Filipinos’ unwillingness to face ‘negative’ FACTS about their society hinders progress

It’s been so long since Filipinos won their “freedom” back in 1986 after the so-called People Power “revolution”. But we are still hard-pressed to agree with one another on whether or not we are really a better country after all that. The trouble is, rather than confront the question head-on, we are, instead, encouraged to simply be “thankful” about these “freedoms”. Many of the Philippines’ most influential “thought leaders” use that argument to tell people to desist from any remarks that may be perceived to be “negative”.

Just be thankful and stop being negative.

Therein lies the reason why the Philippines is a chronic failure of a nation — because rather than deal with the negative aspects of their situation, Filipinos prefer to pretend these do not exist or, worse, regard them as things to be “thankful” for.

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For example, we are told that we should be thankful that, though we may be a poor country, we have a lot of the freedoms people in totalitarian states like China do not have. That is kind of an ironic thing to say. Unlike the Philippines, China, for example, does not pretend to be anything that it isn’t. If it is “brutal” to its own citizens, that is because it is, in fact, an unabashedly communist totalitarian country.

Compare that to the Philippines. Proud to be “free” and “democratic” sing its people. But its government and ruling classes are just as brutal and apathetic to the suffering of its ordinary citizens as any.

Oh, but no…

We are, we were told as kids, a friendly people.

But are Filipinos really mabait (“nice”) as we say we are? That’s quite debatable. We are amongst the most divisive and tribal of societies. In the US, Canada, and Australia, Filipino communities there are known for their backstabbing members and intrigahan. It’s so toxic that many ethnic Filipinos who are not into the whole pataasan ng ihi scene that characterise these “communities” avoid them like the plague and prefer to just assimilate into the broader community of their adopted societies.

The sad reality is that Filipinos, taken together as a collective are a weak people.

It takes an ounce of assholery to beat “bullies” like China. The reason they (and other powerful societies) are strong is because they have potent ruthless martial traditions underlying their culture shaped by many hard-fought and often hard-won wars. What have Filipinos gained from the perception that they are mabait? It may be a virtue individually, but as a collective, it makes us a flaccid state, forgiving of its most heinous crimes and thieving politicians while being hopelessly defenseless against foreign aggression and woefully dependent on old colonial masters.

25 Replies to “Filipinos’ unwillingness to face ‘negative’ FACTS about their society hinders progress”

  1. “But are Filipinos really mabait (“nice”) as we say we are?”
    -Mabait kapag kaharap foreigners.

    “What have Filipinos gained from the perception that they are mabait? It may be a virtue individually, but as a collective, it makes us a flaccid state, forgiving of its most heinous crimes and thieving politicians while being hopelessly defenseless against foreign aggression and woefully dependent on old colonial masters.”
    -as per Lee Kuan Yew, Filipinos have this soft, forgiving culture. It’s time that we practice Meritocracy.

  2. China is not a communist country and has never been one. It was socialist from 1946 and started transferring to capitalism in the mid 80s. It’s now a mostly capitalist totalitarien country with some socialist remains.

  3. It would be easy to become a victim of our circumstances and continue feeling sad, scared or angry; or instead, we could choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let ourselves sink into it.

  4. OMG benigno this is so true. When i first moved to the US of course I was adopted by Filipino communities. And it’s noticeable how people start a conversations with finacial capabilities. What’s your salary. Do you have a car. How much do you pay rent. And the senior citizens always ask very personal questions like why are you not married yet, why don’t you have kids, even if you’ve just met them! Very very annoying. After many years, i’ve experienced how it’s like when other races have gatherings. No very personal questions. Once you meet them, they get to know you. No one cares about your financial capabilites. They try to find common interests. No one’s trying to find out if they are better than you. As of now I no longer hang out with fellow filipinos. It’s a choice i am very happy with.

    1. I was also thinking that if be given a chance to go overseas then I will not go back in the Philippines for good with what’s going on? There is nothing to be proud of really ….

      1. This is an unrealistic response of those who can’t deal with certain realities and wants to go the way of Escapism!

    2. probably it’s because we all came from one direction, immigrants or FOB. from poverty to success, from nobody to somebody. it’s normal if a fellow immigrant-pinoy will ask those questions. filipinos who were born/grew up there won’t even talk about that. i ask my fil-am niece what she would become when she grow up, she would just say a model. wala nang, “kasi mahirap ang pamilya ko” “para mapa-aral ko kapatid ko.”. wala nang ganyan. kasi non-immigrant eh. so ung quality of living nandyan na. hindi na pangarap.

    3. @Camille, yes exactly. They seem to be more interested in your personal circumstances than in your interests and, as you pointed out, establishing a social bond (even at least lasting just over the course of the conversation) through finding common ground to lay the bases for that.

      It’s strange, considering it is quite easy to size up people using subtle non-verbal signals they send out, e.g. appearances, grooming, body language, eye contact, etc. And yet Filipinos seem to prefer to ask tasteless questions during a first meeting to establish a sense of their place in the hierarchy relative to the other person instead of applying a bit of brain power to those more subtle aspects of social interaction.

        1. LOL, I just cannot connect with them in Sydney nor in Vietnam. They’re usually loud on the public bus. I was raised bilingual so I can communicate with my mum. It’s either they tend to force me to go to Church or ask about when I am going to have babies and how much I am earning. Even my own maid annoys me with her intrusive questions, perhaps I am just brought up to be more English to find these traits as rude and shameless.

        2. You’re expecting too much. Filipinos would first need a brain to have brain power. The entire culture is toxic and is the reason the country is unable to progress. Anywhere filipinos go they tend to take their toxic culture with them spreading it like a virus across the globe.

  5. Filipinos have the negative character: APATHY. They just let the problems remain, as they are; hoping the problems will solve themselves.

    So, we have the : Squatter problem; the Corruption problem; the Incompetent political leader problem; the Terrorists problem; etc…

    We are not problems solvers…we are PART of the problem…and just apathethic to find the solutions of these problems…

    1. and if you step up to solve the problem, they’ll think you have an agenda or nagbibida-bidahan lang. most of the time they will rely on you for all the solutions. tengeneng yen.

  6. I’ve traveled to the Philippines many times and extensively within the country, usually staying 2 months each year. It’s become my second home. I’m not a tourist so I mostly stay in metro areas, but I have visited friends in outlying villages and squatter areas as well.

    Sadly, while many of the comments made by benign0 have some truth in them, many of my Filipino friends would be offended to hear them – perhaps because they know the truth but simply don’t want to hear it. I’ve discussed many of these issues with my Filipino friends and thought about them a lot, which leads me to the view that, while the Philippines (in part, due to its dynastic democracy) is a totalitarian socialist state and therefore similar to China, it is also very different. And the difference is religious.

    The Philippines bears the marks common to a country dominated by the Roman Catholic church which teaches that the church and state are one. Therefore, with the Philippines being maybe 85% Roman Catholic, whatever that church has taught, teaches or tolerates is entirely significant to what we see now in the modern Philippines. Much of the education system and many businesses and institutions are run or controlled by the Roman Catholic church. It influences every part, from the President, the Senate, every government department, the Mayors to the Barangay Captains.

    Corruption suits the Roman Catholic church since holding power is more important than the means. Apathy comes from the teaching that all our labor is not for God but that only the priest is called by God [compare that to one of the founding ideas of western countries that all people are called to work for God in whatever vocation they undertake]. “What goes around comes around,” “you get what you deserve,” and “karma” are some of the main platitudes uttered by my Filipino friends. These reveal an acceptance of the way things are and evidence a nihilist religious view whereby men fail in saving themselves [because it’s impossible to save oneself].

    More than anything, the Philippines (and all countries) needs to hear about salvation in Jesus Christ alone, through God-given faith in him alone. And the single advantage that the Philippines has over all countries in the world right now is that it still has the Bible. It’s simply that people need to read and understand it, then apply it to the whole of life, including personal, family, commerce and civil life.

    Positively, I see the Philippines as a land of opportunity. Because of its geographic position, I see it as a potential center of international travel. Because of the high level of IT skills, I see it as the new Hong Kong and a major center of world trade. But first it needs the moral changes and freedoms that only the gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

    1. We sometimes forget that the Roman Catholic Church is an absolute monarchy. As such, the behaviours it expects of its adherents is incompatible with the philosophies underlying modern secular democracies such as what the Philippines aspires to.

      1. But look at Europe. Most of its nations (France, for example) is predominantly Catholic. But their religious leanings didn’t hinder them from progress.

        It’s clear that something wrong happened here. Personally, I think it’s more of how we Filipinos view religion compared to how others perceive religion’s place in their society.

        Oh, well. It’s the Spanish that taught us that Church is above everything else. What do you expect from those religious fanatics? LOL.

        1. in France, religion is banned i believe in the sense that it became a private matter. you see churches with no crosses. it was replaced by a candle. hence, an angel who holds a cross, now holds a candle, signifying enlightenment. religion caused civil unrest in France. they don’t even allow muslim women to wear burkas. so, follow the law. lol.

        2. The French Revolution and the 1905 French law separating church and state reduced the influence and power of the Roman Catholic church in France. Likewise, the Spanish Civil Wars first reduced then restored Roman Catholic power in Spain, but now its influence is relatively low due to the rise of secularism. This might explain their economic progress (as would their proximity to England).
          I think you are right: the real difference is people’s religious view and practice. From my observations, Filipinos (as do some South American countries) participate in and practice Roman Catholicism more frequently and much more sincerely than in Western countries, which means they believe what the Roman Catholic church teaches them more than do their Western counterparts. Those ideas must have had, and continue to have, a major impact on the way people live and on both the family economy and the nation’s economy. It would make interesting research to learn what those influential ideas might be….

  7. ‘Faith without works is dead’, and so will Philippine society if it does not do something ,quickly and seriously about the sorry state of affairs that engulf the arcgipeligo at present.
    The stranglehold that the few have on the economy is never going to allow for an improvement in the standards of living of the ‘massa’.The country has little to no manufacturing capabilities and therefore can not engage,like other states in the region are doing, in ‘Free-Trade’ pacts due to the fact that the country imports almost everything. To do so would diminish the personal piggy-bank that the Congress has for themselves.It is a sure sign that the leaders of the country care little for its citizens, for if they did engage in ‘Free-Trade’ Pacts….IMPORTED ITEMS would not only cost 50% less but also be the current models available in other countries instead of the 2-3 yr. old garbage that ends up on store shelves 60% overpriced.It is a serious situation that no one even mentions. The VAT alone would erode said piggy banks (of the ‘piggies’) by 60%, at least, to the point where even being a crooked politician would no longer be worth it.But the gains for the people would be enormous.

    It is obvious what needs to be done, as if it is not.There will be the same thing going on 50 years from now and little to no progress in the mess of a country.

  8. You know, in a few short years if Filipino’s ,as a nation of people, just stopped putting garbage wherever it happens to land and disposed of it properly and actually got the shit-bucket jalopies that pass for automobiles belching black smoke out their collective tailpipes off the roads the country would begin to look less like a shit-hole, IN A FEW SHORT YEARS.The pollution would slowly dissipate, the floods would be not as catastrophic (as the drainage system might actually be given a chance to work if it were to be un-clogged), the streets of major cities would be clean, you could actually see the mountains in the distance instead of smog hiding them.

    This could be attained,actual tangible results, from a small yet significant collective effort.Huge rewards for minimal effort.
    It can be achieved, but the people MUST be willing.
    Wouldn’t it be great if the country started to look cleaner? It would refresh the people, kinda like taking a shower and putting on some freshly cleaned clothes, you just feel better and feel capable of doing more. Filipino’s really need to start somewhere and there is a good starting point,right there.

    Just go to the EU/USA/JAPAN and you will not see cars belching black smoke out their arse’s, it is not tolerated much the same way as littering is not tolerated and Filipino’s can, and should, put a stop to it.You’ll feel better and Momma Earth will too. She might even be persuaded to not just up and puke on all of you.

    1. Yeah, I keep telling my Filipino friends that the Philippines just needs one champion – someone who will stand up and deal with the rubbish in the drains, rivers and waterways. With the right tv publicity, it could be done.
      It’s not a matter of banning plastic bags. It’s people’s attitude and behavior that has to change.
      I’m not sure what each barangay or city does for rubbish collection. In Samar people told me they just pay a pedicab driver to take their rubbish and drop it in the nearby river. Perhaps a review of rubbish collection and disposal systems is needed so it is accessible to everyone.
      Japan has big bins located around residential areas for you to drop your household rubbish in. Other countries have rubbish trucks collecting a rubbish bag outside each house once a week.
      Japan also has an annual clean up – a day when everyone goes out and picks up rubbish from their streets. People in Phls could be mobilized to do the same thing – one huge clean up, and from then on negative publicity about dropping cigarette butts and other rubbish onto the streets and rivers along with positive publicity to create a sense of pride in keeping the place clean.

      1. You’re the man! Some bandwagoning commenters of GRP all can do is to spew nothing but trash coming from their mouths!

  9. I found this on fb. Not sure if the guy is Filipino or not. But I thought you might be interested since it describes a behaviour that is doing a lot of damage to the Philippines and, in particular, to those needing work:

    Philippine Bussiness Fobaap
    19 April 2012 ·
    I was briefly involved with a consultant for a substantial Japanese newsprint company who asked me to look at a large area of land in the PI. My brief was to collect soil samples, and collect data related to existing tree species and crops that the land would and had previously supported. The company planned to lease 1000 hectares and plant eucalyptus for pulp for producing high quality printing paper. The project included land preparation, tree nursery establishment, mechanized planting, harvesting and chipping plants, dredging of a deep water channel for the chip carrying ship and wharf loading facilities. Accommodation and mess facilities for employees was part of the plan.
    It would have employed approximately 200 workers in the initial stages increasing to 500 workers as the infrastructure was developed. Apart from that, the local economy would have benefited and the local support industry would also have gained from the project.
    In other countries where this company operated they often included appropriate education facilities for extended family members.
    A huge amount of research was done and discussed with the National Govt and with local govt. Various guarantees were put in place to protect the investors and the workers and the people leasing the land. I attended 3 crucial meetings to discuss aspects of the project with the local council who would issue permits etc.
    All discussions were progressing very well until the council committee began asking for money to assist us to make the project happen. Bribe and gratuity money had been allowed for which I thought was at a very generous level. A payoff of 1 million pesos was a common figure.
    Unfortunately the council and numerous other LGU’s who got themselves included in the talks began asking for 10 times the anticipated amount of gratuity. I observed the normally inscrutable faces of the Japanese change as this information was digested.
    Over lunch at Jollibee the Japanese asked my opinion and after a lot of talk and many phone calls to Japan they decided to abandon the project entirely.
    That company later in the year set up a huge plantation in Vietnam where they were welcomed with open arms and considerable government support.

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