Filipino 'Exceptionalism'

Manila Bulletin, February 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Filipino 'Exceptionalism'


FILIPINO exceptionalism is derived from American exceptionalism, a term used by US scholars to differentiate American (?New World?) institutional attitudes from the European (?Old World?), distinguished by the absence of a class system, a passion for novelty and individualism. There are other traits, but the sum of it all is that America and Americans are unique among the community of nations, being, as it were, built by immigrants who in time came are bound by consensus and common experience.

Filipino exceptionalism is of a different character, something that?s less commendable than the American. In fact, it?s a direct contrast with it. While American exceptionalism grew out of immigrants seeking a better life, Filipino exceptionalism did not, although our remote ancestors crossed land bridges to flee from their tyrants. Instead, it came about from centuries of colonization.

The colonial laws, rules, and practices were privileges for the colonizers and a yoke on the colonized. Our forebears? response to the oppression was to find ways of circumventing or deviating from the laws. It was necessary to obey them on pain of punishment, but the weak and the oppressed had to resort to clever ruses.

One would think that the ruses would end with the triumph and defeat of the Revolution, and later with national independence, our exceptionalism remained rooted in our psyche. …

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