Wednesday ∗ 28 Nov 2012

on pinoy pride

did this on Monday:

my favorite question during the open forum, which to me was also the bravest one asked: how can we stop being silent, when everyone else is?

the question was borne of what i talked about to be critical pinoy pride, where we might insist on asking questions of the current sources of pride that media and government have imposed on us: Manny Pacquiao, easily, no matter that he has sells everything from deodorant to vicky belo; Jessica Sanchez, no matter that she was in a context called American Idol.

being critical allows us a space to ask the right questions about these institutionalized sources of pride, including the one question that might allow us to see where pride might also lie, what other things and people we might take pride in. we ask: what do these celebrations of particular people, Pacquiao and Sanchez included, silence? what do we forget in the process of believing what government and media tell us about pinoy pride? about who we must be proud about?

we make the choice to be critical, i think. but also we make the choice to give what’s being done locally a fighting chance at impressing us, at proving to us that pinoy talent and creativity do exist beyond what’s on bookstore shelves or commercial cinema, what’s on TV and radio and who’s in magazines. and it’s in these creativities that i have much hope, it’s these cultural productions that i’m most proud about, because these persist and survive, no matter that it might not get the support and attention it deserves.

a student came up to me as i was walking down the stage, asking if this meant a complete no to foreign texts. the answer is no. it just means that given a choice, i will not spend on an American film, or a foreign musician’s CD. as i told Jason while on stage, and he asked me pretty much the same question, i wait for these films to be shown on TV. i will only go to the OPM section of a music store. it is only in bookstores that i do not resist what’s foreign, but that’s also because i would otherwise have no access to the literary titles i like.

and really, critical pinoy pride to me at least, has more to do with making the conscious decision to give what’s local a chance, and from there giving the alternative to the mainstream some time and some good money. i’m not saying i don’t love john lloyd cruz and toni gonzaga movies; i’m saying that there is love to be given our independent films, too. as there is reason to take interest in our local theater productions, our art exhibits, our designers, rarely heralded as they are.

i’m saying give this critical space, give our own independent cultural products, the chance to surprise you. because in the throes of discontent and injustice, in a nation that is impoverished in many ways, it is in the silenced aspects of culture where you will find the gems of our survival. it is here that we persist, that we insist, that we demand for our space in the sun. and if that isn’t reason for an amount of pride, then i don’t really know what is.

and as i told the boy who asked the question about silence: the mere fact that he acknowledges the silence and the silenced is already such a huge thing. the only way to respond to being silenced is to speak up. demokrasya ang Pilipinas diba? karapatan nating magsalita. at higit, karapatan nating magtanong.

note: will answer the questions that were given to me by the organizers, the Sigma Theta Delta girls. there just wasn’t enough time to do all of it in the open forum.


Posted in: arts and culture, bayan, komentaryo

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3 Comments/Pingbacks

  1. marlomir
    December 3, 2012 at 7:40 am

    i may be out of touch with the current mood in the philippines as i’ve been, on and off, an OFW abroad for about 12 years now. But let’s just say I hope I speak for many ofws OR immigrants when I say I consciously try to let others (non-pinoys in the countries i’ve lived in) accept my idiosyncracies as a filipino unapologetically without trying hard to be accepted/acceptable. I once was congratulated effusively by strangers for our manny pacquiao and i thanked them for the compliment. But even without heroes such as the great pacquiao, i feel it’s always up to everyone of us to just keep doing the things we’re good at (PHL film, PHL music, PHL writing, sports, etc) and even do them better — to do these not as a people, but as individual creative/gifted persons, and build upon other pinoy’s achievements. Believe me, it’s heartening that we achieved status abroad for such current greats as pacquiao,leah salonga, or erik spolestra, but why don’t we just be, individually, as great as we can be, even if we can’t seem to approximate the fame or paycheck of these personalities? Lastly, I say, as a humanist and a true Filipino — respect the Other and pray the Other respects you as well….and let’s all go by Perls’ “…and if by chance we meet, it’s beautiful”.

    Sa akin lang naman (haha that IMHO phrase courtesy of the great Gloc9), basta ako, bibili ako ng original OPM CDs, manonood ako ng filipino films sa SM pag nagbabakasyon sa pinas at bibili/magbabasa pa rin ako ng panitikan Pilipino (or buy books by our writers in English), to give them and us all a fighting chance, as you said.

    Thanks, Ms. Santiago because you are always a good read!

  2. PHguy
    February 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t believe in any form of pride within political-national constructs that are obviously just meant to serve the interest of a few irregardless of whether you value personal choice or not. Despite the fact that socialization and cooperation have been vital components to our survival as a speces, it also goes against rationality grounded upon the idea of individuality and freedom to think for our own sake.

    Gven the fact that we as consciousness are born by lottery from whoever parents, in whatever neghborhood from whichever country, the decision to feel affinity towards to something or whoever must be developed by personal choice and not steered by indoctrination and propaganda as how many, if not all countres, of the world are kept to survive.

    As a rational-thinking being who sees art forms to be sources of entertainment and development, I don’t see how it would benefit me supporting products from people identified to hail from my own country or ethnic group if what they deliver is nothing but wth poor and anti-intellectual properties. In the end, indeed, it’s the quality that matters over who produces it. The lessons I find meaningful would enrich me more than abiding with a bandwagonstic idea that I have to “fulfill my duties” to certain institutions I never chose to be born associated with. It’s okay to promote to watch works from your own country only that if they are indeed worth bothering with.

    • katrina
      March 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      hmmm. i take issue with the idea of “quality” and “poor” as value judgments, if only because in countries like the Philippines which suffers still from a history of colonialism and neo-colonialism, our notions of “quality” are already tainted by what we are overdetermined to like, to appreciate, to even imagine to be good.

      and this is not to say that the bar being set is one that’s foreign, and that our own products do not live up to that. it’s to say that what we make here, what we produce, has its own creative history that might in fact be beyond whatever bar is set, whatever the international notions of quality are. it’s not to blindly insist that we take pride in just what’s Pinoy; but to allow what’s local a chance to prove itself, and ergo be a source of pride.

      certainly there is a lot of shit that’s produced here, as in every other country’s culture — such is the gift of democracy. but it is unfair to simply dismiss what is here to be all bad, to dismiss what we have without giving it a chance because of the generalization that it doesn’t live up to “quality” or that it is “poor”?

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