Originally posted in my Facebook on May 4, 2009.
In his Facebook status yesterday, Bikoy Villanueva said “Here you go again with these illusions of social change through individualism–pay taxes? clean your backyard? pray?? isn’t that what you’re supposed to do regardless of any campaign for social change?”, referring to the website akomismo.com
Another UP student, Will Mardo, said in her FB status “Sabi ng kuya ko nang hindi ako manood ng pacman-hitman chuchu: “wala ka man lang kahit anong nationalism sa katawan mo!”…. asus, gawin bang basehan si paquiao!!!”, something RG Tesa had to blog about here [http://rgtesa.blogspot.com /2009/05/pacquiao-nationalism.html]
Nowadays, it seems money, DVDs, noses, boobs, vendors’ partylist groups, and perjury charges, are not the only things being faked: so is Nationalism.
A lot of Facebook-ers and bloggers would react (or already have reacted) “What’s wrong with that?”. Some would argue that before one can change society, one must change individually. Others go even further, and argue that one can only change society on an individual basis. As for finding any arguments to justify Pacquiao pride as a basis for being nationalistic, one has to bring his thinking back to the grade school level.
Let’s first take a look at the word itself: Nationalism. What is it’s most popular translation? Not “makabansa”, but “makabayan”, which is formed by two words: “maka” and “bayan”. “Bayan” itself while being used to mean “country”, is more used as “village/town/community” (malawak na bayan ng Novaliches) or “the people” (‘ang tao, ang bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!’).
In short, Nationalism also stands for ‘for the people’.
So what is being ‘for the people’ about supporting Manny Pacquiao? Aside from the fact that traffic (to the verge that it was almost like a transport strike here) and the crime rate goes down, there are no material benefits to ‘the people’. The main argument is about ‘national pride’, or how we have something to brag about our being Filipino. Which, as we said earlier, is grade-school logic. National unity (the main argument for Pacquiao as a basis for nationalism) and national pride can’t be the basis/bases for nationalism.
1. Adolf Hitler, because he made the united the Germans and made them feel proud about being German since they kicked the crap out of Poland, France, and almost every other country in Europe.
2. Saddam Hussein, because he united the Iraqi people (using fear, and only for a time).
3. George Bush, similar to Hitler’s reason.
4. Ferdinand Marcos, similar to Saddam’s reason.
(Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of what the Pacman has done. He’s brought down, aside from Hatton’s carcass, is the myth of white and western superiority. Unfortunately, he is being used by the most unpopular officials in our country since Marcos to keep their popularity from going even more down.)
But even worse than using Pacquiao as the basis for nationalism, is what can be termed as “individual/individualist nationalism”. And it didn’t begin with akomismo.com. It’s been in our country, especially among the middle class for a long time: From iamninoy all the way to the anti-SAMASA parties in UP Diliman during the 80s.
The basic thought behind this counterfeit brand of nationalism is that we can change things solely on an individual level. But as Bikoy already mentioned earlier, this “individual nationalism” is nothing more than the things which we are already expected to do so. Throw your trash in the right places, don’t smoke where it might offend people, vote in the elections, pay your taxes, work hard, and so on and so forth.
How then does that become ‘for the people’?
Take for example the our last two examples of individual nationalism. We are always being told if do those things, we would become prosperous. And it’s based on the concept of the “American Dream”: anything is possible with hard work.
In short, the historical and ‘factual’ basis for individual nationalism is anything but factual. It’s as true as Salen-Ga.
But Bikoy goes further: He explains that by promoting ordinary routine as nationalism, we already are led to believe that we don’t have to do “anything else”. We don’t have to question why things are so fucked up in the world today, much less do anything about it that is beyond “individual nationalism”. And of course, it makes for good advertising, as this Multiply entry from my former friend (and continuing lunatic) proves: http://akosikee.multiply.com/journal/item/244/Ako_Mismo
And this counterfeit brand of nationalism proves to be very popular for the middle class because it justifies the idea that they DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! Voting in the elections, studying in school, graduating, working hard, and paying taxes, are all part of the middle class routine! And that’s what we mean when we say ” Reality is made to Conform to Theory, Not the Other Way Around”. Individual nationalism is convenient, that’s why some people go to any length to defend it!
It was collective and militant action.
For the average member of the middle-class,one can begin on the road to collective and militant actions by attending “alternative classes”. These can be as simple as impromptu discussions on the sidewalk during rallies, regular discussions set by organizations like the LFS & Anakbayan (never Akbayan), or they can even be day-long or week-long exposure trips to peasant communities such as Hacienda Luisita and other communities of the basic masses. The thing is, these alternative classes teach us stuff that the present education system is trying to repress, much like in the Spanish era when our ancestors were thought Filipinos were lazy because of their physiology. Most of the time, these classes have the benefit of having actual experience of the poor on their side.