From Miriam to the Filipino Pride

Miriam Defensor-Santiago has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

When an officemate made the announcement at work, I was skeptical. I haven’t followed the news ever since I decided to lead a more positive lifestyle so I didn’t know if what he was saying is anywhere near the truth. But as it turns out – it is true. She has cancer.

Surprising. She didn’t struck me as someone who was ill – she is always full of vitality in giving her speeches. But it was noted that she had the most number of absences during senate plenary – something I think she wouldn’t want to happen had she been healthy since she is always the workaholic type.

Many are left aghast that such a strong woman as Miriam Santiago would fall prey to the traps of cancer. She remains strong none the less, positive that modern science can help save her from this much dreaded disease.

This piece of news has led to a series of serious albeit enlightening conversation at the office. If before all we talked about were funny, often times silly, jokes to help alleviate the daily grind; this afternoon, after knowledge of Sen. Miriam’s condition, things took a more serious – though with the trademark fun – twist.

It began when people started impressing their disappointment that Sen. Miriam would have been a great president – if she chooses to run which they said she will if she survives this. Then quickly spiraled to who should have been the best bet in 2010 and who now deserves the throne in 2016.

Photo By Christian Mac Juane (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo By Christian Mac Juane (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Soon people were hinting that we should have retained being Spain’s colony or that we are better off being a US State.

Most agreed that our government is so corrupt, it is beyond salvation and no matter how clean or seemingly incorruptible someone who assumes office is, eventually that person will be corrupted by the system.

It was generally very disconcerting. Seeing the animosity and negativity that has branded our current system. There was a general belief that if Filipinos would be more educated about their votes and would take a more active stance on determining their future then perhaps things would change. But this is equally rebutted by the fact that out of sheer poverty – Filipinos would simply choose what would fill their hungry stomachs in the short run that what would feed their future generations in the long run.

It was disheartening seeing their jaded beliefs – in the people at office, in the government system and in the general capability of Filipinos as a whole. Even the whole concept of Filipino pride and unity was put into question seeing as never had it really happened in history where Filipinos were 100% united. Not during the uprisings against foreign oppressors or the civil revolts against scrupulous domestic leaders.

Personally, I like to believe that there remains HOPE in the Philippines. That we shouldn’t remain jaded that all politicians are corrupt or that our government system would forever remain as such – a serial corruptor of innocents. I would like to think that as a nation we can become prosperous and compete with the likes of other developed nation. That as Filipinos we have the capacity to become at par with our Asian counterparts – Singapore and South Korea.

If only we would learn our lessons. If only we would heed the words of the wise men before us. Then perhaps, tides will turn and it will be us who will experience becoming a wealthy and prosperous nation.

I would like to believe that the recent economic highs – credit rating upgrades, investor all-time high confidence, etc. are signs that the Philippines has got what it takes to win – and emerge on top.

Yet this will never happen without a collective understanding and agreement that we, as a nation, are destined for greatness. If we all just fall to the trap that we would remain a poor and corrupt nation – chances are we will. Chances are, the opportunity to become great, will surpass our generation.

South Korea, from a land torn from civil war, rose up to become a bustling economy and developed country in just the span of a generation. The Philippines at one point was far richer than this Eastern Asian country yet now Filipinos are idolizing them – their dramas, songs, actors, even food and fashion sense.

What did they have that we clearly lack? Simple. Nationalism. South Koreans were very much in love with their identity. They knew that the best way to rise up the ashes was to embrace their own culture like no other. And so they did. And so they prospered.

What about us Filipinos? What do we do? We claim we are freed from our oppressors. We claim we have achieved our independence – our freedom. But truth is, we are slaves. We remain slaves to other cultures, slaves to commercialism, slaves to promises of greener pastures.

Look at us. We emulate Western culture. We emulate Eastern culture. We EMULATE. We haven’t spent the time seeking our own and creating our own. We remain content with being a hodgepodge of culture. No – an imitator of cultures. It would have been better if we were a hodgepodge and out of that hodgepodge something unique and entirely our own emerges. But no, we choose to imitate.

We have a rich and diverse culture. Yet instead of patronizing our traditional kulintang and kumintang music, we opt to listen to K-Pop. Instead of choosing to create worthwhile dramas glorifying our own culture and rich history, we choose to create re-runs or air Korean dramas or patronize Western series.

Even our language – our mother tongue ceases to be a symbol and a banner of our identity as Filipinos.

I do not claim to be innocent of these charges. I, too, remain a fan of other cultures. Even embracing a foreign tongue as if my mother tongue. But yet, awareness leads to change or at least the effort to find a solution.

I sincerely hope and pray that time will come things will change for our country. Impossible as it may seem, I still believe impossible is merely not knowing what is possible. We do not know what will happen until we sincerely believe, hope and make the impossible possible.

Author: elleica

Jesus Lover. Writer. Blogger. Biologist turned marketer. Child of Learning. Thrill Seeker. I long for my next adventure.

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