.

64. Catholicism. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is firmly planted on Philippine soil.

65. Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.

66. Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every Filipino claims it as a birthright.

67. Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa, posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, overaccessorized jeepneys and altars–the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.

68. Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.

69. Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.

70. Street food: Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here’s cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.

71. The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.

72. Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng, totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but these words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.

73. Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego Silang, Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar, Francisco Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira, Emilio Jacinto, Raha Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean Armando Malay, Evelio Javier, Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn’t let Jalosjos get away with rape.

74. Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer, bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the creatures that make our archipelago unique.

75. Pilipino songs, OPM and composers: “Ama Namin,” “Lupang Hinirang,” “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal,” “Ngayon at Kailanman,” “Anak,” “Handog,”"Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit”; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante–living examples of our musical gift.

76. Metro Aides. They started out as Imelda Marcos’ groupies, but have gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously prove that cleanliness is next to godliness–especially now that those darned candidates’ posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!

77. Sari-sari store. There’s one in every corner, offering everything from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.

78. Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They help us help each other.

79. Favorite TV shows through the years: “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” “John and Marsha,” “Champoy,” “Ryan, Ryan Musikahan,” “Kuwarta o Kahon,” “Public Forum/Lives,” “Student Canteen,” “Eat Bulaga.” In the age of inane variety shows, they have redeemed Philippine television.

80. Quirks of language that can drive crazy any tourist listening in: “Bababa ba?” “Bababa!”

81. “Sayang!” “Naman!” “Kadiri!” “Ano ba!?” “pala.” Expressions that defy translation but wring out feelings genuinely Pinoy.

82. Cockfighting. Filipino men love it more than their wives (sometimes).

83. Dr. Jose Rizal. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius, athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover, samaritan, martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime, anywhere.

84. Nora Aunor. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.

85. Noranian or Vilmanian. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for many Filipino fans.

86. Filipino Christmas. The world’s longest holiday season. A perfect excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it up with a touch of religion.

87. Relatives and kababayan abroad. The best refuge against loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on the basis of a phone introduction or referral.

88. Festivals: Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan frenzy and Christian overtones.

89. Folk dances. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, kari?sa, kuratsa, itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct rhythm.

90. Native wear and costumes. Baro’t saya, tapis, terno, saya, salakot, bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.

91. Sunday family gatherings. Or, close family ties that never get severed. You don’t have to win the lotto or be a president to have 10,000 relatives.
Everyone’s family tree extends all over the archipelago, and it’s at its best in times of crisis; notice how food, hostesses, money, and moral support materialize during a wake?

92. Calesa and karitela. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate narrow streets when loaded down with a year’s provisions.

93. Quality of life. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?

94. All Saints’ Day. In honoring our dead, we also prove that we know how to live.

95. Handicrafts. Shellcraft, rattancraft, abaca novelties, woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo windchimes, etc. Portable memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!

96. Pinoy greens. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili. Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will never be the same without them.

97. OCWs. The lengths (and miles) we’d go for a better life for our family, as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.

98. The Filipino artist. From Luna’s magnificent “Spoliarium” and Amorsolo’s sun-kissed ricefields, to Ang Kiukok’s jarring abstractions and Borlongan’s haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a Filipino painting on your wall, and you’re hanging one of Asia’s best.

99. Tagalog soap operas. From “Gulong ng Palad” and “Flor de Luna” to today’s incarnations like “Mula sa Puso”–they’re the story of our lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar notwithstanding.

100. Midnight madness, weekends sales, bangketas and baratillos. It’s retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds, and human deluge to find a bargain.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer Magazine ( December 1998 )


I wrote this in March 2009 in my soon to be closed wordpress blog, and so I am copying it here in toto. My opinion then remains the same as now.

The literacy rate of the Philippines is more or less 94% since 1994 to the present time. We have one of the highest literacy rates among developing countries but what does that do for us?  Does having “literate” citizens translate to progress for the country?  I’m afraid not.  Being literate does not remove ignorance…it does not make people less corrupt.  I have always maintained that for us to progress we need better education.  What do I mean?  Better education does not mean a high literacy rate.  So what,  if you can read and write?  Will that make you a good citizen? Better education means a wholistic education.  While it is true that there is free elementary and high education in the country, there is also a very high drop-out rate by the time children reach grade 6 to 2nd year high school.  These children can read and write English and Pilipino but it does not mean they can understand what they are reading.  Basic comprehension is poor.  On the other hand, children of middle-income and upper-class families finish their education and reach university and even post-graduate levels but becoming part of the educated elite does not guarantee a moral character.  So in essence, the education I advocate is one that is geared to developing not only the intellect but the heart and conscience as well. For progress to happen, government must guarantee that all children finish their elementary and high education. Technical education should be incorporated in high school so that these children who could no longer afford a college education can continue to be trained in skills appropriate for them, in technical schools that government should provide for free.  Moral Values, Ethics , Conscience and Basic Rights should be taught  and lived beginning from elementary to college.  Education and Moral Recovery is the only way to progress.  The Department of Education and CHED should see this before its too late.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Political Dynasty & Transitions:It's Implications for Civil Servants

The May 2010 elections brought a diverse mix of personalities entering politics. What was obvious and apparent though is the unshakable presence of political dynasties in both the national and local government. That majority of these political families won the contested seats was no surprise. But does belonging to the same political family denote that character, values and approach to governance be the same?  What kind of president will P-Noy be? Will he be like his mother? or the president his father could have been? or will he be his own person? These questions applies to other elected officials as well who have come to an elective office used to be held by a parent, brother, sister, uncle...etc.  Will they do better? Will they be the same? Will they do worse? or...Will they be completely different?

It has only been 30 days since their assumption to office, too early to make a comparison but from what I have seen and experienced these past few days, people even if they share similar genes, upbringing or values are basically his or her own person, with his or her own style, reactions and personality.  So if we are all looking for continuity in these political transitions...for these new leaders to have similar leadership and management styles as their family members...don't look too long because for sure, they won't be the same and instead of griping about it, we should be ready to cope with the difference and significant changes to come.  In fact it has already started.  We in the civil service can only hope that our new bosses practice impartiality, fair dealings and equal opportunity for all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Filipino Mentality

A blogger of named ChinoF wrote an article that suggested that most Filipinos have a free-loading nature and also gave the conclusion that we are basically a lazy group of people.  I am inclined to agree with many of his suppositions except for the laziness argument.  Personally, I don't think the Filipino is lazy, as laziness is defined in Wikipedia as a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so...but rather, the Filipino has a certain kind of mentality unique to himself.  And what is this so called Filipino Mentality?  Most people equate Filipino mentality with colonial mentality.  I don't think it's as simple as that, although it may be part of it... rather, I am referring more to Filipino attitudes, values and outlook in life. I can name several outright...

First on my list is COMPLACENCY. It is defined as a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy.  Filipinos fit this to a T!  Are we not called "contented cows" and isn't the statement "pwede na" both evidence of this complacent mentality? Ambition and drive is not high on our list of desirable traits and we are experts in looking for short cuts in our way doing things.

Second is DEPENDENCE...which may be interpreted as laziness.  But I think we were raised to be dependent...parental authority is still very much evident in our familial structure and children are not taught decision making and responsibility.  I see parents still helping out their adult children in the schooling of their hospitalizations...even in day to day living.

Next is MISPLACED SELF-ESTEEM. I say misplaced, because Filipinos don't know when to be proud, humble, shy or assertive. For example, we say disparaging things against our culture and government in the mass media, internet and other public forum ...then we get angry when some foreigner writes a satire about them...duh.

Another trait is MATA POBRE...a spanish derived word meaning "snobbish" or a snob.  It is the feeling of superiority over others because the perception of a person who is "mata-pobre" is that these others are inferior to him. It is also a form of discrimination. It has been written that this haughtiness was borne not from achievement or superior knowledge but from being members of the ruling class...but I disagree. I think it is a very common Filipino trait regardless of circumstance of birth.  Because I have seen and heard poor people discriminate even amongst themselves.  Our house helpers for example would treat paupers or street sellers who come to our gate in a lowly and dismissing manner from people whom they perceive as better off or who impresses them.  And in our places of work, the poor is always treated differently from those who are perceived to be educated, prosperous or well-connected.

And of course the ever omnipresent COLONIAL OUTLOOK...the love for anything and everything imported and the perception that what is imported is good and better. It has been 112 years since our independence from Spain and 65 years since the Americans turned over the reigns of government to the Filipinos...but that's about all that has happened...Filipinos are still basically Spanish in thinking and Americans in inclination.  Is it because our gene pool has been terribly diluted that we no longer know what we really are.  Who were we before all these foreigners came to our land?  Did we even exist? Or was this nation built by immigrants from our Indonesian, Malay, Chinese and Indian neighbors?

So it is no wonder that we do not have a true culture...we started as a melting pot...and we continue to evolve in the same manner. The Filipino mentality is such because there was no single culture from the beginning...our attitudes, values and way of thinking is a product of all the cultures that have landed in our soil. This is also the reason why we assimilate so well in any society, in other cultures and in foreign countries that we find ourselves in, even to the point of being mistaken as a native of that country.......because each of these places have a bit of Filipino in them ;)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An open letter to Noynoy from F Sionil Jose

Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.
And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose 

Why We Are The Way We Are Part 2

What was the Filipino like before the Spaniards came? How did all the influences through the centuries affect the character of the present day Filipino?  

It has already been established that before we became known as the Philippines, our archipelago was first inhabited by the Negritos and soon after came the arrival of the Austronesian people who brought with them influences from the Malay, Hindu and Islamic cultures. The native culture of Austronesia is diverse, varying from region to region, although from what is known, they were basically seafarers. This diversity can be seen up to the present time as evidenced by the over 150 languages scattered throughout more than 7000 islands. Simply put, the Filipino culture is complex and confusing...a modern day Tower of Babel.

From our written history we are told that in spite of the Spanish, American, Chinese, Indian and Arab influences, the native Filipino has retained a distinct culture, positive traits like strong religious faith, respect for authority, high regard for amor proprio (self-esteem) and desire for smooth interpersonal relationships. These traits however made the Filipinos vulnerable to conquest and dominance.  Why?  Because when taken to extremes, these traits can result to fatalism, authoritarianism, clannishness and a willingness to sacrifice personal integrity making the Filipino an easy target for exploitation by the more sophisticated foreign colonizers: first, Spain and later, the United States of America.  Spanish and American culture blended with our native customs creating a way of like that implies an identity crisis of sorts... Doña Victorina is as common today as yesterday.  So is the way we are today the fault of our foreign colonizers? Of course not...they saw our weakness and exploited it like any good colonizer.  We were ignorant, naive, trusting...and these worked against us in the 16th century.   The tragedy of the Filipino people lies not in the fact that we were colonized but the fact that we have not learned anything from our past...we are still ignorant, naive, is like time stood still for us.  The Marcos dictatorship, our politicians, the media, the communists, and who else is there, are our modern day colonizers...

Today is Pentecost Sunday...we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the Catholic Church.  As Asia's only Catholic country, the Philippines will do well to heed the voice of the Spirit.  The priest in the evening mass I attended stated that the cultural and language diversity of our country makes it hard for us to attain unity unless we practice using the universal language. And what is that language?  It is the language of for country and love for others...because with love all things are possible.

Why We Are The Way We Are Part 1

There are so many websites that write about Filipino culture and most of these say the same things...about the country's diversity in terms of culture and language, the Filipino's penchant for personal alliances, the similarities with the Malay and Indonesian culture, the influence of the Spanish and American colonizers, not to mention the Chinese, Indians etc.  Our hospitable nature and easy acceptance of other cultures have created a way of life that blends foreign with native customs. And so, it is no wonder that we are the way we are today.

What are we today?  This thoughtful piece I found in Anti-Pinoy by Chino explains maybe 60% of the problem.  He says that "we have a libre me this, libre me that culture, that it is a culture of dependence on or desire for dole-outs. He also believes that Filipinos, most of them for that matter, are lazy. And laziness can be found in all classes, from the richest to the poorest."

There is a lot of truth in that statement. But why? And how do we solve it? And what is the other 40%?

Friday, May 14, 2010

As The Dust Settles...

So now we have a new president...yep, it's Noynoy.  As for the's too close to call as of today.  The billboards in the plaza have been taken down, street-cleaners are seen taking down the is slowly getting back to normal.  I went to the mall today, and it's eerie because it seems that after May 10...people stopped talking about the election.  It's as if...okay, now that is done...lets go back to doing what we were doing before the election. Hmmmm...abangan!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Elections 2010

May 10, 2010, Monday is Election Day.  This year's campaign is probably one of the most confusing, most contentious, most polarized ever in recent history.  For one there are just too many political parties; second, there has been too many shifts among politicians...the right mingling with the left...making for strange bedfellows; and third, there is no unity among families as to which candidate to support.  After the dust settles, we will be left with a winner...I hope whoever it is, he will advocate the change the people of this country need to make for this Philippines to take back its place as one of Asia's rising stars.  May God have mercy on us all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Political Issue Called Kris

I really don't want to talk about Kris Aquino and her domestic problems and how this is being used against Noynoy's presidential bid but somehow I find myself doing exactly that.  Why?  Because frankly, she is one of the reasons why I am still very undecided on whether to go for her brother or not.  I know, I know...Kris is not her brother and vice versa. And yes, it's all about perception but hey, I'm just human.  Whether Kris likes it or not, her brother will always be identified with her, so that even though how much Noynoy disapproves of her behavior and lifestyle whatever she does will continue to reflect on him...not fair?  oh yes...but then that's life....and that is human nature.  I feel a little sorry for Kris but with that mouth of hers, she will more than be able to fight her battles.  Mayen Austria and her family will soon enough realize that by talking to media, they will get more than what they bargained for...

As for James Yap...either Kris enrolls him in a crash course in intelligent reasoning and conversation or just send him home to his one comedian once said. This union was doomed from the intelligent, affluent, smart-mouthed, sophisticated older female marrying a not so bright, not so articulate, promdi, much younger basketball player whose only common denominator is their being celebrities....tsk...tsk...

God help the Philippines...ehe! hindi pala...God help Noynoy =)