Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yeah, ours is better than yours

Talk about being ethnocentric. I was debating with myself whether to post this or not because this would cause a bit of an outrage to my fellowmen; but hey, the man started it, and because he said it, I'll post him in here. He should be glad that he was mentioned in this post, although I never got to ask for his name (and why would I?). This is actually a personal post, which I said before that I would never do here on this blog, but due to the man's arrogance, I decided to write about him and why he epitomizes the Filipino culture and society.

This happened more than 2 months ago, back when I was in the Philippines for a short vacation. I bought a phone when I was there, and it happened that I needed to do a transaction that involves me going to a branch of my network provider (which I'm not going to mention, due to privacy). I was at a mall somewhere in Makati (or Glorietta, to some people who can recognize this place) when I went to their office. I was with my friend too, and I hope that she doesn't recognize herself as the person who I'm with that time (I doubt it though. She accompanied me to go there, making time for me despite her busy schedule. Pfft. Really? Okay, just pretend this wasn't you because I only realized this when I went back here.). So there we were at the office, patiently waiting for my turn to speak with a representative. I was told to photocopy a photo-id, and I was glad that I had my old driver's licence with me. They didn't know it was an older version, but it hasn't expired yet. A new one was recently released before I left for the Philippines, and I thought of bringing the old one for safety purposes, and in case my photo identification was needed. Anyway, when the security guard or a representative did the task for me, he reproduced it that fit the whole 8"x 11" sheet of paper. At first I was shocked, that my face was plastered on that huge paper, and anyone can see it. It's not like the people who'll be reading it are hyperopic, because eyeglasses are made available at this time and age. Alright, enough ranting. It already happened, and people wouldn't remember me anyway because I'm not there. But because of the design and the colors, the licence seemed unfamiliar to the man, so he was looking at it intently, half-smiling and then he said, "Mas maganda pa rin yung lisensya namin dito." (Our licence is better than yours.). He said it proudly, as though the basis of the best country is determined by the driver's licence cards. Then he said it again and turned to my friend and asked her, "Diba? Mas maganda pa rin yun mga lisensya dito kaysa sa kanya." (Right? Our licence here is still better than hers.). I can't for the life of me remember what my friend said, and if she does remember, let me know. Well it doesn't matter to me what you said, because I was surprised at what the man told us. I was speechless, and my mind wasn't able to process quickly what to reply back. I think I forced a smile to answer him, but I can't remember what I said. No, I didn't say anything. I've been racking my brains for a while and I think my friend didn't say anything, or she just nodded in response to the man who was forcing her or looking at her to hear her answer. Wow, he's not just being ethnocentric, he's being dictatorial as well.

This man, who looks at a mere licence card, from a province that he might have never heard of, states that Philippine licences are better than mine for no reason at all. He doesn't state why or how, or point out evidences to why he thinks they're better. The only thing he says is that they're better, no questions asked. Couldn't get more logical than that. How am I supposed to believe him when he doesn't even give me evidences for me to think about? From a scientific point of view, if he doesn't give me facts, his argument would lose. And for sure he did. He might not have realized it, but pondering about this event now, I'm thinking, well, the man needs more time to read and watch objective newspapers and programs and less time in front of the television that features the actors' lives and their daily dramas in life. I'm not judging him though, for his personality, but only on this particular time that happened. And woe is me, for I wasn't able to blurt out what I should've done, which also makes me a coward who doesn't stand up for my rights to question his assumptions. Maybe next time, when I get more courage to do it. Or maybe I wasn't myself that time? Because I remember I was like in a trance, that everything that happened there was just a dream. Okay, enough excuses.

By this simple and random interaction at a local office of a large telecommunications provider, does this show you how the Filipino society thinks? Of course, I'm looking at it in a larger perspective, by generalizing that everyone thinks the same way. I'm sure they don't, but it just irks me when some people think this way. And I know that I may have behaved like this during my lifetime, for I'm only human; but aren't we told that it's better to learn our mistakes so we don't have to do it again? Or if we can't not do it, we can avoid it or find a better way to approach and solve it. Afterall, experience is (and will alway be) the best teacher.

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