(On a Culture of Sour Grapes, Bitter Melons, and False National Pride)
In the Filipino community, the recently finished American Idol Season 11 has been equally popular and controversial, primarily because one of the contenders, Jessica Sanchez, who eventually became first runner-up to the winner, Philip Phillips—was half-Filipina. However, my article is not about who won or who lost and why. For me, a deeper issue underlying competitions like this needs to be hammered—that is, how people accept defeat and how they celebrate success.
Win or Lose, Doesn’t Matter Anymore
The criteria used in determining the winner is no longer relevant—be the judgment was based on the greatness of singing voice, ability to play an instrument while singing, potential to write music and songs, stage presence, or popularity. Different people choose their personal bets for whatever reason—which include national or racial pride and crush on or affection for particular contestants. Whatever the reason for choosing is, there’s nothing wrong about it.
For example, I chose Phillips between the two, because I related more with Phillips in the aspect that I am also an artist—he plays an instrument and sings and he seems a songwriter too. Many people chose Sanchez because of loyalty to one’s fellow compatriot, or national/racial pride; many others, for her great singing voice.
But then again, these are not the issues; but rather how every individual reacted to the results.
Ability to Accept Defeat in Stride
What’s sad to realize is that there are lots of people who cannot accept loss or defeat in stride. They tend to react in negative ways. They seem unable to believe that one cannot win everything or win all the time; that sometimes one loses a fight or a game. And while one is better than another in certain areas, skills, or capabilities; the situation may be reversed—one can be less good than others. And there is nothing wrong about this. Those who cannot accept these realities often resort to sourgraping or bitterness—the usual reaction of sore losers.
Sourgraping is an expression of dislike for a certain thing or the tendency to downplay it just because of the inability to achieve it. Examples of sourgraping: “Hmph! I don’t care if we didn’t win; we were not really expecting it anyway”; “I don’t care if we lost; Sanchez has already lots of recording-contract offers anyway.”
Bitterness is a feeling of severe misplaced anger or disappointment because of failure to achieve one’s goal. Examples: “The judges were simply incompetent, the reason our bet didn’t win!” or “I don’t believe that we lost; the results were rather tampered; we were cheated! Sanchez was discriminated upon because she has brown skin!”
Some even go to the extent of projecting their disappointment, frustration, and hatred on the obvious focus of their loss: “Oh, that trying hard and sympathy-hungry Phillips…I hope he fails in his career!”
Ability to Celebrate Success Without Arrogance
In the same manner, many people could not celebrate success without the need to be arrogant: “Yeah, we won simply because we were the best!” Or, claim the win with a sense of entitlement: “It’s unsurprising that we won because that prize was really meant for us.” Some even go to the extent of turning their delight and excitement into taunting, mocking, or ridiculing the loser: “Good for you…you didn’t win! You don’t deserve it anyway!”
To Mind or Not to Mind
I don’t mind if some people chose Sanchez because they loved her singing voice. I don’t mind if many others chose her because of mere loyalty to one’s fellow compatriot (regardless if the affinity is not even a hundred percent—she is only half-Filipina—and, not to mention, if the other contender was more musically skilled). This is what is known as false national or racial pride—the tendency to favor or side with a fellow compatriot just because of the racial or national connection, disregarding objectivity. In the same manner that I don’t mind that Phillips was declared the winner, whatever the reasons of his supporters were.
What I mind is the reactions of people who are either sore losers or arrogant winners.
Sa Madaling Salita
Ang tamang reaksyon sa bawat kumpetisyon—kalahók ka man o pawang mirón—e ang kakayanang tumanggap ng pagkatalo sa maayos na paraan at kakayanang ipagdiwang ang pagkapanalo nang may pagpapakumbaba at nang walang bahid ng kayabangan.
Or, in Simple Words
I believe that the ideal reaction to every competition, whether one is a contestant or a mere fan or spectator is to accept defeat or loss in stride and/or to celebrate success with humility, without any trace of arrogance or a sense of entitlement.
However, there is also what we call a “knee-jerk reaction”—a negatively expressed initial reaction to an issue that is often caused by a surge of frustrated emotions. While this is understandable to some degree, a person guilty of this should be able to reassess her initial reactions. In Filipino culture, this is what we refer to as “padalus-dalos na desisyon o reaksyon dahil sa bugso ng damdamin.”
However, not everyone has that what I call a sense of concession, or the ability to concede, or admit that something is true or valid after first denying or resisting it. And this is what we refer to in Filipino culture as “kakayanang bawiin ang mga binitawan o nabitawang masasakit na salita o mga maling pananaw sanhi ng bugso ng damdamin; at kakayanang magpakumbaba, aminin ang pagkatalo o pagkakamali, o humingi ng dispensa matapos mahimasmasan at makapag-isip-isip.”
Ang nakatatawa pa nito, karaniwan e mas pikon pa ang mga mirón at amuyong kesa sa mga mismong kalahók sa kumpetisyon.