For a people who fancy themselves as “humble”, there is not much of that evident in the statements posted by people attempting to refute the ideas presented in my previous article “Do Filipino immigrants really contribute to the greatness of the United States and other countries?”.
It seems the concept of quiet achievement is alien to the Filipino mind. It is easy to admire someone who springs forth a huge result after beavering away quietly in a corner. But it is hard to take seriously a people who do the reverse — talk incessantly about their imagined “achievements” but consistently fail to produce anything of significance at a scale that matches the noise they make.
Perhaps this is the reason Philippine politics is the way it is. Even in between elections, Philippine politics is noisy. The energy being expended by Filipinos, indeed, goes to the wrong outcome. Rather than precious scarce energy routinely channeled to results, it gets channeled towards noise. What a waste.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Filipinos make a sport of hating their politicians without realising that they behave exactly like them.
For Filipinos, acquiring respect for their ethnic group is regarded as a campaign. Rather than earn respect, Filipinos campaign for it. This is evident in the way even the smallest little wins by individuals who have even the remotest ethnic links to the Filipino “race” (as some Pinoys call their lot) are given screaming media coverage.
Next time you roll your eyes to the heavens after being subject to the next political epal campaign, perhaps take the time to reflect on how many ordinary Filipinos regard ‘Pinoy Pride’ as a popularity contest too. Should the noble pursuit of building national pride be a campaign effort? Or is such a worthwhile initiative really something that should be mounted at a more profound level?
The results speak for themselves. ‘Pinoy Pride’ is like a castle built upon sand. Countless initiatives to promote Pinoy Pride have nothing sustainable to show. The sooner a beacon of fleeting pride is put up before Filipinos’ starry eyes, the foundation crumbles. Think Manny Pacquiao and the pride equity he had all but squandered.
Pacquiao, along with many other such pride tokens have come and gone. And, still, Filipinos are left scrounging around for that elusive national “pride”. It has become one of the world’s greatest mysteries — how a people so hungry for pride remains such a humbled lot to this day.
How then can this cycle of pride bubbling and bursting be ended in the Philippines?
It’s simple, really.
The only way Filipinos can satisfy their debilitating craving for national pride in a sustainable manner is to worship the gods of achievement over and above anything else. This is no easy task. It means a complete overhaul of the way Filipinos think. It means setting the bar high and seeing results as a variable and the standard as an absolute. At present, it is the other way around in the Philippines. The standard is habitually adjusted to suit the result. For example, if an idiot is elected to the presidency, then the standards of what it means to be a good president are re-set to idiot levels.
Filipinos need to wean themselves off their renowned habit of compromising on excellence — to not just pretend to be a great people but aspire to be a truly great people.
Craig Nelson introduces his book Rocketmen, with the story of a 1969 United States Senate briefing (shortly after Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon) where Fermilab physicist Robert Wilson is asked how a $250 million atom smasher he proposes be built will contribute to the security of the United States. Wilson responded by saying that it will contribute nothing, but that the American people’s capacity to undertake endeavours like those is what makes the United States of America worth defending.
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