The Philippines Through the Eyes of a Foreigner

I want to share with you an article, forwarded to me by email this morning.  Quitea long read, but worth your while (especially if you are a Filipino…).

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The Philippines Through the Eyes of a Foreigner
By Barth Suretsky
Atin Ito Philippine NewsFeature April 2007

My decision to move to Manila was not a precipitous one. I used to work in New York as an outside agent of Philippines Air Line, and have been coming to the Philippines since August, 1982. I was so impressed with the country, and with the interesting people I met, some of whom have become very close friends to this day, that I asked for and was granted a year’s sabbatical from my teaching job in order to live in the Philippines

I arrived here on August 21, 1983, several hours after Ninoy Aquino was shot, and remained here until June of 1984. During that year I visited many parts of the country, from as far north as Laoag to as far south as Zamboanga, and including Palawan. I became deeply immersed in the history and culture of the archipelago, and an avid collector of tribal antiquities from both northern Luzon and Mindanao.

In subsequent years I visited the Philippines in 1985, 1987, and 1991, before deciding to move here permanently in 1998. I love this country, but not uncritically, and that is the purpose of this article. First, however, I will say that I would not consider living anywhere else in Asia, no matter how attractive certain aspects of other neighboring countries may be.

To begin with, and this is most important, with all its faults, the Philippines is still a democracy, more so than any other nation in Southeast Asia . Despite gross corruption, the legal system generally works, and if ever confronted with having to employ it, I would feel much more safe trusting the courts here than in any other place in the surrounding countries.

The press here is unquestionably the most unfettered and freewheeling in Asia , and I do not believe that is hyperbole in any way ! And if any one thing can be used as a yardstick to measure the extent of the democratic process in any given country in the world, it is the extent to which the press is free.

Nevertheless, the Philippines is a flawed democracy, and the flaws are deeply rooted in the Philippine psyche. I will elaborate. The basic problem seems to me, after many years of observation, to be national inferiority complex, a disturbing lack of pride in being Filipino.

Toward the end of April I spent eight days in Vietnam , visiting Hanoi , Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). I am certainly no expert on Vietnam , but what I saw could not be denied : I saw a country ravaged as no other country has been in this century by thirty years of continuous and incredibly barbaric warfare.

When the Vietnam War ended in April, 1975, the country was totally devastated. Yet in the past 25 years the nation has healed and rebuilt itself almost miraculously ! The countryside has been replanted and reforested. Hanoi and HCMC have been beautifully restored.

The opera house in Hanoi is a splendid restoration of the original, modeled after the Opera in Paris , and the gorgeous Second Empire Theatre, on the main square of HCMC is as it was when built by the French a century ago.

The streets are tree-lined, clean, and conducive for strolling. Cafes in the French style proliferate on the wide boulevards of HCMC. I am not praising the government of Vietnam, which still has a long way to travel on the road to democracy, but I do praise, and praise unstintingly, the pride of the Vietnamese people.

It is due to this pride in being Vietnamese that has enabled its citizenry to undertake the mi racle of restoration that I describe above.

When I returned to Manila, I became so depressed that I was actually physically ill for days thereafter. Why ? Well, let’s go back to a period when the Philippines resembled the Vietnam of 1975. It was 1945, the end of World War II, and Manila, as well as many other cities, lay in ruins.

As a matter of fact, it may not be generally known, but Manila was the second most destroyed city in the entire war; only Warsaw was more demolished.

But to compare Manila in 1970, twenty five years after the end of the war, with HCMC, 25 years after the end of its war, is a sad exercise indeed. Far from restoring the city to its former glory, by 1970 Manila was well on its way to being the most tawdry city in Southeast Asia. And since that time the situation has deteriorated alarmingly.

We have a city full of street people, beggars, and squatters. We have a city that floods sections whenever there is a rainstorm, and that loses electricity with every clap of thunder. We have a city full of potholes, and on these unrepaired roads we have traffic situation second to none in the the world for sheer unmanageability.

We have rude drivers, taxis that routinely refuse to take passengers because of “many traffic !” The roads are also cursed with pollution spewing buses in disreputable states of repair, and that ultimate anachronism, the jeepney !

We have an educational system that allows children to attend schools without desks or books to accommodate them. Teachers, even college professors, are paid salaries so disgracefully low that it’s a wonder that anyone would want to go into the teaching profession in the first place.

We have a war in Mindanao that nobody seems to have a clue how to settle. The only policy to deal with the war seems to be to react to what happens daily, with no long range plan whatever. ; I could go on and on, but it is an endeavor so filled with futility that it hurts me to go on. It hurts me because, in spite of everything, I love the Philippines

Maybe it will sound simplistic, but to go back to what I said above, it is my unshakable belief that the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino.

A friend once remarked to me, laconically : “All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino.”

That statement would appear to be a rather simplistic one, and perhaps it is. However, I know one Filipino who refuses to enter a theater until the national anthem has stopped being played because he doesn’t want to honor his own country, and I know another one who thinks that history stopped dead in 1898 when the Spaniards departed. While it is certainly true that these represent extreme examples of national denial, the truth is not a pretty picture.

Filipinos tend to worship, almost slavishly, everything foreign. If it comes from Italy or France it has to be better than anything made here. If the idea is American or German it has to be superior to anything that Filipinos can think up for themselves. Foreigners are looked up to and idolized.

Foreigners can go anywhere without question. In my own personal experience, I remember attending recently an affair at a major museum here. I had forgotten to bring my invitation. But while Filipinos entering the museum were checked for invitations, I was simply waived through. This sort of thing happens so often here that it’s just accepted as routine.

All of these things, the illogical respect given to foreigners simply because they are not Filipinos, the distrust and even disrespect shown to any homegrown merchandise, the neglect of anything Philippine, the rudeness of taxi drivers, the ill manners shown by many Filipinos are all symptomatic of a lack of self love, of respect for and love of the country in which they were born, and worst of all, a static mind-set in regard to finding ways to improve the situation.

Most Filipinos, when confronted with evidence of governmental corruption, political chicanery, or gross exploita tion on the part of the business community, simply shrug their shoulders, mutter “bahala na,” and let it go at that.

It is an oversimplification to say this, but it is not without a grain of truth to say that Filipinos feel downtrodden because they allow themselves to feel downtrodden. No pride.

One of the most egregious examples of this lack of pride, this uncaring attitude to their own past, is the wretched state of surviving architectural landmarks in Manila and elsewhere. During the American period, many beautiful and imposing buildings were built, in what we now call the “art deco” style (although incidentally, that was not contemporary term; it was coined only in the 1960s). These were beautiful edifices, mostly erected during, or just before, the Commonwealth period.

Three, which are still standing, are the Jai Alai Building, the Metropolitan Theater, and the Rizal Stadium. Fortunately, due to the truly noble efforts of my friend John Silva, the Jai Alai Building will now be saved. But unless something is done to the most beautiful and original of these three masterpieces of pre-war Philippine architecture, the Metropolitan Theater, it will disintegrate. The Rizal Stadium is in equally wretched shape.

When the wreckers’ ball destroyed Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and New York City’s most magnificent building, Pennsylvania Station, both in 1963, Ada Louise Huxtable, then the architectural critic of The New York Times, wrote: “A disposable culture loses the right to call itself a civilization at all !” How right she was ! (Fortunately, the destruction of Pennsylvania Station proved to the sacrificial catalyst that resulted in the creation of New York’s Landmark Commission. Would there be such a commission created for Manila … ?)

Are there historical reasons for this lack of national pride ? We can say that until the arrival of the Spaniards there was no sense of a unified archipelago constituted as one country. True. We can also say that the high cultures of the nations in the region seemed, unfortunately, to have bypassed the Philippines ; there are no Angkors, no Ayuttayas, no Borodudurs. True. Centuries of contact with the high cultur es of the Khmers and the Chinese, had, except for the proliferation of Song dynasty pottery found throughout the archipelago, no noticeable effect. True. But all that aside, what was here ? To begin with, the ancient rice terraces, now threatened with disintegration, incidentally, was an incredible feat of engineering for so-called “primitive” people.

As a matter of fact, when I first saw them in 1984, I was almost as awe-stricken was I was when I first laid eyes on the astonishing Inca city of Machu Picchu , high in the Peruvian Andes. The degree of artistry exhibited by the various tribes of the Cordillera of Luzon is testimony to a remarkable culture, second to none in the Southeast Asian region. As for Mindanao, at the other end of the archipelago, an equally high degree of artistry has been manifest for centuries in woodcarving, weaving and metalwork. However, the most shocking aspect of this lack of national pride, even identity, endemic in the average Filipino, is the appalling ignorance of the history of the archipelago since unified by Spain and named Filipinas. The remarkable stories concerning the courageous repulsion of Dutch and British invaders from the 16th through the 18th centuries, even the origins of the Independence of the late 19th century, are hardly known by the average Filipin o in any meaningful way. And thanks to fifty years of American brainwashing, it is few and far between the number of Filipinos who really know — or even care — about the duplicity employed by the Americans and Spaniards to sell out and make meaningless the very independent state that Aguilnaldo declared on June 12, 1898.

A people without a sense of history is a people doomed to be unaware of their own identity. It is sad to say, but true, that the vast majority of Filipinos fall into this category. Without a sense of who you are how can you possibly take any pride in who you are ? These are not oversimplifications.

On the contrary, these are the root problems of the Philippine inferiority complex referred to above. Until the Filipinos take pride in being Filipino these ills of the soul will never be cured. If what I have written here can help, even in the smallest way, to make the Filipino aware of just w ho he is, who he was, and who he can be, I will be one happy expat indeed !

Shared by Nenita Brown

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8 responses to “The Philippines Through the Eyes of a Foreigner

  1. Cesar E. Cruz, California USA

    It is always sad to rewad stories of truth and consequences; sadder still when the same truths are observed in a far away country such as the United States because the same truths seem to hold more meaning and thus more bite.

    While it is not true for all Filipino expatriates, a concervative estimate maybe about 80% are guilty of such lack of respect for our culture.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Barth Suretsky, he was also an enabler of the same observed lack of self pride in the Philippines – his mother country perpetuated what the Spaniards began but he chose not to make a move. If you consider writing the article (piece of paper) a move, it’s the size of a mote in my eye – hardly noticeable or felt.

    To all the Filipinos in the world specially those who can make a diference like the professionals in the United States – this is your wake up call. Make a difference as only you can afford to…do something instead of just reading about it and beating your chests and heads and cry crocodile tears – DO SOMETHING for the future Filipinos!

  2. This is a 2001 article. I will respond to it with a long rebuttal.

  3. loreto santiago

    Barth Suretsky (BS for brevity) was miserably misguided when he wrote his article re lack of Filipino pride/inferiority complex, and his conclusions are sadly misplaced, to say the least. If there is any malady, it truly is his. Here’s why:
    1. Is BS credible? Reliable? Trustworthy? There is no evidence that he is. Who is BS? He is not shown to be a recognized expert on “national pride”, not shown to have researched the subject and not shown to have referred to auhoritative studies on when there is a national pride in a country and when there is none, all things considered. How, in Heaven’s name, can anyone believe him then, much less take him seriously?
    2. BS credibility instantly suffers and crumbles. His definition of “national pride” is his own arm-chair invention. He shows no research studies, journals or other weighty literature define “National pride.” Without authorities giving him a reliable definition of “national pride”, how can anyone believe his definition. What is his definition of national pride? He defines it by way of a few manifestations or examples such as “replanted or reforested countryside”, tree-lined boulevards,” “French-style cafes”, “opera house patterned after the Opera in Paris, France” and a “French-built theater.” On such scarce criteria not found in any research literature or book, BS popishly leaps to his conclusion that the “miracle of restoration” resulted from “pride in being Vietnamese”. Let us pause. Indeed, it strains logic for BS to reconcile Vietnamese national pride with pride in restoring things foreign, like the French-style cafes, French-built theater, and the Paris-like opera.
    Assuming for the sake of argument that his aforecited criteria for national pride are valid, then there is enough evidence to show the reality and presence of Filipino national pride, namely the metropolises in Makati and Cebu, for example, and the ultramodern residential villages in Tagaytay City and other places. Intriguing, isn’t it, that BS never mentioned Makati City and its 5-star hotels with which time-worn American and European plush hotels could not even compare in terms of architecture, modernity, beauty and other pleasantries, and also the big sprawling Shoemart supermarket chain that put American superstores to shame. This is not to mention that such modernities are nowhere in that country which BS capitalizes on. Those metropolises, villages, supermarket chains, 5-star hotels are more than enough indicia of Filipino national pride.
    3. BS keeps focusing on Manila. But Manila is not the entire Philippines. If BS insists on Manila, I can insist on Makati as the showindow of Filipino national pride. With the comparison of those cities, he ends up the loser.
    4. BS attributes lack of pride in being Filipino to the following factors which, when examined closely, do not create the impression, not even a shadow, of such lack, at all.
    4.1. “Manila is a city full of street people, beggars, and squatters.” Granted, but is that a valid criterion of lack of pride? No one can or dare say that Americans have no pride in themselves even if, in US cities, the street islands and intersections are pockmarked with unkempt and hungry beggars with placards “Money for food”, “No job, needs $ for food”, etc. Some parks are peopled with homeless loners spending the night. In New York and Chicago, to mention a few cities, squatters live in cardboard or carton huts under rusting bridge or railyards.
    4.2. BS chides “Manila’s floods from rainstorms”. Hello, those floods are shallower and narrower than the floods in mainland USA as in Mississippi and Louisiana. Wide and deep flood canals dot California and other flood-prone states. Can BS be right or righteous in passing judgment that there is no pride in being American on account of those floods, wider and deeper than those in Manila?
    4.3. “Loss of electricity per clap of thunder”. I lived in Manila for 30 years. There is nothing of the kind. What BS might have meant were the strong typhoons snapping electric lines and causing blackouts which Meralco solved in a jiffy. Be that as it may, what connection has national pride with irresistible forces and ravages of nature? Look, innumerable and terrifying have been seassonal hurricanes, earthquakes, brush fires, tornadoes, landslides, sinkholes, avalanches in the USA with more damaging intensity than Philippine typhoons, but BS is not saying and can and will never say that on account of those phenomenal disasters, Americans have lost their national pride!
    4.5. “Schools without desks or books”. If true, at least there still are teachers doing their job. In America, some elementary schools were closed and you know what that means – no teachers, too. Despite that, Americans are prouder than ever still.
    4.6 “Disgracefully low teacher salaries”. That’s the big wonder. BS fails to appreciate the sense of commitment of Filipino teachers to mould the minds of the young, much less the nobility of the teaching profession in any culture or country. It seems the 8th or 9th Wonder of the World that Filipino teachers go on teaching despite “disgracefully low pay” alleged by BS. And Filipinos are proud of that wonder!
    4.7. “Mindanao war … no long range plan for it.” “Mindanao war” is a misnomer, my dear BS. Mindanao gun battles are not even on the scale of the bloody and brutal Iraq conflict which even Pres. G. Bush and his military generals (more privy to it than anyone else) do not call “war”. Filipinos never had a civil war like the North vs. South in Abe Lincoln days. That civil war was in many ways worse than the Mindanao gunbattles. If war spells lack of national pride, as BS would have it, then America had inferiority complex and no national pride at all during the Civil War. I know of no historical book or reference that says so. Where in the wilds did BS get such misinformation? On the other hand, BS has had no access to secret military plans, short or long range, for the Mindanao conflict. How can anyone believe him that there is no long range plan to deal with the conflict.
    4.8. “Unmanageable traffic in Manila”. Manila is not the entire Philippines. It has been even worse in Rome, Manhattan, and California’s potholeless freeways 15, 57, 91, 405, etc., rain or shine. BS cannot say that there is no national pride in America.
    5. BS unwittingly brings to the fore his lack of knowledge of logic and logical fallacy. If one argues a point, he must have several instances, or proofs, or evidence to back it up in order to persuade or convince. If one argues on the basis of only one example, he commits a fallacy in reasoning, because one does not necessarily all or many. One swallow does not make a summer. One Al Capone does not necessarily mean all or many Americans are like him. Another name for this fallacy is overgeneralization. The following fallacies were committed, wittingly or unwittingly, by BS:
    5.1. BS’s friend allegedly said: “All Filipinos want to be something else…Nobody wants to be a Filipino.” A friend. Only one. But one friend does not necessarily mean all Filipinos. And how did that friend COME TO KNOW that all of the millions of Filipinos in the archipelago did not want to be Filipino. No poll was conducted. BS is pulling the rug under whose leg?
    5.2. BS cites one Filipino who did not enter the theater until the anthem music was over, because he did not want to honor his country.” Only one. It did not necessarily mean ALL Filipinos did the same thing or behaved the same way. It is like saying there was only one Boston Strangler and therefore all Americans anywhere are Boston Stranglers. One saying or meaning that is out of his mind.
    5.3. “Rude drivers…routinely refusing passengers.” Gosh, how many drivers did BS personally encounter that he could say such a thing without overgeneralizing? How many? Nobody knows. BS did not say how many. Again, 10 convicts in US prisons do not necessarily mean that all Americans are convicts and in jail at that. Speaking of rudeness, you can experience it in New York where drivers choose to take whites first and Asians next. Some Italian-Americans on Fifth Avenue are the rudest store owners. They cannot withstand Filipinos and other foreigners taking long looks over goods first before buying, and then barking impolite phrases at them to leave the premises pronto, and to come back only when they have made a decision on what to buy. No American national pride, BS? The 5th Avenue Italians will go after you, if you say yes.
    5.4 BS knows one friend who thought Philippine history dropped dead when the Spaniards left in 1898. Here we go again. One swallow does not make a summer. There is only one Al Capone and only one Boston Strangler. Therefore, it is not true that many Filipinos thought that such history went dead from that time on.
    6. “Almost slavish worship of everything foreign.” BS does not have the statistics or poll count of millions of Filipinos worshipping thing foreign. In contrast, America is now a dumping ground of foreign goods (clothing, appliances, shoes, electronics, etc.) MADE IN CHINA, BANGLADESH, INDIA, HONDURAS, EL
    SALVADOR, PHILIPPINES, etc. Now, can anyone say that America has lost its national pride and has only an inferiority complex? Are the Chinese, Bangladeshi, Hindus, etc. idolized or looked up to by Americans? No in both cases. By the way, Made in the Philippines” goods on sale in US department stores is a cause for Filipino national pride, right?
    7. “Sans invitation card, BS was waived through to a museum; hence, Filipinos idolize foreigners.” Another case of overgeneralization, this is. For one, in the Philippines, hospitality should never mistaken for idolizing foreigners. Filipino hospitality is known the world over.
    8. “Wretched state of Jai Alai, Metropolitan Theater and Rizal Stadium is one of the most egregious examples of lack of pride.” You cannot find that in any book or research. It is solely BS’s doctrine. Admittedly, these building were built during the American occupation by American engineers and architects. These vestiges of colonialism are inconsistent with Filipino pride in a country long independent from USA. The modern buildings especially in Makati City more appropriately speak for Filipino pride. Moreover, one Ada Louise Huxtable is only an architectural critic and is not qualified to pass judgment as to what is a disposable culture or civilization, which in the first place, are not even architectural subjects.
    9. New York’s Landmark Commission copycat for Manila, being a foreign concoction, negates Filipino pride and it smacks of inferiority complex to follow BS’s recommendation for such commission in Manila.
    10. “Appalling ignorance of Philippine history by vast majority of Filipinos.” Again, this is not substantiated for lack of statistics to prove there was such a vast majority. So, BS is arguing from ignorance, a fallacy called ignoratio elenchi. Thus, BS is not worthy of credence. For his information, Philippine history is in the school curriculum from elementary through high school to college. Thousands of such schools abound in the Philippines. We do not know whereof BS speaks. Covered in history subjects are the episodes (including the June 12, 1898 Declaration of Independence) mentioned by BS. Ignorance points the other way in BS direction, because the Dutch never invaded the Philippines [maybe he means Indonesia] and the British invaded Manila only once but left not long afterwards. Therefore, BS is wrong to mention 3 centuries (i.e. 300 years) of Dutch and British invasions in the Philippines. I attended elementary, high school, and college in the Philippines and studied history. BS never did. Yes, he is talking through his hat.
    11. “I love the Philippines” BS confesses repeatedly. But by his writing, his “love” appears the antonym of love in the dictionary and in the bosom of Filipinos whose love for their country BS has downgraded licentiously. His “love” smells of hyprocrisy in the first degree.

    Space and time do not permit detailing the sources and foundations of the monumental Pride of Filipinos in themselves, beginning from Lapu-Lapu and his tribes’ armed resistance in Mactan Island against the advance party of Spanish conquistadores, when no such native resistance ever happened when the British Pilgrims landed in America, when Admiral Perry landed in Japan, when Cortez landed in South America, etc., through the time when the Philippines produced the First Asian President of the United Nations General Assembly and the first Asian to win the Pulitzer Prise in Journalism, when two Filipinas won Miss Universe and several Filipinas won Miss International, and so on that Encyclopedia Britannica is not even be enough to catalogue all of them. The Filipino pride is not in the best buildings and infrastructure seen in the Philippines. It is in the heart of the Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad. And through the prism of his eyes and mind in writing his article, Barth Suretsky does not and cannot see it. Yes, he needs help. And if he wrote his article a long time ago, he still needs help.

    Loreto Ganzon Santiago
    Garden Grove, California

  4. NEIL JAMES KAHUNA

    RESPONSE TO BARTH SURETSKY’S
    “The Philippines Though the Eyes of a Foreigner”

    Barth Suretsky says Filipinos have inferiority complex and no national pride??

    A respected global research paper based on international surveys say a big, flat NO! Barth’s WRONG!

    Before and after Barth wrote his article, the Philippines consistently ranked HIGH, even among the HIGHEST, in the world for National Pride and National Superiority.

    1. The International Journal of Public Opinion Research (Spring 2006 issue) published a global research paper: “National Pride in Cross-National and Temporal Perspective,” based on surveys in 1995-96 and 2003-04, both conducted by the International Social Survey Program, a consortium of survey researchers throughout the world.

    The international surveys for National Pride were conducted on two scales:

    a. General National Pride (GNP) based on people’s sense of patriotism, allegiance,
    nationalism and NATIONAL SUPERIORITY.

    b. Domain-Specific National Pride (DSNP) about national pride in 10 specific areas about the country: its democratic system; political influence in the world; economic system; social security; science and technological achievements; sports; arts and literature; armed forces or military; history; and equal and fair treatment of all groups in society.

    The survey results which ranked the PHILIPPINES among the highest in the world for National Pride are:

    1. In the international survey in 1995-96, the PHILIPPINES ranked SIXTH in General National Pride (GNP) and 12th in Domain- Specific National Pride (DSNP), in both cases outranking New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Russia and many other countries. (Number 1 was the USA. Austria was # 2.)

    Averaging GNP and DSNP gave the PHILIPPINES the over-all rank of 9! ahead of the aforementioned countries.

    2. In the expanded international survey in 2003-2004, the PHILIPPINES ranked 8th in GNP and 7th in DSNP, ahead of Israel, Ireland, Denmark, Hundary, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Finland, South Korea, Taiwan and many other countries. (The USA ranked number 1 and surprisingly, Venezuela was number 2.)

    3. On June 27, 2006, the National Opinion Research Center at University of Chicago, released a research paper: “National Pride in Specific Domains.” In the Overall Rank of Countries on Domain-Specific National Pride, the PHILIPPINES ranked SEVENTH, ahead of Austria, New Zealand, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland, France, Russia, Japan, Sweden and many other countries.

    I could go on and on, but this thrashes many times over Barth’s wrong and misplaced opinion about Filipino national pride. (His repeated expression: “I love the Philippines” reeks of hypocrisy, to say the least.) The global research revelation about the high ranking of Filipino national pride in the world shreds Barth’s essay, its bits fitfully falling into the trash can.

    A big and resounding HURRAH! for the Filipinos and the PHILIPPINES, and a long , endless sound-barrier-breaking BOO to the Barth, his write-up and his followers!

    Neil James Kahuna
    Norwalk, California

  5. Neil James Kahuna

    ADDENDUM: Re Response to Barth Suretsky

    References:

    “National Pride in Cross-national and Temporal Perspective” http://www-
    news.uchicago.edu/releases/06/060301.
    national pride.pdf

    “National Pride in Specific Domains” http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/06/060627.
    pride.pdf

    International Journal of Public Opinion Research (Spring 2006), pp. 127-136

    ( or Click on “National Pride” at Google and look for those titles).

  6. Neil James Kahuna

    RESPONSE TO BARTH SURETSKY’S
    “The Philippines Through the Eyes of a Foreigner”

    Barth Suretsky says Filipinos have inferiority complex and no national pride?

    A respected global research paper based on international surveys says a big, flat NO! Barth’s WRONG!

    Before and after Barth wrote his essay, the PHILIPPINES consistently ranked HIGH, even among the HIGHEST, in the world for National Pride and Superiority Complex.

    1. The International Journal of Public Opinion Research (Spring 2006) published a global research paper: “National Pride in Cross-national and Temporal Perspective,” based on surveys in 1995 -96 and 2003-04, both conducted by the International Social Survey Program, a consortium of survey researchers throughout the world.

    The international surveys for National Pride were conducted on two scales:

    a. General National Pride (GNP) based on people’s sense of patriotism, allegiance, nationalism and NATIONAL SUPERIORITY.

    b. Domain-Specific National Pride (DSNP) about national pride in 10 specific areas about the country, namely, its democratic system; political influence in the world; economic system; social security; science and technological achievements; sports; arts and literature; armed forces or military; history; and equal and fair treatment of all groups in society.

    The published survey results which ranked the PHILIPPINES among the highest in the world for National Pride are:

    1. In the international survey in 1995-96, the PHILIPPINES ranked SIXTH in GNP and 12th in DSNP, in both cases outranking New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Russia and many other countries. (Number 1 was USA, with Austria second)
    Averaging GNP and DSNP put the PHILIPPINES in Rank 9!

    2. In the expanded international survey in 2003-04, the PHILIPPINES ranked EIGHTH in GNP and SEVENTH in DSNP, ahead of Israel, Ireland, Denmark, Hungary, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Finland, South Korea, Taiwan and many other countries. (USA ranked first and surprisingly, Venezuela, second).

    3. On June 27, 2006, the National Opinion Research at University of Chicago, Illinois, USA, released a research paper: “National Pride in Specific Domains.” In the Overall Rank of Countries on Domain-Specific National Pride, the PHILIPPINES ranked SEVENTH, ahead of Austria, New Zealand, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Russia, Japan and many other countries.

    A big and resounding HURRAH forever for the Filipinos and the PHILIPPINES!

    References:
    “National Pride in Cross-national and Temporal Perspective” http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/

    “National Pride in Specific Domains” http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/
    06/060627.pride.pdf

    Google on National Pride and look for above titles.
    06/060301.nationalpride.pdf
    Neil James Kahuna

  7. This article was an interesting read but i must disagree with his conclusions. BZ falls into a classic trap that almost every person makes when they visit foreign countries; namely judging the country and the native culture by their own standards. I make no claim otherwise, as I cant help but do it too. My background is i’m from dublin, ireland and i first visited the philippines this year 2007. i was in luzon, baguio city. I stress the filipinos I met were all ordinary filipinos, and not rich, so perhaps I my opinions are a little skewed.

    In my humble opinion, the Filipino love of foreigness BK observed may be simply down to a depressed local economy. The Philippines is in a poor state due to centuries of mis-rule and traumatic wars/revolutions. This is compounded by poor and corrupt leaders who want to maintain the status quo of the elite, with the haves and the have nots. Take note, I am not here to argue for a redistribution of wealth, I am just pointing out this fact. However this fact also applies to many countries especially my own. The fact that Vietnam has rebuilt itself is indeed a testimony to the spirit and pride of the people but also to the vision and capabilities of their leaders. Not every country has been so fortunate in the leadership stakes. Frankly speaking if my own nation had not been so lucky as to join the EEC in the early 70s then it would not be in a much better situation economically than the Philippines is today.

    On a second point. The fact that all Filipinos may not come across as being flag-waving drum-beating filipinos may be simply down to a population is essentially still largely fragmented on regional or tribal lines. As has been observed in Ireland by American visitors, local people may identify more strongly with their local district or dialect than with the national whole. In my own experiences in Baguio, the people I met introduced themselves as Ifugao, or as from another tribe e.g. bontok, or as being from a certain district e.g. visayas. In my opinion, this is where the pride is, not on a national level. Again I observe this is exactly the same as things were in Ireland until relatively recently (1960s+).

    In my view the Filipinos are proud of their country and justifiably so. Perhaps, as BZ maintains, this fire has died down in some sections of the population – but my observations is that this is due to the current economic woes. All the Philippines needs to rediscover it’s pride and greatness is for a good leader to arise to lead this country onto a sound economic footing in this century.

  8. The only thing the writer forgot to write about Filipinos is denial. Filipinos deny everything. If we were more accepting, we would’ve not wasted our time trying to rebutt his observations. Instead, we should’ve been making improvements to make our country better in our eyes and through the eyes of a foreigner. We should all be self-healing not self-denying. Handle the truth!

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