Or any other country’s democracy-oriented drive, for that matter.
Admittedly, watching the unfolding of the Hong Kong protests – dubbed the Umbrella Revolution – gets one’s curiosity easily piqued. Given that the protesters have been issued an ultimatum to clear the streets, outside observers are hoping that things don’t end tragically. When the world recalls how the Tiananmen Square protests ended about 25 years ago – there was a death toll that could not be ignored – an icky feeling of déjà vu suddenly creeps up.
And yet all indications point to a grim outlook: that Beijing couldn’t care less how it ends, or how the world will view them after it ends. They can either engage in a war of attrition – wait for the protests to die down – or if they really grow impatient or are no longer amused, use force to end it.
I guess it is but natural for Filipinos to watch the events in Hong Kong unfold with great interest. Given how sentimental Filipinos can get, that they wax nostalgic about their own drive towards democracy last 1986 would also be natural.
What isn’t natural, however, is how certain Filipinos inserted themselves into the events in HK. Why they shouldn’t should be obvious.
First of all, as Hong Kong is part of China; Beijing considers it part of their internal affairs, and Filipinos, being foreigners in HK, should stay out of it. Secondly, any Filipino who gets caught in the crossfire will be a big issue. China doesn’t appear to be hesitant about using force to mow down locals, when push comes to shove, much less foreigners. If any Filipino gets caught, injured, or killed, the most likely response from Beijing would be indifference; “that’s what you get for inserting yourselves into the internal affairs of China”. A possible related consequence would be in the Spratlys dispute; the Philippines has little leverage at this point, and it will only decrease further if Beijing decides to use any cases of Filipinos getting involved against our claim. And most importantly, any Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who gets into trouble in Hong Kong means one less source of income for the palamunins left back home.
And yet, for all the stubbornness of the Filipinos, they found another way to insert themselves into the HK protests. An excerpt from the report of GMA’s Howie Severino shows how:
But Filipino residents of Hong Kong who have watched the events there unfold also credit how the present generation was raised – many by Filipina yayas.
“We have a culture of kapwa and tender loving care,” says Azon Cañete, a former NGO worker in Hong Kong who now covers the city for GMA News. “It’s hard to generalize because there are no studies, but I think OFWs have shown those values to their wards.”
“Hindi sila racist, mababait sila sa ibang lahi, (they’re not racist, they are kind to other ethnicities) ” says one long-time domestic helper in Hong Kong who, like many others here, didn’t want to be named. “Mga Pilipina kasing nagpalaki. (It’s because Filipinas raised them)“
Azon Cañete is right, it’s hard to generalize. It’s not only unfounded, it’s simply not true. Establishing a causal link between the HK protesters’ politeness and the rearing and raising by Filipina nannies is not only an exercise in futility, the idea of it is absolutely ridiculous.
Filipinos in the Philippines grow up with the “every man for himself” mindset. The environment Filipinos face in their homeland is that of survival of the fittest; they have a baseless sense of being more important than anyone else. Filipinos care about others only if they are from their own clan, or if they need something. Under normal situations, however, bahala ka sa buhay mo. How can it be said, then, that we have a “culture of kapwa (community) and tender loving care?”
Filipinos are among the most racist people in the world and among the most rude to other ethnic groups. Unless of course, you give them money. I wrote the following about the supposed lack of rudeness of Filipinos back in 2012, and nothing I’ve seen in Filipino society since then has made me change my view:
Am I being a crab if I thought that the Philippines as the least rude country in a recent survey is complete and utter bullsh*t? If you think about it, maybe we are very polite and cordial, to foreigners, as long as we can keep milking money from them. Actually, this isn’t even being polite; it’s being called sipsip and switik. Once they run out of money or just stop spending it on us, and especially once they criticize us constructively and give us tips on how to improve, we immediately say that the Joes are stupid and that they should all go home.
How locals treat foreign visitors is not a definitive basis of how rude they are as a people. Watch how they treat each other, and their environment, and you get a much better idea. It’s easy to put up a veneer of kindness and receptiveness because you want to make a good first impression, but after that, bahala ka na sa buhay mo. This is called pakitang taoism, the prevalent philosophy of the pilosopo.
Speaking of treating their environment, one very commendable thing about the Hong Kong protesters is that they clean up after themselves. Surely, they didn’t learn THAT from the Filipina nannies; Filipinos are known to dump crap on their neighbor’s yard, or any empty lot given an opportunity.
The only reason Filipinos suddenly become law-abiding, tolerant, disciplined, and seemingly cleanliness-observant in other countries, like HK, is because they know they can’t get away with it if they do otherwise. Put them back in their own backyard, however, and such decency goes out the window.
Let’s not forget to discuss this whole thing about democracy.
Filipinos view the HK protests with great interest because the SAR’s drive for democracy resonates with their own; and yet after almost 30 years of being “democratic”, and “free”, Filipinos have NOTHING to show for it. Being a democracy cannot be considered an accomplishment in itself without at least a consistent track record of results to back it up.
Filipinos were free to elect their leaders, and yet more often than not they chose the most unqualified people to occupy government positions. They put in people who ended up screwing them in one way or another, seemingly because they didn’t evaluate their candidates well enough. They forgot to hold them accountable, which is the bigger point of democracy that Filipinos keep missing. They just go through the motions of the electoral process – doing the same thing every time – and expect results to be different. The Filipinos’ stunted imagination and inability to think themselves out of a cul-de-sac prevents them from imagining leaders other than the mediocre crop who make themselves known and who currently infest our government offices.
Ever wonder why the culture of epal will never truly go away in Filipino society? Because such ka-epalan runs deep into the cultural fabric. As fellow writer Gogs puts it, the Philippines is a nation of KSP (kulang sa pansin, always needing attention). I prefer to call it a comma personality (read: singit nang singit).
Whatever the name for it may be, it only makes Filipinos look more stupid than they actually do now. It is not OK to find a way to put your ethnic group into the picture, and yet what makes it worse in the Filipinos’ case is that they are simply all hot air – without any semblance of collective accomplishment to back their self-importance up.
That is one of the many REAL tragedies of Filipino society. It is composed of a people who are too attention-starved for their own good, however undeserving of it they may be. When they finally do get it, such time in the spotlight only serves to highlight how hollow and shallow they are as a people.
Last I heard, nobody ever earned any respect that way. Maybe the Umbrella Revolution that took place here in the Philippines was that Filipinos donned umbrellas when it rained BRAINS.
Cartoon photo courtesy: ideachampions.com
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