Having run out of new books to read, I picked through dusty shelves for something to rediscover. And there it was, a slender little book in sunset shades of orange and gold.
During a black period of deadly assassinations, character assassination, attention-calling crimes, political divisiveness (elections bring out some of the worst in us – why?), and escalating inflation, I found Alex Lacson’s 2012 book, 12 Wonderful Things about the Filipino and our Motherland.
Immediately running through the 12 chapter headings, I was momentarily interrupted by a TV ad coming out loud and clear. Sara Duterte’s commercial for her vice presidential bid, in which she announces the message, “Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas.” Swak, I thought, a swell aha! moment.
Author Lacson’s 12 beautiful things that underpin what he calls faith in the Filipino (with minor revisions for reasons of style and space):
- We are blessed with a home, a country naturally rich and beautiful.
- We are compassionate human beings.
- We are the happiest, friendliest in the world.
- Heroes and good Samaritans, that’s what we are.
- We respect other people’s beliefs; we are open-minded.
- Our people have great talent.
- Honest, hardworking, resilient, respectful, we have heart.
- We’re global citizens.
- With a wonderful sense of family, we care for young and old.
- The Filipina is beautiful, free, and accomplished.
- Peace-loving, we are innately nonviolent and freedom-loving.
- As a people of faith, Filipinos lead others to God.
Sometime around the publication of Lacson’s book, a young Korean studying in Manila was quoted as saying that it seemed to him – and perhaps other foreigners – that Filipinos do not love their country. Maybe not enough. In 1987, an article in a US magazine concluded that ours was a “damaged culture.” Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew opined that Filipinos have too much democracy and too little discipline, a remark that drew a rebuke from then President FVR.
From the list, nos. 3, 5, and 11 appear to be the most relevant as the political campaign goes into high gear. High means hot – tempers are short, words are hurled to hurt and divide, civility is out the window. Are the candidates even respectful of the positions they aspire to fill?