I cringed when I read Patricia Evangelista’s The Rohingya and the port of last resort, a piece that reeks of the sort of perverted Pinoy Pride we once again put up with that all-too-familiar uniquely-Pinoy brand of pomposity.
According to Evangelista…
We know what we are. We are the port of last resort, and have little to offer beyond a separate peace. Yet I write this with pride, in the hope that there will always be a cluster of islands southwest of the Pacific, where no ship in need is called unwanted.
What a laugh. Evangelista is referring to a people whose most powerful and influential live in communities with perimeters fortified by 10-foot high walls and its interiors patrolled by uniformed private armies far better trained and equipped than the police. Funny then that we celebrate with our renowned misguided pride the way we now supposedly “welcome” the Rohingya boat people — even as the elite among us treat their own compatriots like unwanted aliens within their own country of birth.
Out beyond our borders, perhaps, in this instance at least, “no ship in need is called unwanted”. But try to enter the gates of the tony residential enclaves that sprawl all over our cities’ prime lands and security procedure will assure that you will be presumed unwanted first before you are grudgingly allowed passage after you are “cleared”.
It seems Filipinos are at their best when in the game of building outward personas that are astoundingly inconsistent with their characters on the inside. Indeed, this timely tweet comes to mind…
“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”
That is solid advise to every Filipino who believes that welcoming a bunch of boat people will change the truth about the country they had failed to build.
If only Filipinos and the society they comprise actually are what they pretend to be — a modern democratic and secular people. Unfortunately you cannot put all those words in the same sentence as “Filipino” without either rolling your eyes to the heavens or breaking out in a wry laugh.
The plight of the Rohingya boat people is, indeed, a tragedy. But so is the plight of the millions of Filipino poor that their fellow Filipinos are in better positions to help, but don’t.
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