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I Hate Filipino Culture -Society/Politics

Friday, May 31, 2013

On Nationalism, Pride and Individuality

It’s hard to say what passes for nationalism in the Philippines nowadays. If it’s crying “pinoy pride” or claiming that Filipinos are good singers everytime a Filipino appears on a foreign singing competition then you can count me out because I totally don’t care. I don't see how being born in the same country can give people the right to claim achievements of other individuals that they had nothing to do with.

If it involves supporting Filipino products, I’m not really sure how well I’m doing. A lot of times I buy things without knowing where they’re made. I just bought an outlast battery for my car which apparently is a Filipino brand. I only found out a year ago that Figaro was a Filipino company after  patronizing their coffee shops for a while. They didn’t lose my patronage. I almost never watch Filipino movies. I do listen to some Filipino musicians but that has nothing to do with nationalism. I listen to what I like, I buy products from companies that give me good value and have a decent reputation.

In my essay "I hate Filipino culture" which went viral last month, i  enumerated a few Filipino qualities that i hated. I got some flak for it especially when I implied that those who've been exposed to foreign cultures usually grow up to have more open minds. I was accused of having colonial mentality and of worshipping the west (which is curious because i never mentioned the west. I actually mentioned the Chinese.) Regardless, the point was not that other cultures are superior to our own but that  having an open mind necessarily entails being open to other cultures

The world is moving towards internationalism. Differences in culture in the past were mostly due to geographical boundaries limiting contact between different groups of people.  Peoples that closely interacted with each other usually have similarities in  architecture, art, philosophy or language. Colonization isn't necessary for cultural exchange. It naturally happens when there's contact between different cultures and there's nothing wrong with it. Modern technology has practically removed those geographical boundaries. The pacifistic trend in the world today has removed most political boundaries as well. Countries work together to advance human knowledge;  artists draw inspiration from all over the world; architecture, fashion and art are becoming geographically indistinct. -differences in style have more to do with the designer's/artist's individual sense of aesthetics than with which country he or she was born in. We are starting to see a global culture that is becoming more and more homogenous. You may like it or hate it but it's inevitable.

Filipinos are a very proud people. We excessively boast about whatever we can boast about -one only need to look at the comments on a youtube video featuring a Filipino appearing on foreign television to see how prevalent this pandemic is. People would scream pinoy pride, claim that claim that filipinos are good singers/dancers and then we'd bash the hell out of the nonfilipino contestants. I have a problem with this not only because it's annoying but also because we're praising ourselves collectively as a nation for an achievement of an individual that his or her nationality and our nation had nothing to do with. Rather than claim other's achievements as our own, wouldn't it be better if we emulate them? And i don't mean to belittle the accomplishments of our filipino compatriots who've made a name for themselves abroad. I'm happy for them. but doesn't it say something negative about us when we scream pinoy pride with such militant fervor as if our identity as a nation hangs on the shoulders of an american idol contestant?

We want compliments, so much so that we sometimes ask for them directly from foreigners. We are extremely sensitive to criticism. We criticize and make fun of other countries and other races yet we’re up in arms when a fictional novel mentions us in a not so flattering light. The more extreme of the "pinoy pride" crowd exhibit isolationist mentality, rejecting all that is foreign, especially those coming from the west, and labeling those who patronize foreign media/literature or speak or write in a language other than filipino as having colonial mentality.

I love the Philippines because it is home. It’s where the people I know live, the places I visited growing up. I am Filipino but I don’t see myself being defined entirely by that fact. I’m more of a humanist than a nationalist. I’m more proud of what humanity as a whole has achieved and i'm more excited by what it can achieve. I owe more of what i am to being human, a biological fact, than to being a Filipino, which is a sociological construct.

There’s nothing wrong with loving one’s country. I draw the line between mere love and blind nationalism where rationality ends and zealotry begins, where individuality is stifled in the name of the collective. Where the superiority or inferiority of an individual is determined by imaginary borders drawn up by wars past. Love what is good, hate what is not. Try to do something to change it if you can. If it cannot be changed, you do not have to love it simply because it's Filipino and you don't have to think or live a certain way because it's the "Filipino way". Being excessively proud of your heritage sounds like a good idea until you hear someone else mouthing off about how special he is because of his heritage. It gets old very quickly. Nationalism is similar to racism and sexism in that you put people in boxes based on factors that they had no choice over and then you judge each other's value collectively.

Throughout history, nationalism has been responsible for wars, genocide, racism, slavery. It did have a hand in ending colonialism. But the age of colonialism is long over. Wars in the name of country have gone out of fashion. There's no need for a slave revolt when there are no slaves and no masters. 

I'm a strong proponent of individualism and freethought and a lot of things about nationalism run counter to those concepts. When you stop seeing people, including yourself, as individuals but as part of a herd with one mind; When people somewhere, let's say, near the vicinity of Taiwan would beat up innocent foreigners because of an act of their country that they had nothing to do with simply because they were born in that country; When people start thinking that they have a special place under the sun because of the soil under their feet; When people start seeing other people as good or bad, superior or inferior, human or inhuman without knowing anything about them aside from the country where they were born.  -I see nothing constructive or honorable about it. It's primitive and it should go the way of the dodo. The sooner the better. 

In an idealist’s world, people will not be divided by geographical boundaries, not by race, not by religion. Ideologies and morals will not be set by the religion you were born into, the country where you were born or the color of your skin but something that you develop or find yourself by sifting through what’s available out there in the world. In this idealist's world, we all ride under one banner -that of mankind.


  1. Have you ever checked out the ideas of Michio Kaku? His idea about "Type 1, 2, and 3 civilizations". I think the collective homogenization into a one world culture is completely consistent with this view. You should check him out when you can.

    As with the July 2007 Filipino culture article, great points.

    1. Thanks. Yup I'm quite familiar with Michio Kaku's ideas.

  2. What? How can i missed this post? Buti nalang nag blog hopping ako today. I definitely agree on all of the things that you've mentioned kuya. Specially on this - "Throughout history, nationalism has been responsible for wars, genocide, racism, slavery. It did have a hand in ending colonialism". Just because you think that your "nationality" or your "country" is more superior than others eh you will fight or kill for it.
    I also hate the fact that most of us "Filipinos" always get hurt when someone says negative things about the "Philippines" but in reality, we do the same thing to others (actually mas worse pa).
    I am very thankful that there's still someone like you who think this way. A person who has deep thoughts. Looking forward to your new post.