Understanding the Filipino Beyond his Penchant for Music and Beauty

Understanding the Filipino

Beyond his Penchant for Music and Beauty

By Apolinario Villalobos


According to Osang, the Filipina winner of The Netherland’s first X Factor, Filipinos will no longer be allowed to join singing contests in that country. It could just be a joke of Osang as Filipinos are also known for cracking jokes to spice up interviews. In the field of music, Filipinos are practically known the world over. Many may not be so lucky to garner the title, but still, they can give anxiety to other contestants. A youtube I viewed last year, showed an American telling his viewers, “if you want to hear real singers, go to the Philippines…”. It seems that the Filipino when brought into this world, instead of a pitiful cry, he instead, let out a melodious scream.


But the Filipino is more than the musical notes…more than the instruments that he can play. The Filipino in whose veins flow various culture, is first and foremost, God-fearing. Be he a Christian or an Islam adherent, the Filipino’s life revolves around the Most Benevolent. Aside from Roman Catholics that comprise the majority of the population, the Orthodox Catholics, Western-based Christian sects, indigenous Aglipayan and Iglesia ni Kristo, as well as, the typical Filipino Islamic faith, have successfully amalgamated to form a very strong spiritual foundation on which the Filipino proudly stands.


Many international beauty titlists are married to Filipinos. Among the most notable is Ms. Armi Kuusela, an early Miss Universe titlist and married to the scion of the prominent Hilario family. When the beauty pageants started many years ago, the Filipina contestant aside from the representative of Thailand are always anticipated to land at least, on the top ten. During the latter years, the Filipina representative persisted, showing her best in the face of stiff rivalry posed by the Latin American beauties. And, just like in international singing competitions, the Philippine representative in several beauty contests that have mushroomed lately always leaves an impressive mark.


The Filipino has always been known as “pliant like a bamboo”, a survivor in the right sense of the word. The more than four centuries of Hispanic subjugation followed by those of the short-lived American and Japanese, did not break the Filipino spirit. Although, there was fierce resistance, the Filipino easily swayed with the onslaught of the colonial misfortunes, and fed on the cultural nutrients that they brought. With their passing, the Filipino twanged back to his upright posture – with unblemished and fully intact pride!


As a survivor, the Filipino is resourceful. For instance, the two-day old almost molded boiled rice, he can prepare into a delicious snack called, “winilig-wilig pop rice”, after thoroughly washing the almost spoiled precious staple, dried under the sun and fried in coconut oil with sprinkling of brown sugar. Out of the discarded foods from restaurants, called “pagpag”, he can prepare thoroughly-cooked dishes, of course, after equally, thorough washing…although, the sanitation and health agencies do not allow this, for the record. But rather than die of hunger with a gaping mouth and glassy stare, or allow his guts to be punctured by acidic intestinal fluid, the Filipino can courageously take this last resort! If other nationalities can eat deadly scorpion, drink blood of the cobra, and swallow live wriggling baby octopus, why can’t the Filipino partake of left-over food cooked thoroughly?


The young Filipino could cross a swinging bamboo bridge, or swim across a swirling river to attend his classes, in a school, several hills away from his home. He can walk kilometers of distance under the scorching beating of the sun just to occupy his seat in a crowded classroom, or study his lessons under a tree while his stomach grumbles for having nothing, not even a sip of coffee for breakfast. For the duration of his school year, he can also wear the same white shirt and a pair of khaki pants that he immediately washes as soon as he reaches home. He can mumble a thankful prayer for a half-cup of burnt rice salvaged from the bottom of the pot, drenched with a little water and sprinkled with salt.


Part of the Filipino’s discipline is the caution from his parents to behave and show his best self when there are visitors, as well as, clean the house very well, so as not to displease them. This he does with utmost obedience. And, additionally, to always give the visitors the best part of the chicken when they are invited over for dinner. All these the Filipino does as he is used to sacrificing for others.


The Filipino is a practical human being, as he is willing to accept what is realistically on hand. He does not vie for what is impossible because he is easily pleased. He has an easy smile and with an ever-ready hearty laughter for anything funny, even if it pertains to him, though, with limitation that borders on respect.


The Filipino loves food! There is only the problem with identity because many preparations are tagged with foreign names, especially, Hispanic. Nevertheless, they are concocted with ultimate patience and diligence inherited from his ancestors. This love for food can be observed during fiestas and other special occasions such as Christmas, birthday, baptismal, and wedding parties, or even last dinner for a wake.


Understanding the Filipino beyond his love for music and beauty, will make one appreciate how this guy who belongs to the brown race has survived the waves of corruption that besets his country!


Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences

Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences

…a suggestion

By Apolinario Villalobos

Being a third world country, the Philippines’ only other resources aside from the natural endowments such minerals, wildlife, forests, marine life, and rich agricultural land, that it can be proud of, are the people – the talented Filipinos. It is a shame that the human resources are treated only as some kind of an exportable “commodity” in the form of labor. There is dignity in labor, but there are more that the Filipinos can do other than work in hospitals, hotels, construction sites and homes in foreign countries. The Filipinos are oozing with talents, but unfortunately, are not supported by the government.

Filipino talents in the fields of invention, literary and music are relegated on the sidelines. Singing contests in village fiestas, TV programs and those organized by private entities bring out world-class singers, but after the announcement of their winning and limited appearance in TV shows, nothing is heard about them. The popular adage is about the need for the Filipino singers to go to other countries to be able to earn recognition that they deserve.

There is the so-called National Institute of Science of Technology (NIST), the government agency that is supposed to be charged with responsibilities on Filipino inventions. It seems that even in the issuance of patent, the agency is lagging. The Filipinos know of inventions only through the media, when resourceful researchers of TV programs are able to scour the countryside for low-profile inventors. Most often, these inventors confess that they have gone to the NIST but outright, they get the feeling of being inadequate due to so many requirements. The standard alibi of the NIST is that they need to check the inventions’ authenticity before they can be recognized, but how long will it take them to do it? Additionally, they also mention the lack of budget!

Also, the inventions are brought to the attention of the consumers only during exhibits which charge high entrance fees to the interested public, and exorbitant charges for inventors who would like to participate. And, to think that these exhibits and shows are supposed to be “sponsored” by the mentioned government agency in cooperation with the inventors’ organization. The NIST should sustain the expenses, as the event is held only once a year. It will not cost the NIST millions of pesos to shoulder the rent for a venue.

The local market is flooded with gadgets from other countries, especially, China, and these are gadgets that can be manufactured locally. So many times, the media expose local inventions that are supposed to curb expenses on electricity, as well as, fuel consumption, even nature-friendly insecticides, and many more. Unfortunately, these inventions are just showcased, waiting for the government support! And, sadly, some of them end up in other countries for mass-production to be brought back to the Philippines as finished products bearing foreign sounding brand names.

Filipino literary artists also suffer from government neglect and utter lack of support. While colleges and universities offer mass communication courses, the graduates are left to fend for themselves after graduation, with most talented writers ending up as clerks in offices. I once talked to the former Director of the National Library of the Philippines, Ms. Nani Cruz, who confided that the institution, for long, has been in dire need of Filipino-authored books. That was more than five years ago. Today, not only is the National Library of the Philippines STILL wanting for the said kind of books but even the bookstores are showing their lack of concern by preferring imported books – best sellers in countries where they come from! These book outlets gladly and proudly announce arrival of foreign authors for book signing!

My suggestion is for the government to expand the scope of NIST’s responsibilities by adding the aspect of permanent showcasing of inventions, be they with issued or pended patent. This can be done by moving the said agency to a big facility complete with equipment for testing and a showroom- a one-stop shop of sort, located in an area accessible to the consumers and patent buyers/manufacturers. The facility should also accommodate those that concern literary and music. It should be a complex that aspiring artists can visit, not only for copyrighting of their works but also for marketing purposes. It should also include audio-video recording facilities. The Copyright office should be based in this center. It should also provide office spaces for organizations that cater to the development of artistic talents of Filipinos. It is suggested that this complex be called “The Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences”.

If the former President Ferdinand Marcos turned dictator, was able to build hospitals and research institutes for the heart, kidney and the lungs, additional building complex for the Philippine General Hospital, a vast complex that includes Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Coconut Palace, and Philippine Trade and Exhibition Center, why can’t the current government build what is being suggested – the Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences?

If Pnoy Aquino would really want to be remembered, this, he should do. He should stop warbling about “reforms” for there is nothing that needed to be reformed. He has done NOTHING YET! What he meant could be the “eradication” of corruption which has just gone from worse to worst! He even refuses to acknowledge the fact that some of his trusted guys are not “clean”…hinging his support to them on the premise that unless they are proven guilty in court, they are innocent of any guilt. How can they be investigated when he, himself, is insinuating that they are innocent? He should stop talking about reforms because the inadequacies of his administration just add up to neck-deep atrocities already committed by past administrations. If he wants to leave a legacy, it should be tangible enough to be seen and remembered…and this is it, the Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences.