Any motorist who’s spent enough time negotiating Manila’s potholed streets will attest to how the Philippines’ surreal complex of culturally-ingrained bad manners, ill-thought-out road layouts, inconsistent law enforcement, and the overall unsightliness that blankets the Philippines’ capital cities contributes to an experience like no other. At the root of the banal dysfunction of Philippine-style motoring is the world-renowned inflated ego of the Filipino…
There seems to be something wrong with a psyche that makes us so vulnerable to getting upset or offended so easily. Filipinos get offended so easily from a perceived indiscretion and are often unable to move on to something bigger or higher than such trivial pursuits. We tend to be consumed with words that should mean nothing to us if they were untrue. This demonstrates a real sign of having an unhealthy ego and insecurity. As someone aptly put it, Filipinos can be onion skinned cry-babies.
What is notable about the immense bubbles of mere perceptions that Filipinos routinely create around their persons is how easily they are popped. Filipinos generally lack a key ingredient that builds robust character — substance. As such, the fragility of the perceptions with which they face one another — and the world — needs to be nursed and polished with very soft kids’ gloves. As this bubble of mere perception gets bigger, its skin gets spread thinner. And as its skin gets thinner and more fragile, the psychotic paranoia with which its owner nurses it gets more acute.
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Unfortunately for Filipinos, living in the Philippines is the equivalent of trying to navigate a bubble in a forest of pins. There is hardly anything about life in Philippine society that one can truly consider to be even remotely under one’s control. In the Philippines, it makes no difference whether one routinely does the right thing or does the wrong thing. The Filipino Condition seems to be ethics-agnostic. The vicissitudes of life in the Philippines often strike in an indiscriminate and random manner, and Filipinos are generally helpless. Most bizarre of all is that even rich Filipinos feel the same way despite the vastly superior resources they have at their disposal.
So the quaintly garish motoring scene in the Philippines offers us a nice steaming petri-dish filled with fine specimens of Filipino manhood with which we can observe the paradox of the insecurity of the Filipino wealthy. Because, unlike in advanced societies, owning a nice car is considered a sign of exceptional wealth in the Philippines, one would think that having a nice car would afford the average Filipino rich dude a bit of relative happiness compared to the pall of wretchedness the more average of his compatriots have to live under everyday.
But then a car, in the context of Philippine culture, is a very tangible embodiment of that renowned ego bubble that Filipinos walk around with. And Manila’s roads and traffic constitute the proverbial forest of pins that it navigates. While road rage is an affliction that many car-bound societies suffer from, Filipinos exhibit it with a uniquely perverse banality. Whereas road rage occurs in very discernible bursts in, say, the freeways of Los Angeles, it forms a continuum in the Philippine setting — a minute-by-minute blanket emotional state on Philippine roads.
Lord, guide me as I “share” the road with all the rest of them.
This is the Filipino driver’s prayer.
Like the unique way with which Filipinos approach â€œprayerâ€, this one embodies the perverse complex of a culture hopelessly muddled in religious hocus-pocus. The Filipino driver drives like he is on a mission — to get his kids to school, to make it in time for his kapihan meeting, to get to the mall in time for the Last Full Show; whatever — and it is the only one that matters in the context of the aspirations of all the rest. Indeed, he believes that God is on his side in his endeavour to accomplish this â€œmissionâ€.
This heightened emotional state is kept elevated by the physical intensity of driving in the Philippines — a continuous exercise in jostling for meagre space and grabbing and accumulating small advantages over all the rest in the hope of shaving even just a few minutes from two-hour long travel times. Road markings and traffic rules offer no comfort whatsoever to the Filipino motorist. They are, by all intents and purposes, irrelevant. Only the Filipino’s primal ancestral instinct to hack his way through a jungle can be depended upon. But in 21st Century Manila, we indulge this ancient instinct with our cars rather than with machettes.
So we come back to what sits right smack in the middle of a psyche fatally infected by bizarre delusions of â€œmissionâ€, prayer, pompous self-importance, and hunter-gatherer instincts — the car itself. Why is the Filipino so crazed by the illusion of importance afforded by driving a car? Perhaps it is because it is only inside his aidconditioned car that the Filipino feels in control of something. Outside of it, there is only a world where the air corrodes, the politicians steal, and the neighbour sings karaoke to the wee hours of the night.
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This goes out to victims of the Filipino Condition among whom two stood out recently
The brother of a certain Anton Dans who ended up in hospital after an alleged road rage incident with the driver of a 2000 Volvo V70 with plate number WRU 865…
After 5 minutes of driving inside Greenwoods Village, Volvo comes up behind Gabby, horns blaring and on full bright headlights. Gabby wasn’t going fast because there was a Meralco truck in front of him. Volvo tries several times to cut between Gabby and the Meralco truck. Gabby holds to his lane and Volvo fails several times to cut Gabby.
MMDA traffic enforcer Larry Fiala who was allegedly shot by Edward John Gonzales, 30, of 5393 General Luna Street, Poblacion, Makati City…
Witnesses said that the suspect got mad when Fiala issued him a citation ticket and hit the victim in the face before speeding away past 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Fiala pursued and caught up with Gonzales in Florida Street near the Shell Gas Station where the suspect reportedly shot the enforcer.
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Systems are only as good as the individual behaviours of the elements interacting within them. Change a system without changing the fundamental behaviours of the elements it will be applied to and you set yourself up for the same sort of dysfunctional outcome that describes pretty much most of the Philippines — a nation that is one big result of too many actions uderpinned by very little thinking.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.