Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Proud to be non-Pinoy?

This essay was inspired by Sassy's blog post which elicited some very heated comments. Basically she said that it is wrong to "bask in the reflective glory" of one's nationality or country of birth or origin. It seems that some are arrogant just because they were born in a rich country or happened to be light of skin. This is my take on the subject.

Every May 28 I hang a big Philippine flag from the front eaves of our home and leave it there until June 12. Personally, however, I believe that independence started when the Phil. Senate abrogated the RP-US Base Treaty. Just the same, I celebrate the independence with the rest of the Philippines. I noticeThis year I joined the parade as part of our office contingent.

At the office it has been my self-imposed duty to see to it that flags are conspicuously displayed and in the correct manner in several places of our building for the Independence Day celebration. I stand at attention during flag ceremonies. However, I do not recite the pledge nor raise my hand because I do not swear and it is repugnant to my personal belief to invoke any supernatural power. At any rate, the Supreme Court has ruled that I am free to do this.

Yes, I am a Pinoy. But I do not feel the need to say that I am proud to be one. I am uneasy when policy-makers in the government or the media crow about the lives of successful Filipinos. They scour the four corners of the world for anybody with Filipino roots who have excelled in any field. And they trot them out as if to say "hey, we're a great country. See what we've produced!" Alas, many of these do not even consider themselves Filipinos or would squirm to be considered as one.

Pathetic is the kindest word that comes to mind for this attempt by government and the ruling class to hide their failure in improving the nation in image and in substance.

Neither am I ashamed, as many are, to be Pinoy. It is my genetic makeup; others would have theirs changed if there is a way to do it, especially the genes that determine the color of their skin. But since there is no way to go back in time to choose one's parents with the right genes, many resort to extra-genetic means. Look at the success of many skin whitening products.

This country will always be my home, for better or for worse. But I also do not need to proclaim I am proud of the Philippines. And neither am I ashamed to call it my homeland. Our leaders may be running the country to its ruination. Shame on them; not on me or the rest of us.

Each one should be proud of what he/she has done given the circumstances that he/she started with. Our genetic makeup which made some geniuses, others tall and others fairer skinned are accidents of nature. Our being born in a certain country, rich or poor, are accidents of geography. As Sassy said, it cannot be a matter of pride to bask in the reflective glory of these accidents.

If I ever leave this country for another, it is not because of shame that I am Pinoy. It's because in some other countries I may be able to realize my full potential and achieve goals that I can be proud of. In our poor Philippines most of our efforts are for nought. There are barriers everywhere to frustrate our aspirations: corruption, crime, bureaucracy. Shouldn't we all be leaving now while we can and realize our dreams of becoming non-Pinoys through our children and grandchildren being born in other climes and growing up with another accent?

Already the borderless world is becoming a reality. Ideas now flow freely, in most cases, around the world. This blog mania is one of its manifestations. Soon it will become pointless to say we are proud to be Pinoys. Or non-Pinoys. Race or nationality will just become one item of personal data like sex, height, weight or blood type. We'll all just be Earthlings when we met other lifeforms as the human species travel through the vast universe.

But what if the lifeforms of Alpha Centauri will be more advanced? Will we be ashamed and go on a warpdrive to that planet and become Centaurians?