AWARD!

“Shut up,” said one netizen to another, “Don’t you want a Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize?”

That Filipino, of course, is President Aquino. And in the past few days, rumors have circulated that Malacañang is lobbying for him to receive the award for his role in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Palace was quick to deny the rumors, but not without a parting word from Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda: “It would be an honor for the Philippines if we’ll have President Aquino nominated. It is, in the eyes of the international community, a big milestone for the promotion and propagation of peace.”

It was a kind of statement that fuels the type of mentality that we often see among ourselves. Never mind the fact that the law on the creation of the Bangsamoro has yet to be approved by the Congress. Never mind the fact that lasting peace in Mindanao has yet to be achieved.

What is important is that the country, a Filipino, is recognized by the international community. It would be an honor, they say. An empty one, I say.

Crabs

Supporters of the President, and this “Filipinos should receive the award” mentality, are sometimes quick to brand those who do not agree with them as crabs, describing them as jealous and bitter people who fail to appreciate a person’s efforts and hard work.

Some would even go as far as calling them traitors for failing to support a fellow Filipino in receiving an award, an honor, or a distinction.

I have always detested crabs. But the crabs I know are those who pull other people down to prevent them from rising above the others. The crabs I know are the hateful sonofabitches who would rather tell the others that they were cheated instead of accepting their defeat.

But nowadays, it seems that attacking fellow countrymen, instead of joining the united front, would qualify as crab mentality. Never mind the fact that the criticisms were valid and worthy of attention.

Image

In his paper, Giving and Receiving Awards, Bruno Frey noted that “individuals have an innate desire to distinguish themselves from other individuals. People have a strong urge to be better than others.”

Receiving an award contributes to the formation of desirable image that will distinguish (or elevate) an individual from the others. And because of the collective nature of the Filipino people, it is often perceived that a distinction conferred to one would contribute to the image of the entire community he or she – knowingly or unknowingly – represents. The Filipino pride, as we call it.

But this quest for a desirable image proves to be problematic, especially if it concerns a Filipino receiving an international distinction. The bias, described as being “nationalist” by some, clouds fair judgment and often turns a meaningful conversation to name calling and mudslinging.

Because of this need to portray a positive image, discussions within the “collective individual” are monopolized by those in control and are often limited to useless self-affirmations that “we” deserve the award.

Lacierda, in justifying a possible nomination, said there was “no significant peace accord reached since Aceh and that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was a step forward in promoting peace.”

Never mind the fact that former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for the peace agreement in Aceh, served as facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement.

Using this as a parallel, the award for the Bangsamoro agreement, therefore, should go to Malaysia as it served as the facilitator between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Disregard for criteria

Because of this apparent need to portray a positive image by receiving an award, it appears that there is a disregard for the qualifications needed by someone in order for him or her to receive the recognition.

Nobel Peace Prize, for instance, is awarded to people who or groups that have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Aquino has not done anything  groundbreaking with regard to “fraternity between nations,” nor did he contribute to the “abolition or reduction of standing armies” or in holding or promoting of peace congresses. Not with what is happening right now with China.

The thought of Aquino receiving the Nobel Peace Prize has jaded a lot of Filipinos. Never mind that he is not qualified for it.

I doubt that the President will be bestowed with the Prize. And even if he does, it will be an empty one.

After all, the real measure of an affirmation of a job well done is not on the award, but on what is really happening on the ground.

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