Zeitgeist is a German-derived word which can be translated as “spirit of the times” or “spirit of the age”. For this discourse, I intend to use the definition “the sign of the times”. Basically, this word depicts the prevailing climate in a society. Whether this refers to a moral, intellectual, social, economical, political, or cultural climate, the word zeitgeist can encompass them all.
It seems that many Pinoys were buzzing about the recent Youtube video titled “Filipinos™ tease Times Square”. The video flashed several famous Filipinos, the usual suspects like Manny Pacquiao, Lea Salonga, Charice, Cory Aquino, etc. From the way it was presented, it’s apparently a teaser video, possibly about a brand launching for the Philippines scheduled on Philippine Independence Day, June 12.
It wasn’t even clear who made the video; whether it was a private group, or another initiative by the Department of Tourism (DOT). Ultimately, though, whoever made this video is of little consequence. What matters to people who are a bit more discerning is this: what are they doing this time around that is markedly different from the previous two (2) advertising campaigns which were duds?
A teaser is ideally a short advertisement designed to anticipate and make you more curious about the main event. Did they succeed at even that? Not with me; the only thing I got out of watching the video is an itchy head (read: kamot ulo). That brings up the obvious question/problem that, apparently, the DOT has never managed to solve: if they can’t convince their own citizens of the greatness of their advertising campaign, how in the world are they going to convince foreigners, who know much less about us than we think, to come here?
Naturally, this clip is intended to go viral, meaning to spread as fast as possible to everyone who has internet access. The only thing that will be going viral is the Pinoy virus of stupidity and mediocrity.
At this point I can just imagine many stupid Pinoys crying crab again. We haven’t even begun to criticize the content yet. There was no mention of tourist sites, no pictures of anything else remarkable. They merely provided photos of popular Filipinos. I’m guessing that the only two pictures there majority of foreigners would recognize are Manny Pacquiao and Corazon Aquino. Need I remind you that popular does not always mean remarkable. And what’s with the trademark (™)? Don’t you need to register for the trademark? Besides, does anyone actually think that anyone wants to steal the rights to a “brand” associated with mediocrity?
One more thing, isn’t there a blog called Definitely Filipino™ out there? Their name was flashed towards the end of the clip. I wonder if the folks over at that blog actually endorsed their name for this.
The bottom line is this: Pinoys have put much emphasis on the window dressing but they’ve conveniently “forgotten” once again to build up the product. Sure, we can toot our own horn all we want for the world to hear, but if we don’t have substance or credibility (and we don’t really have that much), who the hell is going to listen? Visitors may come, but with what exactly are we going to make them stay, much less come back?
A “Pinoys in Times Square” video depicting the Pinoy sign of the times. How fitting, indeed. And the pun is intended.
Let’s formally define what the Pinoy Zeitgeist is. For example, the Zeitgeist of England in the Victorian Period included a belief in industrial progress, and the Zeitgeist of the 1980s in the United States was a belief in the power of money and the many ways in which to spend it. The Pinoy Zeitgeist of the modern era has more or less been about one thing: the belief that popularity trumps hard work on any given day. It is certainly a charge of the idiot brigade being currently led by none other than our “esteemed” President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) himself.
The Pinoy Zeitgeist also expresses itself succinctly and vividly in the word Noynoying. When you hear this word, you can automatically recognize what it implies: doing nothing. It encompasses a belief in tooting one’s own horn without anything substantial underneath it. As long as one remains popular and top-grossing in surveys that’s all that counts. The hard work can come later, or not at all. One is said to be all form and no substance.
A recent example of the government emphasizing their form is the erection of walls for the ADB summit intended to shield the sights of the visiting foreign dignitaries from the reality of poverty everywhere else in the area. Let’s not forget, too, what happened when PNoy addressed the summit proper: blaming his predecessor Gloria Arroyo for the “problems” she supposedly left him with is not exactly a good way to make an impression on dignitaries. He keeps forgetting, “conveniently”, that he has been riding on the wave of the benefits only being reaped now from programs started by her. There is now every indication that the wave is almost gone.
Will the Pinoys ignore the sign of the times, as they have been doing for a long time? Or are they finally going to step up and say “Hey, let’s get to the real work of nation building!” To rely everything on PNoy and the government, though, is surely not the right thing to do. PNoy is merely but a symptom of the disease of laziness, aversion to risk, and general mediocrity that continues to infect Philippine society. The real hard work of changing our cultural character lies with us the citizens. Top-down approaches will not work; the initiative needs to come from the grassroots.
We’ve got to tear down the old termite-infested building to make the new one. In my opinion, the Pinoy needs to be chopped down to size, big time. Does it mean that they have to be humbled/humiliated on the global stage? Maybe. Whatever happens, whatever character and strength they have will show underneath. For now, maybe there’s nothing, but we have everything to gain from being “rebuilt”. We really don’t have anything much to lose now, do we?