imageLast weekend, a missionary couple left the Philippines for good. After more than 27 years of faithful service, they went home to the US. Their lives and ministry have touched hundreds of Filipinos. They adapted well to our culture and had been quick to apologize for any cultural misstep. Over the years, the wife had conducted cultural orientation sessions for new foreign missionaries. She always pointed out the fact that Filipinos are a gentle, respectful and polite people.

Sadly, we can no longer make that generalization when describing Filipinos. Yes, a large majority of the population remains respectful. We continue to use terms of respect when talking with others, especially with our elders: “po,” “opo,” “sir,” “ma’am,” “kuya” and “ate.” However, a dark side of the Filipino culture surfaced during the recently-concluded election campaign period.

Using all forms of social media, netizens engaged in vicious name-calling, cursing, insults and threats against supporters of opposing candidates; sometimes against the candidates themselves. Expletives have been freely hurled. Some shamelessly express their hope that this or that person would be raped, or killed or suffer some violent attack. The teenage daughter of a winning mayoralty candidate took to Twitter to vilify a candidate she didn’t like. All in the name of free speech? That’s scary…and cruel.

This is not a simple “diarrhea of the mouth” that we can easily dismiss. These elections did not simply unmask some uncouth Filipinos. Our words reveal the condition of our hearts. Jesus Christ said:

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart… For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness (Mark 7:15,21-22).

A heart check-up for everyone, myself included, is in order.

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4 thoughts on “The Unmasking of the Uncouth Filipino

  1. I think it also has something to do with misunderstanding what free speech is about. Yes, we have the freedom to speak but that does not mean we can mercilessly tear people down and wish them ill on social media just because they don’t agree with our views or they don’t support the same candidate. I used to think that the anonymity on the internet can empower keyboard warriors to be so bold and brazen online but it seems that there’s a growing tolerance for those who don’t care if their name is published along with their impassioned, curse-filled statements.

  2. To start with, it has been said that most Pinoys do not know how to accept a criticism in the proper context. They take it too personally and feel insulted even with the slightest deflection from what they believe to be the sacred truth. They have no clue as to the rigors of argumentation. Hence they hurl back insults & epithets. Second there is seemingly a younger set who are rude, disrespectful, and use gutter language and believe that this is an “in” thing to do and it is freedom of speech. There is a disconnect between generations: those that had no early exposure to the internet, and those that did. Cyber bullying has been attributed to the latter. Cyber crime includes bullying. Bullying has several degrees from a simple hurling of a curse to threatening the life of another. A threat to life is a crime. How many have been bullied this past election? There is actually a way to report cyber bullies to FB. Unless we have a more educated and more mature internet users who are more sensitive to the basic rights of people in the Bill of Rights and cyber rules this will continue. Schools and homes must emphasize this in educating their children. One problem is the proliferation of internet cafes where parents cannot supervise their children. So schools must stress this early in the elementary years. MHO.

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