Overseas Filipinos Must Reinvent First the “Filipino Psyche” In Reforming the Homeland

by Bobby Reyes

Sigmund Freud’s spectacles, pen, etc. | Photo by JRennocks via Wikimedia Commons

Part XX of the “Filipino Melting Pot” Series

On May 14, 2007, I started a new Filipino website that I co-publish and edit. It was about “Reinventing the Filipino Psyche.” Yes, the series was about the human soul, mind, or spirit. And how to reinvent them insofar as Filipinos in the Philippines (and even some Overseas Filipinos) are concerned. To read Part One, please go to this link.

The need for the Filipino Psyche’s reinvention, Part Two, called “Restoring the Dignity of the Filipino,” is on this link.

When I finally accepted the invitation of the Philippine Daily Mirror CEO Richie Rillera to write a column, I was pleasantly surprised that in the listing of its columnists, I followed the column entitled “When Ideas Matter.” The columnist, Fernando B. Perfas, Ph. D., 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 private drug-treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches.

I immediately contacted Dr. Perfas, and we became Facebook friends. We started exchanging ideas on my “Filipino Psyche” series. I told him that I need a co-author with an academic background such as his and who has worked most especially on drug addiction. I said that when I ran for governor of Sorsogon in 2016, I promised the people that our province would have the best-and-biggest addiction-treatment facilities. Yes, instead of adopting a policy of brutal tactics against drug addicts, as governor, I would insist that drug dependency is a disease and not a crime. My administration would deviate from the actions of our country’s national policy and decision-makers of using even extra-judicial killings as a “solution” (sic) to substance abuse. Dr. Perfas was enthusiastic in heading a combined Sorsoganon-OFW Task Force on drug addiction.

Now let us go back to this column’s topic. Yes, Overseas Filipinos should first reinvent the “Filipino Psyche” if they want indeed to reform our homeland. And to use Dr. Perfas’s words, even his (Filipino) colleagues “don’t take the idea of the flawed Filipino psyche due to colonial trauma seriously.” I will discuss this point more in the future episodes of this column.

Self-proclaimed “hysterians”

I had been writing about the claims of self-proclaimed “hysterians” (sic) that wanted to be known as “historians.” I wrote a satire about “No mistaking hysteria for history and vice versa,” on this link.

There is a need why the Philippines needs to “reinvent” the people’s psyche. For instance, I already posted in several Facebook Groups that Filipinos, especially Overseas Filipinos, must be more modest in heaping praises on Yuka Saso. Yes, as many are proud to claim that she is a Filipino golfer. Many Filipino American community leaders are so proud of her for winning the 2021 U.S. Open Women’s Golf championship. They fail to note that Ms. Saso qualified to play at the U.S. Open because of her twin victories in the Japanese women’s golf circuit (as a Japanese citizen of a golfer).

To my limited knowledge, there are no professional or even amateur women’s golf tournaments in our Filipino homeland. Her name is 100% Japanese, and she holds a Japanese passport. Obviously, Ms. Saso also holds a Filipino passport, which means that she is a dual citizen of the Philippines and Japan. But eventually, she would become a U.S. permanent resident and ultimately a U.S. citizen, as there are more American golf women’s tournaments with richer purses.

When she has a U.S. passport, she will be known as a famous American lady golfer of Japanese-and-Filipino, if not of Asian descent.

Wikipedia on Yuka Saso

Here is what Wikipedia says of Ms. Saso: “Yuka Saso (笹生 優花[3], Sasō Yūka) is a Filipino-Japanese professional golfer.[1] [4] She created history for the Philippines at the 2018 Asian Games by winning the first-ever gold medal for the Philippines in both women’s individual and women’s team event in Asian Games golf competitions.[5][6] She became the youngest U.S. LPGA Woman’s Open Champion on June 6, 2021, at San Francisco’s Olympic Club and is the first major champion winner, man or woman, to come from the Philippines (sic).”

It is public knowledge that there are already past Japanese women golfers that have won U.S. lady’s golf professional tournaments. Among them is Hisako Higuchi. She was 31 when she won her LPGA Championship. Ms. Higuchi became President of the LPGA of Japan Tour in 1996. In 2003, she became the first Japanese golfer to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

I mention the new “craze” about the achievement of Ms. Saso as a “Filipino golfer,” when it is only half the truth. It is similar to the Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS) claims that a Filipino was a co-founder of Los Angeles (CA). The historian Hector Santos presented — when he was alive — facts that such claim was bogus.

Thus, Mr. Santos told this writer: “A historical hoax is such a terrible thing to spread among your own people. Once it has spread, it is very hard to contain, especially if the Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS) ‘authenticates’ (sic) it and proclaims as gospel truth that a Filipino was a cofounder of Los Angeles. The FANHS people have not produced also any primary or secondary proof of evidence to back up their claim about Antonio Miranda Rodriguez.”

The Reinvention of the Filipino Psyche

Why my coming books on the “Filipino Psyche” and the “Filipino Melting Pot” need the professional expertise of Dr. Perfas? Perhaps he can also analyze why the FANHS “historians” continue to dish out historical hoaxes one after another. Is it part of the “Filipino Psyche” to lie or even tell half-truths? To “elevate” the image of the Filipino — even at the expense of being embarrassed, as sooner or later, the truth always comes out?

I asked Dr. Perfas if he is an authority on classical psychoanalytic theory, the dynamic force behind all mental processes. According to Sigmund Freud, “the basic sources of this energy are the instincts or drives that are located in the id and seek immediate gratification according to the pleasure principle.” Why another need for Dr. Perfas’s expertise? Because if we, OFWs, were to field a presidential slate for the Philippines election in 2022, one topic that should be raised as a campaign issue is “The Reinvention of the Filipino Psyche.” Why?

Because we have to come up with new but bold ideas to stun the voting public and generate an expected surge of supporters for true reforms, the usual campaign ploys (for needed reforms) have not worked for so many generations since we became independent from the United States in 1946. Perhaps this political gambit might work.

Dr. Perfas replied he could not call himself an “expert in Freudian Psychology,” although he is familiar with its basic principles.

Colonial trauma

He says further that the “Reinvention of the Filipino Psyche” as a campaign issue might be too cerebral for ordinary Filipinos to really grasp. In his experience, even some of his college classmates did not take the idea of the flawed Filipino psyche seriously due to colonial trauma. He opines that:

  • “the historical backdrop many Filipinos find to be too remote in time to affect them in the here-and-now. It is a complex concept that many don’t bother to think or process. Part of the difficulty is the Catholic religion, which is hard to separate from any discussion on Spanish Colonialism.
  • Filipino Catholics feel indebted to the Spaniards for their religion, and many were brainwashed to the core. It will take a great deal of self-awareness to break away from our past conditioning.
  • However, If a methodical strategy can break down our concepts into small digestible bits and concretize (sic) them, it may work. For example, asking people questions why Filipinos have short memories of atrocities done to them by foreign-and-domestic oppressors? Why voters select leaders who turn out to be corrupt and betray our country and people? Why are there very few people in politics that operate on basic principles of honesty and integrity? Why are Filipinos not truly nationalistic and readily sell out — from Aguinaldo down to our present leaders?
  • Maybe raising fundamental questions such as these will help people reflect instead of attacking the personality of political opponents. Perhaps we (meaning OFWs and Overseas Filipinos) should ask what went wrong why such-and-such politician turned out to be really such-and-such. At the end of the day, the voters collectively are responsible for the kind of leaders they have.
  • It’s a matter of waking up the dormant consciousness and having done that offer the ideal agenda and solutions.”

As I have stressed in all my writings in the United States since 1988, OFWs and Overseas Filipinos must save (by their remittances) the Philippine economy from sinking and “reinvent” the Filipino psyche. Thus, after a given period of time, most Filipinos will look good, feel good, and proud of their positive contributions to North America and the world. And do it without dishing out historical hoaxes and/or distorting the truth. Or simply telling half-truths.

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