Friday, June 29, 2012

I Know The Dance

I need to put this down somewhere, even though it might bite me in the behind later on, or get me in trouble, or whatever. Know this. I love who I am, but I have a lot of issues about Filipino culture centered events, probably because I've been bitten by my very own culture. What is it they say? Once bitten, twice shy?

The Filipino club at my high school were filled with snobs and their cliques. One case in point. There was a cultural rally at my school, and the Filipino club were going to perform the Tinikling. I wanted to join, but when I inquired, one of the officers looked down her nose at me and said that they were only taking people who already knew the dance.

I'm the kind of person who, if I decide against you, I won't even bother. So I decided against her and didn't even bother. I didn't bother telling her that I knew how to dance the Tinikling and that I probably knew how to dance it long before she even knew what it was. Learning traditional dances was part of the physical education in the Philippines. Later on, I heard from several of my classmates that they were learning how to dance the Tinikling for the first time, for the performance.

I didn't bother because she wasn't worth it. And I soon learned that the entire Filipino club wasn't worth it because most of the officers had the same clique-y attitude. They took members for granted by expecting a lot from them (volunteer time and even money), but never gave them a chance to truly participate unless you were friends or friends/related to their friends.

And that's why I'm never one for culture pride. There are many great things about my culture, but I'm never one to tout around the color of my skin. Like all cultures, mine's far from perfect. But even my mother have admitted that Filipinos are less forgiving of their kababayan (their own people) than they are of other cultures. Amongst ourselves, many Filipinos are snobby and clique-y, not hesitating to look down on others if you don't measure up.

I grew up in the Philippines so yes, I know and have lived through what I'm writing about. I had to build a defense. I was a shy little kid, but I pulled my good grades, piano talent, and "good student" around me to defend against the mean things kids said and did. To defend my position in the popular group of friends I had, I also looked down on others, acting against my better judgement.

But to have moved to a melting pot country and find out that the club that should bring us Filipinos together was no better than the petty elementary school crud I left behind was, at the very least, disappointing. Perhaps I could chalk it up to teenage immaturity but it follows into adulthood, and there's no more excuses.

I attended a Filipino flag raising in downtown recently. Honestly I went because I knew there were going to be good photo ops. Although my aunt was one of the main organizers and her sentiments of putting aside our differences and coming together as Filipinos - the same sentiment as other culture-centered events - was good, I didn't really believe in it. Show me change on a daily basis and then I will believe. But I won't believe that the goals and sentiments were accomplished over one or two events.

But like I said, I'm never one for culture pride, and the twice shy business. I prefer experiencing other cultures, and enjoy going to non-Filipino cultural festivals more. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate and I'm not ashamed of my own culture. I'm just tired of the bs. But I won't take bs from other cultures either. Not one of them is perfect or above another. I'm not elevating one culture above the rest, and that includes my own. Just 'cause it's my color doesn't mean it's better.

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