3 ways a lack of ethical citizenship serves as a serious roadblock to Philippine progress

The trouble with Filipinos is that they don’t see any meaning in their lives that is bigger than themselves. At best there is, like most warm-blooded mammals with bulges in their heads wider than their brainstems, that instinctive altruism for his own immediate family. But even that one is often brought to question on account of the hundreds of thousands of Filipino children being left to beg on streets and, worse, pimped out to both local and foreign perverts over the Internet.

Perhaps it could be due to their upbringing under the teachings of the Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church. Filipino-style Catholicism promises everything in death and not much else in life. As such, it encourages the sort of inward thinking tunnel-visioned approached to living Filipinos have become renowned for and which thay have carried over wholesale into their civic lives (or lack of it).

Whatever the cause of this national condition, it is a profound challenge that could thwart any efforts to lay a stable foundation for sustained prosperity over the long term.

New York City's Union Square: The idea of shared public space is alien to the Filipino mind.
New York City’s Union Square: The idea of shared public space is alien to the Filipino mind.
The idea of “citizenship” seems to be an ill-understood notion amongst Filipinos. It could be because the Philippines, to this day, continues to struggle with its sense of identity. Part of the issue underlying this struggle could be a crisis of meaning, specifically what “being Filipino” really means at a basic level. Filipinos will never be able to see themselves as being part of something bigger (such as their own country) unless that bigger thing they aspire to be part of can give meaning to that belonging. In short, there will be no “belonging” to a country if said country is not in a position to make that belonging meaningful.

That’s quite a disturbing thought. If Filipinos already monumentally struggle to be true citizens of the Philippines, then they are far removed from a level of nationalism that sets apart true modern nations from primitive ones: ethical citizenship.

Being an ethical citizen goes beyond paying taxes, following traffic rules, and not pissing on public walls and sidewalks (stuff Filipinos already fail at). Being an ethical citizen means being an active participant in nation building. What does it mean to be an active participant in nation building? Let me count the ways…

(1) Apply yourself intelligently to the political process.

At the moment, Filipinos are mere spectators. Worse, they behave like a dumb herd of sheep — easily prodded from one goal to another depending on the popular agenda. This is ironic considering the idea that power in a “democracy” lies “in the people” had been drummed into their pointed heads for decades since the Philippines was granted independence by the United States in 1946.

The current landscape of the political “debate”, however, paints a bleak picture. Political parties in the Philippines today don’t stand for any sort of philosophy or ideology. They are mere election winning machines. The top opinion-shapers amongst the Philippines’ “intelligentsia” consistently fail to step up to the challenge of elevating the level of discourse, preferring instead to be a part of the low-brow gossip mongering on a who’s-who of characters in the various media circuses that entertain the masses.

Filipinos need to take away politicians’ power to routinely insult their meagre intelligences by learning how to apply a more critical mind to the truly important issues at stake in their politics. When that will happen is anybody’s guess. At the moment, there no sense in holding one’s breath here.

(2) Be mindful of public spaces.

At the moment, public space is being claimed by for-profit private enterprise. Much of what makes life miserable in Metro Manila, the Philippines’ premiere megalopolis is due to the appalling neglect public facilities have suffered in the hands of Filipino management. What passes off as “public space” in the Philippines is now associated with shopping malls where visitors are bombarded with seductive messages to spend and consume.

As truly public spaces in the Philippines disappear, so too will an ethic of civic duty to one another. It is only in truly public space that a culture of sharing and courtesy can flourish. The shameful behaviour of Filipino motorists on the country’s roads is a testament to the steep slide into degeneracy of that culture. In its place will fester a sub-culture of bad manners, irresponsibility, and even violence. Already, Filipinos are renowned for inconsiderate anti-social behaviour such as littering, talking loudly, fiddling with their phones while walking, and spitting and urinating on streets. They see no problem with consistently shoddy workmanship delivered by their public servants and their contractors in the development and maintenance of public facilities. And, most disturbing of all, crime is on a rampage — often perpetrated by those to which law enforcement was entrusted: the Philippines’ ill-paid police officers.

(3) Uphold an ethic of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

The Philippines will never be a great nation and Filipinos will never be a respectable lot unless initiative to succeed comes from within. Quite the opposite is in effect today. Remittances sent by the Philippines’ enormous army of Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) prop up the national economy. Add to that the way Filipinos, as part of tradition, stare to the heavens with gaping mouths waiting for foreign investment to rescue them from their chronic unemployment.

There is nothing more pathetic than a substance addict. And Filipinos are addicted to resources that they have very little control over. Because Filipinos lack sufficient domestic capability to develop the needed technologies, industrial might, and technical knowledge to sustain their enormous population, they are forever imprisoned in a cycle of dependence on foreign stimuli and are hopelessly vulnerable to external forces.

Until Filipinos (a) learn to develop the means to live and (2) live within those means, they will remain amongst the world’s most impoverished people, in ALL aspects; social, financial, and intellectual.

* * *

Indeed, a truly swtiched-on people will focus their energies on being intelligent, mindful, and independent. That’s not rocket science. Any parent already knows that — at least those who are raising their kids right. Perhaps that is where the problem lies. Are Filipino parents raising their kids to be ethical citizens? Sadly, the answer to that question remains debatable.

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13 Comments on “3 ways a lack of ethical citizenship serves as a serious roadblock to Philippine progress”

  1. Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part…and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.

  2. I was reading a book this morning about corruption, which discussed the idea that nepotism, and support for one’s genetic kin, is actually the normal human condition.

    It occurred to me that perhaps large families underlie the lack of civic pride. Say every family contains five people. A middle-aged person will therefore have a partner and five kids, five siblings, two parents each of whom also have five siblings (aunts/uncles); each of the aunts/uncles will ALSO have equivalent families (your cousins) who will no doubt also have kids. That makes … um, a lot of people. If you all live in the same village, you could easily spend most of your life interacting with nobody but family, giving you the impression that the world at large is of little importance.

    If each family has only TWO kids, the circle of immediate family reduces to a much smaller number, and one spends more time “out in the world”, dealing with friends, acquaintances and colleagues with no genetic relationship to you, but who are nevertheless an important part of your life (and you in theirs). Your worldview becomes profoundly different.

    In other words, it’s all the fault of the Catholic Church and their retarded ideas about population control. Again.

  3. although I partially agree what the author stated, having ofw remittance ain’t a bad thing. We should treat this as an export since instead of exporting manufactured goods we are providing services. Ofws remittances provide approx 10% of philippine economy wherein they happen to be the same amount % in population.

    We shouldn’t also be relying on foreign investment since unemployment in the Philippines is a choice. If you look at our official gov stat in dole bles 2014, even you put an additional 100m jobs within this second, philippines will still have a high unemployment rate. This is due to the almost 50% the unemployed refuse to look for a job. This is without touching qualification/competitiveness or course and job compatibility. If you look even further that stat, 90%+ of these unemployed are not even in poverty. Unemployment in the philippines is not a product of poverty nor lack of jobs but a product of laziness.

  4. all good points, and there are no solutions. Sure,naming the problem presents possible solutions but inthe case of the Philippines….not so much !

    Development of manufacturing facilities and paying decent wages to its workers?
    S.E.Asia seems to be the latest source of the never ending search for low-paid slaves. AFREEKA is next and after that, who knows? Mars?
    The Philippines is forever fucked and if ever, oh ever,a countries population has no future…it is surely the FAIL-IPPINES.

    NO FUTURE NO FUTURE NO FUTURE FOR YOU !

  5. Filipinos have no initiative and drive to better their situations. We look to Politicians, as our “Hope”, to solve our problems. And these Politicians “acts”, as if they can solve the country’s problems.

    This is the reason we have:actors, Show Biz personalities, scammers, swindlers, etc…in our political leadership.

    Jose Rizal, a century ago; defended us in an Essay about: “The Indolence of the Filipinos”…Are we really an “Indolent People”? The Spanish Colonizers observed us, as “Indolent People”…not only “indolent people”; but “stupid people”…

  6. Where did you get the shot of 14th Street in NYC? The picture is definitely ‘UNINON SQ.’ but I looked at the google maps available of the place and ya did not get it there!

    N e way, there is a ‘Bestbuy’ on the S.E. corner of 14th St. & Broadway which would be in the lower right hand corner of the picture but it has been cut out.

    NYC, yes, NYC…Capital of the World! but ,disturbing to note that during the New Years Eve celebration on Dec 31,2013/January 1.2014, as the clock struck midnight! the image displayed on the ‘Jumbo-tron’ in TIMES SQUARE was of a Chines Bank !!!

    This post has nothing to do with the article, just an observation that NYC….is the BESTEST !!!!

    as for the article,NOW HEAR THIS: Get out of the Philippines….NOW !!!!!You will have NO FUTURE if you stay in the Philippines.

    1. Of all the astute observation and description about Filipino’s, you gerry only noticed the backdrop, wow !!!!! you just made us pinoy’s look reallllllllly bad !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. @ RFL, No I did not, it was mentioned in the comment that the said comment had nothing to do with the articel…NOTHING !

        I have walked thru that square 400 times, and it is a really cool place ! The Cops are surrounding it today, as I type this, due to protests about the killing of the guy selling loose cigarrettes being killed by the NYPD !

        It is a bad situation too !

        as for making Filipino’s look bad: Don’t give me the credit ! Filipino’s do a good enough job of that all on there own.

  7. Filipinos are a very selfish and egotistical people. You see it in the lack of respect they show one another. Where is our vaunted community spirit? Is it in Bayanihan?–No, its kanya-kanya most of the time. And yet in spite of this kanya-kanya attitude, there exists a sense of entitlement whereby people are conditioned to expect freebies from government or from the better off. This is abusrd as we are not a socialist state! And if by any chance we turn into a socialist state, it will be tragedy-of-the-commons galore!, judging from the state of our public spaces.

    1. @ Dick, Socialism would be better than the ‘CRONY-CAPITALISM’ the exists in the Philippines today. Much better. A normal reality based ‘Capitalism’ would be great, but the country is sooo corrupted that there is literally no chance of it happening.

      1. Those wanting socialism in the Philippines are doing for selfish reasons. If you pattern it after communist government with capitalist economy,, you are merely replace the current government with another set of even more corrupt people. Not only that, people lose their multitudes of freedom including your freedom to vote and your opinion just like in this blog. Communist/socialist takeover is just a power grab replacing the current set of governing people with another set with less freedom..

        If you want a socialist take over without a capitalist market, you end up with even a more corrupt society with joma Sison being the only fat guy like Kim Jong un with no freedom.

        Corruption exist in all countries. In a country with lots freedom like ours, it comes down to each persons productivity, improvement. Our society’s current richest were just poor couples of decades ago just like millions of middle class who have uplifted their from poor a decade or so ago. The problem with the poor who keeps whining is they expect the government to give them free handouts and blame everyone but themselves of their plight

        If you look at the corruption index, China, Vietnam are rated more corrupt than the Philippines. The only nation higher than us in corruption index in asean are Singapore and Malaysia.

  8. The United Nations is threatening us that we will lose our membership if we do not stop the political corruption within 5 years. Yey! How is that? We need an outside agency to chastise our own leaders. VERY EMBARASSING INDEED! We are the most corrupt democratic country in the whole wide world. Maybe, this will be a wake up call to every politician and every voter to effect some changes in the political landscape.

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