Anti-intellectual attitude a roadblock to Philippine progress

There is something really strange about Filipinos who look down on intellectuals. Even more bizarre is when the person insulting the intellectuals is a university professor and a so-called political “scientist”. In his article in GMANEWS online, Mr. Antonio P. Contreras referred to those who belong to the elite intellectual class of the Philippines as “bullies” and “insecure”. Contreras arrived at this conclusion after reading a few analyses and comments in various online forums regarding Harvey Campos.

No time for small talk: Singapore elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew
No time for small talk: Singapore elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew
Campos was the Filipino student whose question was shut-down and dismissed for being too personal by former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at a forum held in Singapore. To those who have not watched the video of the incident, be advised that it is one of those cringe-worthy-I-wish-the-ground-would-swallow-him-or-me-up type of video.

The part that made some people say Campos acted arrogant and stupid was when he insisted on asking the “personal” question again even after Lee politely explained that he doesn’t want to answer any personal questions simply because he didn’t attend the forum to answer personal questions.

But like a knight in shining armor, Contreras came to Campos’s defense. He too agreed that it was a good idea to ask Lee how much his wife influenced his politics:

I would personally be interested to know how in the public representation of such an esteemed, even feared, powerful figure one can be pleasantly surprised to discover a place for an emotion as a loving husband and a doting father.

In other words, Contreras was as curious as Campos to know who was really behind Lee’s strict laws like banning chewing gum, littering in public, and giving lashings to those who violate these laws. Both Campos and Contreras probably would have loved to have heard Lee confirm that, “Yes, it was my wife who came up with the idea of forbidding people from chewing bubble gum after a gum got stuck on one of the heels of her favorite pair of shoes”. And maybe they dreamt of hearing Lee chuckle like one of their beer buddies while narrating how his wife got fed up one day from picking up the mess in the house and told him “From now on, littering will be against the law to help tired housewives!”.

Yes, unraveling the “human” side of Singapore’s strongman would have been quite an accomplishment for Campos. He would have been the “talk of the town”. He would have been hailed as a “hero” by people like Contreras. In fact, it baffled Contreras why the “elite intellectuals” of the Philippines were not supporting Campos “for his boldness to ask what Singaporeans may consider improper, even heretical”.

Contreras wanted every Filipino to stand behind Campos because the latter “was just being a typical Pinoy who would begin an interrogation with a personal note” and because according to him, the question Campos asked Lee is something that is considered quite normal in our society or something anyone would throw at Filipino politicians, really. Furthermore, he said that “the incident between Mr. Campos and Mr. Lee was a case of two different cultural worldviews colliding – one was very personal and the other very impersonal”.

Singapore bans chewing gum while the Philippines bans thinking.
Singapore bans chewing gum while the Philippines bans thinking.
Cultures collided, indeed but until now people like Contreras still don’t understand why. One simply should avoid asking personal questions in a public forum especially when high profile personalities in politics are involved. This rule should apply not just in Singapore but also in the Philippines. One can try asking a personal question but if the person being asked doesn’t want to answer it, one should respect that. It’s called privacy.

I mean, who cares how a politician came up with his or her policies? Who cares if the politician suddenly had an epiphany after an argument with his wife, which inspired him to write his policy? Obviously, Filipinos like Campos and Contreras do. But what’s really more important is to ask how a politician’s policy would work and if it would deliver results that the people want.

The problem with our society is that we Filipinos put more emphasis on the personality behind our public servants. Instead of focusing on what matters, we care more about the trivial stuff, which are irrelevant in our goal to bring our country from Third World to First. We care more about our favorite politician’s girlfriend or wife, what they wear and what kind of car they drive. It’s as if knowing that we voted for someone who is dating a celebrity or someone who is driving a Porsche would actually help us feel secure that the country is in good hands.

A product of Filipino anti-intellectualism: President BS Aquino
A product of Filipino anti-intellectualism: President BS Aquino
This is why every time an incompetent public servant like President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino or any of his staff commits gaffes or worse, violates the law, all they need to do to divert people’s attention from the issue is to publish personal details about himself or someone else’s sex video and voila! People will quickly forget about the issues. It works all the time. This is why our public servants get away with stealing public funds in broad daylight and treat the country like their personal fiefdom. In short, Filipinos love being entertained.

Contreras was correct in saying that Campos was just being a typical Pinoy, indeed. But, this “typical Pinoy attidude” needs to be eradicated. Otherwise, we will forever be focused on trivia like people’s personal information and circumstances, which all of which are irrelevant to the issues surrounding our country’s march to progress.

Unfortunately, Contreras’ long-winded explanation failed to convince a lot of his readers. Despite calling the country’s intellectuals all kinds of unflattering names like “mayordomo”, most of the feedback he got from some of the country’s “intellectuals” still say that Campos was wrong in asking Lee a personal question. Sadly, Contreras, the professor and political scientist still insisted that those who disagreed with his views are just being insecure about our culture and engaging in self-flagellation. Never mind that personal questions have no place in a forum where serious issues are being discussed.

Obviously, arrogance is another Filipino trait that we need to get rid of as soon as possible.

Contreras has an issue with his fellow Filipinos who criticize their own dysfunctional culture. He also has an issue with foreigners like Lee Kuan Yew who criticize Filipino culture. Contreras does come across as someone who is unwilling to accept that there is a problem with our culture. Someone who is unwilling to accept his weaknesses along with his strengths is someone who will not evolve into a better person. Regrettably, there are many Filipinos who do not want to accept our weaknesses. No wonder the Philippine society has not evolved into something better.

It’s only in the Philippines where intellectuals are ostracised. That could be the reason why some folks would rather go with the flow than risk being shamed for using their heads.

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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58 Comments on "Anti-intellectual attitude a roadblock to Philippine progress"

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Jim DiGriz
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With us everything is an issue. How dare Lee Kuan Yew not to answer the question of this peckerhead? This is a prime example of our false Filipino pride. Intellect also is criticized in the Philippines because the mop rules. They rule on who is voted into office. Politicians like to portrait themselves as being “one of the boys” and voter like it. Erap is a good example of that and it made Bush President of the USA. Gore was perceived a nerd, Bush the guy who everyone wants to have a beer with. It’s the same crap here. It… Read more »
Marcial Bonifacio
Guest
Sa kasamaang-palad, politicians must appease the voters with such trivial concerns sapagkat it wins votes. Iyon ay katotohanan ng pulitika. Gayunman, those efforts alone do not diminish the competence or intellectual capacity of such politicians, as long as they are only tactics to draw the interest of voters who would otherwise be oblivious to them. Nga pala, sila Estrada (not counting his acting career and scandals) at Bush had sufficient executive experience to prepare them for the presidency. Also, Gore would have been president, if he won the electoral vote. Gayunman, recall that he did win the popular vote. Samakatuwid,… Read more »
domo
Guest

Is contreras watching too much telebasura in which the elites are always evil? Political scientist and professor indeed he is pero sayang naman ang pinag-aralan nya. Ang tanda na nga pero parang isip bata’t inutil pa rin ang utak nya. What a moron this “professor” is.

domo
Guest

Oops I forgot. Another great article you’ve made Ilda.

James Rocket
Guest

He’s the living definition of a hypocrite.

captjoe25
Guest

That’s the problem with pinoys and its gossipy culture. Lee Kuan Yew is a world renown leader. Wish we can have a leader like him but its not going to happen.

Kenneth
Guest

We had. And he is the Idol of Lee Kuan Yew.

crispolo
Guest

Sa ipinapakitang galing ni BS Aquino III sa pamumuno ng Pilipinas. Wala sa kalingkingan si Lee Kuan Yew sa kanya.

geanro
Guest

@Crispolo – more singhot ng katol pls,,,,

Jerry Lynch
Guest

While I agree with the salient points of the article; overlooked in all of this is the original question itself. The REAL question was, “Who really is running the country, you or your wife?” That is a political question, not just a personal question.

ChinoF
Member

Poorly delivered, but still, it was an inappropriate question to ask, and it even implies some sinister intentions on LKY’s end. Meaning, it was still based on tsismis. He was right to rebuff it.

Amaterasu
Guest

whilst i agree that it is a political question, to what end does that question point? it is a pointless question. regardless if it be the man or his wife pulling the strings, the result is one.

Marcial Bonifacio
Guest
At face value, the question could be construed as a sincere one. After all, there is an old saying that “behind every man’s success is a woman.” However, ChinoF may be correct that there is something more to it, something sinister. Whatever the case may be, I think that it was inappropriate for that particular forum and since Yew did insist that he did not wish to answer such a personal question. However, I also think that such a public figure as Yew should expect those type of questions and simply answer them, which could only put to rest any… Read more »
grumpy citizen
Guest

Good article. As for Contreras, he obviously reflects the state of our political maturity. The poor idiot just wants to be entertained.

Thomas Jefferson
Guest
Great article as usual Ilda… It reminds me of my American uncle from Texas. God bless his soul. Why are there people who are anti-intellectuals? Blame it more on human nature. The human condition of anti-intellectuals is multi-faceted. Most are envious of this God given gift… brainy minds! We have also the bullies who think they know everything to cover up for their incompetence or just being plain dumb. The worst anti-intellectual is the “dictator” type. This type of anti-intellectual believes he is always right and tries to control the minds of people brighter than he/she is. The “dictator” type… Read more »
Kenneth
Guest

Typical Pinoys are a product of decades of brainwashing. That there are no boundaries regarding Freedom/Democracy. That all of us are special, we can speak, think, and do whatever we want because we are “Democracy”. We have lost the point of reason, wisdom, and ethics because of this.

Just look at ABS CBN, they made the nation panic over “psoriasis” in other words “galis”. Are they held responsible for their blunders? No, because of the Freedom of the Press, they are just reporting as they say they are.

Aryianna
Member
Yes, I have noticed that engaging the intellect is a rare activity in the Philippines. In fact the average IQ according to latest statistics is 86 — quite a sad number, thus it’s no surprise that the average citizen is void of sound reasoning skills, i.e. logic. With such underdeveloped minds, how can we expect sound judgment and decision-making in the country? What we have is a majority population comprised of impaired thinkers, not much different from alcoholic thinking, the only difference being that alcoholics have an excuse for their irrational behavior and thinking — they are under the influence… Read more »
JT Jerzy
Guest
Great to see a positive article. The Philippines is an odd place, where things happen for no understandable reason. Personally, I know no other place on the planet like it. Certainly a place as desperately failing as the country is, needs some sweeping changes and overall a good hous ecleaning. It won’t happen overnight and will take a generation, at least. But the sooner some REAL changes in the thinking of the av. Jaun happens the better, stop littwering would be a good start. Just dont do it. Get someone to take charge of the out-of-control electricity corporations and ratchet… Read more »
Dirch
Guest

Yes it is certainly an odd place, wherein other countries are progressing in terms of society’s intellect (maybe not north korea), We are going backwards. The point I disagree with you is that it will take a generation to change our ways. I believe it doesn’t need that long, We only need to put brilliant leaders in place (which is so damn difficult it seems). Everything else will follow. Also I can’t agree with you more on starting the manufacturing industry, which is the only way to get our of this economic rut.

JT Jerzy
Guest
@ Dirch, it needn’t be the leaders of gov’t. to make the changes BUT rather the school-teachers being able to get acroos an education to children in classes that are not over-crowded and under-funded. Parents that are not absentee parents and that can instill values in kids that are worthy operational vehicles to live a productive adult life with and the like, u kno? Also, the countries leaders are such a bad example for any child to aspire to that getting rid of them is just as good an idea as any that can be offered,LOL! Just getting rid of… Read more »
Marcial Bonifacio
Guest

I agree that electing good leaders is part of the solution, nguni’t naisip ko si Jerzy ay tama when he implies that good leaders can also emanate from the schools and homes in the form of good teachers and parents, especially the parents. Gayunman, I also think that as individuals, we can serve as good role models for others. Simple things as throwing our litter in the trash can or not bribing our police officers (after committing a traffic violation) can inspire good conduct in others. Samakatuwid, a political and cultural change is necessary.

cynicjam
Member
Never have I seen such a country such as the Philippines wherein if you are unique in such a way (intellectually-superior for example) without being a jack-ass, people will ostracize and criticize you because you are not “one of them” no matter how nice you are. Let’s face it, our nation would rather get f’k many times by the same politicians who over-promise and under-deliver than those who are sincere (some of them, I hope) to serve the people without being “epals.” We only base leaders based on popularity than those with real intellect. Our education system is so substandard… Read more »
Dale Gozar
Guest
In a Goon (Mafia) Society like the Philippines – people will simply group together to gain majority, to rule over minority and abuse that power. Thus, people (including Leaders) simply join a Group for protection, to be stronger and to be spoiled in many ways = lazy & idle mind or anti-intellectual attitude ( incompetence). The Goon concept applies to Religions, Politics/Government, Media, Showbiz, Sports, public or private sectors. As a result, our problems cannot be solved and conflicts will happen if the common interest of a certain group clashes with another group (Disunity amongst us because we are Divided).
Amaterasu
Guest
but of course, the society has long been brainwashed into thinking that the poor is always oppressed and must assert their will in any way possible. i once heard a lady say “eh ano kung walang pinagaral si Erap? sya ang gusto kong manalo, sya ang iboboto ko. ipakita natin na ang masa ang masusunod”. i love how it all turned out to be. same person was the first in the neighborhood to join the “protest” that ousted his fave actor. ironically, same person was seen in the house of Erap after he won Mayor elections quite recently, asking for… Read more »
Dale Gozar
Guest
He ask a Typical Showbiz (mababaw) question to a Great Leader in Serious Forum. It is a clear example of an IDLE or LAZY Mind we now have in our society. Originating from the spoiled Leaders in government, authority in private & public institutions, media, religion, or Role models, etc. And Corruption in my definition is the rest of anti-intellectual attitude and a product of an IDLE or LAZY Mind, selfishness/greed and materialism. Because obviously corrupt people/Leaders do not realize the consequence of pocketing public funds or receiving bribes. Money should be circulated around to create more business opportunities, employment,… Read more »
The Cynical Pinoy
Guest

Good read, Ilda. More power to you.

Mandy
Guest

Thank you for showing us a fine example of anti-intellectualism. Ngayon, may panahon kang magbasa ng ganitong articles try mo naman magbasa ng children’s books. Step by step lang, hanggang sa kaya mo nang intindihin ang Noli Me Tangere. Go, kaya mo yan!

Johnny Derp
Guest

Looks like there was supposed to be a jejetard’s post here but it got deleted fortunately. Jejemons are NOT intellectuals. In fact, they are the opposite of intellectuals although it seems that malacanang really is skimping on the intelligence of their flying monkeys that they keep sending here just to be shot down and killed.

cynicjam
Member

Oh, jejemons are intellectuals…they’re so good at being stupid that they have a Doctorate degree for that.

I was just going to use the adjective “retard” but calling them that would be an insult to mentally-retarded people.

Johnny Derp
Guest

Retarded is a fitting word for them although like you said, calling them retarded IS indeed an insult to retarded people everywhere.
Mentally challenged is what I would call them instead.

Hyden Toro
Guest
It was when, the reign of Cory Aquino. That the Filipinos began thinking that way. Cory Aquino and her son, daughters, had never had any high educational attainments; inspite of their wealth. No accomplishments worth mentioning. So, she asked, her business/political cahoots…to produce and market a Myth on her and her family. She put the picture of her husband, on a 500 pesos bill. She named the Airport, Ninoy Aquino. She built a monuments, after monuments; glorifying “EDSA” and her husband, Ninoy Aquino…she even have National Holidays on it… She named government buildings to her husband; etc…If you look closely… Read more »
JT Jerzy
Guest
@ HT, U know its good to hear that. The question about what did take so long to get the gov’t. relief efforts going is not a bad question to ask at all. It should not even have to be asked, the gov’t. should have spear-headed the efforts and instead let the International community come to the rescue. That in itself proves what a PATHETIC bunch of losers they are, all of them. Each and every single one of the reprehensible politicians who act as if they are the gifts of human-kind, when in fact they are just vermin that… Read more »
Hyden Toro
Guest

@ JT Jerzy:

We are in the Pacific Ring of Fire…we are in the Pacific typhoon belt. Because of the Deep Oceans surrounding us. They know that, we are visited by typhoons every year. Yet, they have no plans, to warn/protect the residents in times of catastrophe. They play politics, even in times of catastrphes. What kind of people are these…don’t they have any conscience, to help their fellow Filipinos???

JT Jerzy
Guest

That is the really repulsive part, they do not. and then the politicians try to play their indifference to the peoples plights off on each other, while accomplishing nothing, and the people really really suffer.
The leaders need to be replaced, no shit, they just gotta go.

Dale Gozar
Guest

Exactly, we need continue writing/posting to remind people, pressure our government & world to seriously take action Climate change.

Hazards brought about by Climate Change & our Geography is imminent and will worsen @ a bigger scale & interval. Still people/government may not take it seriously until they actually face death brought by nature’s wrath.

http://s969.photobucket.com/user/Dale_Gozar/story/30927#

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPN73eHi5M0

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tmdk7zZGrC0&feature=youtu.be

libertas
Guest
“The more dominant a ruling class , the more obvious it becomes that the social order over which it presides turns into an impediment to human liberation , the more society and culture is taken over by anti- intellectualism , irrationalism, and superstition . And by the same token , the more difficult it becomes for the intellectual to withstand the social pressures brought upon him, to avoid surrendering to the ruling ideology and succumbing to the intellect workers comfortable and lucrative conformity.” Paul baran Professor of economics – stanford In essence, in a dysfunctional society, the intellectual trades truth… Read more »
Marcial Bonifacio
Guest

Magandang punto, nguni’t grossly exaggerated ang mga punto ni Hitchens. After all, Bush was the first president to hold an MBA, which was from Harvard Business School.

libertas
Guest

Seperate issue, but hitchens was an oxford man and although based in US for 20 years, didn’t like bush for his foreign policy in particular.

Victor M Hernandez
Guest
Thicalled is is too dizzying for me. The discussion keeps on going around and around. Somehow I get the point of the discussion. So Lee Kuan Yew doesn’t want to answer personal question posed by a so called Filipino “intellectual” being supported by Singapore government to improve his being “intellectual”. So what’s the big deal, in the final analysis it is a matter of communication, how you are able to evoke proper response from your subject. Obviously, he has failed to get that from Mr. Lee. Precisely, I suppose he is improving his skills and knowledge in Singapore. I am… Read more »
libertas
Guest
Some recent articles contain a common thread – ignorance is bliss, change is resisted, intellect is envied, innovation is in short supply. In the corporate world intellectual property is king, you are paid to both ask and answer tough questions, change is the only constant, and there no heroes just achievers. IBM filed 6,000 patents last year, and Microsoft 2,500. In the whole of the philippines just 165 patents were filed last year, and that was a 25% decrease on the previous year, despite patents worldwide increasing at their fastest rate ever. From virtually zero patents filed 10 years ago… Read more »
oldbreadstinks
Guest
Just to put some context into what I’m going to say I’m a Singaporean. To Singaporeans, … I have to scroll up to copy paste his name , Campos. He was a nobody. He might as well be faceless. People hardly remember him by now in Singapore. He was nothing more than a joke of the week here. An individual who made a joke of himself by trying to use flattery on the wrong man ( there’s a high chance it might have worked on the rest of the ministers) Not representative of his people or nation. How the heck… Read more »
Hyden Toro
Guest

@ Oldbreadstinks:

Some of the Filipinos, like the YellowTards, are making the issue…making mountains out of anthills.
These Filipinos are rabid followers, of Aquino, who himself is mentally retarded. Most of his followers are also mentally retarded and ignoramuses.
It is also one way to divert the attention of Filipinos, of Aquino’s incompetence, laziness, irresponsibilities, etc…
Please take note, there are Filipinos, who are GRP Bloggers. That do’nt share the views of these YellowTard Filipinos.

Dale Gozar
Guest
Why do our society have an anti-intellectual attitude? And as a result Philippines have Incompetent & Corrupt Leaders. 1. Leaders nowadays only need to portray an image of being good or clean (Facade only). To be President, you need to be an opposition & always accuse your predecessor as being corrupt/bad to gain people support and stay in position/power. 2. Religion also has a tendency to spoil Leaders or Role models in many ways – relying purely on God”s blessing. Hence, an easy life results to false public service due to no effort/work = Lazy & Idle Mind (incompetence :… Read more »
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