The Philippines: A Nation Of Misguided Morals

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

~Edmund Burke

The above quote implies that evil prevails when good people fail to take action. In all my years, I have noticed that many Filipinos don’t only condition themselves to not act against evil but to also not care about it when it’s staring at them in the face. To this day, I fail to understand just what kind of mindset Filipinos have and why they continue to be oblivious to the bitter reality that now saturates our country. As I have said many times over, many of our fellow Filipinos behave like children playing in a perilous forest oblivious to the wolves, bears and snakes as if not believing in them will make them stop existing.

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moral_compassHowever, while the apathy of the Filipino people is certainly alarming, I would also like to consider just what is it that brought us to this point? How can a once proud and honorable people, once lauded as one of the most progressive nations of Southeast Asia become the laughing stock that it is today? Well, the answers are far from comforting…

First Question: What is evil to begin with?

So how do you define evil? What, for you, is bad and what is good?

For religious people, being good is about following the standards put forth by God, Allah, Brahma or any other deity. For us Abrahamics (Jews, Christians and Muslims), there are the Ten Commandments. For the Buddhists, there is the Eightfold Path. Just about every religion has its own code of good and evil.

As for atheists, there is the idea of Humanism. That is being humane to your fellow man. While relatively recent compared to Old World Religions, Humanism definitely has a point to make in our world today especially with fundamentalism and extremism on the rise.

The Philippines is home to both religious people, non-religious people and everyone else in between. But then again, do a lot of them know the difference between good and evil and are they willing to take a stand in such matters. The answer, apparently, is no. Why? Because the media has essentially corrupted the idea of what is good and what is evil.

Here’s how:

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, a lot of Filipinos don’t like having their fun ruined. That’s why policemen, even the good ones who are just trying to maintain law and order in their respective communities, are used to scare children. For many Filipinos: discipline=strict rules=evil. That is why it has become quite popular to demonize the Marcos administration and whatever projects he put together for the country.

Here’s a trivia. If you know about all the atrocities the Japanese Imperial Army committed against the people of Far East Asia, it was all because of lack of discipline among their ranks. The officers of the army were not willing to discipline their forces, which resulted in the rape and slaughter of so many women in Nanjing, China as well as the Philippines. Since their emperor gave the order of rape all, kill all and burn all, the soldiers decided that they had everything to themselves and that anything went. Now, compare that to the many “People Power” revolutions we’ve been having over the years.

What matters to most Filipinos isn’t what you’re doing but how they figure in what you’re doing. Are you stealing funds from the community? I won’t say anything unless you steal from me. Are you sharing the funds you’ve stolen with me? Even better!

This isn’t the only that’s wrong with the morals of the Filipino people. The other, of course, is how they misinterpret the idea of “good”. I’m sure that everyone admires the poor but hardworking type of person. Unfortunately, through the use of the media, many of our less informed countrymen are duped into thinking that the poor are always good. The media seems to openly demonize the rich and the intellectuals and depict anyone criticizing the poor and their activities as “evil” even if what many poor people in real life are doing (i.e. drinking, gambling or committing incest) can be considered “evil” in and of themselves.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that in more progressive shows like in Filipino indie films, the occasional thought-out TV show and most foreign media, there is often a grayness in protagonists, no matter who they are. Of course, this is a mere reflection of real life. Remember that even the greatest of heroes are guilty of one sin or another. For instance Oskar Schindler was a rampant womanizer and George Washington was still a slave owner. But even this concept flies way over the head of most Filipinos. Also of note is that not all conflicts are pure black and white or a good vs. evil. Settings like Warhammer 40,000 or in realistic shows like The Pacific depict heroes who are, at best extremists guided by their ideals or, at worst, are cold-blooded killers killing only for the sake of pleasure.

The bottom line is that anyone who is being criticized or persecuted by the rich are almost automatically labeled as “evil” even when they might actually have a point. Doubly so for intellectuals who are depicted as ignorant to the plight of the poor or utterly emotionless. If this is how we classify the difference between good and evil in the Philippines, is it any real surprise that terrorists are allowed to run free and are even considered allies by our government?

Second Question: What do we do now?

Taking action is important if you want to put a decisive end to evil and corruption. Unfortunately, this kind of work can get really messy and, when not taken seriously, can have serious consequences.

In our society alone, it’s probably tough to find anyone with any strong opinions and a well thought-out reason for it.

Take for instance how our brand of democracy actually works. Instead of choosing a leader who will guide us to progress and prosperity, we only choose people who will shoulder the burden of leadership alone. That’s right, what we actually want is someone who will do everything for us instead of someone who will tell us the correct thing to do.

One of the egregious examples I can point to are the countless irresponsible people who throw their garbage all over the countryside or the cityscape and then, when it floods, blames the government for all their troubles. None of them bother to consider disposing of their garbage properly and that, were they to do so, the floods would at least be mitigated and the damage done would be minimized.

Third Question: What are YOU going to do about it?

I think I’ll leave the answer to our readers on this one…

25 Replies to “The Philippines: A Nation Of Misguided Morals”

  1. In the Nazi Germany, Death Camps were all over Germany. People were being killed and burned everyday. The Stench of rotting corpses were prevalent ; stinking their noses about ten (10) km. in its surrounding areas. Yet the German people, did not do anything. They were blind to what was happening.

    Hitler became a Dictator. His Nazi party was in full power. He was sending his people to die in the Eastern and Western fronts. Any opposition was “nasagasaan”. Josef Goebbels, the Minister of Nazi Propaganda, had done his job efficiently, in Brainwashing the German people.

    Aquinos’ EDSA has done the same to Filipinos…

    1. No, the Germans did something when things got so bad (a bit too late though, but still). They started to defect and sabotage Hitlers reign. And when the war was done and over, Germany being divided. And now that they are free again, they are the foremost advocate in human rights, social-democratic side of politics and they instill in future generation the importance of their history in the wars and the atrocities they have committed as a nation so as not to repeat, to remind everyone the true value of being free.

      The succeeding people power after ’86 has nothing but shallow reasons by political rivals to gain power and now it stands as a “trend”, to flash mob and take selfies to post on facebook.

      1. Yes, many Germans protested and were killed or put long time in Death Camps too,
        and some of the German military LEADERS tried to kill Hitler.

  2. Any suggestions? Martial law? And before anyone get riled up by my mentioning martial law, think about it. I was in high school when martial law was declared. In my school were a lot of gangs who would divest students of their “baon” with the threat of violence if you don’t give in. There were gangs of 13-year olds with guns tucked in their waist while attending school. In my neighborhood, there we gangs as well who terrorized everybody. In short, lawlessness was the norm and everybody just shrugged their shoulders because there was nothing they can do about it. Then came martial law and in a flash everything was transformed. Peace, quiet and people suddenly became obedient to the laws. I asked myself why so? I came to the conclusion that it was FEAR that changed the people’s mindset. FEAR that if they do something against the law, they will go to prison or get punished. This is the same reason why Filipinos are so observant of the laws while in a foreign land. FEAR of the consequences of their actions. I think that is what we need. Instill FEAR in the heart of every Filipino that when they do the crime, they will do the time. But how to get this done? Apply the laws of the land to the max. Black and white. No grey areas. If you throw garbage in the streets you go to jail or pay a stiff fine. I worked in Saudi Arabia for over 20 years and drivers are scared shitless if they see the green and white patrol car of the traffic police because they know that if they disobey the traffic rules they get an automatic 3-days in jail plus a hefty fine. I wish something like that can be done here. FEAR instills DISCIPLINE.

    1. If people would discipline themselves…follow the laws, the nation would be better.

      Our political leaders , are the foremost lawbreakers. They cheat; they steal; they bully people; they murder; they do other criminal acts. They are Bad Role Models…

      Where the Leaders go…the people will follow..

    2. No, it’s not fear that makes us obey the law, it’s respect and being fair with the rest. Take crossing the road for example, we do not cross it as long as the light is red (unless really late at night where no cars pass by) be it kids or adults because we know that any accident is not worth everyones trouble. In regards to trash, we tell people to pick them up and discard it properly. As a society, we hold ourselves and/or our neighbors accountable. We strike up random conversations with stranger and be polite because it is important for us to be social, it’s what define our society. What is martial law going to do when the people do not respect even the most basic laws and to only abide it out of convinience? We are a nation of mixed religions and have develope an unwritten rule of compromise to respect each others beliefs. What failed in the Philippines is the civil way to agree to disagree to which everyone is trained to base good and bad based largely on emotions.

      1. RESPECT and FAIRNESS both alien concepts to the common Filipino. If you respect your neighbors and the environment, you will dispose of your garbage properly. If you are fair, you will not find ways to cut through the line just to be served first. The Filipino, if given the chance, will find ways “para makalamang sa kapwa”. Be it in as simple as getting in a queue. Someone will always try to cut in front of people who were ahead of him in the queue. Why? Because the Filipino can. Without fear or rancor. And because of the passivity of the other Filipinos in the queue. Only when someone raises a howl of protest will the culprit get in line. How then to instill RESPECT and FAIRNESS in the mind of the Filipino who have been practicing acts of disrespect and unfairness just because everybody else is doing it and has become the norm in their daily lives? Wouldn’t FEAR of the consequences of their actions be fair enough? So how come it works in Singapore or Marikina or Davao? Why not the whole country?

    3. “But how to get this done? Apply the laws of the land to the max. Black and white.”
      No. It has to start with stoping the bad guys in the TOP,
      because otherwize it would be even MORE UNFAIR than it is now…

  3. “That’s right, what we actually want is someone who will do everything for us instead of someone who will tell us the correct thing to do.”

    When what we need right now, having seen how ill-behaved and insubordinate the Filipinos have become, is someone who is a disciplinarian or who can use the law as effective disciplinary measures to bring peace and order. The Philippine Constitution being patterned to the American Constitution, and seeing how progressive America is because of their law-abiding citizens, we can say we a have a good and almost complete set of laws right here. The major stumbling block for progress then are the law breakers and the law having no power to make the people perform with integrity, not laze around or do things that won’t cause harm to other people or the surroundings.



    “FEAR instills DISCIPLINE.”

    Fear of punishments, you mean? If only even things like throwing candy wrapper anywhere or urinating on sidewalk can be duly punished. These people being aware of the law and punishments more so if they experienced the penalty would then learn to do things right the next time and be attentive of those who are committing offenses and are not being punished. They would learn about justice and fairness knowing that the law should apply to all and not only to those gaya nila na “minalas” na nahuli sa maliit na kasalanan while those who committed bigger crimes get away with theirs.

  4. “The bottom line is that anyone…criticized or persecuted by the rich are almost automatically labeled as “evil” even when they might actually have a point.”

    Who are automatically labeled as “evil”, the rich or the one criticized or persecuted by the rich?

  5. The Philippines now is ruled by the Evil Group known as Sindikatong Dilaw headed by an Abnormal and Mentally sick mind Abnoy Aquino. The irony of it is nobody cares and even the so called Catholic Church became part of that Syndicate just like that Evil minded Cardinal Tagle who followed the footstep of another Cardinal of the past era Cardinal Sin. Mga Ipokritong taong simbahan katoliko na ginagamit ang pulpita para kumita.

  6. Good article, I think the meat of it makes a lot of sense, especially our tendency to bend rules and twisting of otherwise upright morality, and I agree with most of what you said here. Not to be nitpicking, but the foundations of morality would have to be binding and objective for a criticism of anyone to be successful and Secular Humanism just doesn’t cut it; it ends up ultimately as relative and subjective, rendering it impotent in addressing moral differences. What’s more is that with the assumption of objective morality, only which can be universally binding, we can successfully criticise and condemn “fundamentalist and extremist” acts among various worldviews.

    We can make this an effective argument by not assuming Secular Humanism to begin with, since it undercuts the ideas altogether. A safer assumption would be to criticise ourselves, Filipinos, against the backdrop of our majority profess belief system which is Christianity – are we acting in a way that is consistent with our professed morality? That’s always a more effective approach as been used many times. Anyway, just looking at the assumptions here, otherwise it’s a good critique of our culture overall.

    As for political solutions, I can only offer better education, jobs and capital via economic freedom and competition (of education providers and job-providers, lower personal taxation and lower costs of goods. It’s not a silver bullet, but it would really help a lot against miseducation, lack of good choices and poverty.

    As for personal solutions, I will work hard and smart, do business, invest, provide for my family, and educate them of good moral character (and its foundations). There is so much junk around in the age of social media and the internet (though it can also be used for easier dissemination of better ideas too, free speech is always good), and so I would teach better critical thinking skills to my future kids and friends as well. Love my neighbor, within my capacity, within my radar, that sort of thing.

  7. For starters, I’ll definitely try to teach my kids to obey the law, how to make sound decisions and of course, teach them how to shun Philippine media by showing them the very source they tried to imitate.

    And most importantly, how to be a solid person. Because part of the reason why Philippines is such a rotten mess is because everyone wants to fit in. In fact, if everyone jumps off a cliff because its the in thing, many Filipinos will do it.

    1. I love the Philippines.
      It is the land of my birth;
      It is the home of my people.
      It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
      In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
      I will obey the rules of my school;
      I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
      I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully
      I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, and in deed.

      Need I say more?

  8. you may have a point sir but you must also know that every living nation has its strong and weak points, well , the proof of it is that no matter what country you think is good enough, you can ask its citizen and you may get a different answer altogether. but yes, most Filipinos are pretty misguided about morals and it goes on all class of life. poorpobreng juan, rich=binay clans are such an example

  9. you may have a point sir but you must also know that every living nation has its strong and weak points, well , the proof of it is that no matter what country you think is good enough, you can ask its citizen and you may get a different answer altogether. but yes, most Filipinos are pretty misguided about morals and it goes on all class of life. poor=pobreng juan, rich=binay clans are such an example

  10. Ever since I became familiar with how Singapore worked as a country, I have wanted the Philippines to adapt the same government leadership, the same structured and disciplined citizenry. Yes, caning as a punishment is brutal, but right now, right this minute, the Filipino people has to have a taste of it, in my opinion. A complete overhaul of the government may be impossible, but it’s plausible. Like they say “kung hindi makuha sa santong dasalan, kunin sa santong paspasan” or something to that effect. Everyone is committing a crime, regardless of age. Theft, rape, graft and corruption, murder… you name it, it’s here. And the scary part is, there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s why the hardworkers go abroad to seek refuge, not just higher pay. Peace of mind cannot be had in a country such as ours. You can’t even walk inside a mall without someone slashing your bag and stealing your things.

  11. “Kung hindi makuha sa santong dasalan, kunin sa santong paspasan” or ” placing the specter of death right in the doorsteps of the elite( ruling and opposing) – is the key to inculcating discipline to a people. Fear of death or imminent severe punishment is what makes any person follow a just law with malice or favor to no one.

    The Filipino elite are abusive of power because they know they can pay lawyers ( the great co-conspirators of oppression and crimes) to bend the law to suit their needs and to protect their interests at the expense of the common universal good.

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