June 10, 2005

Filipino Nationalism: A Thing of the Past?

The Filipinos are ardent nationalists. In addition, they are pioneers. Yet nowadays, the pioneering spirit and nationalistic fervor is quickly evaporating. The Filipinos, young and old, are becoming increasingly American, or should I say, more cosmopolitan? Nevertheless, the Filipinos are not alone. Nationalism everywhere is fast disappearing, as globalization fast replaces nationalism as the creed of the planet.

Gone were the days of fighting for one’s nation. Nowadays, people would rather fight (and even bash) for their favorite TV network. They will scratch cars for the name and honor of their school. If New England can be patriotic, why can’t we?

The Filipinos are a hardy people: we can have a million problems yet we manage to laugh (and drink) it all off. However, Filipinos have lost hope for the advancement of the country. They do not mind the government, or the politics that surrounds it. We have become apathetic. Even voting at your Student Council elections seems futile. People do not mind the government, as long as the government does nothing to them. Filipinos unite to overthrow the government, and quickly dissipate hereafter. Unity is not lasting.

However, Filipino unity and loyalty can be legendary, as long as it is not about government and politics.

A through review of Filipino culture nowadays shows that the Filipinos are loyal. Loyal not to their country, to their school, their professional team, their province, and even to their favorite TV network. They chant how proud they are, and how loyal are they to their school, they heck can even get into rumbles if they get too insulted. They even say, if it is from this school, it must be good. They will rush to the defense of their favorite TV star when someone criticizes him. They can even say profanities to get their message known. A throng of fanatics can be suicidal when their favorite team loses. Yet if you confront them, and ask, if they will do the same for their country, what will our answer be?

What can be the reason? In the first place, the Spaniards just artificially united the Philippines. Yet, they divided the country along ethnic and linguistic lines. Although they have united the country, they have not united the people. Regionalism became very strong, as the nationalism was virtually nonexistent until mid 18th century. A quick glance at the different uprising before the time of the illustrados shows us that the main reason for such insurgencies are personal ones.

Filipino nationalism as we know it was born through the efforts of the illustrados. They preached that the Philippines is one country. You are not Ilocano, or Capampangan, you are a Filipino. The revolutionary movement caught fire, and the first republic this side of the ocean was born. Yet the success was short lived as the Americans came and destroyed the nationalists’ dream. Only after World War II has the nation of the Philippines regained sovereignty.

It has all been downhill since. The Filipinos began losing their nationalistic fervor when the government became corrupt and inutile. The government, as the symbol of the nation, began losing its relevance and importance. People are so distraught they look somewhere else to replace their nationalist feelings. Big brother America helped us to regain confidence, at the expense of our nation.

Nevertheless, nowadays, it is not only America which is killing nationalism. Our Asian neighbors are helping us on killing our patriotism. We chose to idolize international stars rather than our own. Moreover, to make it even worse, Filipinos themselves initiated this. And to think our own talent pool is pathetic enough, we chose to give importance to even stars that are more pathetic Heck, Filipinos even reached the shores of the Yellow Sea to find “talent.” The wretched arm of money knows no boundaries.

Our local industries are fast dwindling due to errors in judgment by the government. Tariffs, a form of tax, were all but obliterated to accommodate international goods, thereby killing local industries. As they reduced tariff, they raised local taxes. They have helped foreigners gain money, while depriving Filipinos a decent future. As local industries closed shop, our government, as pathetic as they are, cannot replace them with foreign investment.

Yet what can we do? Have we really lost all hope. Are we ready to accept our own pitiable future? How can we help restore nationalism to the Filipino people?

As they say, one little step goes a long way: doing small things such as following traffic rules can be easy. Electing the correct officials (and guarding the sacred votes), and by being vigilant helps. Openly criticizing the government, followed by giving valid suggestions is a mark of true Filipino, even when accused of destabilizing the government. Buying and patronizing Filipino products and services supports the fledging local industries.

You can be proud Kapuso, a staunch La Sallian, or a loyal supporter of the Barangay Ginebra Kings, but being a Filipino supersedes these.

You are a Filipino, be proud of it, even if it is not Independence Day, even if you are abroad, our nation gravely needs it.

Have a meaningful Independence Day. Mabuhay ang mga Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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