How Shamcey Supsup activated the Filipino damaged culture
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-10-11
The nation’s current darling, Miss Universe 3rd runner up Shamcey Supsup, did more than just win hearts and minds. She unwittingly activated one of the biggest flaws of our Filipino damaged culture — the colonial mentality.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing Shamcey and I certainly have a very high regard for her. Shamcey is not just beautiful and smart but from her statements — she seems to possess the right values. I sincerely hope she shuns showbiz. Nothing compromises a person’s class and reputation faster in this country than showbiz.

When Shamcey spoke in English at the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, while most of the contestants from non-English speaking countries spoke in their native languages, she only followed the training and instructions that were given to her. It has been a tradition for our beauty pageant contestants to try to impress the judges and the audience with our “command” of English. Only Filipinos think that other nationals are impressed by our irrational adoration of the English language.

For following tradition and speaking in English, Shamcey Supsup cannot be faulted. For taking pride that Shamcey was just about the only contestant from non-English language speaking countries to speak in English — many Filipinos betrayed their damaged culture, their willingness to elevate a foreign culture and language higher than ours.

I was squirming as I watched many of our countrymen assert with pride that Shamcey should have won the title if only for having spoken in English. What? Isn’t the Miss Universe Pageant a beauty contest? Why do these Filipinos make it look like a language proficiency test?

Frankly, through over 60 years of my life I have seen many of our countrymen make fools of themselves in front of foreigners they’re trying to impress. Of special note are people in positions of power who like to brag about the fringe benefits that they’re enjoying.

During the Marcos dictatorship, the son of a very powerful general was bragging to several Japanese guests about the privileges that he enjoys because of his father’s position. Clearly, he lacked the proper breeding and didn’t realize that in the eyes of educated people from a very ethical society like Japan — he just made a jackass of himself. If the son of a Japanese general uttered what he bragged about, that general may have to tender his resignation or even slice his stomach for shamefully siring such a son.

It’s not making a mountain out of a molehill when we raise this issue of how we look down on our culture and its many aspects — one of them our language. It is a molehill to the ignorant, the person who does not see the serious psychological fault and its ramifications to building the country we want to live in. It is an impeding mountain to one who can see how this counter productive mindset will undermine all the best efforts to improve Philippine society.
Those who were taking pride in Shamcey’s use of the English language during the Miss Universe Pageant do not realize that it could have been a point that the judges deducted from her. We must remember that many other countries do not suffer from a damaged culture like ours. Right thinking judges from countries that do not suffer from a cultural inferiority complex would certainly find it odd that our contestant did not speak in her native language.

When Janina San Miguel won the Miss Philippines World 2008 title, there was a big howl from some quarters. English clearly not her language, Janina stumbled through her answer, uttering wrong tenses in what can be considered an embarrassing example of bad sentence construction in the English language. Interviewed by GMA Network’s Jessica Soho after she won, Janina spoke in Filipino and made a much better account of her person.

The Filipino must come to grip with this self-destructing mechanism we nurture in our psyche. Young Filipinos, nearly 25 percent, admitted wishing that they were born as other nationals. This was shown in a 2003 survey on youth psychographics. Our national hero Jose Rizal must have been very disappointed. He called the youth the hope of the motherland.

Filipino manufacturers could not grow because Filipino consumers harbored a prejudice against Philippine-made products. As it was then and is still practiced today, many Filipinos consider the imported product as superior. From sub-standard products, the Japanese were able to produce world-class products because the Japanese consumers patronized Japanese brands even when these were still far from world class.

When the Japanese were flocking as tourists to the Philippines in the late 60s and early 70s, many Filipinos would comment that the Japanese were an odd people because they’d come to our country to ride in Japanese tourist buses, buy Japanese products and eat Japanese food in Japanese restaurants. When we should be admiring their deep sense of nationalism and imitating them — we mock them instead for having the qualities we shamefully lack.

Even when we had a good president, we didn’t seem to progress much and whatever improvements were made were easily undone. Filipinos should realize that nations became successful because they had a great people behind a good leader. It’s time we made ourselves a great people.

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