The late Carlos Celdran’s claim to fame is being a promoter of heritage and culture. He caters to those who believe that preserving heritage and culture is what Filipino need to improve the country. I disagree.
Let me borrow Ronald Reagan’s style for this: heritage is not the solution to our problem; heritage is the problem.
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This assertion shocks some, indeed. How could heritage be a problem? Get Real Philippines’ primary thesis is that the problems of our society’s problems come from culture and heritage. As I said in my profile, even the cultures that we cherish and seek to preserve can be a source of our problems.
I mentioned before that cultures are a product of human attempts at survival. One purpose of culture is to mark people as desirable and undesirable, then eliminate the latter. This is because of the perception of resources being limited; you can’t let everyone had access to resources, so you have to cut people off. Conflict, like economics, is a by-product of limited resources.
Our country’s heritage may have its ups, such as dress, dance, art and more. But we also have downs. We had headhunting (another way to get rid of undesirables), which the Americans made us get rid of, and for good reason. Our tribalism is part of our old heritages that hate being part of an unwieldy entity such as a nation-state. It leads some to want violent separation, such as with the MNLF and MILF insurgencies. Heritage is not always uniting, but also divisive. That is one topic of the classic Heritage of Smallness of Nick Joaquin.
Indeed, when you mention heritage, whose heritage are you talking about? I believe Celdran during his Manila tours claimed to support all of Filipino culture, but it is fair to raise doubt about that claim. His critics say he only supports the Manila-centric, patronage politics-driven elitist culture.
Benign0 often mentions the jeepney, which after World War 2 seemed like a good idea, but years after became a symbol of stagnation and lack of solutions (specifically for transportation).
Our political patronage and dynasties are an ugly part of our Filipino heritage. It has led to the corruption, arrogance and incompetence we’ve been see in our governments.
Alex Tizon’s My Family’s Slave demonstrates that slavery is another ugly part of our heritage. I’m sure many Filipinos would love to have slaves.
Also on family, some people believe that forcing children to take care of parents in old age is a superior heritage. That makes Filipino families more “caring,” so to speak. This is more like the reason Filipinos are poor, because they are saddled with more burdens than they should have; young Filipino parents are saddled with caring for elderly as well as their own children. More advanced countries instead have benefits and facilities to take the load of caring for the elderly off their children. That is more caring and is the real superior practice.
Even things done for the sake of heritage and patriotism can be misguided. For example, look at old “fake news” that say Flores invented the fluorescent lamp, a Filipino invented the lunar rover and a Filipino named Armando Lite inventing the M-16 or Armalite. All these hoaxes have the purpose of glorifying the Filipino, but they do it through lies.
There is the victim mentality also done through lies, a glaring example being the claim that the Filipinos chocolate company (I wonder if Celdran visited that in Spain) insulted us in their products, leading to that ridiculous fracas where a local politician protested something that a Spanish company supposedly did, but really didn’t. And nobody really cared anyway, thankfully, because it was stupid.
Instead of just rushing and gnashing our teeth to preserve heritage, we should question it. There are parts of our heritage that are pulling us down, so we need to drop them. They are what our webmaster Benign0 calls cultural baggage, which only serves to burden Filipinos and obstruct development and prosperity.
Cultural preservation or anything like it best not be given government support or funding. Private entities can do a good job of that anyway, and they likely have more money for it. And cultures and heritages are private things, and supporting them with a government initiative opens them to politicization.
Preserving heritage is not an obligation or duty. It is a cultural choice. Cultures are supposed to be in flux and change. Resisting that is usually done by vested interests, under the pretension of societal betterment. It is better to let heritages come and go, as trying to preserve them delays the inevitable anyway.
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.