Intsiksiomai's Blog

Refinement, Cultured, Polished, Sosyal=essential or superficial?

Posted on: June 3, 2009

Many of my intsik contemporaries send their children to schools like ICA and Xavier.  These are the chinese schools known for being “sosyal”.  These kids grow up to be overspending brats, who don’t even want to be seen in McDonalds or Jollibee, or even ride an old car or van.  They want to be associated with high end restos and lavish new cars.  The parents of these bratty kids are the same intsiks I’ve been complaining about, the “no read no write” types who drive in a BMW.  They have the illusion that money can buy refinement.

First of all, refinement is not the most important quality a person should strive for.  There are higher qualities to strive for like self-sufficiency, sense of justice and fairness, integrity, dignity, environmental consciousness, world-consciousness, self-awareness, responsibility, and balance to name a few. Refinement is just the icing of a person, while the other important qualities make up the cake or the core.

Then again, people go about achieving refinement the wrong way.  For a person to be refined, one needs to be a reader at the very least, just to educate himself with the arts, literature, culture of different people around the world in different eras.  Acquainting with these things may not be enough, but at least one can imbibe the recurring mentality of different cultures and practice them when necessary.  Good taste is partly innate and partly acquired.  The exposure helps in the acquisition of good taste.

I have an aunt who gets violent when we don’t follow her European way of table manners and sitting arrangement.  I find it so superficial.  Table ettiquettes were made to make dining a pleasant experience.  I think she turned dining into a horrifying experience by being rigid about it.  Being “cultured” should make us more understanding of people’s differences in dining, and getting violent about deviants is just counterculturedness. My cousins mistakenly think that they look “sosyal” by wearing all branded items with diamonds and BMW and dining in expensive places.  They can’t even construct one correct sentence, what more distinguish one art form from another.  Another aunt told me that I should never join theatre or singing groups but I should accept invitations to watch concerts and plays. That, for her, is “sosyal”.  I beg to disagree.  I’d rather be a performer than a spectator. Spectators maybe branded as sosyal, but performers are the talented ones.  Being a spectator won’t add to my intrinsic value or caliber, being a performer will. Then again, isn’t immersion and participation to the arts the best way to learn the culture that we want to study?

1 Response to "Refinement, Cultured, Polished, Sosyal=essential or superficial?"

Some people regard performers as slaves for their entertainment. Some cultures regard artists as very different from normal humans, living very different lives. In Japan, for example, there’s the geisha. They were artists valued higher than most because they also had education and culture. The less educated and cultured, the less value. Today in the Philippines there are insurance companies that have an additional requirement for artists/talents/performers. They must get an AIDS test.

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