Filipinos need to stop inserting themselves into Hong Kong’s #UmbrellaRevolution

Or any other country’s democracy-oriented drive, for that matter.

umbrellas_hong_kongAdmittedly, watching the unfolding of the Hong Kong protests – dubbed the Umbrella Revolution – gets one’s curiosity easily piqued. Given that the protesters have been issued an ultimatum to clear the streets, outside observers are hoping that things don’t end tragically. When the world recalls how the Tiananmen Square protests ended about 25 years ago – there was a death toll that could not be ignored – an icky feeling of déjà vu suddenly creeps up.

And yet all indications point to a grim outlook: that Beijing couldn’t care less how it ends, or how the world will view them after it ends. They can either engage in a war of attrition – wait for the protests to die down – or if they really grow impatient or are no longer amused, use force to end it.

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I guess it is but natural for Filipinos to watch the events in Hong Kong unfold with great interest. Given how sentimental Filipinos can get, that they wax nostalgic about their own drive towards democracy last 1986 would also be natural.

What isn’t natural, however, is how certain Filipinos inserted themselves into the events in HK. Why they shouldn’t should be obvious.

First of all, as Hong Kong is part of China; Beijing considers it part of their internal affairs, and Filipinos, being foreigners in HK, should stay out of it. Secondly, any Filipino who gets caught in the crossfire will be a big issue. China doesn’t appear to be hesitant about using force to mow down locals, when push comes to shove, much less foreigners. If any Filipino gets caught, injured, or killed, the most likely response from Beijing would be indifference; “that’s what you get for inserting yourselves into the internal affairs of China”. A possible related consequence would be in the Spratlys dispute; the Philippines has little leverage at this point, and it will only decrease further if Beijing decides to use any cases of Filipinos getting involved against our claim. And most importantly, any Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who gets into trouble in Hong Kong means one less source of income for the palamunins left back home.

And yet, for all the stubbornness of the Filipinos, they found another way to insert themselves into the HK protests. An excerpt from the report of GMA’s Howie Severino shows how:

But Filipino residents of Hong Kong who have watched the events there unfold also credit how the present generation was raised – many by Filipina yayas.

“We have a culture of kapwa and tender loving care,” says Azon Cañete, a former NGO worker in Hong Kong who now covers the city for GMA News. “It’s hard to generalize because there are no studies, but I think OFWs have shown those values to their wards.”

“Hindi sila racist, mababait sila sa ibang lahi, (they’re not racist, they are kind to other ethnicities) ” says one long-time domestic helper in Hong Kong who, like many others here, didn’t want to be named. “Mga Pilipina kasing nagpalaki. (It’s because Filipinas raised them)

Azon Cañete is right, it’s hard to generalize. It’s not only unfounded, it’s simply not true. Establishing a causal link between the HK protesters’ politeness and the rearing and raising by Filipina nannies is not only an exercise in futility, the idea of it is absolutely ridiculous.

Filipinos in the Philippines grow up with the “every man for himself” mindset. The environment Filipinos face in their homeland is that of survival of the fittest; they have a baseless sense of being more important than anyone else. Filipinos care about others only if they are from their own clan, or if they need something. Under normal situations, however, bahala ka sa buhay mo. How can it be said, then, that we have a “culture of kapwa (community) and tender loving care?”

Filipinos are among the most racist people in the world and among the most rude to other ethnic groups. Unless of course, you give them money. I wrote the following about the supposed lack of rudeness of Filipinos back in 2012, and nothing I’ve seen in Filipino society since then has made me change my view:

Am I being a crab if I thought that the Philippines as the least rude country in a recent survey is complete and utter bullsh*t? If you think about it, maybe we are very polite and cordial, to foreigners, as long as we can keep milking money from them. Actually, this isn’t even being polite; it’s being called sipsip and switik. Once they run out of money or just stop spending it on us, and especially once they criticize us constructively and give us tips on how to improve, we immediately say that the Joes are stupid and that they should all go home.

How locals treat foreign visitors is not a definitive basis of how rude they are as a people. Watch how they treat each other, and their environment, and you get a much better idea. It’s easy to put up a veneer of kindness and receptiveness because you want to make a good first impression, but after that, bahala ka na sa buhay mo. This is called pakitang taoism, the prevalent philosophy of the pilosopo.

Speaking of treating their environment, one very commendable thing about the Hong Kong protesters is that they clean up after themselves. Surely, they didn’t learn THAT from the Filipina nannies; Filipinos are known to dump crap on their neighbor’s yard, or any empty lot given an opportunity.

The only reason Filipinos suddenly become law-abiding, tolerant, disciplined, and seemingly cleanliness-observant in other countries, like HK, is because they know they can’t get away with it if they do otherwise. Put them back in their own backyard, however, and such decency goes out the window.

Let’s not forget to discuss this whole thing about democracy.

edsa-ii-2Filipinos view the HK protests with great interest because the SAR’s drive for democracy resonates with their own; and yet after almost 30 years of being “democratic”, and “free”, Filipinos have NOTHING to show for it. Being a democracy cannot be considered an accomplishment in itself without at least a consistent track record of results to back it up.

Filipinos were free to elect their leaders, and yet more often than not they chose the most unqualified people to occupy government positions. They put in people who ended up screwing them in one way or another, seemingly because they didn’t evaluate their candidates well enough. They forgot to hold them accountable, which is the bigger point of democracy that Filipinos keep missing. They just go through the motions of the electoral process – doing the same thing every time – and expect results to be different. The Filipinos’ stunted imagination and inability to think themselves out of a cul-de-sac prevents them from imagining leaders other than the mediocre crop who make themselves known and who currently infest our government offices.

Ever wonder why the culture of epal will never truly go away in Filipino society? Because such ka-epalan runs deep into the cultural fabric. As fellow writer Gogs puts it, the Philippines is a nation of KSP (kulang sa pansin, always needing attention). I prefer to call it a comma personality (read: singit nang singit).

Whatever the name for it may be, it only makes Filipinos look more stupid than they actually do now. It is not OK to find a way to put your ethnic group into the picture, and yet what makes it worse in the Filipinos’ case is that they are simply all hot air – without any semblance of collective accomplishment to back their self-importance up.

That is one of the many REAL tragedies of Filipino society. It is composed of a people who are too attention-starved for their own good, however undeserving of it they may be. When they finally do get it, such time in the spotlight only serves to highlight how hollow and shallow they are as a people.

Last I heard, nobody ever earned any respect that way. Maybe the Umbrella Revolution that took place here in the Philippines was that Filipinos donned umbrellas when it rained BRAINS.


Cartoon photo courtesy:

15 Replies to “Filipinos need to stop inserting themselves into Hong Kong’s #UmbrellaRevolution”

  1. “Speaking of treating their environment, one very commendable thing about the Hong Kong protesters is that they clean up after themselves. Surely, they didn’t learn THAT from the Filipina nannies; Filipinos are known dump crap on their neighbor’s yard, or any empty lot given an opportunity.”


    To be fair, in the aftermath of the 1986 ‘EDSA Revolution,’ many of those who flocked to EDSA voluntarily organised themselves into groups to clean up the garbage that was left behind. By the end of the week (28 February 1986) most, if not all, of the trash was cleared away.

    1. I guess the follow-up question then becomes: does that instance you cited refer to a rule, or merely an exception? Is that observance of cleanliness also present under normal conditions?

      I’ve been to HK a few times (you probably have too), and though HK has its unpleasant moments, I can say that under normal conditions their surroundings generally look cleaner than that of a normal day here in the Philippines.

      1. In the context of the time — it was a manifestation of a people’s expectation. Just imagine what we felt at the time: a four day ‘rally’ formed spontaneously after Cardinal Sin exhorted people to flock to EDSA, and suddenly, Marcos the dictator was gone. And this was achieved with less violence than any of Mahatma Gandhi’s rallies to secure independence from the British. Filipinos were giddy with what they’d accomplished. Characteristically, there was an upsurge in community spirit. Filipinos were on top of the world and willing to hunker down as a united society to get on with the dreary task of nation building. The Marcoses no longer dominated local politics, and now we had a chance to get things right.

        Sadly, as the first Aquino administration unfolded, Filipinos quickly began to lose interest and enthusiasm. Especially when the people realised that the new ‘democratic’ government very closely resembled the old political oligarchy. And so ‘ningas cogon’ set in and everyone settled into the old patterns of behaviour.

        What that suggests is this: Filipinos can be willing to work. Even at the daunting task of building a nation. There is no question we have achieved individual success outside the Philippines. But that is because outside the country, conditions exist that allow individuals to thrive if given the opportunity. When the conditions are intolerable, when they impede the opportunity for success and social mobility, Filipinos — and people in general — lose interest in following rules. As a result they either abandoned their circumstances, or they work outside established laws and institutions and become criminal. To-day, we Filipinos have a reputation at for disregarding the rules at home, yet conscientiously following them abroad.

      2. Sakit na kasi ng Pilipino yan. Whenever you get into a conversation, laging merong “Alam mo sa bansa namin” or alam mo sa probinsya namin.” They can’t resist including themselves in every topic under the sun. Kaya nung nagpoprotesta ang mga tagaHongkong at nakita nila ang yellow symbolism, nanggaya kaagad sa Edsa revolution kaagad ang nasa isip ng Fliptards. Kahit sa news, mapapansin mo na pinipilit nina Mike Enriquez at Jessica Soho ang mga tanong kung naging model ang Pinas sa ginagawa ng Hongkong. Philippines is so desperate of getting credits and appreciation, kulang sa pansin ika nga.

  2. Whether an individual Filipino should participate in the Umbrella Revolution should be left up to the individual Filipino. This is a right all legal residents (whether permanent or temporary) of a community which claims to embrace democratic principles should have. I don’t think this is subject to much debate.

    What is debatable is should they participate? I find the author’s reasons for suggesting that Filipinos should not participate unconvincing.

    Author comes across as saying that because of the Filipino]s perceived defects (stupidity, failed democracy, ka-epalan, hollowness) that they should not participate in the umbrella revolution.

    Wouldn’t this be like saying that white people should not have participated in civil rights movements to grant equality to colored people because they are white and have been raised in a culture that was/is racist?

    Also I think participation is worth the gamble, if at the end of it the SAR gains independence (highly unlikely, I know) and the Filipinos there are recognized for their participation by granting all of them permanent residency (again equally unlikely). Hey it’s worth the risk and if their employers allow them to participate then why not? The old high risk-high reward principle.

    More realistically, especially for OFWs who have stayed in Hong Kong, they must feel that they have stakes in HK staying the way it is. Their participation in the umbrella revolution may mean that they want to preserve hong kong as a democratic society and that they see Beijing’s actions represent as one that goes down a slippery slope that could lead to HK becoming less democratic forcing them to God-forbid come home to the Philippines. This motivation would have nothing to do with their status as members of a damaged culture.

  3. EDSA revolution was not a revolution. It was a political “Hakot” demonstrators revolution of the Aquinos, and Feudal Oligarchs and the Feudal Roman Catholic Church. And, some of the political opportunists in the AFP…

    Who profitted from the EDSA?

    Claiming that Filipino “Yayas” are responsible for the good conduct of the Hong Kong demonstrators is RIDICULOUS.

    What China will do with Hong Kong is their own business. Aquino cannot even deal with the Luneta Chinese tourist murders. He cannot even deal with China on the Spartley Islands issues…

    1. Agree with everything you said. Fliptards are so full of themselves that they think the world won’t move without their small contributions.

  4. “First of all, as Hong Kong is part of China; Beijing considers it part of their internal affairs, and Filipinos, being foreigners in HK, should stay out of it. Secondly, any Filipino who gets caught in the crossfire will be a big issue. China doesn’t appear to be hesitant about using force to mow down locals, when push comes to shove, much less foreigners.”


    From an economic standpoint, it would be incredibly shortsighted and altogether stupid for Filipinos in Hong Kong to participate in an action against Beijing in anticipation of some nebulous ‘reward’ that they might maybe receive sometime in an unspecified future. In the first place, the protesters are hardly in a position to confer any kind of ‘reward.’ They are composed of students and workers. Should Beijing acquiesce, the citizens of Hong Kong get to exercise autonomy over their affairs in the manner the protesters interpret the Basic Law. In contrast, Filipinos STILL retain their status as ‘foreign guest workers.’ They will NOT have any status to equal citizens. Whatever the outcome, any Filipinos identified by Hong Kong’s government as participating in the protests could be designated as an undesirable for disrupting public order and expelled. That means lost opportunity, lost remittances and another extended family the Philippines has to worry about feeding.

    In fact, it makes more sense to OFWs for Hong Kong to remain exactly the way it is. With local taipans like Li Ka-shing running things on behalf of Beijing and keeping the city robust and prosperous. That means more opportunities for Filipinos who have limited options at home. The protests, on the other hand, only serve to disrupt business.

  5. right filipinos are most racist on foreigners especially on black people and those who cant speak english well. filipinos dont like to be bullied by other race but hells they bully greater. ang yayabang eh. maxadong mapagmalaki. filipino so proud that they can speak englsh.. well that wont really take them anywhere. magaling nga sa english, poor naman..pooor naman country. ayoko pa na pineperahan mga turista. bakit ganun. mukhang pera ang mga filipino. low level pa rin ang education ng mga filipino.. wala pang maxadong alam. puro kahangalan at pagkamakasarili ang karamihan

  6. It takes good education and good upbringing to discern that epal is in bad taste. Unfortunately, the new pinoys were brought up by big media, went to Iskul Bukol, and epal is now the IN thing to do. Accomplishment and hard work takes a back seat, 15 minutes of fame is all that’s needed.

  7. But no successful Filipino protests against the corruptions, and the incompetence of the Phil. government, despite of all the overwhelming evidence.

  8. Filipino’s do treat each other worse than Westerners treat homeless dogs, it is really something that is quite disturbing. The shabby treatment of each other is schocking to most visitors that see it first-hand.
    To say the Filipino’s elect their own leaders is ludicrous the elections have been rigged since 1948 and now the ‘Smart-o-matic’ machines ony make the problem even more worrisome as Filipino’s are unable to argue with a machine, smart or not !

    As laughable a society as that of the Filipino it is also tragic in the way they treat the islands they live on, you would think that they are just fuckin pigs to live as they do, but they are actually human-beings and the distinction is an important one.Hope for the remaining small, microscopic ,chance that Filipino’s can, collectively, seek the change that is sooo desperately needed but, alas, the odds makers say ‘NAY, not happening.’!

  9. You can look at it from another angle. For example, there was an article that said Singaporean children were spoiled because life’s too good for them. Part of that spoiling was Filipino maids. So I guess you can say, Filipina maids can aid in spoiling brats?

    1. Hiring an au pair to look after your children’s caprices tends to fall into the category of ‘spoiling’ them whether or not you hire a Filipina.

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