BRIDGING THE GAP
Globalization and Philippine nationalism: Questions and options
Nationalism is a concept that has a very broad and vague meaning. It is a concept where the meaning lies on how people interpret it on the basis of their experiences and pre-conceived beliefs. Ideally, it is understood as the feeling of belongingness which uplifts the spirit of oneness to fellow countrymen and, at the same time, looking up to a common goal for the nation’s development. In short, nationalism is viewed as a basic building block in the attainment of national unity and progress.
Globalization, on the other hand, is a concept whose aim is to unify the peoples of the world into a single society and function together in a harmonious manner. Its goal is to involve all nations of the world in international affairs, including trade, industry, culture and everything that can be exchanged and would benefit everybody. It promotes homogeneity in all aspects of human lives, thus tends to eradicate the uniqueness of each nation.
From the beginning, the study of Philippine history has always been thought to be the vehicle in effectively promoting Filipino nationalism, especially among young people. In fact, it is a subject that has been mandated for such a purpose, together with the study of the life and works of Jose Rizal. Yet, more than sixty years have lapsed since the Philippines was granted its independence but Filipino nationalism and Filipino unity have remained an aspiration. And, with globalization, cultural boundaries and national sentiments are gradually eroded.
For many Filipinos, globalization is closely associated with the United States. The state of affairs in the Philippines is such that nationalism has even become a myth in many aspects of the lives of the people. Many of them delight in singing American songs, eating American junk foods, and dreaming of snow and Santa Claus. Others prefer to speak English, imitate western fashion, envy Filipinos who have gained American citizenship, desire to see America as a tourist, aspire to migrate to the “Land of Bread and Honey”, be influenced by the “stateside mentality”, and many more. Many Filipinos even oppose nationalistic legislations either because they have become the willing servants of foreign interests or because, in their distorted view, Filipinos cannot progress without the help of foreign capital and foreign entrepreneurs.
Globalization is undeniably spreading its tentacles widely and influencing everything it touches. Its manifestations, both in products, technology and cultural millieu are convincing that almost everybody is aware of its beneficial effects. The issue, therefore is, how does one deal with globalization in the context of Philippine nationalism?
At the moment, there is no stopping globalization due to international treaties and national legislations attached to it. It must also be pointed out that there is no denying its advantages and benefits. Be that as it may, globalization and its instruments can be utilized or re-oriented to serve national interests.
First of all, global technology, particularly the cellphones and the internet, can be used as a medium to promote nationalism among Filipinos around the world. As a powerful tool, it can be used as an instrument where sentiments and insights about Philippine nationalism and other topics about the Philippines can be emailed or put on the web for wider dissemination.
Globalization has also allowed the continuation of old ties regardless of physical barriers through internet access and other forms of communication. Interesting essays on Philippine history and culture can be sent to relatives and friends abroad. This will encourage Filipinos overseas to be reminded of their cultural legacy and to assert their being Filipinos through continual association with the Philippines.
Schools and the mass media must also do their part. Information on culture contacts or cultural exchanges should emphasize on the localization or Filipinization of foreign influences. The Ilonggo batsoy, for example, may have originated from the Chinese but through time it has essentially been Filipinized. Or, the fast-food is a foreign concept but was localized through Jolibee which has become part of the Filipino identity. To instill pride among young Filipinos, classroom learning, particularly in Philippine history, should stress on the early explorations and discoveries by Filipinos; the hiring of Filipinos, especially Ilonggos, as boat-builders, sailors and warriors by the Spanish colonizers; the determined struggle of the people against foreign colonizers, and many more. Filipinos who have become famous worldwide as leaders, both in the past and at present, must be emphasized. This is to prove that Filipinos are not an inferior race.
With regards to contemporary times, teachers and mass media practitioners should call attention to the world dominance of Filipino seamen and popular entertainers, as well as those in sports, as in the case of boxing. Not to be ignored is the subtle but growing influence of Filipino nannies or domestic helpers on their young wards.
Globalization may seem to threaten the vague and weak concept of Filipino nationalism. However, one is consoled by the fact that history shows that nationalism emerges at some points in the lives of the people, sometimes unexpectedly. It changes forms and is influenced by different factors, both internal and external. This is because nationalism can be viewed as a form of human adaptation. It springs from the need for belongingness (idea of community or nation) and also for the sake of sharing resources for survival. No matter how globalization digs into the lives of Filipinos and envelops the whole world, there is hope that nationalism will find a way to emerge in each individual at evey possible way anytime.