Many Filipinos fall victim to satire sites. I myself admittedly had been taken by a few, being unfamiliar with them. One recent article tries to analyze why most Filipinos are unable to understand or detect satire. The reason given is the lack of intellectualism that allows one to understand it. I agree this is one of the elements, and anti-intellectualism is a problem that helps keep Filipino society backward. After all, former senator Richard Gordon observed, “the problem with Filipinos is we do not think…. we just react.”
However, I believe there is more. It is even possible for people with high intellectual levels to miss satire as well. There is another reason, one I push to be the greater reason.
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This is the tendency to take oneself too seriously and the inability to laugh at oneself. This is explained by Filipinos having such a high level of pride that they are unable to accept being the butt of jokes. Yes, this is true for people of other ethnic and national backgrounds, not just Filipinos. But I believe this attitude is particularly strong within Filipino culture. I consider it bad because it’s connected to another flaw: the unwillingness to accept criticism.
We’ve seen this at work when Adam Carolla criticized rabid Pacquiao fans. We’ve seen this at work when Katherine Ryan used Filipino kids as an object in her joke. We’ve seen this when a Filipino in Australia complained about another person named Kiki (who wasn’t even doing anything to harm the Filipino, ever). And we saw it recently when Filipinos reacted to Agness Walewinder’s blog post about food. And again, they reacted to a returning Filipino’s honest observations after coming home from Singapore. Filipinos react violently when they are the subject of a joke or criticism. The high pride, sometimes referred as Spanish pride, prevents us from accepting things that should be accepted, acknowledging our problems and doing the right things to solve. Or even ignore things that are better ignored.
As F. Sionil Jose wrote, we are mayabang. As Cito Beltran wrote, ours is not a beautiful mind. And as fellow blogger Gogs consistently writes, pride continues to be a burden that helps us keep our problems unsolved. It’s as if Filipinos always want to be on top of others, with impunity, and do not care if others suffer because of them – or do not care if they suffer from their own pride. And if we react before we think… pride is one of the reasons. We’re just too proud to think.
Of course, we did have satires, like Sick O’Clock News and Mongolian Barbecue of the older days. However, most Filipino satires are confined to the TV set. The Internet is a whole new medium. It would seem that most Filipinos are still unfamiliar with it, and are less able to practice discernment with it as with other media. Or, over the course of time, satires have been less used and fewer people are exposed to them, and thus, they are unable to tell.
I’m more familiar now with online satires when I see them. I knew it when some site suggested Piolo Pascual to be a national heartthrob. But sadly, many Filipinos are unable to tell, because they would become too proud of Pascual being a national something. And they ride on it.
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.