What a word: magic. In Grimwald’s article about the subject of positive thinking, esteemed commenter Sea Bee dropped this little gem of a thought:
…despite 500 years of colonization, Filipinos still believe in the aboriginal concept of magic. There is widespread belief in fairies and encantos. Telenovelas who subject is the fairy world are wildly popular. The Christianity of the Spanish and the rationality of the Americans is just so much Filipino window dressing.
Our local telenovelas show a lot of magical things aside from the encantos. For example, the protagonist finds themselves the “secret child” of someone rich, so they have to reclaim that “heritage” (which again points to the wish of Filipinos to be comfortable upon birth, without work). A benefactor (fairy godmother again) comes in and helps them up, implying that they could not do it on their own (and encouraging Filipinos to be moochers). And of course, we have some dollops of “wisdom” in these telenovelas, such as follow your feelings (with little or no rational thought), that all one needs is wish, and dreams will come true… by themselves. How magic dumbens us. Perhaps that can be proven in the Cream Silk TV commercial before: “It’s like a magic!”
Some misconceptions about “positive thinking” like The Secret are based on magic. Its premise is, just think of what you want, and your thought waves will alter the universe to give it to you. Obviously, that’s magic. It gives the illusion that people can control reality. One term for this was magical voluntarism. Perhaps even Filipinos have this concept as well; that somehow, somewhere, their lives will get better by just believing in “magic.”
That hit me: why do Pinoys act so dumb and stubborn at times? Why do we have a moocher/palamunin and slave mentality? Why do we worship celebrities like gods? Our entertainment media had it all along: Filipinos believe in magic.
The word “magic” could be applied to what Filipinos expect from politicians. For example, they vote a candidate, then they don’t do any follow-up on whether the candidate will perform according to the platform or whether they will perform properly. They believe their politician will “work his magic.” That’s the mistake.
Politicians almost never work like magic – anywhere, not just in the Philippines (unless making loads of money disappear is something you could call magic). This is why constituents should check up on the elected officials. Unfortunately, Filipinos mostly have peasant mentality, where they treat politicians as celebrities. They bootlick their politicians, and are concerned only with personality and even appearance rather than what they do. Thus, they always vote the same kind of people over and over again and get screwed over repeatedly.
But this also reveals the cultural character of Filipinos as a whole, the one represented by our logo mascot, Juan Tamad. Perhaps the oft-reported laziness habit of Filipinos is connected to their wanting magic stuff to happen. For example, getting rich and famous after winning or just participating in a singing contest. The wish of having a breadwinner who will not only see to their needs, but wants as well, and even be a willing peon they can order around. The expectation of being praised or honored just because they are Filipino, because being Filipino is supposed to be special. Simply hoping to have a life with all the luxuries without lifting a finger, like those who were born into it. And even impunity: Filipinos want magical stuff to happen so they can avoid responsibility and accountability. These and more are the magical wishes of many Filipinos that seem to form the core of our cultural psyche.
One recent thought is this: in the recent Christian Bale Batman films, the title character’s famous line is, you are defined by what you do than what you are. I added another idea; you are more defined by how you handle things you cannot control, rather than things you can control. Certainly you do show something in what you can control, such as how you deal with money or being in a position of power. However, dealing with things you cannot control, such as an accident or just seeing things not going your way, can bring up other things about you that were never seen before – and these things reveal what you really are. The latter seems to be the case with the Filipinos who want “magic.” When things get out of control, they hope magic will fix it. If it doesn’t, they go on tililing rampages or other kinds of tantrums, claim “we are oppressed” or something like that.
As a rationale for why Filipinos seem to behave like this, I go back to FallenAngel’s article that says Filipinos are unwilling to accept reality. People will get angry when reality does not follow their wishes. They have to realize, reality is not our pansy. Yet, some people insist that it is, and they cause problems for themselves and others because of it.
Perhaps another word from the religious upbringing we have is the “miracle.” Yes, people seem to expect miracles in life. Such as suddenly winning the lottery or meeting someone rich who’ll become their sugar mommy or daddy. Or, something like the meme below.
But when one understands the teaching more correctly, we should not expect miracles. They are not for us to demand. Even Christian teaching exhorts followers to remain grounded on reality.
Thus, as a solution, Filipinos have got to stop believing in this notion of magic. Sure, you can use the word to refer to some amazing things that happen in real life, things that you don’t expect that are delightful. But the context is not the same as the magic I described above. We can’t expect that kind of magic in real life. If we want something, we have to stay grounded on reality and work for it.
It’s time the Filipinos drop the wish for magic and work on reality. As the title character of Merlin portrayed by Sam Neill in the TV mini-series said, “no more magic.”