Try to search about Filipino culture and you’ll find different attributes of how we are as Filipinos. It tells of the different journeys through centuries of resiliency among other nations and our struggle for our real identity. Faith, culture, traditions, among others, reflect our different inheritance through the centuries. Valuing traditions, being resilient amidst all the disasters and tragedies faced, taking pride with families, giving respect towards others are among those elements of culture we are recognized for. With all these positive traits, we are also known for our negativities which are that crab mentality, that mañana habit, that Filipino time, bahala attitude, and the lack of discipline. What really distinguishes us as Filipinos?
We are known to help and care for other people, but we also have that crab mentality to pull down others. Both are contradictions.
In the book by Teodoro Agoncillo, he mentioned something that “history is about the past, not the future, we used history to avoid the mistakes of the past and not to recreate the same events.” In a total of 108 million population, there are about 108 ethnolinguistic groups in the country, meaning there are 108 cultures. Throughout our history, it was said that the “negritos” were among the earliest humans to settle in the Philippines. It also said that they arrived 30,000 years ago, crossing oceans coming from other places (try to imagine the movie “Moana”). As early as those years different people coming from different places assimilated in the local populations. From the very beginning alone, we have been a mix of different cultures.
Our country’s geographical setup alone is so diverse because we are composed of islands, 7101 islands to be exact. As a country, we were created some 50 million years ago formed by volcanic eruptions. We were colonized by the west for 300 years, the longest regime of the west that had conquered the country. We were liberated from Spanish domination when the United States declared war with Spain. The US inhabited our country, but then the Japanese invaded the Philippines. As we move on towards our future, have we used our history to avoid the same mistakes in the past?
How far have we come since time immemorial, though change they say is the only constant thing in this world? Did that change take us that far with our negative culture?
For the longest time, we had been wanting change, but this will lead to asking, what changes do we strive for? Different leaders had seated at the helm, and different strategies were implemented with time. There were changes for the worst but mostly for the good. But all the good was not enough. What would be the distinct level of satisfaction for us that we could say we’re good? We cry for change, but we also contradict and react to change. When we are affected by changes, we cry foul. We look blind, we create, we flex, rant. We put our comfort above others.
Then pandemic came. We had been struggling with our identity through time. The different political, religious, and personal issues we faced were put to the test with this pandemic. The diversity of culture, belief and geographical location had been highlighted comparisons between implementations and restrictions.
What is that perfect implementation over our differences, could we be united if we knew who we really are as Filipinos?
The answer is within us, how we work together and set aside differences; dig deep beyond our core and be that Filipino that we are born to be, voyaging the challenges together towards a better future.
Yes we can, we are Filipinos!
By Raul Ang Inocando