craig aquino,

Opinion: On Filipino resilience

8/25/2018 07:45:00 PM Media Center 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Ezra Bustamante
Despite living in a country beset by poverty and corruption, and often struck by natural disasters, one can always expect Filipinos to smile. No disaster or calamity can permanently bring us to our knees.

Recently, heavy rains brought on by the South-West Monsoon caused severe flooding in many parts of northern Luzon. Just as recently, images appeared on social media – and even on mainstream news programmes – showing our countrymen braving storm and flood in their own makeshift ways, all the while wearing that trademark Filipino smile.

How resilient we are.

However, as with nearly everything, there is an appropriate amount: neither too much, nor too little. We Filipinos, it seems, have in our blood far beyond therapeutic levels of resiliency, to a point where it takes a toxic form: complacence.

This complacence is a woe unto our nation – it breeds an inaction augmenting the evils of theft and typhoon and whatever other threat we might face. We do only the bare minimum necessary to overcome what problems befall us – no more.

Take the most recent event: flooding. Many people got stranded on roofs when the floods came. If they needed to get somewhere, they would wrap their shoes in plastic to keep their feet dry, or, if they were more unfortunate, they would need to make rafts. It’s what they did last year too. Also the year before that. And the year before that. And, probably next year as well.

It’s reactionary. Instead of preventing flooding, which is in some cases preventable, people just sew on more patches onto their lives when the floods come a-ripping. They just accept the flooding as a normal part of their lives to be dealt with instead of something preventable.

Of course, this does not apply to all; there have been improvements in flood warning systems and evacuation operations, especially in areas where flooding is nigh unpreventable, such as along the banks of rivers.

Another example of our resilience-nigh-complacency is how we deal with the government. We have long had problems with it, most notably regarding corruption. Despite that, how many actually act against said problems?

Here comes stark our mindset of ‘bahala na’, or ‘hayaan mo na; ganyan talaga ‘yan’. So many let corruption continue because they’ve resigned themselves to the fact that it is a part of our daily lives.

These things we do – how we act – is harmful. It’s akin to taking ibuprofen to relieve a headache caused by brain cancer. The problem is solved temporarily, but it’ll keep coming and coming and we’ll do nothing about it (beyond the ibuprofen, of course).

Bahala na. It’s not like we can blame ourselves. We are a nation for centuries subjugated, by both foreigners and our own countrymen. We were – and are – enslaved, stolen from, and lied to.

What is there left for us to do but to take the beatings given to us, and smile in hopes that they’ll someday end? We have nothing left but our stoicism, that no blow may ever knock us down, and our optimism, that we may not fell ourselves. It is with these that we survive whatever predicament however we can. A workable solution, no?

No. There is a caveat.

French philosopher Gabriel Marcel, in his Sketch of the Phenomenology and the Metaphysics of Hope, started defining hope by four things it was not; two of those are relevant here: hope is not optimism, and hope is not stoicism.

We cannot keep smiling through our problems or stand steadfast against them. Even the hardest rocks are weathered by the waves of the sea. There is no hope in that. We must fight against that sea of troubles.

We must do better, as a nation, for our nation.//by Craig Aquino

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