By Ruth M. Floresca
We live in modern times. Despite being labeled as a third world country, the Philippines cannot be said to be behind other countries in terms of technology and lots of other things. In fact, if we look around, there are so many indications that we are not as backward as people of other nations might think.
Unfortunately, as we continue to travel the path towards modernization and, if I may add, sought-after sophistication, many Filipinos barely notice how much we are going farther away from things that should matter. I’m talking about culture, particularly, Filipino values.
It saddens me these days to see and hear young people scarcely showing respect to others, especially their elders. I grew up in the province and was thoroughly instilled with the importance of family ties, saying “po” and “opo,” and speaking in deferential tones when conversing with older people.
My husband and I are doing our best to raise our kids the same way. Thankfully, most of the things we keep teaching them seem to be sticking. If they sometimes forget, they get reprimanded and reminded. Truthfully, if there was one thing I would hate hearing about my kids is that they were not raised to practice good manners. On the other hand, I’d usually get surprised and mildly offended whenever some of their friends or classmates address me like a peer with matching authoritative tones to boot. I have to admit that there were times I imagined washing their mouths with soap if I could.
I understand that there are parents who believe in equality and mutual respect. Well, when I got married and had kids of my own, I saw my relationship with my parents veer in that direction. But I don’t think that kind of association can be, nor should be, applied yet to parents and very young children.
Many foreign and local TV shows, music, and movies don’t help. Young people nowadays are bombarded left and right with role models who are not very good examples to begin with. Which is why we parents should doubly focus on correctly teaching our kids who and what to believe in.
We Filipinos are known for our hospitable nature. But I hope that we can also become known as a people who are raising children who don’t talk insolently to adults as if they have every right to do so; children who’d rather be with their families instead of bonding with their friends majority of the time; and children whom other parents would speak well of for being raised properly.
In her book “Anything We Love Can Be Saved,” author Alice Walker writes about soul nurture as “that infusion of spiritual carrots and spinach that one’s own culture can give, and that the dominant culture under which we live cannot.”
To those of us who proudly say we are Filipinos, whether we still reside in the Philippines or have chosen to live in another land; whatever outside influences have come into this country and into our lives; however Americanized (or Europeanized, etc.) many of us have become; and whether we allow these factors to seep into every facet of our being or not; I hope we can all continue to strive to keep intact what good Filipino values we intrinsically have and treasure them because they are, to begin with, part of who we are.