I just found these definitions of “Filipino” at the Urban Dictionary:
I find these definitions to be hilarious. These also got me into thinking again of what really is a Filipino. Is it a state of being that I have to be proud about like many Pinoys would be? In a lot of ways I would not be. The damaged retrogressive culture that permeates into mind and soul of the typical Juan is something that I do not desire for myself.
Having vicariously (I say vicariously as I have never traveled outside of the Philippines) seen and experienced other Asian cultures, I would have to agree that Filipinos have little to do with being Asian. F. Sionil Jose even goes to proclaiming that the Filipino is not Asian. Culturally speaking, Filipinos have so much more in common with Latin Americans and the Spanish than with the Japanese, Koreans or even Thais. The sad fact is that Filipinos seem to have inherited everything negative about Spanish culture that keeps Filipino society from moving towards progress. Things like Mañana habit (procrastination), ningas cogon (the inability to finish what was enthusiastically started), advancement through connections rather than skill (Padrino system); the “pwede na yan” (that’ll do) mentality of mediocrity; the abuse of amor propio, delicadeza,and utang na loob (indebtedness); and the grip of Roman Catholicism all get in the way of progress of the Filipino society. Such culture has given way into the chaotic state that the Philippines is. Seems like the Pinoy is a creature and lover of chaos that is easily entertained and driven by emotion rather than the intellect.
If you go study the history of the Philippine Islands closely, you might arrive at the conclusion that the concept of being a Filipino originated from Creoles i.e. people of Spanish descent who were born in the Philippines. There are claims that these Creoles co-mingled with the dominant Tagalog tribe (and perhaps with some wealthy businessmen of Chinese descent), established their own government in defiance of Spain (getting inspiration from the French and American Revolutions), and placed their seat of power in Manila. Other tribes of the island could care less. There is one site in particular that goes to a great depth about this topic called “The Nation of Don Rafael Ibarra” if you’d like to read more about it.
It really appears that three centuries of Spanish rule have made Filipinos dumb to the point that there are claims of the Philippines having a collective IQ of only 87. It doesn’t really surprise me given the fact that during the last presidential elections, the Philippines elected a president based on sentiment rather than competence.
The lack of collective achievement as a people is bothersome. Apparently, this is due to having too much freedom with too little discipline, something that former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had said before. Having too little discipline is readily observable in the Philippines; just try driving at EDSA and the streets of Manila and you’ll know what I mean.
One aspect of Filipinos that continues to drive me crazy in this information age is the fact while Filipinos have admirable work ethic as a hardworking people, they do not appear to be smart about it. I am a freelance worker who’s registered at oDesk, and it appears to me that the trend amongst Filipinos is to drive prices down. It is what I call “nagtratrabaho ng palugi” (working at a loss). Granted that labor is supposed to be cheaper in the Philippines, should that mean that the Filipino’s way of competing with the rest of the world is just through low prices rather than competence? I believe that despite our flaws as a society, the Filipino in this global society are worth much more.
Allow me to give an example. I currently work freelance taking on music and audio jobs. Whenever I apply for a job, I occasionally look into profiles of other contractors. I have noticed that some of these other Filipino contractors price themselves at miserably low rates. I see Filipino freelance musicians at oDesk charging as low as $1.00 an hour for composing music or writing a jingle. This is lower than Philippine minimum wage! (around $1.50/hour) A service like writing music should cost much more than that given how taxing and mentally challenging the process is in the first place (plus the potential value of a jingle as intellectual property). How I thought that Filipinos are very proud of the fact that they are musically inclined! Shouldn’t they ask for more given the fact that they’ve got musical and audio production skills that can compete at the international level? Although it’s virtually unavoidable to take cheap jobs in order to gain higher feedback ratings (and higher rates eventually), why should such workers remain at such a miserable hourly rate? I’d assume that they don’t families to support and they’re still living off their parents. If you look into the salary trends in the medical/general transcription sector in oDesk, the rates are even more miserable.
Going back to those Urban Dictionary definitions, I would have to agree with one post that says “A hard working, industrious, and very strong family oriented people, but notoriously useless at organizing anything beyond chaos as a nation of people.” It hits the point right at home. As an example of that, take a look into Filipino fiestas. Many Filipinos would rather incur enormous debt just to host a party and look good in the community during feast days for pagan gods and goddesses, all of which have been draped with a “Christian” veneer as Santo this and that by the Roman Catholic Church. They’d rather keep on having sex and have as many as 10 children just right after hitting middle age despite lacking the financial resources to properly raise such offspring. No wonder that the Philippines has a collective IQ of 87. Is acting stupid a thing to be proud of? Apparently, many proponents of “Filipino pride” think so.
It’s very sad that Filipinos always think of themselves as small, the underdog so to speak that’s incapable of dreaming big. Despite all the negative things about the Filipino culture, I still would like to believe that Filipinos as a people should be capable of achieving greatness. Examples of these are the many Filipinos who have great individual achievements inside and outside of the country, all of which are mostly earned through a disciplined and frugal approach of living. My parents are a good example. Starting from virtually nothing, they worked their way to acquire assets that currently serve as financial security for themselves. I also happen to have an aunt who works two blue collar jobs in Australia, enabling her to invest some of that money into property and enjoy in the Philippines whatever is left over. Former waiter and security guard turned restauranteur Larry Cortez is another. My wife grew up from a below poverty state and is now making great strides up the corporate ladder at the moment. Why is it that such Filipinos are exceptions to the norm rather than the standard?
I would go to say that Juan has to change his way of thinking in order to succeed, to give value to competence and logical thought rather than emotion and mediocrity. I also do hope that some day this statement would true within the Philippines itself rather than just abroad:
“Most Filipinos are upper middle class. Day know how to budget der money and make lots ob sacripices like staying in da Naby por 20 years so day can get a retirement.” (source : http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Filipino&defid=2315108)
It’s unfortunate that this kind of Filipino is more readily observable in the United States, Australia and anywhere else that has become locations for the Filipino Diaspora. Outside of the gated community where I reside, I usually see Filipinos who are living below the poverty line, incapable of budgeting given the fact that many are in debt, unable to make sacrifices because of the addiction to parties and entertainment, and would eventually retire with a huge debt and a mentality of mendicancy. The Philippines is really home to a fractured culture of people who claim to be Asian yet Hispanic in thinking and afflicted by still existing tribal divisions and a plutocracy that doesn’t care at all.
In a lot of ways I would be ashamed to be a Filipino. I often feel that I lack affinity with what a typical Filipino would want. I’m not a fan of Filipino cuisine, and I have no taste whatsoever for the mainstream OPM scene. I hate Pinoy telenovelas and noontime TV shows simply because they promote stupidity, mediocrity and mendicancy. I don’t watch local TV channels. Call it colonial mentality or whatever but if something is excellent, I have great appreciation for it, and for the most part a lot of things found overseas are leagues away from what is found locally in the Philippines.
However, whenever I see and hear about exemplary individuals such as my wife, my parents, composers Angel Matias Peña and Jose Maceda, restauranteur Larry Cortez and others, I appreciate the fact that Filipinos can be capable of breaking away from the typical Filipino slacker mentality.