The writing’s on the wall. University campus “activism” in the Philippines has been discredited thanks to communist infiltration. An entire Opposition slate working off a hopelessly incoherent “liberal” platform suffered a catastrophic loss in this year’s elections. Holdovers of the 1986 “people power” revolution have been reduced to a laughingstock. And a shrill bid to become the Rosa Parks of the gay movement mounted by a certain Gretchen Diez fell flat on its face. Our experiment with “liberalism” is failing.
The trouble with Filipinos is that they are bad copycats. Their Hollywood knockoff movies are hollow campy shells encasing a void that the substance of creative vision and intelligent writing should have filled. They embrace Western-style “democracy” where intelligent debate and applying critical minds to issues are essential yet continue to be one of the most religious and superstitious people on the planet. They practice extreme consumerism despite an abject lack of an ethic of capital creation, innovative enterprise, and industrial acumen which are all sources of domestic wealth. Overall, we’re talking about a society where groupthink trumps independent thinking on most days.
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It is evident that much of this display of “modern” liberal Western lifestyles are just that — superficial lifestyle displays. Unfortunately, such lifestyle displays do not manifest a deep understanding and fundamental practice of the core pillars of a liberal way of life that made Western ways the planet’s dominant culture; specifically enlightened free inquiry, secularism, personal accountability, independent thought, exploration, and choice. This is the reason many initiatives to “modernise” Philippine society run aground — because the focus is on the look and not much on building underlying substance.
Much foundational work needs to be done in order for the Philippines to become a true modern liberal society.
Firstly, it is imperative that the stranglehold of the Roman Catholic Church over Filipinos’ minds be dismantled. It is no surprise that the Catholic Church hold a monopoly over the most prominent bastions of exclusive schooling in the Philippines. This gives the clergy a direct backdoor into the heads of the country’s generations of spawn of the country’s oligarchy. In a truly progressive society, all people have access to the same standard and quality of education. As long as the notion of “exclusive schools” persists in the Philippines’ educational landscape, such aspirations are all but impossibilities.
Second, the entrenched victim mentality that prevails in the political discourse needs to be eradicated. This is the single biggest mind cancer that contributes to the ascendancy of no-results “heroes” and morbid necropolitics that dominates ideological and campaign narrative today. Rather than one where happless Batang Yagit characters vie for “victimhood”, the more modern measure of achievement should take its long overdue place front and centre in the national consciousness. To be a great country and a great people, Filipinos must contribute achievement to humanity and not the pathetic victimhood they have become renowned for.
Lastly, Filipinos should aspire to be original. Copying Western values off the shelf is no longer kosher. That may have worked in the early days when Filipinos were just beginning to learn how to crawl. It’s been more than half a century since “independence” in 1946 and Filipinos are still crawling. There are pathways forward off the copycat American path laid before them Uncle Sam’s brown islander successors. Filipinos should find the courage to innovate and chart their own paths forward — to build a nation their way.
To achieve the above three, Filipinos will need to let go (or, more appropriately, break free) of the most cherished of their traditional belief systems — their prayerfulness, their false humility, and their colonial mentality. No easy task to be sure considering all these are part of the comfort zone of the average Filipino mind. This is where courage in the real sense of the word comes in. Filipinos need to gather the courage to chart a truly different path for themselves. Only in doing so can different results could reasonably be expected.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.