Who wants to be a Filipino?
If you were to be reincarnated and given the choice, would you opt to be Filipino again? It was in 1998, at a Forum of students of top schools at the University of Asia and the Pacific, that I raised this question. As expected, everybody, except me, gave a resounding yes for an answer. Hypocrites! I could see from the way they talked, from the clothes they wore, from their ideas of what was good and beautiful, that even in this lifetime they were dying to camouflage their being Filipino. Thanks to Ralph Lauren, a colonial education and a "trying-hard" American accent. I told them that I want to be European, a Frenchman more specifically. Yes, Europe--with its rich history, solid identity, and all the luxury and elegance this world could offer. I have been there once for the world debates in Greece. But being Filipino, I was a disaster then. During socials, I would befriend the Jamaicans so I would stand out. But it was a wrong move because Jamaicans, notwithstanding their darker skin tone, are very secure with themselves. When I and fellow Filipinos were walking in downtown Athens, a young Greek approached our group and casually told us that he intended to go to the Philippines to f--k Filipinas. Then he kept on asking us: "How much are Filipinas?" Did he expect us to adore him because a fine European like him wanted to visit a country whose people they officially defined as Domestic Helpers? Or was he simply being mean? I wish he were just referring to the controversial brown biscuit. Hellish traffic, hellish climate, hell-sent politicians, gangsters in uniform, hoodlums in robe, massive unemployment, inhumane poverty, identity crisis, a tradition of mediocrity. Get real. Who would want to be Filipino? Maybe the Cojuangcos, the Sys, the Tans and the other demigods whose surnames do not sound Filipino at all. But this Yumul, no. My Uncle Jessie is lucky: he and the whole family migrated to the United States in the early 1970s, to...
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