To Be a Great Nation

Manila Bulletin, March 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

To Be a Great Nation


CAN we be a great nation? Just thinking about it, its asset and liabilities, its opportunities and limitations, might help to bring the wish to reality. Many of what follows are generalizations and therefore subject to exceptions. Not only that but subject to contradiction. With that caution, let the teasers for discussion proceed.

Are we a nation? Politically we declared independence a century ago and were granted independence by the colonizers half a century ago. Political trappings do not make a nation. Besides, it was only in the 19th century that Germany was united and only in the 20th century was Italy a nation. Even the United States moved forward only after their bitter civil war. From the point of view of time we need not be impatient. We also have big barriers to nationhood, like consisting of many islands crisscrossed by mountains. Also there are at least 8 major languages. Pilipino as a common language has a long way to go and behind English as a lingua franca. Predominantly Catholic in religious allegiance, there are sizeable minorities of Muslims, Protestants, and animists.

The impatience especially of balikbayans is understandable. They have seen the prosperity and discipline of other nations. But they still come back even if only for a visit. Many complain of the corruption and the dirt and poverty but most agree they enjoy their visits. And many ask themselves what they can do to prosper the nation. This may be the basic problematic. The culture of the nation is biased towards affiliation or socialization. Life may be hard but it is enjoyed to the fullest. The west on the other hand is biased towards the abstract principles. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. The Pinoy will shade principles if it comes in conflict with personal relationships (of course this is a sweeping generalization). …

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