The Philippines’ “Me First” attitude results in a backward society

Ako Muna (“Me First!”) mentality. It’s one of those renowned Filipino character traits. You see it in the way Filipinos drive — how they find no issue in rudely squeezing into your lane; no thank you wave for inconvenience caused. When queuing for your turn at a McDonald’s you have to be vigilant, lest some prick cozy up into the space in front you despite knowing full well you were there first. Applying for that juicy job you feel you are qualified for? Don’t hold your breath. Pamangkins (nephews and nieces) and kababayans (town-mates) of the boss come first.

To be fair, Chinese people are renowned for that sort of behaviour as well. They will push and shove one another for a piece of the pie they feel they are entitled to and will sink in every measure to secure every advantage over the other they acquire.

So why, if both Chinese and Pinoys are in the same siba league, do Chinese people get ahead while Filipinos fall back behind the dust cloud left by the earlier?

ako_muna_mentality

It’s simple, really.

The key to Chinese success is the concept of locking in small gains progressively. If there is a way to rack up even a miniscule advantage in any endeavour, Chinese people will take it. They spare no opportunity and overlook no opening. Each small advantage acquired is secured the same way a rachet mechanism only allows movement forward. Add to that, the other secret sauce in Chinese success: volume — lots of it over time. Small locked-in gains built on top of the previous add up to vast power in the long run.

We can see it today in the way the People’s Liberation Army progressively secured their South China Sea assets — one little reef at a time, one pile driven into the sea bed at a time, one square metre at a time. Filipinos were no match — no amount of legalese pitched to a toothless “international” tribunal on the other side of the planet could stop them. No amount of appeal to victimhood or getting in bed with an ex colonial master could move them. The Chinese military simply keep moving forward in small increments, securing each foothold gained.

Filipinos, on the other hand, for all their ka-sibaan do greed the wrong way. Rather than securing small gains progressively over a sustained period of time, they go for broke chasing the next business fad. Some win, many lose. The net overall result of this foolish approach to getting ahead is chronic backwardness.

Paatras ang asenso.

Translated, that’s “progress in reverse”. Many initiatives that Filipinos saw as steps towards progress were really setups for failure. A good example, is the much-ballyhooed “democracy” that Filipinos “regained” in 1986. Back then, democracy was seen to be the silver bullet that would rescue millions of Filipinos from their abject wretchedness. Several decades hence and the Filipino victim still sits under the guava tree waiting for her rescuer.

Democracy was a big step — supposedly one that would leapfrog the little patient steps other societies take to prosperity — if we are to believe the Philippines’ venerable “thought leaders”. Unfortunately, totalitarian China and authoritarian Singapore and South Korea have far overtaken “freedom-loving” Pinoys in every measure of human development. Analyse that.

The reality is that nothing was really secured by democracy in the sense of assets relevant to economic progress. It did not cure the Philippines’ single biggest character flaw — absence of discipline. Indeed, rather than improve it, it eroded it further. Filipinos saw the “freedom” that is a byproduct of democratic governance as a license to embrace bad behaviour, loutish demeanour, and, worst of all, fatal negligence.

The results are in plain sight today. The late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew validates his achievements simply by telling his fellow Singaporeans to “look around them”. Similarly, Filipinos only need to look around them to take stock of how they utterly failed to turn the “gift” of “freedom” into a long-term asset that delivers returns. All because we wanted to be a democracy first, wanted to look modern first, wanted to be “proud” first, and wanted to be “liked” by the international community first.

Ako muna.

Ako muna your face.

[Photo courtesy Joseph Rinoza Plazo on Facebook.]

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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26 Comments on "The Philippines’ “Me First” attitude results in a backward society"

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Alexandre Linz
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let’s all move to cebu. manila sucks

polongo
Guest

Perhaps Chinese and Filipinos have similar attitudes. What I think divide them are their mind set. Chinese have more collective mind set, yes they think of themselves first but their way of thinking don’t just end to themselves they also think of the community. But Filipinos are different they have more of an individualistic mind set, they only think of themselves which extends only to the borders of their families which is also to fuel their self interests.

kayumanggisikirars
Guest

It’s the same with Japan. They tend to think more along the lines of “I’m a cog in society, but I’m an important cog because if I don’t do my job well, then this society won’t be perfect.”

Perhaps it stems from centuries of Confucianism, something that barely made it to Philippine shores.

Instead we got American individualism, which is great! Look at the good ole USA. But the Filipino flavor is something awful, like it’s individualism taken to the extreme. Ako muna at wala nang iba.

abner
Guest

just to give benefit of the doubt, someone commented on the tgp page that the driver accidentally pressed on the gas instead of the brake because he was not used to automatic. not sure if it’s true just saying.

NotProudtobePinoy
Guest
Very good article. this is true. but sadly no amount of articles about how Filipinos should act will change the society. everything here in the philippines is fucked up. people have low morals, no discipline, tamad, young people are kept ignorant by pbb, vice ganda, dubsmash facebook, while the capitalist takes advantage of all these. EDSA democracy was nothing but just a propaganda and it is one of the things we dramatized and worship too much. hope china will burn this country if that what it takes to make us a FILIPINO again the real ones, not a PINOY. we… Read more »
William Beene
Guest

Happened to me again today….in line to drop packages at Robinson and two woman crowd past me to get ahead in line..again I said out loud “I guess I must be invisible ” and shot a look at the two Package guys…they must be oblivious , or are so uneducated to know that there is a ‘line” and a polite way to wait …. Then the 4 and 5 year old Neighborhood kids are hanging off the fence yelling “Rock and Roll” and givin’ the old Devils horn’s concert fingers…. That, sadly, is the future of the Philippines…

kayumanggisikirars
Guest
To quote my American-raised baby bro, “Filipinos, maaaan.” While on vacation there this summer, I sent him to go buy food from a little street-food stall. He’s not too comfortable with his Tagalog, which is why I sent him in the first place. He comes back with a bag of cheesy fries, but he was fuming. Apparently, two kids cut him off when he was clearly next in line to be served. And of course the lady manning the stall served the kids first because they were already in her face. His final thought on Las Islas Filipinas? “I love… Read more »
nyes
Guest

We are related to Chinese

Vincent
Guest
According to former president Fidel V Ramos in his interview on the JPE Story (1:06:27 of the video), he has seen a disciplined Filipinos in the first three years of Martial Law. I wonder why. Were they scared then of being hurt, imprisoned or killed? I wasn’t born yet at that time but I can imagine being afraid of such was one of the reasons. Which leads me to wish (although ultimately I really don’t) sometimes that this impending war with China would really happen. I don’t know but I have a feeling that the Filipinos will never be the… Read more »
Vincent
Guest

“Just look at the intersection of Pinaglabanan St. and N. Domingo St. beside the Diwa ng 1896” – in San Juan City, I forgot to mention.

Ricardo_Diaz
Guest
Interestingly, the “me first” attitude is significantly toned down when Filipinos enter territory that is not theirs. Such as Clark Airfield where the Jeepney drivers actually learn how to behave when they step forth. Why? Because they know they’ll get busted if they break the rules. Same reason why Duterte’s Davao is peaceful because he has no problems in unloading Justice at the end of a gun barrel. Sad to say, this doesn’t seem like a problem that can be solved by educating them. Habits are hard to break. So, next best solution is unfortunately, has to be something heavy… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Of course, “me first” is one of the components of the lack of respect for public space that Filipinos are notorious for, as hinted to by Spanish writer Jorge Mojarro, which I quoted in an earlier article. There’s a reason why religious scholars consider selfishness (as in, the bad kind) as the root of evil.

55Hayden00777765Toro
Guest

You cannot remove that, “Ako Muna” mentality of Filipinos. This is the reason, we have Family Political Dynasties. Father, wife /(wives), sons , daughters, relatives, etc…are all elected in government position. “Kami Muna” must be their
political mantra.

It is a cultural dysfunction of Filipinos. It is in their mindsets. And, it may take centuries to remove it.

Presidente Emilio
Guest

Of course it might take years to remove the individulistic mentality that the westerners had given us.

The theme of Pope Francis’ visit is mercy and compassion. The question is, do we even know what the latter is? If not, then the “ako muna” mentality will remain

d_forsaken
Guest

My middle finger is used when words aren’t enough for people to understand that they’re annoying.

zaxx
Member

The solution = Zaxxun creed
line 5. Unity is a fortress. My genuine concern: the common good.

Allen
Guest
There is no solidarity and goodwill among Filipinos because Filipinos have an identity crisis and an inferiority complex. The Chinese have a common history and culture that dates back 5000 years. I live around many Chinese and Japanese here. One thing they have that Filipinos don’t is their sense of community and solidarity. Meanwhile, the Filipinos are always judging, coveting, and competing against each other like crabs in a barrel. The Philippines will always have that problem. It’s rooted in its core. The Philippines as we know it today is only what, 70 years old? The islands forged a nation… Read more »
kayumanggisikirars
Guest

Not to mention that the Spanish administrators themselves employed your good ole divide and conquer strategy to keep the indios in check. Hell, even the first Christianized datu sent Magellan over to the next island to take care of Lapu Lapu–they don’t teach that in history class, do they? Forward to colonial times, the Spanish friars and administrators didn’t want their subjects to learn Spanish, creating an environment where people from neighboring towns speaking different languages. Divided and conquered indeed.

Allen
Guest
While these issues may be very rooted, to dwell on them with this prevalent blame game attitude won’t lead to solutions. Filipinos, inherently, have a cultural lack of unity and code. Rather than recognizing this, the country as a populace is too occupied wanting things they don’t understand (as the article enlists, things like modernity and international standing). Jumping the gun much? These things are hard-earned, not merely handed to you. This pathetic sob story mentality and blaming game has outlasted its welcome. What do Filipinos value in life? (Other than wanting a Western paycheck so they can buy a… Read more »
Allen
Guest
Also, to those people who think American ‘freedom’ and democracy was good for the Philippines: Filipinos will never ‘get’ it. They just can’t understand and apply this part of the American way, and aptly so. The rugged individualism that is part of American culture is deeply rooted in its history. The American republic was created by settling into a new world and taming a wild continent from east to west. America has always been a frontier society where the price of this new freedom was paid for with daring risk and sacrifice. Now compare that with the Philippines, whose history… Read more »
Not Tony B
Guest
Ako Muna – Me First Mañana Habit – Do tomorrow what should be done today Bahala Na – Whatever happens happens Funny thing about all these horrible traits of the Filipino is it happens mostly AT HOME in the Philippines! You take a Filipino out of the country, put him or her in a country that doesn’t put up with any of that $hit and guess what? They become productive as hell!!! Why? Simple: they are kept in line! Follow the rules or else face whatever consequence whether it’s work related or society related. They are FORCED to abide, which… Read more »
Allen
Guest

What you’ve said is all true. Filipinos have never really done anything on their own. Take away the appearance of republicanism and capitalism and what would you get? A collection of islands of people with tribal mentality who bask in the sun. I’ve always said this: if a foreign country was able to colonize another country for a long time, and that country continued to be in a sorry state AFTER colonization, then it says a lot about the inhabitants of that country more than the occupying one!

The Spainard
Guest

NO, you got it backwards…. the result of the dysfunctional society is the ‘ME’ 1st attitude.

andrew
Guest
Absence of discipline indeed. Democracy is designed for people who knows how to move forward. And to move forward, it requires discipline. If we want to be a doctor, then we need to study everyday. Discipline. If we want to be a better athlete, then practice the sport you are in to. Discipline. di uso yang “ay mahirap pala, ayaw ko na.” “nakakasawa na, pahinga muna.” Discipline is following a set of rules to be obeyed religiously. sadly most of us doesn’t understand this. hence, we violate the rule of democracy. democracy for most pinoys are: “eh gusto lang tumambay… Read more »
Jose
Guest

Im sure happy kau imo beauty na anak, ing ana jud ato ttoairidn dghan anak hehe..ang mga cousins pud sa akong anak dghan napud haha.I usually send them money so they can buy what they want hehe, pero padala pud ko balikbayan box next month wa pa gani napuno hehe..

http://www.aadiscountfurniturewarehouse.com
Guest

IMHO you’ve got the right answer!

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