What Filipinos can be proud ofBy Andrea Chloe Wong
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What is it that Filipinos can boast about the Philippines? Quite hard to figure especially when the country struggles with an image problem: excessive corruption, extreme poverty, and source of cheap manual labor. These are some of the general impressions of the world about the Philippines that, while unpleasant, are undeniably true.
However, despite the many negative comments that quite often overshadow the positive, there are definitely so many things to be proud of. Chief of which is actually: ourselves. The Filipino is renowned all over the world for remarkable qualities, often downplayed or overlooked, but which nonetheless brings pride to the country.
Our caring ways
Essentially, we Filipinos can be proud of our humanity. We are a highly-relational people, proficient in emotionally and socially connecting with others.
Our innate humanity is very much apparent in the caring ways we interact with those close to us including others outside our kin circle. In fact, this trait is one of the distinct assets of millions of Filipino doctors, nurses, care givers, and nannies who work abroad. Generally, we are known for our heartfelt concern, nurturing spirit, and caring touch, which naturally make our workers in demand overseas. Though it may sometimes rub us the wrong way that our country is frequently associated with overseas labor (especially domestic help), we can always look at it in a more positive view. We can stand proud of those Filipino workers who give exceptional and genuine care to the rest of the world.
Hospitality even abroad
Also, our inherent humanity is also reflected in our world-famous hospitality that truly amazes anyone who has experienced it. Foreigners who come to visit the Philippines speak of Filipinos going out of their way to help them when lost, or the heartwarming generosity of a Filipino family hosting a visitor in their poverty-stricken home. Meanwhile, most foreigners who attend Filipino gatherings abroad (which are frequently organized for hundreds of reasons) testify to the warmth and friendliness of Filipinos as they experience that feeling of “belongingness.” Indeed, the legendary Filipino hospitality is not limited to the Philippines. It is everywhere wherever there are Filipinos.
Our intrinsic humanity is perhaps best exemplified in our compassion for others. The kind of compassion that, not only feels sympathy, but bothers the conscience to give help and relieve the suffering of others. Our compassion is eminently reflected in our personal capacity to assist others and in our collective spirit of volunteerism.
Aside from our humanity, we Filipinos can be proud of our creativity. While being creative is not an exclusive trait possessed only by Filipinos, what makes ours distinct is the artistry, expressiveness, spontaneity, and humor that altogether define Filipino creativity. Aside from the abundance of world-renowned Filipino talents in music and the performing arts, our country is rich with visual artists, fashion designers, animators and many other artists. Filipinos are making waves in the international scene, particularly in the entertainment, creative, and design industries.
Filipino creativity, however, is not limited to the professional artists. The country’s tourism campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is a remarkable testimony to the creative minds and spontaneous wit that Filipinos generally share. This impromptu show of support to Philippine tourism merely proves that we can unite and use our collective ingenuity to rally behind a common cause for the benefit of the country.
Besides creativity, we Filipinos can be proud of our adaptability. We are highly adaptable to different people, cultures, and situations that generally make us well-rounded beings. While overseas, we not only connect with fellow Filipinos but we also adjust easily to different cultures and diverse people. We tend to make do with what little we have and find pleasure in the simple things. We adapt well in difficult situations that likewise showcase our resilience as a nation. Others may view this as a general acceptance of fate or a strange kind of coping mechanism. The Filipinos’ optimistic reaction to diversity, uncertainty and adversity truly baffles, or at most amazes.
How many times do foreigners get astounded with Filipinos after every storm? Aside from pictures of the Filipinos’ survival efforts, foreigners are astounded by images of children having fun swimming in the floodwaters or people in evacuation centers smiling and waving at the cameras. Truly, Filipinos reveal a positive spirit of adapting to distress and finding something pleasant amidst the misery.
These are just some of the qualities (among many others) that can truly make us proud of who we are and where we come from. Though sometimes we tend to channel them in nonconstructive ways (like being “compassionate” to government crooks at the expense of justice), we should instead exemplify these traits for the benefit of others and our nation. By doing so, we continue to embody the best and the positive in us.
Oftentimes, we are constrained by our negativity that causes us to ridicule or think little of ourselves. And this somehow spills over to how we easily scorn our country. While the negative traits in us are admittedly real and contagious, these should not overpower us and define our overall identity.
Perhaps what better way to brag about the Philippines is to live out these legendary Filipino qualities the best way we can. After all, each one of us is the most convincing spokesperson of our country— the good and the bad we project ultimately impacts the country’s image. Hopefully we can reduce the tendency to disparage ourselves, and instead accentuate the good in us with confidence towards transforming our nation.
It is no small wonder that the most celebrated icons of the Philippines are actually its people: Lea Salonga, Manny Pacquiao, Cory Aquino, Jose Rizal, Kenneth Cobonpue, Efren Peñaflorida and so many others who all make us proud of our country. Not to mention some of the millions of Filipinos here and abroad who serve as living examples of the best of the Philippines. Truly, there is always something good in us that give us reasons to not give up on ourselves and to have hope in our home.