The film “Ganito kami noon, Paano kayo ngayon?” has one question that became the theme of the whole story. The main protagonist kept on asking who is a Filipino. He was given various answers. Answers that sometimes made him think more. Answers that did not really gave him the definite one that he needed. Even at the end of the story, though he said to the children that they are Filipinos too, it was not clear why they told them that.
The film tackled a very deep and hard-to-answer question in a very light and colorful manner that if you do not look closely, it will just end up as another comedy/parody film. But it clearly was not. It felt like the movie maker tried to convey such message to the viewers in a way that it will hit closer to home. That it was meant to be easy on the eyes but not on our hearts because it should make us think of who we are and where we are. And looking into the historical context when the film was shown, it was during the reign of Former President Ferdinand Marcos, the Martial law years. A lot of freedom was restrained so you do not want to be openly questioning the condition of the society. The country was also pretty much divided to those who still believe in him and those who want change.
Four decades later, we are still left with the same question and it is arguable that the country is at the point where all the events that transpired in the past few months and are happening right now are comparable to those that were happening during the martial law era. We are still being asked who are Filipinos or are you even a Filipino. The difference is we all know our roots and we had the standard of who is a Filipino now. We are also an organized society without colonizers ruling the islands. And yet, the question remains the same.
I think the big problem is that the answer to the question is very subjective and it changes depending on how the people see them. You are a Filipino even though it is only 1/16 of your blood that is Filipino as long as your known in another country or you’ve done great things. Filipinos will treat you as their own. But once you defy the norm and go against the majority, they will question your loyalty to your country. They will question you and your whole being.
In the end, I think the biggest problem is how a lot of us fail to be there for our countrymen. That we tend to just think of ourselves and forgetting the people. That those in power forget that they owe they power to the people. That the people are the most important of this nation.
And the sad part in all of this is that we fail to address the big problem. We question others on what they can do when we never move ourselves. We ask so much from other people and never do the same to ourselves. We are all equally responsible for making our country better not just for ourselves but for the future and yet I have never seen the Philippines as divided as it is today.
The biggest problem is that we fail to unite it the moments that we could have done something to change an outcome. That we only go together once there is a result already. That we couldn’t change something already. We fail to unite for the betterment of everyone. We fail to unite because we think of ourselves first and never look at the bigger picture. We fail to unite,
because we were selfish. And if we keep on failing on addressing the problem together and actually uniting to make our country greater than it is today and as great as it could, we will remain stagnant. That only few will flourish and some will just be left behind.
The problem is that the people power fails to lead the people who actually depend on them to guide them what to do and be examples in putting the country first before anyone else. How do we address this problem? How do we solve it? It will all boil down how we educate the people. Because their knowledge and understanding will build the foundation of this nation. If we instill a different mentality to each one of us then maybe we could start moving in a direction of changing this country for the better of everyone. Professor Renato Constantino has pushed the idea that the Filipino needs to be educated in a way that they become “aware of their country’s problems, who understand the basic solution to these problems, and who care enough to have the courage to work and sacrifice for their country’s salvation1.” But despite this idea, I still think that the Philippine education still fails to embody what it really means to be a Filipino because it remained to be a product of colonization. That the problems raised by Constantino remained to unaddressed.
Then how could we solve this problem?
I do believe that legal education, as technical as it is, could actually be more definitive in addressing the problem in the country. I see it as an accurate reflection of the changes in the society and the events of history that transpired. The law itself is an evidence of how the nation and the society changes as well as our needs. I remember reading a speech by F. Sionil Jose where he said that, “we are poor because we have no sense of history, and therefore, no sense of nation.3” We need to learn how to look back, appreciate and learn from our history so we could learn to appreciate our nation as well and develop that nationalism where we put our country first before personal gains.
And also if the legal education is one that former Dean Merlin Magallona proposes in his speech “A Note on the Radicalization and the Legal Academy: What is the Role of the Legal Academy2” then it will open to an understanding and knowledge to those who will practice the profession that the law could be and should be more human than it is for it to serve its purpose to the society.
Legal education is needed in order for people to know how do the government and the society really works with a fixed legal system that is existing today and how it is compared to the previous legal system that is prevailing in our country. The people should know about it so they won’t make presumptions with regards to how the system works and so they could really understand and have a say if needs changes in order for it to serve them. It is only knowing about the problem that we could address it properly. But if we don’t then we would either blindly follow it or oppose it without even knowing why we do. We need to be educated in such things so we could use that to be able to participate in making this country better as one united nation.