Minority Report


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She’s texting, waiting for the parade to start. The boy behind her practices scales on his mellophone. He’s waiting too. They’re in the band for the annual Christmas Parade at Foundation University, and it’s just now getting organized.

In front of her the honor guards are polishing gold braid and checking their flags; behind her is the rest of the band, tentatively tuning instruments and banging drums. Behind the band comes the restless clank and rattle of a long stream of contingent groups, with chugging generators and lights; with costumes, props, and floats, stretching out half a kilometer along the bypass road.

But this is not unique to Dumaguete at Christmas time. This photograph, this girl, waiting with her cell phone and her clarinet- she could just as well be in some small City in America, or Canada, or Australia; or in England, or Italy, or Spain, for that matter- any culturally Christian country that celebrates Christmas, and has parades with horns and clarinets.

But you wouldn’t see this girl and her clarinet in China, or Japan, or Indonesia, or any other Asian country. Those countries don’t celebrate Christmas, and they don’t usually have parades with marching bands– unless the parade includes tanks and artillery or other weapons of destruction.

The Philippines is unique and alone in this part of the world. Although racially Asian, with an Asian family structure and moral values, it is culturally and religiously part of the West. Unlike the countries surrounding it, it is mostly Christian; most of its newspapers, books, and even its laws are written in English; and the people look mainly to the West, to America and Europe, for new trends and style.

Because of this, Filipinos are foreigners to other Asians; and because of their underlying Asian values, they are a puzzle to Americans and Europeans too. In fact, the rest of the world can’t figure out who or what they are, or where to put them in their minds; so they do their best to ignore them altogether. And they’re missing out on a culture that might very well be a precursor of the cultures of the future.

But these concerns are far from the mind of this girl with her clarinet. She’s just impatiently waiting to begin her Christmas parade, to go marching through the humid tropical streets of Dumaguete, playing a famous American march by John Philip Sousa.

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