It would seem there is good reason to believe the Filipinos are now constantly conscious of their patriotic concerns for their country. And there is good reason to appreciate the passion of most everyone in trying to excel in the field of endeavor she finds herself in. In the arena of this world’s dog-eat-dog competitiveness, it is heartening to note how Filipinos individually shines—be it in sports or in performance activities. And even in beauty pageants!
Ask Pacquaio, or Shamcey, or any other Filipino top performer in world contests, and without a second of hesitation he or she would announce in exhilaration “Para sa aking bayan!” And of course, the whole nation cheers! In most every Filipino’s heart is a fiesta feeling, a celebratory feeling. Everyone partakes of a vicarious sense of pride and glory of a “Filipino victory”. The TV and radio broadcaster would proclaim, “Yan ang kabayanihan ng Pinoy!” As if to say it is not at all surprising, it is an act of patriotism and heroism that happens every so often! Wow!
And the honorables—yes, the politicians—do not fall behind in their extravagant praises for and explicit recognition of the compatriot’s splendid feat. More than mere words in a certificate of adulation would be a trophy, or a medal or a sum of money perhaps for the achiever.
But almost immediately after the fiesta jollity, one is transported “back to normal”—back to the normalcy of one’s existential reality—to the squalor in one’s home and community—to the miserable conditions of impoverishment—the lack of food on the table, the insecurity of one’s health or of life itself— the utter hardship of living in a country which has not extricated itself from the age-old scourges of backwardness and poverty.
The sublime experience of patriotic pride has always been a trademark trait of Filipinos, most especially the ordinary man and woman in the street and in the home. One nurtures in her heart that wishful thought of bringing the name and dignity and honor of our country in the pedestal of international esteem. And so she strives to climb up the ladder of recognition in international contests. And when she acquits herself honorably and/or excellently, in her heart of hearts she dares declare: “I am a Filipino! Accord me the honor my nation deserves!”
Truly, there is that prideful stamp of kabayanihan in the soul of every Filipino, albeit oftentimes this is overlaid with the individualistic desire to set oneself among the enviable few lounging on the plateau of “the good life”. And once there, she soon engages herself in self-centered practices she used to be envious of among the society’s rich. And one suspects if she was really sincere in her utterance heavily loaded with patriotic ardor in her moment of triumph—no different from the poor boy who, having successfully journeyed along the path of patronage politics, has now become a senator or a congressman and has accorded himself the lifestyle of a politico whose corrupt practices characterize him as anything but a true servant of his constituency.
But whence this “cycle of feats and getting rich” derives its sustaining breath? Oh, its nurturance is provided by the “free enterprise” world outlook – the weltanschaung of the rich and powerful that constitute the ruling class in our society. “Go and prove your mettle in the turbulent seas or in the rugged terrain of personal strivings, and you will have your reward. Just avoid acts that disturb the Status Quo!” the ruling philosophy would prescribe. And this is meant to preserve the incumbent system and conditions in society.
And so, the kabayanihan orpatriotic fervor among the common Filipino—but most especially among the great unwashed — is really a latent aspiration for liberation and emancipation from misery and impoverishment. It remains to be harnessed towards genuine and honest-to-goodness program for national human development, because patriotism can only be truly kabayanihan if it rises beyond feeling or emotion but translated into acts concurrent with a people’s movement for national liberation and development.
As of now, this people’s patriotic desire for human development has been wasted or doused with the insincerity, treachery and deception by the national leadership since the genesis of the Philippine Republic. The culture of puppetry to American Imperialism has been the ignominious manifestation of these treasonous acts of the misleaders from the time of the administration of President Manuel Roxas to the current government under the leadership of President Noynoy Aquino. Each of them has paid slavish homage and tribute to American Imperialism and steered the Philippine Ship of State to economic backwardness and massive poverty of the people.
Although individually, the Filipino can rise to excellence in any field of undertaking she cannot be proud of her government. Her latent pride as an individual Filipino rises to a vocal outburst only when she triumphs in the pursuit for excellence. It is a subconscious demand for the government she represents to likewise rise in its ordained duty to liberate and emancipate its people from backwardness and underdevelopment.
However, we wish that the latent if authentic patriotism among our countrymen would be rightly placed—meaning it would not likewise be wasted in vainglorious or self-centered aspirations for feats in beauty pageants? For what are beauty pageants for? Is it not meant essentially for accommodation of self-centered pursuit for pompous popularity? Avowals by the winning beauties of commitment to help in distribution of relief goods to typhoon victims or to help the tourism industry do not at all make beauty contests noble. What is tourism for? It’s analogous to prostitution of our beautiful lands to foreigners!
But anyway, if indeed one’s aspiration in a beauty contest is not for selfish aggrandizement, let it be the type of undertaking similar to that of a Nelia Sancho or a Maita Gomez, whose physical assets were not meant to serve shallow personal ends, but in the service of the cause for national liberation in the time of the depredatory martial law regime of Marcos and anon.
Kabayanihan, in the context of the current crisis in Philippine society, can only be genuine if it transcends mere pronouncements and declarations of supposedly racial pride, but a kabayanihan that is dedicated to the higher ideal of nationalistic movements for societal change—a change from the Status Quo of backwardness to an Alternative Society of economic equity, national sovereignty and democracy.