The craze for the tinsel shine has successfully fed the vanities of our female population.  However it overlooks the more valuable concerns that should have spurred the imperative pursuits in our developing nation.

Davao Today

There seems to be an ingrained penchant for the tinsel shine among Filipinos.

This is not to say it springs eternal in our culture or that it is derived from a genetic character.  But its manifestation is stunning.  You can see it in the fiesta celebrations in the barrios, as well as in the pompous festivities in the urban centers. They come in varying forms — from band concerts to musical extravaganzas to beauty pageants.

Indeed what makes it amazing — and disturbing — is its proliferation in all imaginable spaces across the archipelago all year round.

You name an event in the history of a small barangay, and you have a cultural festivity to flavor its significance — be it anAraw ng Barangay or a Kapistahan ni Sto. Niño or even an Adlaw sa mga Kabaw.  And, of course, always alongside it is the unmistakable proclamation of a Binibini or crowning of a Mutya as the climactic accent of the occasion’s pageantry.  More glitters and grandiose display attend similar festivals in the cities.

But this is also observable in school institutions, both public and private, from the kindergarten to college levels.

The mental conditioning of the female child is cultivated around the so called “legitimate aspiration” to climb up to the tinsel stage of a beauty pageant.  And this desire to become a beauty queen is feasted by the tsunami of beauty product ads in TV.  And every girl becomes prey to the exploitative consumerist gimmickry by cosmetic capitalists.

The craze for the tinsel shine has successfully fed the vanities of our female population.  However it overlooks the more valuable concerns that should have spurred the imperative pursuits in our developing nation.

There has been too much premium afforded to pageantry — either by the passionate quest for stardom or by the obsession for beauty contests.  A Filipino girl’s heart craves for fame and pomp as an actress or as a beauty queen.

Showbiz mentality and the quest for pageantry have now become cultural epidemics affecting young Filipinas in the existential reality of Philippine society — from the lowliest barrio to the metropolis.

It must also be noted that the government, in its efforts to rake in much needed revenues, has encouraged the cultivation of this “pageants and showbiz mentality” as part of its tourism industry.  Everything conceivably attractive to tourists and investors is a salutary endeavor — from pageantry to pageantry, in any imaginable corner in the country.

This phenomenon, however, should be taken for what it is as a cultural value.  It is a trifle.  It renders wrong priorities in the nation-building agenda.  The policy-makers of our society are sending wrong signals.  Instead of cultivating showbiz mentality and the misguided desire for pageantry among our youth, the pursuit for intellectual excellence in scientific experiments and inventions should have been given high premium.

Needless to say, the pursuits for worthy undertakings that will serve as spurs in industrial development should be among the prime priorities of government.  Such programs and goals that would harness the intellectual faculties of our youths towards the development of our strategic industries should be FIRST in the order of tasks in building our national economy.

The basic reason why we are far behind South Korea, Taiwan and the other newly established states like Vietnam, is because we have failed to zealously exploit our human and natural resources towards industrialization goals.

If only we had developed our strategic industries — steel industry, manufacturing industry, pharmaceutical industry, and the like — we would have enjoyed genuine economic growth and stability, equal to that in other newly created nations in Southeast Asia.

Sadly, our national leaders have always adopted the wrong priorities — endorsing such frivolities as would lead to a noxious penchant for pageantry among our people.  Sadly, our national leaders are no different from “showbiz” personalities, efficient in clearing roads that lead not to progress but to pompous frivolities.

And sadly, we have national leaders who are eloquent brokers as metaphorical pimps that make a prostitute of our beloved mother country.

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

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