It has been said many times before.
New Year. Clean slate. Time to do away with all the things we didn’t get quite right the previous year. But normally, we’d think of these things individually; never in the collective context. For a communal society, aren’t we supposed to consider what things we should do away or even try to learn as a people? After all, any modest, mature society should get past its own imperfections right?
This is the question which bothered me as the year comes to a close. And just like every other question I asked, I took the liberty of answering it on my own. What should we Filipinos change or learn as a society this coming 2013?
1. LEARN TO BE MORE INTELLIGENT VIEWERS
Notice how our choice of viewing pleasure hasn’t changed a lot in the past decades? Our viewing choices are so polarized; the smaller percentage of our population composed of the middle class and the elite still prefer made in Hollywood films and TV programs. The the masses, still prefers the cliché, overly melodramatic soaps dominated by quintessential archetypes that pull just the right heartstrings.
Take the example of how the critically-acclaimed film “Thy Womb” from Cannes Film Festival-renowned director Brillante Mendoza, got virtually snubbed by moviegoers and theatres during the Metro Manila Film Festival. Even as the film boasts a star-studded cast, majority of Filipinos still went for films such as “Sisterakas” or “Si Agimat, Si Enteng, at Ako”, which featured highly popular gay comedy, if not the classic slapstick, family comedy. When are we going to realize that films are no longer just a form of escape from our problems, but rather, a search for meaning and purpose? While strides have been made to introduce new genres in entertainment such as when “Amaya” gave us a glimpse of pre-Hispanic Philippines, more has to be done to completely change the mindset of our society.
2. LEARN TO ACCEPT CRITICISMS
Every time some foreign show bad mouths the Philippines or Filipinos even though it was meant as a joke or wasn’t intended at all, we are quick to resort to anger; an anger aggravated by our crowd mentality. While we shouldn’t let racism get the better of us, let us pick our battles very well and think twice before judging if certain remarks against our people were made intentionally or in the context of humor, or even just lost in translation.
3. LEARN TO BE WISER VOTERS
This is a classic: we chose our leaders like we chose our soap operas. Some senator looked awesome in his new action flick—BOOM!—gets another term. Some mayor danced really well during last year’s religious feast—BOOM!—gets all out support from her posse despite a pending disqualification case. Some nice guy gave out packs of relief goods with his name and picture on it—BOOM!—gets elected as local solon. When are we going to look at platforms? When are we going to scrutinize how they plan to lead us? I know for some it’s just about being pragmatic, but in the long run it just won’t work especially if it’s the country’s future that is at stake.
4. LEARN TO FOLLOW SIMPLE RULES
Whether queuing to get an NBI clearance, crossing Commonwealth Avenue, or spending Christmas at Luneta Park, we Filipinos will always find a way to break even the simplest of laws such as jaywalking, littering, or smoking in public places. If we can get away with it, we would always go for thrill or convenience rather than safety and conformity. No wonder, we can’t do something about the traffic or garbage problem because we can’t get the grassroots level (Us!) to cooperate!
5. LEARN IN IMPROVING PROPRIETY AND SENSITIVITY
We are known to be cheerful folks even during calamities or emergencies, but there are times that call for sheer propriety so as not to offend other people concerned. Take the case of the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis in 2010 wherein gleeful students went on a picture-taking spree of the bus as if it were a tourist attraction instead of a crime scene and a grim memorial of the crisis. Another good example is when TV host Willie Revillame hollered about how the nation’s mourning for late President Corazon Aquino is ruining the festive mood of his noontime show. Learning what actions warrant certain events require a great deal of sensitivity, which in turn entails a lot of observation and forethought.
Let us all include these pointers in our bucket lists this 2013. After all, if we start with ourselves, soon enough this will be a collective effort. Let’s do this, not to appease other races, but for our own; it is our attitude as a country that will determine our fate as a nation.
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombardi, American football coach