Saturday, May 14, 2011

Racing through the Jungle

It seems to me we are all in-bred racists. We are suspicious of other races and cultures because we don’t understand them, because others behave differently than we do, and because they seem not to like us so very much, either.

Defensiveness is built into our human genetics, rather like a porcupine manages to stick up for itself. Only instead of growing pointy quills, we grow inferiority complexes, suspicions, and angers. We hunker down to defend our ways and means. And the more aggressive of us seek to demolish those cretins who would threaten us by being different.

Hitler was not that long ago. His motivations course through the blood of many.

In the Philippines, I live a different culture daily and it drives me crazy. I was taught the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), I lived the principles of Boy Scouts (do good deeds) and I accepted the goodness of Christ (turn the other cheek, chat up the prostitute, be a good fellow at heart). Filipinos far and wide do not live by the Golden Rule, or Scout or Christian standards.

The latter might be considered odd given the predominance of Catholicism in the Philippines. But religion in the Philippines seems to be taken on as just another superstition – a super-superstition I suppose; it is not adopted as a way of building one’s moral foundation or contributing to the well-being of the Philippines. Rites, confession, go forth and sin, and for sure multiply . . .

I have commented before that I think Filipinos are biased against themselves, judging by the scale of the whitening cream industry. I was rebutted with the remark that this is just a matter of cosmetic style, not self-hating racism.

That in turn causes me to question the artistry of women who find pasty white more attractive than golden brown. But Japanese like white, too, or why do Geishas paint themselves with what looks like white enamel house paint? So I guess I am the weirdo, the out-of-step fashionista, for liking brown skin.

And I have no idea why I am given more favorable treatment in stores and banks and government offices than Filipinos get. I don’t mind, but I think it causes Filipinos to detest us favored whites; they are snarled at and sent to the back of the line as we get kissy-faced by the clerks. That is not good, because most of the offput Filipinos have guns stuffed under the old socks in the closet back home.

The striking difference between Filipinos and us westernized whities is the level of introspection we allow. Filipinos admire themselves immensely but seem to look in a mirror that shows no pimples (thanks for the perspective, Ilda). Whities see all the pimples and have a hard time finding much to admire. Yet whities are more productive than Filipinos . . . go figure. Maybe it takes critical introspection to move ahead, eh? To find a reason for change, and a way to be productive?

That, I conclude, is the main reason the Philippines is stuck in the muck: a deep racial or cultural aversion to critical introspection. Someone who reads books is insulted as a “librarian”. Someone who sees a shrink is slathered in shame. Macho is a big deal hereabouts, or glamour for the ladies. Intellectual substance is shunned.

Until someone prominent stands up and says loud and clear “We as a people are not achieving what we ought to achieve”, there is unlikely to be change. Paste-over pride is counter-productive, a way of staying blind, of excusing the deficiencies, of holding oneself up by the ears whilst one’s ass remains stuck in the muck.

In this case, the muck consists of the centuries old, unbendable values of the Catholic Church, the incredible lack of courtesy and consideration displayed by a broad swath of people, and an entire nation’s tendency to confuse individual liberty with the right to be greedy.


  1. Speak for yourself Joe! Pinoys are among the most introspective people in the world. Proof of this can be seen in the list of our achievements (floresent bulb, moonbuggy, ethernet chip, people power, greatest boxer in history). We continue to raise the bar of excellence because we refuse to be brainwashed by westerners who try to impose their values on us. The Philippines is great and if it were not, you would not be here enjoying the benefits of our great culture now would you?

  2. Proud Pinoy,

    Good of you to visit. I definitely speak only for myself, representing no organization and pushing no agenda, particularly, other than advocating for a productive Philippines.

    I agree that many Filipinos display outstanding talents in a number of fields, if given a proper environment in which to work. Often this seems to be overseas. I think the opportunities to excel are far too limited, and the broad population is not introspective in the sense that they are quite willing to fill the storm drains with trash because they don't reflect on how this hurts others and, ultimately, themselves. Or allow dogs to run free, killing motorcyclists. Or drive with little regard for the safety of themselves or others.

    I think Filipinos are for sure as intelligent as any American, but they are not as experienced or successful at thinking forward and considering broad contexts or impacts.

    I'm glad you are proud to be Pinoy. I'm proud to call the Philippines my home. If you don't think western values of introspection, pro-action rather than reaction, planning, other-oriented customer service and efficiency are in the best interest of the Philippines, by all means speak out against them.

    If you think western standards of health and safety and cleanliness are not in the best interest of the Philippines, very definitely advocate the status quo.

    For sure, your view would be the predominant one.


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