First installment of Tapat New’s Independence Day series!
In the course of many centuries, mankind found the issues of nationality, color, religion, and ideals to be worthy of debate. Discrimination, while not as alarming in the Philippines compared to other nations, has been revealed to be occupying the consciousness of the Filipino people upon closer inspection.
Members of the LGBT community joins a parade to promote same-sex marriage. (Screenshotfrom ABS-CBN News)
Just recently, pictures of several UV Express vehicles spread like wildfire on the Internet because of their stickers saying “Bawal ang Mataba” and “For Slim Only,” which pertains that only slim or fit people are allowed to use the said public transportation.
As expected, citizens decried this so-called nonsense policy. This kind of discrimination puts everyone in the awkward situation of checking their own figures, otherwise they might be denied of their right or means to commute.
Racism has never been an issue to Filipinos, with Philippines being one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia, we are used to towering foreigners walking and living in our midst. However, unlike Western countries where skin color is the issue, here, in a country archipelago forming several groups of islands, the water separating us seems to be the issue.
Stereotyping Ilocanos as cheapskates and the Bisaya people as foul-mouthed are the most common examples of stereotypical regionalism in the Philippines, it is so unnoticed that even some people stereotype themselves as such. This kind of mentality hinders the virtue of not only understanding but also of unity, that regardless of where we came from, we are all Filipinos and we should all be working together for the progress of our beloved country.
Another form of discrimination here in the country is that Filipinos residing in Mindanao are often branded as terrorist and warmongers, but not because of the region where they came from, rather because of the religious group they belong to.
Indigenous People living away from the civilization are also often misunderstood by people as well. Their belief in nature spirits and other tradition are usually looked down upon instead of being respected.
Women are primarily seen as the weaker race than men, for they are of smaller build and strength. Historically, most human settlements are patriarchal in nature, and the Philippines is no exception. At the turn of the millennium, movements and groups pushing for equal rights and opportunities gained respect from various groups, but sadly, it did not put an end to discrimination.
We are still living in a country where women who are sexually harassed are being laughed at and scrutinized for their clothing and interaction with other people instead of pointing out to the offender his lack of respect. Philippines is still a country where the concept of same-sex union is likened to be an act ‘worse than animals’. It is still a country where men are supposed to be rough and tough and any ‘unmanly’ interest will make them less of a man.
The list goes on and on. Discrimination will always find its way in every culture, looking for divisions, burning bridges. Instead of coming together like the heroes who liberated the country, the ilustrado who used his intellect to fight for freedom, the plebeian who gathered men and raised arms, the polio victim, the widow, the artist, the soldier, they all saw themselves as Filipinos longing for independence, rather than men blatantly throwing stones at each other.
Isn’t it fitting for us, people living in a democratic country, free and all, to safeguard this independence they have bestowed upon us by breaking the walls of discrimination that separate us, ushering a society united as Filipinos? (Luke Godoy)