Prints and Traces

Colonial-mindedness should have been a thing of the past among us Filipinos.  But it seems, the political helmsmen of our government, the educators and cultural policymakers of our society, are just drifting along with the trends set by the Americans.  They should know better than to cater to these hollow circus brands of cultural acts.  These only paint a deprecatory image of ourselves as a people and nation.   

By DON J. PAGUSARA
Davao Today

The latest in the unremitting bombardment of cultural stuffs purportedly to entertain the Filipino audiences with “world class” performances is tagged “The Voice of the Philippines.”  And it is magnetizing Filipinos here and abroad.  A very attractive event!

Not a few Filipino singing artists and not-so-Filipino aspirants are making their way to the stage-ladder as contestants.  And the winner will certainly be a scintillating star in the realm of the tinsel shine world.

Not so long ago, it was the “American Idol.”  And close on the heels was a counterpart activity in local showbiz arena — a “Filipino Idol.”

Well, such a phenomenon has been here in our social reality since the vaudeville craze of the American colonial era.  Filipinos have always been excellent copiers of American acts and movements.  And this is especially most avidly zealous in the cultural scene — in the performing arts:  in song and dance and theater.  Or in circus acts!

Name it!  You have a Frank Sinatra, a Nat King Cole, an Elvis Presley, a whoever — of the Philippines!  And it’s always a one-way traffic.  Unless there’s one American guy out there who has been proclaimed Yoyoy Villame or Max Surban of America!

In recent times, Filipino showbiz impresarios have been very keen on the so-called “world class” brand of performances and they have seen it propitious for their promotional acts to make use of appearances of such world-renown Filipino achievers as Lea Salonga and the like.

The magnet attraction is very strong.  It tickle one’s self-consciousness, pricks one’s conceit, to be roused to adrenalin-high leaps to reach for what high stakes are in store for the lucky ones.  Perhaps, his or hers would be another “rags to riches” success story?

Heber Bartolome, the famous folk singer of the martial law era, aptly and righteously chided us with his song saying:  Bakit nanggagaya, mayroon na man tayo? (Why are we copying, when we have our own stuff?)

Indeed, why do we love to climb to heights of fame and feat by mimicking the Americans?  Why don’t we cultivate and develop our own native resources in achieving global popularity?  Porbida!

Of course, many would reason:  But this is one chance in a million to get ahead — material gains and a name for every Filipino to become proud of!

That’s exactly the folly!  We are systematically dragged into an enterprise that drugs us into a false sense of pride, a warped sense of success, a wrong choice of values, and a distorted channel of priorities for our people.

Certainly, this wouldn’t constitute a daang matuwid that will contribute to the emancipation of the vast masses of our people from extreme poverty.  Would it better the Philippine economy in a manner whereby our OFWs will be able to come home?  And thrive with sustainable livelihood and employment here?

One Filipino garners international fame as a singer and earns plenty of money for his/her family, and gives empty pride  for the millions of Filipinos mired in squalor and misery in their respective places in the cities and countryside?  Wow!  And he is crowned a hero?

Why oh why do we harness our precious talents and human resources for these individual “one-person-one-win” undertakings?  Beauty pageants!  Showbiz acts!  And they are even very Un-Filipino?  Plus, they don’t redound to the benefit of the great great many?

Why do our national policymakers give high premium to such cultural undertakings which do not at all foster valuable social values but are in fact detrimental to national interest?

Asa na man tong naka-imbento og importanteng butang nga makatabang pagsulbad sa atong ekonomiya?  [Where is the one who invented a scientific stuff which can help solve the economic productivity of our country?]

Is he/she given honor at all?  Is his/her invention given notice and attention by the policy makers of our society?  The next time we heard of him/her is that he/she sold his/her invention to some other foreign country, simply because it is not given the value it deserves in this dog-owned country!

It should be people like these who use their brilliant minds for scientific experimentations and inventions which can be utilized to help solve our economic morass who should be glorified.

It should be activities that promote scientific mindedness and social responsibilities that must be given priority in the hierarchy of national endeavors and tasks.

Colonial-mindedness should have been a thing of the past among us Filipinos.  But it seems, the political helmsmen of our government, the educators and cultural policymakers of our society, are just drifting along with the trends set by the Americans.  They should know better than to cater to these hollow circus brands of cultural acts.  These only paint a deprecatory image of ourselves as a people and nation.

It’s good to be reminded of how the Taiwanese called us in the wake of that shooting incident by our coastguards that victimized a Taiwanese fisherman — OMG, they called us a nation of slaves!  And that is not entirely inaccurate!  Legions of our compatriots are working as slave workers in their country!

NO Virginia!  This world class event now going on in our midst should be tagged The Voice of America, Philippine Style!

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee. 

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  • Joe Smith

    Don, you have a serious chip on your shoulder…..

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