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We All Bleed RED: Time to Get Rid of the Fil-What Nonsense
Noypi by Bamboo
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(*Title – “We All Bleed Red” is the title of a Ronnie Dunn song)
During a conversation between my husband and I about the latest developments regarding the Azkals, he brought up an issue that went on for a bit a few months back regarding local based and foreign based Azkals. Apparently, there are some people who take issue with the foreign based Azkals. Terms such as pure blood or half-Filipino were being used. From what I understand, some people don’t consider or view our foreign based Azkals as 100% Filipino. I was pretty surprised and disturbed to hear that as I’ve always had the impression that someone’s ethnic background is no longer an issue these days.
I got curious and pressed my husband for more details. Thankfully, it isn’t an issue within the team, and if it was, it appears that the management has handled the situation very well. While the debate has died down and quietly disappeared, it still appears that a number of people still perceive the foreign based Azkals in the context of their ethnic background. While for some of those people there may be no malice in this type of perception, in essence, it is somewhat discriminatory and definitely improper. To compound the problem, media helps perpetuate this type of perception or mind-set when referring to foreign based Azkals.
My husband relayed to me one particular incident on AM radio. He was on his morning drive to work and listening to a radio personality talking about the success of the Philippine Dragon Boat team. He went on about how they made the country proud and how they overcame challenges even without support from relevant authorities in our country. After extolling on the virtues and achievements of the Dragon Boat team, a comparison was made between the Dragon Boat team and the Azkals, he also threw in the Smart Gilas basketball team into the mix. He goes on to say that at least the Dragon Boat team made those achievements using full-blooded Filipinos and that they didn’t need to tap Fil-Ams and Fil-Euros to help them out, unlike the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals.
That in a nutshell describes this whole issue of labeling and perception based on an ethnic context. It is divisive and counter-productive. In a way, I can’t blame the people on the forum and making comments online if they carry this mind-set as mass media has been complicit in this travesty. But this is definitely a poor reflection of ourselves as a people and this nonsense should stop.
Local based or foreign based, our Azkals are Filipinos, period. They wear our national colors and play for our flag and country, and importantly, they generate within us a sense of pride and unity as a people and nation.
Okay, but some of them are born to one parent who is a foreigner, a non-Filipino. Surely this would mean he is half Filipino and half of whatever nationality the other parent is, right? Well, in terms of describing his ethnic heritage that may be true. But in terms of determining his citizenship, Article III Section 1.2 of our 1973 Constitution (I doubt if we have players born before 1973 still playing for the national team) says he is a Filipino if the father or the mother was a Filipino citizen at the time of birth. My husband and I are pretty familiar with this and its various permutations because during the time we were assigned at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles part of our work there involved evaluating and processing applications for dual citizenship.
If it is going to be argued that being a dual citizen means that Stephan Schroeck is half Filipino and half-German, then I would say not exactly. I would say that Stephan Schroeck is both Filipino and German. There are no half-citizens. You mean to say they only enjoy half the rights of a “full” citizen or that they are not good or “pure” (Note: I hate that word when used in that context) enough to be considered as one of us? Dual citizens and persons of mixed parental heritage are not diminished by their circumstance, they are in fact blessed to have the best of both worlds.
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In today’s highly globalized world and current patterns of migration, people of mixed ethnic heritage are becoming the norm rather than the exception. With 10% of our population overseas, it is a reality that the Philippines has to learn to accept because when people, and even our media, continue to make distinctions based on an ethnic context, it is obvious that more work needs to be done in this area.
It is time to stop making general references to this player being Fil-Brit, Fil-Am, Fil-Euro or Fil-Whatever. If the player was being featured, then that’s acceptable as that is acknowledging the player’s background and letting supporters and fans know something personal about the player. However, if we are talking about line-ups, match reports, articles about the team, making general comments, etc. let’s do away with the labels. If you insist on making a distinction, then do so in a geographic context but not along ethnic lines.
Remember, these players chose to honor their Filipino heritage and roots by playing for our country in what is the most important sport in this whole planet, football. They have done so with some sacrifice, and all throughout their participation in the national team they have exhibited their full-hearted commitment to the cause. Let us honor that commitment and noble gesture in return by recognizing them as one of us, 100%.
Let us open our minds and look around. Go check out the French and German national teams. Is Zinedine Zidane constantly referred to as a French-Algerian? Nope, he’s the French player who led France to World Cup glory in 1998. Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Lukas Podolski, they’re German national team players by the way and constantly identified as such. Deco and Pepe of Portugal, and Marcos Senna of Spain, what do they have in common? They were all born Brazilians. Considering how successful these countries already are at football, yet they welcome one and all willing to further their cause regardless if one or both parents aren’t even citizens of that country so long as that player is eligible to wear their country’s colors and play under their flag. Yet, here we are, struggling to make our presence felt in our region and we make a distinction between those born of 2 Filipino citizens and those who has one parent that is a foreigner, despite their willingness to help us out and raise the quality and competitiveness of our football. This nonsense has to stop.
Being Filipino is not only about bloodlines or ethnicity, it is also about your commitment and passion for your nation, our heritage and our culture. So let's end this nonsense of half-Filipino Azkals, Fil-whatevers and the like. The Azkals represent the Philippines, they are all Filipinos, end of argument. Besides, if there is anyone there who still has doubts then go ask the physio or Azkals' medical staff what color is the blood of a particular foreign-based Azkal, I bet you the answer would be red, same as you or I.