FORMER Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Dinky Soliman declared recently that she is first and foremost a Filipino and has not lost her citizenship.

“Oo, naging parte ako ng dating administrasyon pero hindi naman ako nawalan ng pagka-Pilipino ko.” (Yes, I was part of the previous administration but I never lost my Filipino citizenship). Soliman is an active member of Tindig Pilipinas, a newly organized group making a stand against the Duterte administration.

It takes more to be a Filipino than what our certificate of live birth states.

Filipinos are peculiar yet understandable, sensitive but resilient, submissive yet brave enough to take a stand. Yes, Filipinos are submissive but when pushed to the wall, we will show you that we have the blood of Lapu-Lapu. So beware. We pride in being a hospitable people and we are grateful for everything and we call that “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude). We tend to be more creative and innovative since we are deprived of so many things.

Just like any other race, we have our peculiarities. A Filipino smiles on his way to court for the hearing of a serious crime filed against him. During a TV interview, a Filipino smiles in the midst of a disaster or a calamity.

We are stubborn too. A Filipino refuses to wear any mask or safety goggles when drilling or welding respectively. A Filipino believes that traffic rules and regulations are meant to be broken. A Filipino also thinks that our country is one big trash can and a flooded street is one big swimming pool. I do not know whether this is genetic or endemic, but why does a Filipino insist on relieving himself in public even right in front of signage that discourages it?

Foreigners wished Filipinos were precise in giving directions: “If you want to get lost, ask a Filipino for directions.” Yes, we tend to give too much detail instead of just saying “left, right or straight.” We give directions with reference to a sari-sari store, a mango tree, a lamp post, a dog that is tied to a tree or the rooster in front of the house. “Filipinos point with their lips when giving directions,” observed a tourist.

Invite a Filipino to an occasion. The invitation says, “You are cordially invited…” She will interpret “you” to mean the entire clan.

A Filipino confuses shyness from being unassertive, brutal from being frank, dull from being meek and a “chismoso” from being observant.  

We may have our imperfections but those do not make up what we truly are. I am still proud to be a Filipino.