Is ‘love of country’ a concept that is still relevant in the Philippines?

It’s a common mistake to liken the way one feels for or regards a country to the way we feel for or regard an actual person. So when we say we “love” our country, poets will wax lyric about how this “love” is like the love we feel, say, for a parent. In reality, that’s an apples-to-oranges analogy which spawns other flawed ideas in the way we think of approaching how we implement reform in our society.

The love we feel for our parents and children is unconditional. Many nationalist poets will point out that we are duty-bound to feel this same form of love for our country. So, we are told, even if the Philippines continues to fail consistently in many of the aspects and metrics to do with national development and progress, we should continue to “love” the Philippines regardless. But unlike our parents, however, there is no real evidence that the Philippines, in that same sense, raised its citizens to the best of its abilities — like a good parent. Indeed, Filipinos residing in other countries will attest to the fact that the governments and societies of those countries treat them with far more dignity and respect than the government and society of the Philippines, their homeland. So to love the Philippines like one would a parent simply does not make sense.

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If we step back and examine the core ideas around why people come together to form modern nations, we will find that all roads lead to a general assumption — that a nation formed on the basis of a shared culture, philosophy or ethnicity will necessarily be the place where said people who share said culture, philosophy, and/or ethnicity will most likely be treated justly and, therefore, prosper. Thing is, it worked for some and didn’t for others. The Philippines has, so far, failed to demonstrate that the Philippines is good for Filipinos. There seems to be more evidence to the contrary — evidently, Filipinos are more likely to prosper when hosted by other societies and when subject to other governments.

Most Filipinos are likely to find opportunity, justice, and even sustained happiness outside of the Philippines rather than from within it. It begs raises a rather confronting question:

Of what benefit is it to Filipinos to form a self-governing nation for themselves?

That puts into perspective what, in hindsight, turns out to be a rather arrogant remark issued by the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth government, Manuel L Quezon…

I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans…

Quite remarkable that people at the time this statement was made did not ask: Why be a nation then if the risk of it being “run like hell” is higher than if the status quo (at the time, to continue being a colony of the United States) virtually guaranteed a heavenly state? Suffice to say, hindsight gives us the benefit of seeing the true folly in Quezon’s words.

The Philippines, almost 70 years after it was granted independence by the United States, is being run like hell. None of its leaders can be trusted and the checks-and-balances baked into the very design of the system of government it adopted from the United States are all but broken — rendered impotent by a vast corruption ring that envelops two of its three pillars, the Executive and Legislative branches.

What is there to “love” — much more, love unconditionally — about the Philippines?

It turns out that this is really not the right question to ask. The Philippines does not need love. It needs respect. And it does not need this respect to come from the outside, it needs it to come from within — from Filipinos themselves. Whereas Filipinos raise stink after stink about perceived insults from foreigners, we fail to see the gross disrespect Filipinos themselves reserve for their own country. Filipinos treat their land like a vast garbage dump, routinely fail to be considerate of their neighbours, produce the shoddy and mediocre products that have turned “Made in the Philippines” into an indictment, and consistently elect idiots and crooks to run their government. Has there been a foreign entity that has shown more disrespect to the Philippines than Filipinos themselves?

The Philippines will prosper only when Filipinos gain a bit of self-respect — when we respect our own laws, when we respect the people who purchase our products, when we respect the people whose lives are affected by the leaders we elect, when we respect our environment and appreciate how easily it could make or break us, and when we respect our own individual abilities to determine our own respective futures.

Love of country? That notion becomes relevant only come the time when there really is something about the Philippines to love. Achieving that is something Filipinos need to work on first.

[Photo courtesy France24.]
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53 Comments on “Is ‘love of country’ a concept that is still relevant in the Philippines?”

  1. Agree with the argument you advance here. You couldn’t be more right. That said, could you please not misuse the expression “begs the question”? “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy in which you assume the conclusion of an argument; it’s not what you’re doing. What you mean to do is “raise the question.” Thanks!

  2. If the Philippines was a responsible parent, it would not have abandoned the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Relief goods and proper housing would have benefited these people. Instead, the exploitative nature came first to the government.

    If we really loved our country, we would self-appreciate ourselves (meaning, no more “Kayo na ang magaling!” or “Bakit hindi kayo ang maging presidente?” attitude) but not to the point of being egocentric by voting for politicians not by popularity but with the right attitude and sincerity to lead the country at heart.

      1. So, I gather, you hate your motherland which has birthed and nurtured you?

        How sad. You must really hate yourself then. If you feel that life in the Philippines hasn’t treated you well, then please don’t hate us who feel blessed to the Filipinos.

        You have the freedom to hate your country. But I have the freedom to LOVE it. I choose LOVE, you choose hate. Who lives the better life? Who is dysfunctional?

        1. To quote domo: “We do love our country but not with your dysfunctional pinoy prayd.”

          Meaning, we want to help the country in a way but not adhering to the the “PINOY PRIDE crap” that turns us into egocentric KSPs whenever we see Manny Pacquiao win a fight.

        2. Looks like somebody missed the point of the entry… oh well… some people are bound to do that I guess

        3. Jhay….Love of one’s country is love of one’s OWN identity – love of themselves. This adolescent form of narcissistic attachment has little do with love in a mature sense: namely, placing the interests of others BEFORE yourself.

        4. Mahathir vehemently criticize his own countrymen due to their bad attitudes and bad thinking. But he gave them a message of hope: “If we can CHANGE, we can be successful.”

          That is TRUE LOVE for the country. And look at Malaysia now. Why can’t the Philippines do the same? It’s because of people like you who follow blindly and clinging for false pride.

        5. “Hi I’m jhay lapinid and I hate to be criticized because I’m a whiny baby and i’m still proud of it ever since I was born.”

  3. Living in Metro Manila when I see the recklessness and utter abandon some people have when they move around I don’t see a love of fellow man. The Metro Manila singit mentality. Self entitled, me first , me only. People pissing anywhere, people smoking anywhere. I try not to extrapolate to the rest of the country since I don’t spend anywhere near as much elsewhere. Still you have a long way to convince me that is truly a country that loves it’s own.

    1. I honestly do not think this is much different from other large urban centers. This me-first behavior is certainly not just limited to Pinoys.

      There have been several experiments involving nurturing a rat population, where all their basic needs (food, shelter, protection) were covered.

      The main takeaway from these experiments was that – once a population grows to a certain tipping point – shit hits the fan and all sorts of behavioral problems (e.g., rat on rat violence) break out.

      http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Escaping+the+Laboratory%3A+the+rodent+experiments+of+John+B.+Calhoun+%26…-a0197666893

  4. “I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans…” If this is the mindset of President Manuel L. Quezon before, it is really true that hidden bad attitude and personality of some known heroes are exhume and it stinks a lot to death. Now, I am convinced that there are something in the past, in our history that are harmful to assimilate because it is full of bullshit.

    Is this what we are proud of? Many of us have such a big pride and adoration of themselves, that is why we are cursed by heaven for making ourselves to the highest level. In small or big achievement we boast a lot yet it does not affect others for them to uplift their drowning lives in poverty.

  5. Genuine love of country is relevant in our troubled times. We must continue to teach our youth sober patriotism and nationalism. This builds national cohesion. Extremism is not an option. The ideals of genuine love of country also builds leaders, it also fosters discipline and respect for law and order. It builds genuine national pride. No country can attain greatness without genuine love of country. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay tayong lahat!

    1. Thomas,

      I’m glad we still have some sensible people here. I’m tired of haters who hate anything about the Philippines. They even hate people who just want to love and support their own country. Now how dysfunctional is that?

      1. There’s lots to hate about the Philippines and so little to love. So the best way to come up with a convincing response to this article is to cite specific aspects about the Philippines that could attract the “love” you encourage people to feel for it.

        1. I must admit that it’s hard to feel love for our fellow Filipinos if we perceive all their flaws everywhere we face, but taking issue with such flaws and writing about them here at GRP, as what was done here by benign0, is a manifestation of love for country, as opposed to what the other readers said. That’s exactly what Rizal himself did.

        2. Rizal showed his love for his country by exposing the people’s unpleasant traits. Some at GRP admitted they are diehard Rizal’s disciples and therefore acting as such. Still, others claimed the love for their country by disputing everything that Rizal and his disciples have been preaching.
          It is possible that when one was raised in the land of his/her birth, and is not exposed to the outside influence, his/her affections for the land can be acquired naturally. This feeling can be so inherent that one may not even be aware of such affection exist until something calls for it.
          As a result, the people process this affection for their own self interest, unintentionally never minding they belong and affect the larger community. Until something change out of the ordinary, they only exist as individuals. The need to feel for the interest of the bigger community is farthest from their concern.
          However when one is exposed to the outside influence, one usually becomes aware of his/her affection for the land and its people. Different ways to manifest affection are learned and now he/she sees the land and its people on entirely different light.
          However, instead of denouncing through preaching the ignorance that he/she now sees and questioning the patriotism of the people, he/she strives to share them, through actions rather than words, the new ways to express patriotism. He/She resisted the temptation to doubt the patriotism of his/her people.
          He/She understands that exposure to something new does not make anyone more or less patriotic but only expands one’s mind to new ways of expressing it. Not forgetting that he/she was once blind, he/she now sees that patriotism is inherent and not manufactured, and only the way of expressing it is subject to modifications.

        3. What on earth are you talking about, ross? Will you please stop talking in riddles and go direct to the point?

        4. ross,

          You are mistaking two different concepts. What you describe is “nationalism” not “patriotism.”

          Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background, including language and heritage, your “affection” for the country of your birth. Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on ideas, values and beliefs. Contrary to your statement, IT IS “manufactured”; it develops over time.

          Nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life. In this sense, patriotism is passive by nature and nationalism can lead to aggression.

      2. Jhay,

        I do not hate you. You love the country and I can give you that. But please wake up? Or at least in your dream, do not keep blind eyes.

        Where has your ‘love for the Philippines’ brought you? or the country? I am assuming you are living a satisfied and comfortable life somewhere in the country for you to ‘unconditionally’ love our homeland, but please look around.

        There is too much apathy. Too much lack of discipline. Too much lack of respect. Too much lack of dignity. Too much in-your-face corruption.

        I know you speak for yourself. But you cannot defend the country with all its flaws and bad culture and where the citizens have to deal with their daily lives air and noise pollution in the streets; reckless jeepney, bus and private car drivers; dishonest taxi drivers; untrustworthy and sloppy security force; (i can keep on ranting here…).

        You may have your own haven here in the Philippines, but again look around. Try to gain perspective. The Filipino’s quality of life is outrageous. Things can be much better. Life can be so much better.

        1. @Jhay Lapinid

          I don’t know if our people repeating the same mistakes over and over is considered “loving your country.”

          My questions are, “If I love this country, why does it hate me in return? Why does the government treat us like crap? Why do we always elect officials based on popularity only to be disappointed by their performance? Why do Filipinos hate change even if it’s for the right reasons?”

          There are a lot of questions, mind you but the current situation in this country just shows that we don’t love the Philippines indeed, you included.

  6. Love is either a feeling or an act of the will, but anyone who really loves, either as a feeling or by an act of the will, will work for the good of the beloved. As such, to love one’s country means to work for its good, which has always been a problem for the Filipinos because before the Spaniards came to our shores, we were not a consolidated country but a random collection of separate independent barangays, with the other barangays treated as foreign states. When the Spaniards came, they consolidated us into a country but did their best to divide us (by imposing the use of a passport for travel from one province to another and by making us fight one another) so we wouldn’t revolt against them as a nation. That lasted for 333 years (roughly 16 generations). When the Americans came and ruled us for about half a century, they made us love them more than our fellow Filipinos so we wouldn’t revolt against them. It worked tremendously, to this day. When the Japanese came, they treated us so badly that we turned traitor to one another just so we would survive. We really never had any opportunity to develop love for one another as Filipinos. The effective teaching of our history could be a potent tool for that, but it’s not being used for that purpose. Frankly, I don’t know what else we can do to foster love for country.

    1. If it’s one thing I learned from History class from Grade School is that we distrust one another way before we were conquered by the Spaniards.

      The continued disunity among this nation is clearly evident of the “crab mentality” sydrome that we still practice up to now.

    2. Chrissie,

      That suggests this is a moot discussion. If Filipinos have not developed an identity or “sense” of nation beyond the borders of their immediate community of kinship relations and friends and supporters, we cannot expect them to appreciate the idea of OTHER communities or ethnicities being part of a greater whole known collectively as “Filipino” much less express admiration for our way of life. There would be no sense of responsibility or loyalty.

      1. Precisely, Johnny Saint. That’s really a problem. We can’t even emphasize common experiences that can bond us as a people because the people in Mindanao during the Spanish times in the Philippines were not under the Spaniards. (The Spaniards failed to subjugate them.) Of course, our history can be taught in the schools in such a way as to emphasize the fact that we’re now one whole nation and should learn to love our fellow Filipinos, but as benign0 said in this article, it’s hard to fall in love with your fellow Filipinos if you constantly perceive their wrongful ways. It’s really hard.

        1. benign0’s article singles out the Filipino attitude of feeling superior to others in all respects (as a consequence of being born Filipino) as a constant source of some very ugly behaviours, some very “wrongful ways.”

          Again, as I said in a previous post, that’s a misguided sense of “nationalism”. It makes one think only of the country’s virtues and not its deficiencies. Being rooted in self-conceit, rivalry and resentment, it makes Filipinos contemptuous of the virtues of other nations. That form of nationalism makes one try to find justification for mistakes made in the past.

          We shouldn’t be teaching the next generation that they find common ground based on the notion that history has brought us to a point where we are nominally one nation with some shared experiences.

  7. The love of country is being used by politicians to gain votes. For the present Aquino administration; to deflect its critics, and to assure YellowTards: they are the “good guys”. Most of the political leaders, identifies themselves, as the country;”I am the State” mentality. That , if you criticize them; you are criticizing the country, as a whole.
    Remember the boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao, is being identified as, “Pambansang Kamao”.
    Love of country means,Do not STEAL from the national treasury…Do not DELUDE voters, to win elections…Do not do HOCUS PCOS to get elected…Do not pocket the funds, intended for the Typhoon Yolanda victims… Thinking otherwise, makes you a YellowTard…

  8. I observe a woman every morning who scrubs her stoop fastidiously. She then takes the dust and refuse and dumps it in the middle of the street at a distance of 5 meters away. What causes this disconnect between personal pride and pride in one’s community? Families are besieged by poverty and they have a fortress mentality? Religion encourages people to look inward? The greater the love we have for ourselves; the more disdain we seem to have towards others. I don’t get it.

    1. I love your anecdote. It just fits in to the hundreds of examples I see living here for two decades. How can you be a unified country without respect for those around you? If you read the lengthy blog I wrote about a year ago on how we accepted the loss of human life oh so easily that was point I am trying to make. Pinoy pride makes no sense since they don’t balance the ledger with pinoy shame. How many pinoys put more into the whole than they take out?? Whatever that works out to be that defines our mindset more than anything.

    2. Sea Bee,

      That just reinforces what I posted earlier. Filipinos have not developed an identity or “sense” of nation beyond the borders of their immediate community of kinship relations and friends and supporters. And as Chrissie mentioned: “we were not a consolidated country but a random collection of separate independent barangays, with the other barangays treated as foreign states.”

  9. The question whether “love of country” is still relevant is a question that searches the soul of someone with a deep seated anger, an anguish, disillusionment towards a society that perhaps denied him access to state or public privileges or perhaps personal accomplishments that affords people a certain sense of special place in society.

    Whether the article attempts to address a personal issue or cultural issues based on the results of our countries post colonial experiences such as: language, religion, common political views, cuisine, arts, music, sports or fashion as the “basis” of what makes the Filipinos today and how we relate and respond to others in a fast changing technological world.

    Intelligent article. It examines the soul of a people still searching for it’s own identity and relevance post colonial times.

  10. I don’t know how a Filipino can say they “Love” their country when they see all these people living in the squatter areas, the children in the streets, all these crimes on tv, the corruption allegations. Can you really say you love that?

    1. Juan,

      I want to see you go one year:

      No English newspapers/ magazines.
      No English TV and movies
      No English radio

      Assuming it can be done, let’s see what it does to your thought process/ critical thinking and overall awareness.

      That is what your idea of love of country? At the expense of cerebral functions? This exercise will show you how broad/ narrow yung wika really is.

    2. Haan laeng nga tagalog ti sao dittoy Pilipinas.

      You are just to shallow to think that love of country (as the article states) is shown by speaking its national dialect.

    3. Makapag-comment lang, wala pang kwenta yung comment mismo.

      Ayan, nag-Tagalog na ako ha? Basa-basa ng articles dito imbis na ganyan ang banat mo.

    4. Juan, Inggles talaga ang ginagamit dito dahil meron ding hindi Pilipino na nagbabasa dito, na di maiintindihan kung Pilipino ang gagamitin.

    5. @Juan

      Mawalang galang na din po kung hindi naisulat sa wikang Tagalog itong website na ito purket ba ang pinag-uusapan dito ay Pilipinas. Kasalanan ba namin kung hindi ka nakakaintindi ng mga kumentong Ingles? O baka sadyang tinatamad ka lang magbasa at intindihin?

      Anong silbi ng English instruction sa curriculum ng Pilipinas kung ganyan lang?

      At isa pa, bakit walang Bisaya nagrereklamo na hindi nakasulat ang website na ito sa Bisaya? Napansin ko mas magaling pa mag-Ingles mga Bisaya kaysa mga Tagalog.

  11. Please don’t cut off the more important part of Quezon’s words: “I would rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans, because however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it.”

    And if you’ll analyze it well enough, you’ll see that MLQ really means well.

    1. And if you analyze it well enough, it shows just how much more tragic Filipino society is. However times they “changed it”, they still ended up pretty much with the same wretched fate.

      Whether MLQ meant well at that time or not is debatable. But even with that other half, it still is an arrogant statement to make.

    2. Yeap, we keep changing it and it keeps getting worse and worse. He rushed the Philippine independence to prevent America from fully guiding us toward a mature state. Quezon then imposes the worthless Tagalog language just so we can show the international community that we have a national language (a language we can’t really use in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Europe, America and South America because there are no jobs in our hellish country). To top it all off, he abandoned the masterplan to redevelop Manila and instead create a capital in his honor. My dad debated with his professor whether or not Filipinos were ready for independence. In a nutshell, Quezon was a selfish, delusional thespian comparable to Imelda Marcos, et al.

    3. Sorry, MLQ’s line worked decades ago and look what’s happening right now. On the contrary, I’d rather have a country run by foreign angels who can really make a society better than a country run by local leeches of society with a nation that abhors positive change.

    4. Parang, get it wrong the first time, we’ll correct it afterwards. Problem is, the mistake the first time can have effects that are so serious, it will be almost impossible to change. That was a letdown by Quezon to accommodate mediocrity.

    5. @Jherskie
      That’s the problem when a leader puts his misguided nationalistic idealism on a pedestal. The pursuit of some idealistic end overrides any rational concern for whether it will be worth it in the end once we do acquire it.

      It’s akin to a teenager aspiring to be independent and to be free from his parents’ control, but not knowing what to do with that independence and not being fully conscious of the fact that independence entails responsibilities once he or she does acquire it.

      Some of us are more sensible and more mature than that. What’s the point of having independence if we don’t know what to do with it, knowing full well that the country will indeed probably be run like hell in the process? Our ancestors should have been wiser, should have been more patient instead of being impulsive and brash with their nationalistic fantasies.

  12. A so-called “love of country” cannot be fully understood by Pinoys because they first and foremost fail to define what “love” means to themselves.

  13. Absolutely agree here. What this country lacks is self-respect, and it shows in the way people treat each other in this country. It’s sort of hypocritical for Filipinos to preach Christian values to everyone else when they usually don’t act the part.

  14. “Love your country, but never trust its government.”
    — Robert A. Heinlein

    Once politicians bribe the people with their own taxes it reflects a failed nation where democracy, the rule of law, and checks and balances, are but sham edifices which only serve to cloak the reality of corruption and self-interest.

  15. How can we expect some people to love their country?….. Families in this present time became sel-centered, some are broken full of hatred and stiff cold. Where should healing begin? How can we heal our nation?

    FAMILY – the smallest form of government

    The president is a bachelor….he doesnt need to worry for us. HE DONT KNOW THE CONCEPT.

    We have a lawless government who is now running havoc with our resources, playing with our feelings…..unless people put a stop to this insanity.

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