Who is the Filipino?

JOURNAL ONLINEWho is the Filipino?
Published : Saturday, July 30, 2011 00:00 Article Views : 114

By now, we have read and have heard a lot about the thoughts of columnists, broadcasters, political scientists, and the general public on the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino, Jr.. There have been several spin-offs of the speech, especially since people were particularly mentioned by the President. I do have my version of “political” thoughts about the recent SONA, but I would rather write about a few observations on who the Filipino is, since the President talked about expressing gratitude to the Filipinos who serve fellow Filipinos, and he encouraged us to begin to speak positively about the Filipino. I wish, then, to write in celebration of some positive traits of the Filipino.

I walked by a CD store on the old street of Kapasigan in Pasig City, and I heard the beautiful voice of Sarah Geronimo singing an OPM (Original Pilipino Music), and I thought, “Ah, that’s Filipino.” The soul of her voice isn’t Mariah Carey’s, isn’t Celine Dione’s, isn’t Whitney Houston’s, isn’t Beyonce’s, isn’t Alicia Keys’, isn’t reggae, isn’t rap, which are voices and music people around the world have come to be used to. It is Filipino - soothing, tender, full of heart. I could clearly understand every word she sang, unlike the lyrics of many modern Western music that are swallowed up by strong beats, rapid enunciations, and electronic effects.

A friend and I sat in the backseat of a taxi, and I said that we would make a U-turn at the Monasterio de Sta. Clara, and the taxi driver went on to tell us, like we were his brother and sister, about how he could not bear children because of a reproductive organ defect he had. He said that particular monastery was where one could offer “eggs” to supplicate for an offspring. We talked with him as persons genuinely concerned about his state, but really, later on, we found amusing the fact that Filipinos can speak to fellow Filipinos who are complete strangers to them and be so open, even about very personal things. “Ah,” we thought, “only in the Philippines!” In Malaysia, I experienced how Malaysians were afraid and suspicious of strangers, particularly, it seemed, if one is a Filipino. In the Philippines, one can have a scrumptious meal with a swamp-grown green leafy vegetable called “kangkong,” sauteed with garlic and soy sauce. “Ay, ang sarap!” [So delicious!] A bundle of it bought even in an upscale grocery store costs just Php 7.00 (seven pesos); depending on its weight, its price can go up to Php 11.00 (eleven pesos), still ‘peanuts.’ Yet, this humble dish, called “adobong kangkong,” can be found even in fine restaurants. Our land is blessed with healing and healthy vegetation. Throw a seed in Philippine soil, and it will grow. That is not the case in arid and wintry countries.

If it were not for the entrenched culture of graft and corruption in the Philippines, this country is a paradise, if you know where to go and how to move around here. No wonder, overseas Filipinos miss the Philippines and cannot wait to go home.



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