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proud to be pinoy
5/30/2006 9:55:32 PM

Maybe it will sound simplistic, but to go back to what I said above, it is my unshakable belief that the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino. A friend once remarked to me, laconically: "All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino." That statement would appear to be a rather simplistic one, and perhaps it is. However, I know one Filipino who refuses to enter a theater until the national anthem has stopped being played because he doesn't want to honor his own country, and I know another one who thinks that history stopped dead in 1898 when the Spaniards departed! While it is certainly true that these represent extreme examples of national denial, the truth is not a pretty picture. Filipinos tend to worship, almost slavishly, everything foreign. If it comes from Italy or France it has to be better than anything made here. If the idea is American or German it has to be superior to anything that Filipinos can think up for themselves. Foreigners are looked up to and idolized. Foreigners can go anywhere without question. In my own personal experience I remember attending recently an affair at a major museum here. I had forgotten to bring my invitation. But while Filipinos entering the museum were checked for invitations, I was simply waived through. This sort of thing happens so often here that it just accepted routine. All of these things, the illogical respect given to foreigners simply because they are not Filipinos, the distrust and even disrespect shown to any homegrown merchandise, the neglect of anything Philippine, the rudeness of taxi drivers, the ill-manners shown by many Filipinos are all symptomatic of a lack of self-love, of respect for and love of the country in which they were born, and worst of all, a static mind-set in regard to finding ways to improve the situation.

Most Filipinos, when confronted with evidence of governmental corruption, political chicanery, or gross exploitation on the part of the business community, simply shrug their shoulders, mutter "bahala na," and let it go at that. It is an oversimplification to say this, but it is not without a grain of truth to say that Filipinos feel downtrodden because they allow themselves to feel downtrodden. No pride. One of the most egregious examples of this lack of pride, this uncaring attitude to their own past or past culture, is the wretched state of surviving architectural landmarks in Manila and elsewhere. During the American period many beautiful and imposing buildings were built, in what we now call the "art deco" style (although, incidentally, that was not a contemporary term; it was coined only in the 1960s). These were beautiful edifices, mostly erected during, or just before, the Commonwealth period. Three, which are still standing, are the Jai Alai Building, the Metropolitan Theater, and the Rizal Stadium. Fortunately, due to the truly noble efforts of my friend John Silva, the Jai Alai Building will now be saved. But unless something is done to the most beautiful and original of these three masterpieces of pre-war Philippine architecture, the Metropolitan Theater, it will disintegrate. The Rizal Stadium is in equally wretched shape. When the wreckers' ball destroyed Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and New York City's most magnificent building, Pennsylvania Station, both in 1963, Ada Louise Huxtable, then the architectural critic of The New York Times, wrote: "A disposable culture loses the right to call itself a civilization at all!" How right she was! (Fortunately, the destruction of Pennsylvania Station proved to be the sacrificial catalyst that resulted in the creation of New York's Landmark Commission. Would that such a commission be created for Manila...)



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