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.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.
Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.