Thursday, June 28, 2007


I feel foreigners have got this undeserved and ugly reputation for speaking badly about the Philippines. The actual truth is the overwhelming majority of foreigners respect and honor their host. The crime here is you only hear about the few foreigners who do misbehave. One of the reasons I volunteered to write this column was to recognize and tell you about the “silent majority” you rarely hear about.
Now it is time to point out another shame; Filipinos who speak badly about their own country. The shame is not in their being critical of their own country. I am very critical of my own country. As citizens we have that right. What bothers me about much of the Pinoy self criticism I have read is that most offer no solutions and are often inaccurate, even destructive.
One Filipino wrote on his blog quoting President Manuel Quezon. “I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by Americans”. Then the blogger added, “….and we got our wish”. His entire blog is one long rant on how bad it is in the Philippines. I could not find one positive or constructive suggestion from this Pinoy expatriate living in Australia.
I challenged one Pinoy critic to come up with some solutions and all he could say was, “Kill them all and start over”. That is hardly a realistic or practical solution.
A local leader in this community said to a room full of people, “Filipinos have never produced anything for the world except pretty women”. Wrong.
History is written by those in power and those in power almost never acknowledge the work of those subjugated or without a voice. The Philippines has been dominated by other nations for almost all of its history
Prior to Philippine colonization by Spain, the Philippine people carried on a thriving trade with other countries, including Java, Sumatra and even China. Beyond normal exchange of food items, Filipinos were known for their textiles and gold craft. They mined their own metals, when much of the world barely knew what metal was and how to process it. Early Filipinos not only had their own language, they also created their own alphabet. The letter in the center of the Philippine Katipunan flag is pronounced “ka” and means “freedom” in pre-Spanish Filipino. Early visitors to the Philippines found her people to be highly cultured and literate.
There is evidence that early inhabitants of Palawan practiced trepanning (drilling holes in the skull to relieve pressure). This medical practice is still used today to relieve cranial pressure. The high percentage of healed patients indicates an early knowledge of how to fight or prevent infections.
Despite the early indications of Filipino medical skills, the Spanish would not allow the people to learn or practice medicine until the mid 1800’s. Who knows what Filipinos might have been able to contribute if only the ruling powers had allowed them to develop to their full potential?
Most people know that Magellan was killed by Chief Lapulapu when he “invaded” this country. This example should have been emulated by other Asian nations. It would have prevented the rape of Asia by western powers. What many people fail to appreciate is that the Philippines was the first Asian nation to revolt against colonization and the first Asian country to establish a republic.
It is hard to historically match the determination and courage exhibited by the Filipino people in their quest for freedom. The American Department of Defense estimates that 217,000 Americans lost their lives fighting for their Independence and freedom. In just this single insurrection against America, Filipinos lost over 600,000 lives. Their 100 year struggle for freedom against four modern nations is unmatched in bloody courageous sacrifice. They led Asia, by heroic example, in the overthrow of empirical tyranny.
As to “Filipino contributions”, in their few short years of independence they have done very well: (for example)
Diosdado Banatao, an engineer created the GUI (graphical user interface). Without this vital program, your computer would be limited to a green screen and only text displays. There would be no color or pictures.
Dr. Alberto Aguilar discovered the drug “wonder drug” Erythromycin literally saving millions of lives. Gonzalo Catan Jr. created a water-based insect buster. His discovery makes use of 21 useful microorganisms to kill flies, mosquitoes, termites, ants, roaches, ticks, fleas and lice. Maria Carlita Rex-Doran also produced a bittermelon concoction used for diabetes mellitus and HIV infection.
Dr. Ramon Barba discovered that spraying mango trees with potassium nitrate induced flowering all year round. This technology made the Philippines a leading world exporter of mangoes and mango products. The Philippine mango is rich in vitamin K and is known as the sweetest in the world. Working for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Dr. Rodolfo Aquino, helped to develop IR8, the 1966 strain of the rice that launched Asia's "Green Revolution."
Dr. Ricardo Lantican led a corn research program that saved America's corn industry from the Southern leaf blight. Dr. Nic Liquido pioneered the research on light-activated dyes that now control many fruit flies. This was a significant contribution to the fruit growing industry world wide.
Dr. Baldomero Olivera, discovered conotoxins, a bunch of biomolecules in Philippine marine snails now used in international neuroscience research. His contribution will significantly impact neurological science.
Immunologist Eduardo A. Padlan, together with Dr. D. R. Davies, used x-ray crystallography to study the antibody, which is helpful in diagnosing cancer cells and in understanding the human immune system.
Ned Teves, an anesthesiologist, invented the endotracheal tube cardiac monitor used in surgury. Wilmo Orejola, a surgeon, created the harmonic scalpel, an ultrasonic surgical knife that doesn't burn flesh.
Francis Duhaylongsod, a surgeon invented minimally-invasive cardiac surgery. This uses smaller cuts and reduces recovery time significantly. The ''Fracture Classification Manual'' used all over the world, was written by Ramon Gustilo, a surgeon with nine patents for artificial bone replacement systems. Juanito A. Simon, a metallurgist, formulated “Tribotech” a motor lubricant used by McDonnell Douglas on AH-65 Apache helicopters. Rodolfo Arambulo developed “Multishock”, a bullet that increases firepower of an ordinary gun. It is the first of its kind. Dr. Jose B. Cruz an engineer created the automatic control system for the Patriot missile
These are just a few of thousands of Filipino contributions. In just a few short years Filipinos have contributed significantly to the world and the only thing this “local leader” revealed was his own lack of knowledge.
I call on all of you, Filipino and Foreign guest alike, stop concentrating on the negatives and focus more on the positives. Be constructive not destructive. It does make a difference. You will not only find your life here more enjoyable but you will help create a better Philippines. Filipinos are solving many of their problems. Filipinos are making progress daily. This is a great country with even greater potential, lets work together to help not hurt.

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