The Gilas basketball team lost again. Fans and pridists are up in arms and awash with salty tears over it. As some observers said, Gilas seems dependent on their import and use very little teamwork, and even after many defeats, continue to use the same failed methods (you could sum it up as “bahala na si Batman”). However, instead from my usual tirades on pride, I’ll go on to a core attitude that is related to a bigger issue.
Filipinos seem so desperate to beat other nations because they want to make this a source of pride and a way to forget that they are a third-world society. If this is the case, they should look to the Dragon Boat team who garnered many victories. But even if we beat other countries in games, it does not bring a true lasting uplifting of Filipinos. I mean no disrespect for the Dragon Boat team and other winners (or even Gilas), but really, after all the sports victories, the pain of being a third world society is still there.
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As I have said before, the source of the greatest disappointment is setting the wrong bar or goals in life. Being obsessed with the defeat of others, from the personal to the country level, whether games or something more serious, is such a thing. It’s the immature and self-absorbed mindset of a street runt believing that beating someone else is a way to look great and prove oneself.
Filipinos’ desire to feel superior is the cause of the so-called inferiority complex. In short, the inferiority feeling comes from the failure to obtain that superiority feeling. They set an unachievable goal, then fail, and the crash from that hurts because of how lofty and unrealistic the goal was.
People who are going on anti-China rampages can also go too far. Some are going anti-China on Facebook just for the likes. Sure, Chinese tourists are annoying and China’s bullying in the seas, despite being more a defensive move for its trade routes, is worth some questioning and opposition. However, portraying China as the next “evil superpower,” after how the United States portrayed the then-Soviet Union, to the point that everyone must drop everything else they’re doing in order to stop them, is a gross exaggeration. Trying to rouse everyone else to want violence or war against the Chinese based on that exaggeration is a Fool’s undertaking. People who want war with any other country don’t know what they’re asking for (take for example, the ill-advised incursion of some Muslim tribes into Sabah back in 2013).
Before we dream of beating other nations and being a “glorious empire” as ridiculous romanticists boast, let’s put our feet on the ground and remember what really makes nations great.
1. Material prosperity – Before any nation becomes greater than others, they had material prosperity. Our esteemed webmaster Benign0 has described before how nations (kingdoms at the time) during the Age of Exploration sent explorers to obtain precious resources. They secured regions not for pride but for these resources. Even today, resources are what nations fight over and make deals on. Conquering other countries was not the end, but the means to an end, that end being material prosperity.
With material prosperity, we can achieve great things. For example, the point of the moon landing was not just that the US can achieve it, but that it has the resources to do so. In the case of our sports programs, I would say that lack of material prosperity has also affected them, since they don’t have the necessary support. Perhaps what led to this is Philippine sports being plagued by politics, leading us to the next point (since politics is full of unethical stuff after all)…
2. A moral compass in the right direction – Yes, many have said a society that pays regard to ethics and morality tends to be first world. You can see that among the major European countries, Singapore, Japan and the U.S. Some Americans though lamented that recently, the U.S. moral compass has been slipping, and that’s why it’s going through economic downturns (regulators failing to clamp down on unethical mortgage practices has been cited as one reason for the 2008 crisis).
The most Catholic country in Southeast Asia is ironically one of the societies whose moral compass seems to be failing. The “opposition” is complaining about President Duterte, but the moral compass of even vehement anti-Duterte criers is deficient. And for a long time, the behavior of the ordinary Filipino had showed that our culture long lost its moral compass, whether on the road or within government offices. I partially blame bad Filipino behavior on the desire to be lords, whether a drug lord or palamunin lord. This also comes out in why Filipinos like to beat other countries even in just sports – to feel like lords. It’s the wrong reason for being sports fans.
Also, Filipinos are among the people who complain about the “imperialism” of others, and yet some of them dream of having an empire. If you don’t like others’ imperialism, don’t dream of imperialism yourself.
Filipinos need to ditch the cultural baggage of power-hungriness. And we should review our attitudes towards other countries. Desire to defeat or shine above others is an attention-getting runt’s attitude, and it won’t help the runt but get them into trouble. It’s better to focus on improving one’s situation in life and more; in analogy, the runt decides to stop being a runt, get a job, save money and have a better life. Instead of demanding respect and attention, better to earn it. That’s perhaps why the Philippines finds people who want to be kings instead becoming OFWs, call center and BPO workers and other types of “servants.” Life humbles us. In the case of sports, if you lose, learn the lesson, correct the mistake, and do something different so that you may win. But make improvement the goal, not winning (although this may be lost on pride-demanding kulang-sa-pansin Filipinos).
Before conquering others, Filipinos should conquer themselves, because they are their own worst enemy.
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.