The Germans have a word for that unique sort of unseemly glee we’ve all experienced at seeing someone fall flat on their face. It’s called schadenfreude, and it’s been in the air since the results of the Bar Exams were released. While the provincial side dances around joyously to the Cece Peniston remix of Finally, the “Imperial Manila” side is going “meh, fluke, provinces are dumb,” and the rest of us who haven’t completely lost our minds are sitting courtside with bags of popcorn, cheering as flamethrowers are lit. Welcome to the Thunderdome.
There’s always been a bitter divide between north and south. The latest turn of events has yet again shed light on the seething psyche of the southern provinces, long brimming with resentment at what is widely perceived as an unfair double standard. Filipinos who speak Tagalog, the language of the north, are lords of the manor; Filipinos who speak Cebuano (arguably the most common of the southern dialects) are ignorant hicks from Nowheresville who make their way to the big city to make something of themselves by becoming indentured servants. It’s not so much being racist, as it is locationist. There may be some truth to this, but that’s painting with an extremely broad brush, the way we automatically assume every Filipino who goes abroad is going to be an illegal immigrant. It’s complete bullshit, but that’s the reality we live in. We can all stick our heads in the sand and pretend the schism doesn’t exist, but it does and it’s why this wave of schadenfreude tastes so sweet. We love stories where the underdogs win (as long as we’re the underdogs who won).
No one can make a person feel inferior without their consent. Being underestimated can be empowering. It feeds the hunger, the drive to excel, to overcome, to exceed expectations. While the curriculum, the professors who teach it and the environment that espouses it do play an important role in a student’s growth, it all comes down to the student and his or her capabilities. The ones who passed the Bar exam and the ones who aced it are smart, hard-working, accomplished people. It doesn’t matter where they’re from. Put them in any school, they still would’ve found a way to shine.
Using results as a basis to prove that Metro Manila schools are better than provincial ones also skitters over the truth: that a fair number of probinsyanos choose to move to the capital, because like it or not, that’s where the opportunities lie. They have strong educational programs, and while it isn’t the only place in the country that offers a quality education, it’s common knowledge that Manila has a large concentration of top schools. One year without the presence of anyone from the capital in the top ten is not conclusive evidence that our educational system is better than theirs. That said, we owned the Bar this year, it’s our turn to eat cake, vive le provincial!
What? I’m from the south. I had to pick a team.
Passing the Bar Exams is notoriously difficult, and making it to the top ten is an achievement worth celebrating. It’s hard not to be proud of the latest crop of barristers who’ve gotten their law degrees from universities in the City of Gentle People, especially when three of the topnotchers were also incubated here. Our new barristers have further proved that Dumaguete City isn’t referred to as a University Town for nothing. You did good, you guys. You did good.
Photo Credits: Wesley VanDinter E+ Getty Images; Giphy