Filipinos – is there a link between being emotional and being ‘free’?


Fellow GRP writer Ilda nailed it quite succinctly: Filipinos are overly emotional. Emotions are known to drive people to do irrational things, and Filipinos are no exception to this rule. Whenever people let their emotions guide their decision-making, they display a lack of ability to think things through logically.

On the other hand, Filipinos pride themselves in being the freest democracy in Asia. They grew tired of someone they deemed a dictator 26 years before, decided to throw him and his family out, and the rest is history. Freed from the “yoke of oppression”, as Filipinos are wont to call it, they set out to undertake an experiment with democracy and freedom that continues to this day. The results speak for themselves.

It makes one wonder: is there a link between being overly emotional and being free, in the Philippine context?

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Politics in the Philippines is, for the most part, characterized by emotional hooks to popular sentiment, and appeals to how people intangibly feel. Concrete evidence, such as platforms, that can be quantified and more easily translated to a credible road map for what people in government plan to do, take a backseat, or are even totally ignored. Need examples?

Cory Aquino was voted in due to the popular belief of “tama na, sobra na” (enough is enough) when it came to Marcos’ so-called tyranny.

Erap was voted in because the people felt his roles as an action star would translate into a competent president.

FPJ was nearly elected in 2004, due to similar reasons as to why the people voted in Erap.

Gloria Arroyo felt the wrath of the angry mob, particularly because she wasn’t popular with the media. The media had been able to brainwash the people into blaming her for everything gone wrong.

Erap nearly won again in 2010. Enough said.

Noynoy Aquino was catapulted into the presidency because of an outpouring of grief for his dead mother.

It’s quite easy to see that whenever Filipinos had to make that tough decision of electing a president, they used their “gut” instead of analyzing data rationally and logically at least four times. If the state of the Philippines today is any indication, the combination of being ‘free’ and using emotion to guide one’s decisions has been nothing but a recipe for disaster.

The whole point of being a democracy is to hold your leaders accountable. It is not freedom, as some people believe. If you ask a Filipino now what it means to be ‘free’, more likely he/she will give you the impression that it means to do something that person wants, without regard for the consequences. Add to that the baseless sense that Filipinos have of self-importance which they put above everything and everyone else, and you have an entity that is out of control. No wonder, then, that you have an out-of-control society.

Filipinos think that being emotionally controlled is no fun. Some of them thumb their noses down on people who are level-headed, and call them pessimists and negative people. Filipinos focus too much on looking for good vibes but often fail to provide anything substantial to feel happy about. Filipinos are more often than not in party mode; when there’s still work remaining to be done, a lot of the lazy bums shrug it off and do the all-too-familiar bahala-na dance.

What may sail over the heads of the average Filipino is that logical and rational thinking isn’t a gift that only other ethnic groups have. It is an ability that can be learned. It requires discipline and restraint to do so. There of course, lies the problem for Filipinos. Mention to them the words discipline and restraint and they think it is an attack on their “freedom”. Mention to them the word responsibility, and most likely you will get ignored, laughed at, or worst, subject to an emo rant. Filipinos don’t like discipline or responsibility; it cramps their style.

It seems then, that Filipinos emulated the wrong aspects of individualism and sense of community. In the former, they emulated the “don’t cramp my style┝ behavior. With the latter, they emulated the “pakikisama” aspect and came up with a forced conformance to a group “consensus”, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

It’s much easier to use one’s emotions as a guide to do things, but the problem with uncontrolled emotions is that it’s like an unsheathed weapon. One can harm, hurt, cut, or even kill with it. It’s also much easier to take whatever “freedom” one has for granted but conveniently ignore the responsibility that comes with the freedom. Whenever you step on someone else’s freedom and/or rights, it leads to conflict and problems. Rationality and discipline are in woefully short supply here.

Filipinos more often than not do things emotionally. They think that being emotional is a good thing but it only shows that judgment gets clouded with it. Filipinos will defend their “freedom” to the death, but they don’t understand the responsibilities that come with it.

What have been the results so far of having such unsheathed emotion and unbridled democracy in the Philippines? A self-destructive culture of mediocrity. No feel good emotional tagline is going to erase that reality.

18 Replies to “Filipinos – is there a link between being emotional and being ‘free’?”

  1. These so called ‘elections’ have been rigged in the past,and no one gets the gallows,or even a wrist slapping,so what makes anyone think this is a democracy?If the wrong person is projected the winner,somethin dramatic happens and the BS story is almost always as unbelievable as what really happens….a rigged outcome.
    maybe from the outside looking in it is easier to spot the almost total lack of credibility,honesty…or anything positive in regards to politics/elections……..

  2. Unfortunately emotion plays a large part in voting whether in philippines, US, or europe, and since negative emotions are a stronger force, negative campaigning/ads are only likely to increase.
    The added problem in the phlppines is that there are not ideologically based parties to begin with and no oppostion party to act as a check and balance. and people despair to the point that they tolerate and accept the lies, cheating and corruption as the norm and need any escape from day to day survival
    It would be impossible to change the basic psychology of voters
    The focus has to be on the system to ensure better quality of politicians who actually care and turn up to congress and have proved themselves throughout their life, not simply wanting easy access to taxpayers money, or unable to get a real job.
    With only 15 session days between december 22 and june 5 next year they seem more like an expensive irrelevance as it stands now.

    1. The poeple never realize that something is so horribly broken that it needs to be thrown out.Where is this FREEDOM you speak of?,HA HA HA!!!! 3 yrs. after the Maguindinao Massacre not a single conviction of the killers/socio-paths,pos’s…not a single conviction, nor even a trial.HINT:BROKEN!!!!! The rest of the world IS watching and is only willing to supply ‘call center’ jobs due to:if the gov’t. changes,they lose their investment as what happened with the German Corp. that built the airport.OOPS,sorry!Try that again?Sure.The dutch firm that had the pier contracts… the no-brainer is going to let the final fox into the back door of the hen house,as if the people will prosper,HA HA HA.
      With sooo much to offer it is a shame that soo little will actually come to achievment due to the deeds of the wicked.BUT,they can have their day,just like every dog surely does.

      1. Jo Jo HOBO,

        That’s a bit disingenuous. You’ve made a lot of comparisons between Philippines and the United States as regards society, politics and the economy. You fail to mention these gems:

        Obama’s administration is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexican nationals. Their botched implementation of the ATF program “Fast and Furious” succeeded in arming violent criminals and supplying them with millions of rounds of ammunition. It did not succeed in tracing the movements of these bastards as was the original objective under the Bush administration. The fiasco culminated in the murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry, bringing it to the attention of the American public. Obama’s continuing failure to secure the southern border has lead to the murder of American landowners encountering drug mules and illegal immigrants crossing the desert into Arizona and Texas. And on 11 September 2012, the whole world saw the latest evidence of the Obama administration’s incompetence (or is it complicity?) in the murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi. To top it off, the Obama administration attempted to cover up that failure in Libya by fabricating a ludicrous story involving an Internet video.

        The Philippines has a history of failed (utility) projects caused by mismanagement and corruption. The United States is well on the way to aping the Philippines. Solar energy corporation SOLYNDRA has been very prominent in the news lately for being a high profile bankruptcy after being touted by President Obama as one of the flagship companies of his clean energy policy. Solyndra applied for government assistance under George W. Bush but was turned down by the US Department of Energy after it was determined that their business model was not sustainable. In 2009 Solyndra received up to US$528 million from the Obama administration to pursue its projects. In 2011 it filed for bankruptcy. Total cost to the US taxpayer — up to US$849 million that the federal government isn’t getting back. Its also interesting to note that the owners of Solyndra contributed US$100,000 to Obama’s presidential campaign.

        The Obama administration has allocated up to US$1.3 billion in loans and assistance to so-called “green” businesses. Each of whom have only a handful of permanent employees. All told it will cost the US taxpayer up to US$5 million to keep one person employed in these companies. With no projected return on investment as of this date.

        You implied at how much better the US system of government works. Under the Obama administration we have seen the most comprehensive effort to circumvent the process of government. Obama has appointed more “czars” and “special committees” than any president before him. None of these pass through the congressional vetting process. They are not elected by the people nor are they, by definition, accountable to anyone. And a lot of them have very dubious credentials. Take General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Since becoming CEO, GE stock has plummeted 60%, it has closed 31 plants and lost 19,000 employees. This is Obama’s go-to guy for job creation? It seems the only one to actually see any profit at GE is Immelt, who was paid US$15 million in 2011 and is ranked 6th highest paid executive among US conglomerates. There’s also the matter of GE sales to Iran, at a time when sanctions were already in place, of materials which could be re-purposed into weapons.

        Consider, too, Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The so-called wunderkind is responsible for the Asian crash in the late 1990’s. As chairman of the New York Federal Reserve, he had a hand in the failure of Citigroup as a result of his close association with the bank’s executives and engineered its bailout. He also consistently refuses to pay taxes.

        The Obama administration also gets around the normal process of passing laws by implementing them at the department level. This means that the operating rules and guidelines that come out of, say, the EPA, are not debated in congress. They come from the offices of the department heads. All Obama selections. Incidentally the EPA just recently announced that under their new guidelines (which take effect next year) Carbon Dioxide is not just a pollutant, it is now considered highly toxic and as such, emissions will be heavily regulated similar to hazardous chemicals and environmental toxins. Taking it to the extreme, these EPA regulations can be used as a basis to control human communities to ensure that Carbon Dioxide emissions at an EPA-mandated level.

        The Philippines has accumulated up to US$82 billion in foreign exchange reserves. Largely from the BPO industry and overseas worker remittances. This is enough to pay off the country’s debt and cover government expenses for the next 11 months. The US has accumulated a US$16 TRILLION debt. Projected to reach US$20 TRILLION by the time Obama ends his term in 2016. Obama’s administration has not even passed a budget in four years. Hardly the model of fiscal responsibility.

        It is also significant that the Obama administration’s bail outs affect groups that contributed heavily to his presidential campaign, such as the United Auto Workers and Service Employees International Union as well as so-called community organizations such as ACORN. Not surprisingly the money these groups received from the Obama administration was funneled back into the 2012 campaign.

        And then there is Obama’s protection of special interest groups with whom he has some affiliation. The New Black Panther Party turned out heavily for Obama and did their utmost to intimidate (white) voters at the polling precincts. Without any explanation, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder suppressed any attempt at prosecuting the Black Panthers who were filmed committing the acts.

        To an outside observer, the US is beginning to resemble a tin-pot dictatorship, not the paragon of democracy it purports to be.

        1. Excuse me,I did not make a single comparison..not one.Unless you refer to another article…BUT I don’t remember making any comparisons in them either,not a single one. So UH,Wats up with that(HUH?)?So I do not know what you are talking about.I never said the USA is a democracy that works.I am not going to go back and look as I do not care THAT much.I do notice that people here take my words and twist them,take them out of context and also do what you just did,which is accuse me of something I did not do/say.
          I can fess up to being wrong,like a MAN should,but I said/did no such thing.
          WHOA,I just read most of your essay and YOU say I implied that I said the USA’s gov’t. works better..I DID NO SUCH THING!!!
          Listen,this is a blog about the Philippines,not the USA.I am not commenting about nor comparing anything you say I am comparing,again ..WUWT?.
          To make a point,The Philippines is APING(not the other way around,as YOU said!) the USA in its ENRON scandal on Mindanao(and every other scamm that comes down the Pasig river…) with one difference:while the ENRON people tried to cover up their thievery the energy people in the Philippines are bragging about it.The shit is criminal and y’all stand and cheer for it.Now I really do not want to get started about the theft of the U.S. treasury by the bankers who have passed on PRIVATE debts to the U.S. tax-payers,thus making them PUBLIC debts.In the form of the ‘too big to fail’ bull-shit story that has heaped a whopping $10 Trillion debt on to the U.S. tax-payers.It is a fucking OUTRAGE and almost no one even seems to know it is happening,let alone how.I happen to be one of the people who knows exactly what has transpired and if this site was called GET REAL USA,I might waste my time telling you all about it.But it is not and I did not say what you say I did and I do not appreciate you saying I did.If you want to get on your soap-box and go on about what a bunch of thieves the people in the USA’s gov’t. are,be your own guest.BUT do not accuse me of things I do not say or act as if you are rebutting something I said.
          OH AND BY THE WAY,there is not a single nugga in the world that will stop me from/or intimidate me at a polling station anywhere in the world,that shit is laughable.They do not run anything except drugs/whores in their own shit-hole neighborhoods. Ever hear of the “ANGELS”? I do not really care if you have but the people running the country for 200+yrs. ain’t going anywhere and it does not matter that the President is a black guy,believe that.It doesn’t mean anything,its kinda like a bad joke.

  3. In any so-called democratic republic, if the people refuse to be diligent and responsible in running their government someone will come along and do it for them.

  4. I, too, am guilty of letting emotions cloud the way I see the Philippines, way back GMA’s time (though I was out of the country most of the time), I was fed with the so called “news” and I began to hate GMA too. But I realized later on what really transpired after Pnoy got elected into office. Media has a lot to do with it. Me, for instance,I had no choice but to get info from TFC, not the whole picture. I think similar to what I have gone through, Filipinos would rather take in the information fed by the bias media, the media using the Filipinos being emotional as tool, than to do their own research and analysis of what is really happening. In other words, “katamaran”.

    (Not calling myself tamad, I have an excuse for not getting the right info, I was offshore and they only gave us TFC. No internet too, hehe)

  5. Filipinos confuse being free with free-for-all which means chaos and anarchy. Or they totally submit to leaders they idolize uncritically.

    1. I wouldn’t actually say that they were worse, but I’m more of the inclination that there isn’t any difference between them in the grand scale of things.

  6. Filipinos also tend to confuse happiness with being an emotion. Happiness is not an emotion, it is a state of being. A state of being is not an emotion. So Filipinos wrongly try to do things that try to raise their emotions, thinking it will make them happy. I bet they were disappointed every time.

  7. “No wonder, then, that you have an out-of-control society.” – This is why I think that this country is damaged beyond repair and the only way to repair it is to go back in time and eradicate/repair every anomaly that will cause whatever situation we are having right now….

  8. Thank you Ilda and FallenAngel for posting such an informative article. My Dad still reinforces this saying to me still to this day, “Please son, think with your head, not your heart.” My window for getting married is closing and I’ve been trying to find myself a Filipina girl / woman to start a relationship. I’m scared out of my pants because trust seems to be in short supply in both U.S.-born and Philippine-born women. The feeling of falling in love is toxic and can blind me to making the right decision. Is thinking too defensively and setting standards a bit too high also dangerous?

    1. Hey Paul, the only way to find out if one is trustworthy is to start a relationship and build from it.

      I dump few women over a trust issue and that is not easy because it was on dating website. Unbelievable eh? I finally found one in Bicol and produced two beautiful children.

      If you ask me, define that trust and set acceptable personal standards.

      Good hunting bro and wish you luck. Be patient as you go along and dont rush it.

  9. Jo Jo HOBO, actually did not make that comparison.

    Johnny Saint is currently overly emotional over nothing

    I do not watch ABS CBN show on TV because i think it is trash, so I look for other Channel.

    I do not watch Filipino movies because I think it is pathetic, I look for movies produced in Holywood.

    Am I making comparison? Of course not, my emotion tells me to look for something worthwhile.

    Comparing things actually produce better judgment.

  10. I can see that emotional factor is a huge percentage to win the elections. Perhaps most Filipinos are still right down Maslow’s ranking hierarchy of needs?

    I’m not sure about statistics, but what I watched from documentary “Ang Tipo Kong Kandidato” stating more than half of registered Filipino voters for this is season belong to Class (economic class) D and E. The former are working-class poor, and the latter “istambays”.

    Obviously these people did not finish their education, making them blue-collar workers or unemployed (considering the discrimination of blue-collar work, as opposed to white-collar jobs in our country.

    Also, I think emotionality is a result of our overly romantic (or baroque) society? It’s propagated by the media down towards the barkada and even family members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.