Filipinos need to develop a sense of shame or guilt

Japanese prime ministers resign every now and then, some of them for as little as the shame of breaking an election promise. One I remember from a couple years back won in a landslide victory but was forced to resign because of mounting criticism for his flip-flopping on the issues he promised to solve during his election campaign. At the time he was the fourth Japanese PM to step down in four years, with the others resigning under similar circumstances. I have to hand it to the Japanese people; they really know the meaning of shame. This is something our elected officials and we as a people need to emulate.

Japan is actually known for its shame (Haji) culture. It is said that the society of Japan uses shame as a primary agent of social control. Though taken to the extreme, shame seems to lead to a high suicide rate on its members, all in all the society of Japan thrives in the culture of shame. Paul Hiebert characterizes the shame society as follows:

Shame is a reaction to other people’s criticism, an acute personal chagrin at our failure to live up to our obligations and the expectations others have of us. In true shame oriented cultures, every person has a place and a duty in the society. One maintains self-respect, not by choosing what is good rather than what is evil, but by choosing what is expected of one.

There is definitely not a lot of downside to having a shame culture. It promotes a heathy environment of trust among its citizens that the right thing will be done. In contrast to Japanese culture, Western culture uses “guilt” as an agent of social control. It relies on the notion that one should do an internal evaluation before doing something — to reflect on what one believes one should or should not do. Otherwise, if one does something in defiance of what is the norm, one believes that he will receive the wrath of God or worse, the wrath of the entire community. Guilt is an emotional experience that happens when a person realises or believes that he or she has violated a moral standard and accepts responsibility for that violation. The feeling of guilt is closely related to the concept of remorse, when a person feels regret for what he has done. When guilt as an agent of control does not work, they have the criminal justice system as a last resort.

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To Filipinos, honor is an alien concept.

To Filipinos, honor is an alien concept.

Psychopaths are said to be those who lack any true sense of guilt or remorse for harm they may have caused to others. Instead, they blame their behavior on someone else, or deny it outright. They lack moral bearing (in comparison with the majority of humans) and are unable to evaluate situations within a moral framework. They also have an inability to develop emotional bonds with other people.

Philippine society keeps trying to model its way of life based on the western model but we fail to grasp the fundamentals of what make Western society work. Indeed, we fail at even being a copycat. With the number of public officials and common citizens who get away with fraudulent activities in the Philippines, I am beginning to believe that there are members of Philippine society who are turning into psychopaths. A lot of our public officials do not have a sense of guilt or do not feel remorse for not being able to fulfill their social obligations and for causing harm to the rest of society. They also blame their behavior on someone else, make all kinds of excuses and therefore do not feel accountable for their actions.

Filipinos find no shame in their mendicant culture.

Filipinos find no shame in their mendicant culture.

Added to the lack of sense of guilt or remorse, Filipinos in general are averse to giving a critical evaluation of our public officials based on their past performance. This is part of the reason why the public officials who are guilty of embezzling public funds or those who simply do not do their jobs to the best of their abilities still get re-elected or worse put on a higher ranking position like the presidency. There is no shame in having accomplished mediocre work because Filipinos just “let the matter slide” into pwede na yan (“that’ll do”) oblivion and hope that things will become better eventually. Our false sense of hope has gotten us nowhere. I hear a lot of people say, “There is still hope for the Philippines” but until we develop a sense of shame or guilt, there is no hope for the Philippines. We do not like being criticized at all, whether it is a fellow Filipino or a foreigner doing the criticizing, Filipinos tend to lash out or dismiss the criticism as lacking in merit. We as a people, lack the ability to evaluate our circumstances or apply a bit of self-reflection.

According to cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict, shame arises from a violation of cultural or social values while guilt feelings arise from violations of one’s internal values. It may make sense that Filipinos do not feel guilty or shameful about fraudulent activities if we perhaps consider that our internal values may be flawed. Worse, there seems to be a highly developed unconscious justification for deceptive actions within the Filipino mind. What we value as a society seems to be more around saving face by way of acquiring material possessions, family connections and having a good time. Whatever our neighbors have, we must have. Whatever our family and friends do even if it is illegal (i.e downloading films or DVDs or rigging votes), it must be ok because they have acquired a lot of material possessions through it and they seem like they are having a good time while they are at it. We as a society do things as a means to an end no matter the circumstances and we tend to be ok with it when we do it with family or friends, sort of like when in a pack mentality.

The things that bring us dishonor or shame are really trivial, do not benefit the whole of society, and only give us useless anxieties. Not having enough money to host a feast during a town festival or fiesta gives us a feeling of shame. Similarly, not having enough money to hold a Christmas party can give us a sense of embarrassment to other people. In both circumstances, some Filipinos would go to extra lengths as to spend all their hard earned cash or borrow money just to be able to hold a feast for that one-day event without thinking of the consequences. When the neighbors see that the party was held, we find our source of pride.

Pinoy-style guilt motivator: Family comes first when it comes to government appointments.

Pinoy-style guilt motivator: Family comes first when it comes to government appointments.

The things that give us a sense of guilt are also trivial, do not benefit the whole of society, and only give us useless anxieties. The family connections we value the most are also a source of dysfunctional behavior. Our family obliges us to hire family members when we own a company or if we are in a position to do so. There are many Filipino stories about family members who are working as overseas foreign workers who are obliged and made to feel guilty about sending money back home even if unnecessarily. Likewise, not having any presents or pasalubong for each member of the clan and the entire neighborhood is a no-no. Filipinos do not expect balikbayans to come home empty handed. Our family connections are a double edged sword. It can be a source of comfort and a source of sorrow.

Our religion also plays a big role in how we quickly remove our sense of quilt and shame. We have been made to believe that our “sins” are forgiven once we confess to a priest or a member of the Catholic Church; it is as if our conscience can be wiped clean of every abominable act — and then we are ready to do it all over again. There is no real sense of atonement or remorse after the confession but the cycle of dysfunctional behavior continues until it becomes part of our system. In short, a lot of Filipinos hide behind their religion as they continue their fraudulent activities. We often see a lot of households adorned with the images of saints and the members of the holy family. It makes some Filipinos believe that they are holy despite their unholy acts.

If we are to imitate the culture of shame by the Japanese or to genuinely adapt the western culture using guilt as an agent of social control, we need to develop a sense of responsibility for others and ourselves. The only way we can attain stability and progress is to honor our promises and value what is best for the whole society and ourselves in the long-term, and not just focus on trivial pursuits that only cater to instant gratification. In short, we just need to develop a conscience.

[Photos courtesy Reuters and GMA News.]

113 Replies to “Filipinos need to develop a sense of shame or guilt”

  1. Excellent piece Ilda. As I said from Day 1 , don’t expect me to whoop it up with Pinoy pride on trivial matters when the population treats shameful acts involving matters of consequence like they don’t exist .

  2. Shame occurs when you transgress/violate standards – personal and/or cultural.

    But in the case of many filipinos/politicos – no standards, no shame

  3. If this was written by a Chinese or Chinese Filipino, it would be considered as racist. Lack of sense of shame in Filipinos has long been observed by people of other cultures. A Chinese author Bo Yang had written a book entitled “Ugly Chinaman”, exposing the dark side of Chinese culture that stirred up a hornet’s nest among the Chinese chauvinists, and I was told that there’s a similar book also written by a Japanese disparaging his own country’s cultural flaws. In the Philippines, I could not imagine what will happen to the author of a similar book about Filipinos but I am sure he can earn a windfall!

    1. The closest writing you’ll find that points out cultural flaws among Filipinos is the article “A Heritage of Smallness” by Quijano de Manila. I don’t think the author got heavily bashed for it but his work is certainly not discussed in schools.

  4. A very insightful article indeed. I hope that this article gets read and understood rather than be relegated to oblivion in the internet.

    1. “Honors” from/through BS Aquino III are empty or hollow, and are just as meaningful as receiving them from the likes of Hitler or Kim Jong Un. BS Aquino is not genuinely honorable himself. Receiving “honor” from BS Aquino is like being conferred a PhD degree by someone incapable of even finishing first grade.

      1. believe that last statement if you want to, BUT the guy is a lawyer and had to pass a bar exam to become a lawyer. to equate the guys education with that of a 1st grader is in-correct.
        I do notice something about Filipino’s, in general(and call me whatever name you want, it will not mean it is not true), they will reason something to be logically true and then using the same formulation, even if it is in-applicable to the subject, to rationalize another completely un-related matter. and then make a profound pronouncement using the flawed logical arguments conclusion. as if it is true? WOWOWOWOWOW! I have seen many do it and it never fails to amaze me.

        1. Hayyy susmaryosep Gerry! It’s called an analogy or metaphor!—I’m not even referring to a person’s formal educational attainment. A person may have a doctorate degree, even multiple ones, and still be a ‘first grader’ when it comes to being honorable in any truly meaningful way. Josef Mengele is a very competent doctor no doubt, but less than a ‘first grader’ in terms of being honorable. Lawyers are not necessarily honorable, and that’s also true even to judges whom we refer to as “honorable judges.”

          Some people are either just metaphorically challenged or simply lazy to read things carefully.

        1. “PNOY is not a dictator.”

          And the majority of people here don’t believe you.
          Why you ask?
          Think for one second, if he wasn’t a dictator, why does he keep idiots like YOU to attempt to silence his critics?

        2. ORLY vincensus ignoramus? Then what do you call that endless stupid propaganda that malakanyakanyang paid you to do it you dummkopf?

      2. @ Felipe, Ha! U make an idiotic statement and then tell me I am challenged. As I said in my comment, if you READ IT( “ALL THE WAY THROUGH”), you will see that you made my 2nd point for me. Call me lazy or challeneged when in fact your comment was idiotic. I do not even like the guy, but he is a smart guy. Your probably jealous of his position in life.

        1. @Gerry

          It’s either those reasons I’ve mentioned or you’re pride simply gets in the way of acknowledging your mistake.

          To respond to your irrelevant ad hominem, you obviously don’t know me. You’ve made me chuckle when you accused me, of all people, of being jealous of someone else’s “position in life,” given that (without putting too much a fine point on the matter and I hope I’d only mention this once) I’ve refused offers on positions coveted by others when I sensed that management or the board would compromise my personal principles & sensibilities. Here, BS Aquino and I are simply diametrically opposites. I put principles over position, while BS Aquino puts position over [good moral] principles and sensibilities. So, you see why I don’t have much respect for the guy. It’s not just a matter of liking or disliking him (I actually don’t dislike him personally). It’s just what he represents and does that I dislike.

          Hope that helps.

        2. @ Felipe, Helps? Helps what? it really doesn’t matter to me what you think of the guy. The last three sentences of your last comment are contradicting, you say you don’t dislike the guy, just what he does? IDK, but what a person does is usually the basis for my liking or disliking a particular person. IF IF IF you do not like what the guy does, why would you like the guy? I really do not need to know the answer to the question, but now you may see the reasons for why I stated what I stated above. BTW, if it was irrelevant you would not mention it. I got nothing else on this matter.IDC that much really.

        1. The guy can’t even change a tire. He was never given responsibility all his adult life then mommy dies. Then the nail in his coffin . Proof he is not capable is he hires YOU. Nothing good can ever come from that.

        2. Capable of fooling “some” Filipinos. And he’s probably using taxpayer’s money to pay for survey firms to conduct popularity ratings.

        3. Its already over, you lost.
          Nobody here is taking you seriously.
          Might as well change your name to “why bother”.

      1. “the pork scam happened during the arroyo administration. because of the complications of the scam left by arroyo, aquino takes the blame which is not right.”

        “he is not a mechanic but an economist and a trusted statesman.”

        (WAAAAAAH WAAAAAAAH I’m a PNoy cocksucker and nobody believes in my propaganda a.k.a. MY LIES? WAAAAAAH WAAAAAH I love being a coward since I’m not a real leader WAAAAAAAAH WAAAAAAAAAAH)


  5. I remembered PNoy’s statement during the APEC summit in Bali as he again refused to apologize for the mishandling of the Manila hostage crisis that “it is not Filipino culture to apologize for actions committed by others” #facepalm

    1. Aquino has/had no reason to apologize for what Mendoza did. They way it was handled was not the Presidents job either. Manila’s chief of police, mayor and the provincial governor all may take SOME heat for the handling of the hostage crisis BUT it was not for Aquino to apologize for or even be involved in.
      Barrack Obama as the President of the USA NEVER gets involved in hostage negotiations…NEVER, it is not his job! and it was not Aquino’s job either.

      1. Who is the Commander-in Chief? Aquino is also to blame. He cannot escape the blame, by pointing , the
        blame to others…

        1. @ HT, Aquino is the commander-in-chief of the Philippine ARMED FORCES, not the Metro-Manila Police Dept..
          Look, blame the guy for the handling of the HK hostage crisis if you must, If you need to feel like your right about something, good for you!
          my simple point is, it is not his job. Never was, never will be.
          A President of any country has sub-ordinates that handle the internal police matters of the country. That is why you will never see Barrack Obama, or any other president of a country, getting involved in any hostage crisis negotiations. If he did, all someone would have to do to get an audience with the guy is start a hostage crisis.

    2. Well, I find it funny that the President will take credit on what others did. Is that part of Filipino culture? :-S

  6. After over a half century of idiocy that saw the Philippines drop from being second Asia to being an example of how NOT to run a country, the Filipinos still dare to have a Pinoy pride mentality.

    I don’t think the Filipinos know the real meanings of either shame or pride, and I doubt that they ever will.

    1. it is actually ALMOST unbelievable. What has happened in the Filippines is a direct result of an oligarchic set-up that has exploited the shit out of its own blood relatives. it is to the point which is beyond obscenity and that it has been allowed to continue, in the way that it has, says just as much about the governed/raped as it does about the oligarchic masters.

  7. You truly covered the whole truth about the nature of most Filipinos.

    Almost everything they do for their personal benefits would always be at the expense of other people.

    Perhaps when God poured out into all his creatures shame, guilt and conscience the ones caught by the Filipinos were that for pigs.

    It’s really unbelievable but very true.

  8. Almost everything that majority of Filipinos do for their personal benefits need to be at the expense of other people.

    Perhaps when God poured out into all his creatures shame, guilt and conscience the ones caught by the Filipinos were that for pigs.

    It’s really unbelievable but very true.

  9. Filipinos expect too much; once they elected their political leaders. Their political leaders uses: lies, deceit, and political promises, to get elected. Once elected, political leaders will take advantage of their positions, to get rich. Relatives and followers also take advantage of the position of these political leaders. We have a mendicancy attitude. Relatives who are working overseas; are expected to remit money to help relatives back home. If you run for public office; people expect you to: give free food; free rice, tuyo, noodles, etc. like Erap Estrada. And other free things.
    It is a vicious cycle. A cycle where it makes everyone participate, in the cycle of corruption. Our political leaders are AMORAL. They steal peoples’ money, and are still denying that they did not steal; like the Pork Barrel Scam. I see no improvement on our attitudes and thinking. They are already part of our culture.

    1. IDK about AMORAL, MAYBE? but certainly living in denial of reality. A sort of delusional state that enables them to somehow rationalize the de-gradation of their fellow countrymen as not being their fault. Again, IDK, I’d have to interview some of them first to be able to make any sort of assessment/diagnosis of their mental faculties.

    2. BULLSEYE!!! Relatives expect you to take care of them. No spine whatsoever. Its ok to help but you have to help yourself. God helps who help themselves.

  10. Congratulations Ilda! You hit the nail right on the head! The absence of shame and guilt from the Filipino psche is why we have all sorts of social problems like anarchy, plunder, corruption, etc. Factor in ignorance and poverty, BOOM! If you’re a wayward politician, It’s More Fun in the Philippines!

  11. The Filipino politicians or government officials must read this article, it would probably open their eyes and teach them that stealing is wrong and shameful. What can I say, they were known to be educated and from well known families and yet they are the most thieves in the community. I guess greed made them shameless. Shame and Guilt it is Zero in their brain.

  12. A good example of no shame is tge dishonorable frank drilon.
    Corrupt, turncoat, no integrity, conscience, or principles, – an administration lackey ( for now), who puts self-interest first at the expense of the country and democracy itself, and who has no conception of honesty or the truth. A truly despicable individual.
    Only in a country with no standards would such a gutter politico even exist, let alone thrive.
    P.s. why is he in korea with his best bum boy aquino.

  13. This is why I refuse to be a sheep with the rest of the Filipinos. I don’t follow Christianity and I don’t worship anything western or foreign. I believe in personal responsibility and self-determination. Whatever bad that comes to me, for the most part can be attributed by my own actions. No Abrahamic God is my savior, nor do I seek to be saved by one. I’m my own man and responsible for my own actions.

    1. Be an ANIMIST. Let us worship the: trees, mountains, brooks, etc…Filipinos were animist, before these Western and Middle Eastern religions came. Now, we are fighting each other, because of these religions.
      I guess, we have Peace; when we are all Animist.

    2. Actually, my Christianity teaches me that. ” I’m my own man and responsible for my own actions.” That’s why we have free will. Free will entails responsibility.

  14. inaccurate statements pertaining to thought processes of ‘Psychopaths’ have nothing to do with Filipino politicians lack of ‘conscience’ as far as robbing the treasury goes. they just do not have anything to do with it.

      1. @ HYden, DUDE? my comment does not say ‘politicians have nothing to do with’ the raping of the treasury, OK?
        it says that an in-accurate definition by the author as far as the characteristics of a PSYCHOPATH goes, ‘has nothing to do with it'( the raping of the treasury funds of the country). As if I have no clue about the nature of the scumbag politicians who run the country, they that are stealing everything that is not cemented to the floor, LOL! HA.

  15. Let compare notes from my older article. My point is that many Filipinos place their sense of shame in the wrong things. For example, Filipinos actually seem more ashamed of apologizing or admitting mistakes, of looking poorer than someone (which is why consumerism is rampant among Filipinos) and are even ashamed of intellectualism. But when they’re on the other side of the fence, like when they steal something, or even claim superiority to other people (Pinoy Pride), they’re shameless. We have a misguided, poorly placed sense of shame.

  16. I was walking in Ermita once and two policemen slowed down their car when the passed me and told me that it was one of the cop’s birthday. And he ” was hungry”. I gave them some money to buy food. Then they circled the block and one approached me and asked me if ” I wanted a girl”. Can you just imagine?

    Another person faked a birthday and even invited me to the house to celebrate provided I paid for the cake.

    Some people cheated me by faking illnesses and asking me for help and one faked own parents’ death to ask me for money to pay for the funeral.

    What kind of human beings are these? Never seen such behavior anywhere on earth.

  17. This article is so true.
    I lived in Manila for 7 years as a foreigner and that’s what I really found..

    No sense of Guilt.. It is super difficult for Filipino to admit his/her fault and apologize.

    1. No shit, Einstein. This article is speaking in general terms. That’s why there’s lots of corruption in the Philippines because of scumbag people there.

  18. Corruption in my definition is the product of an IDLE or LAZY Mind, selfishness and materialism because corrupt people do not realize the consequence of pocketing public funds or accepting bribes. Money should be circulated to generate more money and employment, thus fueling our economy. Jessie J’s “Price Tag”: It’s Not About Money

    Why is there no looting in Japan? Looting is due to Panic reaction – Japanese is well prepared, discipline and organize or plans everything in advance. Looting and chaos brought about by Yolanda could have been avoided if our leaders was serious with Climate Change & DAtE (Design Against the Elements) 4yrs ago.

    I’m a Building Architect in Japanese Petrochemical (Oil & Gas) Engineering company –doing projects with high level of strength, quality, safety standards and precautionary measures (Safe Haven & Cyclone/Blast resistant Building).

    In 2009 my family also was victim of Typhoon Ondoy wherein I almost died in trying to rescue them, Because of my current work specialization & years of living in Japan – I am very sincere to help or share my knowledge on how to cope with the Hazard brought about by Climate Change & our geography

    In 2010, I joined a Global Design Competition about a housing project that is well adapted for Climate Change (by Mr. Ilac Diaz) entitled “Design Against the Elements (Water or flooding, Wind or typhoons, Earth or quakes, & Fire)”.

    Professional entry fee of P1300 approx.

    Modesty aside my entry (no.135) was favorite during Quezon City Hall Exhibit and it was displayed first in front row facing directly the exhibit entrance. Honestly, I also studied other entries in the competition so I was pretty confident in winning and I was very excited to help our people & government by sharing my views, experience and ideas about Climate Change adaptation.

    A week prior to announcement of winners I was interviewed (recorded on video) by National Geography & Mr. Ilac Diaz. One of the questions was ” If you win, what will you do with the Prize money”. I did not directly answered the question and only said “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.
    On the day of announcement of winners, I was again interviewed (recorded on video) by TJ Manotoc @ my office. One of his questions was “Why did I join this competition?” and so I said again “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.

    To my surprise, my entry was not included in the winners and all 5 Final entries was done by foreigners. In my frustrations I immediately called Mr. Ilac Diaz to express my disappointment & questioned the results. I told him that cost factor only constitute 15% of judging criteria when I easily get 85% in others factors. Also, competition is not about Low Cost Housing.

    I eventually understood that this Design Competition – although global did not generate interest & funds because very few joined (approx. 150 entries) with very few sponsor/support from private sector & new government (Pres. Aquino). I only wish they had approached me directly about waving or giving the Prize money to charity. Hence, my efforts and motivation in joining was not entirely fulfilled because without the win I cannot prove or convince people. And people may not interpret my Vision correctly.

    Every year (in the last 3-4 yrs), I always feel sad about news of disaster/calamities in our country and how our people are dying or suffering and how our government is struggling to cope with the situation.

    Hazards brought about by Climate Change & our Geography is imminent and will worsen @ a bigger scale & interval. Still some people may not realize it until they have experience facing Death from Nature’s Wrath.

    How I wish I can be heard and discussed my ideas with our leaders, media and other experts in our country.

    May God Bless & Spare us all………….

    1. too unfortunate, there are only a few people like you do who would like to help our environment and nature itself, but many times are NOT given importance or at
      least to be acknowledged for the good of others….too bad, for unsung heroes like you…but I salute you for your endearing selfless work of innovation and creativity….hope our goverment is just open-minded, all ears, eyes and its senses open to the vulnerability to climate changes….

    2. Do you have any idea what to do to Provident Village in Marikina City, Philippines, so that people will not move out owing to the recurring flooding in this location.

      I myself have moved out and I left my two homes in Provident Village, now they are occupied by my married daughter and her husband; they take charge of the two homes and I gave them the power to live in one while using the other to earn money.

      For myself I do not think I want to live there anymore, because from since 1986 when I moved myself and my family there, we had suffered repeated flooding, the worst was Ondoy 2009 and after Ondoy there was the habagat (monsoon) flooding in 2012.

      I like to return and live there because it is really a very good village in many respects, except for the flooding.

      Well, what idea do you have for Provident Village in Marikina City?

      Marius de Jess

  19. Shame, really? Even Mother Theresa says’ the opposite of love is shame.” Do we really need to shame our fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, as a tool to keep people in order?

    Woud you do that to your child? Shame them every time they made a mistake? Would you shame a friend when they showed poor judgment or said something thoughtless?

    Do you really think that shaming another will bring them into “developing a conscience?” If anything, it will drive them deeper into deception and secrecy.

    Talk about instilling more dysfunction into a people who are already rules by a dysfunctional government.

    Honestly, Ilda, with all respect, you can’t be serious.

    1. You can call it shame, others will call it constructive criticism. It works well in many of the modern and developed nations, why can’t it work in the Philippines? The people running the government are not little children and most certainly should not be treated as such. If you want to talk about love, what is so loving about stealing from one’s own people? Whether shame will enable someone to develop a conscience is irrelevant. What it will do is hold politicians accountable and by raising awareness of their shortcomings, we can demand the best of our government. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. When the politicians get down on the ground and work with the poor instead of merely making a photo-op, then we can compare them with Mother Theresa.

      1. the problem with Filipinos is not shame. And if you use constructive criticism. They will just laugh at you or Worse they think they are getting oppress. The problem is there is no code of conduct. The word ” HONOR” IS AN ALIEN CONCEPT TO MOST FILIPINOS. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST is more apropos to their situation. ” I DO MY OWN THING, YOU DO YOURS”. The Govt just stand ON THE side. ACCOUNTABILITY IS ALSO ALIEN TO MOST GOVT. OFFICIALS. when they screw up, Who bears the brunt. The poor destitute people.

      2. @ Darryl

        I absolutely agree that you have to hold your elected officials accountable. But let’s not forget, we’re the ones who vote them in the first place! We’re part of the problem.

        As for Shame–Shame is topic of the article. Big difference between shaming people and constructive criticism. Constructive criticism infers that the person giving it really cares for the person they are criticizing. This article has very little if no empathic undertones. It’s simply chastising.

        And I respectfully disagree, shaming doesn’t work in all modern and developed nations. For example, in Europe the death penalty is abhorred and they look upon US executions states like Texas, as barbaric for still practicing capital punishment. In Japan, if executives mess something up, they’s rather jump off buildings rather than face the wrath of their countrymen. Mercy killing (your own sister, for God’s sake) in Arab countries is the full on embodiment of shame. Is this the society you want in the PI?

        There is a way to achieve civility and rule of law without shame and aggression. And the way is treat people like self-repecting adults. Always.

        When you plant a bad seed like shame, expect a bad harvest.

    2. im sorry rose but you already got your answer. Japanese people are more well governed than us. Atleast shame improved them more than you think it would and to correct it, you dont need to shame anyone, what most likely is they take honor more seriously than we do.

      1. @ Dennis

        The Japanese are more obedient and passive, not necessarily well governed. In Japan, you have to fall in line with your leaders, whether you agree or not. I’m not sure if that’s what I would want in my country.

        There is as much corruption in their mafia underworld and government as in any other country (like mine, the US). It’s just hidden very well. They make a great civic face to the outside world, meanwhile they dump all kinds of garbage into the ocean and destroy marine life all over Asia. We need not go into what horrors they committed in WW2. All in the name of ‘falling in line’ with government.

        Sure the Philippines needs more order and it needs to ‘clean house’ in the government and law enforcement sector. But to shame the people thinking it will result in some sort of gross internal change–I’m sorry, I respectfully disagree with the whole premise.

        Shame and constant criticism in children has been proven to turn out severely dysfunctional adults.

        If anything, we need to begin to treat the Filipino like self-respecting adults, and not chastise them continuously. Respect begets respect, shame begets shame.

        1. well, now i agree with you to that matter. what i am really after is that we really need to develop some kind of honor that doesnt result to this horror.

          Now to this “respect beget respect and shame begets shame. i totally disagree, because it really depends on what kind of person you are if you result to shame when one is shamed right? because i believe when you are shamed, you must learn from it and try not to let others make your so called mistake.

    3. Do they really need to be shamed by others? No, but the idea of shame is still relevant. Any reasonable person should have honor, sympathy, regret that shape their behaviors. Going against moral and ethical ideals should shame these individuals. We do not have to do it for them.

      To have shame, one has to have regret and a feeling of obligation to take responsibility for one’s action or inaction.

    4. “Do we really need to shame our fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, as a tool to keep people in order?” You can’t be that serious too. The article isn’t about shaming others. It’s all about having a sense of shame or guilt…like a negative self-perception.

  20. Youre getting there.. Nice article. Well, pinoys mentality is governed by its strong catholic upbringing… Theres nothing wrong being religious but sabi nga lahat ng sobra ay hindi maganda even being religious. To the point na nagiging bulag na tyo sa katotohanan. I mean, kung sa China lang yang mga pulitiko na yan eh na firing squad na. Catholicism preaching mapag patawad sa kapwa… Pinoy in time nakuha yung mentality na magpatawad. So dun pumapasok yung sinasabi ko na lahat mg sobra masama. We have to learn to have our own character and desposition sa mga bagay bagay. Hindi yung pag sinabi ng Pari na ito gagawin mo para ka ng zombie na sunod ng sunod.

    We are known for being family centered.. But may naka isip na ba na isa din yang factor kaya grabe ang corruption sa pilipinas? Sa unang basa mo sasabihin mo na.. Wtf? Right? Kasi being family centered is a positive attitude. Pero kapag yung ganun attitude nadala na sa labas.. Sa work, sa school sa politics….. Sino ba nabibigyan ng pabor? Di ba yung mga kamag anak at immediate family and also friends and relatives. Kapag ganun ba ay positibo pa ding matatawag ang pagiging family centered ng mga pinoy?

    Di ba nakaka amaze na yung mga positive traits pala natin eh yun din yung nagpapa bagsak satin??? Well, yan lang napapansin ko. Sana maisip nyo din.

  21. this is a great article. i remember while back when angelo reyes committed suicide because of guilt, that was the first time I have seen a good progress of social behaviour by phil. i applaud him but apparently it was not the popular sentiment among filipinos. I mean, come on, the guy committed suicide already, that’s the ultimate penalty. and yet, people want him to face his charges?? LOL, the sentence were already carried out by the criminal himself !!! would I respect Gloria Arroyo (who’s found guilty and still enjoy freedom) or Angelo Reyes? Think about it ! And I like how the article incorporate the Religion. Because i think its Religion that plays a big part !!!

    1. Angelo Reyes committed suicide so that no further investigation can take place, saving everyone who was involved. He is not the only one guilty, he was just backed up into a corner and opted for the easy way out. Not out of shame.

      GMA is guilty of what, actually, as far as the courts are concerned, the cases are dropping like flies. And note that she is not serving time, but under hospital arrest as the cases that BS’s mininons made up are non bailable.

      1. joel, the investigation being stopped on reyes’ death has nothing to do with reyes. if the judicial system feels there’s more people involve, then they should have proceed. its the failure of the judicial system in that case. LOL, how can you call killing yourself an easy way out? in a justice system, death is the ultimate penalty. just imagine if all other corrupt politicians that has been found guilty will just kill himself, dont you think PI will be in a better place ? :)Regardless of what his real motives is for killing himself, he still did kill himself to save all of us from using tax payers money and dragging us through painful process of litigation. Reyes demonstrated what this article is saying. Nothing short of it !

        The GMA comparison is just arbitrary and I am not gonna dwell on this. If you feel comfortable, I can change it for you.

        would I respect ERAP (who’s found guilty, serve minimal time and is now in politics again LOL) or Angelo Reyes?

        1. ecf, this is what the article is all about…shame. You sited Angelo Reyes’s suicide as an example of that, which is obvious that he killed himself not out of shame but rather out of convenience, for his family, his collaborators etc. The system cannot pursue the case as he made sure it ended with him. The case died with him. Saving taxpayers’ money? Come on, don’t be so naive, they all got their pockets lined with taxpayers’ money, you think that he thought of that just before he pulled the trigger? Do not kid yourself, Angelo Reyes’ suicide is not out of guilt or shame but rather for convenience.

        2. the guy killed himself and you think this is a convenience for him??? and do you think its also a convenience for his family leaving them like that??? when you kill yourself; its an admission guilt based on court’s law. So you re wrong already as this death is an admission of guilt not convenience. You fail miserably in grasping this article !!! I just realize Pinoy like you are the big problem in its society ! You talked BIG but made LITTLE sense !!!

        3. “Killing oneself is an admission of guilt in the court of law”. Wow, where did that come from?

          You see, ecf, you fail to understand that he chose death instead of being persecuted including his collaborators, and also with a big possibility of him losing what he has in finances and also in people’s perception. Is that not just convenient for him, his family and all those other people involved. The buck stops with him ending it.

          Boy, that is no way to get your point across, personal attacks, you don’t even know me. You are the one who cannot grasp the point of shame and guilt, using only your emotions to dissect the suicide of Reyes. If Reyes really had that quality inside him, then he should not have gotten involved with stealing taxpayers’ money in the first place, as the act itself is shameful for an officer and a gentleman (which is what he is supposed to be).

        4. OK, get this in your thick head because I have no time explaining this to someone like you over and over again… DEATH is the ultimate penalty on everything. DEATH is end of the line. The guy chose DEATH and you think its a convenience for him ? Where is the fucking logic in that? Now, if his death stopped the legal proceedings, then its the failure of the judicial system. That is another matter. But that should NOT take away his admission of guilt (dont be stupid, he committed suicide because he felt guilty and cannot carry the burden of guilt)…Now, imagine if all his collaborators also committed suicide, dont you think justice is serve ??? or do you prefer the current politician style of battling it out on court inspite of all the evidence ?? You dont have any point. Look at all your replies and you keep harping on the same tune that Reyes did it for convenience; while I keep giving you logical answer that it cannot be convenience…LOL, the article is about guilt or shame. if Reyes did’nt commit the crime in the first place, then we should’nt even be talking about him in this article are we ??? By the way you approach logic (which you dont possess), I pretty get an idea of who you are !

      2. Fine, I have no time for emotional brats like you, too, who cannot even grasp a very simple concept of shame and guilt (guilt, not in the legal way, btw, which is what this article is referring to).

        Thick head, what the hell does that even mean?

  22. I read this from The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. This is about India but made me think of The Philippines too.

    “India. This is the country where, as Mark Twain observed, every life is sacred, except human life. Indians may care deeply about their families and circle of friends, but they don’t even notice anyone outside that circle. That’s why Indian homes are spotless, while just a few feet outside the front door the trash is piled high. It’s outside the circle.”

  23. i think we need to develop more of a sense of responsibility and duty. And instead of payabangan culture, more of being able to police each other – we are also passive in that sense that we don’t call the attention of someone doing something wrong in public.

    1. How do you think a member of society (any human society) develops a ‘sense of responsibility’?

      The very first — the most basic — things we learn, from birth, are inculcated through the use of ‘shame’ and ‘guilt.’ This is how humans are socially conditioned to behave, to learn to accept the mores of the society they live in.

  24. About Japanese committing suicide from loss of honor, like in hara-kiri or sepukka?

    I have the idea that they do it and it is not just literature, but only when they get caught; otherwise they can live with their dishonorable act when not exposed.

    What do you say?

    But I have not seen any Filipino of leadership ranking in society committing suicide from shame.

    Except Gen. Angelo Reyes, secretary to Pres. Arroyo in defense and energy, he committed suicide on allegation of corruption.

    I thought that he should have stayed alive to prove himself innocent; so, what’s the point of committing suicide, perhaps to what? redeem his honor this way?

    And the Filipino people did not object to his burial in full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery}.

    After his suicide no one at least not in the media anymore talked about the allegation of corruption with Gen. Angelo Reyes.

    1. Even resign out of shame of not being able to perform one’s job, you won’t see any here, and you are talking of suicide.

      Angelo Reyes did not commit suicide because of guilt. He took one for the “team” and his family. Ended his life, ended the case against him. His family and cohorts keep the loot.

  25. This lack of sense of shame/guilt from the politicians start to develop when they enter politics or if you grew up with a political family, you lose it since birth. But the pinoys, in general, has it. We have it. Actually, we are made of shame and guilt as a culture. Greed does the damage. It kills our sense of shame and guilt once we enter the Ph politics.

  26. Everywhere the Catholic Church is prominent is the prevailing belief “there are no real consequences to my sin…I can just confess and be forgiven.”

    Catholic doctrine eviscerates any sense of personal responsibility. Priests do more damage to the Philippines than any politician ever will but because the influence of theology is more discrete and harder to observe we blame the politicians for their overt misdeeds. Every decision every person makes has roots in their theology.

  27. I know this comes a tad late but I just stumbled here :). Finally a post which is eye-opening yet polite and calm in tone, not like other articles which slam the Filipino as dumb or stupid, or worse, hopeless. I agree, we Filipinos need to start cultivating a culture of accountability, responsibility, and integrity if we are to shed our image as Asia’s perennially sick man. I teach university students and things like these often crop up in our discussions and I just hope what I tell these students will somehow impact their lives even just one bit.

  28. Hello dear Ilda! I really like your article! Can I please have your whole name so I can properly quote you in my school paper? Much obliged!!! Thanks!

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