Thursday, February 10, 2011


Forgive and forget.

Filipinos are such a compassionate people that for us it is important to forgive.  More so, forgiveness is not enough. One must also learn to forget.

It has been inculcated in our systems that as a true child of God, you must have a heart so open and generous that he who wrongs you deserves a chance if there is remorse exhibited, there is contrition attributed.  I remember my elders consistently repeating that trite line about harboring anger and seeking vengeance: that was tantamount to a sin greater than the wrongdoing done unto you.

Forgiveness is not sufficient: you must also forget.

If you keep a log book of all the bad things people have done to you, then forgiving them becomes irrelevant.  It also becomes insincere.  What is that line again? If God can forgive those who have tortured and crucified Him, who are you to begrudge anybody?  Well, yes: I have never been nailed to a cross and I think it takes such a greatness of heart and capacity for love to be able to forgive those who have inflicted such harm on my person.

But I am not God.  And I do not think --- despite how hard I try --- that I can be Christ-like to that extent.

I will confess: I can forgive. But I can forget --- only to a certain extent.

My best friend, Manny, was quite adamant about what he thought of Filipinos and their insatiable capacity for forgiveness --- more so, their very, very short memory.  Manny said that tracing Philippine history --- especially contemporary developments --- point to the same source of all problems.  We never learn.  Let me qualify that: we don't learn because we forgive and forget too easily.

Manny was so correct in citing that Philippine history like a vicious cycle. Perhaps much like Sisyphus punished for all eternity for pushing a rock up a hill only to have it roll all over him. And why? Because Sisyphus never learned that he can never get that goddamn rock over the top any way.

The same holds true for Filipinos.

Boy, oh, boy!  Have we had our share of historical blunders, huh? Just on the latter part of the twentieth century, we were under a dictatorial rule for almost two and a half decades, we marched down EDSA and had a fiesta of a revolution --- stunning the world with our sea of yellow and our capacity to topple a Iron Man by singing and dancing "Mambo Mambo Magsaysay" and "Rico Mambo" on the streets ... and then what?

We welcomed the twenty-first century by having another EDSA.  Looking back, it was always the revolt of the middle class --- the collective disgruntlement of the shopping mall crowds bursting into a tsunami of political assertion.  We unseated a president who we accused of ineptitude, indolence and corruption ... only to replace him with who?  Better yet ... with what?

Now we are in the midst of yet another scandalous explosion. No, more of an implosion.  An eruption of disgusting revelations about institutionalized graft and corruption that has become so embedded in the system that it has become the system.  Right at the heart of the shocking expositions comes a dramatic twist that shatters us into realizing that ... my God! Blood has been spilled because layer by layer, we are approaching the truth.

Then we stop. We pause. We rethink.  We feel guilty. We feel downright shitty. Is the search for the ultimate truth really worth all this ... blockbuster drama?

And after all has been said and done ... shall we choose to forgive?

Shall our conscience compel us to ...forget?

Manny and I were absolutely stunned by the personalities who populate the local political and social arena.  Filipinos have this thing for embracing those they castigate with a sense of warped guilt.  The whole idea of not bearing a grudge and giving somebody a chance is so important --- to the extent of ignoring what was the lesson that should have been learned from such an experience.

We go out of our way to create excuses for sins. And we don't seen to learn. Nothing changes. It is more of the same.

It is not that Pinoys are incapable of learning --- it is because they just too hung-up on guilt.  

We are just too obsessed with being good --- worse, we give so much importance to looking good in the eyes of others even to the extent of dispensing of principle, disregarding foresight --- and worse, aborting all tenets of logic.  

We are more concerned about how we are perceived by others rather than who we truly are ... or should become.

So are we still surprised we are still in such a screwed-up rut? We are so susceptible to emotional blackmail because of our obsession with guilt --- that we never learn from our mistakes.  

This whole pusong mamon culture has deprived us of the faculties for objectivity.  Eh, sa Pinoy ba naman is there anything really objective?  Ours is a culture entrapped by practices like pakiramdaman, pakikisama, pakitang-tao and worse -- pagmamalinis.

Yes, Manny was so correct.  We forgive too easily, we even forget faster. Maantig mo lang ang puso, mapakonsiyensiya mo lang ang Pilipino ... he will forgive ... and feel that it is an obligation to forget.

Does that serve as a virtue for a compassionate people?

I think not.

There is definitely a dividing line between compassion and confusion as there is a demarcation between nobility and stupidity.


  1. I could not have expressed it any better! This "forgive and forget" flaw in our national character has really been the biggest stumbling block to progress.

  2. wow, nice post direk, this is so much full of wisdom. i agree with you that we cannot move forward because of this culture of "compassionate amnesia". because of our compassion we tend to just forget the lessons of the past, that's why we keep going back to where we are.hope pinoys will eventually learn as you said to distinguish compassion against confusion and nobility and stupidity...congrats for this post direk, looking forward for more. :-)