The Grey Chronicles

2009.April.12

Prejudice and Pride



After my post last 08 April, although it was predicated with the following words: "A former student, now based overseas sent me this email and thought it was amusing, yet mostly true. Having opted to take a sabbatical from this blog during this Holy Week, I am publishing it in its entirety", I received a rather peculiar comment on that post saying:

“That comes to 49 reasons why Filipinos are stupid. Just because you like adobo doesnt [sic] make it ‘cuisine’; its [sic] still dog food for the rest of the world. Since you just proclaimed ‘pride’ at a lack of civilization and respect, as well as pride in corruption and thievery . . . please do us a favor: whenever you find people that agree with your ideas, perhaps you kindly suggest they are not welcome in the modern world and to refrain from calling everyone a racist because someone complained about this gutter-snipe mentality?”

Instead of replying to that comment in that post, I opted to make another post regarding it. Foremost, the quoted comment above boils down to prejudice and pride.


Prejudice

Declaring that the post amounted to 49 reasons why Filipinos are stupid, this statement is most culturally-biased if not a declaration of his own folly. The 08 April post was presented to poke fun at the difficult lives some Filipinos are facing. Has anybody heard of caricature, lampoon or spoof? Doing the latter is typically Filipino. We make fun of ourselves, that’s in our genes. We make fun of everything under the sun: from our politicians and even our lives, or mere existence.

Filipinos are mostly economically poor, but Filipinos are not stupid. We might not have Nobel laureates, worldly honorifics, or scholarly titles but that doesn’t make us stupid. If stupidity is a poor ability to understand or to profit from experience, Filipinos have proven time and again that we have the ability to understand or to profit from experience. Although, it took the Filipinos years to tear down Marcos dictatorship, the People Power which ousted him is not an exercise on stupidity but rather peacefully shows the Filipino capacity to change. Also, most OFWs and Filipino expatriates are hailed as important movers in various world economies, particularly in the Middle East, Europe and even the U.S. Our OFWs are the epitome of profiting from experience.

Probably the commenter only chanced upon that single post last 08 April, without bothering on reading other previous posts on being Filipino: what makes us tick, our values, or what annoy us. Then in his own mind set, the commenter fired up his preconception of Filipinos.

Unfortunately, in his jest, he revealed his lack of understanding and knowledge of Filipinos. He even mentioned adobo, probably in response to item 10: All kinds of animals are edible. Be that adobo is not cuisine, this particular dish traces its roots from Spanish cuisine, which do not consider it as dog food, either. Adobo is a meat—chicken, pork, beef—dish, crispy fried with seasonings such as a pinch of salt, a dash of vinegar, a sprinkle of black pepper corns and cloves of garlic. The dish can be cooked in minutes, and viola! Filipinos have a viand to go with our rice, the staple food. Personally, I don’t prefer oily foods. Other variants of adobo feature vegetables, stir-fried in a wok. Incidentally, according to National Geographic, there are certain cultures with peculiar cuisines which are considered taboo in others, take a pick: barbecued meat—rare (with animal blood still oozing from the bones) or medium-rare, a puree of cow’s brain, bird’s nest soup laced with dried-up bird’s saliva; the most expensive coffee made from civet’s excreta of coffee beans; deep-fried maggots and other creepy crawlies; a kid swimming in white curry still in its mother goat’s womb; or salted beluga roes popularly called caviar. Yuk! or Yum! it depends on the diner! Some are acquired taste, but they are still considered sustenance.


Pride

I have not proclaimed outright ‘pride’ at a lack of civilization and respect, as well as pride in corruption and thievery. The email proclaimed it. Thus, to gather some insight on what others might think of that email it was published as received. I have offered some of my own single-line comments and added the 50th. If publishing it in this blog is pride itself, then the commenter genuinely missed the point. I fervently believe that readers are intelligent enough to do the reading between the 49 lines and draw their own conclusions.

Civilization and respect are rather subjective concepts. In one culture one’s behaviour might be considered as civilized or respectful, but in another the same might be deemed uncivilized, barbaric or out-of-this world. The email, originally entitled 49 Reasons Why I Love the Philippines transformed into that particular post was a minuscule panorama of the contemporary life in the Philippines. It offered street-level viewpoints, however amusing or tongue-in-cheek, on education, diet, lifestyle, government, politics, and economics, yet the 49 statements had a tinge or hint of truth in each one.

Corruption and thievery are not my cups of tea. Posting about it in this blog is not being proud about it, but letting it out in the open. Yet, the post succinctly illustrated the fact that the Philippines is among those countries perceived as corrupt. Here are some snippets:

Using World Values Survey [WVS] surveys conducted between 1981 and 2001 and Corruption Perceptions Index [CPI] by Transparency International constructed an index of corruption permissiveness, Moreno (2002) finds:

“Survey data from over 60 societies show that there is a negative relationship between corruption permissiveness and support of democracy, and between the former and interpersonal trust. . . The level of corruption permissiveness is higher in post-Communist societies, followed by Latin American countries, and South Asian publics. . . There is an observable increase in corruption permissiveness in Western democracies as well, the most significant being in the United States.”

In Moreno’s (2002) analysis:

“In South Asia, the Philippines’ trajectory is similar to the Chilean, with no movement in support for democracy and a broadening in their corruption permissiveness. Unlike Chileans, Filipinos have a lower level of support for democracy and are much more likely to justify acts of corruption.”

By 2005, according to Transparency International (2003), Philippines’ CPI was 2.5 ranked 117th with Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Libya, Nepal, and Uganda out of 168. Five years later, Transparency International (2008) reported the same CPI=2.5 for the Philippines.

Thus, item 46. People can get away with stealing trillions of pesos but not a thousand is incredibly and sadly true. There is no pride in that. It is abominable and shameful.

Bill Allin (0000) states:

“There’s nothing shameful about not knowing something. What is shameful is to deny it, to cover it up and to not take the trouble to find out. There’s nothing pretty about ignorance. It’s not funny either. Strange that it’s so popular.”

Incidentally, the commenter chose to have a very strange email account name: ERAP!


Notes:

Allin, Bill (0000). Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems. Place: Publisher, Year. p. X. back to text

Moreno, Alejandro (2002). Corruption and Democracy: A Cultural Assessment. Mexico City: Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México,, 12 September 2002. pp. 6, 13-14 back to text

Transparency International (2003). Global Corruption Report 2003. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. back to text

Transparency International (2008). Global Corruption Report 2008. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008 back to text

Gutter-snipe mentality is a gobbledygook. The correct term is guttersnipe, i.e., without a hyphen, which means a child who spends most of his time in the streets especially in slum areas; a street-urchin. back to text

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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