Tag Archive: asians

Let me share with you guys a very interesting article from F. Sionil Jose.

In the Fifties and Sixties [the Philippines] was the most envied country in Southeast Asia. Remember when Indonesia got its independence in 1949 it had only 114 university graduates compared with the hundreds of Ph.D.’s that were already in our universities. Why then were we left behind? The economic explanation is simple. We did not produce cheaper and better products.

But this physical poverty is really not as serious as the greater poverty that afflicts us and this is the poverty of the spirit.

Why then are we poor? More than ten years ago, James Fallows, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, came to the Philippines and wrote about our damaged culture which, he asserted, impeded our development. Many disagreed with him but I do find a great deal of truth in his analysis.

This is not to say that I blame our social and moral malaise on colonialism alone. But we did inherit from Spain a social system and elite that, on purpose, exploited the masses. Then, too, in the Iberian peninsula, to work with one’s hands is frowned upon and we inherited that vice as well. Colonialism by foreigners may no longer be what it was, but we are now a colony of our own elite.

We are poor because we are poor — this is not a tautology. The culture of poverty is self-perpetuating. We are poor because our people are lazy. I pass by a slum area every morning – dozens of adults do nothing but idle, gossip and drink. We do not save.

We are great show-offs. Look at our women, how overdressed, over-coiffed they are, and Imelda epitomizes that extravagance. Look at our men, their manicured nails, their personal jewelry, their diamond rings. Yabang – that is what we are, and all that money expended on status symbols, on yabang….

We are poor because our nationalism is inward looking.

And finally, we are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings. We condone cronyism and corruption and we don’t ostracize or punish the crooks in our midst. Both cronyism and corruption are wasteful but we allow their practice because our loyalty is to family or friend, not to the larger good.

I am not looking for a foreign power for us to challenge. But we have a real and insidious enemy that we must vanquish, and this enemy is worse than the intransigence of any foreign power. WE ARE OUR OWN ENEMY. And we must have the courage, the will, to change ourselves.

Think about it, guys. Have a fruitful day!


In 1542 to 1877, the word “Filipino” referred to a Spaniard living in the Philippines—the rest of the natives were called, “Indios.”

In 1878, Jose Rizal, for the first time, used the word Filipino to refer to the native population in the country.

In 1998, a Greek dictionary defined the word “Filipina”, as a domestic helper.

Today, “Filipinos” is the brand name for a series of biscuit snacks made by Kraft Foods in Europe.

In Boracay, a white man was heard calling a waitress, “Hey monkey, come here!” and the poor Filipina dutifully approached.

Sad but true, the perception of a Filipino today is a striking contrast during the time of Rizal when Filipinos in Europe were referred to as “the glory of the universities”.

F.Sionil Jose’s article “Why We Are Poor” looks back in the 50s and 60s when the Philippines was still the most envied country in Southeast Asia. Today, we are alongside Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, in terms of economic and social standing.


• 880,000 Filipinos leave the country every year in pursuit of more gainful employment abroad. They’re laying pipelines in Siberia, mining diamonds in Angola and sailing ships in all the world’s oceans. They clean thousands of homes a day from Hong Kong to Dubai to London; Bahrain’s prime minister employs some 50 Filipinos in his own household (Philippines: Workers for the World, Newsweek, Oct.4, 2006)

• The Philippines is currently the world’s leading exporter of nurses, with 164,000 or 85% of the country’s trained nurses are working abroad, with doctors becoming nurses [1]

• About 200 hospitals have recently closed down across the country because of a lack of doctors and nurses with another 800 hospitals considered to be “partially closed” due to the lack of qualified health personnel[1]

• Last 2006, the National Career Assessment Examination showed that out of the 1.3 million examinees, only 3.7%, or 49,066 students, are fit to enter college.[2]

• The Philippines is No. 41 in Science and No. 42 in Mathematics among 45 countries.[3]

•  “One of the defining characteristics of the Philippine middle class,” says a senior Western economist in Manila, “is that they all want to get out.” (Philippines: Workers for the World, Newsweek, Oct.4, 2006)


As Barth Suretsky, an American expat who lived and died in the Philippines lamented, the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino. “All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino.” No pride, no identity, no recollection of his glorious past that can project him in leading the future of his country. “A people without a sense of history is a people doomed to be unaware of their own identity.”

Are the Filipino people such a weak race that we cannot find our place among the world’s nations?  (In the United States, Filipinos are described as “the invisible minority”)

Will the Filipino always be ashamed of his brown color, short height and snot-nose? 

Will the Filipino always look to a foreign country, a foreign husband, a foreign citizenship for hope and salvation?

 The words of Rizal, written in 1890, unfortunately, still reverberate…

“Alas!  The whole misfortune of the present Filipinos consists in that they have become only half-way brutes.  The Filipino is convinced that to get happiness it is necessary for him to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him…without aspiring anything…without protesting against any injustice…any insult… that is, not to have heart, brain, or spirit; a creature with arms and a purse of gold. . . there’s the ideal native!.” (The Indolence of the Filipinos by Jose Rizal, 1890)


The Brown Raise is a movement to CREATE A NEW PATH for the Filipino people—that his world need not always have to revolve around the shallowness of money, pleasure and survival, but that he is also capable of remarkable character, dignity, honor, visions for humanity and depths of nationhood.

The Brown Raise is a movement that seeks to unlock the secrets and strengths of a race and country which was once called, “the pearl of the orient seas”, and to discover and pursue the Philippines’ unique contribution to the hall of nations.

The 21st century Global Pinoy must have the spirit of the Brown Raise… the same spirit that Rizal, our national hero possessed from childhood.

“As a child I was educated among Spaniards; I was nourished on the great exemplars of the history of Spain, of Greece and Rome; afterwards in Spain my professors were all great thinkers, great patriots. Books, newspapers, [historical] examples, reason, all made me desire the good of my native land…I was so far from thinking that I was doing wrong that I have never wanted to accept the protection of another nation; twice I was offered German nationality, once the English, and I have never accepted.” – JOSE RIZAL

This is just so timely guys. For more info, please visit http://www.thebrownraise.org/ and help spread the word.