“Natural” Talents and Pinoy Pride

I recently realized one thing about Filipino belief in Pinoy Pride. It is likely based on the idea of natural talents. Notice that Pinoy Pridists highlight Filipino “talents,” and imply that talent is always inborn. Also, notice what Yellow propagandist Edwin Lacierda said one time: that “The Filipino has an innate advantage when it comes to the arts.” This idea is likely one of the main ideas driving Pinoy Pride, and driving Filipino swellheadedness, resistance to criticism and the tendency to easily become butthurt even over a real, existing flaw pointed out to them.


Many scientists and experts today oppose the idea of “natural” talents. Much research has been done to show that talents are mostly trained and nurtured, and there can be many external and environmental influences on talent (here’s a video by Geoff Calvin disputing the idea of natural talent). One problem with the inborn argument is that it is being used to justify domination over another. In an age where equality is seen as the guiding principle for all, some people still believe in something “inborn” as the rationale for dominance over others.

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Back in the days before World War 2 and human rights and equality movements, there was this prevailing belief that some people are just born superior to others. The Nazis used this for their Aryan ideology, that they are superior and should not only rule others, but get rid of people who threaten this superiority. But that’s not the only thing. Remember the “divine right of kings” concept? There are still people who believe that they were born to rule others. This delusion dominated human social systems for millennia. This was among the stupidities of humankind that kept it in barbarism and primitivism, and it took 6000 years before we realized, oh, it was stupid.

But yet there are still some people today who hold these obsolete beliefs. And Filipinos are among them.

It’s the classic nature vs. nurture argument. Personally, I believe that both apply. There is nature, and there is nurture. For example, I do believe some individuals, without training or other obvious external influences, can draw, paint, sing well, process numbers well or do other things that awe people early on. But there are also people whose talents come from training and nurturing, and they may surpass those with “natural” talent. Talents are also nurtured.

But Filipinos seem to take the belief in “natural” talents and create a myth out of it; that Filipinos are all “naturally talented.” In effect, if a Filipino has a great singing voice, every Filipino has a great singing voice. If a Filipina looks good, every Filipina looks good. These Filipinos probably like to believe that people of other countries are not as talented as Filipinos, and so imagine themselves as “great” or “superior.” They tie “talents” to race, that being part of a certain race gives you a special talent. And if one is Filipino, they are automatically “talented” and should be respected for it – even if they have done nothing to prove it. This is obvious shoehorning and stupidity, but it is likely one of the driving forces behind Filipino pride.

Perhaps this is one dynamic involved in the recent fracas involving topnotcher Tiffany Uy. Racist comments against her attack her Chinese ancestry. There is this racial stereotype, especially in the U.S., that Asians are usually better in academics. Some have the notion this is a “natural” talent of Asians. Of course, such successes can be attributed to a number of factors, such as family culture, and not on race. Also, it is likely there are Filipino-Chinese who are not doing well in school and may even be dropouts. Thus, it is not due to “natural” talent. But being racist is still what Filipinos are good at because they still believe in erroneous notions about race and “talents.”

No, even if some talent seems “natural,” it is not tied to race. Or country, or family or ancestry or whatever. And Filipinos just have to get rid of the notion of race defining them. They have to get rid of the notion that as a race, we have a “right to rule” or something like that. It’s nothing more than the Filipino culture’s immature pissing contest mentality. We should get rid of these erroneous notions that our race or ancestry defines us. Rather, what we do defines us (and also, get rid of the notion that Filipino is a race. It isn’t.).

Filipinos need to drop this belief that “innate” talent makes them special. Talents are not reasons to put certain people on a pedestal above others. They should instead believe that talents (whether innate or nurtured) give them the responsibility to discipline themselves and use these talents for the good of others. They are not meant for getting them special treatment, nor are they meant to secure dominance over others. But a bunch of people who want nothing more than to be waited on by servants, who want comfort and luxury without work and want nothing more than be dons and donyas (insisting that it is even their “natural” right), may refuse to get the concept. And thus the country, as a whole, stays as backward as it is.

20 Replies to ““Natural” Talents and Pinoy Pride”

  1. It’s the sweet delusion that greatness comes without hard work that’s the reason behind this belief in the Filipino’s natural talents.

    Unless you’re some kind of one-in-a-million savant, discipline makes all the difference. Talent must be nurtured. A fine blade will still dull if it isn’t sharpened.

  2. “They should instead believe that talents (whether innate or nurtured) give them the responsibility to discipline themselves and use these talents for the good of others.”

    Why should I use MY talent(s) for the good of others? Do I need to be exploited for the talents that belong to me?
    Unless of course I am working in a research lab trying to find THE cure/medicine against cancer. But in return I my talent to find that cure will be paid by a huge salary. So I can live with that. At least my talents are appreciated and rewarded.

    1. In the Philippines, only the managers get paid a huge salary, never the scientists. Heck, even the company accountant gets better pay than the scientists.

      People here would rather manage the talents, than become THE talent themselves.

      1. JustineD,
        I am not even surprised that scientists make less money. They are the ones who can put your country upside down. They may be the ones who can scientifically proof that god never existed (to name just an example) and we are all here thanks to evolution. So why encourage and reward that while its not very gainfull for the RC church and not beneficial for maybe a few laws (that are based on religious doctrine).

        My Pinay partner once told me: To know too much can be dangerous.

        And I think she is right (when talking about the Philippines). While in most modern western countries we say: knowledge is power.

        So I am not surprised and I am not shocked. And it also shows that something is really wrong with the quality of education in PH.

        It probably is impossible to get a PhD degree in Biology or micro-cell biology in PH?

        1. Hi Robert. Please name me a scientific finding that has proven that God does not exist. Am curious. Media was advertising that Higgs Boson was gonna do that, but after physicist Leonard Susskind made a compelling argument, I think media stop the foolish claim.

        2. Add,
          I cant give you names. Bec I dont keep track what scientists and archeologist discover. But personally for me its clear that god is invented by those guys who wrote the bible.

        3. Robert, Robert, Robert. I have many times been tempted to have a conversation with you because of some of your comments this site, but I held back because the topic would veer towards religion. I don’t think this is the venue for such a topic, not to mention that conversation on it tend to be a never ending argumentation as you might have noticed in sites that claim to be atheist, or sites that are dedicated to Christian Apologetics. Secondly, I recall in one of our conversations that you emphasized that religion is a private matter, and for that you said you are not interested in the thoughts of those with religion on a topic of religion. I have respected that.

          However, your hypothesis re the bible does not hold water, and in defence of it, I have to say something. If you were in an academic circle, your point of view is something already relegated to the fringes. Historo- critical methods and the various textual criticism developed in the last century (in fact, predominantly by Germans), both from the atheist side and the religious side, now maintain that the writers could not have “invented” their subject matter. There was indeed a historical phenomenon that occurred which prompted the writers to write the way they wrote.

          Of course, the more aggressive atheists like Dawkins would like to make it appear now that there must have been a mass hysteria, or mass hypnosis, among the mass of uneducated of old. But, how is this possible, an hypnosis recurring through centuries and millennia? And following the same thread? No sociologist could defend such a proposition, unless there is something anti-semitic deep down in them. Thus, they have also used well calculated rhetorics that sound quite scientific so that they could dismiss the whole bible as being spurious. Of course, such rhetorics could not convince those who are very much aware that there have been many authentic fragments dating way, way back dug by archaeology — in fact, the big discovery in Qumran was just an icing of the cake. The rhetorics did, however, convince the many who already considered religion as an infringement of their lifestyles in the first place. But then to claim the delusion of the uneducated of old? That is ignoring what even the most modern of us do. Don’t we dig for every info acquired in the last two centuries if we are interested in knowledge (for knowledge is power as we say) But then, don’t we dig for ancient info if we are interested in wisdom, for we remain amazed at how the ancients could come out with principles that still impact us today, even with their lack of scientific knowledge?

          The Bible is not one book. It is composed of 72 books (or 67, 76, or 78 depending on whether you are dealing with Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Maronites, or Coptics. Catholics maintain a canon of 72) For your perusal, that means there have been 72 (or whatever n, as mentioned) groups of authors, writers, editors, copiers, redactors, or thousands of individuals, who have been involved in the production of each book. Each book was created at different times in spans of millennia, each with specific objectives and with no connection with the other books. None of the individuals, groups, had a view, even an inkling, that their works would some day be included in a compilation called the Bible — the evidence of this is internal to the Bible itself. But they are a necessary compilation for the New Testament can’t be understood without the Old Testament, and vice-versa. So, how is it possible that they ended up pursuing one single theme?? Maybe, you could say that the compilers were genius. I will not go into that as there are many, many sites discussing the topic on how the Bible came to be. I think I have said enough to make you rethink your objection (and this is one reason why I hesitate to go into this topic as they can’t be covered by one paragraph.)

          Let me just end by saying that while you often claim Atheist Pride (although of course you don’t utter it as such as opposed to others here who could immediately and loosely utter Pinoy Pride at the drop of a hat. Hehehe), I will say that you seem to have a more Christian mind than those who openly claim they are Christians. I am basing this on the totality of your comments, and the only rationale I could think of is probably because you come from an environment that used to be one of the bastions of Catholicism. Culture don’t easily die down, and you are demonstrating it. The only exception is when you make an effort to question the seeming obsession of Filipinos in helping others. But, even that seems to be an effort on you part to just counter what Filipinos may be overdoing. You often say somthing to the effect: “I will develop my talents to benefit me — why would I help others?” If your effort is to counter what is being overdone, then I agree with you. How can I help others with something I don’t have. That would be overdoing things if I still help. But, I know you know you are really opposing yourself because by the mere fact you are commenting here you are already allowing your time and talent to help others. Recall this is a site to help Pinoys think.

          (The only other rationale I can think of is that you must have loved your Filipina partner so much. Do you know that there are those who are seeking happiness from a prostitute who may actually be seeking God? Besides trying to shock you, I am not hinting at all that your partner is a prostitute; that is not the point. But, if you didn’t get the point, then you are really an atheist who has been avoiding any contact with religion. I could rant about the point and the why, but I will just leave it as such in order that I could haunt you because I think you will be thinking about it. Hahaha.)

        4. Add,
          Regarding your 1st paragraph
          I asked, yes almost begged, my former pinay girlfriend to have a decent, intellectual, deep conversation about her religion. Why did I ask her that? Because I understood that her religion is important to her and hence becomes part of her personality (and life). And so it can/could have retributions for our relationship. She turned down my offer flat. Without following up on her rejection, I think she didn’t dare to have that conversation bec she was afraid that it would be very easy for someone like me to bring down her religion by stating simple facts or to allow her to have a more open vision/view by looking at a few or many doctrines. IN short, I think I was the very first for her being able to criticise a religion which is not very common in her territory (family, friends, work).
          But lets forget all the above. I mainly wanted to hear from her what her religion means to and for her and how she wants/wanted to incorperate it into her future life (with me). I also told her that once we would be living in my country, I would join her going to church but not every church service. So maybe once each month.

          Regarding your 2nd paragraph
          I am not an expert on the old testament, bible and new testament (Quran, Buddha, Torah). I think you are refering to my statement that god was an invention by the men who wrote the bible, right? Well, I could also have used words that Benign0 tend to use here when he writes an GRP article (an imaginary figure living in the clouds/sky) For me that is the same. I read his statement as a way to mock (maybe I am wrong, but think so).

          Regarding your 3rd paragraph
          Dawkins is not a person I “worship”. He is not my reverence.

          Regarding your 4th paragraph
          I cant really comment about what you say here, bec like I said earlier, I am not an expert. All I can say is this: I think the most religious person in the world has the right to do that. But in most cases I meet an attitude of being blinded by that same religion. I will change my opinion every day (not literally) when new information is presented to me. Example: today I can be pro-abortion but when new information is presented I will/can change my opinion about abortion (as long as that information come from trustworthy sources and does not include any religious bias. And when I am anti-abortion that only means that I would like to see that my partner will never incline to it. I will never state such opinion as to that a law must be changed bec there might be people who really think it will benefit them (an abortion). Hence, my opinion should never be THE law. People should be able to choose and should have options, opt-out or opt-in.

          Regarding your 5th paragraph
          I think, I really have to disapoint you here. I come from atheist parents and I was raised and brought up an atheist. Although I don’t know what that means: being raised an atheist. For starters, there was no bible in the house and my parents never took us to church and we never prayed before each meal.
          Will I help others? Yes of course, if and when I can. But we never help each other financially. In case you and your partner will go on vacation for a couple of weeks and you will ask me if I can mow your lawn during your absence then I will say yes of course. But it drives me crazy everytime I read here or in other fora or websites that I am only a good person when I help others. How often does a person need help? Can we pls start to teach those people to help themselves in stead of giving them fish every day??????? Have you heard about the group Patas and/or Hapi and/or Filipino Freethinkers? They also are solely focused on helping others. Its becoming like a sort of plague.

          Regarding your 6th paragraph
          I fell in love with my Pinay partner bec she showed/presented traits that I didn’t see before in other pinays I met. And although I think I knew quite early that she was a RC member, she didn’t let that hinder our relationship and the progress of the relationship. Untill 2.5 years later or so. But I am surprised that someone who says to be a devout catholic to behave like an atheist (in certain aspects).

          Finally, if you really want to continue this or other subjects/issues with me, you are very welcome to do so. You can find me on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and email.

      2. It’s like the Paradox of Plenty described below. Maybe it’s because the managers are talented in manipulating people or situations, so that those talented in working are below them. I think I read that tip somewhere: to get rich, make others get the money for you. Something like that.

  3. If not because, one or two Filipinos can sing well; that all Filipinos are naturally talented to sing.

    Lacierda , may have been consulting a Neo Nazi. His mindset is like a Neo Nazi.

    It is exceptional, for people who are “gifted”…in Arts and Sciences. Amadeus Mozart composed his first music composition, at the age of five…

    Talent is in you. What you do well , must be nurtured. We all have talented abilities. And, we have to discover them…nurture them. No one talent is better than the other.

    Remember the “Parable of Talents” , in the Christian New Testament Bible? Jesus Christ simply illustrated, that, not how many talents you have, is important; but how you use your given talent; and gain more talents, in your lifetime…

    It’s like a gifted Mathematician . He has to begin to learn : to count, then ,Arithmetic; then, Algebra…going to Differential and Integral Calculus…then to Differential Equation. They have to learn also; Geometry, Trigonometry, Spherical Trigonometry, etc…
    These people can learn easily, because, it is their natural inclination or gift or talent.

    Talent comes out of any race, ethnic origin, or family background.

    I have a friend in College who was very good in Calculus (higher Mathematics)…he was from Somalia, and an African. It is not the color of your skin, that defines your intelligence; nor your ethnic origin.

    It is in his Neo Nazi mindset that Lacierda, is trying to misinform the Filipinos. If Filipinos are that “talented”…why is their government remain the “Basket Case of Asia”? And, they are OFW slaves?…

  4. It’s like that also at a national level. So much talk about the Philippines’ abundant natural resources and beauty — which only highlights the lack of excuse for the absolute impoverishment of we see in the country today.

    The Philippines’ natural resources have nothing to do with Filipinos per se. Those were there long before humans settled these lands. In short, the Philippines is like that tragic blade you mentioned — made of good steel but pathetically blunt from a complete lack of effort to sharpen it.

    1. Ah, the Paradox of Plenty. It happens to a lot of countries. Like Sierra Leone, so full of diamonds, you thought it would be rich. But instead it’s torn apart by conflict, and De Beers took all the diamonds. Probably the issue is that locals conspire with foreign agents to sell off the resources abroad without fellow locals benefiting from it. Probably the case of our country too, a function of the pissing contest to be the first to be rich and dominant over one’s fellow. It’s an interesting idea too. If Filipinos are so great and talented, why can’t they get over the Paradox of Plenty and use their own resources properly? Too lazy to sharpen the blade?

  5. Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.

  6. Talent is natural but sadly not all have talent. It always associated if not mixed with skill. Talent is just a gauge on how good you are at a particular field without the aid of any formal training. But still the thing to be hone is still skill not talent. But what the world need more are innovator, those who can come up with new things or new old things.
    Like Japanese or American the always think of something new to do rather than keep doing old ones because they easily get bored. On the other hand Filipinos just look at what other countries are doing and merely copying it and not even trying to come up with a new concept. Passion should also be taken into consideration. Because if the person is passionate in doing something discipline will come along and skill will be honed constantly.
    Passion will trump talent anytime, though it would be a big advantage if you have those two. I have a friend who is really talented in drawing and painting when we were in UP, that time her work can kick my works butt anytime. She is one of my inspiration to harness my skill, but sadly her passion is not that strong enough I guess so now she works on a different job not associated with arts. What a waste.
    Pinoy always brag about natural wonders here as Benigno said, that is what I also keep thinking why brag that is naturally in our countries geography. It’s the human creativity that should be bragged about. No wonder we don’t have entry in “Top Ten Man-Made Wonders of the World”. That Contest is the gauge how ingenious people are rather than that “Top Ten Natural Wonder of the World” because the latter is just there in sitting on the horizon and no need of human intervention.

    1. Hmm, I find “Talent is natural but sadly not all have talent” something worth challenging, since some people not having talent can be the subject of discrimination. That’s why I’m increasingly going in favor of “talent” as being nurtured and learned, rather than “natural.” But the rest of what you said, I agree with. If you really have talent, put it into practice. Learn and don’t rest on your laurels. Unused talent is as good as no talent, so don’t bark about having “talent.”

  7. Innovators in Arts and Sciences are mostly talented and gifted people…

    I have never seen an ignorant person, who is an innovator…

    To get a good higher education; you have to go to advanced industrialized countries. The Philippines does not “treasure” its talented and gifted people. Mostly they become OFW/economic refugees. The Philippines is led by idiot political leaders; who “treasure” themselves…this is the reason, we are the “basket case of Asia”…

  8. Wow, I have to admire Chino for tackling a very profound subject and extracting a practical advice from it. That is what we call critical thinking.

    Indeed, “it’s the classic nature vs. nurture argument.” Very classical, as it already puzzled the ancient Greeks. Plato advanced that there is inherent inequality among men. Aristotle who came out with ten categories of “being”, namely “the substance” and the nine “accidents”, or predicaments of the substance, argued that all men (and women) are all equal by their substance. Chino, for example, is human by substance, and in that, he is no different from you and me. He is, however, different, and unique, in the predicaments he was born into, raised, and find himself today. The nine predicaments are quantity, quality, relation, action, passivity, place, time, posture, and possession. We comprehend the predicaments by our five senses; the substance, only by our mind. But, we know substances exist because, pursuing the above example, we know it is still the same Chino we are talking of as of today as that 5 year old Chino if we met him as a preschooler. What has changed are only the predicaments. The substance is that unchanging being to which the changing predicaments adhere to. Because of predicaments, we think of everybody as being unique. But if we think in terms of substance, everybody is the same — humans are all equal.

    From what I have so far read re researches on the human brain, it appears that medical sciences support the arguments of Aristotle rather than Plato. Except for the wirings in the brain that control our internal biology, it appears that we humans are all born with no permanent wiring in the brain. In other words, we all start with the same basic CPU, so to speak. Wirings only become permanent between the ages of zero to five years old. And, the wirings are very much determined by circumstances, predicaments and other inputs. There are no further wirings created after the age of six, and this is the reason that any child psychologist will tell you that zero to six years old are the most critical ages in child development. Within these years, the child may either end up with a dual core or a quad core or whatever, or with apps directed more towards arts or mathematics or both or whatever. Of course, a less developed brain can still compensate later by acquiring more input, and may even end up better than one who had a well wired brain, but became lazy in growing up.

    I am now reading a book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and it seems to support the above. The scary thing is that we may at times think that we may have thought out a decision, dissected and synthsize it, but it was really something predictable because we are creatures of habit. Is this because our ways have been set by the time we were six years old? This may be the reason why there are those who seem to be born with talent. But from the foregoing, I think it still about nurture, not nature — we were all born with same basic CPU. So, if it is the same as a computer, there is the possibility of garbage in, garbage out. But, there is the also the possibility of being a productive computer, irrespective if it is Windows or Apple, provided it is utilized well. Thus, it is not about what have, but about what we want to be. If that is the case, life will always have to be a struggle to be better.

    And if character is that which enlarge the substance via quality, and personality is that which is just a function of all the other eight predicaments, then maybe, we should be interested in character for that is more permanent than personality which changes because of the more changeable predicaments than that of quality. As a concrete example of what I mean, my experience is that it generally takes a minimum of two years to be personally close with a Chinese customer from Mainland China, but the moment you become a friend, nothing could almost break that friendship. With American or European influenced minds, with one or two transactions in a span of a week or a month, you can already feel the closeness, but you feel there is something superficial about it, it is just really about business. I don’t know, in this sense, I think there is something more substantive about the Chinese than Westerners. One emphasizes a study of the character they deal with; the other is attracted to a “winning personality”. Up to you to judge which is which.

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