The epic failure that was the 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III this week highlights a pressing need for Filipinos to come up with a new — more modern — form of nationalistic drive.
What President BS Aquino essentially did this week was break the proverbial camel’s back with 3 straws:
(1) Defend his administration’s now-criminal Disbursement Acceleration Program.
(2) Hark back to what he was originally all about: his parents.
Essentially delivering no more than the above in his one and a half hour speech, he then issued a flaccid battlecry to Filipinos:
Believe that the Philippines is worth dying, living, and fighting for.
If making that call after delivering a sob story of a speech is not tantamount to a bald insult to the intelligence of 100 million Filipinos, I don’t know what is. By the end of this week we will see that the aftermath of President BS Aquino’s fifth SONA marks the end of Filipino “nationalism” as defined by Yellowist rhetoric. The yellow brand of “nationalism” can be buried right beside that other discredited flavour of nationalism, the Red “makabayan” or “makamasa” style of appealing to nationalist fervour.
Once again, Philippine intellectual discourse is left with a philosophical void. What should define the Filipino “nationalist” in the 21st Century?
The answer has for so long been staring us in the face: Collective achievement.
The reason Filipinos have always struggled monumentally to step up to the call to be “proud” to be Filipino and, as such, harbour a natural willingness to fight for country is because we have for so long put the horse behind the cart. One cannot be proud when there is nothing to be proud of. It’s a simple notion that has been flying over the pointed heads of traditional Filipino “nationalists”.
The hard question Filipinos need to ask themselves is straightforward:
What have we achieved as a people?
The italicised words at the end of the above question are very important. We have long worn thin the hollow-headed tradition of propping Pinoy Pride upon the individual achievements of exceptional people like Manny Pacquiao and some legendary Filipino who supposedly invented the Moon Buggy.
The achievements that should serve as bases — as pillars — for holding Pinoy Pride up high should be collective achievements. Collective achievements are achievements that can be attributed to Filipinos as a whole. Collective achievements serve as evidence that the value of said collective is greater than the sum value of its parts.
What achievements can Filipinos attribute to the Philippines and not just to specific individual Filipinos?’
Coming up with a list of achievements that meet those stringent standards is the challenge we face today now that Yellow and Red activism are dead — killed by their own chief advocates, in fact. The demise of the two hollow ideologies that underpinned these astoundingly wasteful “movements” pave the way for the emergence of a truly modern and critical way of thinking in the Filipino — one that could deliver wonderous achievement at an individual level and, gathering critical mass from that bottom upwards, at a collective national level.
The kind of nationalism we need is long overdue. And it is so because it is the harder sort of nationalism — one that involves the use of measureable results to substantiate. That ingraining into the national psyche of true nationalism remains a distant goal at the moment. But if Filipinos are serious about seeing a Philippines worth fighting for, then they should learn to step up to attaining that goal with commensurate courage.
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