COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
A professor from the state university once declared in the early post war years that “Manila is the Philippines.” This kind of sentiment has seemed to have been carried on through the years by Manila bound residents, claiming superiority and advancement, and thinking that such entitles them to represent the country.But if you look at Manila or the now Metro Manila, it is but a replica of all those emerging capital cities in the newly developing states. They are more or less the same as they are being diluted with foreign influences. You can see it in the architectural landscape, the pollution and congestion, the melting pot character of different people from just about anywhere, the impersonal social relations, the political and economic activity that’s always in collision, and culture in conflict.
The intellectual activity that percolates in the big universities is mostly western thought, or a conglomeration of foreign ideas and thought. Manila bound intellectuals and artists have this penchant for the eclectic, combining western, Asian, and African elements and motifs in their abstractions. And then, in their attempt at searching for a Filipino identity,
they become apologists of local culture in somewhat distorted forms,
behaving more Igorots than the Igorots or any of the locals in the different
provinces for that matter.
The “provinces” is the Philippines, where life is slow paced, relaxed, and settled. In the province, social relations are more personal and
communal in nature, and family ties are strongest, and where work and leisure are natural routines in the course of life. In the province, there is space—physical and non-physical.
The accessibility of the sea and the rivers in the provinces makes their people easily plunge into the waters after a days work or during weekends with families and friends. It is not a scheduled activity to break away from stress or “life in the city.” There is no regimentation, but a sense of being rooted to the land and sea and moving according to their beckoning.
The people in the provinces have identities; be they Waray, Ilonggo, or Cebuano among others. They don’t try to be Pinoy or Filipino. They are Filipinos in their native food and delicacies, in their dialects, in manners and customs, and in their inherent spirituality. They are Filipinos in their close personal ties and the somewhat infinite sense of time. They are Filipinos in that they are warm, strong, and have great compassion for others.
Indeed those in the provinces living under an abundance of sunshine and rain are rooted, and have a deeper sense of belonging to the people, land, and country with its distinctive terrain.