In the foreword of this book (“Celebrating the Creative Living Presence,”Asian Social Institute, 2017), author Felipe Mendoza de Leon—humanities professor, scholar and musicologist gives a hint of what is in store for the reader. It is a blow against the Filipinos, especially the elite, being brainwashed by Western domination, and a pitch for the Pinoy’s well-developed skills and patterns of be havior:
“… our superior linguistic and communication skills, interpersonal intelligence, social networking skills, expressiveness, prowess in the performing arts, strong family ties, nurturing qualities, malasakit (capacity to bear the burden of the other as one’s own), excellence in the service industries, passion for education, high degree of gender equality, psychic health, strong sense of humor, resilience, ability to rebound after trying times, and creative versatility.”
The book may be short, all of 108 pages, but is “voluminous in the mind,” to quote from one English critic regarding another volume. De Leon points out the need to decolonize ourselves, to see beauty in the indigenous, to view ourselves through our own—rather than Western eyes—and to stop being our own worst bashers.
Another important point is that the crab mentality is not peculiar to our people but is a “universal phenomenon.”
Guided by Unesco’s definition of culture, De Leon goes beyond arts and letters to spell out the five types of culture: Culture of Power and Wealth; Culture of Shared Being and of Simple Needs; Developing the Higher Self; Cultivation of Different Skills; and Ethnicity as a Creative Constant.
Power and wealth
“It is the culture obsessed with power and wealth that have plagued Philippine society, but more so at the present time,” he declares. And adds: “… they (well-entrenched feudal elites) will always support an oligarchy or an autocratic leader aligned to their needs, and behave as opportunists, bootlickers and sycophants toward him.”
And so, the humanities professor advocates that we must transcend the lower self. Otherwise, “behaving like a beast—using foul language, cursing profusely, hurling invectives even at highly revered figures, dehumanizing women and persons with disability, promising to kill people to impose discipline, and the like— can only encourage others to behave similarly and constitute an incitement to violence.”
De Leon provides “guideposts for education, governance and wellness in Philippine society.” Subtitle is “A Culture of Healing.”
Healing comes with togetherness, sharing, on-the-spot creativity common to the Filipino, the communal rather than the individualistic spirit, and being one with nature.
It is a summing up of the author’s world view, arrived at after long years of study, immersion in the arts and broader aspects of culture, observation, experience, support for the indigenous, learning from mentors, reading, and being positive about the Filipino. He quotes National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose as saying a Filipino is one “who loves the nation.”
De Leon is of course from a musically gifted family, and has a word of advice for theater actors. He cites an unidentified study that showed an actress, after performing in a comedy, increased her “immune
functions.” But when she performed a depressing role, her immune functions “were diminished.” He opines: “This implies that we must choose our roles carefully and exercise caution with whom we identify.” –CONTRIBUTED