- July 27, 2011, 8:49 a.m.
No, this is not a post-independence day article, but I hope this got to P-noy's speechwriters before he had his SONA. Anyway, let me begin.
A few days back, an article for reaction was assigned in our religion class. The article was Barth Suretsky's “Be Proud to Be a Filipino”. I was taken aback because I was contemplating on writing about how much I hate the Filipinos. I am a Filipino, born in Tacloban of Filipino parents. Other than my infatuation with the functionality of the English language, I am a Filipino from my head down to the sole of my feet.
I was empowered to write this article because as it turned out, foreigners like Suretsky observed the same things that got me fuming. Hindsight is always “20-20” but I'm thankful for having these observations, it's a sign that I am not getting desensitized yet.
Lack of Pride. I find it disgraceful that Filipinos are a bunch of suck ups to anybody foreign or with white skin generally.
We do lack pride as the expat (Suretsky) observed. I was studying at a famous coffee shop in a mall somewhere in Alabang when a foreigner sat at the table next to mine. A few minutes later, the barista comes serving him his coffee or whatever that was, then another after sometime. It confused me.
Why, when Filipino customers order, these baristas would enthusiastically shout at the counter calling out the drink and the name of the customer in that polished English accent? And here comes a foreigner who’s more inclined to take that accent and what do they do? It’s a humiliation. I could already imagine what the foreigner was thinking “Oh these Filipinos are really foolish.”
In the condo where I’m staying, when a foreigner steps into the elevator and starts talking in his distinguished accent, the Filipinos inside would tend to move back, almost like not wanting to get called for recitation.
I got to talk to a sojourner from a country that’s divided into the South and North. I’ve been seeing her in the condo, we talk, laugh and you know, throw niceties at each other.
Then she asked “Why are Filipinos so shy?”
I told her, some are shy to talk in English. And she told me “You don’t seem shy.”
At that moment, I wanted to hit her hard in the face for showing me the very thing that I abhor finding my fellowmen being subjected to for the longest time—discrimination in their own land, Filipinos getting discriminated in the Philippines.
I forgot about courtesy.
I told her in the coldest possible voice. “Of course, I’m in my own country. Why should I be shy?”
And what she said next just confirmed what I know they think of us Filipinos. She bowed her head, jokingly she said “Oh, then I guess I have to be humble.”
I decry our lack of pride! We have empowered these foreigners to boss us around, for us to kiss their a**es! I feel so sorry for the security guards who try their best to greet those from the North and South warmly each and every day even though they’re always given a cold shoulder.
We say we are a hospitable people, part of that is because we try so hard to converse with these foreigners in English to the point of sounding stupid. It is common to see a group that gets approached by a foreigner and if one could not think of the right words to say they end up laughing amongst themselves.
Unknowingly, they are mocking themselves, empowering the foreigner. Case in point is the recent harassment by two Chinese nationals of P-Noy's brother-in-law Eldon Cruz. May this serve as a caution to those who are in the same predisposition as those rude Chinese.
There is a fine line between hospitality and just plain sucking up. Try to meet them halfway by speaking their language. And if you can’t any longer, do not cringe. Do not end up laughing at yourself. Have some pride, please. Be proud of our Tagalog or whatever of the 150 or so dialects we have that you know. And courteously apologize if you could not understand what is being said. The inability to speak English is not an inferiority.
It is in these simple things that we will start respecting our abilities and what we can contribute in whatever field we are. Break free from stereotypes. See past color and speech. We are an intelligent people.
I believe that if we all start coming out of our shells, if we stop comparing with the much progressive nations, I see our architects creating buildings manifesting the Filipino creativity and workmanship that’s world-class. De La Salle’s Yuchengco Hall and UST’s Beato Angelo are always nice to look at. I see the Philippines as a handicraft capital of the world just like Italy being the master of pasta or Japan of gadgets. We are composed of diverse masteries.
Let us stop comparing; I know we can set the standards. It’s been done. Let us stop watching Pacquiao in awe wishing we’re as damn wealthy as he is. We can be the Pacquiao or Charice Pempengco in our respective fields.
Let us not wait for miracles, for one-size-fits-all government projects. Unless we start contributing first by simply loving our own, we will continue bowing down to the white-skinned, to those from the North and South and practically to anybody but our own. Sad.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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