Perhaps it is, as far as the internal perceptions of most islanders go, the sad reality that Filipinos will simply retreat from the challenge to step up to the opportunity for deep change that presents itself to us today -- retreat back within the comfy walls of delusion that we built around our character as a people. Indeed, as we find ourselves painted by this hostage tragedy into an ever-shrinking corner in the scheme of global stature, we find ourselves succumbing yet again to the opium of the comfy notions of (1) our hallowed place on the planet as the sole "Catholic" country in the region, (2) our entitlement to concessions as victims of the historical "evils" of imperialism and despotism, and (3) the notion that a prosperous and dignified future lies out there, mandated by one deity or another on the basis of our self-described prayerfulness to them.
Quite obvious to most but nonetheless counterintuitive to the addicted: like most narcotics, these warm and fuzzy notions -- these self-delusions -- succeed mightily at soothing our internality by locking out the more objective externality of what is real.
Emma-Kate Symons in an article published on The Australian used a very familiar and elegant metaphor (my boldface for emphasis) in response to the flurry of quaint justifications of our collective failure as a society coming from Mainstream Media and Establishment Bloggers:
Such hogwash, redolent of familiar fatalistic, dolourist distortions of Catholic notions of sin and personal responsibility, is once again allowing a societal head-in-the-sand mentality to prevail in a nation that thinks saying sorry many times should be enough.
The more we bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, the more our asses stick out high in the air.
More importantly, such an observation coming from a foreign newspaper as The Australian represents the forces of our externality banging at our gates as we cower behind the internality we created within those primitivist walls we built around our national character.
The guardians of these gates are influential. And they are all singing from the same hymn book. Symons points out a few of them in her Australian piece:
William Esposo who, in a PhilStar blurb batted the ball of shame back onto the Chinese court...
China should be the last to posture as if they hold a candle to us when it comes to preventing tragedies", and recalling the 2005 murder of Philippines businessman Emmanuel Madrigal and his daughter by an axe-wielding madman in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
"Did a Chinese official apologise to the Madrigal family, The Philippines government or the Filipino people for their failure to protect Filipino tourists in one of the most visited sites in their capital? Where, then, do they get the gall and the temerity to disrespect us and our President due to a similar incident?
...which, by the way, is a spectacular specimen of moronic thinking that I clarified here.
The words of The Editor of that venerable Aquinoist newsletter, the Inquirer.net, was not spared from Symons's eviscerating critique on the nature of Filipino-style thinking. She highlighted the following revealing excerpt from that 1st of September 2010 piece...
We are in solidarity with the women and men who offer prayers . . . but we see no point in prostrating ourselves further, or in insulting The Philippines government as though in a continuing kowtow. We will not be forced into a sackcloth-and-ashes pose.
... I might add that, last I heard, the right thing to do is to remain prostrated in humble posture and work quietly towards achieving results instead of grandstanding about intentions.
The bigger point to be made
Earlier I pointed out how Symons's article highlighted something more important. Indeed, it is noteworthy that her article on The Australian is the first I've seen on a foreign mainstream channel that did not mince words about The Truth about Filipinos. Strong words about our society and our character as a people now appearing in the foreign press is a significant milestone. We could be seeing the advent of a more emboldened community of non-Filipino writers who wish to express what we have for so long explored through our network of "getrealist" channels.
If that is what it takes to put a rocket up the bungholes of a people who are primarily motivated by hiya ("shame"), then so be it.