03 February 2002
I admit we have to give credit to them activist groups who walk around EDSA...they make you laugh hysterically whenever you need to be cheered up. Really now: they go out to the streets at the tip of a hat. President makes a tiny blunder and they all come out like rats from a hole.
But that's all beside the point. Let me be more specific: activists want to see the former prez tried in a court of law. Well, looks like their wish may come true...but they want to go further. Since plunder is a capital offense, now these morons want to see Erap die. ARE THEY NUTS?!? Don't they know that if he dies, he wins? Remember: Erap sees himself as an innocent person. If ever the courts sentence him to death, he and the many others who support him would see him as a martyr. But all of these activists (who most likely are communists in democratic disguise) are too busy filling up their heads with revolutionary propaganda they don't see the big picture of things.
Let me dish out another example: American troops have finally arrived in the country to kick out the Abu Sayyaf. Over in the capital, "Women's Rights" groups try to break into the US Embassy and deface the US Seal, claiming that women would become "sex objects" in the light of troop deployment. HELLO?!?! If the women down in Zamboanga would want to service the Americans, then let them! That's their option! Last time I checked we were still a democratic country where women are free to do what they want, even give themselves to Americans. And what's this trash I've been hearing from those same activists who claim we're "sacrificing our sovereignty?" If they spent more time reading books, going to school and doing their jobs than waving fascist red flags and walking down national roads (which adds more traffic and pollution), then they might just get in their heads the fact that WE NEED THOSE FOREIGN TROOPS. If our own military can't beat the Abus, then who will? Do these stree! t-marching pseudo-revolutionaries have a better idea we don't know? Or maybe THEY want to kick the Abus themselves...which is a good idea, by the way...if they get killed then that's their problem.
My final message: To all you activist groups...Gabriela, Akbayan, Bayan Muna...THINK BEFORE YOU ACT!!!
Have a nice day :-)
(formerly Subspecies Online Network)
03 December 2001
Mr. Teddy Benigno,
It is only now that i have read your column about the similarities between our current Socio-Political conditions with that of pre-revolution France.
And I agreed with most of what you said.
I think, I am part of our country's boeurgoisie. And yes, I am afraid of my future.
As a student, I have seen many of our county's wrongdoings and social diseases. But, unlike your usual student-militant, I do not blame all these to our government. I blame all these to all of us.
I think that our sense of Nationhood is a "lulubog-lilitaw" type of an ideology. When we need it to achieve a certian objective, we invoke it. However, we almost instantly throw it once we have achieved, or so we think. Our country has alway been divided and I honestly think it is senseless to hold on to a divided country. Many have realized that we are a Nation of little nations yet nobody has acted about it. I knew of some respected columnists, like you sir, who talked about our disunity and yet, no decisive action has been done about it.
We as citizens, are not at all too passionate of being Filipinos, except during international competitions. We lack a unified Filipino ideology or vision or belief that we hold on to. We think we are being "makabayan" when we go to the streets and protest about the government. We feel that we are having patriotism when we hold our fists and banners high up in the air and shout against our seeming oppressor. All the time.
I think, it is because we really lack a unified ideology. We have different micro-cultures which we have never abandoned. We have never agreed upon a single idea as a Nation. We are so divided we hold prejudice and biases against our fellow Filipinos from different parts of the country. We treat the Moros as different, as they treat Catholics differently too.
Why do we hold on to something that never was? The whole archipelago did'nt even considered the whole of it as a country, kingdom or even a sultanate before the Spaniards came. It is they who insisted on putting us together. Thus they created the Philippines, and also the Filipinos. We have become whole because of them, geographically-speaking. However, I am not saying that we should allow further disintegration of our country.
I think, what we need to do is to establish an even stronger sense of Nationhood, wherein we will create ourselves, for us. A Nation of different cultures, of different systems, who have shared continuously one long history. Let history be our uniting factor to be a Nation.
Be it a Confederation of Philippine Island-States or a United Island-States of the Philippines, I think that by now, we should give another Government Structure a chance. As one of the Universities here in manila says, a multidiversity that will lead to unity.
This,I think, is the revolution we need to start. NOW.
22 December 2001
Hello Mr. Benigno [sic],
Many Filipinos feel like shit about their country and their culture to begin with. Now you have to point why they have to feel badly about themselves. In other words, you have stated the obvious.
Everyone (at least those who care to know more about the Philippines beyond what the travelogues, CNN, and optimistic Filipinos dish out), knows that the Philippines is a Third World, Third Rate, Poverty Stricken, Corruption Ridden country whose people are Morally Bankrupt, Easily Bought, Ill-educated, and want to get the hell out so they can clean some white man's toilet for minimum wage.
Can't you Filipinos find something or say something to be proud of yourselves for a change.
With attitudes like yours, which happens to be extremely common amongst Filipinos, as evidenced by your Letters Section, your country and its people will always be the bunghole of Southeast Asia, which is crappy place to being with.
An Amused Canadian
23 November 2001
I appreciate your insight on the impact of Catholicism on Filipino spirituality. It would be interesting to compare the Catholic influence on other cultures that were colonized by Spain (and/or other Catholic countries) and see if there are any similarities in "hollow spirituality." One country I can think of off the top, is Mexico. My guess is that you'll find many similarities in terms of a lack of spirituality, and an emphasis on religiousity. I don't think hollow spirituality is strictly a Filipino phenomenon, but I do agree that it is found in the Filipino culture.
In addition, I appreciated your insight on Catholic-church culture. I think one needs to separate that from Christianity itself. If you compare different Christian denominations, you won't find the same paradigms and behaviors. For example, the emphasis on heirarchy in the church, veneration of leaders, parent worship, etc. are not present (but of course, other "funky" quirks will be found, I'm sure). The point is, to understand Filipino spirituality, my guess is that you have to go back and explore the roots: Spanish culture/spirituality/mentality, Malay/tribal culture and spiritual outlook, American influence, etc.
I think that rather than finding Filipino culture and its spirituality lacking, that you'll see the way Filipinos have adapted to the assaults and influences in an interesting way... one that promoted survival and preserved a hidden but very strong spirituality. I think that if we get in touch with those factors, come to terms with the hidden "enemy" to the Filipino psyche and spirit, then we'll truly be able to move forward in a positive manner, toward growth and wholeness without being put-down and discarded as worthless.
Sometimes I think that these articles that aim to make us aware, inadvertently excercises good ol' Filipino crab mentality and pull us all down, making us feel just awful about ourselves. Can someone please write an article where Filipinos are both made aware and also encouraged in spirit and lifted up? Yes, the truth can hurt and must be told before we're "freed", but if your message never touches the Filipino heart but evokes our defenses being put up, how can it be effective? The last thing anyone wants to be told is that there's something wrong with them (even if there is).
The point is receptivity... how do you communicate to the Filipino in an effective way? Well, let me suggest that a diagram of colorful layers and a big black hole in the middle questioning where Filipino spirit is can be off-putting and insulting. I'm not saying to sugar coat your ideas, but can you leave some sense of hope? To imply that there is no Filipino spirit does not recognize the joy of a silent Grandfather at the birth of his first grandson, the strength of a working Filipino mother as she works the graveyard shift in addition to a daytime job, the wit of a Filipino brother with his one-liner quips and word plays that show incredible, sharp intelligence... how can one say these folks are completely spiritless? how can one say that we are completely without genuine faith? Yes, we have chinks in our armor, but why are we always focusing on the little black dots and not looking at the Filipino as a whole?
So, I implore you to please refrain from making the issues black and white and grapple with some of the greys. In addition, my hope and prayer is that your genuine and much needed passion to make Filipinos aware of its darker side will be tempered with a gentle, encouraging hand so that your truths can truly transform, rather than tear out the heart of a people and their strip them of their worth... otherwise, you truly will have a self-fulfilled prophecy: a spiritless, hopeless people. And we are not, and that is the truth whether we recognize it or not. Perhaps we're imperfect, but we are also still alive, kicking and thriving, even in the midst of chaos, oppression and the throes of life.
Lastly, not all religions were authored by humans. I believe that authentic Christianity is based on the Word of God, authored by God himself, divinely inspiring its writers. I do think however, that Catholic church culture has authored many ideas, documents and additions to the bible that are not based on true biblical principles, and as such, promote many of the problems in Filipino spirituality that you have described.
May the Lord bless you as you rightly divide the truth about Filipino spirituality.