How can we envision a “new Philippines” when “being Filipino” remains a problematic idea?

A “new Philippines” cannot be achieved by merely singing some blurb every morning. Proof of this is in how even the basic principles of the Panatang Makabayan (“Patriotic Oath”) had failed to embed in the Filipino psyche despite several generations of Filipinos being made to recite it in the morning. Without a foundation of “love of country” or, at the very least, a clear understanding of what it means to be a “true Filipino”, any further effort to build anything “new” would be like building a house on a sand dune.

Consider the closing statements of the oath:

Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa.

Translated: “I will do my best to be a true Filipino in thought, word, and deed.”

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That statement merely begs the question: What characterises Filipino thought, word, and deed? Answering this question demands careful thought. Subjecting this question to a street survey will likely yield unsurprising responses: Filipino time, unreliable, untrustworthy, and dishonest among other things. Indeed being Filipino in thought, word, and deed isn’t exactly regarded as aspirational.

So now Filipinos are required to contribute to building a “new Philippines” — for starters by a new hymn every morning, Bagong Pilipinas. The message of the song revolves primarily around putting the Philippines first; choosing “our own”, fighting for country, working hard, and upholding honour. In short, Filipinos are invited to embrace being Filipino.

We see how problematic this is in the context of the shaky foundation upon which we are encouraged to regard a “new Philippines”. If we are to believe that all it will take to envision this “new Philippines” is to embrace what it means to be Filipino, we run into the disturbing core of why Filipinos fail to change for the better to begin with. It is because Filipinos’ ingrained notion of “being Filipino” is, itself, profoundly flawed.

It seems that the “new Philippines” envisioned by the government is one where Filipinos love who they are and, on the back of that, become protective of what they love. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Love — of country, specifically — is premised on promise. What is the Philippines’ potential considering it is not quite a great country yet. Note the emphasis on the word “yet” there. That, itself highlights a confronting assumption — that the Philippines holds potential to be a great country.

There is work to be done. It will not involve coming up with fluff to stuff Filipinos’ morning flag ceremonies with. Work needs to be done to build things of substance — tangible stuff to substantiate promise that the Philippines could be a great country someday.

2 Replies to “How can we envision a “new Philippines” when “being Filipino” remains a problematic idea?”

  1. Why do Philippine officials want to instill nationalism among the people? Does Philippines love them? No. Do Philippine officials love them? Also no. If your country doesn’t care for you, then it is smart not to be patriotic towards that country. Philippines is a sinking ship, so it is wise to abandon the ship by emigrating. Philippines doesn’t care for its people.

    This memorandum is also promoting the present admin’s brand of governance which is more political than patriotic. This new requirement is unnecessary at all. Marcos Jr. obviously doesn’t know the saying that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

  2. ” Filipino time, unreliable, untrustworthy, and dishonest among other things.” So true. In fact, filipinos cherish holidays. Philippines has an ungodly amount of holidays. Check this out. Most of the employees at the US Embassy and VA Clinic are pinoy. With that said, those employees are afforded pinoy paid holidays and US paid holidays. Great gig, if you can get it.

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