On Being a Filipino

by Fernando Perfas

Bamboo Flag | Photo by riacale via Flickr/Creative Commons

Now and then, I would read an article authored by a Filipino that contains litanies of how great Filipinos are and how I should be proud of being one. Then, without fail, the article would proceed and provide a parade of outstanding Filipinos of international stature with Pacquiao, Charice, Lea Salonga, or Arnel Pineda. Next are places not to be missed, wonderful sights found only in the Philippines.

If the intention is to drum up a sense of Filipino pride, I wonder if this is the best route to take. Every race or every nation has its great heroes. Some of them have captivated the imagination of people on the world stage by their accomplishments. As for cultural heritage sites, we don’t have anything comparable to Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall, the Cathedrals of Europe, the Pyramids, or Machu Pichu, and many others.

“We should ask ourselves if there are things about us that stand out: character traits or temperament that set Filipinos apart from the rest.”

If we want to pump up Filipino pride, it would be wise to look at some intangible qualities of what makes Filipinos shine. It will require some self-reflection or a visit to our past, but it may prove a worthwhile effort. We should ask ourselves if there are things about us that stand out: character traits or temperament that set Filipinos apart from the rest.

Take valor, for example. Are we exceptionally valiant? Did we prove this during the Philippine Revolution or the Second World War? Loyalty is another. Have we proven to the world that we are a reliable and loyal ally? Do we take loyalty seriously in our personal relationships? Are we exceptionally hospitable? Do we sacrifice our comforts to accommodate and provide for guests? Do we go out of our way to make people we don’t quite know enjoy the safety and comforts of our homes?

“There are more, and if we look within us, we’ll find more compelling reasons to be proud of what we are and not necessarily of what we have.”

Did four hundred years of colonial rule shape the Filipino character to be exceptionally resilient and adaptable? Are we more at home than the rest of the world with Eastern and Western Cultures because of our history and blend two different cultures with great ease in our outlook and lifestyle?

Finally, can we claim that Filipinos, because of our unique past, character, and temperament, are best suited to thrive in an increasingly global society? There are more, and if we look within us, we’ll find more compelling reasons to be proud of what we are and not necessarily of what we have.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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