Why is there so much negativity about the Filipino and the Philippines among Filipinos?
“Naku, Pinoy na Pinoy talaga!”, or its close variant “Pinoy kasi eh”, as if it is degrading to be Filipino, or as if the Filipino is one of the worst human beings on earth, which is not true at all. “Only in the Philippines” is yet another phrase with similar connotation.
I often heard these phases while I was studying in college and later working in Manila. I heard them from radio program anchors and from TV show hosts. But I heard them too in the dining tables of my family, relatives and friends.
Those phrases reflect our lack of faith in the Filipino, in our ourselves as a people.
This lack of faith in ourselves, in my view, leads to more and graver problems in society.
It makes us doubt or not trust our fellow Filipino.
It makes us divided as a people, because we have difficulty trusting one another.
Maybe that’s why in San Diego, California, the Filipinos have more than a thousand organizations even if they are just over 300,000 in the area. The story of the Filipinos in San Diego is replicated in other Filipino communities in other countries, but more so in the Philippines.
So why do we lack faith in the Filipino, in ourselves as a people? Why do we look down on Filipino in general, and on our fellow Filipinos? Why do we have difficulty trusting one another?
I can only offer you my opinion, from my readings of our history.
It is largely a product of the 333 years of colonization and subjugation by the Spaniards over our people. For 333 years, the Spaniards treated our ancestors cruelly, harshly, as alipin, busabos, indio. They called us many bad and demeaning names like Tanga, Bobo, Tamad (dumb, dull and stupid). They called us Juan Tamad, and made us believe that we are a lazy and lousy people. They made us feel that we are an inferior race.
The Spaniards also adopted the strategy of divide and conquer, by sowing rumors and intrigues among Filipinos from different groups and provinces, making our ancestors suspicious of each other. They wanted us to be divided.
The Spaniards did all this as a matter of policy, because they had to keep us weak mentally and spiritually as a people, because they were afraid that the 6 million Filipinos might become strong and seek independence. They were afraid that if we became united, the Filipinos would rise up in revolt against them.
This they did continuously, often with violence, until it killed the spirit of many of our people – the spirit to fight, the spirit to aspire, the spirit to excel, the spirit to aim high and to dream big.
In 1898, when the Spaniards ceded us to America, they left us with two of our worst problems that continue to plague us today. First, the Filipino had a very low, unhealthy self-image and self-esteem. We lost our faith in the Filipino, in ourselves as a people. We lost our trust and respect for fellow Filipinos. Spain succeeded for the most part in destroying our self-esteem and self-respect. Second, we became a deeply divided nation. We still are today. We have difficulty trusting one other. We still have difficulty working with one another.
Our lack of unity as people today, in my view, remains a product of what the Spaniards did to our spirit as a people.
In this area, it is difficult to introduce change among the adults. But there’s hope with our youth.
That’s why I wrote this book.
I wrote it with a fervent prayer it finds its way to the hands of our teachers, especially in high school.
Our youth need to believe that there is beauty and goodness in them. Our youth need to believe that there is greatness in the Filipino, that they come from a stock of people capable of performing noble deeds and achieving great things.
The moment our youth embrace this belief, their generation and perhaps the ones after them, would look at the Filipino with genuine pride, and treat at their fellow Filipinos with faith and respect.