In one of the interviews of Liza Soberano as a cast of a Philippine television series, “Bagani”, a “show inspired by pre-colonial Philippines”, she was asked of why she was worthy of being part of the series. Her answer made an impact and a self- reflection to some Filipinos of what is the definition of Filipino-ness. She said, “I am a Filipino too, I eat sinigang” (Rappler, 2018). Will the consumption of Filipino food make the people part of the Philippine nation? Is patronizing Filipino products enough to be identified with the country? Are the millennial expressions of Philippine nationhood the appropriate ways of being identified with the nation? These are some questions that came into mind when heard of that statement. It is important to know and to understand how a person can truly identify with the nation and how a person can express his nationalism for the country rightfully. Filipino-ness is the state of being part of the Philippine nation.
It is the identification with the country and the qualifications of being considered as a Filipino (Mulder, 2012). Nationhood is “the state of being an independent nation” from the assistance and help of other countries (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Nationalism is “a patriotic feeling, principles or efforts of political independence for the country”.
Nationalism is different from nationhood, as some people mistook the latter from the former. Nationalism is a feeling towards the country and the resulting actions brought by that feeling. Nationhood, on the other hand, is a state of a country having an independence and an identity. A concrete and established definition of Filipino-ness and nationhood among Filipinos is greatly significant.
This will result in a united Philippines, independent from cultural assistance of other nations. This can be achieved by Filipino citizens having one being, one culture and one identity, through one established and concrete expression of Filipino-ness and the love for the country. This can be a distinguishing factor of the Philippines from other nations. This is significant because it plays a huge part in shaping a person and his experiences, views and opinions that will make a Filipino stand out from other nation’s citizens.
The youth is the hope of the nation. They can greatly influence other Filipinos. The millennials, which “form the largest population group globally” (Talreja et al.
), sets the trends in fashion, language and food and they can also set and influence the other generations of their beliefs and ideologies. However, wrong influenced beliefs may result to wrong actions and misapprehension from the recipient of influence. That is why it is important for the Filipino millennials to understand the right and appropriate expression of their Filipino-ness and not just in “little-traditional forms”, as Niels Mulder (2012) termed it, but by having the appropriate definition of Filipino-ness and nationhood. The essence of being a Filipino is in the characteristics and actions of a person. This was acknowledged by Ceramic (n.d.
) in his paper, “What is the essence of being a Filipino?” She claims that Filipinos are the most hospitable people in the world. They even greet strangers and welcome them wholeheartedly. Filipinos respect their elders by using “po” and “opo” and they greet them by blessing the hands of the elders or what they term as “mano”. Ceramic believed that the true essence of being a Filipino is seen just by eating Filipino cuisines. They are also supportive to other Filipinos and they know and sing the national anthem. They still laugh even when they have problems.
Filipinos practice “Bayanihan” which is helping fellow Filipinos in time of need. Some of these identifications of Filipino-ness and the essence of being a Filipino are superficial. Consumption of Filipino cuisines does not clearly distinguish a Filipino. A Korean who does not reside in the Philippines, not part of the Philippine nation, does not know the Filipino national language, but loves and eats Filipino cuisines such as Adobo and Sinigang, is not immediately considered a Filipino. In addition, characteristics and tradition do not solely define a Filipino but can be considered as manifestations of being a Filipino.
Lim (2014) rejected in his article, entitled “What does it mean to be a Filipino?”, the idea of appearance as the biggest factor for being a Filipino such as being kayumanggi and having a flat nose. He claims that a Filipino is a contributor of his/her “diverse background and experiences” to the Philippine society. Filipino-ness is defined in his/her experiences as part of the nation such as difficulties, sufferings and joy.
This is certain because the millennials are the generation of the product of Filipino and a foreigner marriage resulting to mix cultures of new generations (Ocampo, 2018), therefore, some Filipinos nowadays are white skinned and have pointed nose. So, appearance does not greatly contribute to the Filipino-ness. Bumalo (2016) defines a Filipino as a part of a family who supports one another including those who are strangers to them. He agreed with Ceramic (n.
d.) that a Filipino is a part of a wonderful culture such as amazing foods, diverse language and a beautiful homeland. Filipinos love each other despite each other’s flaws. Part of Bumalo’s assertion is not observed in the Filipinos nowadays. Filipinos often criticize one another.
This can be seen in the different administrations that have passed in the country. They always seek to find faults in their leaders. President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in one his delivered speech in Jerusalem, that Filipinos are hard to please and to satisfy. He considered the Filipinos themselves as a problem. Whatever he does, there will always be criticism from Filipinos (Placido, 2018). Nine college students¬, comprised of three freshmen, three juniors, and three seniors, of University of the Philippines Extension Program in Pampanga, who are considered as millennials, were asked of their viewpoint of what is Filipino-ness or Filipino identity and how they can be identified with the nation.
They are chosen conveniently as the representative of the greater population of the millennials to see their viewpoint on the said topic. Filipino nationhood, for the millennials, is unity among Filipinos. It is being at one with their fellow citizens in exhibiting love for the nation, having one goal which is the common good. They equate it with love for the country that can be shown in the willingness to protect the nation from colonization.
They described it as a feeling of belongingness to their birth land, the Philippines. Some millennials assume that there are few Filipino people exhibiting these characteristics at the present time. Millennials have several ways of expressing their identification with the Philippines. One of these is by being proud of their Filipino roots, of who they are now and their nationality. They identify with their nation when they speak the national language and support fellow countrymen in international competitions such as sporting events and pageants.
They were born and reside in the Philippines, their motherland, so, they can identify with it. They are also a part of a society who does the same tradition, therefore, they can relate with the nation. The millennials defined a Filipino by his/her love for the culture and roots whether that person was born in the Philippines or a foreigner who fell in love with the Filipino culture and decided to be fully pledged Filipino. Does love for the culture the only identification of a Filipino? A Filipino is also characterized by his sense of humor and optimism.
Even though problems and natural calamities may come, a Filipino is still in all smiles. “Even with the endless complaints, they are still hard-working and persevering,” one of the respondents said. Some of the millennials asserted that a Filipino is defined by his/her love for their country, despite its flaws and current situation through different aspects such as warmth support of Original Pilipino Music and patronization of local brands and foods. A remarkable answer of one of the respondents is that a true Filipino is engaged and involved in the “country’s national issues.”Some of these forms are considered “little-traditional” ways.
It is not enough to learn the national language of the country to be identified with it. A foreigner who has studied and learnedthe Filipino language does not immediately make him/her a Filipino citizen. It is also not enough for a person residing in a country for several years to be considered a Filipino, when he/she does not even involve himself/herself in the affairs of the state.
It is also insufficient to just possess the characteristics of a Filipino. A person may be hospitable, loving and caring, optimistic, resilient, and all smiles, but may be a citizen of Korea. Millennials express their love for the nation by patronizing and supporting local products by helping the nation and by being part of the change that will benefit fellow Filipinos and the country. Another expression of them is by studying the country’s economic matters and aspects to think of ways to make the country better and finding solutions that would benefit the country in the future. He/she thinks critically and involves himself in the society. A Filipino’s love for the country compels him/her to fight for his/her country.
Letting his/her opinions be heard by fighting for what is just and right for the country.These may be rightfully seen as appropriate expressions of love for the nation. A Filipino should involve himself/herself in the country by studying its economic, political and cultural affairs and matters. It is also significant to let the voice of every Filipino, being part of the whole, be heard because they can contribute to the current matters of the state.
A true Filipino is engaged in the Philippine society, actively participating in its spirit of nationalism. Nationalism for the Filipino heroes such as Andres Bonifacio and the Illustrados means opposing and fighting colonialism in their beloved nation (Drona, 2010). They fight for Philippine political independence through bloody revolution or through “ink and pen.” Nationalism for the previous generations meant a defense and a protection from imperialism. It is expressed through their opposition to policies that may possibly “harm the interests of the Filipino people.” A Filipino studies the economy critically as his/her way of actively participating in the nation and being part of the society.
The essence of nationalism is seen through the life of a Filipino. Drona (2010) quoted Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi in his article when he said, “Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin.” He emphasized the importance of nationalism in nation-building. A Filipino makes him/her part of the Philippine nation because of his/her shared and common experiences with the nation. He/she knows the history of the nation and learns from its mistakes and improve and enhance its ways of victories. Sympathy, not apathy, is manifested in him/her.
He/she involves himself and takes part in the current matters of the state, “engages in the country’s national issues,” as one respondent said. He is not self-centered and individualistic but makes his/her life and lifestyle a part of the whole Philippine society (Mulder, 2013), the life of the nation, because he/she loves his country. He/she is a part of the nation so when something happened to it, like a destruction, calamity, celebration of: independence, the state and “the spirit of nationalism” (Mulder, 2012), he/she is greatly affected and does something about it. He/she is being an active citizen, not passive. His/her culture is one with the nation.
The love for the country will just follow with the essence of being a Filipino. Patronizing local products, learning the language and taking it by heart are just manifestations of the Filipino-ness of a person along with the characteristics of a Filipino such as hospitality, strong family ties, sense of humor, politeness and strong work ethic. However, a Filipino is not close-minded. He/she is open to new ideas and improvements from other nations but still retaining his established Filipino-ness.
It is important to identify and determine if the ways of expressing Filipino-ness are the appropriate forms and the right expressions of identification with the nation. As Apolinario Mabini said, there should be a radical change, not just in the institutions, but in every minds of the Filipino people and their lifestyle to have an established Filipino nation. Revolution does not only happen physically, man to man, but also happens internally, man to self (Drona, 2010). Filipino mindset should be radically changed in a way that a Philippine nationhood may be established. Identification with the nation, as a Filipino, is important for it plays a huge part in shaping a person and his/her experiences. It shapes a person’s views and opinions.
It is important because it signifies belongingness to a nation and being part of a society who has one culture, one identification with the nation and one being. A Filipino citizen brings the name of the country everywhere he/she goes. It is of importance that a Filipino citizen does his/her rightful duty to bring honor to his/her country. A concrete and established definition and expression of Filipino-ness may result to unity among Filipinos, having one being, one culture and one identity, that can establish a sufficient Filipino nationhood.
That is why it is important to have a right mindset and understanding of identification with the country.