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Constantino's Philosophy of Culture

Constantino's Philosophy of Culture

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Published by Alfred James Ellar

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Published by: Alfred James Ellar on Apr 06, 2011
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Towards New Filipino Identity:A prelude on Constantino’sNationalist Philosophy of Culture
Alfred James A. EllarDecember 2005ABSTRACT
Constantino’s main contribution in the field of philosophy and social science is hisadvocacy of nationalism, which is actually his counteraction to the pervasive colonialconsciousness of the Filipino people during his time. As a response to this deprivationcaused by Spaniard and American colonization, he proposes a ‘
counter consciousness’ 
in orderto recuperate the confused identity of the Filipino due to their passive adherence towestern culture and preferences. In the light of this counter consciousness, which is alsotechnically termed as “
nationalistic consciousness 
,” this paper is sought to establish a kind ofphilosophy of culture that reflects Constantino’s ideas on nationalism and its culturalimplications towards the discovery of new Filipino identity. In order to arrive at the desiredpurpose of this research, the researcher uses an interpretative-historical method, i.e., heutilizes the existing literatures, both primary and secondary sources, which deal on theaforementioned topic as the basis of any given proposition in this paper. At the end of thispreliminary inquiry, the paper will try to answer some of the questions such as: (1) hownationalism is related to culture to form a identity; (2) how Constantino conceived a culturein reference to his philosophy of nationalism; (3) how Constantino envisioned a culturethat has at least a minimum diverse western preference to give greater opportunity forendorsement and provisions for national consciousness towards national identity; and (4)how a culture of Filipino with national consciousness leads to a new Filipino identity.
 The Filipino colonial experiences for nearly 400 years since the time of Spanish colonization until presentreveal their status of a ‘damage nation,’ because of the difficulty of identifying the real Filipino in the milieu ofhuman history. The history reveals that the Filipino nation has always been merely a footnote of other nationsthat which without the latter, Filipinos seem to lose their referential position. The cultural life, the totalconcrete expression of every Filipino’s way of living and all its aspects, has been identified in the point ofview of other cultures particularly the western cultures – Spanish and American cultures because of theirpervasive influence in almost all domains of Filipinos’ life
. As Mauro Muňoz Jr. puts it (1995:53):
 The final result of these cultural dominations by Spain and America is a damageculture” – a culture whose elements are not well-integrated; a nation-state withdiffering cultural orientations, opposing each other; an industrial, western, urbanculture and agricultural, oriental, rural culture; a cultural majority and a culture ofminority….The long suffering and poverty that the Filipino people are enduring now is the result of this ‘damage culture’and the lost of their identity is the by-product of inculcated colonial mentality and preferences by thecolonizers that perpetuates until the present time, though it has been transformed into a neocolonial breed.Its concrete effects in the present Philippine condition are the miseducation, political oppression andeconomic dependency. Hence, the task of a cultural struggle in this country must be based on an intimate andconcrete knowledge of Philippine reality,[ that is, in educational, political, and economic domains.] Wecannot apply blindly the experience of other nations [in behalf of our own experiences as a disintegratednation] (Constantino 1977:121).In order to renovate this damage culture and gain new identity, Constantino proposes a counter-consciousness or what is known as national consciousness to combat colonial consciousness. According toConstantino, the initial step must be the study of the dynamics of intellectual colonization in all its aspectswhich becomes the matrix of Filipino colonial mentality. When the root cause is already located, eventuallyliberation will follow accompanied by proper evolution and dissemination of counter-consciousness amongFilipino people by the Filipinos themselves, and not by other nations who see the Philippine condition in adistance perspective apart from what the Filipinos are actually struggling for recovery. At this stage ofrecovery, therefore, Constantino believes that the object of the cultural struggle is to free the minds ofFilipinos from the colonial bondage. It seeks primarily to propagate an anti-colonial consciousness which willbe an indispensable tool in constructing a new [Philippine] reality (1977: 121).Positing this struggle for new reality through valuation of authentic culture of Filipinos, hence, what is neededis a culture of nationalism or a nationalist culture. This kind of culture is imbued with the spirit ofnationalism. Nationalism is primarily a spirit of love that provokes an individual or group of individuals tolive, work, and struggle for a common national interest, and invites them to spend themselves as essentialparts for the total development and full realization of a nation. Culture, on the other hand, is generallyunderstood as a way of life of the people with learned and shared patterns of thinking, feeling and acting tosolve the biological and social problems in the process of becoming fully human. In this sense, nationalistculture can be viewed as a spirit of love for a nation through shared life in common national interest. Inrelation to this view, quoting in length Constantino’s concept of national culture, therefore (1977:113):What then is the concept of a national culture? It is not the glory of the past ofwhich there is little. It is not only folklore; it is not only a revival of tradition. Aboveall it is the summation of the needs of the people, the description of their past andpresent condition, an expression of their values, thoughts and emotions, thedepiction of their historic struggles to liberate themselves. True national culture isinextricably linked to the people’s needs, ideas, emotions and practices....
It is true that the poverty [and cultural deprivation] of the masses is a majorcause of the poverty of their culture. But this poverty breeds its own dynamic as ittransforms the feeling of deprivation into desire to negate the condition itself. Thisprocess in turn develops its own forms of expression and action which if crystallizedand systematized become the matrix of a people’s culture….This concept of Constantino regarding culture will be the guiding idea in this paper together with his conceptof nationalism. His concept of nationalism will be the ground by which Filipino identity is stood, while hisconcept of culture will serve as the background by which the Filipino identity is situated. Similar in a theaterplay in which the actors act according to the stage milieu.Accordingly, this paper is sought to establish a kind of philosophy of culture that reflects Constantino’s ideason nationalism and its cultural implications towards the discovery of new Filipino identity. At the end of thispreliminary inquiry, the paper will try to answer some of the specific questions such as:a. how nationalism is related to culture to form a identityb. how Constantino conceived a culture in reference to his philosophy of nationalism?c. how Constantino envisioned a culture that has at least a minimum diverse western preference togive greater opportunity for endorsement and provisions for national consciousness towardsnational identity?d. how a culture of Filipino with national consciousness leads to a new Filipino identity?Hence, this study will be primarily essential in elaborating the thoughts and ideas of Renato Constantinoregarding nationalism as being applied in the concept of culture in the context of Philippine society. Secondly,this paper will be of great help to clarify the idea of nationalism not as mere abstract concept, but more so asa necessary actual lived experience of the Filipino people if authentic national identity is to be achieved. Andthirdly, this will be beneficial for dissemination of consciousness among Filipino people about the value ofnational integrity thereby improving the way of living of the people towards economic progress and politicalliberation.Moreover, the main thrust of this research is to develop a nationalist culture in the perspective of philosophyrather than in sociological or anthropological perspectives, hence, there will be no statistical treatment to bepresented in the analysis of accumulated data. Thus, this paper is pure interpretative-philosophical research.Consequently, the focus of this paper is basically the concept of nationalism of Constantino as it is beingintegrated with the concept of culture thereby developing a nationalist culture; and it will try to present thenature of the possible nationalist culture of Constantino.Finally, in order to arrive at the desired purpose of this research, the researcher used an interpretative-historical method, i.e., he utilized the existing literatures, both primary and secondary sources, which deal onthe aforementioned topic as the basis of any given proposition in this paper.
Constantino’s Philosophy of Nationalism
Constantino has been known as one of the forerunners of Philippine nationalism together with Senator ClaroM. Recto. His eloquency in uttering the nationalist ideology gives new vision to recover the national identityof the Filipinos which has been damaged because of colonization of Spaniards and Americans. The colonialperiod has implanted in the Filipino people the preferences to western culture – a colonial consciousness. Theprevailing Filipino consciousness is a captive consciousness since the colonizers have taught the Filipinothrough religious instructions, miseducation, and political orders to be subservient to their own will andinterest. As Gripaldo puts it: the consciousness that developed among the people, according to Constantino,during Spanish and American colonial eras was captive, in the sense that it was shaped and tailored to theneeds of the colonizers (2004: 172).

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