Thursday, June 7, 2012

Proud to be what?

Facebook (FB), the most widely used social network on the Internet, is getting closer to its billionth user worldwide. As of May 2012, FB has over 900 million active users, with more than 30 million Pinoy subscribers, the seventh largest in FB’s entire network.

Raissa Robles, the famous or infamous Pinoy blogger who was catapulted to notoriety by her anti-Corona blogs during the impeachment hearing of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, was surprised to find her FB account terminated after the conviction of the Chief Justice last May 29. Only after an on-line petition was started demanding her reinstatement that FB eventually restored her account. Whether Ms. Robles was unfriended due to violation of FB community standards, no one really knows. Despite criticism of FB as being too invasive of personal privacy, this is one matter the FB organization has firewalled, so it seems their privacy is the only one sacred in the entire network.

Be that as it may, sometimes FB users could elicit reactions that are enlightening or revolting, depending on how one looks at them. Take for example the picture below, which seems at first glance like a poster about mixing and matching clothes, but drew out a different and very critical response from an FB friend.

Here’s the response of an FB user to this poster in Tagalog in its entirety:

“Ang tanga lang ng kampanyang ito. Kung hindi talaga tanga, magaling ang nakaisip nito para gawin tayong tanga na tangkilikin ang kanilang produkto at maging proud sa ideya na ang kagandahan at pang world class na Filipina ay parang pagbi-breed lang ng aso.
“Ang husay rin ng pagturing nito sa babae na parang produkto lang na binubugaw bilang palahian.
“Dapat sa inyo binabayo!” (End of quote)

A loose English translation is as follows:

“This is really a stupid campaign. If not stupid, the people behind it are really smart to make us look stupid by buying their products and being proud of the idea that achieving beauty and the world-class Filipina is akin to dog-breeding.
“They’re also clever to treat women as a commodity that can be pimped for mating purposes.
“You should be smashed!” (End of quote).

The poster claims that mixing and matching the Filipino blood with other nationalities is a sure-fire formula to produce a world-class and competitive Filipina beauty. Having a Filipino lineage is something one must be proud of, it adds, because it puts the Filipino on a level-playing field with other nationalities in almost all aspects.

This poster is arrogant and very condescending to Filipinos, insinuating that we need to be cross-bred with other races to become world-class beauties. But it may actually be true among many Filipinos who still continue to regard the “mestiza” as beautiful or the Western standard of beauty as superior to the natural beauty of our native Filipino women. Like Rizal’s Doña Victorina who thought she was more Spanish than a Spaniard that she hid herself behind tons of make-up and heavy European dresses. Or Filipinos married to foreign husbands or wives who would not hesitate to send their young daughters to the Philippines to compete in beauty pageants or become movie stars believing that their progenies are more beautiful and attractive than their local counterparts because of their mixed genes.

It is not an argument against mixed marriage or in-breeding with other races, but to say that our native women can only be considered world-class if they are the result of inter-racial procreation is simply a disgusting idea. Beauty can be world-class whether you come from your native race or from a mixture of races. Beauty is not race-specific.

Sometime ago I was reading a blog written by Raymond “Mong” Palatino, president of the Kabataan (Youth) Party and a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, who asked the question: “Are Filipinos Asian?”

While Filipinos are officially classified as Asians, the Philippines being geographically a part of Southeast Asia, calling them as Pacific Islanders is not necessarily wrong or misleading according to Palatino. For a very long time before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, Filipinos were known as Pacific Islanders. When the Americans came at the turn of the 20th century, they described the Philippines as “orphans of the Pacific,” probably referring to its geographical distance from the Asian mainland.

The Philippine archipelago is a political creation of Western colonizers. When Spain colonized the Philippines, it centralized its cluster of more than 7,000 islands into one nation-state. What would have happened if Spain didn’t colonize the islands? Palatino suggested that Luzon, the largest island could have become a territory of China or Taiwan, while Mindanao in the south could have become a province of Malaysia or Indonesia. Or there was the possibility of a bigger federation of the Philippine Islands, Taiwan and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Oftentimes, most Filipinos both at home and abroad are sceptical of their true identity. Although they believe they’re Asians, many feel a closer affinity to the West, especially the United States. They seem to be prouder of their Western upbringing or being hyphenated American or Canadian than their native Asian roots—a colonial mentality ingrained in the minds of Filipinos from hundreds of years of foreign colonization.

Many Filipinos don’t appreciate or understand the cultural and religious practices of their neighbours in Southeast Asia. Oftentimes, they are unaware of Southeast Asian politics, although the dispute in the South China Sea to some extent has kept them updated with China’s aggressive foreign policy against its smaller neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei. Only because the seeming tug-of-war between Chinese and Filipino fishermen looks like an entertaining story to follow.

Rabid to the bones in showing subservience to the United States, their former colonial master, most Filipinos particularly those who have migrated to America would forever swear allegiance to an imperialist America but never to an imperialist China. For them, being pro-American is just as being loyal and patriotic to the Philippines even if America’s military expansionism is clearly evident in Asia and the Pacific region. As one Pinoy-Canadian proudly said, “more power to the USA! I'd rather go to bed with a power that shares my values than one that doesn’t,” meaning, China.

What are we really proud of—to be Pinoy? Or Asian?

When our Filipino boxers or entertainers become world famous, we announce to everyone in the universe how much we are proud to be Pinoys. Whenever Manny Pacquiao knocks his opponent out in the ring, Pinoys all over the world rejoice and celebrate. Or when Charice Pempengco sings on U.S. television or before an American audience, we all love and praise her to high heavens because she’s a Pinoy like us. Even American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez who happens to be half-Filipino and half-Mexican, has been fully embraced by Filipinos at home and abroad as one of us.
Proud to be Pinoy - World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and others. Click
link to view
 "Proud to be Pinoy ka ba?"
But our pride in being Filipino is never linked to our roots from the Malay race, that we are proud descendants of the waves of Malays and Indonesians who first came to our islands long before the Spaniards and the Americans colonized us. We have never regarded our Asian neighbours as kindred in race and spirit. In choosing life-partners or simply on how we look, Filipinos would rather prefer to be “meztisa” or “meztisilla,” not the brown-skinned Malay native. Thus, in politics, we would rather be on the side of the Americans no matter how the latter is loathed and unwelcomed by our neighbours.

What is it really about being Pinoy that we can be proud of? In the next few days our community organizations in Toronto will be celebrating various festivities to commemorate Philippine Independence Day. Most of these festivities will focus on beauty pageants—Miss Philippines or Miss Whatever, Santacruzan, parade of lechons, Independence balls featuring the so-called shakers and movers in the community, musical entertainment, and many others that have nothing to do whatsoever with the independence of our country which we are celebrating.

A smaller group of Filipinos, on the other hand, will be picketing the Philippine Consulate in Toronto on June 11, 2012, to demand removal of U.S. troops who are in the Philippines under the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement. This group is composed of members of Bayan-Toronto, Anakbayan-Toronto, Migrante-Canada, Gabriela-Toronto, Binnadang, FMWM, iWWorkers, ILPS-Canada, and others continuing the Filipino struggle for genuine independence for the Philippines.

If there’s anything every Filipino in Toronto could be proud of this week, this is one shining moment for us—young and old—to join and show not only to the Philippine government but also to Canadians as well and to the world, that as a country, we cannot be truly proud until we have removed all vestiges of foreign control and intervention in our national affairs. But for sure, our ever-loyal and patriotic Pinoy–Canadians in Toronto would probably turn their noses at these young Filipinos and mock their claims for true independence for the Philippines. One thing they would ask is where were these young people when their parents and elders were demonstrating in front of the Chinese Consulate some weeks ago to protest China’s aggressive and bullying tactics in the South China Sea. This to them is the litmus test of genuine Filipino patriotism, even if it means being branded as pro-Americans.

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