Hot ice: SM’s ridiculous treat


Although summer is already searing, those who’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas will have their chance to realize it – at least a little part of it – when SM Bacolod opens its ice-skating attraction any day now. People will have the chance to skate on ice, although not exactly on white slopes but there, in the middle of the mall, surrounded by shoppers and mall rats going to and fro, with more on the second and third floors ogling down at the strange spectacle. Ice in the Philippines, at the height of summer.
I haven’t seen any announcement as to when exactly this will open, but it has definitely provoked both excitement and agitation, depending on which side you belong.
One side, the excited ones, looks forward to this as a rare treat, something that happens only once in a rare while. I am confident though that if this becomes a record-breaking hit in commercial terms, there will be an extension or a re-run; because at the end of the day, its all about business.

The other side, the cynical ones, looks at this as yet another proof of how skewered are our values as a race, how the effects of our miseducation by way of colonization continue to haunt us and shape our lifestyle. I belong to this side.

There simply is no other proof better than this one that we have not even started to recover from colonization. Although the Spaniards and later the Americans have long packed up their cannons and artillery and gave us back the war booty that was the Balangiga bells, our colonization has not only persisted; it has deepened. From our forebears who tried to speak the language of Mother Spain to our parents who sang like the Beatles and danced ala Fred Astaire to us who know the nutritional value of the broccoli more than that of tugabang [jute leaves] the sad list is long, indeed. Imagine that: America’s Little Brown Brothers in Bacolod skating on ice; the ape in all us, setting up and going out of our way, not to mention spending our meager resources just so we can have something that the other side of the pasture has. This is downright ridiculous.

No matter if our version of playing on ice is a pale imitation of what we are tying to copy for as long as we have even just a pathetic copy of it, we’re good. Or are we, really?
Sadly, very sadly, the Excited Ones equate the arrival of this ice-skating attraction as progress. “Now Bacolod has ice skating! Wow!” These are the people who hailed the entry of foreign franchises to the city as proof of our growth as a city. After all, these businesses won’t settle here if we are not bankable.

Well, yes, people can argue that this is all the effects of globalization and that the locals must do better to survive competition. Agree. But must we lose our culture in the process?

I am no pollyana. I am realistic enough to accept that we are but a few intransigent souls who think there is still hope for us to reclaim back the nation’s soul and identity even at this time and age.

But let me very clear. To recapture our identity back, I don’t mean we go back to wearing loincloths and g-strings or swinging from tree to tree again. We reclaim our culture and identity by teaching ourselves and our children that is imperative to love our own; that we are never inferior to any race. Building that ice-skating place does not help us any in this effort.

So what now, asked an Excited One when I tried to argue against the ice spectacle by saying there are native summer games that need to be promoted to push our culture promotion. Do we hold a Tubig-anay Tournament, or perhaps a Piko Invitational instead of ice-skating? he further asked.

Why not, I asked, although I know very few will be interested and no mall will financed that. At the rate we’re going, I am not even confident the millenials know what piko and tubi-anay are.

But that’s exactly the point. Why sustain and continue our miseducation by holding events like this? Instead of ice-skating, maybe we do not hold anything at all. We don’t have to always hold activities that will promote culture. But neither should we do the ones that keep us away from who we really are.*