Lessons from
the “Little Brown American”

I came across this very interesting article about an Americanized Filipino last night. It was a disparaging article about the Philippines, and understandably, a lot of people weighed in their comments (as we speak, there are almost 300 comments on the post). There was this long-standing verbal war between a Philippine Star columnist and his ex-friend which stemmed from a private conversation which should not have gone online and viral. But sadly, it did. It was at the expense of what could have been a good friendship between columnist and sad target of online bullying.

My husband was asking me to tell me what I think of the article. To be quite honest, I was not butt hurt by the claims of “Nasty”. I am not that onion-skinned that I will blindly consider this country as perfect. Far from it. I have my own fair share of disillusionment from here, and I have posted about it intermittently.

Most of his observations were actually accurate and factual. A lot of people reacted on his harsh manner of cursing the Filipinos who remain in this country. But I went past that; I moved past the obvious fact that it was dripping with bitterness. It is just clear to me that for the people who remain in this country, even if it is “a sinking ship,” there is a huge challenge to make the most of whatever is in here. I go more for substance than affectations. I really believe that someone who would get that much pain from the country is someone who, at a certain point, actually had so much love and it was made futile by his own circumstances. His pain spoke more palpably for me than the venom in his manner of disparaging the Filipinos. 

Ironically, I was so encouraged after reading some of the comments in the article. I saw some really smart Filipinos who pitched in without criticizing the embittered “brown American” and took it as constructive criticism. There were not many of them but out of the 200+ there were around 10-15 comments that I agree with wholeheartedly. Yes, I actually read everything there.

This country hates confrontation and you’d be a bitch for seeing things for what they are and saying them out loud. It was very interesting to see this article because I felt most of the claims pitched in there. Nothing that he said felt new to me. In fact, I have gotten quite used to it already and I just continue to resolve to contribute to making it better in my own small ways.

I think in the end what matters more is that I did my best and I did not give up. And if there are more people who decide to do that in here, it will be nice. The country needs more heart and intelligence. The mere fact that I am still floating and working my ass off day in and day out means that there is still something right going on. Reading the comments showed me that I am not alone in my opinion and decision to stay here and work here. My decision to stay transforms me on a daily basis. Even when you are on a sinking ship, you can just choose to grab as many life boats as you can and save as many people as humanely possible. It’s the hand we are dealt with.

I really believe that we are assigned in certain countries because we can make good with whatever skills or personalities we have to make it better. It does not matter so much if other people have an advantage to start prosperously. It’s their advantage and I cannot be anything else but happy for them. I do know that working from the very bottom also provides certain treasures that you cannot find when you have a silver spoon on your mouth from the day you were born. As a person who grew up in modest accommodations, I would know this firsthand.

 

I have my horrible days here and I feel like everything is meaningless, as previously posted. But the disillusionment fades, as with most feelings once I am done with a blog post. And what remains is the commitment and the decision which I continue to stand by.  I am here because I want to contribute life boats to a sinking ship, even if it’s just with a blog or making maps that matter or helping in flood control or disaster management with programming or simply just being a fairly good daughter or wife. I do not need medals for what I do; seeing something so bad made a bit better, even by just a tiny bit, is enough reward in itself. 

People here hate it when you go the extra mile. They see it as a threat. But everyone should keep on and be excellent. This country needs more people willing to do the extra work that the others have decided to leave behind. Once I arrived at this realization, no personal crisis was able to stop me from doing the work assigned to me. I wish I had this realization sooner. I could have done so much more if I had this realization really early. But it is still not too late; I have ventures, assigned and personally instigated projects that aim to just do it and make things better with all my might. 

I guess I am a really strange woman for being happy. I am not happy with the sad article. But I am happier with the comments of people who remind me that even if sometimes it really feels extremely undermanned, I am not alone. 🙂