Filipino resilience is good, but we’re humans, too.

 

We can’t dismiss the fact that our ability as a people to continuously adapt and overcome is good for our survival. But we should also shy away from thinking that life is only enduring, as if we were a protagonist in a typical, poorly written primetime teleserye. It isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.

 

We deserve better than just being praised for bouncing back after a series of rough patches. We deserve better than just being commended for our so-called ‘Filipino resilience.’ What we deserve is a better life, where being resilient is not the only way of living.

 

Contrary to popular belief, Filipinos are humans. They’re not symbols of true grit. They’re not a spectacular show, displayed to elicit feelings of awe and wonder. I mean, it’s flattering to be painted as that type of people– you know, optimistically braving through storms and coming out stronger than ever. But the thing is, we get upset. We get sad. We get terrified when another typhoon is about to strike. We get exhausted from having to experience hardships after hardships, with no promise of a better, more secure future. We can lose hope.

 

Sure, it’s fun to watch your ka-baranggays still managing to smile as they traverse the flooded streets. Sure, you’ve watched and felt touched by documentaries of Filipino teachers crossing rivers and mountains so no student gets left behind. Sure, months after a traumatic calamity, people in rural provinces start rebuilding their lives as if nothing happened, as if their devastated livelihoods were something they could shrug off, like they were pros in that department. But while the so-called Filipino resilience is a good thing to feel happy about, if being resilient is the only option for millions of Filipinos, something really fucked up is going on.

 

From Wednesday night up to Thursday morning, typhoon Ulysses came barreling across Metro Manila and other Luzon provinces, leaving behind fallen trees, destroyed houses, flooded roads, and despondent Filipino people. To make matters worse, it was the 4th tropical cyclone that struck the country in just a span of 3 weeks. Its recent predecessors, Rolly and Siony, also did their fair share of devastation across our lands. All of these harrowing events happened while our country is still grappling with a pandemic crisis.

 

As expected, the spirit of Filipino bayahinan came into play. Different organizations were quick to respond to the needs of typhoon victims, organizing various donation drives and launching them online. However, among many outcries from Filipino netizens, one stood out: the call to stop romanticizing the Filipino resilience.

 

Enough is enough.

 

Efforts that work in ensuring our well-being, these are minimum requirements expected from government officials. It’s not a big favor we should beg for, nor is it an achievement they can plaster all over the walls before the election. These are jobs they asked from us, which we gave them through votes. They asked us, begged us, to entrust our lives in their leadership.

 

And so, when a major disaster strikes and many of our countrymen lose everything, a large part of the problem can be blamed on the ones in charge. These are direct results of their actions or lack thereof, and we’re in the position to hold them accountable.

 

It’s hard to believe that it took us a Yolanda, COVID-19, and Ulysses to start demanding more than just the validation for being carriers of Filipino resilience. But then, it’s good progress, finally seeing that what’s supposed to be a beautiful Filipino trait has been exploited, for the longest time, by the greedy and the powerful so they can get away with abuse and neglect.

 

Enough is enough. Glorify Filipinos for their badassery all you want, but for all we care, our countrymen are suffering and dying. We can take care of ourselves but we need the government to go all-out in taking care of its people, too.

 

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