Losing my Filipino-ness

After 20 years of living outside the Philippines, I can say that I’m losing some of my Filipino-ness. Filipino-ness? Is that even a word?

No, it is not that I don’t eat tuyo anymore. Nor that I don’t point with my lips anymore. Nor did I lose my Filipino accent and speak with an American twang now. It’s not any of those.

What I lost are some traits that we Filipinos are known for, but I believe we would be better off without them. Here are the traits:

1. Filipino Time

This trait I have not really picked up, even when I was still in the Philippines. I hate to wait for people, as well as I don’t like people waiting up on me.

Why are we fashionably late anyway? If our appointed time is at 7 o’clock, we feel it’s OK if we come at 7:30 or 8:00, or even later than that. We justify that Filipino time is still better than Indian time, that is not showing up at all. (I have no clue why we Pinoy call it Indian time, and for my Indian friends, please forgive us.)

Even our salawikain gives an excuse for this: “Huli man at magaling naihahabol rin.” I think the better proverb for us would be: “Huli man at magaling, huli pa rin!

It is not good to be late, ever. In school, or in business world, or just even among friends.

2. Making “singit.”

No, it is not sing it. I know Filipino likes to sing, but this is something else. Singit means cutting in line. I would admit, I have done this before, when I was much younger. But not anymore.

We think it is “abilidad” if we can cut in line and make things faster for ourselves, not thinking of other people who lined up fair and square. Whether it is cutting in line at a check-out counter, or jostling in bus stop stations, or cutting lanes in traffic, these all boils down to our lack of self-discipline.

The only thing that I believe these people who likes to make “singit” deserves, is “kurot sa singit!”

3. Talangka mentality.

Filipinos love sea foods, including the crab. But this has nothing to do with our fondness of crabs. I have observed that we Filipinos like to pull down other people to elevate ourselves. Whether they are our office mates, neighbors, or “friends” (what a real friend we are).

Sadly to say, that even in our own Filipino organizations, outside the Philippines, I have witnessed humor-mongering and bickering among us kababayan. If we don’t like the leaders, we form our own organization to counter the other. “Pataasan ng ihi!”

It is not surprising then, why I am not a member of any Filipino organizations or clubs.

Crab-mentality

image from here

4. Kumpare system

There is nothing wrong with getting people that we like as our kumpare or kumadre. But many times we use this to get unfair advantage. We say, “kumpare ko si mayor,” or “kumpare ko si Kapitan (Baranggay Captain), and thus we can get away with what we want. We use even the faintest connection to an “authority” to get a pass. “Kumpare ko iyong pinsan ng kapitbahay ng querida ni General.”

We even flash a business card that is signed by a Police Chief or Vice Mayor, whom we say is our friend, when we are caught so we will not get a ticket for a traffic violation. I will not say that I don’t like to have a signed card like that, when I was still living in the Philippines. But it does not work here where I live now.

Why can’t we get our advantage fairly, through our hard work and by our own merits?

5.“Pwede na” and “Bahala na”

You have heard those terms and know them very well. I would be lying if I say that I have not used them before. But I have evolved.

We have the tendency to take short cuts if we can, and want the easy way out. We don’t strive hard enough to give our best, if there’s a less demanding way to do it, even if the result is sub par. “Pwede na ‘yan”“Pasado pa rin naman” we countered.

Or worse yet, we leave our destiny to luck. We are fatalistic – “Bahala na.” “Swerte swerte lang talaga,” we reasoned.

What I believe is that success is much more of “perspiration” rather than of good fortune.

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So these are traits that I don’t want to be identified with. Don’t get me wrong, I love my heritage, and I am proud to be a Filipino. But there are certain Filipino-ness, or traits, just like the above, that we as a people, can shed, and not hurt our identity a bit.

Besides, I can still be identified as a Filipino by many other things, like when my clothes smells like piniritong isda, or when I blurt “Aray” when I bump my knee.

Bahala na si Batman

Kumakaway-kaway ang bagong nakalambiting pahinang papel sa dingding, nagpapahiwatig na pumasok na naman tayo sa isang panibagong yugto.

Bagong kalendaryo. Bagong taon. Lumang pananaw?

Tunay na ang panahon na ginagalawan natin ngayon ay walang katiyakan. Kasing linaw ng tubig-kanal ang ating kinabukasan. Halos gumapang na parang pagong ang ekonomiya, kahit anumang bansa ang pag-usapan, kahit na sa Amerika. Naghihirap na parang daga ang maraming mamayan sa iba’t-ibang lupalop ng mundo. Walang gobyerno ang ligtas sa gulo at eskandalo. Walang sinisinong pamilya ang mga problema at kahirapan, kahit pa Dimaano o Dimagiba ang apelyido nila. Walang tao sa kasalukuyan, ang hindi apektado ng walang-kasiguraduhang bukas.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, sino nga ba ang nakakaalam kung ano ang ihahatid ng bukas? Kahit pa mga manghuhula sa Quiapo, ay hindi nakatitiyak. At mayroon nga ba tayong magagawa tungkol dito? Mabuti pa kayang maghalukipkip na lamang at magpawalang bahala, at tanggapin na lamang ang anumang barahang iaabot sa atin ng tadhana. Kaya?

Bahala na.

Iyan ang katagang kinamulatan nating mga Pilipino. Ito rin ang pilosopiyang nakaukit na sa ating kulturang kinagisnan. Bahala na. Bahala na si Batman!

Pero kung susuriin, ang katagang “bahala na” ay nagmula  sa “Bathala na,” kung saan ang isang tao ay ipinauubaya na sa Maykapal ang kaniyang kapalaran. Maaring maganda naman ang saloobing ito, dahil ito’y nagpapakita ng pagtitiwala sa nakatataas na kapangyarihan. Ngunit ang masama, ay maraming mga tao ang ipinauubaya na ang lahat lahat, at hindi na nagsusumikap na ibangon o ibahin ang “kapalaran” na hatid sa kanila ng pagkakataon. Suwerte kung suwerte, malas kung malas, parang Sweepstakes.

Ika nga ng sinalumang kanta ni Rico J. Puno: “Kapalaran kung hanapin, ‘di matagpuan, at kung minsa’y lumalapit ng ‘di mo alam.” Kaya ba walang nang saysay ang habulin ang ating kapalaran dahil hindi mo rin naman ito maabutan? Sadya bang ang lahat ay nakasalalay sa “Gulong ng Palad” na parang lumang tele-serye?

Hindi ba nga’t si Juan Tamad, isa sa mga kinagigiliwang kwentong Pilipino, ay humilata na lang sa ilalim ng puno at nakangangang naghihintay na malaglag ang bayabas? Naghihintay na ang biyaya o suwerte, na mahulog na lang sa ating kandungan. Ito nga ba ang kagawiang Pinoy? Maging sa ating kanta, tele-nobela, o tradisyonal na salaysayin – bahala na.

Bahala na lang ba talaga?

Mawalang galang na lamang po, ngunit hindi ako sang-ayon sa pananaw na ito. Hindi rin ako naniniwala na wala tayong magagawa para sa ating kinabukasan, o kaya’y ibahin ang barahang tangan natin sa ating palad. Oo nga’t may mga bagay na lagpas sa ating mga kamay, at si Bathala (hindi si Batman) lamang ang may kontrol nito. Sang-ayon ako na mahalaga ang pagtitiwala sa nakatataas na kapangyarihan. Ngunit maraming mga bagay ay nasasa-ating palad, at ang magiging kahihinatnan nito’y bunga ng ating pagsisikap, at hindi lamang sanhi sa guhit ng kapalaran.

Kaya sa bagong taong ito, sana ay mayroon din tayong bagong pananaw sa buhay. Bagong pakikipagbaka. Bagong pagsisikap. Bagong pag-asa.

Bangon na aking kaibigan, ang bukas ay naghihintay sa iyo. Ang “suwerte” ay nasa pawis mo.