Land of hard knocks: The making of a Filipino

This morning, I came across an article (dated October 21, 2013) written by a certain blogger who introduced himself as Joe America expressing his opinion about why the Philippines must be considered this planet’s most dangerous land. The blogger’s notion only highlights the fact that the super typhoon Yolanda’s aftermath (international name is Haiyan), which has just recently hit the Philippines wrecking destruction beyond measure, must have added some grounds to validate his claim with conviction.

Although he has hit on some many good points especially that of the Philippines’s response to disaster and natural calamity being a short-term reactive one rather than a long-term pre-planned, I would like to say that, in my opinion, his calling of the Philippines as the most dangerous land on the planet is just an exaggeration--could even be a misleading one. There are some places in the planet which are labeled too dangerous for any tourist to visit, I’m sure the Philippines is not among them. I don’t need to name all of these places one by one but had to mention a few, just in case. Syria, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Yemen. These places are just too risky for foreigners (especially if you are an American) to spend their vacation or even pay a short visit.

What makes a place dangerous is not the place itself, but the people living in it. The Philippines might be geographically situated in the danger zone area and the people’s approach to disaster are sometimes riddled with lapses and flaws, but these are making the Filipino people a bunch of survivors learning for the best while, at the same time, keeping their good faith alive and intact, rising back from the ruins. Filipinos are tough, friendly, hospitable, family-oriented, resilient, and one of the world’s happiest of people.

Instead, the Philippines, for me, should be called the land of hard knocks. You only have to be here because you’re tough, because you’re brave enough to accept whatever it is that life throws at you. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice but to choose. You have to choose to be strong because it is necessary, to be full of hope because it helps. You have got to work very hard to get the things you want because nobody would be handing it free or easy for you. That’s the making of a Filipino--made of sterner stuff.

There was a time when the Philippines became the training ground for future American military generals and political leaders. Douglas MacArthur has been here. William Howard Taft. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Arthur MacArthur (father of Douglas MacArthur). John Joseph Pershing. Dwight Eisenhower.

Dwight Eisenhower has been, for a time, assigned in the Philippines before World War II broke out. During the Second World War, he commanded the greatest armada ever launched of the Allied forces against Hitler’s Nazis in Europe. It was believed that the years he has spent staying in the Philippines were the formative phase that contributed a lot to boost his confidence. He was able to further hone his decision making skills as well as his ability to command a large multi-national army.

A human person is a complex machine capable of transforming himself into one of the most feared of creatures. The world is a dangerous place to live if the good men living in it do nothing to stop the evil. Except for that, Joe America, you’re safe to go everywhere. 


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