If only Manila had a cold climate all year round, Pinoys wouldn’t be so lazy!

Sarap the weather in Manila nowadays! I always appreciate how cold weather works wonders for the psyche — it makes you feel more energetic, gives you a more pleasant disposition, and you not only feel more productive, you actually are more productive. If only the Philippines had a climate like this all year round. Siguro we’d be a First World country by now! It’s a no-brainer I suppose.

Appropriate attire for Manila's climate

Appropriate attire for Manila’s climate

First of all, you can sleep really well at night without airconditioning. To be fair, I’ve got an aircon which I use most nights. But anyone who’s spent time in a temperate climate knows how great it is to wake up to to fresh air and chirping birds! The other thing is that you don’t mind walking as much. In Manila’s sauna-like air, you feel like taking a long shower after just 30 minutes outdoors. Yuck! So that is probably why tricycles and pedicabs won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Walking just doesn’t work in the Philippine heat — more so if you are wearing office attire. Third, everything does not feel grimy or moldy. In Manila, everything looks and feels so bulok because of the humidity. Maybe if they built stuff the way they used to during Spanish times, the cityscape will look and feel better. But with all these new concrete buildings and structures built by crooked contractors with low ceilings and painted white or in pastel colors ba naman, unless you hangout in a mall, all you get is a depressing grimy city experience.

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No less than Jose Rizal wrote about the obvious impact on productivity tropical heat brings…

An hour’s work under that burning sun, in the midst of pernicious influences springing from nature in activity, is equal to a day’s work in a temperate climate; it is, then, just that the earth yield a hundred fold!

I do note, though, that Rizal did not really see hot weather as an on-going excuse for poor productivity. He wrote that we only need to adapt our work approaches to this climate to counteract its negative effects. In not so many words, he cited what could possibly be at the root of this perceived “indolence” among Filipinos…

A man can live in any climate, if he will only adapt himself to its requirements and conditions. What kills the European in hot countries is the abuse of liquors, the attempt to live according to the nature of his own country under another sky and another sun. We inhabitants of hot countries live well in northern Europe whenever we take the precautions the people there do. Europeans can also stand the torrid zone, if only they would get rid of their prejudices.

There you are. For those of us who are at the office, look around and see how we are pretty much a bunch of European wannabes. The outfits we wear to work, the office hours we keep… it’s a whole work regime shrinkwrapped in Copenhagen, shipped to Manila, opened up and implemented in “vanilla” form. Solution package developed overseas installed with zero customization and localization component. In the IT world, that’s a recipe for catastrophic failure.

And we wonder why Pinoys are so tamad and listless. I can’t really blame the average saleslady at the mall who stares at you blankly when you ask the simplest questions about the merchandise she sells. Parang tuod. You gotta understand what she goes through every morning and evening. She probably wakes every morning dazed after after a night of shallow sleep then a two-hour commute in a packed jeepney in 35 degree heat. Imagine that then consider that even people who drive to work just complain about their own commute non-stop.

When you’ve got lots to complain about, you’ve simply got enough excuses not to deliver more bang for the buck you’re paid at work.

Perhaps it’s high time we start to re-think our overall approach to our work schedules. Do we really have to work 9-to-5 in this climate? Imagine the kids in school struggling to do their equations in a sweltering classroom. Ugh! And what’s up with the European costumes we wear to work? Why do we stigmatize people who wear shorts and tsinelas? One time on a hot summer day in an IT firm in San Jose I was visiting for training, a trainee came in wearing a tie. One of the staff called out, “Hey dipstick, what’s up with the tie?”

Rizal, in a way, said the same thing to us although in a more polite manner. Tama na nga our pa-Euro ek ek. Why do we insist on trying to be something that we are not? I find it ironic that we love going to Boracay and dressing the part while we’re there. Europeans do the same — dress down when they holiday at a tropical paradise. But then between Boracay and, say, Frankfurt is a world of climactic difference. Manila, on the other hand, is not too different from Boracay. So why wear a tie in Manila? Oh yeah, I forgot: When in Manila, do as the Romans.

44 Replies to “If only Manila had a cold climate all year round, Pinoys wouldn’t be so lazy!”

  1. Hi Kate,
    are there countries similar to the Philippines with the same identical climate that are as “lazy” as Filipinos?

    1. Insert pretty much any South American country. They share the same “fiesta” and lethargic attitude while the harder working ones try their best to leave their home country up north for a better life. Doesn’t that sound familiar.

      1. That’s an oversimplification. And very disparaging. Not every country in South America is tropical or “lazy.” The regions closer to Antarctica are temperate zones. Best brush up on some grade school geography and some earth science. And North Americans might consider moving to Argentina or Uruguay. While manufacturing in the US has been in steady decline, in Argentina it has become highly diversified. It has a highly developed nuclear programme and has been successful in nuclear related technologies. Uruguay frequently ranks as one of the most developed and prosperous countries in Latin America.

        1. It’s a generalization yeah, but you can’t deny that a majority of those SA states hovering in the middle of the tropical zone are rife with social, economic and political problems. Brazil, for instance, even if it’s being touted as a major rising power in the region, is still bogged down by its countless favelas and drug rings.

        2. guin,

          I thought the topic was about the indolence of the Filipino and like peoples who live in tropical countries?

          You’re talking about DIFFERENT social dysfunctions — persistent poverty, gangs, organised criminality, a general feeling of insecurity on the part of the citizenry. Those are symptoms of (economic) inequality and a weak rule of law. And yes, Brazil does experience those problems, despite having the largest national economy in Latin America, and the world’s seventh largest economy (as per the World Bank and IMF), precisely because of this entrenched socioeconomic inequality. However, that is a separate discussion altogether.

    2. “If only Manila had a cold climate all year round, Pinoys wouldn’t be so lazy!”. The weather is NOT the answer to laziness. I’ve been to so many cold countries and I found lazy people in them. People tend to complain about everything and everyone. If it’s cold, we complain about the cold and if hot about the heat, and so on. So we do with people and, etc. They’re never content about life’s situations and people. They fail to understand “WHAT IS”. How do you accept WHAT IS if you don’t understand it? No acceptance will lead us to suffering or insatisfaction.

  2. Here in Winnipeg, 0c would prompt some of my co-workers to come to work in shorts. That is because -35c is the norm here in winter.
    Nope, no one will will dare say, “shorts to work? ugh!” That is because Canadians don’t care what you wear, but they do judge you on your productivity.
    Sa Pilipinas kaya? kailan natin papansinin ang importante, and simply ignore the practically unimportant? As long as your genitals are not peeking through, whocares what you wear, as long as you get the job done?
    For those required to wear uniforms, that’s another thing. Uniforms at work makes everyone think they are a part of a team. But they are usually required for those dealing directly with customers, and those only.

  3. perhaps its not only cold per se but winter

    in olden times, if you lived in a temperate country and you did not store food and firewood and hunted animals for fur clothes, you would be dead due to the cold or due to hunger when winter comes and there is nothing edible out in the wilderness. This tends to weed out the lazier individuals from the population

  4. I’m hoping for a polar shift to happen in the philippines if that’s the case…..for everybody to work better and for more

  5. OMG. Hahaha, the trolls actually think that GRP thinks like they do. They’re the ones who actually use that line of thinking: blame the weather on Gloria Arroyo, or your favorite non-LP character of the day.

    And by the way, no matter what the climate is, your favorite president BS Aquino will be lazy anyway.

    Kate, I guess Pinoys never really learned to adjust, then. They held up the Western standard as absolute, and yet they focused more on the form than the substance.

  6. In California, one can go into govt. offices wearing shorts and slippers. You do have to wear shirt and you cannot be bare footed. But here, in snooty Makati, I was turned away by the doorman for wearing sandals and was informed that I had to have long pants and leather shoes. It was a new standard for those seeking to enter a govt. office. The idea here, is that one should show proper respect to the bureaucrats. I thought they were supposed to be public servants. My taxes pay for their salaries. They act like they are better than the people they are waiting on. Why should they be concerned with how the public looks; particularly, in a tropical climate?

    1. This happened to me too..when I was going to pay realty taxes at the city hall and I was turned away and was told to go home to change my shorts to pants because of a certain new rule there…I was like wow..ok..what’s the connection of wearing pants and transacting with the government? Is it because they wear pants to work too? Is that how their logic would apply? Oh wait..it does look good for the photo op when they display “teh-government-at-work on their precious bulletin boards for other people to see” but just because it looks good doesn’t always translate to it being actually good.

      We’re simply being judged with how we look..just as the same thing that we judge other people with how they look and yet..did that do wonders? Did it uncorrupt the corrupted? Did it make everyone a few pesos richer? Apparently it did not..

      Back to topic, the cold weather can do wonders for the mind too..cooler heads will always prevail..that’s what I believe however in some instances..the cold weather here tends other people to be even more lazy than usual because they’d complain about the weather being too conducive for sleep.

  7. I agree that there’s this “bulok” feeling in Manila due to humidity. I vacationed there last September after being away for 17 years and I noticed that even in Mall of Asia area. I also agree that working people should be allowed to wear shorts or t shirt due to warm climate, if the clothing does not pose a hazard in the job site.

  8. Way to go, Kate! I hope every Filipino will be as open-minded and sensible as you…. My favorite part of the article was your idea that many Filipinos are European wannabes (maybe even American wannabes?), but a lot I think don’t even realize it. Thanks for telling everyone!

    1. I think American wannabes is the more accurate description when it comes to a majority of Filipinos…

      On a personal note, fantasizing about the Philippines with a four seasons climate is rather easy for me considering that I have a Narra tree in my house that has its own version of the seasonal cycle.

      Anyway, I’d wager that if the Philippines were a temperate climate, here’s what our winters will look like: Luzon is where the snow will be falling fairly regularly, and the bitter cold will frequently make its presence known. Visayas will get snow and wintry cold on occasion at sea level but annually in the mountains. Mindanao will rarely ever get that kind of weather at sea level but frequently in the mountains.

      With regards to Manila, it will have a climate where the winters are unpredictable, with some winters being very cold and snowy, and others where you’d think “where did winter go?” Just my two cents on this topic… hehehe… 🙂

    2. depending on our caste system:
      lower class- Manila suburban wannabee
      middle class- American wannabee
      upper class- Spanish wannabee

      1. Only the really old fogeys like to emulate everything from Spain. The new blue blood tries to copy the UK or any other country within the Anglosphere like the US or Australia.

  9. Fortunately for me, even if we’re required by our company to wear long sleeves, we can also wear polo barong which is far more comfortable in tropical country like in the Philippines

  10. Enjoyed the article, some real nuggets of thought there.
    There does seem to be a “eh, good enough” attitude towards thoroughness and quality of work.

  11. I used to think the same but after I got here in Singapore, it’s just not true, It’s hot here all year round and people here are clearly not as lazy as us. People here walk more, maybe because the streets are clean and safe. Kids here don’t stay at home during summer vacations, they take up lessons like violin, martial arts or study even more (tuition class). It’s definitely not the climate it’s a culture thing that should be changed.

    1. This. Correlation does not denote causation. Let’s step it up a bit more and mention Dubai and other Middle Eastern Kingdoms that are very prosperous and productive yet located in one of the most arid regions on Earth. We can also go the other way and talk about chilly countries with a subpar work environment like a few Eastern Euro nations.

    2. nein,

      I beg to differ. The Saudis and the inhabitants of the Gulf States produce absolutely NOTHING. Their economies are based on digging holes in the ground to extract oil. They manufacture nothing nor do they provide any services. Their answer to needing more money has always been to drill another hole in the ground. They don’t even do their own digging. Foreign “guest” workers (like Filipino OFWs) do that. Hired for them by European and American experts.

      Which countries in Eastern Europe are you referring to? European states such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland have adapted reasonably quickly to democratic political systems and a free market economy. If you are referring to states that used to form the USSR such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, they struggle to recover from the crumbling infrastructure that was carried over from the old Communist regime. NOT because these states were populated by people with “lazy” attitudes brought on by a chilly environment. Russia, in fact, is quite flush with petrodollars from oil and gas sales to Europe that, coincidentally, increase every time it gets cold.

      Of particular note is the former Soviet state of Estonia, once dubbed “the most wired nation in the world.” The country is ranked 16th in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, with the freest economy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Because of its rapid growth, Estonia has often been described as a “Baltic Tiger.”

      And yes, there is a correlation between Singaporean success and its culture. It’s no accident that virtually all of the world’s most successful modernisation stories — Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and even China — occurred in eastern Asia, initiated by authoritarian rulers, with a shared Chinese heritage.

      1. In fact, what gives value to the black ooze extracted from those holes dug in these desert kingdoms is Western technology. If it weren’t for the internal combustion engine and the cool cars and vast industries these engines run, all that black ooze would be worth zilch.

  12. Looks like the posts of that malacanang moron has been deleted.
    Serves him right for posting yellow propaganda crap.

  13. People in cold climates wants to live in hot climate area. During winters; people in the U.S. with good income go to the State of Florida, to live there; until the winter passes. Shoveling Snow and commuting on icy roads, are very hard.

    In the Philippines, they want the four seasons climate, or winters. Many people will die in the Philippines, if we have winters. You need warm clothes. Heat in your house. And Snow removal in your driveway. At a temperature, below Zero (0) degree centigrade, with wind chills lower than zero degree centigrade. You will die with Hypothermia; if you walk even a mile away. So, it is only by car with heater, that you can commute with that kind of weather.
    The State of California has the best weather. I live here in California. Florida is too hot. The Midwestern States are too cold.
    Productivity has nothing to do with climate. It is the attitude of the people that has more to do with productivity. Innovations have a lot to do with the progress of a country. Look at Japan. They have no natural resources. But, the Japanese people are very innovative. Too much politics in our country. If you make politics less glamorous and with incentives, like the Pork Barrels. Politicians will look for other professions. We have too many politicians. Most of them speaks nonsense…

    1. Politics less glamorous and with less incentive, like Pork Barrels….
      sorry, it should be written that way…nagmamadali, late na sa kalse…

  14. Montesquieu was the one who coined the above theory, that people in cold climates tend to be more industrious than those in warmer climates. But as someone said, practical experience shows that this is not necessarily true, and there are lazy people in the cold countries. To follow Get Real Philippines’ original thesis, culture remains the most influential factor of all, and this can be affected by more than the climate.

  15. There was also work done on skin colour, climate and their relationship to/impact on iq levels.
    With caveats people in colder climates generally did have higher iqs particularly in cognitive aspects.
    The political correct brigade were up in arms at such a study and the results per se were not really developed.

    There is certainly a different work ethic in northern and southern europe – but if you live in places like Nice or Barcelona, then pretty understandable to choose the beach over the office at weekends.

    1. @libertas

      The studies for what your skin color is related to your IQ, was done by people; who feels superior because of their skin color.

      Geniuses and Morons , come out from every race. I saw in an advanced research facility; people of every race and color working together. Most of those people has an IQ of 180.

      I don’t believe in the superiority of any race. We all contribute for the progress and goodness of the human race. Irregardless of the color of your skin…irregardless of where you came from…

  16. Thailand was never a property of the colonial powers, but you can easily find business and political execs wearing Western business attire. I don’t think they even have indigenous office wear like the barong.

    They too follow the same 9-to-5 schedule the author is complaining about.

    1. Dodge,

      Did you miss the quote from Jose Rizal?

      “A man can live in any climate, if he will only adapt himself to its requirements and conditions.”

      You wear the clothes you can wear in a climate controlled office space where you may be dealing with foreigners who also dress in “western business attire,” who expect the people they are meeting with to dress accordingly and keep predictable business hours, again, according to standards that have been the accepted norm worldwide.

  17. Not sure if I agree with this article. Wearing shorts and sandals is way too casual in a typical work environment. There’s a reason why businesses employ dress codes because it is a form of professionalism. You may argue that it’s too conformist to Western values, but these same Westerners set the standards in the business world and trying to go against that flow is not a good idea. A good compromise perhaps is to have people in the workplace wear short sleeved dress shirts and I stick by my guns about the importance of wearing ties. Without it, you’d be confused for a schoolboy. No shorts, period.

    Women work attire on the other hand can be tough. I’m having a hard time coming up with apparel that’s work friendly while not looking like you’re going for a walk out at the beach. Any suggestions?

    1. It usually would depend on the kind of work environment too. If my job is signing up checks at a bank or meeting clients then of course I have to dress up for work. If there’s a uniform for a certain kind of work like for example as a factory worker then of course I need to wear that, it’s not that I’m wearing it from my house.

      Now for other jobs that aren’t really any of those..I was a writer back then and I didn’t need to dress up to coat & tie just to work that would be ridiculous..but of course I didn’t wear slippers to work unless it was needed like during the rainy season. I’d leave my shoes in the office and wear it there instead of wearing it outside and let it get ruined by the weather. My company did allow it.

      Shorts would be too informal but I did it a couple of times during my short stint as a call center agent.

      As long as it doesn’t look like you are seducing someone then it should be ok.

    1. The dress down Friday policy isn’t unique to the Philippines is it? Most European and American corporations already practice it.

    2. Fortunately the american fad never took hold in europe, and it wasn’t welcomed by employees. The only exception were the ‘beards and sandals’ brigade in IT who dressed down all the time.
      Oh and nude house – an it programming company where everyone are nudists – maybe they have dress up fridays.

  18. Minus points for the “conyo-style” writing. Also speak for yourself. The cold weather makes me want to hibernate. It makes it even harder to get up at 5am to prepare for the day.

  19. I grew up in the cold wind and snow of the northeastern USA. Maybe “chilly” weather helps people move about, but when it’s really, really cold, (-15 or so celsius), all you want to do is stay inside wrapped up in whatever warm thing you can find.

    And getting up early to go out in the bitter cold to shovel snow just plain sucks!

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