I found something in my mailbox this morning that I thought might help provide a few folks who are in the business of noisily proclaiming what amounts to no more than a hollow pride in “Being Filipino” with a bit of perspective.
Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.
“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”
The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”
“Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!”
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ‘Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.
You could have heard a pin drop.
Since time immemorial, stories abound about how this and that Filipino was subject to incidents of being talked down to in a condescending manner. Whether our susceptibility as a people to this kind of treatment is fair or unfair is beside the point. The more interesting question is this:
Do we have some kind of achievement to speak of that we can draw upon to respond to such condescension (whether unfair or not OR perceived or real) in a dignified and understated manner?
Note again how (as always) I choose the words I use insightfully. We need not look hard to see instances of Filipinos going off on silly warpaths at the first sign of a perceived slight against our cherished “national pride”. It’s all over the news, in our politicians’ hollowheaded sloganeering activities, and infests the Filipino blogosphere. Indeed, this onion-skinnedness of Filipinos is so very well-observed and cannot be denied. Unfortunately this cultural condition of ours is so rarely documented. The last treatise of consequence on the subject is Clarence Henderson’s seminal work, A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Pinoy Dream written waaaay back in August of 2002.
The solution is quite obvious.
When we reflect on what it means to be “proud to be Filipino” we only need to ask ourselves a simple child-like question:
What specifically about “being Filipino” should we be “proud” about?
Only when we can answer the above question with quiet understated dignity can we truly consider ours to be a great society.
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