To feel proud, not only do you have to have a respectable attribute or achievement, you also have to have an audience or at least one other entity to compare yourself to. If a lone castaway is able to build a mansion in a desert island with his bare hands, he would not be able to experience the ‘high’ of being proud. As impressive as his feat is, because from his perspective there is neither a human audience nor a point of comparison, he would not reap the emotional benefits of feeling that he is exceptional and admirable.
To be proud of one’s country requires the same thing. If you are proud to be a Filipino, it is only because you are aware that there are non-Filipinos around the world that your country coexists and interacts with. You use the rest of the world as the audience or a point of comparison for you to feel proud. You look at your country and you see a respectable attribute or achievement, then you look at the rest of the world as the audience or a basis of comparison for that attribute/achievement, then you feel proud. That’s what it’s all about.
In Part 1, I likened the Philippines to a volleyball team that participates in a big tournament with more than a hundred other teams. The 100+ teams represent the 100+ other countries on earth. They are ‘the rest of the world’ that proud Filipinos use as an audience or basis of comparison for their country’s ‘respectable’ attributes and achievements.
It’s not necessarily a terrible thing to feel ‘high’ about your achievements, but when you over-feel and over-express it, it borders on that. This kind of over-feeling is common among people who look at pride 100% as a virtue and 0% as a ‘deadly sin’, and they happen to be the kind of people that the Philippines has no shortage of.
To these people, pride even trumps honesty as a virtue, otherwise they would be more honest about themselves and acknowledge that their team is only scoring points and not winning games. There’s too much pride and too little self-examination and awareness of what the other teams are achieving that scoring a point looks to them like clinching a quarterfinals berth and winning a set looks like a championship trophy. That’s the fallacy of pinoy pride. It’s a heartfelt pride, but it’s also a false pride. It is a heartfelt false pride. It’s like a poor teen showing off her new false teeth to her friends and classmates thinking that it would boost her image if they know that her family can afford to send her to a dentist and get a set of dentures. But the truth is it only shows how poor her dental hygiene is.
If you are a member of the pinoy pride club, you’re going to show off your false teeth like it’s an admirable asset. You’re going to ignore the respectable attributes and achievements of other countries as well as your own country’s under-achievements and bad overall attributes whenever you see your team scoring points.
The Philippines scores points with a few of its boxers and celebrities, but what the proud pinoy doesn’t seem to be aware of is that there are thousands of other famous and big-name athletes, celebrities and achievers out there in the world’s limelight and more than 99.9% of those people are not Filipino. And they have been producing individuals like that ever since the dawn of history. What then makes the Philippines a great country all of a sudden? What have we contributed? Just look at what this particular people contributed to the world, then look at this. Then look at what kind of breakthroughs the Filipinos have ever contributed for the benefit of the world.
I’ll give three sets for Manny Pacquiao, though, enough to win a match for the Philippines, but then it’s still just a match. The Philippines’ prowess in sports and world-class achievements are a far cry from what the Japanese, Europeans and Americans, even the Brazilians and Argentinians, have achieved. No Filipino has even won a single gold medal in the Olympics, yet we are one of the world’s most populous nations, with a current population of a hundred million. No Filipino basketball player has ever played in the NBA, yet the Philippines is the most basketball-crazy nation in the world, even holding the record of having the oldest professional basketball league in Asia. What does that have to say about Pacquiao, our teammate? He’s an achiever, for sure. But what does that have to say about the team? It’s an underachieving team that cannot get past the first round and blindly believes that for every point there is a trophy.
You look at your country and you see the pleasant and friendly faces of some of the local celebrities and beauty pageant representatives and you think, ‘Wow, the whole world must be in awe at how pleasant the personalities of my countrymen and women are’. But how about the pleasantness of Filipinos in general? Is your team really winning sets in that match? No. Your teammates are only scoring points, but your team as a whole is neither winning this match nor advancing to the next round.
Even the worst teams can score points. It’s not a big deal. What’s important is to win games as a team.
The general population of Kyrgyzstan is probably far more pleasantly faced than the general population of the Philippines. Their country is as obscure as you can get among all the nations on the entire planet. But look at that, they also can score points just like we do! In fact, they beat us in this very game of pleasantness and beauty which we are so proud of scoring a few points in. But it’s not only the Philippines that can score points. Most of the other countries are scoring too.
How about brains? Good, this girl we are sending to the Ms. Universe pageant is intelligent. One point scored. But what about the general Filipino population?
We’re very proud of the Philippines’ beautiful beaches. Granted, we score a point for every beautiful beach, tourist spot and scenery that the Philippines has, but it’s not as if the other countries don’t have world-class beaches and natural wonders of their own. They score points too in that regard. In fact, they beat us in how they maintain their beaches and natural sceneries. Our nature spots are beautiful not because of the Filipino but in spite of, or because of the non-intrusion of, the Filipino. If you haven’t noticed this, go ahead and take a vacation.
The Philippines scores points with a few of its beautiful sceneries, but how about the general scenery? How about the roads and the cities and the villages and the provinces filled with Filipinos? This country is only scoring points sporadically and it’s not advancing as a whole because the accumulated points are disproportionately low compared to the total number of points that this team is supposed to score taking into account the size of its population. The team isn’t really winning. Yet with each point scored the proud pinoys act like they’re the champion country. They over-feel the high.
Again we only feel proud to be Filipinos because there is an audience or a basis of comparison, which is the rest of the world. As an audience, they are not impressed with whatever delusional thing it is that we are proud of. As a basis of comparison, they are way up there and we are way down here celebrating every volleyball point like a soccer goal. If you’re still part of the pinoy pride club, renounce your membership now.