You enter any Filipino home and you cannot belie the amount of time and effort to keep the place spick and span. We make it a point that the windows are cleaned to a sparkle, the tiles and floors are spotless, and everything else put in their proper order in the domestic universe. The front and/or back yards show a manicured lawn, and free of specks that can be an eyesore. At the first sign of litter or foliage meandering our gardens, we turn into an obsessed cleaning machine sweeping, raking, mowing till everything is perfect again. We don’t want our personal or family space to be maligned as the dugyut of the neighbourhood.
But outside the safety of our own gated domiciles, it’s funny how we can allow others to pile dirt at us, throw potshots to the point of being disgraced. We pride ourselves being Filipinos and being neat-freaks in our personal hygiene and home space, but when it comes to staining the Filipino reputation, we don’t seem to care. We know that there is squabbling within our own community, and issues that test our moral compass, but we take a hands-off position, not minding what other people think about us as a people. When it comes to the personal and the family stuff, we turn all heart and make heaven and earth move to resolve a conflict. Never mind if A owes B an estate good to save an entire barrio and doesn’t pay up, all relatives use every trick in the book to make A and B shake hands like nothing happened. We hold family meetings, call in the elders, invoke the spirits of our ancestors. We meddle, discuss, point fingers, yell at one another. We will be unrelenting in our efforts to make everything seem perfect again.
Again, when it comes to community matters, we turn all cold on each other as if we did not come from the same country, eating our incomparable adobo, and cheering the same boxing icon. We don’t take the same gang-ho attitude to confront issues eating up our community. It’s like we are an audience of a grand duel. We only watch; we do not take part. The enthusiasm to make things right seems to dissipate, and the fortitude for fraternal correction wanes, not realising that our Filipino community is first and foremost our family. Like any family, we can have disagreements and pick fights every now and then. But we should rise above that attitude of them vs them. When dealing with community, we treat it like a family matter that’s personal to us.
At a time like this when our community can be divided by ties, positions, and varying opinions, we should take on a more proactive stance. Break down the fence that makes us passive spectators and go out to do our bit for our Filipino community. Let us end the look-see-wait attitude. Things will not just tide over or unfold on their own. Philosopher John Paul Sartre once said, in fashioning myself, I fashion man. Every little action of a single Filipino reflects on the whole Filipino community. The same thing can be said of inaction. Unless we take part and do our part, we cannot change the course of our destiny.
Editorial cartoon illustrated by JOEL P. MAGPAYO