How Filipinos retain their cultural roots
Paul Raymund P. Cortes, Philippine Consul-General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates
Dubai - Only when people are confident of their identity and what comprises their essence as a nation can they be more productive and innovative
The close to half a million Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates is an obvious and bottomless pool of talent - its breadth and depth open to be shared with the other 200 nationalities in this part of the world.
Often, Filipinos are reputed to be excellent artists and truly, many manifest creative geniuses in painting, photography, interior design, fashion design, dance, and music.
However, because of constraints in local regulations and employment circumstances, many could not undertake or explore avenues that would feed on to their artistic pursuits. This is why the Philippine government through the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai endeavours to vigorously promote Philippine culture and create an atmosphere of frenzied Filipino pride.
I suppose it follows that only when people are confident in who they are and what comprises their essence as a nation can they be more productive and innovative not only in their adopted states but also in the motherland.
Indeed, joining the ranks of the diaspora weaves magic to one's culture, Filipino more specifically. Somehow and strangely enough, most Filipinos who claim to have never been avid fans of Filipino cinema or our telenovelas (TVseries stretched over a period of some 6-8 months) suddenly become intense and rabid followers, thanks to overseas Filipino channels and online streaming facilities.
Filipino folk art, dance, and culture become highlights of events and gatherings of Filipino communities abroad. Anything Filipino mainstreamed into their adopted societies spring forth feverish ethnic pride, as if such never existed when in the homeland, in the midst of the comfort culture. True enough back home, anything Filipino or local is seemingly taken for granted as it is unchallenged in terms influence.
In the land where foreign tongues rule, where cuisine from far-away dominates the palate spectrum, suddenly we feel the need to prove the rest of humanity here that Filipino food, art, music, dance, film, and even philosophies deserve to exist side by side with the rest of the global community. Sadly, in the international context, ours are not as known or as celebrated as Japanese, or Korean, or Thai, or European. Ours appear obscure and we struggle to gain approval or at the very least an acknowledgement that a significant slice of humanity share affection for everything Filipino.
When others are corybantic promoters of their own culture, we become magnetized and drawn into their world, somehow mesmerised and bewitched so that we likewise become fanatics. This is the role Overseas Filipino take on gleefully - to be walking mirrors of the Filipino identity not just in the physical but more in substance and as living adverts of the Philippine soul.
The totality of the Filipino is magnified to proportions only 10 million Filipinos exemplify. Only when the rest of the world sees how much we live and love our own can we convince the rest of the world that anything Filipino is most certainly worth looking at and embracing. After all, we can only expect others to love us if we love ourselves in the first place.
(The writer is Philippine Consul-General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates)