I Am Pissed Off: A Reply to Alexander Lacson
OK, what follows will be a rather offending rant.
Alexander Lacson, the author of “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country,” wrote a commentary piece for today’s Inquirer. While I’m not one to deprive Mr. Alex Lacson of an opinion, I am afraid I must offer a dissenting one. My belief is that Filipino pride is rested on prejudices; that while we Filipinos should be proud of the Philippines, we should be embarrassed at the way things are going.
I don’t know how to top Sparks’ entry regarding that commentary piece, but I do offer this paraphrase. I think that in my own little way, I can frame the anger and the disdain that I have personally experienced over the past year. It is by no means a pedantic, self-righteous sense of anger, but a subjective sense of it; a personal feeling of being wronged and deceived.
Please pardon – and take heed to – my paraphrase of your piece, Mr. Lacson. – Marocharim
One of the most important things we need today as a people is an ugly way of looking at ourselves as Filipinos, an embittered and angry – yes, emo – image of ourselves, a realistic definition of ourselves as a people. Our children especially need to believe that behind the greatness and beauty in us as a people and as a race, there is nothing more than filth and squalor that we should deride, resist, and fight.
So much filth and squalor can spring forth only from a generation aborted.
Loving ourselves as Filipinos is about patriotism and nationalism, not narcissism and delusion. There is a reason so obvious because of it. It is primarily about treason and betrayal. It is having what God has rightfully given us, only to be wrongly and deceitfully taken away from us. God gave to each of us the Filipino and the Philippines, for us to love and care for, but for others to take away from us. How is the Filipino in our hands today? How is the Philippines, the land God gave to us as a people, the land our heroes struggled and died for us, in our hands today?
It is for this reason that I paraphrased Alexander Lacson’s poem below. I give this paraphrased, reworded poem – and article – not for the sake of Filipinos, but for the sake of myself, to frame the anger I have for the System that governs this country. I write this for Alex Lacson.
It is my hope that this poem will help develop in Mr. Lacson – and consequently, the Filipino people – a healthy sense of what the heck is wrong with this country, and why we should fight. I cannot speak for the Creator, but I want us to have faith in and love for the Filipino, and why I, your run-of-the-mill average Filipino, am pissed off.
Here it is:
I am pissed off. I am a child of that one God, the one who created the world and the universe. For all my perfection and beauty as the Creator planned me to be, for all my image and likeness of the Lord, out of His perfect love, the very images and likenesses that so proclaim themselves as such allow me to starve.
Everyone says I am a beloved child of God, yet the rest of His beloved children see themselves more than the stars above, and step on the humanity of everyone else below. In theory, I have equal right and claim to all the beauty and bounty that God provided in my country and in the world. In practice, I do not farm my own land, I am overtaxed, and the fruit of my daily labor go only into the hands and the pockets of the rich, the landed, and the named.
I am not the equal of any member of humanity. I am therefore a slave to all the men and women of the world. I am Christian by virtue of offertories, Muslim by virtue of submission, Jew by virtue of Shylock’s justification, Buddhist by virtue of silence, and all other peoples whose faiths make them look for some place else for salvation.
I am pissed off. The Government planted me on a specific spot on Earth to land I cannot call my own, where the sun shines only on the crayon drawings made by children, in an archipelago of 7,107 islands which a good portion of the world – and itself – calls an embarrassment. The Philippines is the country God gave to me and my people, but is taken away by foreigners and people who proclaim themselves to be far more “Filipino” than I am. It is the birthplace of a race continually enslaved and controlled. The home of the Filipino is not this land, but a rusty shack found in this land where its children suffer from the indignity of “lugaw” and sardines.
The beauty and richness of my country lured many mighty powers of the world to invade our shores, outsource our youth, and give me every excuse to downplay my heritage. So today, my blood is infected with the AIDS of colonization and the hepatitis of domination. My mind is an heir of heritages that make me only a fraction of a Filipino, so that I can call myself “Spanish,” “Chinese,” or a hyphenated American. My heart beats with the passionate anger and disdain that knows no borders.
I cannot step into the shoes of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Juan Luna, Ninoy Aquino, and all those who fought for our freedom because I am still in chains; let alone have the gall and the temerity to compare myself to, and come into being as, a national hero. I have no self-serving motive to be a set of terraces for mango farming, environmental exploitation, pollution, and overbearing self-serving tourism.
I am, theoretically, a Filipino. My Creator’s plan was for me to love my life as a Filipino and therefore, in my heart and in my mind, I shall always be a subservient, obedient worker wherever I’m employed. They all want me to belong to the Filipino family so that I can be mocked for my people’s honest work as maids and construction workers and tech support agents, wherever they are on Earth.
You will know my by the word “po” in my sentences, my sign of eternal servitude to so-called “public servants” whenever I need money to pay for the burial of my relative or money for an operation. You will know my politicians for their “mano po” come pork barrel allocation days, where subservience and a lack of resistance will lead you to more money packed in paper bags. You will know me by the smile on my face and the warmth of my hospitality provided I can still buy Coke to go along with your modest merienda of Kropeck at my home. Most important of all, you will know me by my churning and groaning stomach when I am in need of help, which I cannot expect from strangers and books and blogs.
As a child of this land, there has been nothing but tragedy for me and my people. The fleeting portion of that beautiful story is my here-and-now, and I don’t want to die and be mourned by “sakla”-playing relatives to earn money for a proper funeral, before this supposedly great story unfolds.
I am Filipino. I am who I am today because I am sick and tired of the subservient role everyone wants me to play.
I am born to succeed, so say call center ads. The Government has equipped me, within me and around me, with all the essentials I need to get a job at call centers, McDonald’s, and stuff that require “English skills” and “with pleasing personality.” The highest, the best, and the most beautiful will not be for me, because that is a reward and a privilege only politicians with golf memberships can afford.
I am destined to be great, so says a dictator of forgotten times. I bank my national pride on boxers and Miss Universe candidates and billiards players, because the greatness of this nation has been ceded to boxing rings, modeling ramps, and pool halls.
I am Filipino. I am Constitutionally free in a country that, by virtue of a book, proclaims itself to be theoretically free. As such, I dedicate my freedom in the knowledge that I am chained to a prison of constant oppression, graft, and corruption. Because of my Government’s exemplary involvement in foreign affairs and ignorance of domestic affairs, I can fight for other people’s freedom but forget my own subservient serfdom in my own land.
I am born of love; while people continually invoke God, I am nothing more than the union of my parents’ gametes in a country and in a world that can only be decongested by contraception. Biology is the reason why I am here, and society is the reason why I’m being angry here. I was brought into a world of strife and anger, so strife and anger shall be who I am.
They say I’m part of the whole, yet I can think of many other different holes at work in this system. I was born not to question the answer, to answer the question, to problematize the solution. Every solution to the problem is considered “destabilization,” that destroys the hope of our people. I am born to sickness, starvation, malaise, and hopelessness that turns the very people who share my blood into people who move some place else; greatness, after all, is secondary only to the most important of human needs and human greed.
I am Filipino. I am a faithful child of God scorned and spurned by the State. I shall live my life to resist the order, to help build a beautiful country far departed from the land I see and experience, because we deserve a better world. And soon the world shall see the full force of my wrath as a Filipino, for truly the world – and my fellow Filipinos – has yet to see what me and my people experience every damn day. This child will grow up, and be faithful not to subservience and blind obedience, but to resistance and critical judgment.
I am pissed off.