Hurting all over

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, July 12, 2014


THE emotional outbursts of those who saw (or heard of) the video of a priest who put a 17-year-old single mother to shame in church during the baby’s baptism is felt all over town and farther, having gone viral on FB and national media. The priest's apology, including his emotional trip to the young mother's house, reached almost everyone.

The reaction from the public is a show of a people’s emotional response to protect itself from pain. That is, to protect the baby’s mother who is a daughter, a relative, a neighbor, a friend.

An onlooker from another part of the world would say this is being emotional.

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We as a people are friendly, caring, passionate. There is a sense of connection in the Filipino in relatedness with friendly others, especially relatives. We have a huge family, not only of parents. We have a mother and a father, yes, and also sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, also godparents (the more the merrier) and neighbors with the bayanihan touch.

The character of the reaction to the baptism incident is very understandable in our point of view. Personally, I’m concerned about the effect of the priest’s discourse on the young single mother who is said to have been depressed during her pregnancy. Still, one never gets surprised at the strong feel of the Filipino's relatedness, we do get touched even as we reach out to touch.

A friend who worked in New York had this new American co-worker who helped her adapt to her new experience of life in the Big Apple. The first time she walked out together with the American co-employee was at day's end. They crossed the street to get to a bus stop. As in a habit back home in the Philippines, Beth reached out to her new friend to hold on to as they would cross the street. But quickly, the woman pulled back her arm and moved out of Beth's hold, although with a smile. Excuse me, the American woman seemed to say. My friend wanted to cry, feeling hopelessly homesick away from loving loved ones.

And yes, Filipinos are sentimental about each other, especially when they’re outside in other countries dealing with strangers.

There was the nation’s reaction to the racist blog on a Singaporean site which sent Filipinos, especially those working in Singapore, to react emotionally, the infliction personal as a Filipino would see it. The blog entitled “Filipino Infestation in Singapore” made a British citizen with a Filipino wife write an open letter to the Singaporean prime minister about the racist act. Surely it was the Filipino in the wife that made him write. He said the Filipino is hard-working, caring, friendly.

The Philippine Independence Day Council in Singapore cancelled a plan to celebrate the 116th anniversary of Philippine independence in a venue in Singapore which the police feared would be “public order and safety concerns” due to the Filipino's reaction to the unfair blog.

There was another incident outside the country that earned the same outrage from Filipinos. It was the controversy of the use of a spoon by a Filipino boy in a Canadian school. In 2006, a 7-year-old Canadian boy from a Filipino family was punished in school in a number of occasions in Montreal for not eating “intelligently” in the Canadian way, like use the spoon only for serving. There was a rally in front of the Canadian embassy in Manila, also protests from Pinoys abroad through media.

And so, is it true that the Filipino is the most emotional people in the world?

In a 3-year-long Gallup survey of over 150 countries, the Gallup pool made telephone or in-person interviews of 1,000 people from ages 15 years and older every year from 2009 to 2011 on positive and negative emotions, Filipinos came out as the most emotional people in the world, with Singaporeans as the least emotional.

The Filipino is affectionate, zealous, passionately related. He emotionally belongs to the clan.

***

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.

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