The Malaysian Identity

When you’re coming down with a flu in a foreign country without mommy and daddy around, the experience can be harrowing and nauseating especially if you can only afford a dorm bed that costs less than $5 or a  meal for less than 3. And because I wanted to feel uhm… “comfortable” and get away from the evil noon heat of Kuala Lumpur, I decided to cool myself at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia on my 2nd day.

I admit that museums can bore me to death but my nose and itchy throat were strangling me, and the lozenges were not working, so I thought a museum walk would be perfect to rest my nostrils for an hour or so and refresh my senses. I took the visit as my medicine, a good alternative to the Vitamin C which I badly needed at that time.

Before I move on, I would like to say that this is not a post about how AWESOME or MAGNIFICENT the museum is. I’m going to talk about the thing that struck me the most: the photo exhibition about the Malaysian identity called “Formation of a Nation” – a photographic Flashback.  I looked at all the photos and read each of the texts (you know when you’re sick, supposedly boring things can become so interesting). And when I read those, I was reminded of my train ride from the LCCT Airport to the city.

With its developing transportation system and infrastructure, I can say that Kuala Lumpur is striving to be a superpower in Southeast Asia. Though it has yet to reach the calibre of a Singapore, Kuala Lumpur is progressing as a capital. And the photo exhibit at the museum attested to the city and the entire country’s tenacity. More importantly, the exhibit proclaims the country’s unbiased views on cultural diversity, which for me, is a key factor in encouraging growth within a nation.

Here are some of the photo descriptions that hit the nerve:

islamic arts museum malaysia
My country, the Philippines, also has a diverse society. We have Muslims, Chinese, the Western folks, ethnic Filipinos, etc. But most people here tend to IMPOSE what they think is right according to how they were raised or educated, making the rest inferior or even non-existent to what they believe in. I AM a full-fledged Christian / Catholic, but I seriously don’t give a shit if YOU practice Buddhism, Islam, or WHATEVER. I respect that, and we are still brothers and sisters. But not everyone possesses this kind of attitude here in the Philippines. That’s why I’m not really surprised if my country is a bit backwards on so many things (and you can actually sense this especially when you start traveling to other countries). And isn’t it when, let’s say, a ruling body of a country respects the beliefs of its people, the people would also strive to be respectful of the ruling body? Do unto others as you would have them do to you demmet!!

Here’s another one:

islamic arts museum malaysia, kuala lumpur
Malaysia accepts its diversity. It doesn’t push its people to honor one religion and culture. I once encountered a Hindu temple that stood only a few meters away from a Chinese temple. And in the afternoon, I’d hear an Islam praise called the Azan, that reverberates throughout the city.

Malaysia embraces its uniqueness, and it is key for a rapid development.

And here’s my favorite:


I wonder if my own country can actually have this tattooed on an island skin wholeheartedly.

And of course…

kuala lumpur malaysia museum

This post is actually more of a comparison between Malaysia and my own nation. AND I’m SORRY BUT I CANNOT HELP IT. I’m not saying that I hate my country. I mean, I love it so much (that’s why I still live here) but most Filipinos just have to WAKE THE FUCK UP.

If we want to encourage change, we have to change within. We also have to ACCEPT diversity – respect begets respect, my friend. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to turn this into a novel.

But all of us can take a lesson from this:


There’s a certain SHAME attached to it, which is a good motivator if you don’t want to end up floating in the gutter as a nation.

To be honest, I felt bad when I got out of the museum because I realized that my own country has yet to grow up (actually, after reading the texts, my nose cleared up a bit–probably because I was more pissed than sick. HA!). I myself am guilty sometimes for neglecting growth – in my own little workplace / environment. I do hope things will change soon in my backyard.

As for TRULY ASIA, I now understand what it really means. I thought it was just some plain ‘ol mainstream money-generating term because it sounds exotic and therefore can easily attract foreigners. But it is UNDENIABLY a great way to describe this country. See above and you’ll understand what I mean.

the islamic arts museum

All content and photos are property of Rica’s Rucksack unless indicated. They are not for reproduction, be it for personal or commercial use, without the permission of the author.

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