After reading the Lord of the Rings and watching the film adaptations, one of the clearest messages of the franchise is how absolute power corrupts absolutely. While Smeagol, the halfling that would one day become the ghoulish creature known as Gollum, started off as an unpleasant but not inherently evil being, the One Ring and the power it offered him changed him into the pale bestial horror the fandom knows him as. Now that I have time to look at the story in retrospect, the One Ring, if you take away its supernatural natural, seems all too mundane but nonetheless very dangerous.
I know that a lot of people might not appreciate this observation, but I can often compare the typical, apathetic and air-headed Pinoy to Smeagol. Being an island people, our means of travel is often limited and most of what we know about the world beyond our country or even beyond just our island comes from second-hand information or news media (with most of the local ones being largely biased). Like the hobbits of Middle-Earth, we Filipinos often live apart from the rest of the world and are rarely ever involved in matters at large. While this does ensure that we are usually safe from the dangers that threaten other nations, this will not protect us from all dangers like terrorism, natural disasters and the ever-present threat of conflict should it ever come to that.
Unlike the hobbits of Middle-Earth however, who take the time to record and study their history and, while they disdain technology, still appreciate the knowledge that is used to come up with them, many Filipinos disdain knowledge and favor ignorance. This actually makes us more similar to the halflings of the Warhammer world rather than that of those from Middle-Earth but that’s going beyond the point here. Now, with ignorant masses with little in the way of common sense, imagine what will happen when you offer them a little power…
In this article here by rsurtida, it shows just how some Filipinos are all too eager to abuse what even little power that they have available to them. In this case even your garden-variety PUV driver is more than willing to flaunt what power he has to his passengers as if trying to imply to them that they either have to work with him or else. In any other country, a PUV driver takes care to watch out for his passengers as any damage to them can be used against him.
Majority of Filipinos have a misplaced sense of pride and I doubt anyone can readily contest that. There is the right kind of pride that lends itself to a sense of responsibility which, unfortunately, many Filipinos seem to lack. Instead, Pinoys resort to a pride that has more to do with entitlement instead of responsibility, holding what powers they have over others like a loaded gun.
Here is a short demonstration of how power should work:
Ambulance Driver: “So you’re in the next city over? Okay, I’m heading there right now!”
Caller: “Please hurry, my grandfather just had a heart attack!”
Ambulance Driver: “Don’t worry, I’ll be there as soon as I can!”
Caller: “I’m sorry if this is inconvenient, but we really need your help.”
Ambulance Driver: “Hey, I’m an ambulance driver, it’s my responsibility to get help to people no matter how far they are!”
Unfortunately in the Philippines, this happens instead:
Ambulance Driver: “But that’s in the next city over, that’s a bit far…”
Caller: “My grandfather just had a heart attack and you’re the closest hospital there is.”
Ambulance Driver: “Look, we’re running a tight schedule here so don’t expect us to make any exceptions for you!” (even if he’s not really doing anything)
Caller: “Alright, I’ll pay you extra for gas.”
Ambulance Driver: “Okay, it’s good you understand that our services don’t come cheap. We’re on our way.”
With that in mind you realize just what kind of mindset Filipinos have. In the Philippines, positions of power and authority are not considered a responsibility like they do in more developed countries, here it is essentially a weapon to be brandished and used against others. I have been taught by my grandfather to respect firearms as they are very lethal and that people don’t really need to know that you have them unless they break into your home or hurt your loved ones. However, I have also encountered numerous people who also have similar access to firearms who do nothing but boast about their weapons, their alleged “proficiency” with them and feel free to look down on other people who do not own them.
Looking back on the cartoons I’ve watched, I once remembered an episode of Conan the Adventurer where Dregs, the chief but often incompetent minion of the main guy was granted power to rule over the serpent man army in the absence of his master. Instead of keeping things in order, Dregs ruined his master’s empire spectacularly and it was only through an accident on the part of the heroes that Dregs was able to retain some of the empire’s power when his master returned. Most Pinoys are all too similar to Dregs who’s all too eager to try out their new powers and flaunt their new found wealth or power to other people. Unfortunately, while more progressive people can probably avoid being becoming beholden to such displays of wealth and power, Pinoys are all too eager to bow down and submit to people who are rich, powerful and, most of all, famous. It doesn’t matter whether the said person is immoral, cruel or possibly insane as long as they’re powerful and famous, you can bet that a large number of Filipinos will even see them as gods.
So yeah, Spider-Man would probably vomit if he suddenly found himself in the Philippines. Power should come with a sense of responsibility, a knowledge that it is your duty to use whatever power you have with discipline and self-control, not something to be used to control and abuse others. With our current leaders and authority figures shouting “Do you know who I am?” and saying “What’s in it for me?”, then I think it would be best if we just relinquish our positions of power to institutions that would have a better understanding of them.
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