In connection to the recent win by the Gilas team against Senegal, a while back, The University of the Philippines obtained what is considered a rare sports victory. What signified that it was rare and important was because they decided to put up a big bonfire that time. It also seemed other that people criticized this bonfire celebration, because someone came out with a defensive statement. It went like:
“They say that the University of the Philippines is a microcosm of the Philippines. I think that’s true….
People ask why we’re celebrating over this little win. People wonder why we’re heating up with pride in the bonfire at the Sunken Garden right now. To be honest? It’s no little win for us.
Winning after a streak of losing is like feeling the sun over your head after a week of rain. It’s like watching Guardians of the Galaxy after a bloody week of enrollment in UP. It’s like finally eating ChickenJoy in Jollibee after they’ve regained their supply.
I guess you can feel the same way over what’s happening in our country. We’ve had Typhoon Yolanda smash through Visayas. We’ve had a parade of corruption and greed. We’ve had Glenda. We have war knocking on our doors because of a border dispute. We’ve had Metro Manila traffic slowing down to a carabao’s trot.
But when the little victories come, they can have an amazing effect. Like seeing Megan Young strutting Filipino beauty all the way to Miss World. Like hearing about Leyte towns regaining their stability and security after Yolanda. Like seeing activists bravely holding a SONA of the People. Like hearing about UP graduates in far-flung areas of the country teaching, curing, inventing and toiling selflessly.
Big hope comes with little wins. UP won one game today. Next year, it might win two. The year after that, it might just win three.
If you’ve already heard a voice inside you say, “It’s possible”, then there’s no reason to stop the fight. That’s true for UP and for the Philippines.”
In my view, I don’t find this wrong for U.P. and I agree that there should be no reason to “stop the fight” (which I assume means fighting against Pork Barrel). But I see a problem with making this an attitude for the whole country. The problematic attitude for me is Filipinos treating every little victory as an el grande fiesta. Basically, I believe this attitude reflects the real negative attitude, one reason why Philippine society fails to move forward. It’s because Filipinos signify through this attitude that they expect defeat and failure.
Recently we’ve had this attitude towards the win of Smart Gilas over Senegal. The public’s minds are likely conditioned to “we are Filipinos, we’ll lose basketball anyway.” Then they say, “oh we won! Big celebration!” The Gilas team doesn’t think this way, even if they may lose, they still have the mentality of winners. Meaning, even if they lose, they take it graciously – not like the uber-rude, foul-mouthed and barbaric fantards.
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And I’ll dare say this: even if Gilas actually wins a lot of games and becomes the champion, it’s not really a victory for the whole country. Why? Because other Filipinos, especially the fantards, do not display the same positive behavior as the basketball players. The fantards likely won’t win even a trash can shooting contest – so they “hang on” to another’s victory and say it’s theirs. But that’s clearly stealing.
The point is: Filipinos seem to jump on every Filipino Pride bandwagon because they feel defeated.
I do see the point of the celebration attitude as well. As colleague Paul Farol said, every achievement by another Filipino is a candle in the dark. Filipinos celebrate every little achievement by someone like Manny Pacquiao, Lea Salonga, Charice Pempengco and others. Because the Filipinos can claim, there are great Filipinos, too, not like us.
Wait a minute: did you see that? Not like us! So Pempengco, Salonga and Pacquiao demonstrate that they are Filipinos who can achieve great things, because they are not like the other Filipinos. So there’s the problem: why are the other Filipinos like that (refer to the list of bloopers below)? Isn’t the other Filipinos’ job to fix their own problems and achieve something for themselves? So they will prove that Filipinos are not bad? So Filipinos don’t really want to win. They want others to win while they just lazily latch on to that win to steal the credit.
Along with the above, Fellow blogger Paul Farol quoted me on why Filipinos need this candle in the dark:
Pinoys love to imagine that they are “oppressed” people in the world. But when they do things like post pictures of themselves wearing their employer’s clothes without permission (the maid in Singapore), slap a helpless Alzheimer’s patient (Jonathan Aquino case), steal from a US children’s cancer fund (Rene Ballenas pleaded guilty to larceny), make a loan in the U.S. then run home to avoid paying it, murder a famous fashion designer (Andrew Cunanan killing Gianni Versace), complain about someone else’s name (the Filipino complaining about someone being named Kiki in Australia) or be on the defensive after the botched Manila Hostage Crisis, you know they are far from “oppressed” or “deserving pride.” It’s more like they need therapy. If only there was a psychiatric treatment called Ego Therapy.
Add to that the pikon trolls who swamp the web pages of the opposite team… it’s really dark.
So back to the analysis. We stick to celebrating every little victory without looking at the big picture. This is what Nick Joaquin called the heritage of smallness. We look at the candle in the dark… but fail to focus on why it’s dark. Isn’t light supposed to be the normal condition? What’s causing the darkness? Isn’t there a bigger problem to look at and solve? So for example, in reference to the bloopers Filipinos commit above, isn’t stopping that kind of behavior one way to solve the problem?
Another angle to the attitude that even a small victory should be given el grande fiesta celebrations reflects one other major problem of the Filipino:
The Puede-Na-Yan mentality.
Thus, for me, the solution is perhaps to stop making a big fuss out of every little “victory” (just tone it down, actually), and to actually demand more. We can’t keep accepting “consuelo de bobos” as achievements. We need real victories, real achievements, bigger stuff to handle. This includes not only addressing the corruption in politics and society (since even the ordinary people can be corrupt). We need to improve our economy, upgrade our culture from a pathetic gossip- and showbiz-driven travesty, to one that is truly modern in both culture and structure. One that is intellectually strong and willing to challenge status quo and undo the corrupt and backward culture that is associated with our country.
Only then will we have true Pinoy Pride.
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.