Spanish Writer Draws Fire for Exposing “Filipino Mindset”

In a classic moment of anger after being told “you have a pimple on your face,” Filipinos again cried foul against an article of a Spanish researcher living in the Philippines. Jorge Mojarro, whose article was published in Interaksyon (his being called “spaniard” in the article seems to reflect the antiquated thinking in our society) drew flak after he blamed the problems of the country on the “Filipino mindset.” He described the problems of improperly occupied sidewalks, traffic jams, lack of city planning and rampant commercialization (malls, etc.) as a result of this mindset. Of course, the butthurts would claim he’s insulting and wrong.


However, his summary sentence, “Filipinos do not show any sense of shared responsibility for public space,” is a very accurate explanation about how Filipino attitudes cause dysfunction in our society. It can be summed up in one acronym: KKK (Kamag-anak, Kaibigan, Kaklase or it can be changed into Kamag-anak, Kakilala, Ka-Close). I will define it this way: If you know someone, you tend to respect them. If you don’t know someone you tend to disrespect or even try to scam them. In Mojarro’s own explanation:

The private sphere belongs to the kin and friends, and utang na loob obliges one to reciprocate help, support, favors, and even money. The public sphere, on the other hand, becomes the jungle where anything is valid in order to bring commodities to the private sphere.

Unfortunately for the butthurts, this is true about Filipinos. Just think of our politicians: they give positions and pork barrel to their kin, friends and people they have utang na loob to. That’s their private sphere. The public sphere, they rob to get money for their private sphere!

As Benign0 sometimes quotes from Jaime Licauco, “A nation whose policies and rules are based on the assumption that everybody is a cheat and liar unless proven otherwise cannot long endure. Take a close look at our bureaucracy and its rules. It is burdened by elaborate and often unnecessary checks and balances so that nothing ever gets done in the process.”

A true humane, civilized and advanced society that is truly worth being proud of is one where respect is given to even those we don’t know. If some will retort that people in other countries are also like that, that is not true in a significant way. Think of the observation that when Filipinos go abroad, they follow rules and become more productive than in their home country. Part of the reason is the that the Filipinos have been taught to respect people that they don’t know. In other words, the “value” of KKK was been replaced with a true civic-minded, law-abiding citizen mindset. This is what we lack to a great extent in the Philippines.

Some may rail, “hey, KKK is not a value!” Let me explain that I mention it as a value that we actually practice. I apply the word value, because it reflects what we actually value: our kakilalas, our little world.

Others may rail at Mojarro with an ad hominem: “he’s Spanish, his society ruined our country!” But that is a stupid retort, since Mojarro is modern Spanish, not part of the older society that had already faded. He like James Fallows (an American) get slammed for being astute and observant, seeing the problem for what it is and giving solutions. Another is objection to his suggestion that parks are better than malls to be in, citing air conditioning and all that. But aren’t there some Filipinos who recall a better, more habitable Manila of old where there were many parks and fresh air aplenty?

Lack of respect for public space makes the Philippines chaotic
Lack of respect for public space makes the Philippines chaotic

This is not to say every Filipino is a KKK practitioner. I am happy to see many Filipinos act respectfully towards people they don’t know and extend a helping hand. But the KKK attitude is sadly prevalent as well. The Aquino administration is the standard bearer of it and is perhaps the object of whatever snipes Mojarro had in his article. But let’s get to the point: unless Filipinos learn to respect even those they don’t know to a greater scale, and thus have greater respect and concern for the public space, we will continue to experience terrible traffic, high crime, high corruption and other problems that annoy us and even threaten our lives in this country.


About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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37 Comments on "Spanish Writer Draws Fire for Exposing “Filipino Mindset”"

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Pilosopo Socrates
The article sums up from my viewpoint of our society. There is a disjointed sense of value amongst our fellow countrymen that they cherish their KKK more than a random passerby or fellow commuter. IMO, the way society behaves is based on how one person behaves towards another and it shows. It is KKK on a grand scale and with a population of 100M and counting, it has become ‘hell’ or maybe even the apocalypse (I don’t wish for it) our country has become. Do I find it ironic that we a KKK mentality when we are taught by our… Read more »
grumpy citizen

I think this is true in Metro Manila, and even Metro Cebu. The over-populated areas (especially those that are badly managed and where utterly stupid, useless politicians rule), do tend to make people feel insignificant and without a sense of community. They tend to think, who the fuck cares for me or this place? In other words, its not inherent in many of us, but it’s a sad consequence of living in a country whose leaders are all fucked up beyond recognition.

But there are a few who care, but far too few.

That’s the irony of our country isn’t it? We claim to be friendly to all, yet once a foreigner (especially Caucasians) arrives, we try to undercut them and extort money. We value education. And yet our public education (with our private education following suit) are degrading at a rapid rate. We wish for change, yet we refuse to alter our behavior in anyway. We pretend to be open to all, yet as soon as we are exposed to something different (Ex. Anything that isn’t love songs) we immediately shut that out. When someone speaks the truth, we refuse to listen… Read more »

And this is why Filipinos piss and spit on public facilities.

The place where this article is most evident is in the roads of the major cities in PHL. There are 100m Pinoys, so there are 100m traffic rules. Most know how to operate a vehicle, but have not taken the time to learn how to drive. Pinoys can’t drive their vehicles without using the horn. They get out of a parking space in the worst possible way, seeing to it they create the most traffic. They switch lanes indiscriminately. They don’t respect who has the right of way. Etc. It is Pinoys’ lack of respect for other Pinoys in full… Read more »
Amir Al Bahr
Since you quoted James Fallows, let’s see one paragraph of his “A Damaged Culture” which is a very big indictment on Filipino society: Japan is strong in large part because its nationalist-racial ethic teaches each Japanese that all other Japanese deserve decent treatment. Non-Japanese fall into a different category. Individual Filipinos are at least as brave, kind, and noble-spirited as individual Japanese, but their culture draws the boundaries of decent treatment much more narrowly. Filipinos pride themselves on their lifelong loyalty to family, schoolmates, compadres, members of the same tribe, residents of the same barangay. The mutual tenderness among the… Read more »

Ironic that we cannot be at least decent to strangers and yet we call ourselves a Christian country. Who is my neighbor?


Konkin (1975) described the value of “Agorism,” a shared respect for people in the public sphere. It’s curiously a very liberal concept that if I’m not mistaken would have fit the Philippine social system well. To be fair, I see it function now in smaller civic units (e.g., provincial towns, villages).

The most unfortunate thing here is that agorism hardly exists in larger civic units in the Philippines, such as cities. There is almost no respect for the Other, and the Self often justifies his/her selfish actions by saying “well, everybody does it anyway.”


Filipinos boast for their being Christians, as well being undisciplined, most corrupt, crafty and having a dysfunctional government.


True. Filipino mindset is arogant same in our education and system of governance the kkk term said it all.

Sea Bee
The article is spot on and goes a long way towards explaining why the Philippines is such a chaotic place. Several of the commentators expressed surprise that a Christian country like the Philippines could be so uncaring of others. Religion is supposed to promote brotherhood and compassion. I see no evidence of that. If anything, I see the opposite. The more fundamentalist the believer is, the more intolerant they are of others. The conservative, white Christian community in the USA has a “empathy deficit disorder.” They have nothing but disdain for people different than themselves, especially if they are brown… Read more »
Hyden Toro001

We, Filipinos cannot discipline ourselves, in our own country. I found out that most Filipinos, who are living in the U.S., are law abiding. They follow rules, like traffic rules.
Because the U.S.-traffic police will give them traffic tickets and haul them to Court.

In our country, most of the traffic police, accepts : “lagay”, after you are caught violating a traffic infraction. And, they let you go free, after pocketing the “lagay”…

What the Leaders do; the people will follow. Our Leaders do not follow, or circumvent the laws , they make. So, people imitate them…


and where did we get our mind set… from more than 300 years of Spanish colonialization… Instead of looking at our bad characteristics, lets be proud to be Filipinos , know what we can be proud of and work on those that needs improving… As long as our people are poor and deprived, then the Filipino mindset will continue to be deprived as well.


I like where the author in the link said “The decay of Manila is the success of the malls”.


It’s always great to know that people like Jorge Mojarro and James Fallows have made the accurate observations and facts about what is really happening in the Failippines. And to those who are so-always-butt-hurt about the real deal and catch, you can all kiss your fucking asses off your tails.


in fact a very accurate point on what are the problems in our country the Philippines but change don’t happen in an instant it takes time, effort, and sacrifices to improve everything.

Filipinos are sensitive, ignorant, lack in discipline and happy go lucky. I’m not saying all of us are that but most of us.


attack the guy for being correct…typical flip-tard thinking.

Filipino’s should get over themselves, they aren’t that important and realize that together they could be so much more than the individuals that are not such big deals.


“Unfortunately, this will not take place because, for one, there are too many people taking economic advantage of the status quo.”


And it won’t change if we replace the leaders either. The replacements will do the same thing. No one is interested in undoing the wrongs in this country. Everyone who has ambitions is just waiting for his/her turn to profit over the same things.


This is true, so we should learn from it and change. However much of that mindset we owe to Spain, thanks to their 300 year rule of the Filipino people. In the end Mojarro’s harsh criticism is actually about the rotten legacy that his forefathers left in the Filipino psyche.


Yes, If we look at it, KKK may have originated during the time colonizers ruled our country. Due to the revolution, people tend to trust the people they know and distrust those who are outside their circle. I’m not against the article because I also believe that societies need to change and evolve with the modern times, it’s just that us pinoys are too narrow-minded and lazy to adapt and to keep up with the modern world.