Filipinos should start to rethink their office attire. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and a tie is really impractical in a tropical climate. Perhaps if Filipino office workers are allowed to wear sando and shorts, more people would be willing to take public transport. For that matter, tens of millions of kilowatt-hours are expended on air-conditioning every year because Filipinos continue to prefer to dress like their former colonial masters.
Indigenous Filipinos dress the way they dress for a good reason. We should walk the talk if we truly believe in the wisdom of indigenous peoples. The first step is to remove the stigma in attire that is appropriate for tropical climates. Wearing a suit or conventional office attire is just a legacy of colonial rule. For thousands of years, tropical people wore what is comfortable in sweltering heat. European garb was only taken up by tropical natives because it was a means to climb the social ladder. It came at a cost, though. Beyond losing one’s indigenous cultural identity, it made the natives look like mere European wannabes.
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The impact of the legacy of this profound colonial mentality goes beyond quaint cultural nostalgia though. As mentioned earlier, a big chunk of the energy needs of tropical Third World societies like that of the Philippines’ is driven by the need for fuel-guzzling machines that artificially create the environments conducive to sustain colonial fashion sensibilities. But colonial fashion arose in societies that came to be in colder climates. Imperialism transported these fashions to tropical colonies where virulent colonial mentalities festered amongst natives desperate to climb a social ladder defined by their foreign masters. And so, from there, did the nonsensical tradition of sweltering in cold-weather attire originate and persist to this day.
The problem impacts not just energy consumption but also the traffic situation in big Philippine cities like Manila where rich people driving solo in vehicles designed to sit five to seven people comfortably take up more than their fair share of road space. The justification these road hogs make to secure their privilege to use more road space than the average Filipino is that they are averse to the use of “shitty” public transport. By “shitty”, they presumably mean the cramped barely-airconditioned public buses and commuter trains that the majority of Filipinos use to get to and from work everyday. Smaller, even shittier, public transport contraptions like tricycles, pedicabs, kuligligs and the like could also proliferate because Filipinos opt to for these rather than walk short distances.
In short, the issue is comfort.
An easy and obvious solution, therefore, is to encourage Filipinos to dress comfortably — in attire appropriate to the local climate and ones that have long been used by the islands’ indigenous peoples.
Seeing what is “trending” amongst so-called “activists” today, it seems nowadays is an opportune time to promote, revisit and, eventually, embrace traditional ways of dressing. If Filipinos could ditch obsolete fashion sensibilities ingrained in their psyches by former colonial masters, a more practical way of dressing could take hold in Philippine society. The benefits would be immense. Philippine society will be more egalitarian in both dress and transport preferences since airconditioned private transport will no longer be as important as it currently is. Walking and cycling as a practical routine (rather than the quaint curiosity that it is today) will be a more viable short-distance travel option as well. Both of these will improve quality of life in terms of less energy consumption, reduced pollution, better fitness and health, and improved self esteem.
Most important of all from an “activist” perspective, it will make the shrill rhetoric of so-called Social Justice Warriors more consistent. You can’t be a victim of colonial fashion and be an SJW espousing the plight of indigenous peoples at the same time. It just makes one less credible and laughably inconsistent.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.