Filipinos are in the news again. For plagiarism. As usual, nakakahiya (embarrassing).
Recently a senator from the Philippines was accused of using parts of his speech against the RH (Reproductive Health) bill, which originated from an American blogger’s post. Accusations like these are nothing new. In fact, just a few years ago, you wouldn’t think that even someone from a respectable and honorable position, an Associate Justice from the Supreme Court, was accused of plagiarism, in his decision paper, if I’m not mistaken.
Sadly, the world sees some Filipinos as mere copycats, to the extent of insulting us, Filipinos, that we are like monkeys. Remember Mariah Carey? A few years ago, she did not hesitate to label Filipinos as monkeys during the time when Arnel Pineda was making waves in the U.S. music scene as the new front man of the rock band Journey. It’s a typical accusation hurled at Filipinos because we are good in copying or imitating others, sometimes, to the point of being better than the original.
Even in authentic products, including books, training and seminars, that were popularized in the US, Filipinos are accused of being “gaya-gaya, puto-maya” (copycats). In essence, we love to copy usually from Western countries and just make it better.
Take the case in the world of music, there are Filipinos who were notably great in their accomplishments to the point of becoming famous not only in the Philippines but also in the US and other countries: Lea Salonga of Miss Saigon fame, Charice for belting out Celine Dion’s signature songs, and as mentioned, Arnel Pineda, better known as the one who took the mantle from Steve Perry, the lead vocalist of the rock band, Journey. Nothing is Filipino in their claim to fame. They rose to fame because they sang or performed westernized music and it was a certified hit.
In other words, can’t we afford to be original? I believe we can and we are, in some aspects. It’s how other people sees us. Context. Perspectives.
Further, I beg to disagree that Filipinos are merely copycats. It is like refusing to acknowledge what Filipinos are capable of. People who accuse Filipinos as such are just in denial that Filipinos are good, as in really good, in everything. In music alone, our music, dubbed as OPM or original Pilipino music, is one of the best in the world. It’s just that we lack the marketing know-how back then to propel our talented musicians and singers to global fame. Nowadays, it’s different because we have a great equalizer in the social media.
In reality, the world can’t claim to be original either. The Bible says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Therefore at this time, let us do away with labeling each other as copycats for nothing is new under the sun.
This is not to take away the Filipino’s admirable trait. I believe that the Filipino is one of the best, most talented, most productive, brightest and even most creative (the anti-thesis of merely being imitators) race the world has ever seen, not to mention the most resilient, esp in times of crisis.
It just goes to show that Filipinos are very adaptable and they can excel in any given field when they put their heart and mind to it.
Credits: The image in this blog is the cover of the Productive Pinoy book by Yeng Remulla.