Honoring my mother | I don’t know where I stand

HAD an interesting discourse with my breakfast companions of a thousand years. It first started with a question concerning terms like First World, Second World and Third World. My son had asked what countries comprised each. That started the ball rolling, and like a globe on steroids, everything just rolled off the table.

People still loved to call our country Third World. Why is that, he asked. I know we have been called many names, i.e., developing country, etc., but third world? Is there a fourth or a fifth world? Is there a priority number or something we weren’t told about? How about a senior lane somewhere then? Then we moved on to Russia and its former satellites as being in the second world category. This just led to a more intense discussion which involved for one thing, some Russian satellites as being poorer than the Philippines. So, just because they’re Russians and whites, they’re better than us now? We dwelt a bit on the racial implications for a while but thought better of it. It was over-ridden when our discussion eventually led us to our 64-dollar question: Who the hell was making all these categories and why are we all beholden to them?

Are these innocently-conceived economics terminologies or purposely-crafted first world points of view? Seems to me the apt analogy would be city folks calling someone from the provinces as “probinsyano,” a derogatory slang for a backward homie. Truth be told, how can America be even considered first world, when it is now trillions in debt and deficit spending and owes China and the Arabs an arm and a leg?

Bottom line? It all boils down to perspective or who’s looking. For as long as I can remember, Americans have been referring to Asia as the Far East. We’ve read so much about this even in our primary school textbooks, generations of Filipinos have been referring to us as the Far East as well. You know, that exotic land in the orient. This means we are actually mouthing what they think, them standing in their homeland pointing at us and saying we’re from the Far East. How about our perspectives?

From where I stand, I know my far east is California. My west would be Europe. If we follow that silly American idiom for things not going according to plan as going “south,” then for me, I’m going to Australia! If they call Oz the land “down under,” what’s stopping us from calling Sweden as the land up above?

Posted in Opinion