Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Here’s another article I wrote for a newsletter way back in 2010. Too bad I couldn’t remember where this was published or if it was published at all! Proud of being Pinoy, though. Forgive the picture though, couldn’t find a better one from my archive 🙂 Enjoy reading! 🙂

Nowadays, a lot of us express our patriotic spirit even more. I’ve seen more and more people wear “Tatak Pinoy” t-shirts on the streets (even foreigners are delighted to have one), more shoutouts in social sites expressing “Pinoyness”, and an articulate appreciation of who we are in the broadcast media. We seem to love our nation more than ever before. But is this really enough to prove our love for our Inang Bayan?

Maybe. It has always been said that it’s the thought that counts. But it’s also true that action speaks louder than words. Even though many like web pages such as “I love Pilipinas” or “Proud to be Pinoy”, many still cling on to the “ningas kugon” stigma. Here it comes…and there it goes…

We love to express ourselves. In our willingness to voice out our feelings, sometimes we easily criticize anything we don’t see right. One time, I was on the jeep accidentally overhearing a conversation between an opinionated passenger and the jeepney driver. When the jeep passed by a huge, smelly mountain of trash on the sidewalk, the passenger clicked on his tongue, shook his head, and said, “Wala talagang disiplina ang mga Pilipino.” Take a look of himself…is he not totally Filipino?

We blurt out our disagreement with the wrong things we see…which I also do. But sometimes we tend to go sideways with our thoughts. We agree to what’s right and to those things we disagree with we shift the blame to others. Just like the guy in the jeep, most of us like saying that our own brothers are no good than us in an indirect way. But we do not realize these people are completely like you and me – totally Filipino.

I wonder if we make an effort to keep the value of our cultural pride. I was very surprised one time when groups of young boys who claim to be Badjaos sat on the doorway of our jeep and sang for a penny. Looking at their historical heritage, I wondered how they can be willing to sell the pride of their race – while we ourselves exploit by looking down at them. Though I am not sure if they are really Badjaos, I couldn’t help think that this made us label them negatively.

To think, the variety in our culture made us unique as a nation. The Philippines does not only have 7,107 islands but also has hundreds of dialects and ethnic groups. Each one is unique, if not mixed, to one after another. Though we have picked a pieces of Asian Eastern and European cultures, the results of this is unique in its own sense.

It’s so sad that most people do not take notice of other cultures and tribes that thrive in the other parts of the country. We had made a wrong sense that these kinds of people only live in the past and just stay in our textbooks as the facts to be unlearned after graduation (which I also admit I did). When they come and invade our cities, we are irked. But we do not realize this destroys the pride of their heritage. Most of us think they are just nuisance and wish that the government sends them away to somewhere we don’t care about. When I think of these things I feel guilty I had the same thought – these people are our fellow brothers and sisters – totally Filipino.

In fact, we need to learn from them. It’s not bad to enjoy going to tourist spots to enjoy scuba diving and city tours. We do learn from them, don’t we? But I believe one will learn more when one stays to learn the people’s lifestyle. When I had gone to Bicol for a vacation, I got a hold of more than sweet pili and a peek of the Mayon. I appreciated the place even more because of the people whom I ate and lived with. I got a hold of their simple, quiet lifestyle that was totally apart from my fast-paced environment. I never thought that there are so many differences between my culture and their culture – the language itself, to start with.

The culture of the other ethnic groups is also very important to be preserved. However, we just let them rot away by degrading their sense of existence.

That’s why it’s disparaging to hear of ourselves just mumble away against things we do not understand. Sometimes, we do not realize we ourselves are the part of both problem and solution. We can be indirectly part of the problem like environmental crisis and degradation of culture but we can counter them back. It’s good that no superheroes were created. Whatever we have ruined must also be fixed by ourselves. Of course, we cannot do this alone. That’s why we have bayanihan, right?

Why not focus on the good qualities we have as a Filipino? Think again on the words we have said, begin by doing small good things that will help us grow as a nation. Whether that would be picking trash, cease to be self-righteous, and help by giving a piece of what we have, I’m sure that could go a long way.

So, what’s really the true measure of being Filipino? Yeah, it’s great to see the Pinoy map hanging on your shirt and the Philippine flag as your keychain bag. But I guess it takes more than artifacts and social sites to show that you are proud to be Pinoy. It takes sincerity to be one. Our character in real life situations should reflect that we are truly Filipino in mind, in words, and in action.

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