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RPOUD TO BE A FILIPINO
5/30/2006 10:00:33 PM

This article was written by an American, Barth Suretsky. His observations are interesting and his comments about our culture and his respect and love of the Phil are nicely written. Due to the worsening situation in our country, let's hope this will make an impact on other Filipinos who read it...

BE PROUD TO BE A FILIPINO

My decision to move to Manila was not a precipitous one. I used to work in New York as an outside agent for PAL, and have been coming to the Philippines since August, 1982. I was so impressed with the country, and with the interesting people I met, some of which have become very close friends to this day, that I asked for and was granted a year's sabbatical from my teaching job in order to live in the Philippines. I arrived here on August 21, 1983, several hours after Ninoy Aquino was shot, and remained here until June of 1984. During that year I visited many parts of the country, from as far north as Laoag to as far south as Zamboanga, and including Palawan. I became deeply immersed in the history and culture of the archipelago, and an avid collector of tribal antiquities from both northern Luzon, and Mindanao.

In subsequent years I visited the Philippines in 1985, 1987, and 1991, before deciding to move here permanently in 1998. I love this country, but not uncritically, and that is the purpose of this article. First, however, I will say that I would not consider living anywhere else in Asia, no matter how attractive certain aspects of other neighboring countries may be. To begin with, and this is most important, with all its faults, the Philippines is still a democracy, more so than any other nation in Southeast Asia. Despite gross corruption, the legal system generally works, and if ever confronted with having to employ it, I would feel much more safe trusting the courts here than in any other place in the surrounding area. The press here is unquestionably the most unfettered and freewheeling in Asia, and I do not believe that is hyperbole in any way! And if any one thing can be used as a yardstick to measure the extent of the democratic process in any given country in the world, it is the extent to which the press is free.

But the Philippines is a flawed democracy nevertheless, and the flaws are deeply rooted in the Philippine psyche. I will elaborate... The basic problem seems to me, after many years of observation, to be a national inferiority complex, a disturbing lack of pride in being Filipino



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