by: Pammy Macasaet 2012-57319
The Filipino culture I have learned is one that is a very vibrant and alive. It is a blend of many cultures that have come to our shores & rooted in our own native Filipino culture. Many scholars say that culture is constantly changing that is why it is very hard to define. While this is true, sometimes, it is not changing for the better. In some ways, I believe this is happening to Filipino culture. Filipinos tend to put more importance to foreign culture and things as compared to our own. Many foreign ideas and ways of thinking is what we, Filipinos believe will bring the country progress. However, this is a mistake because our culture is such a rich melting pot from which we can draw inspiration and ideas.
The parol of Pampanga is a mix of Filipino and Spanish culture. The Spanish introduced us to lanterns and their construction. The Filipinos then made use of indigenous materials and creativity to give it a “folk” touch. Aside from the form and aesthetic, it is the ritual behind the parol that Filipinos can draw from. There is a team effort in its correction. The community comes together to be able to fix the lights. If not, the lights will be all tangled. A group of people helping each other in order to reach the goal is a very beautiful thing. It proves that there is a sense of community in the area. I think in many places around the Philippines especially in Manila- there has been a loss of the sense of community. With the rise of capitalism and profit oriented mindset, it is has become every man for himself. The sense of community needs to be restored in Filipino culture. Helping one another and the realization that we as Filipinos are all connected is important for national progress and the improvement of the quality of life. I do not mean the kind of quality of life that comes out every year that ranks the best quality of life among countries. I mean the kind of quality of life where we can trust our neighbors. Like in Bataan, there is a store with no “tindera” just a cash box to drop the cash in. Take what you want and drop the amount into the box. The ease that comes to mind when the door is unlocked but it is fine because the neighborhood is safe. The feeling of being able to depend on the people around you and your community when you need help- all these come from a sense of community. This is not something new to our culture. It is innate in us and we just need to remember and recognize its importance in our lives.
The pastilla wrappers of Bulacan are a testament to the creativity of the Filipino people. In the most minute of details, creativity still abounds. The designs are meticulous and come in different varieties from the Barasoain church to the “Bulacan” girl. This attention to detail is something that Filipinos should apply to everything that they do. Many Filipinos have adopted a “bahala na” attitude or more famous among the youth, “bahala na si Batman” way of thinking. While once in awhile it is good to adapt the “yolo” (you only live once) way of thinking. Throwing everything to the wind is not good especially when there are goals that need to be achieved. Being meticulous in the smallest things actually helps things become more efficient and productive. If Filipinos did their job better, things in the Philippines would improve. For example a mayor who actually took the time out to see what his/her constituents really need instead of executing popular programs would see more satisfaction in his district. Another would be a street sweeper, if he/she really tried his best to pick up all the trash and sweep all the leaves, at least that area will be clean.
Those are just two examples. The amount of ideas and inspiration is boundless. I would like to relate the essay on vernacular architecture. The first steel building in Chicago was actually inspired by the Filipino bahay kubo! This proves that Filipino ideas and things are of excellent quality and born out of brilliant and intuitive minds. Many treat Filipino culture as secondary. The foreigner is always better. The foreigner is always right. That is simply not case- because there is no one who understands our culture more than ourselves! How can someone not of our culture come up with solutions that best suit us!
Another example of using our culture as a basis for solutions to our problems is the sense of bayanihan. This was mentioned in the paper on vernacular architecture. The community literally lifts an entire bahay kubo and moves it to where the owner wants to place it. As mentioned earlier, this sense of community will help to improve the lives of everyone.
I believe the first step in helping to keep culture alive is recognizing its value and importance. I am glad that these groups chose to report about this aspects of Philippine culture. This proves that our appreciation is still alive. But it should not stop there, there are many aspects of Philippine culture that need to be appreciated more- our language, Filipino. Like what Jose Rizal said, “Ang hindi marunong mag-mahal sa sariling wika ay mas malansa pa sa mabaho na isda!” The Filipino language is extremely important because it reveals what we as Filipinos give importance to. For example, for the word rice, we have different terms- palay (for the stalk), bigas (uncooked rice), kanin (cooked rice). This alone tells us of our country’s love for rice and its agricultural history! Other aspects of culture are the level of talent that Filipinos have in so many arts & crafts! Filipinos are known for sword making. During pre-colonial times, the panday (blacksmith who makes swords) was one of the most resepected and important positons in a barangay. The Philippines have all kinds of swords from the balisong to the kris! Another point I would like to make is that people often mistake culture as something “outside” of their daily lives. It is visiting museums or watching plays and shows. However, culture is not something outside of our daily lives. It was a point made my Marchel Duchamp when he took the male urinal and displayed it. The male urinal is something so common in our daily lives and when he took this and displayed it. People found it weird. He was saying that many of the objects displayed in museums are like the male urinal. They were actually a part of daily life. This is proof that culture is not outside of daily life! That is why when looking for inspiration in our culture. We look to ourselves. The way we eat together as a family reveals our values of family and friendship, the resilience we have during storms these are all places where we can draw ideas and solutions to the Philippine’s problems.
The importance of looking at one’s own culture should always be emphasized. Not only for the sake of national pride, but for the recognition that our culture is relevant and beautiful. Furthermore, it is, I believe, the greatest source of ideas and inspiration for the solutions to our problems. Only when we, Filipinos begin to look into ourselves will we find what we need in order to move forward.