08 October 2007

For Love of Manny (pun intended!)

I stepped out into a busy part of town yesterday, the day of the Pacquiao-Barrera fight, and let me tell you: It was barren! Save for Christmas eve, or the wee hours of the morning, it was the most desolate I have ever seen the city. (yes, I have pics...I will post them as soon as I get them out of my brother's camera).

It is uncanny how we Filipinos, so polarized as a nation mostly by the provinces we hail from, can stand united for...a boxing event. Well, okay, it was not a mere boxing bout, it was the embodiment of the Filipino spirit, the fact that one of us is a global sensation. Ah yes, it was all about the respect, the honor and of course, we wanted to see if a Filipino could stand up to yet another Mexican, another "Kastila". Ouch, huh?

Personally, I don't get it.

We wage wars on each other down South, we cheat each other out of a few pesos, we sell dishonest products to our countrymen, and yet we suddenly band together for nothing more than a boxing match? To date, it is probably the single most adhering factor for us as Filipinos, on a massive nationwide scale. Mind you, I live in the burbs of Luzon, and it was a spectacle. Sunday is usually Family "pasyal" day, and it did not feel or look the least like it.

A friend of mine recently told me of how his sister was duped out of $25 in Canada by a fellow pinoy who was into money lending. The amount was supposed to be some sort of "processing fee". She was never granted the loan, for no apparent reason, and the $25 was never returned. Imagine already being in dire straits and having your last penny taken from you. My friend's sister is a doctor.

When I was in Singapore recently, I took fancy in a small device that could play music, videos and take pictures. It was called a portable media player. I liked it because its LCD size was larger than that of most other devices available out there, being a wonderful 4 inches. I employed my usual untrusting method of shopping by looking for a warranty, seeing the device and co-relating every claim and promise the vendor verbally described against that outlined on
the user's manual. I suddenly caught myself when I noticed that my demeanor was visibly insulting the lady behind the counter. It was then that I remembered that I was not in the Philippines (or Hong Kong, for that matter!) and that I needed to lay off on this poor lady. I was operating on shopping auto-pilot mode, but different rules applied here, for my settings were configured for a different environment.

I couldn't be blamed if I were elsewhere, though. I mean, how many times have we been duped in our own backyards? Honestly, I bet you have your own story to tell.

Why can't we be more like the Japanese, who reserve the very best items for their own country's internal consumption? They keep the best and import the best. Sure, they are a rich country, but why do we have to short-change ourselves when we already have the very best to begin with. We give them our very best okra, nata de coco, onions, chicken, coffee, footwear, marble, garments, jewelry, precious stones, furniture, wood, fruits, patis, cocoa, chocolate, pineapples or honey. We don't even keep the best for ourselves. (You know who you are!)

Believe me, I have seen and tasted some of our products for export and they are miles ahead of what we see in our local groceries and shops.

Where then, is our national pride? Where is our love of country? What about our love of self? At least that. Where is it? Without love of country, how can we claim to love ourselves?

Mga kababayan (OMG, even that term smacks of regionalism), My fellow Filipinos! Let's start that change we have all been yearning for! Let's start with a change in ourselves, let's start by loving our country!
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Manny! I just wish it would take not just Manny to let us, at least sometimes, stand up and cheer another Filipino on.

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