(This is a continuation of my earlier post regarding the video created by Jimmy Sieczka, an American expat who has been living for three and a half years in Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest city located in the south. In his video, which has gone viral and infuriated Filipinos, Jimmy enumerates 20 reasons he dislikes the Philippines. It also comes out barely three months after the Department of Tourism launched its new slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”)
One public official who took offense with Jimmy Sieczka’s video is Cebu City Councilor Sisinio Andales. He initially filed a resolution to declare Jimmy “persona non grata”. Had this been implemented, who knows how many more cities would eventually follow suit.
After Andales’ threat though, Jimmy issued an apology. It was a condition given by Councilor Andales in order to withdraw his move for the declaration of “persona non grata” against Jimmy. And like his video, Jimmy’s apology generated mixed reactions as well.
Cebu Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young though took it more constructively. He said that “the city should focus on solving the concerns raised rather than focus on getting angry with the foreigner.”
Among the things that Jimmy raised in his video is the presence of beggars that he found “annoying” and the garbage on the streets which “pisses him off.” In response to this, Cebu Mayor Michael Rama is reshuffling some City Hall posts. This is part of the steps he’s taking to remove night dwellers (people who sleep on the streets) and address “the problems of vandalism, night dwellers, garbage and beggars.”
Whether these are compensatory acts or sincere moves on the part of the city government of Cebu doesn’t matter. What matters is something is being done about it. Something good has come out of it.
How many more Jimmy Sieczka’s does the Philippines need?
The Filipino soul has been experiencing a slow death for too long a period already. I have been in so much pain and my soul has been crying out and feeling angry for what I had been witnessing and observing in this country.
What was depicted in Jimmy Sieczka’s video and all the other problems and disturbing conditions of this country, not to mention the negative reactions generated by the video, are manifestations of the lack of awareness and a 3D consciousness of the people.
I had been told to learn to accept the bothersome behaviors and attitudes and annoying habits and way of life in order to not get affected. You cannot change people but you can change your attitude towards them.
Yes, I get that but this belief has also been misused and abused by so many for so long. And that belief has added to the problem. It has become a convenient excuse for people to just be a silent witness and be uncaring and unconcerned. And keeping quiet and not doing anything about it is what has contributed to the prolonged deterioration of the state of this nation.
Apathy has become such a chronic social disease of the Philippines
We can change, we can transform, we can grow, we can evolve. Borrowing from President Obama, “Yes, we can!” We can…if we choose to! We do have choices. Always.
And staying at the bleachers and being merely part of the audience is most certainly not one of those options. That has been chosen by many of the Filipino people for too long a period already. And we can choose to change our response from indifference to taking action and being proactive.
And I get that some people just don’t know any better. I can extend a little bit more understanding towards members of the society who are not highly educated or have no easy access to information.
But when I hear:
“Eh ganun eh, kultura na yan eh (Well, that’s how it is, it’s part of our culture)”
“If he’s not happy here, then why does he not just leave and go back to the U.S.?”
“That’s only a one-man opinion against the millions of Filipinos who still love the Philippines”, as expressed by Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Benito Bengzon in response to the video.
These comments just don’t sit very well with me.
Coming from people who are more educated, and especially those who are in a position to influence or make a difference, be it in the government or private sector, or even in their personal lives, having such an attitude only becomes a very convenient excuse for people to not take any action. Such comments only take away the personal responsibility of every Filipino to work towards the improvement of the nation and her people.
And if we don’t take action now, when? If we don’t take action, who will?
Other nations are not going to save us. It’s neither their duty nor their responsibility. It is not even the sole responsibility of the president of the land. Oh, how often have I heard people complain, blame the government and challenge the president to solve all the country’s problems while they continue to be the problem. And if we don’t know what the solution is or don’t agree with the proposed solution, then at least, let’s not be part or continue to be part of the problem.
The only one who has the responsibility to correct our behavior and change our ways is the Filipino himself. No one else.
If we truly want this nation to prosper, to grow, and not continue to spiral downwards, every Filipino has the duty and obligation to himself, to his fellow countrymen, to this country, and to future generations to come, to be the change and be change agents for each other.
Sadly, apathy has become such a chronic social disease of this country. Does it need to take a foreign tourist like Jimmy Sieczka to be that catalyst for change, whether that was his intention or not? How many more Jimmy Sieczka’s do we need to jolt us? And it is pathetic that as the call for change arises, we choose to throw a stone rather than face the mirror and be humbled and appreciative.
My days of apathy and oblivion
I, too was indifferent for a long time. I was once like the majority who couldn’t care less. I was an indifferent and uncaring citizen of this country and oblivious to what’s going on in the rest of the world. I was in a deep slumber.
But I’m so glad and grateful that I had woken up. And I’m doing my best to empathize with those who haven’t.
Yet it can get tricky — to balance between extending empathy and understanding those who are still in the same uncaring and apathetic state that I was in, vis-a-vis taking steps to help people wake up and effect change.
And thanks to Jimmy Sieczka who is pushing us a step further on our journey. And it’s a choice to either take that next step or be left behind.
What choice are you making?
To be concluded
Awit, J. (2012). City Hall reshuffle part of response to video: mayor. Retrieved March 21, 2012 from Sun Star Cebu website: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2012/03/20/city-hall-reshuffle-part-response-video-mayor-212129
Goodman, M. (2012). 20 reasons I dislike the Philippines. Retrieved March 19, 2012 from ChannelFix website: http://www.channelfix.com/video/174/
Mendoza, S. (2012). DOT slams expat’s ‘why I dislike PH’ video. Retrieved March 20, 2012 from Yahoo! News website: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/dot-slams-expat-s–why-i-hate-ph–video.html
Pareja, J. (2012). Andales calls off persona non grata resolution vs “dislikes” video author. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from Philstar.com The Filipino Global Community website: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=789739&publicationSubCategoryId=107
Sieckza, J. (2012). Jimmy Sieczka’s official response and apology to the video “20 Reasons I Dislike the Philippines”. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from ChannelFix website: http://channelfix.com/profile/450/
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