eK! is electronic Kabalen (eksite.com), a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

titus toledo
image "The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois." —Gustave Flaubert

THE TROUBLE with foreigners who know better about what troubles the Philippines is the trouble of making up their minds about what they really think is the trouble with us.

There are those, on the one side, who believe every little big thing ailing the Philippines— from hospital cockroaches to the cockroaches in congress— stems from our utter lack of pride. And then there are those, on the other side, who simply think we have too much of it: The "celebrated" Subic-rape case comes to mind. The "historic" RP rejection of the US military bases comes to mind.

Which gets the little big indio in me wondering: "No chicken or too much chicken? Nanu talaga, koya?"

To be fair, while those who think we have no pride and those who think we are just so full of it may differ in what they think to be our original sin— the so-called root of all Philippine evils— at least the two are one in saying: "But we love the Philippines. It's just that we feel sad and sorry for you."


So what— you ask— might be the source of this foreign sadness, this alien sorrow?

It should not take a whole bunch of bananas to split this atom: Let us see...

Could it be plain and simple disappointment at having encountered a Philippines far removed from what the tourist agency brochure paints it to be?

Or is it merely frustration of the weary and wary sort coming as it were from an almost consistent failure (on their part) to cope up with the hazards of our culture (or what they might, without prejudice, pass for as the corruption of our national character)?

Is it something far deeper, something infinitely more sinister, a kind of creeping quiet desperation possibly spawned and sustained by a more fundamental flaw in the gospel of (un)manifest destiny?

Could it be that all hope is now lost on the handsome indio? Are we really so beyond help that they have all finally given up on us— heads shaking and hands in the air— perhaps resigned but not altogether forgiving that in spite our long colonial history, we still don't quite measure up as the "former" colony they expect us to be?

Is it because we are simply, quite utterly not "tisoy" enough for them?

Go figure.

Four hundred years of Spain and we've hardly perfected the science of siesta. Fifty years of America and we're still one "sorry" democracy.

No pride or too much pride? Inferiority or superiority?

Whichever proves to be the more convenient complex, it all adds up to the same inconvenient reflex: Damaged culture = doomed nation.

So down and dirty, so straight and true.

For how else to explain the Filipino (if we can still call it that) who hates being Filipino (about which I am sure we have not a few), denies being Filipino (good riddance and rightly so), and is ashamed of just about everything Filipino (leprosy comes to mind), who loathes not only the color of one's money and one's flag (if the price is right) but also the color of one's hair, one's eyes, one's skin, one's mind, body, and soul (susmaryosep!)?

In a constant state of stage fright, perhaps genuinely afraid of discovering its one true identity or of being discovered for what it truly is (or more precisely, for what it no longer is), the animal is impelled to seek the illusion of acceptance in the imagined safety of self-deception and disguise: "What lovely brown monkey hair! Such brightly green monkey eyes! What fakely sweet monkey accent when you talk!"

Before such a specimen that despises its own kind—my kind, or any other kind, for that matter— the canon of civility offers but one appropriate response: "Nuts".

Take your pick: No pride for it, or too proud to even bother. Either way, just too damaged to manage.

Which leaves the little big indio in me wondering: "So, are we angry yet?"

You bet your Mother's pakbet we are— angry and mad and bursting aglow like an exploding Rambo. But we're not about to lose it and shoot down a few presidents (are we?) or go bonkers and smoke ourselves a couple of Vietnams (hell, no). And you certainly won't find us in our backyards growing A-bombs or whatever else they call them these days (not in a million years). And what if they are right?







If they are right, then this tribe won't be around long enough to make out a sufficiently significant contribution to the Global Warming of Nations.

Damaged and doomed, you say?

That may be. It may be. But there is really nothing here that a healthy dose of high culture junk food and junk TV can't remedy.


[About the author. Titus Toledo has published extensively in discord. As of this writing, he digs space weather, code art, semiotics, guerrilla gardening, and crispy begukan—in that order. He comes in peace.]

-Posted: 1:08 AM 8/26/07 | More of this author on eK!