Rubbish at the Manila International Airport: Nakakahiya sa mga Kano!


When I posted that photo tweeted by former Bureau of Customs chief Ruffy Biazon of the rubbish mess left by passengers in a lounge at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3, I didn’t realise what a big wave it was going to make. Indeed it was interesting to note how deeply-revolted many Filipinos feel about kalat. It raises the question of why that revulsion cannot seem to be channeled into focused action.

Suffice to say, Metro Manila remains a filthy metropolis. No less than bestselling author Dan Brown described Manila in his book Inferno as akin to the “gates of hell”. The city is pretty much an open sewer and used as a dumping ground by both locals and even by foreign entities.

Nonetheless, that NAIA Terminal 3 photo sparked widespread interest, practically eclipsing during its 2 days of fame those other trumped-up outrage fads currently gripping Filipinos’ collective attention-deficited intellectual faculties — ‘Binay-gate’ and ‘Pemberton-gate’. The irony here, many have observed, seems to be in how Filipinos would, on one hand, be raising a stink about a severely-littered airport terminal lounge while, on the other, elect crooks into their government and then idly watch while they criminalise the entire nation with impunity.

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Most adult Filipinos require explicit instructions on things they should've learned in kindergarten.

Most adult Filipinos require explicit instructions on things they should’ve learned in kindergarten.

One word:


That common Tagalog lament encapsulates a uniquely-Filipino cultural trait when used to respond to an affront to one’s sensibilities. In this case, perhaps it is because of the location and circumstance surrounding the rubbish on exhibit in Biazon’s photo — at an international airport terminal for all the foreign world to see.

Nakakahiya sa mga Kano!

Filipinos, it seems, are driven by hiya. They only take significant offense and, possibly, act when they are humiliated (or are at risk of humiliation) before a foreign audience or, for that matter, people they look up to. It is related to the “Pinoy Pride” thing when a compatriot makes it big in a foreign setting — like that recently-promoted “Filipino” naval officer, or any one of those “international” singing contest winners.

This may explain a long-observed quirk of the Filipino. Many observers have highlighted how Filipinos are exemplary employees or staunchly law-abiding citizens in other countries. But within the Philippines, Filipinos remain (or revert to being, in the case of returning overseas expats) selectively-compliant to even the most basic laws that govern the most basic decencies.

Why are Filipinos good citizens in other countries and bad ones within their own?

Look no further than Filipinos’ general notion of personal cleanliness and hygiene. Most Filipino homes are spotless. But take a walk along the country’s public streets and parks and you will find them anything but. Filipinos spit, throw their trash, and urinate as a matter of routine all over public spaces. Yet these are the same people who will demand that you remove your shoes or sandals before stepping into their abode.

Could it be that Filipinos reserve their highest acts of respect to “foreigners” and only have forced token gestures to offer their own compatriots? The evidence seems to support this rather sad hypothesis on the core nature of what makes Filipinos tick. Perhaps therein lies the solution to the Philippines’ seemingly untenable national psychosis. Until Filipinos learn to respect their own, they will continue to elect criminally-insane senators to “represent” them, vote for inept presidents to “lead” them, and regard their public spaces as their personal toilets.

Then we begin to question the whole point of being a “nation”. If Filipinos are at their best apart and at their worst together, why then should “the Philippines” persist as an independent “country”? We may be better off outsourcing our government to a foreign power.

28 Replies to “Rubbish at the Manila International Airport: Nakakahiya sa mga Kano!

  1. Nakakahiya talaga! What will it take for the Pinoys to clean up their act? Singaporeans went from Zero to Hero in 30 years with Lee KY. We need a real leader to bring this country out of the Dark Ages and into the New World…

  2. When our own government betrays us, and does not values us as citizens by giving us mediocre services, infrastructure, and undeserving leaders, you really can’t blame the general low self-esteem of our people. Why respect each other when our country doesn’t respect us?

    Our politicians, most of them, truly and sickeningly SUCK.

  3. Regarding those closing thoughts, I often wonder whether many Filipinos are (secretly) envious about places like Hawaii, wishing their islands could have been absorbed into the USA. They’d just have a different nationality to be fiercely loyal about. At this point, they should even be seriously considering letting China set them straight.

  4. Its because filipinos have an entitlement attitude. Look what happens when you go to jollibee in Pinas, you have to leave your trash there for people to clean up after yourself. Filipinos feel that in their own home, it is their responsibility to keep it clean, but once you go outside, it is the governments job. Look on facebook at any picture, you will only see them inside some hotel, some building, at their work, at some resort or in the cleanest part of their own house, they will never post a picture of how the cities REALLY are…. complete garbage.

  5. You’re right. Part of the problem is many Filipino’s don’t respect themselves enough, and as a consequence don’t respect their own country. They behave disgracefully when they think they can get away with it, which is most of the time. Then if a foreigner criticizes they get this false pinoy pride and lash out.

    In other countries laws are enforced and they cannot do the same. One of the major problems in the Philippines (especially Manila) is that laws are generally not enforced. The only time they are enforced is when they make publicity about it on TV patrol. For example, jaywalkers were the target about 3 weeks back on TV, but its just a fake propaganda as I even see jaywalkers doing so in front of the police and traffic officers every day as i drive and nobody even blinks. I pointed out a jaywalker to police officer recently that crossed in front of my car and the officer just looked at me as though i was doing something wrong. Wow. So a corrupt, inept and incompetent police force is also to blame as if people cannot do the right thing you need to force them to, that’s how Singapore become a success. The Philippines needs a cultural revolution of sorts across the board.

    1. In other countries, when they live there as foreigners, they are afraid. So they behave, although meron pa ring pasaway. One of the great motivation is fear. The other one is love. We are more fearful, than loving. Lee Kuan Yew know that very well. Singapore, the finest city. They fine here, they fine you there, and they fine you everywhere. Or worse they beat you up: lalatiguhin ka, o papaluin ka ng yantok pagnagloko ka. Dito sa ‘Pinas, satsatan ng satsatan, palusut nang palusot, mag-mula sa taas na pinuno, hanggang sa mambubutasa, hanggagng sa mga driver sa lansangan. Kaya tama ‘yung muslim na rebelde,sabi nya: That’s why I bomb people. Di kasi tayo nag-aral sa Kindergarten, kung nakapag-aral o nakatungtong sa eskwela. Kaya Kwela Kwela o KKK na lang.

    1. the bins would get stolen.

      what are you going to do to poor people? fine them? most people here cant afford values and morality diba? start with birth control. start with taxation. start with institutions that work for citizens. How about functioning ministry’s, like a ministry of family.

      the Philippines is bankrupt on many levels…

      it does not matter what laws the Philippines has as it is a pay as you go service, with people like the president not respecting the supreme court.
      Blah Blah Blah

  6. To me, much of the big “wave” of reactions is that of denial and trolling.

    Why can’t it be focused into action? One part is, we were raised with maids in the house. Ako magkalat, ikaw maglinis!

    Ay, hiya. It’s a bad motivation for doing anything in life. Because all that you’ll be doing to avoid hiya is to cover up, not to solve. Sadly, that’s the cultural trait that even our politicians have taken to the national level.

    1. Yeah, this whole domestic maid dependence has really hampered Filipinos’ sense of responsibility in so many ways. In first world countries, this is a privilege only enjoyed by the elite of the elite. Most of the upper class still do daily chores by themselves. Coupled with attitudes of softness and naivete, the people are like little kids who can’t be bothered to fix problems around them since it doesn’t subscribe to their self-interest list.

  7. Totally agr: “Until Filipinos learn to respect their own, they will continue to elect criminally-insane senators to “represent” them, vote for inept presidents to “lead” them, and regard their public spaces as their personal toilets.”

    Besides very many Filipinos did not go through Kindergarten or nursery/pre-school. We’ll wait for another 20 years to see improvements, after k-12 DepEd program. Kaya 20 years tayong marungis at mabaho.

    Sa ngayon, matami pang ka-babuyan, alam mo na
    yan. Pero puede na tayong mag-umpisa ng pag-lilinis, simula sa sarili, at sa kapaligiran. Pulutin at itapon sa trash can ang basura. Mga ma’am, sirs, titsers, pagsabihin nyo ang mga pupils, tuturan ng mabuting aral, at pingotin ang tenga pag pasaway.

  8. “Why are Filipinos good citizens in other countries and bad ones within their own?”

    Because they can’t get away with their crime there no matter how petty. Here, people will only talk about your crime then Poof! It became Koko Krunch!

  9. It is in the Psyche of Filipinos, who are living in the Philippines; to throw their trash; anywhere , anytime.

    There are no Law Enforcers for Littering, or throwing trash. If there are any; you can just offer some “lagay”, to get off the hook…

  10. The reason is the culture….you remove them from the culture and place them in one which values right and wrong over peoples sensibilities and they have no option but to adapt.

    1. You’re right, albeit backwards. The Philipines has no true culture, any reference to culture being imported from foreigners and then called Filipino. The Filipino has no true culture; they are an uncultured nation.

      This is what you should have said:
      The reason is the culture… You remove them from the uncultured Philippines and place them in a civilized society which DOES have culture, and does value knowing and respecting the difference between right and wrong, and then Filipinos have no option but to adapt.

  11. The philippines is nothing but a nation of sissies and wimps. No self reliant and self respect. Wondering if a drop of Ebola Virus will wake up the country and bring it to its knees or Social Revolution. At least a third of the Population must be annihilated.

    1. I think the situation will be worse than that of West Africa if Ebola does start to spread in the Philippines. Will it wake the country up? It would. Will it make the country get up and do something? Most likely not.

  12. I am a Filipino…until now, I cannot understand the Filipino mindset…

    They behave well, when foreigners are watching them. If they are on their own…everything goes…including urinating and defacating in public places…

  13. Why does the Government place toilet near that area. It seems that people need to release on that spot all the time. Just wondering.

  14. instead of writing these awful things about the Philippines, why don’t you focus your efforts into doing something about the problem. At bakit nakakahiya sa mga Kano? Dapat ay nakakahiya sa ating lahat na mga Pilipino! Come on, start campaigning or writing about getting these filthy places cleaned up instead of ranting and carrying on about them! Have some pride and help solve the problem instead of exposing our country’s ‘dirty laundry’, so to speak, to the entire world.

    1. But grp is already providing solutions. You just don’t see and accept them because you’re a telebasura-minded emo asshurt.

    2. “Instead of writing these awful things about the Philippines, why don’t you focus your efforts into doing something about the problem?”

      He’s been told many times in many variations, and judging by everything that’s been happening here that’s already a worn-out spiel on his part.

      Scathing as the tone is in his articles, I’ve found that the most important thing in the end after reading them is to think for yourself. From my own thinking, the solutions for this one are quite obvious already and having to write about them will only prove to be superfluous.

      He’s no God, so anything he writes on an issue shouldn’t be regarded as absolute truths or lies immediately. Rather, just focus on the issue at hand and the salient points that he raises and, most importantly, get yourself passed the emotional barriers. Don’t focus on the tone but rather on the well-intentioned message, and from there you can start thinking.

    3. What a stupid, uneducated, irrational and illogical comment! You said “instead of writing these awful things about the Philippines, why don’t you focus your efforts into doing something about the problem”, but publicizing the problem IS doing something about it, it’s the first step. You are attacking the person instead of the issue (known as the logic fallacy of Argumentum ad Hominum.) said “….start campaigning or writing about getting these filthy places cleaned up instead of ranting and carrying on about them!”
      So you’re saying instead of writing this complaint about the problem, he should stop and write a complaint about the problem. Don’t you have any idea how stupid that sounds?

      Then, with full arrogance you retort “Have some pride and help solve the problem instead of exposing our country’s ‘dirty laundry’, so to speak, to the entire world.” You’re one to ralk about pride! You’re too prideful to help change Filipino’s prideful attitude that makes them think they’re entitled to have someone else do the dirty work- but you’re now exhibiting that same falacious Pinoy pride, aren’t you?
      And don’t blame the author for airing your country’s dirty laundry, because you and other entitlement-minded Filipinos like you already did that by turning the country into a smelly pigsty!
      When it comes to the Philippines being a smelly pigsty, YOU are either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem. I perceive you as part of the problem due to your misplaced pride, onion skin, and falacious butt-hurt response, all typical of Filipinos unable to accept any criticism whatsoever, and unable to think logically. You argue like a snotty-nosed fifth grader.


      The Philippines is a _wonderful_ place, but it’s being ruined by corrupt politicians and bankers; ‘greed and entitlement’ mentality; xenophobia; and arrogant, irrational onion skins like you who refuse to learn anything from other people.

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