31 January 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Betheena C. Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:57:00 06/05/2008
I am hardly moved by what I see on television.
But there was this particular scene that really touched me to the core: Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez running toward the final pit stop in The Amazing Race Asia Season 2, carrying the Philippine flag. What struck me about this scene was that these guys made it a point to show the world that as they competed, they were thinking not only of themselves but of this country as well. And to think that Nelson does not even have a drop of Filipino blood in his veins! It seemed to me that he was also running the race for the country that he had adopted as his own. These guys have not forgotten the Philippines at all. But the realization also made me sad because, today, there are quite a lot of Filipinos who have forgotten their own country.
In this age of Filipino diaspora, there are quite a number of our countrymen who seem to be intent on forgetting not only their land of birth but also their nation's heritage. I know this for a fact because my mother was at the receiving end of a diatribe from an acerbic ex-Filipino. She slammed my mom for choosing to live in the Philippines, trying to make it better. The woman is now a naturalized American citizen; and by her looks, my mother said, she had exhausted every opportunity to make herself look like an American. I am saddened by the fact that there are people like her who have chosen to forget their origins. Upon arriving in a prosperous and ultra-modern city, usually in the United States or in some European country, they begin to erase from their minds their Filipino heritage. They work hard to imitate the accent of the people living there; they have their noses re-done just to remove what is more often than not a trademark of Filipinos; and do other stuff that would make them look more and more fair-skinned. Basically, they begin to systematically change their outward appearance, thinking that their Filipino identity will vanish along with it. But what they do not realize is that no matter how hard they change their appearance, it stays? and will stay with them until the day they die.
Where we come from defines who we are and what we will become. Our present selves are the results of all that we have been through. We are products of our heritage, the hardships, the trials, and all that we have grown accustomed to. If we are strong now, it is because the storms of life that buffeted us have made us sturdier to withstand anything that may come our way. If we are weak, it may be because we have chosen not to fight life's vicissitudes or to learn the lessons that life has been teaching us.
And we are the people that what we are now because we have been raised in a culture that is full of incredible contradictions. We are God-fearing but we tolerate corruption because it has already become an accepted part of the bureaucracy. We are a kind people but have grown apathetic to the plight of poor kids living in the streets. We profess to be poor but we have unashamedly wasted and continue to waste our natural resources which take a long time for Mother Earth to replenish. But despite these contradictions, it is a fact that we Filipinos are among the nicest, most polite and most caring people in Asia and, possibly, in the world.
This is what has been forgotten by our countrymen who are now on a mission to eradicate their Filipino identity. They have forgotten that what they are now is the result of living in this Third World country. They have become what they are because of the culture and heritage that they were raised in. They are struggling to make their lives better because they have lived through difficult circumstances. This has made them determined, persevering and hardworking. Incidentally, these traits are the identifying qualities of Filipinos.
This striking reality brings back to my mind a Filipino saying: Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa kanyang paroroonan. He who does not know how to look back to where he came from will not get to where he s going. Indeed, where we came from and what we have been through are mere stages or pit stops in our journey through life. These are sort of clues that lead us to the finish line. And that finish line is the better life that we are all dreaming of.
Now, these people may argue that they have already reached the finish line, that they are now living prosperously, which has always been their dream. But to me, having a better life is not all about living in comfort and security. To my mind, having a better life is the actualization and acknowledgment of who you are. And it is this actualization and acknowledgment that will drive us to strive for better lives. If we realize and acknowledge where we come from and what we have been through, we will feel at ease with who we really are.
People who have chosen to forget where they come from may live better lives, but they will never be at peace with themselves because they have chosen to forget who they really are. And it is in this sense that they will never reach their destinations. They will never have that sense of fulfillment of having accepted every facet of their identity. They will never completely know themselves because they have chosen to forget their beginnings.
In times like these, when accusations of cheating, greed and lies can be heard at every corner, the temptation to forget our identity as Filipinos becomes more and more alluring. Who wants to be part of a nation where leaders profess to be working hard for the good of the people, when in truth and in fact, they are working hard just to satisfy their selfish interests? Who wants to be a member of a race that has become apathetic to dirty politics even though it greatly affects the future and their children? However, we should not forget that God has a purpose in creating us to be Filipinos. We may not see the good behind it yet, but let us trust that God has a perfectly good reason why He made us to be citizens of this country. If we truly learn to accept who we are and embrace our identity willingly, we will not only reach our destinations, we will also become better persons living better lives in this challenging world. It is then that we will become proud of what we are and where we come from and in everything we do.
Then, we just might be able to carry the Philippine flag with pride and fervor in our hearts as we run in this amazing race called life.
Betheena C. Dizon, 23, is a third year student at the San Beda College of Law.