“Filipinos are very adaptable.”
“Even storms can’t deter their will to survive.”
“I’m so proud to be a Filipino.”
“Baha ka lang, Pilipino ako.” (You’re only a flood; I’m a Filipino.)
The torrent of praises aimed towards Filipinos isn’t likely to end after braving fierce winds of the southwest monsoon that ravaged the Philippines these past few days. Apparently, the heavy rains served as proof of the Filipino’s unique capability for being resourceful, innovative and cooperative no matter how dire the situation is. The monsoon did not dampen the Filipino’s spirit; it only fanned the flames of his survival instincts. Needless to say, recent events demonstrated what the Filipino is allegedly famous for; the ability to cope with just about anything.
Hooray for Filipino ingenuity. Three cheers for Filipino courage. Let’s celebrate in the spirit of bayanihan that has always lived in the hearts of Filipinos. Well, until next year then!
Indeed, we need only wait until next year (in the very least) for the very same things to happen again; floods, a bunch of Filipinos too stubborn to move out of their homes threatened by floods, a bunch of valiant volunteers braving the floods, a bunch of politicians waving at people affected by the floods, and a whole army of Filipinos with renewed hope, unmindful of the next flood that may come, perpetuating the never-ending chain of events that has always tarnished the image of the Philippines.
Sure, it’s not as if I intend to put the capacity of Filipinos to help in a negative light, and I certainly don’t see adaptability as a negative trait. However, the annual rainy season in the Philippines consistently proves a persistent truth; we never solve problems.
This “flood” problem has existed in the Philippines for so long, and the same things happen again and again. Like an eternal rerun of a cheesy telenovela, the rainy season is sure to give us an annual show depicting the valiance of the average Juan, his selfless sacrifice for those in need, the caring nature of the government, and so on. It just doesn’t end.
It’s like we’re stuck in a time loop or something.
The events that transpired bring a certain passage to mind.
And so is the ability to cope with present hardships, being a crucial part of change. Filipinos, apparently, are always known to smile no matter how bad it gets. Filipinos are known to cope with any problems they face and still survive for another day. This is one trait most Filipinos brag all the time to the rest of the world, always quick to point out the average Juan’s capability to withstand anything nature throws at him. “Adaptable,” “flexible,” “strong” and “happy” are some of the words usually attached to the Filipino identity. And, not surprisingly, they’re actually good traits. However, the problem starts when we stop at the “coping” part.
The problem starts when we remain adaptable, flexible, strong and happy for a looooooong time without any real plan ahead to actually ease the burden we currently experience. The problem starts when optimism is tantamount to acceptance of mediocrity and intellectual stagnation.
I believe this is exactly what’s happening to us all this time. We have learned to cope with the harshness of the typhoons that pay us a visit every year, but we have already stopped going beyond the coping part. We have become complacent. We are contented with seeing the smiling faces of Filipinos as they helped each other out. We are satisfied with the government annually expressing its concern to us Filipinos, that we are not alone in this ordeal.
We are okay with not solving anything, because we get by. We are okay with being stuck in a time loop. After all, we do love telenovelas, don’t we?
And so the rerun continues; floods, a bunch of Filipinos too stubborn to move out of their homes threatened by floods, a bunch of valiant volunteers braving the floods, a bunch of politicians waving at people affected by the floods, and a whole army of Filipinos with renewed hope, unmindful of the next flood that may come, perpetuating the never-ending chain of events that has always tarnished the image of the Philippines.
But isn’t it irritating to see and hear the same thing again and again? Someday, somehow, shouldn’t we become annoyed watching the same telenovela all our lives and work towards change? Eventually, shouldn’t we realize that there more to this life than being stuck in an annual, unchanging drama? Perpetual flooding, politicians campaigning for power under the guise of helping the people, yearly casualties, aren’t they tiring?
“Coping” is a step towards change, but “coping” is not change in itself. We Filipinos must realize that only when we shake off our nationalist hubris and recognize that there are things that we can’t and shouldn’t accept. There are things that we can’t and shouldn’t live with.
Or have Filipinos finally learned to cope with this mediocrity as well?
Oh well, at least we have another show to look forward to next year.