Today’s View: From Poverty to Frivolity?

Jul. 06, 2013

Indeed, it sounds like a frivolity for Mr. Virgilio Almario to advance a proposal that is meant to change the spelling of Pilipinas toFilipinas.  Of all the urgent matters and issues that need to be addressed, here comes a very inconsequential proposition that wouldn’t at all touch the daily lives of our people.

Davao Today

I hastened to make an impromptu survey among the residents in my little village after having heard a TV newscast that says the good Commissioner of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Mr. Virgilio Almario, is proposing to change the spelling of our country’s name from Pilipinas to Filipinas.  And this is what I got, to wit:

AKO: Nang Fely, unsay imong hunahuna sa sugyot nga usbon ang ispeling sa Pilipinas ngadto sa Filipinas.  Ang unang letra nga “P” ilisan  og “F”?

NANG FELY:  A, wa man nay diperensya.  Pareho ra man pamation…?

AKO:  Ikaw Pare Renren, unsay imong hunahuna?  Uyon ka?

RENREN:  A, gasamok-samok man lang na sa akong kinabuhi!  Di man na magamit nako, Pare, kay wa man koy sulat-sulat!  Kamo, kay anad mog panulat…?  Ug kun paminawon, sumala pa ni Nang Fely, pareho ra bitaw!

AKO:  Ikaw Bay Pedio?

PEDIO:  Wa man nay epek sa akoa, Bay!  Nganong kana may gi-asikaso nila?  Ingna hinoon nga usbon nila ang kalisod ngadto sa kaharuhay, pirma  pa ko hasta lapalapa!

AKO:  Ah, kining estudyante, si Cherry, pangutan-on ta.  Unsa man Cherry, gusto kag ilisan ang “P” sa Pilipinas ngadto sa “F?”

CHERRY:  Sige man lang usab-usab ning atong gobyerno, oy!  Naa poy educational system, giusab na sad  ngadto sa 12 years!  Para sa ako, I don’t care kung ‘P’ ba na diha o  ‘F.’  Basta, ang importante, makatiwas kog eskwela sa College.


MYSELF:  Nang Fely, what do you think of the proposal to change the spelling of our country’s name from Pilipinas to Filipinas.  The first letter “P” would be changed to “F.”

NANG FELY:  It makes no difference.  It sounds just the same?

MYSELF:  What about you, Pare Renren?

RENREN:  It does not mean anything to my life.  That’s of no use to me also, Pare, because I don’t usually do any writing.  Maybe, to you that would make sense, because writing is your business.  And yes, as Nang Fely said, they sound the same!

MYSELF:  And what about you, Bay Pedio?

PEDIO:  That doesn’t affect me at all.  But why are tinkering on such trifle?  Would they have rather changed our hardship to comfortable life, then I would certainly sign my affirm, including my footmark!

MYSELF:  O here’s a student, let’s ask her.  Cherry, would you agree to changing the first in Pilipinas to F?

CHERRY:  Our government is fond of making changes and changes!  Look, they have changed the educational system with this K12 that lengthens our schooling to 12 years!  For me, I don’t care if it would be ‘P’ or ‘F.’  What’s important to me is to finish my college studies.

Indeed, it sounds like a frivolity for Mr. Virgilio Almario to advance a proposal that is meant to change the spelling of Pilipinas toFilipinas.  Of all the urgent matters and issues that need to be addressed, here comes a very inconsequential proposition that wouldn’t at all touch the daily lives of our people.

What would be of more significant and imperative concern is the overriding problem of colonial mentality among our people.  This, for all Mr. Almario knows, is so pervasive among us Filipinos.  It is an outlook that resides snugly in the soul of most every Filipino — from the premier official of the land down to the lowliest citizen of our country.

Yes, it has rooted deep in the consciousness of our personal and social life.  And without having been conscious of it, our nation has sunk into the quagmire of economic backwardness and utter misery among the vast majority of our people, because of this deplorable mentality.

It can be considered the mother of all major problems of our nation — the source of all other big problems that beset our country and people.  Ponder on the following consequences that flow from the obnoxious attitude of colonial-mindedness.

First, in the economic field, the foreign big capitalists — the imperialists — are given favors by our government.  Who exploit our natural resources?  Our mineral ores, particularly?  Who are granted large concessions to mine the precious minerals in our country?

Our republic has existed for so long already and yet until today it has not pursued a much needed nationalist industrialization.  The longstanding poverty that has overstretched the moral fiber of our people has not been sincerely addressed because our national leadership has always strayed into wrong priorities in its development programs.

Second, in the political field, our national leadership lacks political will in pursuing programs meant to ameliorate the hapless state of our people.  Its foreign policy is likewise a mockery of our national interest.

We still cling to the coattails of US imperialism.  We still stick to the very nauseating policy of “special friendly relations” between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines!  [Boo!]  A special friendly relation that often results in unequal treaties and unequal treatments between US capitalists and the Filipino people.

Even in the safeguard of our national and territorial sovereignty, it miserably fails, obeisant as it is always to the dictates of US foreign policy.  The so-called “mendicant foreign policy” lambasted by our nationalist statesmen of the past  Congresses  [recall  the illustrious Claro Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Jose Diokno and Jovito Salonga] have not been eradicated.

And. . .!  Have we been truly and sincerely and wholeheartedly concerned with the plight of our OFWs who have salvaged our economy from near bankruptcy?  Always our citizens are second preference with regard to a consideration of their sad plight in foreign lands.

And lastly — and this is the worst phenomenon of all — we do not have what may be called our own true Filipino culture. There is no such thing as a Filipino soul, because as we have pointed out before: “language is the soul of a people or race or nation.”  Do we have a language of our own?  The soul of each and every Filipino is dressed up in American culture.

Let us say it again, American English is the language used as medium of instruction used in our educational system.  The “educated” Filipino can hardly be recognized as our Filipino compatriot.  He is fluent and eloquent in English but inarticulate in his own tongue.  And amazing is his skill in copying the ways of the foreigner to the extent that he despises his own native language and folkways.

Let us first eradicate Colonial Mentality before we tackle such very trivial matter of orthography or spelling of our country’s name.  For all we know, the in Filipinas may even work to endorse colonial mentality because this an indirect reference to KingFelipe of Spain, our former colonizer?

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

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