I wrote the other day about the Philippine Dream because, as an immigrant, I don't know what it is. I don't know what is supposed to motivate me to strive to see the dream fulfilled. First, I did a little research.
I found the Pledge of Allegiance:
I am a Filipino
I pledge my allegiance
To the flag of the Philippines
And to the country it represents
With honor, justice and freedom
Put in motion by one station
for the People,
for Nature and
for the Country.
And the Oath of Allegiance:
I love the Philippines,
the land of my birth,
The home of my people,
it protects me and helps me
To become strong, hardworking and honorable.
Because I love the Philippines,
I will heed the counsel of my parents,
I will obey the rules of my school,
I will perform the duties of a patriotic citizen,
Serving, studying, and praying faithfully.
I will offer my life, dreams, successes
To the Philippine nation.[
The National Anthem is poetic but ends on a real downer:
Land of the morning
Child of the sun returning
With fervor burning
Thee do our souls adore.
Land dear and holy,
Cradle of noble heroes,
Ne'er shall invaders
Trample thy sacred shores.
Ever within thy skies and through thy clouds
And o'er thy hills and seas;
Do we behold thy radiance, feel the throb
Of glorious liberty.
Thy banner dear to all hearts
Its sun and stars alight,
Oh, never shall its shining fields
Be dimmed by tyrant's might.
Beautiful land of love, O land of light,
In thine embrace 'tis rapture to lie;
But it is glory ever, when thou art wronged
For us, thy sons to suffer and die
The problem I personally have with the two oaths is that they insist on a militaristic obedience to authority rather than inspire personal commitment. It seems rather a one-way street, that the citizen owes all and will give all to the State. The Pledge also has God front and center, which denies atheists the right NOT to be dedicated to God. They could not, in good conscience, cite this Pledge.
I enjoy the National Anthem for its poetic elegance. In melody and lyrics, I like it better than the American Anthem. I don't enjoy the last two lines, for they raise dying for country to a worshipful glory when it is nothing but tragic. Furthermore, the Anthem demands total capitulation of self to the State, even in how the Anthem is sung. As Martin Nevera found out, anyone who sings the song as anything but a militaristic march risks being hauled before Congress and beaten with verbal sticks until he grovels and apologizes to the uberpatriots.
Freedom evidently means something different to me than to the Philippine State.
I think allegiance ought to be earned by the State before it is demanded.
The American Dream is to dedicate oneself to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is what has motivated new arrivals since the getgo, in 1776. It is "customer oriented", or citizen oriented, a perspective that is largely missing in the Philippines with its general obsession with self rather than the common good (self-engagement is the underpinning of pollution, corruption, inefficiency, rudeness)
The seven words of the American Dream mean so much. Life means safety, security and health. Liberty means freedom and responsibility to laws that define where one person's freedom ends and another's harm begins. Pursuit of happiness means many things. It means freedom to worship as one wishes, or even not to worship. It means the right to pursue opportunities fairly without others cheating to undermine good effort. Today it is being redefined to allow same-sex marriages, if that harms no one else and is the path to happiness.
The point here is that the dream is not static. Indeed, it mandates change, in the pursuit of happiness. It changes as Americans change, as new technologies define different ways to communicate and deal with personal information, as awareness of the human condition gets deeper and better thought out, and as the real-time digging for information reveals new insights as to the way things work. The America of today is much different than the America of 50 years ago.
Much of the Philippine governmental framework is patterned after the standards of its former colonial master, America. But it doesn't work the same. First of all, this is not a nation of immigrants. It is a nation of local communities pasted somewhat haphazardly together. There are three main forms of worship here - Muslim, Catholic/Christian and Tradition/Superstition. Filipinos have lived under occupations by Spanish and American conquerors, with a short blink by Japanese. Southwest Mindanao feels a greater affinity for the Moro neighbors in other countries than with Catholic/Christian Manila.
New arrivals are generally associated with the arrogance of occupiers and are therefore not wholly welcomed in the hearts of Filipinos. Oh, some may be welcomed too well in the way that fits the Filipino class concession to a white person. But they are not welcomed as FILIPINO.
A Chinese American is an American.
An American Filipino is an outsider.
So two counter-forces are at work. One wants unity as a nation. The other imposes exclusion upon those who can't help but be different. The disenfranchisement that Joe America feels when he is treated rudely is perhaps not much different than the disenfranchisement that Muslims feel in a predominantly Catholic state. Unwelcome, basically. But we are all expected to kiss ass when the State demands that we kiss ass.
So the question is, does the Philippines even want a dream for immigrants? Possibly not.
It depends on what the dream for FILIPINOS is.
You see, I don't know what the "domestic dream" is, either. If it is to stay as we are, then things are peachy keen. Hunky dory. No need to do anything. The Philippines is pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago, and can be the same 50 years from now. Uncommitted to anything but subsistence.
I suspect that if you asked Filipinos what they have as dreams, you would get one of two answers depending on the wealth of the respondent. For those with money, it would be to make more money and collect the power and prestige that goes along with it. For those without money and little opportunity to get some, you'd get a blank stare.
Well, as I personally think we homo sapiens need goals to strive for, principles to guide how we live, and growth to enrich our souls and drive a wedge between us and other animals.
Therefore, I shall attempt to construct a dream for Filipinos. It is perfectly acceptable if Filipinos ignore this. It is just for my personal pondering and amusement. I won't run out and seek to impose it on my innocent neighbors.
I'll use the brainstorming method which begins with the simple first step that all ideas are poured out without regard for whether they are good or bad, flawed or inspirational. After everything is on the table, we can better sift through and grab the best ideas.
What points should the dream make? I use "we" under the assumption that I am Filipino.
- That history is rich, and our heritage makes us what we are.
- That there are many famous Filipinos because we are engaged in the world in many areas.
- That we should have the opportunity to improve our lot in life; our wealth mainly.
- That we remain the Philippines, and no other country will again claim or occupy our land.
- That we are one people, but incredibly diverse, with 114 dialects, many religions, and 7,000 islands.
- That we can deal with disaster better than most; we are strong.
- That we are becoming computer literate and adopting new values, like divorce and health and reproduction bills. We are modernizing.
- That we prize our educational reach and literacy, and our ability to work in English.
- That we are free and democratic and want to remain that way.
- That we have huge problems to overcome, like poverty, inadequate schools and poor health care.
- That we aspire to treat women fairly and as equals to men. We don't believe in age discrimination. We do believe in Christian ethics and the discipline of being conservative about homosexuality and sex outside the marriage.
- That we are one nation, without geographic division, but our island structure and diversity require some decentralized authority.
Now some of these are hard to express as a unified dream. "We are Filipino. We deal with disasters and are free."
So there has to be some amalgamation.
We are dedicated to preserving a rich, diversified heritage while defending and promoting a free, secure, principled and resourceful way of life.
Now this is perhaps not the best. Maybe it can be made shorter. Not seven words, probably. Maybe it can be made to ring more profound as it rolls off the tongue. But it is a start.
Here's a brief on my thinking.
A diversified heritage is important to the Philippines. It is very different than in the US, which is substantially a new nation. Preserving heritage means anyone - natives, Moros, Filipinos born overseas, foreigners - can be brought into the national community with the highest respect for their historical contribution to the Philippines. The lessons of history - the trials and tribulations - are a part of the richness that makes up the nation. There is no need to consider those who are different, or who come from different places, as divisive. There is no need to fear them. They make up the rich fabric of the Philippines.
The words "defending and promoting" are meant to show action. It is not a static society even though its heritage is important. The people want to direct their own nation and defend it, and never again be subservient to invaders. We also want to modernize and change to stay relevant.
The way of life - "free, secure, principled and resourceful" - provides the standards for a lawful, safe, healthy, innovative and productive society. Citizens must be highly educated to achieve this dream. And they must be motivated to build, to grow and to be strong. Now today, I might argue the Philippines is falling short in adhering to some of these standards. That is why expressing them in the dream is important.
That is why it is still a dream. Not reality.
Buying into the dream is important. It is an oath that each person should take, to himself. Not to the State. The State is an outgrowth of the dream. The dream is not an imposition by the State.
With this dream, the path is clear, the commitment total.
It is the dream I bought into when I moved permanently to the Philippines.