May 31
CULTURAL UPHEAVALS? by Butch Macaro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Thu, May 31, 2007

An appeal or apology! This column is supposed to concentrate on showbiz news, happenings and changes. But I cannot, I feel, ignore some changes happening in my surroundings. After all showbiz will always remain part of this column. Definitely! This is my overall view and observation which I wish to impart with the hope that somehow, some things may turn for the good.

Changing, if for the better, is honorable and indeed truly welcomed.

I believe that a great majority of Pilipinos are undergoing changes in their manners, priorities, fashion, and many other preferences and beliefs which I personally find alarming. Here’s why. For instance, there are Pilipino values that we must be proud of that are now undergoing great turbulent changes. Without knowing it, we are dangerously giving them up, intentionally or untentionally.

Pilipinos are widely known for being hospitable, respectful, helpful, friendly and in possession of many other admirable traits and qualities. But are we aware that we are ignoring these things for the past many years now?

Gone are the days when young people show respect to elders. Gone are the days when young people offer helping hands to those in need of help. Gone are the days when young men or women assist an elderly cross the streets. I was trained in this manner as a boy scout. Showing respect to elders and strangers is seldom seen now. The big question is… why and how has this come to this sorry state?

As a young boy, I could not cross the sala of our house if my parents were talking to an older visitor. If I could not avoid it, I could only do so with head bowed and an arm stretched forward to show respect and to beg a silent permission. If I failed to do so invited instant tongue lashing the moment the visitor was gone. The young people of today ignore this show of respectfulness. They can run roughshod across the sala unmindful if there is a visitor or a guest around. And parents can only shake their head for the tanrum they just saw as if nothing happened: Okey lang!

I still remember the days when talking to elders was always be ended with a po or ho. Those were the days when you cannot answer back with angry words or a slightly raised voice when confronted by an older brother or sister. Respect was always the order of the day, no matter what! But this seems not to be true any more. Where did we go wrong? The young nowadays have a simple explanation: Those practices are already obsolete. I still remember that good manners and right conduct were taught in schools. Has this subject been dropped from the curriculum of both public and private schools?

Just watch your nightly dose of television shows—or your weekly local movie—and you will observe this patent disregard for the virtue of respectfulness. In these TV programs and shows and in movies, we witness how disrespectful the young ones are to their elders. Thius, watching a grade schooler shouting at his or her mother or father with utter disaespect is really nakaka-highblood. Others reason out that we have become too Americanized or Westernized.

It is also hard to accept the truth that thank you or salamat is a very heavy word for young people to utter these days. This can be observed in public vehicles when fare money is passed on to the driver by another passenger. Not a word of thank you can be heard. And you are dumbfounded because these are students in complete uniforms, books even tucked under their arms.

In the same manner, try offering your seat to a young lady in a crowded bus and she will take it silently, as if suffering from a stiff neck. But try offering your seat to a senior citizen and you will hear a nice salamat with a toothless smile.

Movies and television is a very good teaching module. But what do we see? Ill-mannered characters! The word respect is not in their vocabularies. Even in commercials, we observe a pupil talking to his or her mother or father as if he or she is talking to a schoolmate.

Senior stars have openly aired and manifested their disgust over the arrogance of junior stars who treat their elders as if they were persons of no consequence and not worthy of their attention. Acting as though they are now stars of great magnitude,

Without paying respect where respect is due—especially to elders—the young surely face the posssibility that they will be the kind of people hounded by being disrespectful, like liars, cheaters, hoodlums and criminals.

The danger of losing altogether the Pilipino virtue of being respectful is a truly alarming liability in our midst. This is a concern that must be first handled by parents who still have the heavier and greater responsibility in molding the children to become living models for good manners and right conduct.

The eureka word to solve this propblem is…self-discipline. Remember, the first classroom and playground for the children is the home. But the home today is an extended family. And the television and the computer are now also members of the family. Television programs must therefore always aim to provideng shows that will impart positive values, especially to children!

I live in a place adjacent to a house where a relative resides with three high school students. I notice that the three youngsters enjoy watching an American television series showing young people “quarreling” with their elders, where the obnoxious word shit peppers the dialogue. These students would even howl in laughter if the TV show parents are insulted, harassed and embarrassed by the young people. I can only surmise that those fopreign TV show characters acutally belong to a different culture and should not be emulated by our children.

Why are television stations allowed to show this kind of imported series which affect the manners of our children? What is the MTRCB doing? What is censorship for? Modernization is often used as the excuse for accommodating this kind of TV shows. They really leave negative imprints on our children who easily copy and imitate whatever they see on the tube.

I am privy to small school children uttering cuss words as casually and even within hearing distance of their parents yet. I am privy too to the apparent disregard of parents who are within earshot of these cuss words. It I seldom that you hear a word of reprimand!

Which reminds me that years ago while I was in Germany and on my way home from work, I rode the escalator down for my ride home. An old couple in their late 60’s was stuck at the base of the escalator where their baggage hampered them. The old man was down on his knees could not free himself. The old woman was shouting Helfe! Helfe! Passersby, mostly Germans, just looked at them but continued walking, ignoring the old couple. Instinctively, I hurriedly ran down and helped the couple free. The old couple was profuces with thanks, repeating Danke! Danke Schon! But the Germans around us acted as if nothing happened.

I am forced to muse that in some distant provinces, our people are still respectful and still knows the essence of gratitude. I am pessimistic that this is still true in our modernized metropolis. What insulates our rural brothers and sisters from this pernicious cultural onslaught. Is it because the influence of foreign culture is more marked and available in the cities? Until today, the Japanese still put their hands together to their chest with bowed head as a show of respect even to strangers.

Are overseas Pilipino workers unwittingly bringing home foreighn manners and traits they inadvertently pass on to their children? Are Pilipino parents abroad giving up our traditions in favor of things they learn or pick up from their foreign counterparts? Are Pilipino parents today rally keen and even takes pride if their children behave like Westerners or Americans? I still posit the fact that our generation of children today has become bastos and disrespectful.

Growing children are more susceptible and sensitive to their surroundings. Their ideas and feelings are easily influenced at this stage by what they see around them. If we allow them to seek their ways and traits without proper guidance, we might be setting them off to negative directions. Act before it is too late and while we still have the time and opportunity to change and correct things. Otherwise, we might be engendering a generaton who cannot say po or ho or salamat po.

Producers of local movies and TV programs can wield something to turn things around. Directors and managers have the capability to mold today’s crop of young actors and actresses into persons with the right values. First of all, these stars must be given roles and dialogues fit for their ages and that truly reflects positive Pilipino values and mentality. They will be effective role models for millions of young viewers. There is no harm focusing on the positive instead of thenegative traits of the young Pilipino. In the end, these role models and their fans will be properly guided. The bottom line is that these youngsters’ moral development will not be rattled and shaken.

Producers, directors, writers, the MTRCB and the young performers themselves must be aware that they have a heavy responsibility vis-a-vis communicating good manners and right conduct. There are too many positive Pilipino values and traits which may be given emphasis and importance. We still have the chance to keep and preserve our culture as Pilipinos.