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Emily’s Post

Despite everything, this foreigner loves it in the Philippines

By: - Columnist
/ 04:15 AM January 08, 2012

DEAR EMILY,

As an avid reader of your column in the Sunday Lifestyle of the Inquirer, I am amazed at how contradictory a society the Philippines is.  I am a resident foreigner in this country, and it perturbs me how rife the level of denial and hypocrisy is.  Case in point, your latest column, entitled “Amazed at illicit relationships among OFWs.”

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Why do people have this notion that the Filipino is this God-fearing, value-laden person oblivious to human desires and temptations? This image is such a blatant lie! It would be better for Filipino society to stop hiding under this veil of naiveté and godliness.  And hiding behind the guise of poverty is equally not justified at all, given the cases of the drug mules in China, the high corruption index, daily murders, etc.

The mind-set of this society should break from the yoke of “miracles,” “godliness” and “culture” because it is a total farce. People here are very individualistic, and the sense of “community” is just a concept to take advantage of politically, economically and socially.

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The Filipino is just like any other people in the world where there are promiscuous, evil, corrupt and superstitious (in spite of believing in God) elements.

As a sociologist, I have noted how this society craves for attention and identity that it would honor a gambler as a sports hero, accord religious rites to a suicide victim (against the Church’s rule on this), disregard the legal existence of sex workers and obstruct efforts to ease cases of HIV and AIDS, yet it accepts the flaunting of barely covered girls on catwalks and tabloids.

It relishes gays who are promoted in the popular media, yet there are no activists for gay rights. And what about the companies that hire foreigners with supposedly a drop of Filipino blood, whose parents don’t even identify themselves as Filipinos?

I say, wake up and smell the coffee. This society needs a real awakening as it urbanizes and “modernizes.” Otherwise, it is a wonderful place and I love it!

D.R.

Yes, isn’t that what makes us interesting?  I’d like to believe that we are like nobody else—a people who are neither here nor there. Barely Asian anymore—gauging from the clothes, manners and probably desires, and wanting so much to be western—but still shackled by tradition and beliefs that just can’t get away from the national psyche.

We’ve been called “shallow,” “great imitators,” “brown Americans” and probably many more names that haven’t drifted our way yet.  They are all probably true—but still, I wouldn’t want to be anything but!     There’s nowhere else in the world like this place. And no people like us.

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There are a myriad exceptions to these, as there are no absolutely perfect people anywhere.  We have murderers among us, thieves, bigamists, adulterers, scam artists, crooks, mentally challenged, scoundrels, name it, and one of us is probably it. But, so are those in the other four continents!  But let it not be said that we don’t have our share of heroes, great and simple, though they’re somehow pretty much relegated to the back of our modern consciousness.

Many of us have left and many more are dying to leave! But wherever we go, and whatever we do, we remain what we inherently are—a kind, warm-hearted and generous people.  Go anywhere here and abroad, and that intrinsic hospitality comes to the fore.  A bed will be given up for you, food will be put on your plate and we will practically adopt you if needed. (Just don’t push your luck in the city!)

Many of us who left and vowed never to come back, came back.

We complain, we moan.   We raise hell and curse this place for the many inefficiencies and inadequacies, perceived and real, and wish we could change them all in a snap.  But we settle down and bear it because, despite the lack of whatever it is that is lacking, it’s home. It’s comfortable. The friends you have make time for you and are easy to talk with and understand each other.

It’s interesting here. That’s why you love it here.

E-mail emarcelo@inquirer.com.ph or emarcelo629@gmail.com, Subject: Lifestyle

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TAGS: brown Americans, expats, Filipino values, Foreigners, Illicit affairs, Overseas Filipino Workers
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