Holy Week reflection: Are Filipinos still capable of suffering with grace?

holy_week_philippinesThe much-awaited Easter holidays are coming up. In the Philippines they call it “Holy Week” presumably because over the several days that make up that “week”, people are supposed to reflect upon the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events leading up to it as documented in the New Testament.

One of the key features of observing Holy Week that had been ingrained in my mind since childhood was the idea of “offering” one’s suffering (or, at best, the challenges one faces in life) to God. Indeed, Jesus Christ’s journey to Calvary from that fateful night he was reportedly betrayed by his disciple Judas was an astounding exercise in suffering in silence — with dignity. This seminal demonstration in non-violent resistance went down in history as the single biggest defining aspect of Christianity.

Are Filipinos — a people who describe themselves as the el primo exceedingly devout Roman Catholics of Asia — up to the task of living up to the example set by Jesus Christ?

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Considering that Filipinos are renowned for their loud grieving (often, in funerals, going through the theatrics of wailing loudly while trying to throw themselves into the open grave as their loved one’s coffin is being lowered into it) it would be quite a stretch of the imagination to answer the above question in a manner that will be agreeable to many Filipinos. Dignity at the very least — Stoicism at best — in times of duress isn’t one of the Filipino’s strong points. For a role model around that, I’d rather turn to the Japanese who exhibited not just amazing but infinitessimally rare grace in the way they coped with the devastation left in the aftermath of a monster tsunami that hit their eastern coastline a couple of years ago.

In the age of social media and ubiquitous access to the Internet increasingly from trendy 600-dollar handheld devices, it becomes doubly difficult to live the Christian ideal. Perhaps this is why Holy Week is more important nowadays. With Holy Week, Filipinos are afforded the option of being mere holiday Christians and remain the loud tacky dweebs that they are the rest of the year.

But of course. During the other 51 weeks of the year, many Filipino “netizens” are self-appointed “citizen journalists”. They tweet and post the minutiae of the “pain” they experience clearing airport immigration and customs during each one of the baffling number of overseas trips they “need” to take — whining to top administrators of these facilities about how unimportant they are made to feel by airport personnel whose jobs it is (we are led to believe) to treat their “customers” like princes and princesses. Of their politicians they demand the “details” they feel they are entitled to of how issues they feel are of utmost importance to the nation are to be solved. “Magna Cartas” of this and that, as my colleague Ben Kritz describes the current activist rhetoric fad, are now the mouthful de rigeur of the chattering classes who exchange factoids about what are no more than the outcomes of a rather moronic “habit of lawmakers in this country for producing vague, sweeping ‘magna cartas’ instead of real laws.” Indeed;

Every single one of those “magna cartas” was developed because of some dysfunction in the agencies covered by them; with very few exceptions, the provisions set forth by the sweeping generalities were merely restatements of existing agencies’ responsibilities. Rather than doing the hard work of holding the administrative branch to account for the effective implementation of existing laws (these are, after all, people who are fond of referring to themselves as “fiscalizers”), and developing, when necessary, specific, clearly-defined, and feasible laws to complement or replace ones that are legitimately not working as planned, legislators prefer a cheap, soundbite-friendly shortcuts in the form of “magna cartas”, which do little to nothing to help develop and maintain a legitimately functional institutional framework.

In short, the job of quiet achievers, the uncelebrated folk who build stuff from the ground-up using robust well-thought-out frameworks upon which carefully-engineered structures (whether they be physical things like roads and bridges, systems like coherent mass transit sytems, or concepts like good legislation) are often left to go to seed to make way for the drivel of charlatans and demaogogues and, yes, “social media practitioners”.

Look no further than how 400 years, then 50 years, worth of respectively excellent Spanish and American physical, administrative, and governance infrastructure now lies in shambles — mere museum curioristies — as Filipinos, using their world-renowned reverse-Midas Touch, built their pwede-na-yan physical and notional structures on top of these. Upon the awesome infrastructural wonders of Subic Bay and Clark Field are now built mere amusement parks — golf courses, casinos, shopping malls, and tacky residential enclaves. On old laws and governance structures that need only be updated properly are being erected the rickety edifices that are these quaint “magna cartas” of this-and-that. On the noble idea of democracy, Filipinos set up their moronic brand of ocho-ocho street parliamentarianism. The old doctrine-substantiated way of mounting activist campaigns has now been replaced by the clownish shock-activism of no-substance attention junkies.

And upon the millenia-old principles of Chrisitanity, Filipinos practice their perverse brand of voodooo religiosity.

Pinoy nga naman talaga
Parang aso.
Matangkad lang kapag naka-upo.

Even in the (show) business of coming across as “victims” Filipinos suck.

If Filipinos are to be the “victims” they imagine themselves to be, then the least they could do is be victims in a world-class manner. The key to world-class victimhood is to re-acquire the long-lost subtle skill of suffering in silence. To do that, we need to look for real role models and junk the current crop of bozos who presume to “lead” us with their loudness and their circus acts. For that, we need to think and take personal responsibility for how we apply said thinking, instead of merely following fools and gawking at their colourful costumes and quaint theatrics.

13 Replies to “Holy Week reflection: Are Filipinos still capable of suffering with grace?”

  1. What’s with this “pabasa” thing? 24/7 screeching across a whole subdivision. “it’s our tradition. We get that from the Spanish” Really? The Spanish came here with microphones and loudspeakers and told you to make sure nobody gets any sleep for one week?

  2. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Rhetorical question: where do we pinoys fall in that equation?

      1. I’m not sold on most Pinoys being “Roman Catholic,” either. If there ever were a “Philippine Catholic Church,” then that would be it.

        1. I always refer to the local church as the Philippine Catholic Church or PCC.

          I think it’s obvious that certain traditions and beliefs are not found in any other country, and even the leaders are so much different from those found in other countries.

        1. So true….but try explaining that to pinoids. 16th century Catholicism mixed with local superstitions and the filipino need to take everything to the extreme; thinking more is always better.

    1. Won’t find me practising what I’m preaching
      Won’t find me making no sacrifice
      But I can get you a pocketful of miracles
      If you promise to be good, try to be nice
      God will take good care of you
      Just do as I say, don’t do as I do

      Jesus He Knows Me
      by Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks – Genesis

  3. Let us whip those Politicians. Nail them to the Cross. They have many sins. Beginning from Aquino to the lowest. We will have true atonement of sins in our country…

  4. Repent you heathens! “For a small fee I’ll set you free… right here in my pocket brothers” — Richard Pryor (As Preacher -Car Wash)

  5. Let one who has no sin cast the first stone.

    The Holy Week is about reflecting on one’s own relationship with Christ, not on criticizing generalized faults.

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