What makes us uniquely special?
FROM THE HEART - Gina Lopez (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2015 - 9:00am

We are such a unique race. As I watched the Christmas Special of ABS CBN, my feeling was — wow, we are so special! I have come up with qualities that we have in abundance. Pluses and minuses. Here goes.

1. We are a musical race. This  quality glared at me in the face during the ABS CBN Christmas Special. I was overwhelmed by so much talent. I see it in my  employees, in the communities I help, even in the esteros. Goodness, I can feel it in the karaokes that abound — we loooove to sing. Almost everyone sings.  A few  years ago, I invited the top brass of the military to my home for dinner — by way of saying thank you for all the support they had been giving — in the Pasig River, La Mesa during disasters. What did I find out? They all sing! From the head of the Air Force to the Navy — they  sing. And well! At that time, Angie Reyes was still alive. He even brought his own minus one with him.

2.  We are romantic. We are definitely a romantic race. When I look at the ABS lineup of programs — I look at the shows nationwide that are successful — the predominant element is the kilig factor. It’s in us. I myself am an incurable romantic.

3. We are sentimental. This is connected to number two. We are a feeling race more than a thinking one.

Anyone dealing with Filipinos, especially those at the grassroots level, has to be cognizant of this characteristic.  The big no-no is hurting feelings. Even if it is seemingly righteous ...  one needs to know how to handle this well.

4. We like to laugh. Filipinos have a great sense of humor, which is childlike. From the farmer to the fisherman to the person in the streets, they all like to laugh. I am amazed at the comedic knack of our people. Just look around you. Filipinos are generally funny! Even our politicians are funny. A good way to win votes is to crack jokes and make people laugh! When I sit with my people, I am consistently impressed with their comedic knack —  the timing, the one liners. It is definitely a value that keeps the kapamilya spirit alive.

5. Filipinos are more group-oriented then individualistic. We like to be with people.

6. We are a very caring race. Just look at the response to any disaster. From the children to convicts to the man on the streets. It is inspiring.

7.  We are very respectful. It’s even in our language — with our po and our ho  punctuating every sentence. When our parents come, we stand and greet them. Across all classes, there is respect. Even when there is no blood tie, it is Tita, Tito, or Ate, Kuya ....

8. We are loyal. If you hit it right, you can get loyalty like no other. It’s
connected to our sentimentality. It’s a feeling thing.

9. We are a lighthearted race. We don’t take things too seriously. Even in chaos, there is always a lighthearted way to take things. It is  part of our temperament. It is also what makes us charming . . . hmm . . .and sometimes depending on the situation, frustrating.

10. We are spiritual. There is an affinity with the Divine. This affinity was there waaaay before the Catholic Church came to the country. In fact, our connection to the Divine might have gotten a bit distorted because of the emphasis on externals. But deep within our race is a thirst and an affinity with the spiritual realm. Almost all spiritual groups do well in the Philippines. Our nature is open to it.

Our weaknesses:

1.  Time. We tend to be dreamy. The Filipino Time syndrome is something that needs to be changed.

2, Sometimes  we are even slow. This is connected to no. l. I find I have to make an extra efort to “light the fire” in my community projects. It’s connected to the dreaminess in our temperament. Even with my employees I have to drum up the need to focus. To keep one’s eye on the ball.

3. Discipline. We lack discipline. Again, this is connected to our dreaminess, a flowing, laid-back, come-what-may attitude that is 180 degrees different from the Western determination to get things going.

Just look at our traffic — there are no rules. The lack of order has its own charm, but it can be quite frustrating.

4.  Lack of straightforwardness. There is shyness , an insecurity to say things as they are. In a previous organization that I worked for, I saw it time and again. I saw the clash of cultures — the straightforwardness of Westerners and the sentimentality of Filipinos. With Filipinos, there is a carefulness not to offend, but sometimes to the point of lacking the courage to be upfront. Westerners, on the other hand, to Filipino eyes, sometimes can seem to be even “brutal.”And that’s the last thing on their minds —  it’s just a difference of culture, of temperament.

5. Feeling of smallness. I find this often in the province. We feel foreigners are better. Others are better. This is probably due to the hundreds of years of being colonized.

In conclusion, as I travel around the country, I learn more and more about the race I was born in — and I fall in love with the charm, the simplicity, the childlikeness.

I am so proud to be Filipino. Whenever I see  a Filipino overseas, there is a feeling of home. Of course, I am biased, but I feel we are a uniquely special race.

My sense is that enhancing our spirituality will bloom the existing pluses that we have. The increasing trend of intermixing cultures and temperaments is also a healthy one. We have so much to give the world.

We  need to bloom. Develop our will, our determination, our confidence as a people. Given the right kind of environment, I have no doubt we  can make the world a much, much better place to live in.

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