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Ezra Daniel B.

Socio 10 X3-1
6 July 2017
Instructor: Athena Charanne R. Presto

Of Worlds and Bodies:

The Existence of a Filipino

Discourses on the differences between nationality and citizenship are at the heart of
many socio-political matters. How a society distinguishes between the two determines the
relationship between human rights and social responsibility. While the academic distinction
that considers citizenship as legal membership to the state and nationality as a recognized
membership to a community is clear enough, researchers believe that there is still a need to
augment and de-Westernize the discourse especially since the language employed is at times
problematic (Yuval-Davis, 1997). In the Philippine context, the concept of nationality is still
developing in the peoples collective consciousness. With that said, I have come to understand
that while citizenship should ask what makes a Filipino?, nationality must answer who is a

It starts with a question. Who? And with a word, one assumes personhood. This is one
of many coercions made in a persons learning mind. From childhood, many aspects of ones
characteristics are already taken as given. Many are trained to answer questions such as: What
is your name?, How old are you?, Where do you live?, What do you like? and such;
leading a person to believe that answers to these ultimately define ones identity and being.
Indeed, I can simply give an answer to the question at hand by stating factsor, at least,
information of which one can give a level of certaintyand attributes associated with said
community but for any rational inquiry, no such convenience can be taken. One may have
already observed the problem arising from such an approach: taking anything as given defeats
the purpose of such a discourse.

The question of personhood often tends to be ontological in nature. After all, reason
is deemed to separate Man from carnal nature. It is also by reason that one can be certain of
ones own consciousness; or as Descartes have insisted, it is logical contradiction to doubt
ones own consciousness, for it is by such consciousness that one able to inquire. This
sociological exploration, then, runs analogous to an inquirers journey of discovery where
defining being a Filipino is contingent to ones own essence of being. The fragment who am
(or of the objective form who is) as conjugation of the word be semantically tackles the notion
of personal existence by subjective consciousness. But alas, to be or not to be is never a
question. For being is not chosen; or as Heidegger puts it: we are thrown into (geworfenheit) the
world without predisposed consent on where we would land. Upon this proposal, Sartre builds
on his ideas on human freedom: that man as a being in-itself, undefined and incomplete and
free, seeks to be a being for-itself, perfect and fully defined as summed up by his most famous
quote, Man is condemned to be free.
So, for Roger Frie (2011), consciousness (and therefore, being) is a continual process
or phenomenology of self-reinvention. This follows that my being (and consequently, identity)
is not to live on a large island in a vast body of water on a rock revolving around a ball of
burning gas; rather, it is to continually weave a private personal narrative of lived experiences.
So, while identifying my qualities and attributes through characteristic questions do not
necessarily define my being, they nonetheless affect my awareness of the world and thus
inevitably shape my lived experiences.

Beyond a form of address, one may find it fascinating that a monoliteral word would
carry so much meaning for any individual of self-awareness. What a wonder it is to contain an
entire conscious experience in a single letter just as an individual can reflect so much of the
world he partakes in. Though it seems who am I and who I am have insignificant difference, for
Frie (2011), these two sentiments aptly describe a persons conscious experience of the world.
Upon reflection, the latter will always come after the former as one attempts to distinguish the
I from many other Is. Yet, another dichotomy is demanded that for the exclusive personal
subjectivity of the I must be there an exclusive objectivity of the me (Goldstein & Rayner,
1994). To say, Who I am then, can never be independent of any individuals multi-faceted
To exhibit this, one might refer to my name: Ezra Daniel. While it can be said that it
is any parents prerogative to what name the child is given, a broader examination can reveal
a somewhat deterministic explanation. Both names are taken from English translations of
Hebrew names appearing in Jewish sacred texts; writings that managed to spread with the rise
of Christianity along a chain of sociopolitical phenomena following the tradition of empire-
building: Rome to the Catholic Church, to an island group near the coast of a vast ocean
through the Spanish Empire. With the rise of another empire after seceding from her British
mother, she brought with her to the same group of islands another form of Christianity that
counters that which the Spanish had originally established. This same empire had taught
English to inhabitants of the islands as a sign of higher civilization as suggested by Tupas
(2008). Such events would eventually lead to a woman growing up in a Christian context,
educated in English, and giving birth to a son that she would name after the characters she
had admired in her youth. Evidently, the difficulty of simplifying the context of my name
(which plays small part to my identity) cannot be overstated.

Now, this identity, though already connected to histories and cultures beyond my
mothers experiences and geography, is still contingent to the politics of body dichotomy
specifically, the social body. Similar to this is the use of as in two distinct yet subtle semantics:
by role and by reference. The former describes a state in which an individual reflects on how
ones self can embody an already defined concept as an object of expectation. Such an outlook,
however, produces a sense of otherness and alienation toward ones target expression a
disembodied self (Wolputte, 2004).
On the other hand, the latter is a state in which an individual seeks to view the self in
light of the concept in question. So instead of asking, how can some one be some thing?, the
questions should rather be who is some one given what we know of some thing? and what
is some thing in the context of some one? simultaneously considered. For if an individual has
freedom to define the self yet also be viewed outside the self, then the complementary
relationship of the subjective body and the objective body must be acknowledged. Being born
into a specific society brings forth unique contexts for the individual.
Furthermore, an individuals roles and expectations vary when viewed through
different lenses. Consider when a college student introduces himself solely as a college student
to a member of his community. One might expect generic advice such as to study well for a
better life in the foreseeable future; or perhaps strive that he might provide abundantly for his
family. Now consider the same student also indicated that he is from the premiere state
university. No longer would it be just for his own family, but there will then be a greater
expectation to serve the state and its people.

a Filipino
These facets of my identity and the contexts that surround it are embedded in an even
more nuanced concept: a Filipino. There is much debate on the nationhood of individuals
who live on these islands, for while the Philippines is recognized as multi-nation and ethnic-
centered state, there is much to be made on state-level nationhood. This is not to say that the
Philippines is devoid of national identity, but such is the case that many of the available
academic materials focus on aspects relating to citizenship such as legislation, education, and
mass media. Thus, more accurately, the following section is a brief description of the present
conditions of Philippine society.
Providing a solid definition for what the Filipino nation is on the individual level is
often a futile attempt as most who would consider themselves Filipinos often cite geographic,
political, ethnic, or familial conditions instead of anchoring such nationality to self-identity.
Many would only associate being Filipino exclusively on the public sphere and impose
personal ideals on nationhood but are generally unwilling to consider national ideals.
Furthermore, many others are quick to commend certain qualities of being Filipino and yet
are ashamed of such shared identity placing the nationhood in an odd position between
pride and disdain (Mulder, 1996).
Another irony of Philippine society is that the nation seemingly wasnt built for itself.
Collective memory is geared towards praise for Americans for bringing in democracy and
helping us win back our independence. The Philippines was birthed in a time when the modern
state was rising in the West and unfortunately was imposed a system of governance that was
designed for a people of different geography, different social context. We are given a
government that is of the people, for the people, and by the people but we seemingly forgot
to clarify if said people meant us.
The main method through which the United States achieves this is through education
of the Filipinos. Before the modern state, the Philippines was occupied by the Spanish Empire
and local education was monopolized by the Catholic Church and non-secular schooling was
a privilege enjoyed by the principalia, or the ruling class families. Upon American establishment
of the public school system, however, many sought education as a tool for economic mobility
an idea still persistent today (Jayaweera, 1997). Yet unforeseen at the time was the cost of
such access as American-sponsored education has created the modern ilustrado indebted to the
nation that had colonized them. What Spain achieved through religion, the United States
achieved through education. While not every Filipino has been sponsored to study abroad,
foreign control is exercised through local education: local history taught in schools neglected
the wars Americans fought against the Filipinos (Ileto, 2005) and the medium of instruction
made sure that Filipino ideas would still be subject to Western thought (Constantino, 1982).
Americans have enslaved the Filipino through the very institution that was supposed to give
it freedom.
As mentioned above, although education is believed to be the means through which
an individual can transcend his own economic class, there is little evidence to suggest that such
is the case. Class is still recognized as a determinant of vertical economic mobility (Jayaweera,
1997) which, if the Philippine political landscape be considered, is a political dead end in
general. Many of the recognized oligarchy have been in power even before the rise of the
modern Philippine state (McCoy, 1994), generating a political system thats closer to feudal
government than modern nation state (Quimpo, 2005).
With these in mind, a question is necessitated: on a day when all men be in equity, of
which Rawls veil of ignorance be lifted for all, what place will nation have in human society? And
ultimately, what is a Filipino when all those aforementioned contexts are denied? I can be a
Filipino because I am a human being capable of thought. And I am a Filipino due to the various
conditions and circumstances on which I find my consciousness in. I am a Filipino in
contingency to the Filipino people yet such a society is even in the most miniscule way not
the same without me.

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