It’s no secret that having fair skin in the Philippines translates to upward social mobility. If we consider for a moment that the skin colours that dominate Philippine entertainment may be good indicators of the sorts of folks Filipinos look up to and even worship, it is fair to conclude that this remains true today. Indeed, fair skin makes one newsworthy and affords one a louder screen presence. In today’s social media-crazy society, screen presence is the be-all-end-all of all efforts to gain personal validation. Fair skin makes personal validation easy. Those with less than fair skin need to work extra harder in Philippine society to achieve the same.
Unfortunately, Philippine society is a confused society. While Filipinos are beholden to fair skin and the “Euroness” of fair skin, their adoration does not seem to penetrate beneath the appearance of Euroness. The deeper character of Europeans that spelt their unprecedented success in dominating the planet socially, culturally, politically, and technologically lies beyond Filipinos’ capacity for colonial worship. The Filipino’s colonial mentality is shallow. In seeking to emulate their former colonial masters, Filipinos are tops at the superficial aspect of this effort but stop short where deep character begins.
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Filipinos, for example, continue to fail to appreciate and acquire Europeans’ ethic of exploration and conquest. Rather than reach out to their surroundings Filipinos shrink into comfort zones. Within these zones, the familiar evolves into the perverse. This accounts for how the clanishness of most Filipinos — a cultural trait that served a survival purpose in more primitive times — despite being patently inappropriate in an age of abundant information and easy access to it remains deeply-ingrained in the Filipino psyche. This detestable trait has contributed immeasurably to the social dysfunction we see in Philippine society today in the form of its hopelessly polarised politics and fragmented ideological communities.
Truly curious people feel discomfort in the familiar and habitually ask themselves: “Is this all there is to it?” and “Is there anything else out there?” But to the sorts of people who are destined to stagnate, the familiar is where it’s all at. They are happy exchanging mutual high-fives with their amigas within their little cliques, uphold tradition and established dogma, and regard outsiders with unhealthy suspicion. Curious people, on the other hand, routinely welcome the unfamiliar and distill its input to isolate what is useful and value-adding to their development.
This is where the fatal flaw in Philippine society lies. Filipinos’ colonial regard for the European look did not evolve into an appreciation of the European ethic. It takes curiosity to look past the eye candy and into the deeper underpinnings of holistic beauty. We can see this in the way skin-whitening had become a multi-billion-peso industry within less than a fourth of the timeframe that Singapore went from Third World to First World. Yet today, the Philippines remains a Third World country on permanent catch-up mode. There is absolutely no correlation between looking European and being European.
For that matter, there is an even more important question Filipinos need to ask themselves: Is Europe still the global standard for success?
The troubled rise of liberalism in the Philippines, perhaps, is some indication that Filipinos are digging deeper into what it means to be European beyond mere looks. But even as liberalism catches on in Philippine society, the goalposts have already started to move. This shifting of the landscape has, again, escaped the neo-colonial mentality that now infests the thinking of the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.ka. the Yellowtards). As soon as the Yellowtards had latched on like barnacles to Western European liberalism, they now, as tradition dictates, pervert it beyond recognition and turn it into a sad fundamentalist ideal. Yet another instance of a failure to evolve as the world changes right outside their severely-narrowed field of vision.
To be a bit fair, therefore, Filipinos may have looked beyond mestizo looks and embraced the liberal culture that has defined today’s Western Europe. But that embrace had come too late and, in the process, had evolved into another of those perverse beasts that only the twisted collective thinking of Filipinos had shown a talent for producing. Filipinos need to evolve their thinking faster. They need to remain ahead of the ever steepening curve of change that is sweeping the world around them. Three decades of liberalism delivered a sad Yellowtard flavour of it because of the slowness and laziness of Filipino thinking processes. As the Philippines swings away from Western European Liberalism, diverges from the perverted mini-me created by the Yellowtards, and circles back into its southeast Asian roots, it is important that today’s generation of Filipinos get better at embracing this change, digesting it, and clearly identifying what works well and what does not for them.
This is the true essence of evolving from being idiotically beholden to mestizos and embracing what it really means to be true to our core kayumanggi roots. The next time we see “influencers” who parrot their perverted version of Western liberal ideals let us try looking past the contrived and corporate-branded mestiza front crafted within their Starbucks cliques and apply a deeper evaluation of the authenticity (or lack of it) behind their hipster veneer. Is there an inner-kayumanggi in our foremost “influencers”? Or does a sad corporate-engineered vacuousness exist insider where substance should have been? We must decide and apply more brain and less heart when doing so.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.