Jessica Sanchez and the Filipino brand of sharing
By Kai Rosario
Anytime soon we should expect a resolution from the Philippine Congress recognizing Jessica Bugay Sanchez for the honor she has brought to Filipinos worldwide as she competes in the final two showdown of American Idol.
It would be a formal claim of Filipino kinship with the young lass of a very promising career in the global entertainment scene. Hopefully though, no other country would oppose such claim as vigorously as China challenges our title to the fossil-rich Scarborough shoal. As of press time, Mexico, from where Jessica’s father hails and the United States, of which she is a citizen, don’t seem to mind sharing the diva’s heritage with us. If only strategically positioned islands can be similarly apportioned with our neighbor countries in South East Asia. Unfortunately, international laws on territory are oblivious to the concept of “sharing”. One race in the world, though, is not impervious to this notion.
Invoking affinity is a distinctively Filipino habit that proceeds from and leads to “sharing”, the virtue, not just the mere concept. At a time when recession forces one to be at his fittest and most selfish form in order to survive, Filipinos run the other direction by generously grouping and re-grouping both with the weakest and the strongest family members or friends. They surround themselves with people who will lift them up be it immediate and extended family members, new kababayan acquaintances or a girl of Filipino descent on a flat screen feed, who inspire them to survive with dignity, but to whom they are but strangers. They share just about everything anyone could partake – meals, money, photos, memories, aspirations, convictions, empathy, affinity and even ancestry.
Jessica’s battle in the Idol competition has revived this sense of kinship on a fascinating scale. For people riddled with moral and legal dilemma – from an impeachment trial that unfolds like a telenovela, conservative Christians protesting against the RH (reproductive health) bill and Lady Gaga’s concert, to local celebrities mauling each other at the airport – an event that calls for a collective sentiment rather than conflicting views is a much needed respite.
Voting parties are held in Filipino communities across Los Angeles; viewing parties in the Philippines are staged; Twitter and Facebook parties on the internet professing support and pledging votes have been rampant every week. Personal and virtual gatherings of kababayans brought together by the common belief that they can make Jessica’s voice bigger and louder for the whole world to notice that the Filipino is as valuable an asset as his 7,107 islands back home. Gatherings of the traditional communal meal bowls and rare vessel of shared opinion that transcend into a sense of patriotism, unity and respect for one’s ancestry.
It can be conceded that it’s a natural human interest to trace one’s roots, invoke and declare it, but it is indubitable that only the Filipinos can cherish it so compulsively. We love to closely associate ourselves to fellow Filipinos even those we have never met or who do not actually know us – a former neighbor’s friend or the godson of your dentist’s classmate in elementary. We trace and connect ties especially in foreign countries where a familiar accent or idiosyncrasy can spell the difference between a good and a bad day. Through this endearing habit we turn the world into a place so small that there will no longer be room for unnecessary dissents and everyone eventually learns how to share – a meal, a time, a house, a thought, a prayer, a dream, a hope.
Recent Idol surveys and predictions show that Jessica’s rival, Phillip Phillips, has 48% chance of winning compared to Jessica’s 39%. A significant gap the Filipino brand of sharing can close. We just have to link our branches and share the pride of seeing a fruit of our heritage flourish.