Colonial Mentality Thesis Statement

“The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur, American writer, 1900-1996

What luck for rulers that men do not think" -Adolf Hitler

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW:(Note: Bold and/or underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked posting/article. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated).

Then and now, an American -who has replaced more subtly, efficiently and effectively the Spaniard- seems to reside in the mind of each Filipino in each generation since the US conquest and occupation of the Philippines. Consequently, the Filipino has been conditioned to -knowingly or unknowingly- think and analyze economic and political issues in our homeland from the American point of view.

To change this way of thinking, the American in his mind need to be removed to arouse Filipinism in his heart and mind in matters of national interests; for Filipinism to take over when dealing with the American government/transnational corporations (for that matter: any other foreign country, people or entity.)

The primary task for Filipinos is to raise their nationalistic consciousness, either through self or formal/informal education, beginning with a recognition and appreciation of their colonial mentality and exerting a conscious effort to discard it. It is only with Filipino nationalism, a nationalistic consciousness in his mind and heart will the Filipino be able to fight, deal and work with utmost determination for his own betterment and those of his children and grandchildren.

Below is an excellent article, quite dated but still extremely relevant, written in 1984 by Leticia Constantino (wife of the great Filipino nationalist of recent history - the late Prof. Renato Constantino). In the Foreword to her book from which I extracted the article, Mrs. Constantino wrote that while her husband's tasks were to analyze Philippine Education Today and other impediments to realizing Filipino Nationalism, her task was to answer the question "What Is To Be Done?"

NOTE: All her thoughts before journalist James Fallows visited and wrote his popular piece about our "damaged culture," i.e. absence of Filipino nationalism, in 1987. Fallows must have read this essay by Mrs. Constantino. Again, we Filipinos due to our colonial mentality would tend to appreciate and pay attention to what foreigners, i.e. mostly Americans like Fallows, say. In contrast, we Filipinos would tend to ignore, belittle and argue vehemently against what our own nationalist intellectuals already knew and understood, said or wrote about (in certain issues our Americanized minds, consciously or unconsciously, make us more American than Americans -repeatedly demonstrating to the world our mendicant/servile attitude).

(Source: Issues Without Tears - A Layman's Manual of Current Issues, Volume 1, 1984)

Neocolonialism - The dominance of strong nations over weak nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.

“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Prof. Renato Constantino (1919-1999)



We often hear Filipinos complain that as a nation we are afflicted with a colonial mentality. By this they usually mean that we are excessively subservient to foreigners and unduly impressed by foreign goods. But an even more harmful aspect of colonial mentality and one that is less recognized is our failure to pinpoint our real national interests apart and distinct from those of our foreign colonizers. Despite 35 years of independence, this trait has not been eradicated.

Colonial mentality has deep roots in our history: first, in the level of social and economic development we attained before colonization; second, in the nature of Spanish colonization; third, in the impact of American rule; fourth, in the way we obtained our independence and fifth, in the neo-colonial policies of the United States up to the present time.

  1. Unlike India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, we did not confront our Spanish conquerors as a people with a highly developed culture and social structure. Our forebears lived in small, scattered communities based on kinship ties and relied mainly on primitive agriculture which provided barely enough for their needs. We were not a nation since these communities were separate, autonomous barangays. Trade among barangays and with the people from neighboring countries was occasional and by barter. Religion was likewise primitive with no organized body of beliefs or priestly hierarchy. All these made physical conquest and cultural domination quite easy for the Spanish colonizers.

    Unlike the Cambodians with their Angkor Vat and the Indonesians with their Borobudur, we had no monuments which could remind our people of an ancient glory. When nations with advanced social structures and a firmly established culture are colonized, their past achievements constitute the source of their separate identity which enables the conquered to confront their colonizers with dignity and sometimes even a feeling of superiority. They do not easily lose their sense of racial worth.

    Unfortunately for us, we were colonized before our own society could develop sufficiently. Having but few cultural defenses against our conquerors, we soon accepted their superiority and began to acquire what we now call a colonial mentality.

  2. Other Western powers initially instituted a system of indirect rule in their Asian colonies by exploiting the people through their chiefs, leaving native social and cultural institutions largely intact. In the Philippines however, our two colonizers consolidated their rule by working on the native consciousness, thus effecting great changes in Filipino values and customs.

    The Spaniards forcibly resettled the scattered barangays into larger communities where the people could more easily be Christianized and where every aspect of their lives, their customs and ideas could be scrutinized and shaped in the desired colonial mode. In most communities, the Spanish friars represented both the power of the cross and the power of the sword. As pillars of the colonial establishment, most priests sought to develop in their flock the virtues of obedience, humility and resignation. Spanish superiority was maintained and the "indio"was kept in his inferior position by denying him education (there was no system of national education until 1863). The people were trained to follow and were discouraged from thinking for themselves. A thirst for knowledge was considered a dangerous and subversive trait which often brought actual misfortune or the threat of hell. The "indio" acquired the habit of allowing his economic and social superiors to do the thinking for him, and this attitude persists among us today, seriously undermining any movement for greater democracy. Under the Spaniards, inferiority complex evolved into a national trait of Filipinos.

  3. Ironically enough, by satisfying the Filipinos' desire for education and self-government, the American colonizers developed a new, and is some ways, a more pernicious form of colonial mentality. For while the Spanish arrogance and bread anger and rebellion, American education transformed the United States in the eyes of the Filipinos from an aggressor who had robbed them of their independence to a generous benefactor.

    The school system began Americanizing the Filipino consciousness by misrepresenting US expansionism and US economic policies as American altruism toward the Filipinos; by denying young Filipinos of any knowledge of Filipino resistance to American occupation and the atrocities committed the American military; by filling young minds with stories that glorify the American way of life, American heroes and American institutions.

    Americanization was greatly facilitated by the imposition of English as the sole medium of instruction. This made possible the use of American textbooks. Education taught the Filipino youth to regard American culture as superior to their own and American society as the best model for Philippine society. Of course, our Americanization has been profitable to the Americans because it kept on producing new generations of avid consumers of American goods. All these were ingredients of a new type of colonial mentality.

  4. Ourso-called tutelage in self-government at the end of which we received our independence from our "generous teacher and guardian" is partly responsible for our persistent failure to recognize that our real national interests are distinct from and, more often than not, contrary to those of the United States. American colonial policy gave the Filipinos their first experience in self-government in the legislative field. Since executive power remained in the hands of the American governor-general and real, overall power resided in Washington, Filipino leaders learned the art of adapting to American economic requirements while catering to their Filipino constituents' desire for independence.

    Periodic elections focused public attention on "politics", a superficial democratic exercise during which most politicians pledged to secure "immediate, absolute, complete independence" without explaining that the economic dependence of the Philippines on the US market would such independence an empty one.The Philippine elite, landowners who grew rich on agricultural exports to the US, largely controlled Philippine politics, so most politicians in fact supported this economic dependence.Politicians therefore concentrated on the issue of political independence and the people received little enlightenment on economic issues except from radical labor and peasant groups in the 1930s. The Filipino dream of independence remained limited to political sovereignty.

    The fact that we obtained independence as a "grant" and not as a result of a victorious, anti-colonial revolution has obscured the real contradictions between our interests and those of the US [we had no such blinders toward either Spain or Japan; we recognized the conflict of interests between them and us.]

  5. But all the foregoing is part of the past. The Philippine republic is now 35 years old. Why have we not outgrown our colonial mentality? Of course, we now have an appreciation of our national identity, a feeling of cultural nationalism. We have discovered ethnic culture and take pride in local art and music. In fact, US global policies can tolerate and even encourage such expressions of a separate identity especially when they can be used to mask continuing economic domination.

    Economic control
    is now exercised in more subtle forms - through transnational corporations (TNCs) whose requirements are incorporated in Philippine laws and policies, through various forms of aid from countries like the US and Japan which help to shape economic priorities and consumption patterns in ways favorable to the aid givers, through TNC advertising and Western mass media which create new needs and tastes and mold our view of world events and, above all, through loans from our World Bank and other international institutions (IMF, ADB,etc) which require as a prior condition our acceptance of a national development program which ensures continued satellization of our economy.

    Theoretically, the laws and policies we adopt to attract TNCs, whether we accept aid or not, whether we borrow from the World Bank or not, are decisions freely arrived at by our own government. Rarely do we learn of the pressures exerted, the demands made, the strings attached by these foreign entities. Instead, our leaders deepen our misconception of the role and power of these external forces by presenting foreign-designed programs that will further reinforce our dependence as examples of self-reliance and independence.

    We must examine carefully from a nationalist perspectiveall aid offered,all loans granted, all programs suggested by foreign governments and institutions.Only then can we begin to rid ourselves of our unfortunate inability to see the contradiction between our interests and theirs, a feeling which is today the most serious aspect of our colonial mentality.

    The Phillipines makes a decentrepresentativeexample of the US' first official exercise in colonial imperialism andformal empire [*], also referred to as "civilizational imperialism" - a project we're presently repeating."Lest this seem to be the bellicose pipe dream of some dyspeptic desk soldier, let us remember that the military deal of our country has never been defensive warfare. Since the Revolution, only the United Kingdom has beaten our record for square miles of territory acquired by military conquest. Our exploits against the American Indian, against the Filipinos, the Mexicans, and against Spain are on a par with the campaigns of Genghis Khan, the Japanese in Manchuria and the African attack of Mussolini. No country has ever declared war on us before we first obliged them with that gesture. Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war. And at the rate our armed forces are being implemented at present, the odds are against our fighting one in the near future." - -- Major Gen. Smedley D. Butler,America's Armed Forces: 'In Time of Peace', 1935. 1898-1914:The Phillipines.

See also an older posting with more hyperlinks:

Taking pride in being a citizen of a country is essential for that country’s progress. Colonial mentality is often held accountable for the backwardness of the Philippine economy and country as a whole. Its impacts can be deteriorating to the nation in various aspects especially if left not scrutinized and undirected to a more nationalistic mentality.

David and Okazaki (2006) conceptualized colonial mentality among Filipinos and Filipino Americans as a form of internalized oppression, characterized by a perception of ethnic or cultural inferiority. It involves an automatic and unreasonable rejection of anything Filipino and an instinctive and uncritical preference for anything Western or foreign. Its scope is not limited to the patronage of foreign products but also involves the choice of language, concept of beauty, educational system, laws and policies, and even political system. Filipinos with the colonial mentality are unconscious most of the time that they exhibit this type of mindset. The development of such a mentality is a product of the Philippines' experiences.

Development of Filipino Colonial Mentality

The colonial history of the Philippines is the primary factor in the existence of colonial mentality among its constituents. It is believed to be a consequence of more than four centuries of colonization under Spain and the United States of America. According to the theories of Memmi, Fanon, and Freire, a salient effect of colonization is the internalization of the inferior perception that is imposed on a person by the colonizer (as cited in David and Okazaki, 2006). Such internalization may lead to feelings of inferiority about oneself and one’s ethnic or cultural group, and feelings of shame, embarrassment, or resentment about being a person.

Fanon formulated the classical colonial model which describes four phases of colonization (as cited in David and Okazaki, 2006). The first phase involves forced entry of the colonizers in a territory with the purpose of exploiting its natural resources and inhabitants. The second phase follows, wherein a colonial society is established to disintegrate and recreate the existing culture. In this phase, the colonizers impose their own customs on the inhabitants to create a contrast between their superiority over the latter. In the third stage, the colonizers employ oppression and domination. They portray the inhabitants as savage people that need to be controlled. The three stages eventually lead to the final phase where a race-based societal system exists and the political, social, and economic institutions in the colony are devised to benefit the colonizers and continually subjugate the colonized. Consequently, the colonized inhabitants would perceive their inferiority which lead them to mimic their colonizers as the latter's ways are already regarded as superior than the previously held traditions  of the colonized(David and Okazaki, 2006).

Applying the aforementioned model to the Philippine context, the Spanish colonization was a period of suffering and cruelty. Filipinos were treated ruthlessly and considered as second class citizens which brought about their lack of ethnic pride. They were caught in a hierarchy of inferiority; the mestizos bowed to the criollos (offspring of Spanish parents), the criollos to the peninsulares (those with parents born in Spain), while the Indios or the Filipinos knelt before everyone (Duldulao, 1987). The recurring reminder of the Filipinos’ weakness marked into their minds and is still reflected on their behavior as a race.

The level of the social and economic development that the Filipinos had attained before colonization is also a factor in the development of their colonial mentality. There was no concept of nation yet in the Philippines prior to the Spaniards' arrival. The communities consisted of separate, autonomous barangays whose contact with one another was only occasional and by barter only (Constantino, 1984). No particular religion existed to unify the early Filipinos, hence, Catholicism was readily embraced. The Spaniards forcibly resettled the scattered barangays into larger communities where the people could more easily be Christianized and where every aspect of their lives, their customs and ideas could be scrutinized and shaped in the desired colonial mode. The introduction of a religion which was an alien concept for Filipinos made physical conquest and cultural domination quite easy for the Spanish colonizers. Contrary to Cambodia and Indonesia, the Philippines had no Angkor Wat, Borobodur or any monument that could remind its people of their ancestral origin (Constantino, 1984). Countries that have advanced social structures and a firmly established culture would be able to confront colonizers with dignity and would not lose their sense of racial worth. In the Philippine experience, colonization occurred before Filipinos could develop a sufficient society so foreign influence easily penetrated their culture.

The culture and Philippine values system are also factors in the acquisition of colonial mentality. One of the goals of the Philippine values system is social acceptance which lies on the values of smooth interpersonal relationship, amor propio (self-esteem) and hiya (shame) (MacDonald, Raymundo and Panopio, 1994). According to Landa Jocano, “the Filipino, regardless of inner ill feelings, bows and resigns in silence since this is the behavior based on and required by primal cultural norms expected of hiya” (as cited in Yango, 2009). Filipinos by nature aspire to be admired by other people and they persevere in saving their faces from embarrassment, this desire is also an outcome brought by their colonial history. Even after colonization, there is a tendency for the colonized people to try to become like their colonizers to be freed from being identified as inferior. Their history and experience of being inferior brought Filipinos in wanting to become superior. Thus, in an attempt to prove their independence, Filipinos try to imitate their previous colonizers' way of thinking, appearance, preferences, and lifestyle.

Utang na loob or the debt of gratitude is another of Filipino values that at some extent contributes to the perpetuation of colonial mentality (Enriquez, 1978). The Americans are viewed by Filipinos in a positive light since they bestowed them independence and they had continuously given aid to the Philippines whenever it is needed. In this sense, Filipinos have utang na loob (debt of gratitude) to the Americans that they can never repay through money thus they support whatever programs that the latter initiate as a symbol of their gratitude although at times it is at the expense of Filipinos.

Mass media also has a role in the colonial mentality of Filipinos. It has a large influence on Filipino viewers particularly on their behavior as consumers. Televisions through the unending displays of Western faces in advertisements and shows portray beauty as having fair complexion and tall noses (David, 1996). Celebrities that the people idolize are endorsing Western-made products and Western-owned companies which make it easier for the said companies to gain profit. These advertisements strengthen the yearning of Filipinos to live a lifestyle that is similar to that in the West and ignore the Filipino way of life. Randy David asserted that the importation of telenovelas and recently Korean novelas by local networks contributes to cultural invasion. The art of dubbing created a connection between foreign artists and Filipino viewers, which exposes the latter to foreign ways and further leads to emulation. 

In addition, the introduction of globalization in the Philippines opened gates for more Western influences. Globalization aims to unify all nations of the world in international affairs, including trade, industry, culture and everything that can be exchanged and function together in a harmonious manner (Funtecha, 2009). At the present age, it is inevitable for any country to embrace globalization because it has various advantages. Globalization echoes the increasing need for greater transnational cooperation and understanding, which eliminates the boundaries of countries. It had bridged miles of distances between countries and paved the way for Filipinos to be easily susceptible to foreign influences and culture.

Effects of Colonial Mentality

Colonial mentality produced effects that are graver than what Filipinos realize and imagine. It is a burden and a barrier for the progress of Philippine economy, especially on industries producing Philippine-made merchandises. Filipinos tend to see Western goods as superior over those made in the Philippines thus a producer and a vendor of Philippine goods will have a hard time marketing them. Filipino entrepreneurs in the cosmetic industry like Splash Corporation struggle to compete with multinational corporations that have adequate resources to afford costly advertisements. Meanwhile, most of Filipino enterprises suffer because consumers do not use much of anything made in the Philippines. Nowadays, when one sees a Filipino, chances are he is wearing something of a designer brand or eating a Western food. Filipinos are the only ones in Asia who prefer foreign things than their own (Andres and Ilada, 1987). Andres revealed that “Japanese patronize their products even if those are inferior compared to the foreign-made ones” also “Indians stick to their Indian ways and ideas”. Needless to say, the opposite applies to Filipinos for they are import-oriented consumers. A simple manifestation of this is how they trust soaps made with olive oil more than local coconut oil.

Filipinos’ preference for imported or foreign products influences their lifestyle. Colonial mentality extends also to the people’s concept of beauty. They perceive beauty biased on the mestizos’ attributes that is why skin whiteners are one of the top grossing products in the Philippines. Paulo Tirol, Assistant Brand Manager for Procter and Gamble Distributing (Phils.) Inc. said that “more than 71% of the Philippine skincare market is in whitening products”. A survey by Synovate on 2004 found that half of Filipino women use a skin-whitening product. Those in the upper class of the society undergo nose lift surgeries and bleaching for them to be considered beautiful. Nationalists view those actions as a manifestation of one’s discontent of Filipino attributes.

Philippine culture - music, literature and films - is unappreciated because of colonial mentality. Libraries and bookstores are filled with American and other Western books while there is scarcity in books published in Tagalog and written by Filipino authors. Erwin Ordoñez asserted that Filipino authors are seldom read by students and teachers since they favor Western writers (as cited in Abueva, 1999). Students are very much familiar with William Shakespeare and his works but the mention of Amado Hernandez or Jose Corazon de Jesus will place a crease on an average student’s forehead. Even the average Filipino readers prefer books written by international authors. In fact, only two Filipino authored books made it to the latest Bestsellers List of National Bookstore (National Bookstore Website, March 2013).

Hollywood movies have knocked down Philippine movie industry as well. Box Office Mojo reported that, as of January 2013, "The Avengers," distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, is the all-time highest grossing film in the Philippines. Meanwhile, "Sisterakas," the all-time highest grossing Filipino film is only in sixth place. Filipino movies are supported when they are competing with other Filipino movies but they fall short when compared with foreign films.

Emigration is another of the underlying effects of colonial mentality. As of December 2004, an estimated 8.1 million Filipinos, which is nearly 10 percent of the Philippines' 85 million people, were working or residing in close to 200 countries and territories (Asis, 2006). Filipinos identify foreign lands as more progressive nations and they dream to permanently reside there. Filipinos have associated foreign countries with greener pastures, so, they choose to leave their country either to work abroad or permanently migrate. A nationwide survey of 1,200 adult respondents in 2002 found one in five Filipinos expressing a desire to migrate. More recent surveys carried out by Pulse Asia in 2005 found an increasing percentage of adult respondents, 26 percent in July and 33 percent in October, agreeing with the statement, "If it were only possible, I would migrate to another country and live there" (Asis, 2006).

Interest in leaving the country is not limited to adults, the young population share similar vision. In a nationwide survey in 2003 of children ages 10 to 12, 47 percent reported that they wished to work abroad someday (Asis, 2006). This could explain the growth of Nursing schools to offset the increasing number of students who want to pursue the career for the high income and employment overseas it promises. 

Although Filipinos abroad contribute to the country’s economy with their remittances, such a setup must not be favored by the government. Filipinos lose their sense of identity as they are exposed to the culture of other nations. Moreover,  it leads to brain drain since educated individuals choose to harness their expertise abroad in exchange for larger income, which further causes scarcity of professionals in the Philippines. The talents and competencies of Filipinos are utilized by other nations while the country makes use of whatever was left behind. As a result, the Philippines is left uncultivated similar to a rice field that was abandoned by its farmers.

Furthermore, the educational system is unsuited to the country, it being a “clone of the American school system” as expressed by Ordoñez (as cited in Abueva, 1999). The apparatuses of education were utilized by the past colonizers of Filipinos to produce ideas, instill values, and transmit information that would insidiously work on the minds of the populace and render them impotent and incapable of critical reflection. Teresita Maceda explained that alien or foreign cultural standards dominated Philippine intellectual centers without material basis in Philippine society (as cited in Abueva, 1999). As a result, Filipinos regard First World culture as superior and their own as inferior and marginal. She further asserts that Philippine folktales were excluded from textbooks during the colonization period and viewed as insignificant while those written in English or Spanish are given importance. English textbooks did not only introduce the Filipinos to a new language but it also opened a gate to the Western world that Filipinos had already learned to imitate. The problem stems from the fact that scholars in the country are trained and educated in Western institutions thus they tend to think in Western terms and teach in Western ways (Espiritu, 1968). There are tendencies where Filipino culture is ignored brought by the predominant Western culture that was already embedded in their minds.

Western concepts are not always applicable to the Philippines for the culture and environment greatly varies. For instance, in studying psychology and sociology there are terms and ideas that were described in Western models that do not really capture their actual meanings. The best example is the word kapwa which is translated in English as “others” but in the Philippine culture kapwa means differently, it refers to a union of the “self” and “others” (Enriquez, 1978). According to Dr. Zeus Salazar, what the Filipino scholars lack is the mastery and application of pantayong pananaw (a "we" perspective; usage of Filipino language as discourse in history and other social sciences). Clearly, the Philippine educational system is largely Western influenced which is incompatible with Filipino culture.

Eradication of Colonial Mentality

Although one can argue that colonial mentality brought some advantages, like changing Filipinos’ non-rationalistic values orientation to a rationalistic one and strengthening their English proficiency, it is still undeniable that it produced more drawbacks. To progress as a nation, Filipinos must decide to eradicate colonial mentality in their system. Strobel suggested decolonization as the method that can eradicate colonial mentality (as cited in Yango, 2009).

Decolonization refers to the task of unlearning colonial mentality. Its objective is to retell the narrative of the oppressive colonial experience throughout Philippine society for the purpose of exposing its oppressive intent. Yango (2009) asserted that “liberation begins with recognizing one’s history” thus the means of decolonizing is not found in the destruction of the colonial narrative but within the “power of knowing the colonial experience”. Transformation is a significant objective in the process of decolonizing and it is expected that the power of knowing the colonial experience will lead towards a new narrative that has learned to respond against other colonial narratives and tendencies in the context of globalization. The task of decolonizing colonial mentality indicates an attempt to reconfigure the Filipino story in relation to their colonial experience and view colonial mentality as abnormal or alien within the Filipino consciousness (Yango, 2009). Decolonization involves conscious mindset and deliberate action of individuals.

The government plays a significant role in this advocacy. Strict implementation of the principles laid down in the Constitution and laws that protect Philippine industry and are pro-Filipino should be practiced. A number of provisions that promote the interests of Filipinos and protect Philippine entrepreneurs from foreign exploitation exist in the 1987 Philippine Constitution such as Filipino control of the economy (Art. II, Sec. 19), complete Filipino management and control of public utilities (Art. XII, Sec. 11), promotion of the “Filipino First” policy (Art. XII, Sec. 10, par. 2; Sec. 12), and the reservation to Filipinos of certain areas of investments if in the national interest (Art. XII, Sec. 10, par. 1). Moreover, the Constitution upholds the preservation and enhancement of Filipino national culture (Art. XIV, Secs. 14-18). The Philippine Constitution is obviously pro-Filipino and it supports Filipinos in their endeavors. The legislators should now ensure that the provisions of the Constitution are reflected in laws or else the Constitution would be nothing but a piece of document. 

Filipinos must reexamine their values and rekindle their pride and dignity for being Filipinos. Heber Bartolome’s song (1978) is very suggestive in the context of Filipinos undergoing cosmetic surgeries, it goes “Tayo’y mga Pinoy, tayo’y hindi Kano, huwag kang mahihiya kung ang ilong mo ay pango” (We are Filipinos and not Americans, don’t be ashamed though your nose is flat). It alludes Filipinos to embrace their traits and take pride in them. Furthermore, Randy David pointed out that a Filipino should accept and be proud of whatever physical attributes given to him and not try to look like a Westerner since beauty is subjective (as cited in Abueva, 1999). Patronizing Western products and trying to look like a Westerner will never make a Filipino become one.Bakit nangagaya, meron naman tayo” (Why imitate when we have our own), this line from Bartolome’s song is an advocacy for Filipinos to refrain from imitating foreign ways and preserve the nation's own identity. There is a need for cultural change among Filipinos and this process requires the Filipino consciousness to reject the admission of colonial mentality into the Filipino being (Yango, 2009). Without this particular culture change, the Filipino consciousness will continue to be victimized by Western influences, be it from within or outside Philippine society.

Most importantly, nationalism – the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity and their actions when seeking to achieve or sustain national unity and independence – must be emphasized in social institutions like family, school and work place (Miscevic, 2005). Ideally, Filipino nationalism, as characterized by Constantino (n.d.), is defensive or protective, anti-imperialist, mass-based and not anti-development. She relates that nationalists believe that the resources of Philippines should be for the benefit of Filipinos today and in the future. To achieve this, she suggests that the Philippine government should protect its people against foreign competition and give them preference in dollar allocations.

Constantino clarifies that being anti-imperialist is not synonymous to racism. Filipino nationalism is not anti-American or anti-Japanese; it only advocates opposition against those policies of governments that harm the interests of the Filipino people, policies which these governments pressure the Philippine government to adopt. It is mass-based because, unlike in the past, it aims to serve the interest of the majority and no longer the interest of one or another sector. Constantino regards it as democratic since it believes in the greatest possible participation of the people in the determination of policy, particularly in the re-orientation of development programs.

Filipino nationalism is not anti-development and it does not advocate economic, political, scientific or cultural isolation. It actually “fosters ease and comfort, good health, and access to the best products of man’s intellect and artistic spirit that the highest achievements of modern science and art can provide” (Constantino, n.d.). This means that nationalism believes in economic, political, and scientific exchanges with other countries but it recommends that such exchanges are done carefully and selectively, always placing priority on the needs and welfare of the Filipino people.


History is something that no one can change. The colonization that the Philippines went through for over four centuries is engraved in the nation’s historical experience and culture. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily imply total tolerance and indulgence of Western influences, goods and concepts. The cultural heritage and unique crafts of Filipinos are the things that define their identity as a people; consumption of Western products will never transform anyone to a Westerner. In the first place, Filipinos must not attempt to imitate Westerners. They must willfully recognize the greatness of their own race. 

Colonial mentality should be eliminated slowly if not eradicated completely from the Filipino being. Decolonization of Filipino colonial mentality should be achieved before it totally ruins what was left of the Philippines and nationalism must be promoted and advocated. It would take a deliberate action and a lot of determination but Filipino nationalism is not impossible to be revived. Benigno (2003) was encouraging Filipinos to do just that when he said, “We were born Filipinos. Now we must learn to be Filipinos.” After all, it is only the identity and conviction of being a Filipino that can revive the sense of nationalism Dr. Jose Rizal manifested in between the lines of Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

***I'll be happy if this paper would be able to help anyone. Just please give credit where credit is due.
Last Updated: October 9, 2013

How to cite this article: Gabornes, Maris Cay. (2010, March 11). Colonial Mentality: A Filipino Heritage? Retrieved from


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