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Date: From: Subject: To: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 07:35:57 -0800 (PST) "BERT M DRONA" <bmdrona@yahoo.com> The Filipino Mind - Impediments to Filipino Nationalism "Bert Nieves" <lnieves@spcvxa.spc.edu>

Bert, here's what I recently wrote but came back. have a safe day! Tukayo ======= To think about the Filipino predicament is to be overwhelmed. The causes/roots and effects of existing societal problems are so enormous that it is much easier to ignore and/or get away from them, i.e. emigrate out of the country if possible. We all know that we individually may be able or have the capacity to do so but how about the multitude? We as humans tend to act only if we ourselves are affected. What is needed? Nationalism - a belief in the oneness of the Filipino citizenry, a belief in their common goals as a people, a belief that the ultimate goal of human society (regardless of the socioeconomic and political systems or forms used) is the satisfaction of basic human needs and the attainment or fulfillment of the "human potential" (based on the human hierarchy of needs) and human dignity. Nationalism - its presence or lack thereof creates attitudes and/or behaviours that are good or bad respectively, for the country and its people. Nationalism is a sine qua non for the peoples' ability to correct the problems brought about by governmental bureaucrats/technocrats and military, business elites and foreign influences, and to rein in the strong tides of absolutely free trade/cultural globalization and thus finally attain the common good. While fostering nationalism via formal and mass education, we Filipinos also need to identify the cultural and other hurdles we have to overcome to attain a fervent feeling of nationalism and thus form a strong desire and to act for the common good. The hurdles we have to overcome in fostering Filipino nationalism are : 1. Tribal Mentality 2. Belief in Determinism/Immature Religion 3. Colonial Mentality 4. Lack of Social Consciousness/Selfish Individualism 5. Private/Foreign Schools 6. Miseducation 7. Educational System/Lack of Critical Thinking 8. Lack of Common Enemy

1. Tribal Mentality - it seems our deepest loyalty is mainly limited to our immediate and extended family. The extended family is enlarged somehow through a network created by the "kumpare/kumadre system". Although this system was and is entered into for religious reasons during a child's baptism or confirmation, it is also used for ulterior motives to get or gain socioeconomic and political influences. This tribal and narrow thinking is further applied and exhibited in our loyalty to our hometown, province or region; thus anyone from outside our circle is virtually ignored, treated with suspicion and mistrust, and easy prey to stereotyping. We are prone to be more offended by negative comments to our hometown, province and region than those about our country. This tribal mentality may be explained by our geographical remoteness (coming from various islands), different dialects, historical animosities brought about by the divisive influences made by our foreign occupiers (Spaniards used

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Filipinos in one province to fight fellow Filipinos in another, or Americans planting Flipino Christians in Filipino Muslim lands), etc. 2. Belief in Determinism - the Spanish religious legacy of Catholicism has inculcated in our minds throughout the generations that whatever happens is the "will of God". Thus, we have developed a fatalistic attitude as expressed in statements such as "bahala na ang Diyos", " ginusto ng Diyos", "oras na", etc. This fatalistic attitude pervades our poor countrymen and even the so-called educated. We are afraid to question such longheld beliefs since we think that it is tantamount to committing sin. We need to outgrow these childish beliefs which are destructive to ourselves and society and have to learn and understand more deeply our inherited religion and thus develop a more mature Christianity. The aggregate and adverse impact of fatalism is for a populace to throw out their hands in despair, helplessness, inaction and to seek solace in wishful prayers which in effect only gives credence to the oft-quoted remark by Karl Marx that "religion is the opium of the people". 3. Colonial Mentality/English as Medium of Instruction - The 400-year Spanish rule did not militate against us in the formation of Filipino nationalism as the 50-year American occupation. The Spaniards for the most part kept the Filipino natives ignorant and uneducated and our revolutionary forefathers fought them effectively and efficiently; actually almost completely defeated them until the Americans came to fool and steal from our forefathers their pursuit of true independence. Under the guise of preparing and teaching us in self-government, the American imposition of public education was designed for the Filipinos to be Americanized in their outlook and this was greatly attained by the use of English as the only medium of instruction. During their 50-year rule, public education was given the greatest priority and was actually run as part of the US Department of the Army to ensure compliance! Thus years thereafter, America was able to leave peacefully since the educational system has guaranteed and continually produced "little brown brothers" who wittingly and unwittingly thought, loyally worked and ruled for America. America did not need anymore to have American occupation troops in the islands! In addition, the "free trade" and its later postwar imposition via our coopted political and business elites perpetuated American dominance in all business and industries and embedded our taste for imported goods/culture and thus practically killing any nascent native industrialization/national identity. A critical study of American history will show that the Americans came not to help free the Filipinos from the Spaniards (the revolutionaries have them surrounded until the Americans joined in and fooled them to stay put until American reinforcements came). The Americans came because during that moment in time in history, America saw that they need to expand their supply and demand markets in Asia, especially the illimitable Chinese market, and saw the Philippnes as the gateway. Of course, we can not learn these historical truths in Philippine and American schools unless one goes beyond official school textbooks and government publications. 4. Lack of Social Consciousness/ Selfish Individualism - The tribal mentality has resulted in this Filipino character. It is also the product of a mixture of the historical, perennial and current abandonment by the national government and by the rich and powerful. The resultant deprivation has molded us into just "looking out for ourselves". The fortunate ones who inherited lands and wealth tend to continue their disgust and lack of concern for the poor. The fortunate ones who gain wealth, through legal and/or illegal means, or have risen above pure subsistence level by merit or emigration similarly take care only of their circle of family, friends and relatives. For example, Numerous kababayans who migrated to America easily coopted to the American way of "conspicuous consumption". We were either previously deprived or knowing nothing better to do or attend to, surround themselves with material possessions since their consciousness and thinking never rose above "wants", and equating "wants" with "needs". We seem not to know how to spend leisure time than to go shopping or perform some other material pursuits. Our hierarchy of needs get stunted at the material level! We are amazed that the more fortunate and truly rich Filipinos do not become as generous to their fellow countrymen as some similarly successful Americans are (here's one quality I admire about Americans). The cliche "the rich only get richer or the poor want to only get rich" rings true. Forget the saying "it is more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven...." Oh well, who believes that. 5. Private/Foreign schools - The existence of the exclusively private or foreign, i.e. Chinese, schools is a contributory detriment to nationalism. Their existence create a divisive effect to national unity and Philippine

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society. The exclusive private schools for the most part create an elitist class devoid of empathy for the public since the students are essentially insulated from the day-to-day realities of the truly poor. One can feel and see these attitudes and behaviors from a significant number of graduates from these schools. Of course, there are some exceptions too. In addition, the exclusively foreign schools are similarly so, they see native Filipinos as a different race (which is true of course) and they as a different people. Their loyalty to the Philippines may be questionable at worst and who knows what they teach their students? We can only hope that the aloofness and racial differences that we witness would disappear. There is a dire need to improve public schools but this is impossible given the priorities of the government officials, i.e. more money for the military and/or enriching themselves via government coffers. 6. Mis-education - The miseducation of Filipinos is not easily fathomed because it was implemented without violence. The free public educational system brought by the American occupiers efficiently and effectively influenced generations of Filipinos to unquestioningly believe, love, adopt, adapt and follow America and anything American. We uncritically copy the American way of life, its materialist obsessions, its pop culture, teachings and economic models, its foreign policies, etc. The miseducation made us forget our forefathers and their quest for true nationhood, to attain the objectives of their unfinished revolution. We learned to ignore our ethnic minorities. Remember our honored "American Boy" General/Ambassador Carlos Romulo, labeling the "Negritos" as not Filipinos? We are truly Americanized without being truly Americans (how can we be, when we historically are seen as "niggers" too?). That is why other Asian neighbors, who have maintained their national identity, national pride and culture (I do not mean just their equivalents to our "tinikling" dance), do not respect us. What a shame. Or we do not care about that too? 7. Educational System/Critical Thinking - Our existing educational system seems to have failed to develop in us an ability to think critically as applied to soccioeconomic and political issues. Aside from a few schools such as the UP or a few other progressive ones, the graduates lack appreciation of what is described as "liberal education". We seem to have countless bright minds who turn out to become successful engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants,etc but ignorant, if not very ignorant, of critical analysis beyond their professional expertise. Furthermore, during the Marcos dictatorship, the IMF/World Bank dictated how and where the Philippine educational system has to be directed, i.e. serve foreign investor interests. Thus, we see a lot of us quite naive, ignorant and distant about the predicament of the Filipinos in the Philippines. At best, we mouth or think based on what we have heard or seen in the popular media. Or at worst, who cares (since I am ok, I do not care if they're not ok) as I have encountered in a few. 8. Lack of Common/Foreign Enemy - In the history of nation-states, almost each nation has gained national identity, unification and sovereignty through battles and wars against a foreign enemy. Our Filipino forefathers rose against the Spaniards, our 400-year foreign occupiers. However, their revolution was hijacked by the cunning Americans. The Americans left us with their local substitutes: miseducated Filipinos who govern, think and work for American interests. We united against the Japanese invaders during WW2 and then post-war, went back to remove from elected office and fight our nationalist fellow countrymen who we identified and saw (thanks to our miseducation by the Americans) as only plain "communists"; never mind their years of suffering and struggles for more humane trestment by their absentee landlords. Currently we see and label Filipino rebels as "terrorists", thanks to the recent foreign policy dictates of America. We see our Philippine Constitution and sovereignty ignored and will be seeing more US troops directly hunting not just the Abu Sayafs but the MNLFs and NPAs in our lands soon. We do not have an identifiable foreign enemy because our enemy nowadays are not foreigners roaming our homeland typically garbed in combat uniforms. The physical absence of a foreign enemy makes a common cause difficult. Anyway, our difficulties to the attainment of national unity, our past, present and current dangers to nationhood and common good are brought in by our own people who are serving foreign interests by continually selling out our patrimony, whatever is left of our fully exploited natural resources, whatever is left of our national agriculture and industry. These foreign and local business partners essentially imply: Damn the Filipinos in the Philippines! We have to maximize profits, maximize our shareholders equity, to hell with Filipino nationalism (to them nationalism is obsolete, a business constraint, and not necessary in these times of globalization). Inasmuch as the enemy is ourselves, the task is much, much more difficult, but not insurmountable.

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-Bert M. Drona

"If the people are not completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." - George Washington, shortly after the end of the American Revolution

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