Happy New Year! Many of you know that one of my favorite topics is the problem of Pinoy Pride. It is a source of controversy, since many, including myself, claim that it is a wrong attitude and a source of many of our country’s problems. Others defend it and say that it is needed as a “confidence-booster” by a “downtrodden” nation like ours. However, I believe many defenses of Pinoy Pride are based on mistaken beliefs, and these beliefs thus make pride more harmful than helpful…. or more negative than positive, to use the words of our critics.
Let’s start with one of the most common retorts:”You should have Pinoy Pride and shout that we are the best in the world, because if you don’t, it means you are ashamed of being a Filipino!”
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I see this as one of the most mistaken beliefs about Pinoy Pride because it’s based on what is called the false dichotomy. It involves claiming two concepts as opposite, when in fact they are not. For example, saying that one is the best in the world (which is an arrogant act) is considered necessary to avoid shame. Filipinos who believe this would say pride and shame are direct opposites. What a terrible false dichotomy.
Let me use my own working definition of some words for this article. I see pride and self-esteem as very different. I define pride as the belief that one can be superior to other people and the desire to boast. Pride seems to carry belief in an inequality of sorts, or that some people are better than others (which could be a launching point for racist views), leading to self-imposition over others. Self-esteem is the belief in one’s own dignity and human rights, but without the need to impose oneself over others. Humility is being honest about oneself, showing no desire to draw unnecessary attention to oneself (which we may call KSP – kulang sa pansin). Shame is the “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another,” which I picked from Dictionary.com.
In my working definition, the opposite of pride is not shame. The opposite of pride is humility. Another wrong belief of some Filipinos is that humility reduces self-esteem. Very wrong. Humility is actually a result of proper self-esteem. True self-esteem does not lead to boasting or arrogance, or even defensiveness. Self-esteem means you know how to respect yourself, but you know your limits as well.
Another retort heard from Pinoy pridists is:
“Eh nakakahiya tayo pag walang maipagyabang o maisumbat (We are shameful if we have nothing to boast or upbraid others with)!”
Having nothing to boast is not shame. Shame has its own separate causes. For example, raping a woman, slapping a helpless elderly disabled patient, or even holding hostage a bus full of foreigners and shooting them dead is a source of shame (And if you don’t feel shame for these, then I would say something is wrong with you). You can have nothing to boast, but also nothing to be shameful about, so there’s no need to feel shame. And you can still be happy.
Also, note that “sumbat” was translated “to upbraid” in the source I quoted. That means to reproach or censure someone. I’ve seen this in many Filipinos; they love to reproach other people, sometimes for no reason, since it is a manifestation of power-tripping. It’s another version of the “pataasan ng ihi” (piss contest) culture in our society.
Why would you want anything to boast? Because you want to prop yourself as superior and ruler over others? Then you would be no different from the politicians you call corrupt. Most wisdom teaches that it is wrong to boast, because most reasons for boasting are wrong. You can’t even claim to be patriotic or a true supporter of our countrymen, all you want is glory for yourself. Thus, it also represents an inflated ego.
And here might be another retort against my views: “accepting shame, even if one actually has a fault, is negative!”
Again, another mistaken view, based on the arrogant refusal to accept one’s mistakes. And on a wrong view of what is “negative.” Refusal to accept one’s mistakes is based on an overinflated ego and no desire to see a problem solved. It is based on irrational stubbornness against accepting truth. Or just a plain refusal to do what is right, because the action that is wrong “feels better.”
A basic problem with Filipinos is that they seek to have pride for pride’s sake. They seek to be superior just to “feel good.” Benign0 described it masterfully: “Filipinos are culturally hobbled by a compulsion to assert class dominance over the other.” They believe this is a legitimate way to build self-esteem. But I disagree. It is not.
And this might be another retort from the critics.
“Telling us to control our pride is oppression! All these values we’re receiving from the west are not values! We are being taught humility because it is a tool of the oppressors to keep us submissive!”
That sounds like a smart-aleck, politically-loaded retort. And real-life experience proves this retort as untrue. Also, it’s another manifestation of victim mentality. That’s why I refuse to believe in theories that Agenda this and that by the United Nations and other countries is a reason for the problems of the Philippines. It’s passing the buck, while trying to downplay admission of one’s own mistakes. It’s arrogance in another form. Anyone who draws attention to themselves through arrogance ends up making lots of enemies.
Look at countries whose success can be considered based on good values. Do Japan and Singapore cry “Japan pride,” or “Singapore Pride” the way we do? Do they blame other countries for their problems? So far, the only “country” I’ve heard shouting pride loudly is gay pride. Perhaps that’s what Filipinos believe, they’re the “oppressed” people and thus deserve their pride to be catered to. I also wonder, are people suddenly shouting that they’re victims only to draw attention to themselves? Gogs is right: KSP is the root of all evil. And pride is not a solution against oppression. Pride may even increase it.
Thus, one major reason why we have a problematic society, why we’re so onion-skinned and so dependent on riding on other’s fame, is because we have the wrong concept of pride. Perhaps we have the wrong concept on many things. We are a society that values the wrong things. We value form over substance, appearances over truths, and thus we engage in wrong practices to try and maintain these appearances. And then these appearances are torn from us, we play the victim card, when the truth is that we victimized ourselves through falsehoods and delusions.
I repeat, having no pride is not shame. Having humility is not shame either. It is having a controlled ego – which is the right kind of pride. With the proper self-esteem, the right kind of pride, we can avoid the things that make us the subject of scorn and satire by other people, and we can earn more respect as a people. I hope more Filipinos learn this lesson in 2014.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.