Who Are We, Filipinos? A Note
To know who we are, Filipinos, we must know who we were, Indios. On the one hand, we have few precolonial documents which might tell who the Indio was; on the other hand, the Filipino is the Westernized Indio. The Filipino is who the West says the Filipino is. According to Western research, the Filipino, like all Orientals, is a residual category of the Occidental: not Western. There is need of independent Asian research. The only really ancient documents connecting the Filipino with the Indio are perhaps our music and dance, and, above all, our languages, surely, our national language. The irony of it, it is precisely these that the Filipino government has removed from the curriculum of higher education. They are said to distract the youth from change, burdening them instead with the heavy baggage of the past. But what is change? Is it continuity or discontinuity? Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan. The High School graduate is helpless against bully scholarship. Higher education is the proper center for Asian research, one that will not assume that the West has the exclusive franchise on reason and efficiency; one that can meet theory with theory. We cannot overemphasize that if East and West are not dichotomous, still they are different. In order for our leaders to be able to successfully manage the difference, Asian research must reveal why and how they are different, why and how they must combine, if only so that our institutions may become more effective and more just. If we want to modernize quickly, copy superior technology but keep the faith in our traditions, in ourselves: sa ating pinanggalingan.