(So I was browsing through my dust bunnies when I came across a draft of my old article which I posted in my old blog years ago. I read through its contents, and realized its relevance to the current issues our country, the Philippines, faces. Therefore, I found it ideal to share it with the esteemed readers of GetRealPhilippines for their benefit and leisure. Here’s a brief glimpse to my past.)
In this blog entry, we shall address the traditions and idiosyncrasies that kept us pinned to poverty and corruption; we shall tackle the â€œvaluesâ€ indoctrinated deep within our subconscious that stagnate our progress as a society; and we shall discuss what keeps us trapped in misery and confusion… what can bring forth our ruin as a nation.
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It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to name the Ten Plagues of the Philippines.
The First Plague: â€œVictim-ismâ€
Now, a typical Filipino might blurt out something like this:
â€œHow come we, the citizens, are contributing to the problems here in the Philippines? How come that we exhibit characteristics that scourge our economy and national reputation? How come that we, the Filipinos, known to be one of the most hospitable citizens in the whole world, who are industrious and heavily family-oriented, are reasons for our countryâ€™s ruin? How come that we, the victimsâ€”â€œ
For countless moments, we Filipinos have insisted that weâ€™re the victims of the bad stuff that struck our country. Weâ€™ve always declared that weâ€™re the oppressed, the pitied, underdogs of our social drama. What caused this indoctrination in the minds of our fellowmen? Is it perhaps the usual portrayal of the protagonists in the local TV series and movies; the oppressed and the belittled? Could this have been caused by three consecutive occupations of different countries in the Philippines? My reflections about Filipinos always eager to play the â€œvictimâ€ part pointed me to these suppositions.
Now, tell me, my dear fellowmen: is it in any way productive to base our stand from the idea that weâ€™re victims in some kind of a telenovela? Is it in any way uplifting that weâ€™re labelling ourselves as the oppressed wretches in our own society? Is it so necessary to adapt so pessimistic and self-damaging an attitude just so we can arouse sympathy from the people around us?
Snap out of this illusion, my dear Filipinos. As we continue to label ourselves as â€œvictims,â€ we in reality victimize ourselves. We live up to our view of ourselves by moaning and groaning about our problems, ruining our own self-esteems, and complaining about why our saviours havenâ€™t come yet. Is this what we want? To be like dying wretches wanting to be saved by someone weâ€™re not sure will come?
This, I say to you, Filipinos. How you view yourselves will inevitably define who you are as a whole. As you continue conditioning yourselves as the victims, you unwittingly become burdens yourselves; heavy crosses to be carried by our productive fellowmen. Itâ€™s true that we have been victims of treachery, discrimination and corruption in many ways, but the crucial question is this; should we remain victims of our story, or should we stand up and become our own heroes?
The Second Plague: â€œVanityâ€
If one has read Jose Rizalâ€™s Noli Me Tangere or El Filibusterismo, he or she would without doubt remember DoÃ±a Victorina, a despicable old woman, who, after mingling with a bunch of Spaniards, has declared herself a Spaniard and rejected her Filipino heritage, to the point of spitting out insults to her fellowmen as if they are supposed to bow down to her. Truly a wretched character, DoÃ±a Victorina is. The sad part is that DoÃ±a Victorina has gotten out of the pages and spread her influence amongst our fellow Filipinos. Today, there is an unimaginable number of DoÃ±a Victorinas in our society; a disheartening truth, a nightmarish prospect.
Iâ€™m no stranger to such kind of people. Countless times Iâ€™ve witnessed fellow Filipinos lavish themselves with self-righteousness, their ego ballooning in disproportionate levels, just because they got something what they wanted, like an iPad or something, or just because they won in a little contest, blah-blah-blah. It was a distasteful encounter, and my heart was wrought with contempt and pity.
Filipinos with a misplaced pride are no exception, for the reason that their pride is, well, misplaced. Vain Filipinos tend to bash in the skulls of people who point out the flaws in our society, our traditional ills and our misconduct, further revealing how badly mannered a good number of our fellowmen are. Filipinos have bombarded critical thinkers with names such as â€œnerds,â€ â€œgeeks,â€ and â€œanti-Filipino,â€ claiming that theyâ€™re just jealous of their achievements. I can almost hear them say:
â€œYouâ€™re just jealous because weâ€™ve accomplished so much as a nation. Weâ€™re a hardworking race, and we can adapt to any environment. You all go to hell!â€
This fact alone proves how the Filipino ego grew throughout the years; and itâ€™s not looking pretty. Binsfield, in his study in demonology, have equated vanity with Lucifer, the fallen angel who refused to follow God. For atheists, it has been regarded that pride is the â€œroot of all sin.â€ You see where Iâ€™m going; we Filipinos exhibit an attitude that can prove highly destructive to our society and image.
I do not tell you, my dear Filipinos, to abandon your pride in what you have accomplished. Iâ€™m simply asking you to put your pride within the context of the situation, for if we look in the bigger picture of things, our individual and collective accomplishments have yet to live up to our vain fantasies.
The Third Plague: â€œProjectionâ€
Weâ€™ve discussed during high school in our MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health) subject the different approaches of man to his daily problems in life. Of all those approaches (I think there are six major types), only one really caught my attention; â€œprojection.â€ Projection is a type of approach where someone, in an attempt to alleviate himself from the pain of his problems, tends to put the blame on others, relieving himself of the necessity of carrying his own burden… at least on his perspective, anyway.
This caught my attention, because, Iâ€™m sure you already know this, many of our fellow Filipinos employ this kind of approach. Most of them spend almost all of their time finding someone to blame to relieve them of their stress; the usual target being the government. This has always been the trend of the poor Filipinos throughout the course of this nationâ€™s existence; using the government as a scapegoat to satisfy their escapist attitudes.
â€œWhy are we poor? Why isnâ€™t the government doing anything?â€ is the usual complaint of many impoverished citizens in our country. They just donâ€™t get tired of shouting to the whole world that their sorry life is the work of a government who canâ€™t answer their needs. Is such a disposition justified? I mean, what do they do to give themselves a better life, anyway?
I say theyâ€™re doing their best to improve their social standing, alright. They are diligent in their job of continuously making love with their spouses to make a whole army of children, while not having any money to support them in any way, and blame the government for their miserable state. They exert efforts in their vocation as gamblers, be it â€œjueteng,â€ â€œmah-jongâ€ or cockfighting, even if they hardly have any money to spare. They willingly send their children to work in the streets, asking for alms or selling sampaguita, candies and even cigarettes, while they tend to their important businesses, usually the drinking and baby-making industry. They are such hardworking people; surely their complaints are justified? They have been working their butts for so long!
Now, allow me to pause for a few moments as I cry myself to sleep.
Projection has been a Filipinoâ€™s primary weapon when it comes to facing problems, and it seems to work for some; but at what cost? Is the neglect of oneâ€™s personal responsibilities, passing it on the backs of others just for the sake of alleviation of pain justified?
Are you, my dear Filipinos, bringing yourselves to prosperity by your indiscriminate projection? Or should we rewire our mindsets, man up and take the responsibility ourselves for the better?
The Fourth Plague: â€œThe Celebrity Syndromeâ€
The elections are coming. Several figures have already expressed their interest in running for different positions in the government, be it national or local. The populace meanwhile are already making up their minds about whom to vote. As we all know, elections are an important aspect of society, particularly in a democratic one (our nation is a republic; a republic is a type of a representative democracy), wherein each person of a legal age can have the opportunity to vote people whom he believes can lead us to a better future. To elect someone in office requires intense critical thinking about that personâ€™s educational background, his contributions in society, and how comprehensive and beneficial his platforms are.
But lo! How it pains me to see that people have voted for candidates who are now the integral part of our collective destruction. People have voted for candidates who might just be the last persons I would like to see governing so delicate as our society and economy; celebrity stars.
This has been quite the trend these past few years; celebrities aspiring to be politicians, possibly in order to make more money for various purposes, most of which probably are individualistic. The big problem is that many of our fellow Filipinos fall for these ploys. They willingly subjugate themselves on the influence of these famous figures, blindly following them around and fastidiously clinging to their promises, without analyzing whether they can really achieve this, given the very little fact that theyâ€™re not really politicians in the first place. Take Manny Pacquiao for example; the Philippinesâ€™ National Boxing Champion who is now a congressman. This is simply outrageous and is a strong insult on the credibility of our government. To actually accept someone whose job is so dissociated from politics into office, this is severely anti-intellectual. What could have caused this phenomenon that can only be possibly brought about by mass brainwashing? Fame and influence, of course.
A great number of us Filipinos have decided on things only by considering the influence brought upon them by television figures; there is no dispute in this saddening fact. Again and again, Filipinos have preferred totally incompetent, but insanely famous people over simple yet intellectual diplomats and professionals. Yes, Iâ€™m addressing Noynoy Aquino, whose rise to presidency is caused solely by her famous motherâ€™s death (which gained sympathy from millions), and of course because of his sister, too; Kris Aquino, the queen of talk shows. Heck, even Fernando Poe Jr., an incredibly famous action star almost got presidential seat in the past. Furthermore, in the last presidential election, Joseph Estrada (Iâ€™ve mentioned this miserable bungler in my previous article), actually ranked second in the total vote tally (next to Noynoy). What makes this unbelievable is that Estrada has already become president in the past, and our Constitution has stated that an ex-president cannot run again for the said position. But apparently, fame and influence trumps logic, or itâ€™s just that how things go in my beloved country; lovely.
The Fifth Plague: â€œPNY (Pwede na â€˜yan) Syndromeâ€
Pwede na â€˜yan â€“ a usual Filipino mentality of being easily satisfied over things that could have been improved a lot.
Letâ€™s now turn our attention to our entertainment industry, where celebrities truly belong. In a scale of one to ten, how would you rate todayâ€™s movies and songs in our country? Due to a surge of nationalism, an eight or ten might come out. Now, how about we go comparing our works to that of the other countries, like the US or Japan; in a completely impartial perspective, how would you rate them?
Okay, I might just get bombarded with insults about my alleged â€œcolonial mentality.â€ Hereâ€™s my say. Go ahead and say what you want, but Iâ€™m just being realistic. While I nevertheless commend some of our artistsâ€™ astounding works that gained international recognition (thankfully, such works and artists exist), on a collective point of view, how is our industry faring? Again and again the Philippine movie industry have produced sub-standard and overly clichÃ©d films that never fail to irritate me. The plots were formulaic and highly predictable and the CGIs are medieval, effectively making the Metro Manila Film Festival, which is held annually at December, synonymous to â€œabhorrentâ€ in my dictionary. Our music industry, meanwhile, have resorted to repeated revivals of famous songs in other countries, losing their sense of creativity, which leads to the corrosion of OPM, which happens to stand for Original Pilipino Music.
Why stop at the entertainment industry alone? What couldâ€™ve caused some people rebel against our countryâ€™s protectionist act and the â€œFilipino Firstâ€ policy? To a well-organized mind, he or she already has the answer to this question. While Iâ€™m not saying that we try hard to become like other countries (that defeats creativity on our part), shouldnâ€™t we take how much progress they had as a reminder that we have to move forward as well?
The Sixth Plague: â€œDebt-Treat Syndromeâ€
â€œPautang naman. Palibre naman.â€ (Hey, lend me some money. Hey, treat me.)
This is a usual dialogue between Filipino friends nowadays. Weâ€™ve even coined up a term for people who always like to be treated; â€œkalog,â€ probably because â€œkalog,â€ which means â€œjingling,â€ usually reminds us of the jingling of coins. It has a fairly shallow etymology, but thatâ€™s most probably how the term came to be.
However, weâ€™re not here to discuss Filipino linguistics; weâ€™re here to discuss a seemingly harmless but actually a parasitic and a potentially destructive trait among us Filipinos. I call this â€œplagueâ€ the Debt-Treat Syndrome.
How come this characteristic is parasitic? I mean, this is just for fun. However, let us always keep in mind that a hobby unattended becomes a vice. What initially passes our standards as â€œfun,â€ will be addictive if misguided or ignored. Debts are incredibly common in highly impoverished parts of the Philippines. There are people who unwittingly bury themselves in debts just to satisfy their hedonistic needs, or because theyâ€™re having a very hard time finding a job.
No matter what the cause may be, be it stupid or noble, unregulated money-lending hurts both the lender and the debtor, in a sense that most debts made between the poor arenâ€™t paid.
Another good example is how many of us Filipinos have an uncontrollable urge to drain their credit cards, buying lots of stuff here and there, until they end up with an unimaginable horror of having to make both ends meet just so they can pay their debts.
Let us not nurture this disease, my friends. Do not just merely dismiss your debts and treats as small things, that they can always be ignored. In time, you might just find yourself constantly demanding gifts and expecting others to lend you money, because youâ€™ve let this mannerism really get into your system. This is psychology, people; as Iâ€™ve stated earlier, a hobby unattended becomes a vice.
The Seventh Plague: â€œLack of Disciplineâ€
One who knows Filipinos does not need an extensive lecture to understand why this plague is rampant in the Philippines, especially when it comes to someone who lives in the Philippines. Itâ€™s as if our mindsets were wired with a radically nonconformist view, which might explain why most of us have utter disregard for even the most basic of rules.
Parking at a no-parking space, smoking in non-smoking areas, throwing trash everywhere even when there are garbage bins nearby, loading passengers in a â€œno loadingâ€ zone, demanding change from â€œexact fareâ€ ticket booths, indiscriminate jaywalking, you name them! An old adage once stated that â€œeverybody loves a rebel,â€ but Iâ€™m afraid my fellowmen might have taken things to the extreme.
Lack of discipline is not limited to following basic rules; it also manifests in basic interpersonal courtesy. Squeezing your way in a line just so you could go first is a good place to start reflecting. Such acts have been done countless times to the point that itâ€™s already perceived as the norm, but just because itâ€™s the norm, doesnâ€™t mean that itâ€™s okay to do it. Doing something evil over and over again doesnâ€™t make it right, the same way that happens when adding a bunch of negatives in your arithmetic subject. A typical display of recklessness in the Philippines can be seen at MRTs (Metro Rail Transit). I say this because I ride on trains at least twice a week.
Words can hardly express my contempt as people entering the trains bash through other passengers, rather than letting the ones trying to get out go out first before boarding. As one commenter at Yahoo! Philippines News said about usual annoyances at MRTs:
â€œang MRT high tech! automatic. pagpasok mo, automatic ka ng nadadala ng mga taong nagtutulakan papasok sa loob! tapos automatic din pag-exit kasi para ka lang dinadala ng agos ng tao palabas after. minsan matatanung mo sarili mo kung nagamit mo ba mga paa mo or lumutang ka papasok at palabas ng mrt sa kakatulak ng mga tao. It’s Automatic!!!!â€
(â€œMRT is high-tech! Once you enter, you automatically get dragged about by the guys pushing each other to get inside! Exiting is also automatic because itâ€™s as if youâ€™re being dragged by waves of people trying to get out. Sometimes you even ask yourself whether you were able to use your feet or you just floated in and out of the MRT due to people pushing one another. Itâ€™s automatic!â€)
Filipinos usually get away with such petty actions by saying the following:
â€œMinsan lang naman â€˜to e.â€ (I donâ€™t do this all the time.)
â€œMaliit na bagay lang naman â€˜yan.â€ (Thatâ€™s too small a thing to make a fuss about.)
I would like to remind you, my dear Filipinos, that all of this seemingly trivial mischief weâ€™ve committed throughout the years, those little sins weâ€™ve kept on doing and ignoring because theyâ€™re â€œnot that important,â€ those small stuff have earned us general distrust from the foreign lands.
The Eighth Plague: â€œNepotismâ€
My aunt, the second daughter of my maternal grandmotherâ€™s eldest sister, once inspired to work at the Department of Foreign Affairs. By all means, she is more than qualified. She is a multi-linguist with an exceptional educational background, having studied abroad and have even travelled around Europe, thanks to her scholarship. Such an applicant is too brilliant to let go; but then, nepotism. She wasnâ€™t able to get the job.
My aunt has discovered to her horror that most of the job slots were already taken by people who are, well, related by blood. Given that the whole establishmentâ€™s being run by family, thereâ€™s no way out of this dilemma. She had to find another job. Such is the unfortunate consequence of nepotism, the indiscriminate preference of a person to his or her relative.
Nepotism has been plaguing the Philippine society for time immemorial. Families have been preserving their vital position in the government, by means of the young relative succeeding the old. Dynasties have been established in business establishments, effectively setting up unjust oligarchies in the business sector. Countless deserving people are losing jobs to people who merely have familial connections. Isnâ€™t this unfair? This kind of social framework is reminiscent of a capitalistic framework, where one restricts the production and distribution of wealth to a select few; in this case, the family. Why is this injustice so imminent in our country?
For one thing, it might have something to do with our traditionalistic view of family. Many times our forefathers have drilled this principle deep within our cerebrum; â€œthat blood is thicker than water.â€ It has been the typical Filipino view that one must put family first in his endeavours, no matter what happens, because family members are supposed to stick together. Is this an evil upbringing? Of course not; promoting unity amongst families is a noble idea, and can strengthen the bonds that link each family member to one another. Itâ€™s just that most of us Filipinos tend to misuse this prospect in order to gain advantage over other people.
Some businesses prefer family members who are incompetent and inexperienced over the deserving and intellectual applicants, simply because, supposedly, â€œblood is thicker than water.â€ Some people are coerced into looking after irresponsible relatives, coping up with their stupidity and cruelty, just because â€œtheyâ€™re family.â€ Isnâ€™t this kind of relationship parasitic and therefore disagreeable? This is bare-naked injustice, brought about by the indiscriminate misuse of our virtues.
Family is not meant to inflict discrimination amongst our fellowmen. Let us be reasonable here.
The Ninth Plague: â€œCrab Mentalityâ€
It has been said that weâ€™re like crabs. Why is this so? Is it because weâ€™re actually arthropods? Is it because weâ€™re walking sideways? Is it because we taste good with tartar sauce? Setting my poor sense of humour aside, we have been labelled as â€œcrabs,â€ not because weâ€™re actual crabs, but in a way thatâ€™s not really flattering at all. Not one bit.
Crab mentality is a kind of attitude where we tend to pull down someone whoâ€™s making progress, just like how crabs pull stuff with their pincers, in most cases out of jealousy. This kind of disposition is by all means atrocious, and to think that weâ€™re labelled as â€œcrabsâ€ who act like this is simply alarming and disturbing. However, if we take the time to look at our society, no matter how painful it is, people do have a point in naming us as such.
My parents are OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers), although my mother has decided to settle down to look after my young sisters. In any case, they were able to meet countless foreigners and fellow OFWs. Through their own eyes, theyâ€™ve witnessed how our fellow Filipinos manipulated people to suit their purposes, how they cheated their way to the top. Whatâ€™s more disheartening is that they also do not hesitate to betray or sacrifice even their fellow Filipinos for the sake of their selfish desires.
As my parents stayed in their apartment, they always heard their Filipino roommates bashing each other with insults, backstabbing one another, and doing just about everything to bring their reputation down. Itâ€™s saddening to think that many of us have degenerated into nothing more than impulsive beings, willing to let others suffer just to meet his objective. Recall our unfortunate Filipino friends from around the world, murdered by other Filipinos. Truly, in the course of our nationâ€™s existence, we have become divided and antagonistic towards each other.
My mother once said to me said that it is better to work with foreigners rather than with other Filipinos, as they are more likely to betray you. To actually hear this from her… but experience have taught my parents; actual incidences and personal encounters with our treacherous kin. Harsh it may seem, but I must agree with my mother. After all, our findings were consistent with each other. Looking at our society here in the Philippines, and looking at how Filipinos treat each other abroad, I must conclude that our nation had raised a good number of â€œcrabs.â€
The Final Plague: â€œDama-slaveryâ€
This might as well be the most prominent plague infecting our motherland nowadays. Countless people have fallen victim to this extremely potent disease, depriving them of the ability to analyze critically, as well rational thinking. Behold the final plague of the Philippines: â€œDama-slavery.â€
I myself coined this term, so please forgive me if it sounded lame-ass. The word originated from the word â€œslaveryâ€ (obviously) and â€œDamaso,â€ the name of a notorious friar in Rizalâ€™s novel Noli Me Tangere. Padre Damaso is infamous for his sharp tongue, frequently cursing at people whom he doesnâ€™t like. Heâ€™s a self-righteous hypocrite who contributed to the ruin of Crisostomo Ibarra, the protagonist of the novel, and a kind, intelligent man. Finally, he did a most despicable act of raping a woman named Pia Alba during a feast and had a daughter by her, in the name of Maria Clara.
Why is the final plague named after a fictional character? The answerâ€™s quite simple. Just like how DoÃ±a Victorina manifested in our fellow Filipinos brimming with vanity, Padre Damaso has manifested in our priesthood in many ways. The Catholic Church has always been the center of controversies; priests raping young women (and getting away with it), priests combating corrupt administrations, yet receiving gifts from behind the scenes, priests morally degrading freethinkers and intellectuals, priests meddling with affairs that do not concern them, priests using their influence to affect public opinion, priests acting as politicians, so on and so forth. Truth be told, the Church has deviated from its original purpose of faithfully spreading the Word of God.
Countless times have the Catholic Church brainwashed the populace through misinformation and even threats involving Godâ€™s wrath to suit their ideals. Many times have they distorted the truth in order to hide their hypocrisy, especially during the intense debate about the controversial Reproductive Health Bill (I have discussed this bill extensively in one of my previous articles). Over and over again have they criticized the government and blamed them for our impoverished state, when they themselves have done nothing to help alleviate the pains of our people, and when they have done everything to cover up every foul sin they have committed throughout the years.
But despite all of these, many of our fellow Filipinos remain loyal to the Church. Many of us still cling to these â€œholyâ€ men, fanatically devoting their time and money for the satisfaction and approval of these so-called men of God. They remain blind to the evils perpetrated by the very people who mirror Padre Damaso himself, and, astoundingly, are still willing to put their necks on leashes, serving as the Churchâ€™s pawns on their crusade against logic.
Truly, the Church have sowed something so malevolent in the minds of our people; ignorance.
Stop pressing the snooze button in your alarm clocks, my dear Filipinos. Itâ€™s time to wake up. Itâ€™s time to stand up and start doing something for our collective progress. Itâ€™s time to break free from our fantasies and silly ideologies and approach our problems with a clear and rational mind. Itâ€™s time to bring our fullest potentials, my dear Filipinos, lest we be consumed by the deadly plagues of the Philippines.