On Being a Filipino

Writing 101 Day 19: Don’t Stop the Rockin’ 
Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

I am a Filipino. Proud to be one. But there are days when I wonder what being a Filipino really means to me.

A lot of conversations I’ve been having lately with my friends are on various issues afflicting this beautiful country. It indeed is a lovely place. A paradise with its rich natural resources, wonderful beaches, friendly people, delicious food, and everything you could ask for. Almost perfect. But to strike a balance, we also have flaws – corruption, poverty, unemployment, widening gap between the rich and the poor, dying ethnic cultures, lost values, environmental decay, unorganized transport system… Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. But it can really be frustrating. Frustrating. Hopeless. I’m sounding like an audio on repeat mode. I noticed myself blurting those words ever so often. Maybe because I’m trying so hard to understand what could be wrong. Is there even anything wrong to begin with or is it just me creating all the problems in my head.

I decided to be a teacher and teach for two years in the public school. Maybe that’s the start. To educate the young. That’s what I thought. After the experience, I got even more frustrated. A little hopeful to know that there are people like me trying to do something towards nation-building. But it’s depressing how poverty sneers at you, right up in your face. As you encounter these kids who barely have enough.

I recently bought a book by this Filipino author, Bob Ong.  Well, that’s just his pen name. We don’t know who he really is. If he’s a Filipino or even a person, we can’t tell. Could probably be a group of writers. The whole idea of the series of his books started from a website bobongpinoy which translates to “stupid Filipino.” Now beware, if you say anything negative about the Filipinos, cursing and persecution will be upon you. Filipinos can really be defensive. But Bob Ong’s honest, uncensored truth strikes a nerve. You can be offended, you can be hurt. But you also can’t help but nod and agree.

Like me, Bob Ong tried to make sense of what being a Filipino means. Is it really our culture? Is it merely an influence from all our colonizers? Is it just the way it is and you can’t do anything but to accept it. Our school paper adviser in college said we have identity crisis as a nation. With everything we’ve been through and with all the absurdity we have to deal with each day, sometimes it’s difficult to see who we really are. But I guess I am and will always be a Filipino no matter what.


Author: Ryan Bestre

Environmentalist. Teacher. Writer.

14 thoughts on “On Being a Filipino”

  1. Quite a frank article, ryanbestre! I think what you are facing as a nation is a universal theme. Let’s hope more and more people get aware and enlightened so as, even small, progress springs around!🔆

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I admire that you decided to go into teaching, I hope you do not get too frustrated. You hit upon good points — the sensitivity of Filipinos to being criticized, the ever present “pinoy pride”. Maybe because we have so many problems, so much poverty, pride is all we really have. I think collective pain from the oppression of colonization (and yes, religion), and the uber wealthy, who basically take on the role of colonizers, are part of our deep rooted problems.

    Despite living in the U.S. all these years, and serving in the U.S. military, like you, I am still Filipino, no matter what. And somehow, I have faith that we will figure it out. I hope sooner, than later. What choice do we have?

    Liked by 1 person

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