It’s no wonder Filipinos were again the subject of controversy in Singapore. There was some recent furor on Filipino celebrations of independence in the country. A group of Filipinos ran an ad where they announced a celebration of the June 12 Philippine Independence day happening on Orchard Road. This angered many Singaporeans, who expressed their opposition and said Filipinos had no right to hold this celebration.
Luckily some other Singaporeans are more level-headed, criticizing the way fellow Singaporeans vented their anger against Filipinos. Singaporean Prime minister Lee Hsein Loong himself came to the defense of Filipinos, saying the Singaporeans who harassed Filipinos were “a disgrace.” However, it still led to the Filipino group’s ad being pulled out.
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Many Singaporeans still felt outraged by the idea. One article on the issue says Lee’s defense of Filipinos is only for gaining Filipino votes for the PAP (knowing that some Filipinos opted to change their citizenship to Singaporean). Someone may liken this to Filipino politicians pandering to squatters (oh, I’m sorry… “informal settlers”) to gain votes. This also demonstrated another facet about Singaporean society – that Singaporeans may be just as dissatisfied with their government as we Filipinos are with ours.
Anyone remember Steph Micayle’s little rant on Youtube about why she’s not proud to be Singaporean? She complained of skyrocketing prices and nicer benefits being given to foreign workers, and the needs of the local people being left out. It seems that the root of this anger is some Singaporeans have long been against the influx of planeloads of foreign workers, because they feel this has contributed to life in Singapore becoming more difficult. Once a foreign group decided to make a “pride binge,” it broke the last straw.
Even some Filipinos in Singapore are in disagreement on the celebration. At least one of them criticized their own countrymen for “going too far” in how they conduct their independence day celebrations. The writer of the article called for more discretion in the activity.
Perhaps the problem is not whether or not Filipinos should celebrate independence in Singapore: I’m fine with it. The problem is the way they wanted to celebrate it. Running an ad and holding it on Orchard Road was doing it the noisy way. It may have been a demonstration of another fault of Filipinos – being improperly noisy.
Yes, noise applies to more than talking unnecessarily loud on the phone while in a public place or vehicle (why can’t people just hold the microphone part of the phone nearer their mouths instead of shouting?). Filipinos tend to be too noisy in their activities. That includes even the manner of holding celebrations and even – wait for it – proclaiming their “Pinoy Pride.” Another thing is doing it in Orchard Road – some may compare it to commandeering EDSA for one’s little village parade.
Perhaps Filipinos are still seeing foreigners as their oppressors, and are doing this celebration to recover a sense of identity, or as a feel-good activity to get out of the depression of being OFWs (which has a tremendous social cost). But being loud about it sends the wrong message.
Here’s how Singaporeans my see Filipinos being loud about their independence day – that it is an act of defiance as well as a sign of disrespect for their host.
And from the reactions of Singaporeans, it seems that this is the first time any foreign group decided to have a loud celebration of their independence. And of course, that would raise the eyebrows of the host.
While I agree some Singaporeans did go overboard on their raging against Filipinos, perhaps there’s still a lesson for us. I will repeat the message I earlier stated for Filipinos in Singapore (or anywhere) – we should not be a noisy people. Some Filipinos would say that being noisy is a sign of happiness. But this I contend against. Noise can actually be “pretend happiness” to cover up for their actual depression. That would make Filipinos dishonest in a sense.
Perhaps Filipinos also need to change their values on this – that even if discreet and quiet, they can still be happy. And being rudely noisy should not be accepted as a part of Filipino culture.
Some Filipinos would also say, what about the US? They allow us to do loud parades! Why can’t Singapore do that? The answer is that the guest should be the one to comply with the host, not the other way around. If your host allows such celebrations, fine. If your host forbids them, comply; a bitchfit means you are a bad guest worthy of throwing out. Imagine, if you had a guest that demanded that he do something you very much dislike in your own household, how would you feel?
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.