IDENTITY

Pangalan ka ba?

Bakit?

Kasi kung wala ka, sino ako?

This Filipino pick-up line never gets old. It plays on what many consider as a vital part of their identity: their name. As long as I could remember, I have never dwelt on my character. I was too busy focusing on and breathing what's on the surface. All I knew that names don't define you as a person. However, I have never been interested in all those philosophical and soul-searching quests until I transferred to Brent International School Manila. Uprooting myself from the province and jumping into an international buffet of ideas has never been so refreshing.

Now that I'm surrounded by more intellectuals, they had mind-poring questions that could put Greek philosophers to shame. I felt like I was in a black hole, continuously falling into the unknown as each query leads to another. Back at Assumption, I considered myself as one of the smartest in our batch. Here? I'm a small fish in a big pond, but it feels good to be challenged. It's been a humbling on-going experience.

 

This Mulanesque quest for identity started when my Lang Lit teacher proposed this Learner Portfolio curation. I have never been one to pursue self-discovery. I simply just go with the flow. 

 

Over the years leading to this moment, I have been a voracious reader of mostly all book genres. I listened to several tunes over the years from Mozart to Coldplay. I hung out with the anime-lovers, debated with the know-it-alls, discussed sports with the athletes, and dabbled on high school drama with the "preppy" kids. 

 

Scientifically speaking, I am unique. No other person has my DNA, but what I can admit outright here is I am not an original. I am merely a puzzle composed of random pieces that somehow matched each other. Parts or shards of someone's personality that I melded with my own like how a sculptor would get marble or wood and carve out his imagination.

 

 

All this talk of identity reminds me of a video that we watched during class.

 

In the video, Mr. Gijsbers says, "A thing's identity is defined not by its intrinsic properties, but by the larger structure which it is a part of." 

 

In short, a person's identity is the identity of a whole. Frankly, for me, this ruins the whole idea of being your own individual. It's like what's the use of choosing to stand out when you're just going to be labeled like the others; actually, I think I'm taking Mr. Gjisbers' quote the wrong way. Maybe it's just me, but, then, his message can be subjective.

 

Putting personal opinion aside, I understood what Mr. Gjisbers' meant by his words. For example, during Lang Lit class, we looked over the case of former Bb. Pilipinas Janina San Miguel's English interview blunder.

Indeed, there were a few giggles and uncontainable cringes. Still, we focused more on Janina, most importantly, on how does she represent an alarming major issue in our nation?

 

This particular major issue is how the Filipinos put the English language on a pedestal and caring less about their native tongue. Aside from that, it seems evident that my fellow kababayan (countrymen) regard English fluency as a measure of intelligence and social class.

 

This is my patriotic side writing as of this moment. Speaking of this particular side of mine, this is a nationalistic mindset that isn't entirely my own. My previous Filipino teachers since sixth have instilled this in me. If we overly use English during Filipino class, we would get a gentle berating. This gentle berating would transition into a speech reminiscing how baybayin (ancient Filipino hieroglyphics) died out at some part of history and was luckily resurrected recently.

 

Anyways, another excellent example of Mr. Gjisber's statement would be how the "disorganized" pre-SEA games accommodations. People assumed it was a sign that the actual SEA games would be a failure. News reports of unfinished stadiums, the delayed "hospitality," and lack of proper meals flooded social media outlets. Fortunately, the entire situation turned upside down after the opening, and the Philippines became the overall champion.

 

The examples I gave above clearly support Mr. Gjisber. Still, to think of it, his statement can qualify as a logical fallacy. It's a hasty generalization. The moment someone does a negative or positive deed, it is safe to assume right away that, "Oh, this shows how he/she was raised." 

Another similar case would be President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial actions. Some people conclude right away, "Oh, the government is bad. They don't care about the consequences of their actions and who suffers for it."That conclusion, however, discredits those who are doing their good work of public service.

 

Mr. Gjisber's quote about determining one's identity does have a point, but frankly, it depends on the reader's interpretation. The quote is a cloth that could be unraveled in thousands of ways.