Reflection Time: What is the Philippine’s Biggest Problem?

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Low-hanging fruit. It can get some leaders misguided into addressing a problem just because it is easier to solve and check off, without even first weighing it out against the other more fundamentally relevant issues.

Remember those seminars teaching us the difference between urgent and important? Well there is much to learn about Filipinos by simply dissecting their thought process and discovering what really makes them tick – in particular, how they set their priorities.

The Need for Focus

Identifying which problems to focus on and finding the most effective strategy to solve them are the types of critical decisions leaders face, especially for countries that do not have the luxury of time, cash and resources to put a plug on every ship-sinker hole simultaneously.

President Rodrigo Duterte comes in as a fresh new set of lenses for Filipinos, whose myopia has made the country renown for being a sick man that has faltered and lagged behind most of its neighbors in almost every field that makes up a nation.

President Duterte has set his eyes on drugs and criminality. On top of that, various sectors clamor and cry hard to be heard: agriculture, education, defense, rebel forces, workers, investors, commuters, media and businessmen. It looks like it’s a contest of shouting the loudest to get attention. The more relevant issues though get drowned out in all the noise.

Considering the country’s limited budget, we tend to allot a little for everything. Rather than focusing on just the few major problems a set at a time and solving each effectively, we choose to solve every little problem halfway all at once just to appease the many disgruntled voices. This is probably just a reflection of our national culture of moving into a house that’s only halfway finished.

Take a tip from the medical field – specialize! It is no longer practical to be a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none country. We as a nation should learn to focus on a niche and build on our few limited strengths.

Knowing the Goal (Motivation)

As we transition from a failed ineffective administration to a new one brewing with promising fresh new blood, it’s a good time to sit on the sandy beach, look towards the golden sunrise off in the seemingly unbounded sea’s horizon and reflect on the things that really matter. Let’s begin to ask the deeper questions – like the why and how, rather than the who and where.

Many of us are just too caught up in the routines of daily life, that we forget why we are even doing things in the first place. We have allowed empty traditions to take over our critical faculties, and believed with blind faith in people who claim to be authorities just because they changed their title of Mr./Ms. to something else.

Learn to say “No.” If you don’t plan how you use your money or time, others will do the planning and use it for you.

What is this country’s dream? As to a little lad in preschool, we are wont to asking: what do you want to be when you grow up? Does this country have a dream to be something someday? Why does it seek to go in that direction? Is it just to feed our national pride?

Everyone is just doing his/her own thing. We are all pulling and pushing one another for our own selfish agendas. Can we not unite for a common purpose even for once?

Many have grand goals – to reach the top of the mountain. And when they get to the top, you ask them: what’s the point of getting there? They are clueless.

People are driven by various forces: a force to survive, to live a comfortable life, to become great, to excel or to fulfill a dream. Ask a pedicab driver, and he will answer you: I just want to provide pan de sal for my 6 kids each morning. With that motivation he risks life and limb slugging it out on the highway with trucks and jeepneys, oblivious of the traffic he creates.

At this point in the life of our nation, let us move forward a step higher from “mere survival” to becoming a decent and functional society. After defining our goal and motivation, we need to identify the major roadblock that keeps us from getting there.

The Country’s Biggest Problem

Just what is the biggest problem in the country? What issue deserves honing in our strength and skills most to bring about its resolution? Is it the traffic in Metro Manila, the squatters and shanties that riddle urban places, the lack of classrooms and navy vessels, the ASG/MILF/NPA,  the lack of local jobs, or overpopulation? Or is it something much deeper?

I don’t think our problem is really that complex. Peering through to see the crux of our dysfunction as a nation and society, I think our biggest problem is simply the lack of common sense and basic honesty. These are elements of reality that reside in the unseen world of the mind and heart. And we will never really rise up above this tide that drowns each passing generation when our teachers, parents, politicians and priests are bankrupt, with nothing of genuine value to pass on to our youth. Because these are not really passed on to the youth through just words (as powerful we may think they can be) but by example through our actions.

All this nation’s apparently big but actually secondary problems are really just symptoms of these two deeply rooted deficiency-based evils that make the Philippines decay at the core. Ours is a house whose foundation has been made hollow by termites. But rather than replacing the foundation, we continue to build on top of the building until all the more the weight bears down on our weak spot and our great edifice comes crashing down like a precariously built house of cards.

Success – Being Part of the Solution

If you are a student, begin to realize that it’s not the head knowledge that you come out with that will really make a difference for this country, but how much integrity was ingrained in you while you worked towards attaining your degree.

If you are a teacher, begin to realize that it’s not the amount of information you were able to spoon-feed into your students’ gray matter that matters, but whether you have equipped them well enough to reason by themselves with a level of logic that can withstand a super-typhoon barrage of counter-arguments in a debate.

Fast forward… Imagine the last day of your life, at which point you find yourself lying down gasping for your last few breaths before you leave this planet. You ask yourself: what could I have done differently to make my life a resounding success?

Then travel back in time to this very day. Go and make a difference now. Be a part of the solution. Life is best lived not by gratifying endless desires, but in knowing our higher purpose and giving up ourselves to inspire others.

Six years is a short period of time. President Duterte is determined to leave a lasting legacy when he steps down. Let’s hope he truly finds the mother of all problems that eats at the heart of our people, and crush it at its core. How about you – will anyone ever remember you made a mark in contributing to solve this country’s biggest problem?

PS: If you do decide to make a difference by running against the grain, don’t be surprised or discouraged by all the opposition you’ll get. There’s a saying in Filipino: Ang punong maraming bunga, laging binabato. Benign0 recently brought up its English counterpart: If you are not annoying anyone, then you are probably not doing anything important.

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Post Author: zaxx

Zealous revolutionary advocate of bringing back common sense for the common good in a land of dysfunctional and delusional zombies.

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20 Comments on "Reflection Time: What is the Philippine’s Biggest Problem?"

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d_forsaken
Guest

A generation of the unteachable is hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses.

4DSakeOfDCountry
Guest

OLIGARCH’s are the biggest problem!!!!

Biffa Bacon
Guest

A terrific,forward looking article. Zaxx,your writings should be required reading material for all Filipinos,especially the young and impressionable. The new administration would be well advised to have someone such as yourself broadcasting a daily message,to leave an indelible,honest approach to creating real change. CARRY ON !!

marius
Guest

>> lack of common sense and basic honesty.

Absolutely spot-on, zaxx. The solution is not guns but education. But … how is that going to happen when all the teachers and parents are Filipinos, passing on their dysfunctional ideas?

Switch off the f’ing TV, people, and go and read a book, preferably written by a successful culture (the Finns are my favourite example). Then discuss what you learned with your children.

SDKs
Guest

Hello! Pls rec me Finnish books for teens and school age kids. Thank you. Also, for adults too. Many thanks 🙂

Add
Guest
Two news, which were very disturbing, reflect how deep our problems are. 1. The hundreds, or thousands, who attended the funeral of a slain drug lord in Cebu this week. They call him the “Jaguar”, a kind of Robin Hood, except that he got his money not from the rich to give to the poor, but by destroying the lives of drug addicts in his multi-million drug operation. Narco-politics? I thought this was only true for Mexico and that DU30 was just exaggerating a situation. I never realized it is already here. The pictures of the funeral march sent shivers… Read more »
marius
Guest

>> What the two events showed us is that our people no longer know what transcendental values are. Everything is now judged on the basis of empirical and material values. People, individuals, no longer know what is the meaning of life and what societies and civilizations are all about.

I agree, Add. For a supposedly religious country, I’ve never seen a population so lacking in moral values, conscience, respect for God’s creation, or compassion for one’s fellow man. The average Filipino sees his neighbor as a slab of meat to be slaughtered and picked to pieces.

Robert Haighton
Member

Add,
let’s assume I am a smoker. Can I now sue the cigarette manufacturers or did I start smoking myself – knowingly and willingly – one day?
Everybody who starts/started smoking and starts using drugs (and alcohol) knows what it can and will do.
Stop blaming the drug lords but instead blame the people/person who started injecting cocaïne or heroine or whatever.

Add
Guest

You read me incorrectly, Robert. It is exactly the people I am blaming. I was shocked at the hundreds of people who came out to attend his funeral. They basically gave this drug lord a royal burial. These people are out of their mind. This guy died in a shoot-out with the police, and the people didn’t give the police some well deserved recognition for killing this bastard.

Robert Haighton
Member

Okay then probably I misread that part. My apologies.

For what its worth: pls try to find some video footages (youtube?) of funerals of motor gangs like “No Surrender”, “Hells Angels” and “Satudarah”. You will see the exact same scenes as what you saw in Cebu City. Most countries have its own chapters of those motor ‘clubs’.

ChinoF
Member
When I saw that post about Jaguar’s funeral, I thought that was the latest version of warlordism in the Philippines. First it was Guns, Goons and Gold, now we add Gurds (or Glitter, is meth shiny? Or at least it buys “Gold”). Warlordism happens because Filipinos tend to be moochers and see whoever is the “lord” as their provider. It’s a twisted version of “the lord provides,” where the lord is a corrupt human. Life seems so desperate for the Filipinos in those areas that they are willing to be subjugated as long as the subjugator provides for their needs.… Read more »
5551Hyden007Toro9999.99
Guest
5551Hyden007Toro9999.99
I believe the greatest problem of our country is: apathy on the part of the Filipinos. On the part of the leaders: incompetence; corruption; too much politics; dishonesty; and greed. The Feudal Oligarchs want all the wealth and power they can have; at the expense of us all. See, who is profiting from the OFW remittances? It is the big merchandising businesses, run by Chekwas. The remittances of OFW , like me, are not invested to create industries, that could have created jobs…consumerism is encouraged, to buy “made in China” cheap goods . We need good Anti Trust Laws and… Read more »
Sick_Amore
Guest
May I add the lack of courage and fearfulness to the problem, Zaxx. Because the Filipinos lack the true nature of Bayanihan and turned into sheep that fear criminals, criminalities/corruption abound. Not doing something about criminalities or illegal activities is as good as condoning it and encourages criminal behavior. Several times you will see local videos in social media exposing another person’s crime. Like one time, I saw this girl in a video being bullied by the man sitting beside her in a bus and the other time a child being maltreated by his father and another time an animal… Read more »
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