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The Filipino's Kawawa Mentality

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As I write this post, news is out that Angelo de la Cruz is being released, or would have been released. The media --- ANC, Reuters, Al Arabiya TC, and CNN have all flagged it as breaking news. Even blog circles have been quick to follow with their comentaries and discussions.


While it is the international community's reaction that has been the latest fad in blog circles, the media, and with increased scrutiny by this author, I think it is timely that I give it a domestic view point. I will spare no one, not even my fellow Filipinos and the brouhaha of it all. Even as I have praised the efforts to free Angelo and the eventual stop in supporting the Iraq war, I would have to admit I that was irked by a similar degree as I was of Jay Leno by some domestic reactions which has yet again manifested a most unwanted trait: The Filipino's Kawawa Mentality.

Kawawa, an abstraction of Kaawaawa roughly translates to miserable --- a state of abject helplessness. The root word is awa which means mercy. Literally, it connotes a state that simply is so low in condition that it must evoke mercy. In common usage this is found in statements such as:
  • Ay naku! Kawawa naman tayo! (Oh! How miserable we are!)
  • Kawawa naman siya. (Lit. He is miserable. Same connotation as, Oh! Is he not miserable?)
  • Kaawawa na naman ang Pilipino. (Said to mean: The Filipinos are the at the bottom of the pile again)
The third example is my pet peeve. Such is the best example of how utterly afflictive Filipinos would have reacted everytime a domestic issue has become international or if an international event is sensationalized by the local Media. This reaction is typical to that of alienation and association with other countries and would always be followed by a comparison of 'and how far they have gone now'. That is, it is always the I wonder if this worldview came from 333 years of Spanish Rule, and how they dejected us as mere indios. Could it have stuck in the mind that we are still not up to par? I think it's an awful long time already. Come on it's time to move on.
Colonial mentality syndrome (Yes, I'm no medical expert but I think it's a medical and psychological condition) is related to Kawawa mentality, although, colonial mentality is always directed to the colonists: America, Spain, even Japanese, and Chinese influences. How do you suppose changing names or accents sound? I do speak with accents appropriate to who I talk to, after all, my French and Spanish does help, and my Indian or Middle East business contacts have a rough and edgy accent, that I need to pace myself to suit them for communications purposes. But to deliberately try to copy and decline the usage of the local tongue in favor of the foreign? Unless it's a real practical reason, it's distasteful isn't it?
I'm fine with foreign labels and signature clothes after all, there's quality involved. But colonial mentality is not about favoring foreign label goods at all, insted it's about a generalized concept that everything foreign must be better. Kawawa mentality is all the more worse though. Because this defeated culture concept flows through all aspects of existence: One compares how logistics and operation systems and processes are different in other countries than in local conditions; how our Asian neighbors are fast tracking the way to progress and our politics and all have stagnated our growth; how for instance, things would have been better if we had a dictator or an iron hand, in comparison with Singapore; how even a remote island's beauty queen, was it Mautitius? or Volleyball's Barros of Brazil or that of Italy's team would be so glorified as we would stars. Perhaps its because we appreciate beauty so much, or so they say, or we might have been praying too long novenas in front of catholic idols with such fair ang light complexion, pointed noses and solemn hazel brown eyes. I can be over-reacting so correct me.
Is it because of the sheer number of faboulous stories we hear of the foreign countries? After all, 9 out of 10 Filipinos, if not all would have a relative that went overseas either to work, or as a migrant. I would not deny the possibility of their stories becoming exaggerated anecdotes of their exploits abroad. Marco Polo and other explorers have been plagued by this. After all, I could not take it againsts anyone who has accomplished so much to tell stories, and sometimes be overwhelmed by the majesty of another culture. However, I take it against those that think of such experiences as proof that others are always better than how it is in Manila. For one, when I was in a foreign country I did marvel at the difference and enjoyed everybit of difference there is. I suppose it's a matter of how to take the information.
Now, I could not fault it that statitics and economic indicators do point how far we have lagged behind versus other countries. I do not need to detail that, nor emphasize how some of systems are undeniably flawed, like the social ssecurity for instance. I do not propose a denial of truths. Instead I am hoping that we induce more pride in our race and have some possitivism. The lag will continueif the defeated mindset stays. We need a complete attitudinal change, a complete moral overhaul.
Nobody loves losers - Filipinos love winners - we love heroes; it's time to winners ourselves, time to be heroes of our own. First thing: we should say: We are not in such a miseralbe existence after all. Hindi tayo kaawa-awa.

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posted by Jdavies @ 7/20/2004,

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The Author

J.Davies

Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.


About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.

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