Why potentially beneficial foreign ideas and influence have not worked in the Philippines

barthomerinsertbrainWhile writing “The hollowness and hypocrisy with which Filipinos regard foreign entities” (henceforth known as Hollowness) almost two months ago, it seems I had completely overlooked one striking manner in which they show such:

When the Philippines is compared with another country in any category (response to typhoons is such an example), Filipinos are quick to react with “please do not compare us, it is unfair. The Philippines is just a Third World country”, or “The Philippines is unique/special, we have our own problems; we cannot be compared with other countries.”

That’s what happens when the comparison puts the Philippines in a bad light.

When it makes the Philippines look good, on the other hand, the Filipinos’ reaction is only too obvious.

Proud to be Filipino! Woohoo!

Filipinos will grasp at straws to proclaim any sort of “victory”, however shallow and completely uncalled for it may be.

I’ve noted before that comparisons with other countries and societies, invidious as they may seem, are inevitable. The Philippines wants to be known as a great society, a great country, but the effort they show – much less the results – fail to back up the conclusion they so desire.

The Philippines is image-conscious, and yet when it comes to the hard work of actually putting substance underneath that image, Filipinos suck. Instead, they would rather remain true to their image of being “victims of circumstance” – even if the reality is that they’re both helpless and hopeless.

As I also noted in Hollowness before, Filipinos have had no shortage of exposure to foreign ideas and influences, both good and bad, yet it seems that they are one of those people who have learned the least from it. To put it quite simply, it has been such an incredible waste of a good opportunity.

It seems the only thing that Filipinos have taken to heart from foreign ideas was how to be an insatiable consumer, but that is yet another topic entirely.

So why have potentially beneficial foreign ideas and influences not worked on Filipinos? I can think primarily of three reasons:

Because they apply them off-the-shelf.

Every locale, what more every country, has different circumstances. Even those that are in the same country, or were under the same colonizer, if any, have different situations and cultural character on the ground. Because of this, you cannot expect to apply a solution that worked in one place without tweaking it to your local culture and expect to get good results!

Lee Kuan Yew, in his book From Third World to First did not fail to remind the readers that by no means is it an off-the-shelf prescription for others to go do in their own backyards. Rather, he stressed that he merely narrates what he did, what worked, and did not work while he was steering Singapore through its birthing pains as a nation in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the Philippines, we copied American-style democracy without seemingly considering things as how to prepare the masses for democracy, or what parts of our culture and our character are fundamentally incompatible with it. What has been the result? We got an electorate who simply go through the motions of electing its leaders and expect different results without being more scrutinizing and critical of the candidates.

This is also one of the main issues that the discussions with those pushing for a different form of government, whether federal or parliamentary or both, have failed to address. When asked about, or confronted with, scenarios and questions that extend these concepts beyond their theoretical context, and are about the application to and simulation of the actual situation on the ground, these concerns are parried, diverted or met with a strong, yet irrelevant response.

Because they pervert them.

Filipinos are known for having a “reverse-Midas touch”. Instead of turning anything they touch into gold, it becomes utter crap! And they keep touching things over and over and over.

To give an example, Pinoy Pride is actually an example of a perverted form of national pride. The prosperous societies, as far as I can tell, take national pride in the fact that they have accomplished great things together as a people. Whether it’s because they actually collaborated on it, or it’s because the people in question have shared beneficial values, they have turned their locales and societies into models to emulate.

Filipinos, on the other hand, put the cart before the horse. They claim national pride in the accomplishment of a single outlying Filipino and make the claim that the entire Filipino people are like that. Yet they have not built anything noteworthy as a people. Hell, it’s even hard to say that they even came together in the first place! They seem to merely be a collection of tribes who do little else but tolerate each other. What they have formed, is a society that rests on three pillars: pwede-na-iyan,bahala na, and impunity. The results of such a society speak for themselves: one where everybody suffers.

The sad thing is, the Filipino diamond started shining brighter when it left the Philippine shores, even temporarily. Left buried in the Pinoy shitland, este, backyard, Filipinos would have kept ignoring it.

Another example of a perverted concept: freedom. Sure, Filipinos yearned to be free from someone they perceived as an intolerable tyrant back in the mid-80s, but it seems that afterwards, they thought such freedom was a license to do anything – mostly stupid things – without regard for the consequences.

Summing up the results of Filipino freedom is quite simple:

License to do anything + People with inflated sense of self-importance = DISASTER!

We come to the third reason:

Because they reject or dismiss them prematurely or outright.

Countless times has it happened that Filipinos who studied or worked abroad are eager to bring their newly acquired skills back home and hope to help the country along in its development. What was the reaction that awaited them?

Hindi iyan uubra dito. (That’s not going to work here.)
Ang ambisyoso mo naman. (You dream too much.)
Kikita ba pamilya natin diyan? (Will our family make money from that.)
Akala ko mo kung sino ka, nag-abroad ka lang. (Who do you think you are, you just went overseas.)
Eh di wow! (Untranslatable; basically a dumbstruck expression of Filipinos)

What will make things worse is if your ideas clash with the vested interests of a politician. He/she will do everything to make sure that your ideas for improvement merely stay as ideas.

It is worthy to mention, that Filipinos have this obsession with “Filipino First”, and yet the results of putting the Filipino first have been all but a failure. Filipinos protected themselves from foreign competition in order to focus on locally made? They became complacent, and were merely satisfied with selling and consuming mediocre products. Filipinos want to put their own native languages and dialect first? Well, they failed to enrich them, and even allowed them to devolve into gutter speak.


If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a single common denominator that ties the three reasons I mentioned above:

Filipinos are too lazy to think.

Adopting foreign ideas, influences, and best practices into Philippine society takes a lot of work. You have to carefully discuss and scrutinize each idea, and you have to go into every detail of what will work and what will not.

At the helm of it all, you have to have authority figures who are intelligent, have a vision, and have a strategy to see the Philippines improve. Doon pa lang bagsak na ang mga Pilipino (the Filipinos will fail even in that aspect alone)!

Ultimately, it comes down to what Filipino society collectively values, or does not, in this case.

Filipinos are anti-intellectual.

That is a natural result of being lazy. When people refuse to get out of their comfort zone, and are content to stay in their old, outdated, and detrimental ways, then they get a society that refuses to learn from the past and from outside influence.

Oh when will they ever learn
Oh when will they ever learn…


About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Leave a Reply

49 Comments on "Why potentially beneficial foreign ideas and influence have not worked in the Philippines"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Robert Haighton

To sum things up for myself is that its useless for me to stay any longer, and/or to keep my mouth shut because whatever I suggest is useless and a waste (of my time and effort).

Okay folks then this was my last and final contribution.
I am not sad to go but it makes me sad that the majority of the Philippines dont want to strive and dont want to aspire for and to a better life.

Well anyway, it was fun to be here.


This article reminds me of my vacation in La Union and stayed in a German owned resort called Final Destination. The owner came and sat with us and in the course of conversation, he commented that his employees are all HRM or Tourism graduates but he still had to train them because they were not ready to do even the simple things such as proper preservation of food or greeting the customers, etc. Anyway, what he finds nauseating is his trained employees criticize, scold and mistreat the new employees and act like they were that good from the day of… Read more »

Correction, the resort was ‘final option’ my bad!


They will never learn…that is for sure…
Just look at our Squatters, who are multiplying, day to day like mushrooms. These people have bare basic necessities; much more sanitation. They live in such a very unsanitary environment. They can tolerate to live in this environment. Because, it is free..

No will/aspiration of their own, to better themselves. Or, to live in a better environment.

The Politicians wanted this situation; because these Squatters are sources of “captive votes”…

It is a symbiotic relationship…and is a bad situation for all of us. However, nobody, ever raised a voice, against these people.


Grace Poe is born in the Philippines. She’s a natural born Pilipino whatever her parents nationality,born in our motherland. if she’s not a natural born pilipino, then we all are stateless. secondly, how many years did she studied since birth in the philippines before pursuing her further education in the states? will that not count the 10 years requirement preceding such elections? there’s no years mention in the constitution which such election.


Sadly Fallen Angel, I don’t really think they’ll change anytime soon.

Part of the problem with the general word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of Failipinos who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of Failipinos who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And Failipinos who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the… Read more »
ice cube
a wild troll used point miss. it was not effective. positives? i don’t know if you saw this on the news lately but we live in a society where a police officer deserves an award ceremony (a damn award ceremony) for returning a wallet with 55,000 pesos…let that sink in… seriously … seriously… do you want some brilliant insight, some golden pearl of wisdom to tell you how to fix the philippines? this is yet another cretinism that pinoys have…ummm we need some brilliant theory…some heavenly sign to show us how to change the country (preferably, with this sign you… Read more »

– @FallenAngel;

Thanks for your thoughts! I have sincerely enjoyed your thought provoking articles. Just so you know….I do see eye to eye with you.


Filipinos are known for having a “reverse-Midas touch”. -laziness, complacency, and hard headed Case Study: my co-worker eats his “lumpia” in his workstation which is prohibited (no eating allowed). i saw crumbs falling on the floor so I told him to clean it afterwards which he did. however, i still saw some more crumbs which he ignored. I said, “there’s more! F@ck is wrong with you!” (he’s one of my good friends. lol!). He replied, “that’s fine it won’t be seen.” So I rebutted, “stop that attitude. go and clean it to perfection!” so he cleaned it spick and span.… Read more »
I am a filipino, and I am ashamed. Truth hurts and it takes a lot of courage to face the truth. So I will take-out this disgusting yellow film that has been used to bind my eyes so the only thing I can see is yellow. Some Filipino’s do enjoy being poor. Being poor has its perks. You don’t pay taxes, you enjoy help coming from foreign aids and whatever alms the Philippine Government is willing to sprinkle. We are taught that we won Democracy and Freedom when Cory ousted Marcos, but is it true freedom? Most Filipinos are unable… Read more »

only if the intellectuals breeded more than the masa, we’d see rapid change.
what we can do now is instill our ideologies on our children (eg official language at home is english, no “pwede na yan” mentalities, less exposure to philippine media).