The Filipino Colonial Mentality

(Photo Credit:: www.filipiknow.net)
(Photo Credit:: www.filipiknow.net)

The culture of contemporary individuals is a cliché ; the attachment to social media, the rise of informal conversations, the preference of anything “epic” or “awesome”, but more importantly that unjustifiable surge for independence from societal norms-traditional ones, specifically.

This movement among individuals not only affects the United States but also countries that inhabits individuals that are desperate to release themselves from the bondage of traditionalism. Philippines, in fact, is becoming a breeding ground for foreign loving dignitaries, a breeding ground that is unsurprising for the very fact that Filipino lacks the sense of identity; while heavily accustomed to their supposed “pride”, it is country in fact ashamed of its flaws and inability to cope with other developed countries.

The emergence of pop culture does not diffuse this epidemic. It is pop culture that introduced morality: songs laden with profanity, the lifestyle of partying, the introduction of fornication, and the worst of all; disregarding family and cultural values in favor of a false doctrine-a façade that leads to one’s demise.

It is no surprise that a country like Philippines can experience such a phase with said issue, since it is a country rife with poverty and squalor. And it is also no surprise that the only escape out of the ordinary is to be extraordinary. Filipino are among a group of people that are adaptable (natural disasters, recessions, corrupt government), and by having this innate ability, the act of shedding cultural ties is as easy changing one’s clothes.

If one is trying to assess that Filipino is indeed experiencing a degrading cultural identity and mentality, one should look no further to the Filipino media culture. The Filipino media culture is marred with western clichés: attempts to impersonate famous western celebrities, emergence of contemporary western elements in motion pictures and music, and the unappealing new language called Tag-lish. It is this desperate urge of Filipinos to rid themselves of their cultural identity, that the word Filipino might indeed become synonymous with imitation and unoriginal.

Being a Filipino and also getting a chance to grow up in the Philippines, I have experienced the Filipino lifestyle, education and the strict moral values. Though I am now living outside of the Philippines, it seems that the perks of being a Filipino means that one’s kinsmen would always be at someplace one thinks unsuited.

While it is true that Filipinos do get around in any part of the world, they do it with an utmost goal in their mind; to bring a chance of prosperity within their family’s grasp, a chance for a better life. The sad part, however, is that once Filipino leaves their homeland, they become attached to their adopted country. Filipinos then become a “fauxreigner”.

Colonial mentality is a mental processes largely attributed to colonized people or people with colonial history. While the Philippines is an independent country, it has a rich history of colonialism, from the Spanish to the Americans. While the effects of Spanish colonialism are etched in the Filipino language, religion and cultural values, the American culture influence on the Filipinos should also be considered.

The American culture epitomizes independence and individualism. This evolution in society is gaining a hold in many individual’s mind around the world. The American pop culture presents a lifestyle of hedonism; excess and pleasure. It was mentioned that Filipinos have the ability to adapt to any given situations and seeing the American culture as superior, Filipinos become mesmerized with it. As time progresses, the colonial mentality among them starts to emerge; they would idolize American celebrities, listen to American music, eat American foods, and would even do whatever it takes to become American-even if it means losing one’s identity.

The American fascination is also starting to creep its way into the Filipino language. And it is no surprise for Philippines is one of the countries in the world that contains many English speakers. While having proficiency in English is an advantage in the global market, the hypocrisy that even in non-business setting, Filipinos desperately opt for the English language. This obsession gave rise to a new language, known in the urban circles as the Tag-lish (short for Tagalog/English).

This new language is an example of a disgusting attempt to rid them of an inferior identity; by assimilating various English words of their liking into Tagalog phrases, in which according to their understanding, makes a speaker seem foreigner or educated. While it is great to consider that English has a strong place in the Filipino education curriculum, let us not forget that speaking proficient English doesn’t always mean higher intelligence.

Traditions are the essences of a cultural identity. It is the foundation that binds together individuals into a uniform conglomerate. Therefore, when values and principles are erased in a culture, the result is cultural extinction. Filipino’s cultural values are categorically divided between tradition and morality. As a mention before, the degrading process of the Tagalog language is happening at an alarming rate.  Apart from the language, the traditional values with regards to morality are also vital; it gives a culture a sense of belonging and pride. This including the language, breeds a culture.

What I am referring to is anything that was part of a culture’s past. They can be arts, music, moral values, religious, and even food. With the Filipino identity slowly degrading, it is becoming evident in the way Filipinos treat the things that are considered Filipino-with contempt. Preferences of food can range from American and Italian. The Filipino folk music is rather an uncommon, but rather becoming an ear-sore, in which contemporary Filipinos may consider outdated and outlandish. The clothing Filipinos use during formal gatherings is becoming nothing but western. Gone are the days when weddings were an event featuring traditional Filipino clothing ( barong, saya, etc.)

 Our skin that is brown and silky, are willingly traded for white and creamy. Our pride that gave birth to our independence, our identity is becoming an unjustifiable western swagger. We speak and act as a foreigner. This unjust fascination is a sickening one. Filipinos are trying ways to erase their original melanin content into a false layer of white skin for the sole purpose of endorsing themselves to an identity they consider a fascination. What more can they get out of it? It is rather a situation that is inescapable. And, it is not only through the alteration of our melanin content, but also through speech and actions. Whatever happens to Filipinos standards and respects? What happened to titles we give to our relatives, our parents, our kinsmen?  Ourselves?

Are we so blinded by the false doctrine of the western (American) culture, that we are willingly trading our self to the solely for a chance to become one with the superior? Are we so blinded that in public we dare act with a western swagger? Do we dare remove the moral values that pervaded our past and shaped our society? Do we dare remove our sense of pride, of dignity for a shot of prosperity?

We may not possess the physical structure or superior genetics to rival others, but Filipinos are superior in different sense. And there is one thing, the very thing that is our ability to survive-our resilience. It is our resilience, our belief for a better life that guided the survival of our nation for years. Though I am an American citizen by birth and both my parents are naturalized, my pride of the  Filipino heritage is sound. My first language was Tagalog and I speak with an accent. Now, if I am what I claim to be, then it is perplexing to know why those living in the Philippines or foreign countries can ever choose to negate their cultural identity. While this process of assessing the factors that may be a complex one, it always a consideration upon the individual. In a simple sense, we as an individual have the ability to choose the righteous path or a path of self-degradation. It is within the individual the choice to be somebody or nobody. It is always within the individual to disregard societal norms and if those norms are what binds him then it is only logically positive to resist. It is always within the individual the desire and what’s more the ability for self improvement.

About Jesse Rupert Lasado

I think, therefore I am. This phrase has stuck with the moment I picked up writing. Now, I realize that writing is not just a great path for self-expression but also self-improvement.