Funny how Filipino-Americans celebrated the “first Filipino American federal judge in U.S. history.” This is a woman who, by all intents and purposes, had grown up an American. As she had emphasized in her reportedly “unambiguous narrative”, Schofield insists that she “was an American Baby.”
Schofield conceded being raised an all-American girl. No speaking Tagalog at home, and eating potatoes while her mother ate rice. Hence, she acknowledged no real Filipino consciousness developed as she was growing up. She did not feel like a minority.
“I have a theory,” she said on why her mother raised her the way she did. “She was in college during the war. I read her transcript, and one of her years in college was interrupted. When the Americans came, she saw them as liberators and heroes. Since then, she wanted to become American, marry an American and have American children.” Her mother died when Schofield was 20.
You wonder then how much of a “fact” Schofield’s being a “Filipino-American” is. And if, for argument’s sake, it is so, how relevant should this “fact” be made out to be? By Schofield’s own narrative, she was raised an American. What does that make her? Simple: A successful American individual.
Americans, after all, are proud individualists. Something Filipino pridists need to get into their heads.
If we have achieved nothing collectively as a people, then how can there be pride in being a part of this collective? We need to at the very least feel a shared accountability for the overall character of Filipinos collectively. Individual achievement is easy because each one of us have direct control over our individual destinies. There are in fact thousands of examples of Filipinos that are individually successful. To have true, sustainable and natural pride in being Filipino the real challenge lies in pulling ourselves together to achieve as a people and not only as individuals. Our success as individuals is our own individual business and no one has the right to piggyback on any one’s individual achievement. The collective success of The Filipino, on the other hand, is our collective business.
Our star individual players — doctors, IT professionals, artists — are leaving in droves for a better life with the winning teams because they are tired of propping up (being heroes for) what essentially is the losing team. Lea Salonga, for example, is an achiever. But cascading her achievements to the rest of Filipino humanity is a stretch and nothing more than pure fantasy. To be proud to be Filipino because of the achievements of a handful of individuals is an underclass fantasy. Let’s instead be proud to be Filipino — but let us be proud for the right reasons. Our pride needs to be underpinned by an ethic of collective achievement. Collective achievement is achievement that cannot be attributed to any one person. For example, Japan’s achievement of recovering mightily from its World War II defeat is not because of the efforts any one Japanese hero or even small handful of them. Its success can be attributed primarily to the overall character of Japanese society.
This predisposition of Filipino Klingons to orbit ethnic Filipino success stories abroad is something that has been pointed out many times across many individuals, some of whom are just barely “Filipino”…
As is the case with Jessica, Lea Salonga, Manny Pacquiao, and Charice, to name a few, Filipinos have hailed the individual accomplishments of Filipino artists abroad and trumpeted them as collective accomplishments of the entire Filipino ethnic group. Whether or not you agree with me, I assert that this is a fallacious and utterly ridiculous and stupid thing to do. These people succeeded because they put in the hard work needed to succeed, and not because of their Filipino heritage.
The better principle to take hold of is so elegantly simple:
Be proud of them, not because of them.
It’s simple, really.
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