Unity in Diversity

A Representation of the Philippine Diversity (Credits: Rafhael Piola)

The Philippines and its many islands have physically divided the Filipino people. Consequently, this leads to diversity between different provinces and regions. Everywhere there are things that are unique. There are things that makes each place special. Consider it as each’s very own trademark, if you will. Nevertheless, this division does not imply that the country has no harmony nor unity. I believe that it is these different ethnicities that develop the Philippine identity. This way, despite differences, we are united. We can be united as one Filipino culture, not because we are all the same, but because of our complexity. Senator Loren Legarda in the article Culture and Our National Identity: Pursuing Change That Unites wrote about her influential story and what she has learned about the correlation between culture and building the country. The first thing I can agree with from her writing is that our Philippine culture and identity, in all its diversity, is a complex mix of cultures. To fully understand this, we need to remember the different eras in Philippine history. Through the many losses from conquerors we’ve gone through as a nation, we’ve also gained many elements that are added into a culture. There are the daily fiestas in the country which were most likely acquired from the Spanish colonization. The evident use of English is something we can attribute to the United States. Many of our food can be linked to foreign influence as well. All these different art forms and many more are instilled today in our culture. It defines us, and also tells us who we are. Also, although the load of influence would vary between the regions, it does not give any reason to divide. According to the article, as long as there is respect and understanding, diversity will bring people together.

Differences Make Us Interconnected (Credits: Fist Unitarian Society of Denver)

One thing that struck me from the article is when it mentions how cultural considerations have to be integrated in policy making. The article says that it needs to be fused into education, economic planning, development and et cetera. Honestly, before reading about this, I would not have even thought about such kind of an implementation. Well, coming from a senator of the country, I am enthralled by the idea. Honestly, before, I’ve always wanted the country to just copy the laws and policies of other countries like the United States because it clearly works for them in an economic perspective. Now, I realize that if we were to just mimic others, then we won’t be able to develop our own heritage. Truly, arts and culture have an impact on the society, economy, and political scene. We have to be mindful of this as we grow and develop as a nation. Again, if we were to look at our past, we can be reminded of how art and culture took part in constructing the nation. There is the case of Jose Rizal and his two books, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These pieces of literature became an inspiration to many people to fight for the sovereignty of the Philippines. Both books were not even endorsed by any government but written only by a citizen himself. Nevertheless, it had the power to control the people. In order to develop properly as a nation, it is important that we don’t lose our heritage and culture. Such things have to be embedded into our constitution, which is yet another collection of words that controls the things citizens should or should not do. Whether the method is to create a Department for Culture, as Senator Loren Legarda suggested, or whether it is something else, our own distinct arts and culture should not be forgotten. I believe that we need to practice activities that promote our Philippine identity. Through education, cultural awareness and development for artists can be boosted. In a tourism aspect, our identity can be used to attract visitors. In the entertainment industry, it is important to showcase Philippine talent, style, creativity, tradition and many more. Aspects such as these are all attributed to nation-building.

Painting Diversity (Source: Boston Life Magazine)

In order to really construct a nation that is rich, it is important to remember our roots and culture in the process. As a result, our beauty as the Filipino nation will also be shown in our art. Art can somewhat be a glimpse or a reflection of what are nation was and what it has become. The Philippine culture in itself is already very rich. It has gone through so many years filled with different experiences. It has so much to offer. Nevertheless, I believe that everyone has to take part in enriching this culture even more simply by not ever forgetting it. It is the same culture that will unite every Filipino despite all the diversity. Undoubtedly, people with similarities in terms of religion, history, language, and many more would be brought together. A Filipino from Marikina would still have a certain bond with someone from Baguio. One is from the shoe capital while the other is from summer capital of the country, but both still make up the Philippine identity. I consider the differences between regions mainly as subcultures. I believe they are still part of the Philippine culture at whole, but just have their own little specialty. To conclude, I have to say that it is absolutely necessary to embrace our identity as we build and fortify our nation. Just like Senator Loren Legarda, art and culture will affect everyone even while we are still only a toddler. In return, it is important to preserve our artistic as well as cultural scenes. More than that, it is necessary for the Philippine culture to be cultivated and enriched. This is the proper way by which a nation should be constructed. I know it will also affect the generations coming after us. I have learned that amidst diversity and complexity, the people of the Philippines can be unified for our nation to become stronger. To end, I quote Senator Loren Legarda, “Filipinos, without a collective appreciation of our culture, would have no shared understanding of our past, continue to be divided in the present, and will not have a shared vision for the future.”

Source:

Legarda, Loren. “Culture and our national identity: Pursuing change that unites.” The Philippine Star, December 26, 2016. http://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2016/12/26/1656880/culture-and-our-national-identity-pursuing-change-unites.

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