Monday, September 6, 2010

When disappointment becomes frustration

I just got blasted on Facebook from a one-line comment expressing my views on the Philippines in light of the recent HK tourist bus crisis. Admittedly, my comment can cause some outrage because of its bluntness and lack of detail. "I'm sorry, but the Philippines is seriously pissing me off." But, this comment is not without backing and truth.

With all the hubbub around this, who wouldn't be pissed off? The government failed, the police showed how incompetent they were, the president looking so weak, his staff self-serving. It uncovered the system's rotten core and inability in dire times. Post-crisis, there were fingers being pointed, no one stepped up to the plate. Then there is the news that the gunman getting a hero-like funeral send off with a draped flag on his casket?! And how about mixing up the bodies of the victims and unravelling this only once they arrived in their respective funeral homes in HK? Blunder after blunder. No one did anything to redeem themselves or the country after everything was over. Then come the "gore tourists" and police officers who start taking photos of themselves in front of the bus with big smiles like it was some sort of tourist destination. How ironic would it be if they made that into a postcard and had "Wish You Were Here" plastered all over it. How disgracefully insensitive! All these, one after the other, plunging the country's reputation even further, uncovering the rotten flesh festering under a seemingly paradisiacal facade WOW Philippines has painted. I just hope that these events would serve as a big jolt, a wake up call for those in power to do something. Not save their asses, not save face, not to accumulate more money, not to point fingers, but to really implement change that the country needs. It would most likely be drastic changes, tough love, but, as they say, spare the rod spoil the child. And the Philippines is one big hell of a child.

The recent sad events were more like the final trigger for me to publicly express my annoyance towards the country. I am usually very careful as to what I post online because I am not a confrontational person. I know that very passionate, direct and piercing points of view garner a whole lot of negative attention. Not wanting to deal with those, I usually let out my steam privately. I've had experiences with Filipinos being ignorant and narrow-minded. It doesn't really matter that I was born in the Philippines, I am always considered Chinese (and proud to be so). So, I consider myself as such. I identify more with other Southeast Asian Chinese than Filipinos. Filipinos are very racist and would be so low as to make schoolboy taunts about their stereotypes on the Chinese. I remember being the only Chinese girl at a supposedly multinational company in a sales/marketing meeting. Everyone ganged up on me, asking the most asinine questions regarding my race. From chopsticks to martial arts. I was put into the hot seat by people who are supposed to be professional and educated. I was not in any power to say anything, as the big boss was in it as well. And one wonders why I only stayed there for 3 months. The most recent encounter I had of racism was here in PNG from a Filipino waitress. Since I ordered in Filipino, we got to talking. I said I was born in the Philippines and she asked how come I didn't look Filipino. I clarified this by saying I was purely Chinese. Then she started going on about how I must live in Chinatown since I'm Chinese and how there are a lot of Chinese there. This completely appalled me. Why in the world would you infer that I live in Chinatown just because I'm Chinese? Although this really annoyed me, I'm a pretty calm person. I said I don't live in Chinatown and just carried on with my meal, not blowing my top. Don't get me wrong, I have many awesome Filipino friends who are very good people. I get along with them very well and have shared years of friendship. I don't like to generalise and I don't think the mistakes of a few should be paid for by the whole nation. But encountering these things from the same group of people makes it a bit hard to do so.

The Philippines to me, essentially, is just a country I happened to be born in, where my family is and where my friends are. I really have no strong feelings towards it. I never in my life really got inclined into saying I'm Filipino because it doesn't make sense to say that I am one when its people seem to not accept me and mine fully anyway. Why force it when I don't identify. I would say that I am from the Philippines, but it's hard for me to say that I am Filipino. I'm just not. Now, Filipino-Chinese, that's a whole other banana. I always hear about this inculturation thing, it's a big fat illusion, a mirage of unity.

In a sense, I still cared for how the country is perceived in the world's eyes. Why else would I get so worked up about them making a fool of themselves? My identity is still tied to the fact that I was born in the country and spent most of my life there. I am still from the Philippines, I can't deny that. As much as the country frustrates me, I'm all for its development and success. When the government doesn't prove itself worthy of the democracy it is proud of, it should call upon itself to do better, make proper changes and aim for development. Take the criticisms, don't hide behind excuses and play victim. Before Noynoy (the president) ran for office, a huge percentage already knew he was going to win. He embodied the hope and change that the citizens aspired for. To me, he was like the Filipino Obama because he inspired the people come together, but it also seemed to me like he was only a figurehead and symbol of all that. As sad as this event was, he should take this opportunity to prove himself to be what the people saw him as and voted him for, not just a symbol but a driver of change.

The Philippines has already been perceived in a bad light worldwide, even before this hostage crisis took place. Although this was a one-off thing, it was enough to uncover the incapacities the government has, and on the world stage at that! The government has to fix itself up and it should be done now. Because if not now, I don't think the country can afford another humiliation.

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