It is time Filipinos learn to understand what it means to be truly MINDFUL

Your stuck with it so you might as well defend it. That’s the sort of loser attitude that’s at work in a lot of the apologism we see nowadays. I’m fat. Deal with it. I’m poor. Deal with it. I’m a Catholic. Deal with it. I can’t speak English. Deal with it. I voted for BS Aquino. Deal with it. We’re dealing with it alright. It’s called Human Nature. Once a belief or a group affiliation has been ingrained in our psyches, we defend it to the death.

Only a special breed of people possessing a rare level of self-awareness can see past the quaint cognitive constructs that imprison their minds. And even those ones will have undergone a hell of a journey to get to that level of thinking ability. Indeed, the latest trending buzzword we see a lot of today is “mindfulness”. The term gets bandied around quite a lot nowadays, but I doubt many people really understand what being really mindful entails.

mindfulnessA truly mindful person possesses the ability to step outside of themselves and see the world as it really is, unencumbered by the biases they normally see it through. Some people call that having the right perspective. When we are able to frame an issue from the proper perspective we stand a better chance of thinking things through a lot more clearly. It takes a lot of smarts to do that — because emotions, impulses, instincts, and reflexes are very powerful motivators that higher thinking constantly battles (and often loses to).

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Imagine yourself walking on a foot-wide girder at the 100th story of a building under construction. You’d probably be paralysed with fear seeing the fall beneath you. But our ability to effortlessly skip across a floor while keeping within a foot-wide row of tiles proves that there really is very little to fear about walking across that 100-story-high girder. That is, of course, an extreme case. But there are many other more moderate examples in our day-to-day lives that illustrate the way our intellectual faculties are held hostage by irrational ideas.

Within the Philippine setting, alone, excellent examples abound of how an entire society can be imprisoned by old, flawed, but sticky ideas. Government “peace” negitiators, for instance, who have been schmoozing for years with the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are now feared to be suffering from a bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome. They are now seen to be negotiating on behalf of the MILF rather than from the side of the Filipino people who employ them. Desperate groups and movements that were legacies of the days when “people power” and its Yellow-branded ideology “inspired” nationalistic fervour in “reform”-minded Filipinos continue to hang on to the tired old songs and slogans despite an avalanche of evidence that that era has come to an end thanks to an abject failure of the Second Aquino Administration to live up to the lofty ideals it espoused.

The path to enlightenment has become an easy hop out from inside the little square that frames typical Pinoy thinking. It is as easy as snapping out of the delusion that things will be “ok” just because old relics of 1980s thinking remain in power. Yet people continue to be afraid of what, to them, is the big unknown that lies outside that little square that imprisons the popular sentiment in Filipino society.

What happens when we abandon the dysfunctional “peace deal” our government has supposedly “worked hard” negotiating with terrorists to cobble together? What happens when we simply all turn our backs on a president who has evidently failed to step up to world-class standards of what it means to be a true leader?

Filipinos are afraid to consider alternatives?

And that is why the Philippines will never change. It will never be a different but bettter nation because Filipinos would rather do the same things over and over again.

Filipinos fail to see the stupidity of remaining in bed with terrorists despite losing 44 good men to their treachery. Filipinos fail to see the idiocy of continuing to apologise for an administration that counts only evading accountability as its governance skill. Filipinos fail to appreciate the moronism of continuing to vote for people who promise everything then go on to deliver nothing for years.

The solutions are obvious.

It was not colonialism nor authoritarianism that enslaved Filipinos. No. It was their own adolescent emotionalism that turned Filipinos into slaves. An entire society that dances to the same silly tune for decades can’t ever be seen to be a promising one.

Perhaps one thing Filipinos can do differently this time is to allow modern thinking to prevail over emotionalism for a change — by being more mindful and less sheep-like.

22 Replies to “It is time Filipinos learn to understand what it means to be truly MINDFUL”

  1. Powerful words…. I only wish I could write as eloquently as you do …I seriously mean that . As a longtime “Outsider looking in” who has been traveling to the Philippines for 14 plus years , and who has lived there for 6 months at a time, I wonder sometimes if your comments fall on ears whose opinions and comments, IE Filipino’s living outside the Philippines and foreign Expats living in the Philippines , who will never change anything in the Philippines . How many people inside the Philippines have read your editorials? Is there a forum for your articles to actually be printed and read inside the Philippines outside of the Internet? Do you think the “average” Filipino, whose everyday existence revolves around self preservation and feeding themselves and their family, feels that anything will ever change ? One thing that I take away from your articles is that they are brutally honest …I imagine that many Filipino’s must feel a sense of “Hiya” when they read your comments, just as I do when I read about how the Americans treated the Filipinos during the Philippine American War, or , as I read today , the details surrounding the Mahmudiyah killings and rape by American soldiers.
    One thing is certain, something has to change , or the Philippines will continue to spiral down till it reaches another boiling point and explodes….

    1. Thanks! Some societies reach their boiling points rapidly and explode spectacularly. I think in the case of the Philippines, it’s more of a benign evaporation under a slow simmer that is happening. Before long, we will just be left with a dried out kettle which, if left on the stove, will, itself, suffer a slow meltdown.

      Filipinos are no longer the sort of people (if they ever were) who demand justice and expect to get it. Media has softened their minds with a steady dripfeed of toxic teleseryes and several decades of lovey-dovey yellow ‘people power’ rhetoric has turned them into hopeless political romantics. You can see it in the way they continue to cling onto a document that articulates the terms of a bizarrely bald negotiation with terrorists undertaken by a democratic state despite the savage massacre of 44 of their finest police officers.

      1. What hurts is that Japan was once poorer than the Philippines. They too were once headed into a downward spiral but, suddenly (like the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), they started spiraling upwards and became one of the greatest nations in Asia. I can only pray that we can become like them someday.

        1. how can the philippines ever be like japan? japan did not simply start spiralling upwards out of nowhere. this spiralling upwards is due to their strong nation identity and post-war foreign investors. a prideful nation with a strong unifying national identity is exactly what the philippines will never be. the unity of all 700 islands is false. it was foisted upon them by the spaniards. the philippines may claim to be proud filipinos but what is a filipino? it is a spanish (king philip ii) creation. a spanish identity. the philippines is no place for foreigners to invest. japanese society is strict and orderly and you will be shamed into submission or suicide. that is far from how it is in the philippines. the philippines will never be like japan.

  2. Benign0,
    Although I am not an expert when it comes to Philippine TV series, I do agree with you what you vented in this blog/article.

    I also try to read between the lines in all articles you write. But sometimes I think I fail in doing that successfully.

    Now and then you suggest the Philippines people to vote for a different candidate (who is running for president). But I wonder, do the people have a real choice to vote differently? Arent they all having the same agenda?

    I very much agree with this line: “An entire society that dances to the same silly tune for decades can’t ever be seen to be a promising one.” => arent they too afraid for change? Thinking outside the box is really an alien concept for Filipinos, I guess.

    1. Yeah they don’t have a choice. There’s only a handful to choose from. But then step back further and ask this question:

      Why have Filipinos been left with so few choices?

      I believe the real confronting discussion will ensue from that.

      ALL roads lead back to the way Filipinos tolerate mediocrity in every thread that weaves the fabric of their society.

      1. Often, my fingers are itching to take up that job (I know, I dont qualify) even thinking to know what the country needs. But probably I will make all the beginners mistakes of a too eager president.

        In the ducth language we have proverb/saying that goes like this:
        Als een olifant door de porseleinkast gaan. (Translation: act like a bull in a china shop)

        Sometimes, I think acting like such a bull is needed but I cant oversee the long term future of such a bahvior.

        Anyway, like you already stated, a change is needed. The sooner the better.

        1. One problem is that many filipinos have never been outside of the Philippines. They do not know what a well functioning country is like. They have nothing to compare and contrast their own experiences with.

          As a result, they are satisfied with minimal progress. Dysfunction is the norm. If they can get a sack of rice and a thousand pesos from a politician buying their vote, they are happy. At least they are getting something instead of empty promises or meaningless slogans like “good governance.”

        2. Sea Bee,
          one doesnt need to have been outside the country to get a picture of what is “normal” and what is “right”. Just use the internet. I am quite sure that not only a handfull of Filipinos have access to the internet.

          Although your comment can still be correct and accurate (many not ever being outside the Philippines) but its unacceptable to use that as a valid argument to not change one’s mindset.

          “As a result, they are satisfied with minimal progress.”
          I personally fail to see even the minimal progress that you mention so eloquently.

        3. One problem is that many filipinos have never been outside of the Philippines. They do not know what a well functioning country is like. They have nothing to compare and contrast their own experiences with.
          I don’t think that’s accurate. That view may hold water in the ’50s or ’60s but it simply is not true right now. More than ever, more Filipinos have traveled in other countries either through business or simply by just pleasure. And if exposure is really the key, being “outside” is no longer relevant for modern technology, that is, computers, internet, telecommunications, social media, etc. have practically brought knowledge and information right in our doorsteps. No need to travel to get first hand experience of how people live in other countries. You can get the information right in your own living room.

  3. a better word that comes to mind is metanoia, which means going beyond one’s mind to something unthought, unheard, unspoken, unarticulated – up until now. something like a mirror held up to our society so that it could see itself for what it is, so as to set our sights on something higher, nobler.

  4. Filipinos seem to cling to their old thoughts, belief, habits, etc…they refuse to think in a progressive way. They are afraid of change…This is the weakness of most Filipinos. They commit the same mistakes, over and over, again, expecting different results, everytime. So, they vote the same crooks, expecting that he/she will reform; once he/she is re-elected…they swallow the same political promises, slogans, etc…from the same political crook…I cannot think, of a way to change their mindsets…

  5. To get Filipinos to change their mindset is nigh-impossible. They’re more likely to defend their outdated ideals to the death if need arises.

    The best thing you can do is reach out to the younger crowd and let them explore the infinite possibilities of the world via the internet and learn the value of being able to stand on your own.

    Part of the reason why the Filipinos are following outdated mindsets are because they are unwilling to become “the outsider” as they know that it will get them ostracized.

  6. Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.

    Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.

  7. “I cannot think, of a way to change their mindsets…..”
    “To get Filipinos to change their mindset…..”
    But is the mindset the problem? That’s the question.

    I don’t think changing the mindset will do the trick. Such logic reminds me of a saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s just insane.

    The mindset is the result. Changing it will make no difference for what really matter is the process that brought about the mindset. The system that consistently support the mindset. You change the process or system, you change the mindset.

    Will that be easy? Nope. It’s hard that is why people tend to look for easy fix, like changing mindset, hoping it will solve the problem. Is the solution nowhere to be found? Nope. The idea as solution has always been there and have been expressed or articulated by a lot of people, here even, but sad to say the movers and shakers in our society are not in the same page with them. Why? Because they like the prevailing mindset.

    It’s an effective scarecrow.

  8. It’s too hard for the average Filipino to look outside the box because it’s pretty scary to do so. Having a major paradigm shift throws one out of balance, and in the tightrope most of us that have to go through called ‘life’ most of us don’t have the luxury to afford any balance lost. We’re afraid, very afraid, of whatever alternatives are out there simply because we’re too mired in our own hangups.
    Everybody’s inside his or her own box, and let’s imagine that box is a big refrigerator box. The opening towers over you, and all you can see is a narrow, sometimes skewed ideal of the world outside that we’ll never get to touch, feel, or even experience for ourselves. It scares us, and meanwhile we’re too caught up with our own lives inside our boxes. One screw-up, we die in that box. Taking risks and poking our heads outside that box only to get hit in the head with a rock or something is simply out of the question (am I making sense so far? Hah).
    Not that being stuck in that box out of our own fears is an excuse to let ourselves be stuck there forever. Just like what benign0 over here said, we’re a bunch of “adolescent emotionalists”. Basically, our society is a bunch of kids who can’t think of climbing out of the box because we’re too caught up with what we’re feeling inside the box. Unfortunately, that feeling SUCKS.

    Wow, I just made a box parable of sorts… that’s weird.

    1. You can see it in the national ‘debate’ today. It is not much different to what a keen observer noted 15 years ago, how it is “droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant”.

      That was 15 years ago. Fast forward to today and you see Filipinos equipped with cutting edge social media technology. Yet despite all that hardware and software, the substance of the content being streamed through these remains as moronic as it was back in the days when the words “viral” and “meme” meant someting only to people who read Richard Dawkins’s books.

      New technology same idiots using them. That’s essentially what sums up the Philippines’ “national debate”.

  9. The Philippines is a lost cause. Migration is the only way out. Lots of people know this and is leaving by the bucket loads.

  10. The way of this thinking of Filipinos is already ingrained in their DNA…you can see the idiocy of some bloggers.

    Reaching the next generation, can make sense. The present and old generation are blinded the the stupid EDSA “revolution” and the brainwashings of the Aquinos and other crooked politicians….some defenders of this present political system are gainfully employed by the government and are beholden to the Aquinos…

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