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Filipinos are once again celebrating on the streets as “one of their own” has again chalked another one for ‘Pinoy Pride’. Long-time caregiver Rose Fostanes last Wednesday won the grand prize in the first airing of X Factor (a popular reality TV singing contest) in Israel.

Malacanang, true to form, was quick to salute the newest Filipino “international celebrity”.

“We know the situation she was in and we are very proud that she has again given the Philippines pride in the showcase of her talent,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters Wednesday.

Lacierda further says…

“The Filipino has an innate advantage when it comes to the arts…. It clearly shows that the excellence of the Filipino can be expressed anywhere, everywhere, when they are given the opportunity to show their talent.”

New Filipino national hero: Rose Fostanes

New Filipino national hero: Rose Fostanes

… which really is a dangerous concept to propagate. The notion of opportunities being “given” is something deeply-ingrained in the Filipino psyche. A “lack of opportunity” and a dearth of opportunities being “given” to “deserving” Filipinos is the de facto national excuse for its more than half century track record of chronic impoverishment. It is dangerous because it encourages waiting for opportunity rather than creating opportunity.

Indeed, the philosophy of real winners is this:

Real winners create their own opportunities.

Rather than sit around waiting for the proverbial fruit to fall off the guava tree, true achievers plant a guava orchard.

It is telling that what is seen to be a crowning achievement (by Filipino standards) such as that of Fostanes’s winning a singing competition hosted by a foreign society is much-celebrated in Philippine society to the point of warranting a mention coming from no less than the chief mouthpiece of the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino.

In reality, Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs), many of whom, like Fostanes, work as caregivers in affluent but rapidly-ageing societies, are a standout reminder of how the Philippines has failed to create an environment where its citizens can prosper and achieve a broad-based standard of living they could be proud of. Unfortunately this failure was successfully whitewashed by many many national governments across several decades using that now widely-lapped-up notion of OFWs-as-National-Heroes mantra. Because just about every Filipino today has a relative, a friend, or at least knows someone who “heroically” scrapes a living overseas, Filipino politicians have made pandering to this OFW subculture a standard operating procedure in their campaigns and routine rhetoric.

More specifically, winning a television contest has become a national aspiration in the Philippines. Many Filipinos take this aspiration very seriously. In 2006, hordes of Filipinos desperate to get into the popular ABS-CBN variety show Wowowee went on a deadly stampede in a bid to grab free tickets being handed out. The melee left 78 dead. Many of the hopefuls had spent their life’s savings traveling to Manila from the remotest parts of the Philippine hinterlands for the occasion.

No surprise then that reality shows and singing contests are even bigger business in the Philippines. Enticing Filipinos to invest their life’s savings and risk life and limb for the chance to be in shows like Willie Revillame’s Will Time Big Time and Wowowee is like fishing in a barrel. The sorts of people whose idea of an investment strategy is betting the family fortune on what amounts to no more than a perverse lottery constitute the bread-and-butter audience of these shows.

Similarly, overseas employment is seen by many Filipinos — and most Philippine governments and their “journalist” lackeys that cheer this notion on “business” magazines such as Businessweek — as a quick ticket out of the poorhouse. Today, remittances sent by OFWs back to their families prop up the Philippine economy to the tune of more than 10 percent of its national “output”. This contribution, unfortunately, is not national product in the real sense as there is no actual production taking place whenever OFW dollars are added to the national economic statistics. The only economic activity OFWs really spur is consumption. It makes the Philippines a bonanza for the world’s real producers — a lucrative dumping ground for the vast surplus of real goods and services exported by other countries. The Philippine economy also supports a huge retail industry into which much of hard-earned OFW cash is sunk by their dependents as these foreign goods exchange hands.

Rather than aspiring to invent that elusive longer-lasting lightbulb, Filipinos aspire to be Fostanes. Rose Fostanes, however, deserves to be congratulated for her achievement as an individual. For an entire country and its president to latch on to her as a national symbol of “hope” is all but revealing of the fundamental character of a nation that has become a fascinating case study of slow, grinding, macro failure.

benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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68 Comments

  • Shane says:

    Wake me up when a Flip is sent to space and reaches for the real stars.

  • Krauss says:

    “The Filipino has an innate advantage when it comes to the arts….”

    If this is true, then I guess Lacierda’s mastered the art of lying (if you can consider it an art).

    Yabang pa, pinoy, yabang pa. Kaya naman pala maraming ayaw mag-apologize para dun sa Hostage drama na yun. SOBRANG yabang kasi.

  • *Ian, the brown juan* says:

    To the people who are still into this “PINOY PRIDE” crap, stop this nonsense about Filipinos being the most superior of all nations – no nation is superior to one another if I may say (I’m just annoyed when some Filipinos say they are a race. Correction: We are a nation, idiots). This reminds me of Nazi Germany with their “Aryan race superiority” thing going on during WW II.

    Whenever I hear our fellowmen making a fool of themselves with their “PINOY PRIDE,” I just shake my head, knowing the fact that we associate ourselves with just about anything not involving the Philippines at all.

    I still love my country but not in a foolish “PINOY PRIDE” way.

  • Jigs says:

    “For an entire country and its president to latch on to her as a national symbol of “hope” is all but revealing of the fundamental character of a nation that has become a fascinating case study of slow, grinding, macro failure.”

    I think you overly expressed this statement. The palace only released those statements mentioned above because of the media. There was a briefing in Malacanang and of course, the normal reaction would be to congratulate her. The Spokesperson only meant that Filipinos excel in some particular aspect like singing contest but should not be literally equated as a pride in other developmental and societal approach in the Philippines. Those past Philippine Presidents since Marcos era were also akin in doing to congratulating Filipinos in the field of entertainment. You should not directly relate this to a more cumbersome and burdensome problems in the Philippines that badly need to address. In the USA, the president even took time to bring in the Champion of NBA basketball in the White House even if it has nothing to do with the country’s impending issues.

    Don’t take it literally for it is the role of a leader to be cozy with his/her words when something desirable or pleasing in the eyes coming in whatever aspect.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      @Jig:

      Congratulating a Pinoy winner is very much different, from using the Pinoy winner for your political agendas, like “Pinoy Pride”.

      The Aquino Media (ABS-_CBN, etc..) are quick to evaluate Fostanes singing win to: record deals; popularity; singing contracts, etc…and they are promoting her, like we will go deaf, if we don’t listen to her singing and buy her records…

      A political leader who has nothing to show to his people , as accomplishment; will grab on anything to bouy up his hope of gaining his popularity that is spiraling down…

      • Jigs says:

        “Pinoy Pride” in terms of singing. You are misconstruing the point.

        So what if ABS-CBN is planning to make a deal with fostanes? It’s pure business. I think you envy her achievement. It just shows you don’t know how to respect what fostanes has accomplished so far. She has done nothing to you and yet you take a bite of bitterness on her. what a crap!

        No accomplishment? are you blind and deaf? go check out every department, bureaus and offices of governments from 2010-2013 and you will find a lot of it. if you doesn’t still believe then go back to your own crib and continue to suck your thumb!

        • *Ian, the brown juan* says:

          “So what if ABS-CBN is planning to make a deal with fostanes? It’s pure business. I think you envy her achievement. It just shows you don’t know how to respect what fostanes has accomplished so far. She has done nothing to you and yet you take a bite of bitterness on her. what a crap!” – I was under the assumption that you understood the article posted above. Guess not.

          Yes, Fostanes won…congrats to her, but I won’t be shouting “PINOY PRIDE!” because it’s her OWN EFFORT and not the effort of all Filipinos that made her win.

          There is nothing wrong with having a little bit of pride but “PINOY PRIDE” has gone so far as to turn people into egotistical and capitalist idiots and going so far as to declare our nation to be the most powerful “race” in this world. Please, even my foreigner friends are laughing about us being the most powerful “race” when we can’t even help our own country and people.

        • Jigs says:

          I understood but the problem with the article is that it links the singing contest to the problems of the country and the mindset of all Filipinos which is irrelevant. There are many types of achievement in this world and what Fostanes has achieved cannot be done by every Filipino. It’s just because of the TV that she becomes famous compared to other unknown achievers but the important thing here is that each achiever excel in their own field. That voice of her is a gift. Not all Filipinos are gifted in singing. As I said, we should take pride of her in terms of singing only, just like Pacquiao in terms of boxing.

          Other nationalities cheer and take pride of their own representatives in whatever field they are good at. I just find it exaggerated that all of you are presuming that this “pinoy pride” covers all aspects of life when it certainly not. I hope you understand my point.

        • Krauss says:

          That’s your opinion man. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Because as far I can see it, it is relevant and it offers a multitude of solutions. Perhaps you need to look deeper.

          Also, benign0 never emphasized that he’s trying to cover “all” aspects of life with his article. He’s merely addressing the problem and the effects it has brought and is still bringing.
          It’s either you need to read the article again, or you need to think deeper.

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