I see it every day.
Same people, same situation. Children begging for spare change instead of staying in school and getting an education. I see families living under bridges, seeking solace from the harsh weather this time of the year. I hear horror stories of students selling their bodies to keep up with the rising tuition fees. I have friends and relatives migrating to other nations for a better chance at life.
These are the stories of our people, the stories that go unnoticed even if they’re screaming right in front of us on a daily basis. But these aren’t the stories that Filipinos want to hear; Filipinos want to hear about success, the romanticized drama of a small town boy making it big in the real world.
If you grew up watching teleseryes or even Filipino movies, you’ll see the exact same thing: the bida, who comes from a poverty stricken land, goes on a quest of a lifetime where he meets both friends and foes as he overcomes the challenges against all odds. He becomes the exception to the norm, a bona fide rarity.
That’s what we all love, it’s in our blood after all. Our culture traps us in this mindset of inferiority that whenever we hear a success story about a fellow Filipino we instantly turn into a collective body of fan girls ready to show our full support.
It gets out of hand when we start looking for any ounce of Filipino blood in a successful individual. Hypothetically speaking, if Kobe Bryant had even an ounce of Pinoy blood, we would be all over him saying, “Proud to be Pinoy!” or “Wow! Ibang klase talaga pag-Pinoy!”
It comes off as pathetic that we practically look for reasons to fawn over the success of one Filipino and attribute it to his/her cultural heritage even if their success almost always has nothing to do with them being a Filipino in the first place. All because we are so in love with the idea of a Filipino representing our country, even if it was never his/her intention to do so, just for the grand spectacle of the world knowing that we are more than what they think of us.
Pinoy pride, how ironic.
We show the world that we’re proud to be Filipino but only raise our flag whenever someone from our country does something of importance. It’s as if we’re constantly seeking approval from other developed nations because we, as a people, aren’t really proud to be who we are. Because if we did, we’d be embracing our own culture instead of idolizing anything and everything that the US and South Korea are doing.
It’s living proof that we Filipinos have some sort of Napoleon complex where instead of height, our lack of progressiveness is being compensated by our extreme support over our own kind. It’s not always wrong to cheer on a fellow Filipino for his/her achievements but there are times when we do it for the wrong reasons.
Not to mention, the excessive exposure of Filipino “underdogs” that have made a name for themselves expresses how we see ourselves as a nation: of third world value. Picture this: you turn on the TV and see the likes of Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez reporting about a young Filipina domestic helper who won a national singing competition in the Middle East. As a knee-jerk reaction, we start clamoring on various social media websites about Pinoy pride and how Filipinos are multi-talented people.
While it’s no doubt that this particular Filipina is an excellent singer, dedicating an entire portion of the news about her success illustrates our third world belief. The fact that we have this idea etched in our brains is one of the reasons why we feel the need to highlight their achievements.
Our third world mentality has already trained us to believe that her success is the success of the entire Filipino nation. Attributing her win as a point for the Philippines on an imaginary scoreboard is also a telltale sign of how we have become obsessed about proving ourselves worthy. As interpreted by the Filipinos, the victory of one is the victory of us all.
When in reality, she won the competition. Not us. Shouldn’t we be proud of her and not the entire Philippine population for winning the competition?
The irony of Filipino pride masks the reality of how we really are insecure as a nation. When people from other countries poke fun at our culture, even if the intention of doing so is merely for humor we immediately take offense. We start to develop this gang mentality and become ultra-defensive to the point of pulling the racist card on anyone who makes fun of us. Can we not take a joke? Or are we that sensitive about how other countries see us?
It’s difficult to tell all 100 million Filipinos to change this kind of regressive behavior. You can’t exactly change the way an entire country has lived for generations. As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.”
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
If we want to move forward and leave our insecurities behind, the change has to begin with us – all of us. And having the right mindset is the first step: developing the confidence that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. Success is not defined by race or heritage. It is defined by pure hard work and dedication. In truth, we all have what it takes to make a difference in the world. We just need to start believing that we can.