Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: A Year to Forget?

Miss Universe 2010 4th runner up Maria Venus Raj and the Philippine Azkals

It's amazing how a word which is spelled by only four digits would hold a lot of events that changed human society, especially for the Philippines. A lot has happened in our country these past twelve months which really challenged and tested our resolve as a nation. I could say these events have united us on certain occasions and have also divided us. But nevertheless, whatever these events have done to us, the only common and most important thing that these events did were to change our consciousness of things around us.

We Filipinos, I could say, are a very optimistic group of people as attested by our unwavering faith in God through our devotion to various religious acts. And as a positive-minded society, we held our hopes and heads high in events that really brought the Filipino and the nation fame. Who could forget the jubilation and excitement that Filipinos felt when Manny Pacquiao toppled Joshua Clottey and then Antonio Margarito? Who could forget the pride we felt when Charice Pempengco’s Billboard Top 10 Hit Pyramid was heard on the radio? Who could forget the awe in our eyes and our hearts when the Philippine Azkals made it to the semi-finals of this year’s Suzuki Cup in Indonesia? Who couldn’t feel their love for Inang Bayan with Benigno Aquino III’s successful election as our 15th president? And despite flopping in her answer with the words “...major, major..”, Maria Venus Raj still made us stand tall when she made it 4th place in the Miss Universe Pageant. These events are more than enough testaments of our can-do spirit. But from what I noticed in subsequent events, this can-do spirit quickly fizzles as fast it came up.

Manila police during the Luneta Hostage Incident.
And when it fizzles, it fizzles with a bang. We Filipinos are as quick to react negatively to scandalous, gruesome and even trivial events this year. I will never forget the flak of criticism received by the Luneta Hostage Taking Incident last August which killed a decorated police officer-turned-hostage taker and 8 of his Chinese hostages/tourists. I will never forget the blatant attack on Presidential speech writer Mai Mislang’s persona in Facebook following her irresponsible tweets about Vietnamese men, wine and streets. I will never forget the anguish Lauro Vizconde felt when Hubert Webb and Company were acquitted by the Supreme Court for lack evidence after fifteen years of languishing behind bars. I will never forget how VACC’s Dante Jimenez reacted to this news and how he got the Mr. P.I. Award from previous titleholder Senator Mar Roxas. I will never forget Marlene Aguilar’s motherly cries for his son Jason Ivler after being arrested by authorities for murdering Renato Ebarle Jr.

The Pilipinas Kay Ganda logo; Freddie and Hubert Webb
I will never forget Carlos Celdran’s theatrical expression of disgust against the detractors of the Reproductive Health Bill which had a lot of people either raising their brows or raising their hands in applause. I will never forget hearing that jingle being sung by indigent kids during the Villar Campaign on TV which had us experiencing an uncomfortable last song syndrome (LSS). I will never forget how people in Facebook and Twitter lashed barefaced at the Aquino Administration’s seemingly lack of excellence in certain projects, from the Pilipinas Kay Ganda tourism slogan up to the purported errors in the newly-redesigned Philippine banknotes (the latter being a very trivial issue for me, yet inexplicably controversial for others).

I believe this type of shameless negative response by most Filipinos stems from two things: first, on the way we see ourselves and others and second, to our thirst for accountability and responsiveness in government which we haven’t experienced that much from the past administrations.

Shedding light on my first point. Being raised in a largely communitarian setting doesn’t spare Filipinos from fits of individualism. We are still a largely competitive society. We compete for living space, for resources, for opportunities, for influence, and for other things we see as important. We see ourselves and our families having the potential to reach our goals but we don’t see this with other people in mind. We don’t really care what happens to our neighbors, as long as our family survives or is on top. This indifference results in us finding the slightest infraction in our neighbor satisfying, and sometimes we even magnify it through gossip or exposure. An individual concerned about being heard in Facebook would definitely turn deaf to other people’s point-of-view in an issue, say, about the newly redesigned banknotes. However, an individual who is concerned about how this issue affects everyone, would approach the issue with consideration to various opinions.

Shedding light on my second point. From the time of the EDSA People Power I Revolution, we Filipinos have come to believe that we are a force to reckon with and so it is important that our interests are the ones being served. But with the previous administrations’ failure to be true to their election promises – from Cory to Gloria – we have always been quite skeptical and utterly critical of the misgivings in each administration no matter how big or small. Unless change in the standard living and change in the political system is seen and felt by the masses especially those in the grassroots, this brand of negativity on our part will always be seen.

We are not a perfect society. There is none that is such. And yet, there is no reason for us to strive if not for perfection, at least for decency and civility as a society. It believe it can be done. As I have said above, the Filipino has this can-do spirit. If only Filipinos can harness the strength to maintain this can-do spirit and direct it towards achieving what it envisions as a nation, then, I guess we don’t have to rely on one person to make this nation great again. In the end, we are our own saviors.

2010. It is not a year to forget. But rather, it is a thing to reflect upon. Reflect on the things that we regret doing, reflect on the things we should have done and should be doing. As Henry Ford has learned at the start of the 20th century, history repeats itself for those who do not learn its lessons. Let us use our learning from this commencing year to make ourselves, our society, and our nation, better.


  1. I've always been disappointed on how fickle the Filipino Pride is. Charice just appeared on Glee and the whole Twitterworld is abuzz with 'I'm so proud to be Pinoy!' then the Quirino Grandstand hostage taking happened and suddenly, everybody was so ashamed, blaming the government and the media and everybody else but themselves.

    IMHO, we Filipinos should establish a REAL sense of pride that is not based on a mere singer or a boxer. Then maybe someday, we can really say that we are proud to be Pinoy.

  2. I concur Clarriscent. I believe this fickle pride can be stemmed at how shallow nationalism is being imbibed by the State to its citizens. I hope the State can work it out, intensify it not just in coordination with the Education Department, but with the family as well, being the smallest and basic unit of society.


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