Minority Report

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Ready for recycling, this bunch of stuff is piled up at random waiting for a truck to haul it all away for scrap. There isn’t any order in it, but everything reflects where it came from, what’s around it. This particular pile forms a kind of pattern in the mind, anchored by the legend “FILIPINO” blazoned on the back of this abandoned chair.

“Filipino” is the official language of the country, but like the chair in the picture, it’s just part of the pile of the many languages used here, and it’s “official” place in the pile is more or less an accident. “Filipino” is in fact just Tagalog, with a few added words for decoration.

Tagalog is a language native only to a few politically powerful provinces in Luzon; most children of the Philippines are raised speaking something else- and the laws and the traffic signs are all written in English.

Likewise with “Filipino Culture”- it’s just another random garage sale, pieces of many different cultures piled up in time and history- from Indonesia, China, Spain and America- plus the particular stamp put on these by the different islands and language groups in the country.

And all of these languages and cultures are piled up together, causing never ending quarrels, loud discussions, debates, resentments; the same issues loudly raised over and over again and never resolved, a deafening cultural noise, like crashing nails and bolts in an electric blender.

In another country, this situation would result in constant massacres, mayhem, and even civil war. It has happened often enough- in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and in any number of African countries. Bombs, burning buildings, refugee camps, pits full of bodies. This doesn’t happen here.

Under all the cultural conflicts between Filipinos, there is an unspoken emotional unity they share in common; a family feeling that holds the country together, in spite of every reason for it to fall apart.

From Luzon to Mindanao, it is relationships between people that count here, not ideologies. Filipinos can certainly be violent, but only in personal matters and for personal reasons. They will not kill each other over ideas.

Like the country where it rests, this jumble of discarded stuff is ready to be recycled, and used again in a fresh and different form. But it will be made from the same material, whatever form it eventually takes. And it will still feel Filipino.

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