‘The Philippines as a nation of starstruck ignoramuses’ by Don Pedero

Last July 23, I wrote about Nasty (short for Anastacio), a balikbayan
from Los Angeles, who, while vacationing in Manila, had nothing to say
but negative comments about the Philippines and the Filipinos. The
article elicited a deluge of comments from our readers. Though some
agreed with his curt observations, most were enraged at the repulsive
way he acted and whined.

For me, he was the classic epitome of the “crow perched on a carabao,”
thinking and acting nauseatingly superior just because he has become
an
American citizen, inequitably comparing everything here to how they
are
in the first world. I was particularly irked by his repulsive “know it
all” attitude and peeved no end by his irritating Waray-American
twang.

The article is entitled “Little Brown Americans.” As a backgrounder,
here is an excerpt:

The next day, I took them on a little city tour and accompanied them
to
do extra shopping at the duty-free shop. They were to leave two days
later for their respective provinces (Randy is from Pampanga, Nasty,
from Samar).

“God, ang dilem-dilem naman ditow (it is so dark here)!” screamed
Nasty
in his characteristic Taglish slang, “At ang inet-inet pa (and so
warm)!

All throughout the day, Nasty complained about everything. He griped
that all Filipinos he encountered were dense and inefficient (I hope
that didn’t include me!); that the traffic was horrendous and drivers
“drove like they were late for their funerals”; that the pollution
from
the smoke-belching vehicles was irritating his dainty,
surgically-pinched nose.

He was disgusted that water closets didn’t work; horrified that there
was no toilet paper in public toilets (“God, how do you people do it?”
he bewailed); petrified by street children begging while soaking wet
in
the rain (“Where are the parents of these kids?” he nagged).

He moaned about the proliferation of slums, people crossing the
superhighways (“There should be underground or overhead walkways for
pedestrians!” he demanded), the potholes on the streets, the
disgusting
garbage and filth all over the city, and the annoying floods! And all
these he observed in just one day!

Weeks after the publication of the article, I took Nasty’s silence to
mean that of contempt and anger. I must admit that I didn’t care
because
I was really turned off by his arrogance. The good news is, Nasty has
finally decided to break his silence and give us his side, loaded
with a
big piece of his mind. The bad news is, he hits more sensitive chords
and it stings.

Nasty’s E-Mail

Dear Dero,

My Zen master says, “Never fight fire with fire.” So, I sat in a lotus
position, imbibed the ethereal qualities of cool mountain water and
stoically resisted the temptation of answering back to defend myself
in
rebuttal of your article. I kept quiet while you and your readers had
a
charlatan holiday, dissecting and fanning sarcasm on my every comment
about your country and your people.

I am not mad at you for writing that piece. I was never upset at any
point, even after your readers from all over the world e-mailed in
their
two-cents’ worth. In fact, I found it rather amusing and carnival-
like.

I even felt happy that people still came to the defense of your
Philippines!

If you noticed, I now refer to the Philippines and Filipinos as your
country and your people. Every time I went back there for vacation, my
Filipino-ness always took the better of me (blame those damn green
mangoes smothered with bagoong!) and made me forget that I am, in all
reality, what you aptly called a “Little Brown American.” I have come
to
terms with my own identity- I am, after all, an American citizen
carrying an American passport!

What precipitated my quick decision to sever my ties with your country
(aside from your ***** of an article) were the Abu Sayyaf abductions
(que barbaridad!), the Payatas-like downslide of the peso (eat your
hearts out, I earn sweet American dollars!), the “devoid of
conscience”
graft and corruption in your government (this has gone on for the
longest time-how shameful!), and lately, the stupid “Juetengate” and
juicy but enraging “Boracay” mansion gossips. With all these, who
would
be proud to be a Filipino? Besides, to tell you frankly, those Erap
jokes are no longer funny- they are pass?and leave a bad taste in the
mouth and heart. No Apology If I sounded brash and insensitive with
the
way I threw my comments, well, I cannot do any-thing about that
because
that is the way I am, and I offer no apology. Here, in America, you
have
to tell it like it is or you’ll never be taken seriously. I have
learned
to drop my “Pinoy sugarcoating” because out here, you get nothing done
if you are meek and sweet and pa-api. Hindi puwede mag-Anita Linda
dito!

When I commented about your pollution, street children mendicants,
slums,potholes, toilets that don’t work, garbage, floods, and most of
all, the Pinoys’ chronic lack of discipline, I was merely putting into
words what I saw. I can’t blame your being blind about your country’s
situation.

My Zen master says, “One cannot easily see the dirt in one’s eye.” I
am
sure though that you are aware of those sordid details, but have grown
accustomed to them (like most Manile?s have). All the complaints I
aired
may have hurt your pride but what I wanted you to realize is this: The
things I pointed out are all symptoms of a failing, falling nation!

Suffering A National Karma?

Could yours be a country cursed with a huge national karmic debt? It
could be payback time, you know. Look back into your history, look
deep
inside your hearts-what could you have done as a nation to deserve
this
fiasco you are in today?

What you are faced with didn’t just happen overnight-it developed and
grew into a monster in the course of time. Deeply imbedded in the
psyche
of the Filipino is the amalgamation of the characters and events that
have impacted your lives – Dona Victorina, Dona Concepcion, poor Sisa
as
well the other hilarious and tragic characters of Dr. Jose Rizal…
Stonehill…the notorious gangsters immortalized by your Filipino
movies
like Asiong Salonga (hmmm!), et al…the killers in your (I thought
they’d never end!) massacre movies…those cheap, appalling titles of
your movies…those staged “religious miracles” that your naive masses
believed…family men with pushy queridas (mistresses)…your crooked
politicians, undependable police officers and greedy customs
collectors…your bribe-hungry court judges…Imeldific, gloriously
smiling and crying at the same time, bejeweled. (How very Fellini!)

What you are is the sum total of your history, your heritage and
culture,your education, the crap that your press sensationalizes, the
bad icons that your movies glorify, the artificial values your
advertising extols, the bad examples your leaders and role models
project. What you feed your country’s mind is what it becomes. You
have
become the ugly monster that you’ve created. You are now crying all
the
tears your sickeningly sentimental movies wailed out for years and
years! Your Biggest Fault If there is one thing that comes to mind, I
think your biggest fault would be your individual greed. “Ako muna!”
seems to be the national mantra. The trouble is, very few people think
for the common good in a deplorable “to each his own kurakot”
festival.
Coupled by your crab mentality of pushing down others, this can be
fatal. You think barangay, not national. Hello, everybody else around
the world is thinking global! Europe is unshackling her national
boundaries while you are building fences around your nipa huts.

Do yourselves a favor and look at your nation as a ship. All of you
are
in it and it is sinking! Realize your oneness-what hurts your brother
hurts you, too. Think about the future of your children and the
succeeding generations, and do something about it quick before your
poor
little banca plunges forever into the irretrievable depths of despair.

Star-Struck Nation

You are a nation of star-struck ignoramuses. You are easily awed by
your
movie stars who are usually nothing but uneducated, aquiline-nosed and
light-skinned ******** picked up from some gutter somewhere. I have
seen
what these artistas illusionadas can get away with. They just flash
their capped-tooth smiles and policemen let them get away with traffic
violations; they bat their false eyelashes and customs officers impose
no duty on their suspicious balikbayan boxes.

Worst of all, with the Filipino movie industry taking a nosedive,
hordes
of actors and show personalities went into politics. It is, as they
say,
the next best “racket”-there is more money to be made in the
politicking
business than in show business! (And what is this I hear that in the
coming elections, more are jumping into the arena? Mag-hara-kiri na
kayo!) How can you expect these comedians and actors, who only know
how
to take directions from their directors, to direct your nation? For
them,politics will just be an “act”. No big surprise here, for they
are
mere actors with no original scripts to speak, no original visions to
share. So what can you expect but a government that is a comedy of
errors. Serves you and your star- struck nation right!

My Zen master says, “Give unto Caesar what is due to Caesar, but keep
Charlie Chaplin on the silver screen to make us laugh.” To survive,
you
must teach your citizenry to say no to three things – no to drugs, no
to
stealing and graft and corruption, and no to artistas in politics. I
hope you’ve learned your lesson by now. (Yours is the only country
where
Mexican soap stars are received like royalty in the presidential
palace.
How shoddy! God forbid-Fernando Carrillo might end up being your next
president. At least he has great abs and doesn’t wobble like a penguin
when he walks!)

For those artistas who honestly believe that they can make a positive
difference in the Filipino masses’ life, they must first study law,
business and public administration, and immerse themselves in the life
and passion of Mother Teresa. Politics is not an art for dilettante
artistas to dabble in. It is called “Political Science,” hello?!

Educate Your Masses

Educate the masses – especially your electorate. What you need is an
intelligent vote aside from, of course, intelligent candidates. The
University of San Carlos in Cebu City, founded in 1595, and the
University of Santo Tomas in Manila, established in 1611, are the
oldest
universities in Asia, and are even older than Harvard. But the
standard
of Pinoy education has deteriorated so much that the Philippines ranks
among the poorest in the educational hierarchy of Asia.

Education, education, education-that’s what you need in this age of
information, information, information.

If all your social, religious and political sectors don’t sit down now
and decide to take the Right Way, the Philippines and your children’s
children will be grand losers in the worldwide rush to the future.
Education is one sure way to salvation. Teach what is right, good,
beautiful and beneficial.

Downplay all negativity if you cannot eliminate it altogether.

The Ideal President

I’ve got news for you. (As if you didn’t already know.) No matter whom
you put up there as your leader or president, it will be the same
banana. Even a holy man can turn into another J. E. (Judas Escariot)
for
a few pieces of silver. Kumpares, alalays, relatives and cronies will
encrust like flies and maggots on his cordon sanitaire. And it will be
the same despicable “Sa amin na ‘to!” hullabaloo all over again.

Take an advice from Aling Epang: “Pumili ng matanda, mayaman, mabait,
at
madaling mamatay.” Get a president who is old – so that he is full of
wisdom, rich – so he won’t need to steal more money, goodhearted – so
he
will render heartfelt service to his people, and is in the sunset of
his
life – so that he will think of nothing but gaining good points to
present when he meets his Creator. And may I add: At iisa lang ang
pamilya! This is, of course, asking for the moon. Just pray fervently
for an intelligent leader with a pure heart who genuinely loves the
common tao!

Magpakatotoo Kayo! Wake up and look at the real you. Enough with
looking
at your reflection in glorious, self-embellishing mirrors. The
tropical
sun can play tricks, you know. Do not wait for darkness to fall before
you take that much-needed long, hard look at your real situation.
Magpakatotoo kayo, ano? This isn’t a wake-up call-it is the final
alarm!

Save the ship while you still can. Don’t wait till your people have no
more dreams left to hang on to, no more hope to sustain their broken
spirits. I came home, spent my penny-pinched savings so that even in
the
minutest way I could help your bruised economy. Your politicians sit
on
their fat,farting butts and get balatos (kuno!) in the millions.
Receivers are as guilty as the givers. Now, tell me, who is really
nasty?

I Have Made My Decision; So Should You.

My Zen master says, “Life is all about decisions, not choices.” I have
made a decision which I know will be very hard for me to keep- You
will
never hear from me again (not in this vein) and I will not even think
of
visiting or buwisiting your Manila ever. This is my way of letting you
know that I have given up on you. Bahala na kayo! Only you can help
yourselves because at the stage you are in, nobody would want to help
you. My Zen master says, “You have to fall to learn to rise again.”
How
much lower do you want to go?

Anyway, regarding the Philippines as a tourist destination, you have a
lot of cleaning up and face-lifting to do before foreigners would dare
go to your islands again. The Abu Sayyaf episode has done your tourism
industry more damage than you could ever imagine, and it will take a
long time before the world forgets. (By the way, your tourism projects
are lusterless and have no global impact. If you want real business,
spruce up your infrastructure and do aggressive marketing on the World
Wide Web!)

Of course, I would gladly reverse my decision if someone offered me
exclusive lordship over lotto, bingo, jueteng, pintakasi and the jai
alai.Think about it: this will be to your advantage because I never
give
tong or blood commission to anyone! (If only your president used the
millions he received from those gambling lords to build homes for the
masses, you wouldn’t have any more squatters. Huling hirit: defrost
those Marcos billions, pay off some debt, place the rest in high-yield
investments, feed your hungry, and spread bounty and joy to every
Filipino! Are you stupid or what? – That’s your money sucked from the
blood of your people!)

I have made my decision, now make yours. I would hate for the day to
come when I’d have to say, “I told you so!” Good luck! (You need it.)

An ex-Filipino,

J. Anastasio “Nasty”

P. S. My Zen master says, “Vox populi is not always the voice of God.”

P. P. S. Come over to L.A and I’ll show you a great time!

P. P. P. S. Our friend Randy says hello! We will be going to Vancouver
to feast our eyes on the colors of autumn. Wish you could join us.

P. P. P. P. S. The new Miss America, Angela Perez Baraquio, is of
Filipino ancestry. Dero, her parents hail from Pangasinan just like
you!
But keep in mind that she is an American (in case some wise fools over
there claim her to be Filipino like they always do whenever someone
becomes successful).

Wait for the girl to say it- don’t put words in her mouth!

P. P. P. P. P. S. Mabuhay kayo (SANA)!

P. P. P. P. P. P. S. Sa totoo lang, MAGDUSA KAYONG LAHAT! (Don’t you
just love my Waray-Kano accent?) He-he-he!
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