AWARDING THE DEAD
By Angel Dayan
We have a Filipino-American culture that does not trust our people, which is rather strange and sad. I am not alone in this observation. Our “kababayans” would rather patronize another person’s similar business but not that of a Filipino’s. Are we really less qualified, or our businesses just below the standard? It could be because we have been abused far too many times on different occasions in our experience dealing with Filipinos.
We are a difficult breed. We harm our own. We are hard on others and on ourselves, always critical and suspicious of people who move and enter our lives and thus, unless we could survive the“crawling crabs” from our cultural uniqueness in social norm, we may not realize our endeavors in foreign shores as we pursue our dreams to become successful.
I should probably not critique us harshly this way because it makes me beat my breast as well before our community and openly declare to everyone this is who we are as Filipinos and that it weakens our character and strength as a people and destroys our respect from the rest of the world.
Against these odds that we fondly describe ourselves, I believe we should continue to strive all the more to counter the wind of behavioral challenge in order to achieve our dreams and our great expectations. If we find ourselves “in-fighting”oftentimes to criticize or firmly take a stand, we are truly alive and human or, strangely enough it seems, but natural. But to see no evil in this curse I believe is wrong. Yes, we will find fault in others and we can. It is easy to do. This hardness to ourselves could also even be seen at home where we only award and recognize those who exceptionally excelled in us in their good contributions in life after they are dead.
The good examples lately are actors like comedian Dolphy Quizon, and “presidential” Fernando Poe, Jr. who were both given posthumous awards like what Catholics assign as they elevate their “dead saints.” We would also only rise to fight strongly for our freedoms at different times of history after two of our adored heroes are gone (Jose Rizal and Benigno Aquino). We had not rallied mighty and strong when they were still breathing air and alive. Both seemed to have found themselves “nag-iisa” fighting a crusade alone for a good cause amidst the formidable opposition. We were passive before we were pushed too far and we introduced ‘People Power’ to the world. We could have a little difference now.
I would like to think we are not this stupid as a people, but we are in a very real sense. Therefore, perhaps in an apparent contradiction, one seemingly “good-intentioned” but yet dishonest woman in Los Angeles awarded some 100 individuals in the so called “Outstanding Filipino-Americans” to the consternation of rational thinking people who understand what it takes to be a true Achiever or Outstanding in one’s career performance in a particular field or endeavor. It is not because someone could pay $1,100 dollars to receive an award bestowed on him/her even without having done anything worthy at all.
This is gross publicity the loser’s way, a misleading proposition of a shenanigan to rise from the crowd, and more than a “pay to play” affair in one writer’s definition, but which in fact was an ultimate absurdity and a “spider’s sinful snare.” To the insensible awardees without self-respect and decency, they should feel ashamed of themselves. It was an award of ill-repute.
But it is America where diplomas could be redeemed like a coupon from the back of a matchbox, and a commoditized “Who’s Who in America ”in a hollow award bought from a Swap Meet/Flea Market is the name of the game, or now ridiculously even a “cum laude” academic credential peddled without veracity in a CV is acceptable— if only to give color of braggadocio on one’s undertaking to deliberately baffle or disorient people in order to collect money from a hungry constituency longing for recognition no matter what it was for.
A colleague used to advise me vainly that “if you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with confusion.” We have seen a lot of this in the world. What manner of dysfunctional sick people are we who could fall to such an extreme trip of “egomania” and a ridiculous scheme of publicity and promotion via a wayward public misrepresentation. We have a longing to be the first and yes but if we are honest we need to admit to ourselves that we are indeed at the last. We could not even win a medal in the Olympics from our population of some 80 million Filipinos. The Filipino senses need to be reborn.
Yes, we have our true Achievers in America.We could be proud of them as they stand tall shining brown. But our best achievers in the United States were in no way heralded here, not the ones chosen or recognized. So then for those who are guilty as brown and unashamedly willing participants who seek to make a name for themselves, could we ask the question: if we cannot get a medal for real achievement can we buy it and give a plaque of recognition to ourselves? It was the pervading theme we know now from the newspaper articles of a Jew.
“Bestow that plaque to friends, relatives, associates, and cohorts one clear summer day and call them “Outstanding” and then expect to receive that same similar plaque another day from the same cohorts or awardees.” The organizers seem to say. This has already happened before and this one was not really new under the sun. It is a frivolous cycle that will continue to brand us. Let us rub and erase like a tattoo with the salt, “kapalmuks.”
These people did their spin under the roof of “non-profit” organizations “without the IRS valid exempt determinations” (for profit) under the clout of supposedly good public and charitable purposes to desensitize public sentiments. Where is our guilt and where is our shame once again are good questions to ask the tongue constituencies of the North. They are, I believe in between the distance of the belt in the waistline and the stomach. The organizers and the awardees and the supporters are guilty of these two deadly sins in our midst. The Filipinos at large cannot swallow that. Did you just throw up? What will you say when you see this plaque posted on the wall? The “Dog” got them. They have been caught in their devil’s snare. And now that it was over, could someone tell the Internal Revenue Service to please be on the way for that missing one million peso charitable contribution. Where did the money go? But hey, was this a Dead people’s award too? I am still thinking.