Why am I saying this? Think about all the times a Filipino or even a partial Filipino has excelled internationally. From Manny Pacquiao, Jessica Sanchez, to Charice Pempengco, to Shay Mitchell, and Vanessa Hudgens, think back and observe why they are so admired by our countrymen. Is it because of their talents? Is it because of their achievements? No, it’s because they’re Filipino and we begin to proclaim to the heavens that this person is Filipino.
Look no further than our own headlines. “Filipino has been awarded with this,” “Filipino performs well at this,” “Proves to the world Filipinos can achieve this and that,” Check out the latest comments on a Filipino’s Youtube videos. They’ll always say “She/ he is Filipino,” “She/he is partly Filipino,” “I’m proud of her because she’s Filipino,” “Filipinos are so talented and amazing,” That’s where I believe our greatest fault in Filipino pride is; we’re proud of them for all the wrong reasons.
We’re proud of them because of where they come from, not what they have worked on. Worse, we pride ourselves in their achievements. Just because this person has achieved greatness, doesn’t mean you have as well just because our country’s bloodline runs through their veins. Just because they can sing well doesn’t mean every Filipino can. Just because they have been awarded greatly in Science doesn’t mean that you’ll excel in the sciences as well. Just because their looks are being admired greatly doesn’t mean yours will be as well. I’m not saying that Filipinos are not capable of excellence because we are. I’m not telling you as well to not be supportive of a fellow Filipino who has excelled. What I’m trying to say is your blood and your heritage can never truly and solely define who you are.
Yes, we should be proud of our fellow countrymen but we should praise them for all the right reasons. We should praise them for their hard work. We should praise them because they are talented all on their own. We should praise them for their OWN achievement because one person can’t define a whole nation. Just like when someone has done wrong, it doesn’t automatically mean a whole nation is filled with a bunch of washed up losers as well. If you’re saying that one person can define what a nation is then let me ask you these questions: are you still going to be proud you’re a Filipino if one of us has murdered an innocent person? Are you still going to broadcast to the world you’re a Filipino when a fellow countryman has smuggled drugs? Are you still going to defend a Filipino who has been shamed abroad for making a stupid mistake? Are you still going to say you’re a Filipino when someone whose blood runs through your veins is someone who has failed to achieve excellence? When this happens, we are ashamed of the person not our nation. Then we go on to proclaiming how special our country is and how amazing it is. We dismiss what we are ashamed of and pretend like it never happened. We can’t highlight the good and dismiss the bad of a country. There is good and bad in everything that is real.
Being a real country means that you’re not perfect. You’re not always amazing. You’re prone to mistakes and downfalls. You can’t always be proud of a nation because it has its downfalls as well and sometimes it’s doesn't feel good to be part of a nation. Sometimes, it becomes something to be ashamed of, and that’s okay. Being Filipino means you have the blood of a nation who has achieved the highest of victories and managed to reach below rock bottom at times. Being Filipino and at its core, being human, means having both pride and shame. That’s just life.
So instead of just being proud you’re a Filipino because of what others have achieved, prove that you are also worth the amount of love and support a whole country can give to you. Stop basking in other people’s achievements and make your own. You are part of a great country that is great because of the people who achieved that magnificence through their own hard work. It was not just their bloodline or citizenship that made them amazing, it was their own sweat and tears. It can’t only be one person striving to be amazing. Building a great nation starts with you. So get working and start inspiring your nation to be greater than it is today.
illustration by Frances Seno