Breaking Free from Colonial Mentality: Restoring Filipino Culture
In the Philippines, it is noteworthy that, despite almost 400 years of Spanish rule, the preference for Spanish culture did not take root except in the very highest classes. Nevertheless, even though the United States has owned only the Philippine Islands for less than 50 years, colonial mindset expresses itself at almost all levels of society with respect to American culture. In this Colonial mentality in the Philippines essay will be an attempt to reveal this topic.
To start with, for instance, skin-whitening products and clinics are everywhere in the Philippines. It is also where the pervasive vestiges of colonial Western influences, from the common use of English as the language of the educated or upper class, to the proliferation of Western restaurants and shops that made Manila look more Americanized than many places in America itself. Sales in the Philippines cross 100 million a year for Nike, Skechers, Converse, and Crocs, while the Marikina Shoe industry remains an underdog. Many Filipinos have this prevalent attitude that anything American is “good” and consider that something 'imported' is more special than something 'local' or manufactured in the Philippines. All of these, of course, is the remnant of the United States' long history of colonization in the Philippines. So colonialism has been on many Filipinos’ mind, and its most Machiavellian legacy—colonial mentality.
As evident in Nas’ video, the Americanized culture already generally resides in our lives. We cannot deny this. For example, when I was a little girl, I was always told to stay away from the sun so that I will not get “too dark.” I grew up believing that only people with light skin are considered as beautiful. That my morena skin is not ideal and I need to erase this feature. It’s the same with my peers and every one that I know. They spend thousands buying whitening soaps and lotions and going to clinics to try to lighten their skin.
It is the same with other aspects like the way we dress, the way we eat, and the way we consume entertainment as presented in Nas’ video. Filipinos wear clothing from international brands such as Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Harlem, and many others. I bet that you cannot even name one local Filipino clothing brand. This is the same with strong preferences for Mcdonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, etc. A kid would rather eat Hershey's Kisses than taste chocolate with Goya. More audiences are drawn to the Hunger Games and other Hollywood films than to Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and other Filipino films. Among many Filipinos, the American rule caused great marks of colonial mindset in materialistic and individualistic ways. It is preprogrammed to us that anything Filipino is inferior to anything American. And in the long-run, this alienated heart and mind of ours brought only ever-deepening poverty and its consequent illiteracy, hunger and damaged culture to the Filipino and our homeland.
With this being said, if not eradicated entirely from the Filipino being, colonial mentality should be steadily removed. It is important to decolonize the Filipino colonial mindset until it fully destroys what was left of the Philippines and to encourage and advocate nationalism. It would require deliberate action and a great deal of resolve, but it is not impossible to revive Filipino nationalism.
In the weakest point, however, I do not agree that Nas profoundly generalized his representation that Philippines is overall Americanized. This one minute video failed to constitute the diverse Filipino ethnic groups and indigenous identities found in varying places and societies of our country. It lacks the portrayal of our own rich culture and identity, and focused rather in a single place than researching and exploring other regions in the Philippines where our own Filipino culture is pervasive and celebrated. With these narrow and stereotypical views, I do not like the adjacent association of our country to the American society, since they do not know the complete historical background and origin of our society and everything that makes us who we are as Filipinos.
Overall, with this limited and misleading information, they should not make the general notion that all parts of the Philippines is Americanized. Our country is very rich and diverse in cultural and historical heritage. Wherever you go, something interesting to learn and know about can always be found. As we can observe, this nation consists of diverse and different customs and cultures that are attributed to the various factors that resulted from the different colonizers. All of us have unique stories of places, objects, people and events that bind us to the past, even before the invasion of Spain, Japan, and America, up to the martial law of President Marcos, important events that somehow taught us and shaped us into being what we are now, citizens of an independent country or in other words, Filipinos.