"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and the march to freedom of the Filipinos in Diaspora.

The current electoral contest between Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is turning into a very hot issue among the Filams here in the East Coast. I noticed that among the conservative and the grizzly but staunchly committed Democrats, Hillary is their choice. While the young and the independent minded among us, seem to favor Senator Obama. I myself is in a quandary as to whom to choose. Am I going to parlay the comfortable presence of political experience and the special niche of Filams in the heart of Senator Hillary with the exciting promise of youth and the idealism of Senator Obama? But before I could even verbalize any further that question to my Sunday Group, a motley band of frustrated political pundits, culled from the Filam communities in the tri-state area, they cried in unison that the ALIMANGONG BUKID (farmed Crab) MENTALITY in us would once more derail this opportunity for the Filams to be seen, be listened to and be counted as a united force in the American political panorama.

Barack ObamaAs always, I tried to struggle with the din of noise as one of a member of my Sunday Group begun to rant a litany of reasons why unity among us could not be achieve in this land of abundance. My mind attempted to keep itself afloat in the ocean of negative values that threaten to drown the Pinoy. In a way, my friend is right in his observation but as much as he is, his observation could not keep me still as it fails to include what has been happening for some time now among Filipinos outside the Philippines. Far more profound than the changes envisioned by Hillary or Barrack in their political speeches, something is afoot in the hearts and souls of the Filipinos in Diaspora.Did you notice that continuing and ever increasing involvement of Filipinos in Diaspora in the affairs of their Kababayan (countrymen)? Here in America, almost every Filam community is abuzz, all year round, with meetings, conferences, plans, actions and other initiatives about political actions, educational programs, medical missions or technical assistance of various kinds and so much more for our paisans in the Philippines! There seems to be a conscious reawakening of who we really are – a caring, compassionate and righteous people of common heritage and culture.

These wonderful personal characteristics of our people remained hidden for so long a time because many of us were so engrossed then in trying to save our own skin from perdition due to the economic, political and social inequities wrought about by the circumstances of a society that has not totally rid itself of the vestiges of its past. As push turned to shove, we outwardly appeared to be self-centered or even selfish. So many of us, regardless of educational attainment, still walk around with a ball and chain attached to our legs. While many of us may claim that we have been free and independent since those heady days of June 12, 1899 or July 4, 1945, your choice, much more of our people are still slaves of behaviors borne while we were still under colonial rule. So many of us could not still see clearly what is RIGHT beyond the four walls of our own family, clan or our small community. Not a few of us, while so outwardly cosmopolitan and modern in our ways, still exhibit the mentality of insulares. The kanya-kanya or tayo-tayo (tendency to break into factions) system still reigns inordinately in many of us. These were the same values that were reinforced by a few colonial overlords to maintain their control over a superior number of people, naturally distributed among the 7,000 islands of our archipelago, for more than 3 1/2 centuries. This form of control remained with us and dined with us for another half a century of open American rule and 4 brutal years under the Japanese Imperial Army. These eras internally reinforced further our insular mentality that made us deeply prone to that certain kind of alienation whenever we are with other Filipinos.

Alimangong BukidThough our insular mentality has acted like a constant abortive material to that idea of unity with other Filipinos or has been the source of our seeming natural lack of trust with or suspicion of other Filipinos, whenever we consider them as strangers to our family, clan or community, it is not, however, without any redemptive use. While this mindset made us distrustful of other Filipinos on one hand, it also deepened, on the other hand, our connection and reliance to our family, clan, community. As matter of fact, this same insular mentality became the very foundation of what made us a great people all over the world. Often times, it is our family, clan or community – “connected dreams” such as a better life for them or their survival that became our raison d’etre to overcome the numerous obstacles in our life, which to ordinary mortals would seem insurmountable. With the same effect, our hope for our family brings out the best in us and inspires us to reach for unprecedented heights in our lifetime.

Surely, a people, who are so unselfish when it comes to their kins, could not have been that NATURALLY destructive with others after all, I said to myself!

True enough, the Filipinos in Diaspora, exposed as they are to new ideas and freed as they are from the controlling social and political values of their country of birth, have begun to turn into opportunities those monumental challenges that were strewn along their quest for a better life for themselves and their families. As Filipinos in Diaspora begun to achieve economic independence in their new adopted countries, they begun to confront and question their own mentality that unconsciously kept them away from their fellow Filipinos. And the deeper they probe into this negative personal social value, the more they realized that this value from a distant past hinders their own total development, and like an albatross hanging over their necks, impairs their flight to be truly free. And just like any victim of a traumatic event, the Filipinos in Diaspora discover that every time they reach out to other Filipinos, whom they consider alien to their family, clan or community, the more they could understand them, empathize with them and connect with them. In more sense than one, they start to understand themselves better and they begun to experience a kind of healing in themselves. And along that process of internal healing and with that self-knowing by reaching out to other Filipinos,they gradually manage to take control of their alienating attitude with other Filipinos and discover new possibilities to interact with them.

This new understanding of themselves by Filipinos in Diaspora through reaching out to others, OF BEING FOR OTHERS , gave their lives a new dimension that is not only enriching but more importantly, self-fulfilling. It is for them a unique sense of fulfillment. They realize that it is a different feeling of achievement from that brought by their success in that land away from their land of birth. They notice that it is somewhat similar to that sense of contentment; that feeling of peace whenever they made their kinfolks happy. They become aware that it is, for many of them, almost a totally novel experience. To some, it is even a sort of a transformative, religious journey. The Filipinos in Diaspora feel that their new found connection with their paisans, though novel, is not something new. Deep inside them, they feel natural about it. To most of them, that new found connection or interest with others somehow seems like a long lost friend. Understandably so! If our memory would serve us right, this social value has long been with us but was suppressed in the past, for purposes of colonial control and domination, for being a danger to the survival of the very source of their reason for living – their family, clan or community!

But history seems to be repeating itself favorably for us. As it was during the last decade of colonial Spain in the Philippines, when nationalists from the country like Jose Rizal, the Luna brothers, the Del Pilar brothers etc. gave momentum to our fight for national liberation with new ideas from societies outside the country, Filipinos in Diaspora are gradually assailing the destructive hold of our values from the past and their oppressive consequences. Like a sleeping giant, the natural compassion in the hearts of the Filipinos are gradually being awakened by new sets of values from outside our country of birth. This is evident from the ever increasing number of Filipinos in Diaspora who are getting involved in the affairs of the Philippines through many ways ranging from organizing regular annual medical missions to raising funds for charitable works in the Philippines down to outright formation of pressure groups in their host countries to effect changes in the political affairs at home.

The impact of this awakening, this rediscovery about who we really are, being experienced by the Filipinos in Diaspora, resonates back home. And it is for that matter that we exhort all Filipinos in Diaspora to continue reaching out to our dream for our people and a better Philippines. Let us seize the moment! The road may be long but every day, it is a distance less unclear than before because our hearts and soul are already hacking their way through its unchartered path. Let us continue to be counted against what is wrong in our midst. Let us not forget the lessons we learned from those who chose to sacrifice their everything if only to see that we may live as human beings. Let us always remember that what we have now are not only for us but for others too because what we have now have been made accessible to us by those, who by their own choice, have opted to struggle in the past, at all cost, that we may enjoy the luxury of the very things that made us free. Let us us seemly be, who we truly are!

Indeed, the dawn of a new day with all its hope is in the horizon. The days of a fractured Filipino community everywhere is about to end. We could already hear the footsteps of the majesty of law and the primacy of justice marching to reclaim their seats in the soul of every Filipinos everywhere. Peace, prosperity and good governance are coming home in the Philippines. It is not wishful thinking anymore to hope that Filipinos may start to live again with dignity as human beings in their land of birth. All of these are not mere pipe dreams anymore!

They are not mere dreams anymore because we, the Filipinos in Diaspora, have realized that there is a mountain of difference between our self-interest and selfish-interest; we, the filipinos in Diaspora, have realized that there is more to our lives than having to see our own children and kinfolks safe and secured in their own dreams; we, the Filipinos in Diaspora, have realized that we could only claim that we are truly liberated if we are not only for ourselves but for our KABABAYANS (countrymen) too!

But going back to my original problem, whom are we to choose Hillary Clinton and her well grounded experience or Barack Obama with his exciting dream and the promise of his youth.

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