"Thank God I’m Filipino!"
When was the last time, you felt grateful enough to say thank you for being a Filipino?
What does it mean to be thankful? Thankfulness comes from the heart. If we were to live in the spirit of gratefulness for being a Filipino, it is important that we discover our true national identity. We are a people with an immense potential to be great and to make a difference in today’s world. The negativities that surround us, while they are real, do not reflect our true potentials.
True thankfulness is more than just an attitude of gratefulness. It is a state of being and doing. It is a lived experience. If we are truly to live up to our shared identity, then we have to rise above our self-imposed limitations and negativities.
Nowadays, with all the negative media around us, it is not easy to feel proud about being a Filipino. Whenever we turn on the television, listen to the radio or read the daily newspaper, we are confronted with issues that, I must admit, make me wonder about the kind of future we are building, and what kind of legacy awaits the generations to come.
But there are two realities that we fail to remember or that we choose to ignore. The first reality is that we are all part of the problem. When we look at our society and see the sad state it is in, we must know that we have a part in making it so. But it does not stop there. We must not forget that the second reality is that we are part of the solution. We can effect positive change. What we do, or do not do, contributes to the situation that our society is in.
Being thankful about being a Filipino begins by thinking more about the kind of nation we live in - the heritage of its past, the realities and challenges of the present and the future that we can build together. When we think more about the world we live in and how our individual and collective actions shape our community, we become more motivated to be good and do good to others.
It is a big challenge trying to sum up what it means to be a Filipino. Our culture, history, religion and customs speak so much about our values, attitudes and behavior. But there are many of these values, attitudes and behavior that stand out, and when put together, tell about us as a people and help define our shared Filipino identity.
There is so much good in the Filipino. We are a people of indomitable faith that remains unshaken and resilient even in the most trying circumstances. Our family orientation gives us a sense of rootedness and security, both very essential to any form of reaching out to others. As a people, we are person-oriented and much capable of caring and concern for others. Our relationships with others are a very important part of our lives. Our flexibility, adaptability and creativity is a strength that allows us to adjust to any set of circumstances and to make the best of the situation. Our sense of joy and humor serves us well in difficult times, making life more pleasant and meaningful.
Our shared Filipino identity has an immense capacity for greatness. It is very important thus that we make life choices that reflect our positive identity because many of our strong points are also the sources of our weaknesses. This is why we see contradictions in the many faces of the Filipino. Admittedly, the negativity is intensified by the challenges we see around us – extreme poverty, excessive corruption and lack of social justice. Oftentimes, this causes us to think little of ourselves.
It is not by chance that we are Filipinos. Our being Filipinos is a gift. But it is a gift that is meant to be shared. Being a Filipino comes with a mission. It is the mission to inspire others so that they can aspire for something greater than the status quo. We have to go beyond the confines and comforts of the present, and to the communities that we live in, the pride, conviction and gratefulness that we are Filipinos.
To be truly grateful about being Filipino means to live out our strengths and live out our shared positive qualities the best way we can. While the negative traits in us are admittedly real, these should not overpower us and define our overall identity. Rather, we must move to the future by accentuating the good in us with confidence; that we as a people, we have the capacity to transform our nation.
In these very trying times of the pandemic, it is best to remind ourselves, “Thanks God, I’m Filipino!”