CULTURE is generally understood as a set of customary beliefs, knowledge, skills and standards of social behavior. It provides a society with the identity, strength and cohesiveness to cope with its life challenges.
Historically, a nation’s culture has always been set by the ruling class that also established the nation’s political and economic systems. It is designed, not maliciously but subconsciously on the sociological level, to make people accept and manage without any fuss the realities of life under the established political and economic systems.
In the Philippines, Spain eased us into accepting our cruel fate under feudal colonial rule with a culture that was subsumed by the Catholic Church’s doctrine on the divine right of kings. By this doctrine, kings are representatives of God whose decisions, therefore, must be obeyed as God’s will. Thus, it took more than 300 years for an Andres Bonifacio to wake up to the injustice of feudal colonial rule.
The Americans took over and brought us democracy and universal education, both of which are the anti-theses of feudal colonial culture. However, for national security reasons, they entrusted both to the Ilustrados, the local elite who inherited the political DNA of Spanish colonial masters. Since 1946, those who in turn inherited Ilustrado DNA, today’s oligarchs, have never made more than token attempts to share economic independence with the Filipino masses.
But make no mistake, today’s oligarchs are still in control because we allow them. We keep electing them to positions of control as we remain in the throes of a destructive colonial belief that the superior is always right, that he/she is God’s representative who will take care of us and whom, therefore, we must respect and obey without question.
Unless, therefore, we are able to get out of the prison of our colonial mentality and assume the culture of a self-reliant and self-respecting assertive people we are stuck with an economic system that caters only to an elite few.
We need a counter culture, one that respects the equality of members of society and does not accept any form of injustice for reasons of race, religion, skin color, financial status, educational attainment etc.
In the world, we might be multi-colored but we belong to one human race. In the Philippines, we might speak different dialects but we belong to one Filipino nation. There can be no room for injustice in a culture that rests on the belief of our fundamental oneness and equality.
But how do we develop a counter culture when homes, schools and churches continue to promote a feudal colonial culture? No easy answer. But knowing why we need a counter culture is a start. Colonial mentality gets us nowhere.