The ‘Parang Hindi Pinas’ Syndrome

And why such toxic insecurity has no place in this beautiful country of ours

“Wow, parang hindi Pinas…”

If there’s a toxic Filipino trait that I really wish to put an end to right now is the propensity to name the country’s beautiful spots after more popular — though not necessarily more impressive — destinations. It’s not only condescending, unimaginative and at times idiotic (e.g. “Little Amsterdam” in Sirao, Cebu, good heavens), it reinforces a people’s misplaced sense of low self-worth and heritage of smallness.

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake

Here are more examples:

● “Little Baguio” (referring to Mantalungon, Dalaguete or the Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros, Occidental)
● “Little Guam” (referring to Guyam Island, heard this in the late 80s)
● “Maldives of the Philippines” (Manjuyod Sand Bar)
● “The New Zealand of the Philippines” (Ilocos or Batanes)
● “Little Amsterdam” (Flower garden in Sirao, Cebu City)
● “Boracay of the South” (Bantayan Island, Cebu)

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations in Burgos, Ilocos Norte

I’m sure there’s more, but this subliminal belittling of ourselves and of our natural treasures has got to stop. That means we should start asking ourselves why is it so hard for some Filipinos to acknowledge that this country is blessed with plenty of spectacular sceneries, and yet we belittle them by making ridiculous comparisons to validate their existence?

Why is it so hard for some Filipinos to acknowledge that this country is blessed with plenty of spectacular sceneries, and yet we belittle them by making ridiculous comparisons to validate their existence?

Crystal-clear waters at the Manjuyod Sand Bar in Negros Oriental

By saying that X is the Y of the Philippines/locale or X is Little Y suggests that Y is superior to X. I’ve said this many times on social media, but if this is for marketing purposes, then it’s lazy, unimaginative and misguided. It’s some sort of “reverse appropriation” but driven by a deep-seated inferiority complex towards the West and the First World, or anything more affluent or famous. While not unique to this part of the world, it is almost instinctive as much as it is prevalent among Filipino netizens.

White sand beach at Kota Point in Lawis, Bantayan Island in northern Cebu. Lawis, which means promontory, is the old name of the municipality of Madridejos.

I embrace celebrating similarities and differences, but this kind of mindset that imposes and, on the other side of the coin, blindly accepts hierarchical comparisons reflects how insecure and ignorant some of us can really get.

In the end, the thing — the Philippine Islands — speaks for itself, and I am just thankful when it is seen for what it’s really worth: appreciated, and not appropriated.

*****


Tiny Guyam Island off Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte

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