An alternative personification of the Pinoy: the spoiled brat

The symbol for the Filipino everyman is called Juan de la Cruz. In that essence, it is similar to the way Americans use John Doe to refer to people whose identity is unknown. Juan de la Cruz is also particularly used in the sense that it a very common name here in the Philippines. He is usually depicted wearing a salakot, a Barong Tagalog, long pants, and native slippers.

There is also yet another personification for the Pinoy. This one is less flattering. Juan Tamad (John the Lazy) is depicted as a guy who is waiting for the fruit to fall from the tree instead of climbing up to get it. This is analogous in the way that Pinoys are stereotyped as being too lazy to get off their bums and start working. In fact, if you remember the Noynoying fad, that itself is an extension of Juan Tamad. Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) has been described as a do-nothing president. Juan Tamad plus Noynoy Aquino equals Noynoying!

If you look at recent events, though, you may be able to find yet another aspect of the Filipino psyche that is equally disconcerting and even more disturbing. We may not realize it, but we may have all acted like one of these at one time or another. Definitely we can see that many of our politicians and the showbiz celebrities we watch on television exhibit the behavior of one of these.

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The term itself is not particularly difficult nor is it technical psychological mumbo-jumbo. The behavior I’m highlighting here is that of the spoiled brat.

A spoiled brat is someone, usually a child, who exhibits behavioral problems due to overindulgence by parental or role model figures. They are usually described as “overindulged”, “narcissistic”, or “egocentric”. The “spoiled brat syndrome” is characterized by “excessive, self-centered, and immature behavior”. It includes lack of consideration for other people, recurrent temper tantrums, an inability to handle the delay of gratification, demands for having one’s own way, obstructive behavior, and manipulation.

Possible causes of “spoiled brat syndrome” include:
1) The failure of parents to enforce consistent, age-appropriate limits;
2) The shielding of children by the parents from normal everyday frustrations;
3) The provision of excessive material gifts even when the child has not behaved properly;
4) Improper role models provided by parents

There are even a few local terms that are rough equivalents to this. The more familiar one to us can be found in the lyrics of Mike Hanopol’s song:

Laki sa layaw, laki sa layaw, jeproks!

The other one that may be less familiar is the idiomatic expression “mahaba ang buntot”, literally someone who possesses a long tail.

Now that we’ve defined what a spoiled brat is, and what it does, let’s provide a few examples, particularly those in our local setting. Recent news easily provides us with two (2).

The first instance in recent news comes from none other than Ruffa Gutierrez. For those following TV5, Ms. Gutierrez has formally left the cast of the show “Paparazzi” after an incident occurred during her birthday celebration with the show. In this show, there is a section called “Bulong ng Palad” where the hosts take turns whispering a question, usually naughty, to the guest, who afterwards answers it out loud. Since it was her birthday celebration, Ruffa was the guest, and the hosts were Cristy Fermin, Zoren Legaspi, Mr. Fu, and guest co-host Mariel Rodriguez.

Ruffa received a set of questions the answers to which were all men previously linked to her: Aga Muhlach, Zoren Legaspi, and Mariel’s husband Robin Padilla. Of course, Ruffa appeared uncomfortable with it. She even had the following things to say on Twitter after the whole thing was over:

“Binastos ako ng #Paparazzi on my birthday. I’m so sorry but THE BUZZ would never do this to me. EVER!”

“From this day on, I will no longer be part of Paparazzi. I will never tolerate DISRESPECT in any form done to me, to my children or to my beloved viewers.”

“I refuse to be part of trashy reporting that degrades people or shames others. #Paparazzi”

Call me naive, but if you’re a showbiz personality, you should expect to be the subject of intrigue, all the time. This is true, especially in a place like the Philippines where tsismis is the national pastime. While I don’t condone what the show does, nor do I take its side, Ruffa’s tirade has spoiled brat written all over it. Having a palengkera mother certainly didn’t help to curb that behavior, either. How does it feel like being on the other side of the hosts’ table? Ruffa certainly had no qualms about doing such “degrading reportage” to other celebrities, but she felt entitled to be immune from it? Seriously, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The second instance comes from local politics, naturally. Koko Pimentel’s huffing and puffing about Juan Miguel Zubiri being in the United Nationalist Alliance ultimately led to his departure from that political coalition. According to him, he couldn’t stand to be in the same party with the man whom he blames for “denying him of his rightful place in the Senate”. Never mind that the allegations against Zubiri, also initiated by Pimentel, were never proven; Koko put his pride first before everything else, especially serving the country. Not surprising, though; nobody loses fair-and-square in the Philippines, they just get cheated. In addition, they whine and cry about it like spoiled brats, but never do anything to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The aftermath was even more dramatic. Count on the ever pakialamero men in cloth to issue statements about Pimentel’s move “being principled” and “a sign of protest against cheats”. I mean, whatever. It’s hard to believe such a statement coming from an irrelevant and antiquated institution that refuses to be progressive in their ideas. RH Bill, anyone?

Then finally, look who is coming to the rescue of the drowning partyless Koko? This person is none other than the most prominent spoiled brat in the country, who happens to be the highest ranking government official, Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino III. Presidential spokeperson Ronald Llamas announced that the LP would “graciously welcome” him. Even the Philippine Daily Inquirer termed the potential alliance as the coming together of a man who has declared war on corruption and a man who cannot stand alongside an “election cheater”. Yes, you know what they say about birds of the same feather. Again, the cheating was never proven, only alleged. Of course, it has remained vague as to whether Koko Pimentel was really against the cheating, or against Zubiri, who happens to be associated with the Arroyos?

That’s the thing here in the Philippines: people have not graduated from wrapping their discussions around people and have not proceeded to making people believe in ideas.

The Philippines itself is a spoiled-brat nation. We were under the care of our surrogate father Uncle Sam for more than 40 years, and he laid the groundwork for what amounts to infrastructure here in the Philippines. From him came our national obsession, basketball, as well as the exposure to and obsession with all things Western. Yet how do we act towards him now? We blame him for everything gone wrong with our country but refuse to accept that we copied poorly and without thinking. We throw temper tantrums at our surrogate father in the name of nationalism, but come crying to him as soon as any neighborhood power flexes her muscle. In the most recent case, it happened to be China. PNoy has never been good at diplomacy, and the whole nation suffers because of it. This whole incident with the Scarborough Shoal could have been resolved sooner had the Philippines not come out playing the victim card.

Underneath it all, the Pinoy ego has come to the forefront yet again. We have been repeating here ad nauseam about the warped, distorted, and bloated self-centered behavior of the Pinoys. Our sense of entitlement and tendency towards victim mentality has graduated from ridiculous to irritating. We refuse to accept that the world does not revolve around us; that we are not the greatest people in the world. We do not take rejection very well; we have a bloated ego but a very hypersensitive one.

Name at least one collective achievement of the Filipino people; no, Manny Pacquiao, Charice, Arnel Pineda don’t count. And hell no, Cory Aquino and her two bratty offspring don’t either.

If there is any hope left for the Philippines to progress, the attitude of its people has to change first. First and foremost, we need to let go of being a spoiled brat and adapt to the rest of the world. We need to let go of our pettiness and focus on the bigger picture. Then we must prove to the world that we can come up with a collective accomplishment. Only then can we ascend to a higher place in the global arena than the one we currently occupy now.

It’s not too late; it’s never too late, but it’s not painless.

14 Replies to “An alternative personification of the Pinoy: the spoiled brat”

  1. We may not have collective achievements to show but being vanquished we have some and we celebrate it on a national scale. No disrespect to the fallen ones and those who endured and suffered but we have the fall of Bataan, the death march and the fall of Corregidor.

  2. One of my co-workers before said we have a strong culture of spoiling. Some parents are probably afraid to deal with the task of discipline, so they instead pacify the kids by giving what they want. Thus, we have a lot of spoiled brats in this present generation who do not know how to work for what they want. That includes the freedoms they take for granted.

    Makes me wonder if the ‘slacktivists’ these days reflect the character of ‘Juan Jeproks.’

  3. These people are egocentric people. Their egos are very huge…their Emotional Maturity Qoutient are very low. They have never grown up. So, they remained: Spoiled Rotten. Most of the children of our politicians, grew up spoiled rotten. It’s because their families are always on the spotlight. And, they enjoy it…By adoring them, or by electing them, in place of their parents. They become more spoiled rotten. That idiot Pimentel guy, is a good example. Solution: Kick him on his rear end. To awaken him to his reality…

  4. Balagtas was right to criticize the spoiling of children in “Florante at Laura.” His rival in courting a girl happened to be the son of a cacique, an influential town person. Through his influence, Balagtas was put in jail. Thus, you have the verses pertaining to Florante being sent to Athens for education. Meanwhile, much has been said about the friars in Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Rizal, to be fair, the Indios were not portrayed as saints either. You had social climbers in the forms of Doña Victorina and Doña Consolacion. You had Sisa’s husband who was drunkard bum. Of course, there was the Sacristan Mayor who stole money and blamed it on Basilio and Crispin.

  5. Anong gagawin ng spoiled brat baby damulag nitong kaarawan ng kanyang Papa Sugar sa July 4th?
    Quick celebrate Papa’s bday by asking for more “allowance”!

  6. You are looking for one collective achievements of the Filipinos?

    The mere fact that you can write such a degrading article about your own people and your own country is a testament of the achievements of the Filipino people.
    Do it in China or NorthKor and let’s see what happens.
    Our version of democracy is not perfect but it is democracy nevertheless. Few people may have maligned it time and again but it is still there.
    If you want tangible collective achievements, why not start something useful for all Filipinos. Put your intellect together! Seed positivism instead of self-hate. Remind every Filipinos that there is nothing wrong with being a Filipino! Remind them that they are hard-working, intelligent, and great! Remind them that we can be great, that we can get through if only we learn to believe again in this nation.
    Remind them. Remind yourselves.

    1. @carl, there is nothing wrong with being positive, as sponge bob the cartoon character has showed us countless times. But let me ask you this… if you had a car that have those little squeaks and rattles, and it annoys you…would you rather say then “ok lang yun, maporma naman car and new model”. How then can you know that everything is still ok with your car? That’s why we have this site for you to look at the glass as half-empty.

      Just my 2 sentimos…stop thinking like sponge bob once in a while… ok?

    2. You call the government the Filipinos have a “democracy”? That shit is LOL.

      I have one question for you: How easy is it for a poor Filipino to run for political office?

      Filipinos don’t have democracy. Try again.

  7. This version of democracy you speak of, this is the same one that has Pinoys proclaiming all over their region that they have the “most free” society and press. Unfortunately what good has that done? All Pinoys have used their “freedom” and “democracy” for is to do anything they want in an undisciplined manner, without regard for consequences, and in a manner befitting “every man for himself”. In other words, it turned Pinoy society into a “spoiled-brat” one.

    And by the way, it is “still there” because Pinoys are afraid of change and refuse to accept that they’re in deeper sh*t than they think they are. That’s not resilience, that’s mediocrity.

    Need I remind you that the true essence of democracy is not in doing anything you want and expecting to get away with it. The key in any democracy is holding your leaders accountable. Are we doing that as a society? I don’t see that happening. If you do, then we’re not living in the same place.

    If you think the EDSA “revolutions” were a collective achievement, think again. After the 1st one, the idea of the street revolution was used to justify throwing massive tantrums on the streets because a society couldn’t get its act together to do things properly. Pinoys elect a popular leader, not a competent one, and they expect to be able to justifiably complain like spoiled brats? PLEASE, spare me the “there’s nothing wrong with being a Filipino” sentiment.

    Self-hate is in the eye of the reader. If all you’re looking for is feel-good platitudes of proud to be Pinoy blah blah you won’t get it here. It is futile to remind people that they can be great if they don’t realize that there’s something wrong that has to be changed. And there are many things wrong with our society.

    No, Philippine democracy is not a collective achievement; it has turned us into a nation of spoiled brats. Back to the drawing board for you.

  8. Do you know why koko doesn’t want run along with Migz? He cannot bear the thought that Migz may win and he losses. It will be too much for the spoiled brat. It’s better to lose from the other side because he can then claim he was cheated.

  9. I think we should consider bs Aquino an isolated case. He personifies one who is the reverse of what pinoy is. Do you in ordinary cases insult somebody in his face? In our place he gets slaughtered there and then. Do you in ordinary case insult a host in his house with the temerity that he shows? In our place he gets buried alive there and then. The guy has the capacity of mincing words without regards to sensibilities of other people. He is what we call “pala-away” who picks fights even with girls. Yes, maybe a spoiled brat in this case.

  10. I don’t know but Juan Dela Cruz compared to John Doe? While Juan was described by the writer, John Doe was not because of lack of identity. So why compare the two? Why not compare Juan to Uncle Sam? At least, both represents the gov’t. or people of both countries.

    There may be spoiled brats in our society but I do not agree that Pinoys are spoiled brats. For one, not every Pinoy is like Ruffa Gutierrez or Koko Pimentel. Very clearly, there is again a failure of comparison.

    With regard to our relationship with the US, if we’re the spoiled brat we could have gotten all that we want from the US without question. But that is not the case when we talk about the pitiful amount they paid us for military bases rent during that time. If we’re really spoiled brats, how come they pay more in other countries than us?

    One collective achievement of the Filipino people? Does EDSA ’86 count? How ’bout the eventual rise of the country, despite dire predictions, to normalcy after the almost 20-year rule of dictatorship?

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