Filipinos aren’t “Juan Tamad” after all!

Many  years  back,  Filipinos  were  “fed”  with what  I would  call  as  “disheartening”  personality  and  character  description  begotten  by  our  “conquerors”  which  was  in  reality   a  sort  of  a  “reverse psychology”  tactic  to  stop any form  of  rebellion.   The  disparage though  did not  stop  our  national  hero,  Jose  Rizal, and  others   Andres Bonifacio,  Manuel Luna, Emilio  Aguinaldo and  a lot  more  during the  Spanish  regime,  and  those  during  the American  conquest  like   Manuel L.  Quezon   Sergio Osmeña,  José  P.  Romulo,  et al,  to voice  out  their   views  against our  “masters”.   During  the  period  of  conquest,   Filipinos were treated  as  “third  class”  citizens by  the  Americans,  and  our  Spanish  “conquistadores”   described us  as  “indios”  and  “insolentes”. 

To  complete  the “character assasination”,   the  Americans  had  song  lyrics  changed  to  English  that  depicted  the  hard  labors  Filipinos  are  faced with.  One of  which  was  “planting  rice is  never  fun….”.  A  song to discourage  Filipinos  to till  rice fields and shift  into  industry,  although  the Philippines was already then  a purely agricultural country.  Our  national  anthem was also translated  to  have an  English version  that  was  sang  in the  50’s.  But the  two  “conquistadores”  have  inculcated  in the minds  of the Filipinos with something  I would  say  the most  demeaning personality  characterization –  Juan  Tamad.   Of course  we  know  very well  what  “tamad”  means –  lazy,  and  for  all we  know,  as  years  pass,  we have  proven  that  we  are  not  really  that “lazy”,  as they  thought  we  were. 

Juan Tamad

The  legend  of Juan Tamad    has  even taken a part  in the  study  programs  in our schools.  We  learned  a  lot of stories  about  Juan Tamad  at young  age.    We  are now  conscious  of the  fact  that  we  “were  intentionally poisoned”   to  believe  that  Filipinos  are   “lazy”.   It’s  turning out now that  we  aren’t  lazy  after  all!  So, who  among  our    conquerors really propagated  that  Filipinos  are  “lazy?

For  ease  of recollection,  let  us  relive  the  legend of  Juan Tamad.   Juan Tamad (Lazy John) is a famous character in the Philippines who  was noted for extreme laziness. Portrayed as a child in many stories, Juan was not  only  described as “lazy” but  at the same time  “stupid”.

In one of the stories told about Juan  Tamad, he came upon a guava tree bearing large ripe fruit. Juan, being too lazy to move to climb the tree, stayed laying  down  under the guava tree and let nature’s gravity drop  the  fruit  for him  to  eat.  He remained there waiting for the guava fruit to fall into his wide gaping mouth, which of  course never  happened  because  Juan Tamad  was  “beaten to  the  fruit by  a  bird”.  That  showed   how  lazy  and  stupid  Juan Tamad  could  be.

There  were  lots  of  stories  about  Juan  Tamad.  Famous  ones  were  entitled  “Juan Tamad  and the flea-killer”,  “Juan  Tamad courts Maria masipag”,  Juan  Tamad takes  a bride”,  etc.   But  in all of these   stories   Juan  Tamad  remained  as  “lazy”  and  as “stupid”  as  he  had  always  been portrayed.   Filipinos were  personified  as   all  like  being  Juan Tamad.  Which  was  or  is  definitely UNTRUE! 

For  a quick  recollection of Juan Tamad and the guava fruit  story,  it  went  this  way:

Once, while Juan was idly sitting around,
He noticed a nearly ripe guava  fruit  hanging from a branch.

The rooster immediately urged Juan,
“Reach for the crisp fruit!”
“But my arm feels tired,” said Juan.
“I will just open my mouth
And wait for the fruit to fall!”

Several afternoons passed. Juan, open-mouthed,
Waited for his favorite fruit.
Until the guava became fully ripe.

Already full of craving, Juan stood up
And reached for the fruit. To his great surprise,
The guava was already full of holes.
“The Maya birds beat me to it!”

Friends, the legend  of  Juan  Tamad  should  be  left  as  such,  a  legend.  We’ve  learned  a  lot  from   it,   and  perhaps  it  also  served  as  tool  that  changed  the  Filipinos to be  what  they  are  right now,   who  for  all intents and purposes,  were/are never   “lazy”  or  “stupid”…. although  a  few  may  still  be.  I am not  here to judge  anyone,  I only  adhere to the saying “in every forest  there is a  snake”…if  this  saying  has  a relation  at  all to the  story.   Have  a  wonderful  day ahead…..Eric.

NOTE:    We have  posted  a new entry  PHILS NOW  VIDEOS.  Watch  the  recent  developments  in  Metro  Manila..

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Teacher, Public Speaking and Life Coach, Book and Poem Writer, Folkloric dancer and choreographer, a father, friendly and an admirer and beholder of natural beauty...God believer..

2 thoughts on “Filipinos aren’t “Juan Tamad” after all!

  1. Some Filipinos still fit in the “Juan Tamad” description. When will they change???


  2. True. Realization come when it’s already too late. It’s only when those “some” realize that matters are not really, really going good that they start “lifting a finger”. Thanks for your comment as always.


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