A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines?

A Critical Analysis Paper
By Alleli A. Aspili BSBAMM4A

James Fallows is an American print and radio journalist. He has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly for many years.1 One of his works is entitled “A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines?” and it was published in The Atlantic Monthly in the month of November, year 1987, a year after the first EDSA Revolution. Fallows was trying to convey that people treat each others worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country he has seen. He also compromises that Filipinos lack useful nationalism and that our sense of it is the poorest of all.

The rundown of the abridgment done by Fallows is that if the problem in the Philippines does not lie in the people themselves or, it would seem, in their choice between capitalism and socialism, the problem he thinks would be cultural, and that it should be thought of as a failure of nationalism. 2 Fallows has the point of intentionally distinguishing Filipinos to other Asian cultures, but, he doesn’t have the right evidence to say those things since he hasn’t stayed in Philippines for a long time. By this, he has been called by many names and one of which is a “parachutist” that means he is a foreign correspondents who flew into the country on Sunday, looked around Metro Manila on Monday, flew out of Tuesday, and published an "in-depth" story about us on Wednesday.

When we were still feeling good about ourselves after the glorious EDSA people power revolution of 1986, Fallows wrote a devastating analysis of Filipinos as a people. In his essay, he wrote:

"Individual Filipinos are at least as brave, kind and noble-spirited as individual Japanese, but their culture draws the boundaries of decent treatment much more narrowly. Filipinos pride themselves on their lifelong loyalty to family, schoolmates, compadres,

members of the same tribe, residents of the same barangay ... Because these boundaries are limited to the family or tribe, they exclude at any given moment 99 percent of the other people in the country. Because of this fragmentation, this lack of useful nationalism, people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen ... The tradition of political corruption and cronyism, the extremes of wealth and poverty, the tribal fragmentation, the local élite's willingness to make a separate profitable peace with colonial powers--all reflect a feeble sense of national interest and a contempt for the public good."

Fallows is just a commentary writer who has point of views in politics, society and culture. He may seem unjustly in his works but he sure has all the experiences so that he could be able to write such things. His methods aren’t really promising. Why? Because his basis is his short stay in the Philippines, and its not proper to say anything that comes from what he sees and feel, he should be a resident or a tourist stay for 6 months so that he could have enough proof and confirmation of what he sees.

However, it is true that Filipinos bind themselves greatly on families, tribe and compadres and that they have lacked heart in their country, as a whole. Fallows met my interpretation that if these weren’t like this, there would be no graft and corruption and politicians would purely dedicate his works to the country. But no, they are selfish and just thinking of how to get money from people easily. Fallows also barbed about the end of Marcos regime and how Corazon Aquino made democracy alive again. But did it change anything? If we’re talking about the past years, no it didn’t change anything. But Fallows article is now sort of outdated because Philippines, however changed, especially in Arroyo’s regime for she made our economy grow and increase a lot. Fallows wasn’t so successful in making his point since many Filipino critiques and writers, too, became disappointed on what he said. In addition to that, he did not convince many Filipinos to believe in what he is saying. It just shows that Americans and Filipinos show war and dispute back then.

Fallows’ essay clicked, yes, in some way, because many noticed it and read it. Many analyzed it and made commentaries about it, many argued about its truthfulness and reality. His work is a masterpiece, distinguishing differences of views of foreigners to other countries. It may be a good archive that may be added to the Philippines’ history documents that show how bad or good it were before, in terms of culture, society and politics. Conclusion
1 2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Fallows http://www.pinoypress.net/2008/02/03/a-damaged-culture-a-new-philippines/

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