Web Article: The Philippines – Quest for National Identity (Words in the Bucket)

The history of the Philippines has been permeated by foreign influences, namely Spain, the United States and Japan. The centuries-old colonization introduced a lot of  deadweight, a type of excess baggage in the Philippines’ understanding of itself. The quest for self-identity has been pervasive, making it difficult for Filipinos to carve out their identity in the world. In his article entitled “The Unfinished Evolution: Towards a Filipino Consciousness,” Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. tackles the issues and challenges that Filipinos face in reckoning with their identity as a nation, and offers penetrating perspectives on how to overcome this.

Deadweight produced by colonialism

The arrival of colonizers produced a lot of disadvantages for the Philippines. The colonizers fragmented the colony as much as possible in order to achieve opportunistic control. For example, de Leon refers to how higher education in the Philippines was designed by the Americans in such a way that it produced narrow specialists of their respective fields, molding people who are oblivious to the issues and ills of society and of their fellow men. As a result, students failed to fully grasp the reality that is oftentimes impregnated by a wide spectrum of disciplines, thus, paving the way to individualism.

The author also accurately points out the greater malady of the Filipino community – alienation from their own culture and community because of self-abhorrence. de Leon called this the “Doña Victorina Syndrome”, based on  a socialite character in Filipino Jose Rizal’s classic work, Noli Me Tangere. The colonial influence appears to have led Filipinos to the wrong thinking and understanding that any foreigner is superior and that any local is inferior. As a result of this low self-esteem, many Filipinos have fallen into self-contempt and indulgence in the notion that anything that is good must be foreign, whether they be goods, concepts, approaches, services, techniques, among many more.

The quest for Filipino identity through the arts

de Leon’s proposed solution is to have Filipinos undergo a healing process and an evolutionary quest for self-identity through the arts. Art has served humanity from time immemorial, presenting itself as a looking glass into a society’s innermost core, touching  [society’s] way of being and consciousness and revealing its deep-seated cultural norms and values. Further, art is a powerful tool that helps Filipinos more fully appreciate who they are and what they have. As de Leon said, “people can only be united by the things they love, and divided by the things they hate.”

The full article can be accessed at https://www.wordsinthebucket.com/the-philippines-quest-for-a-nations-self-identity


Published originally on 1 June 2018 at Words in the Bucket

Words In The Bucket is a team of global citizens with the common goal of raising awareness and information about issues related to human rights protection, social inclusion, development and environment. They are “Rethinking World Thinking”.

Photo by Kai Lehmann from flickr

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