Filipinos can­not han­dle crit­i­cism

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY MICHAEL VALDER­RAMA

THERE, I said it. No one can crit­i­cize the Philip­pines or the Filipino peo­ple with­out re­ceiv­ing some sort of back­lash from ra­bid pa­tri­ots. This is es­pe­cially true when the Philip­pines is crit­i­cized on the In­ter­net.

The very day some­one – es­pe­cially a for­eigner – writes an ar­ti­cle crit­i­ciz­ing some­thing about the Philip­pines, whether it be our food, our cul­ture, or our trans­porta­tion sys­tem, Filipino ne­ti­zens will rush to “de­fend” the coun­try from what they re­gard as an un­for­giv­able at­tack on the Philip­pine na­tion.

If some­one says Jol­libee tastes weird, then a Filipino will com­ment “at least we aren’t mak­ing peo­ple fat like McDon­alds is”; if some­one says Filipino food is bad, then thou­sands of Filipino adobo lovers will rush in to de­fend their beloved cui­sine.

The av­er­age Filipino ne­ti­zen is known for de­fend­ing his coun­try from at­tacks in a way that makes him, and his en­tire na­tion, look like im­ma­ture, un­e­d­u­cated cretins with blind pa­tri­o­tism. Filipinos on the In­ter­net are almost in­ca­pable of ac­cept­ing crit­i­cism, al­ways show­ing un­nec­es­sary pride even when the very thing be­ing crit­i­cized is true.

For ex­am­ple: a youtu­ber posted a video about how Filipino traf­fic is hor­ri­ble be­cause of the bad jeep­ney driv­ers. The crit­i­cism quickly led to a string of ar­gu­ments. One per­son said “All bad driv­ers. Worst road, worst driv­ing.” and the cre­ator of the video, who posted a video crit­i­ciz­ing that very thing, said “Huh? ALL? Are you sure? Have you been any­where else apart from the Philip­pines? Worst road? Re­ally?”

Mean­while, the ex­act same thing was said about driv­ing con­di­tions in Thai­land, and a Thai com­menter agreed, say­ing that traf­fic in Thai­land was so bad that not even the po­lice fol­lowed the rules of the road.

Even when it comes to mat­ters of opin­ion and per­sonal taste, the Filipino will still de­fend his coun­try with the re­lent­less zeal of the Katipunero – case in point, a food blog­ger said that she would rather go hun­gry than eat Filipino food again. The com­ments sec­tion of that blog was laced with ex­ple­tives from Filipinos de­fend­ing Filipino food, while ex­pats and for­eign vis­i­tors to our coun­try agreed that our food “lacked va­ri­ety and qual­ity”.

Another blog crit­i­cized Bri­tish cook­ing, lam­bast­ing it as “the worst food in the world”, and Bri­tish com­menters ac­tu­ally said that they agreed, and it was best to stick to the eth­nic In­dian and Pak­istani restau­rants, whose cui­sine was much more pleas­ing to the palate.

It crosses over into the real world too. After Cana­dian su­per­star Justin Bieber ridiculed Manny Pac­quiao, he was threat­ened to be banned from the Philip­pines by the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment it­self. The same pop star, while talk­ing about the record­ing of a cer­tain song, said it was recorded in “some ran­dom coun­try” by “peo­ple who didn’t know what they were do­ing.”

The coun­try was In­done­sia. The In­done­sian peo­ple them­selves were un­der­stand­ably in­censed, but they did noth­ing about it and just shrugged it off.

Filipinos can­not han­dle crit­i­cism be­cause as a peo­ple, we have skin as thick as pa­per. The tra­di­tional Filipino is never di­rect when talk­ing about a prob­lem or an ugly or un­pleas­ant sit­u­a­tion. He loves to go around the bush in or­der to avoid hurt­ing the per­son

he is speak­ing to. There­fore, when our na­tion is crit­i­cized, we take it per­son­ally, as an at­tack on our­selves.

When tourists com­plain about our coun­try, peo­ple usu­ally tell them to go back where they came from in­stead of fix­ing the prob­lem. The con­cept of “crit­i­cism for self-im­prove­ment” is un­known in this coun­try be­cause of our ten­dency to never say any­thing bad to a per­son di­rectly to his face.

Although they might not know it, Filipinos who can’t han­dle crit­i­cism are de­fend­ing the na­tional “pwede na yan” at­ti­tude be­cause they de­fend the coun­try’s sta­tus quo in­stead of lis­ten­ing to oth­ers and try­ing to make it bet­ter.

An Amer­i­can tourist posted a video en­ti­tled “8 things I don’t like about Thai­land and the Philip­pines” – you could tell who was from where in the com­ments sec­tion. The Thais re­spect­fully thanked him for his crit­i­cism and apol­o­gized that their coun­try was not as com­fort­able as it could have been for him, while the Filipinos raged and whined about how this per­son should go back to Amer­ica. That’s what we lack: Calm, cool heads and the abil­ity to ac­cept crit­i­cism. If we ever have that, I’m sure it would do our coun­try a whole lot of good.

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