Filipinos would rather be butthurt about the past than gung-ho about the future

The intellectual DNA of Philippine society is flawed at its most fundamental level. The trouble with the approach to thinking in the Philippines is, more often than not, this activity is retrospective rather than prospective in nature.

The word BUTTHURT encapsulates that society-wide malaise. And the sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, in turn, seminally illustrates that national condition. The presidential speech, rather than rally Filipinos to reach for the stars, focuses instead on reassuring them that they remain “special” and “blessed” despite the reality of their failure to prosper as a people.


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President BS Aquino’s SONA is, thankfully, the last instalment in a series of speeches that nurses the country-wide victim mentality of the Philippines and the narcissism of the leader Filipinos gleefully selected in 2010. The thinking behind it prevailed like a stubborn rash over the entirety of the five years of this administration. Its worst impact was in continuing the tired Filipino tradition of constantly whining about perceived wrongs committed against “the Filipino” in the past — colonialism and imperialism, the bald “injustices” perpetrated by the dynasties and oligarchies they routinely tolerate, the “national interests” of the foreign powers they deal with.

Boo hoo hoo…

But, see, the simple fact of life from the micro up to the macro level is quite simple: The best revenge is success.

If the neighbourhood toughie beats the shit out of you, you move on, get your PhD in Machine Learning, get that $200,000 a year job at Google then later come back to your home town and HIRE him to clean your toilet. Win-win, right?

Indeed, that is exactly what the taho and balut vendors did. The behos that used to hawk the snacks of our childhood on foot from dawn to dusk are now looked to by their former tormentors for “much-needed” employment. Worse, by applying that all-too-familiar brand of “logic” held on to by people blinkered by their loser mentality, Filipinos have convinced themselves that the employment today’s Tai Pans provide is an entitlement rather than something earned.

Notwithstanding that, there are still tens of millions of Filipinos beavering away happily in the warm embrace of the jobs sustained by the capital created by certain sectors of society who succeeded despite their social disadvantages in the past.

Indeed, the Philippines is beset by many disadvantages. But rather than see those disadvantages as mere challenges Filipinos have regarded them as excuses to fail. And rather than encourage Filipinos to see things differently, President BS Aquino encouraged Filipinos to continue their fatal embrace with the comfy and the familiar warmth of their national delusion. Leaving an entire country still mired in its loser mentality is not the legacy of a good leader. It is the legacy of a con man.

25 Replies to “Filipinos would rather be butthurt about the past than gung-ho about the future”

  1. (thinking out loud here and now)
    So basically everybody is paralyzing everybody instead of saying “enough is enough”?

    I would think all it takes is just one pioneer and the rest (the herd/flock) will follow that pioneer.
    So what do all those GRP commenters here do? Are they the so needed pioneers or is it just talk (when they comment here)?
    I really have no idea and no clue how many people are registered GRP followers/readers but for sure that group must have a pioneer somewhere and cause some change.

    So whats holding them back? Why dont they come forward and share their – micro or macro or both – successes?

    I really start to think that most or even all are only here for the talk and not for the walk.

    1. I’m new to this site and I can also see the shallowness and redundancy. You should read what I wrote on Filofail’s blog because you seem to be a lot more hopeful than the rest of us and other expats. . Your pioneer theory is good but you have to be a little more realistic than that. I’m trying to do a similar “pioneer” thing on my blog but I’m more pragmatic in my approach than you are. I do hope it grows but I’m not very hopeful. My view is, very little can be changed because it is the nature of the person that is the problem (multiplied by 100 million). You have to change the nature of the person to have a lasting change, and some of it can be done through a few changes in the education system.

      1. Gladman,
        I am okay if you accuse me of not being realistic (no hard feelings here, no offense taken). But we – the Dutch – have been there, where the Filipinos are today. But thank god, that was 50, 60 years ago.
        So for about 60 years (no, I am not that old myself), I live in a “world” that is liberated, advanced, modern and quite up-to-date with human rights and what not (same-sex marriage, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, IVF).
        I think for every member of the G&L community its a “walk in the park” to live in my country.

        Although, I myself am impatient by nature and I do know that most changes have to go step-by-step, its very clear that the Philippines can leap (instead of making little tiny steps) forward. The modern (western) world is the new horizon (or is that too arrogant to say?).

        1. I appreciate your caring concern really since this is not even your country. And we don’t have to get offended by each other’s standpoints; I’m surprised you brought that up. Views are views. They’re not persons. I even thought you have good, valid points. Compared to the locals’ your ideas are more proactive, no beating around the bush. The only point I was trying to make clear is this: if you start with an inaccurate premise, you’re likely to come up with an inaccurate conclusion. For instance, the Dutch of 60 years ago were not the same people as the Filipinos of today, nor are the other relevant factors such as geography, climate, population, history and the local rate of intellectual evolution. The Dutch know how to think outside the box, but the Filipinos don’t. It’s in the nature. Add to it filethic. If you take away all the present-day Filipinos from these islands and replace them with 19th century Dutch, given all the technology of today the Dutch will figure it out and you’ll see progress in a decade’s time, similar to the progress the Germans rebounded with after their defeat in WW1. The general population will think outside the box for their own good and the policymakers will think outside the box for the good of the general population. That’s what I’m saying. Ethnic differences are a factor. They’re in fact, a huge factor, which is why I brought up the word ‘realistic’. The Filipinos have never been in the Dutch’s situation 60 or 100 years ago because there are factors that come into play that you didn’t mention. Add to it the scale of the task today. 100 million is a huge number so it’s a gargantuan task to even influence the 100th monkey to finally make the shift

    2. Perhaps that there is the trouble – that it takes one “pioneer” to save millions of non-pioneers while in other societies the pioneering drive is in the hearts of the many rather than just that one needle that needs to be found in the proverbial haystack.

      Maybe the Philippines fails simply because it just happens that the natural collective character of Filipinos simply lacks the sort of curiosity and spirit of exploration and discovery that other more progressive and expansive cultures possess.

      We can see it in the current choices for president, for example. They’re all the low-hanging fruit – the easy and traditional options. And Filipinos being the lazy thinkers that they are will pick the lowest hanging one and eat it even if it is rotten.

      1. Only one pioneer is too few. Even in my country. It needs a group of like-minded pioneers (great minds think alike). And it needs conviction (others), persuasion and endurance (for those pioneers). Rome wasnt built in one day.

        Benign0, I do share the same goals and objectives that you have here (as person and as GRP writer) at GRP. Only I would choose a different road/path to achieve/reach those goals.

        Not in a million years, I foresee politicians to change their habit. Its too easy for them to continue what they are doing.
        Bacause politicians will not corporate, the change must come from the people.
        But there is where I hit/foresee my “Waterloo”. The people are too scared and too afraid to and for change.

        So personally I am at a dead end.

      2. All the perhapses and maybes only serve to reinforce the observer’s view that Filipinos are not really sure of what they are doing, which is part of Robert’s point to begin with

      3. @Robert: well, my position has always been that the salvation of the Philippines does not lie in political solutions (as they’ve come to be defined by the Philippines’ national “debate”) but rather solutions that work at a cultural level.

        So unless I see those solutions in a politician’s platform, then, yeah, I’m at a dead end as well as you put it.

        Thus, I am, at the moment, twice removed from any hope of seeing any light ahead for the Philippines: (1) politicians have to have a platform and (2) that platform has to have as a key component a solution that addresses the country’s cultural malaise.

    3. Some of the old-timers here have to be reminded and the newbies briefed on what I originally stood for when I first put GRP online 15 years ago – that the problem of the Philippines is cultural and that its politics is but a mere symptom of that profound dysfunction.

      On the basis of that problem definition is built my timeless Solution Framework.

      That framework is so impeccably-architected that its applicability TRANSCENDS presidential administrations.

      On that regard, everyone here can rest assured that GRP and its ideas are built upon a robust intellectual foundation.

      1. the essay’s title is a big part of the reason why there is NO FUTURE for anyone not of Dynastic Lineage in that hell-hole country.
        Leave now, any way you can, or you will be fucked for the rest of your life.

      2. Jargonic phrases, politician-like abstract suggestions, plus the in-your-face “increase the minimum wage”. I don’t see the “impeccable” here, and I wouldn’t have bothered replying any further if not for the word impeccable. We got to listen more to the outsiders. They have a clearer eyesight

      3. @Gladman: sure, whatever you say. Faced with the detail all you can come up with is a shallow dismissal on the basis of form without providing any sound counterargument on the ideas itself.

        Typical. That’s what immersing yourself in Pinoy society does to you. You adopt the style of debate.

        To be fair there’s really just 2 roads to take for people like you: you either realise how neck deep in shit you are and make a statement OR resign yourself to living with the stench.

        Thing is those who were born in it can be excused if they opt for the latter. But those who immigrated into it? Lol! That’s the more fascinating discussion. 😀

        1. Nah. No debate here. It’s an assessment of the ‘impeccable’. Like I told Robert above, views are views. Views are not persons. We don’t have to be offended by each other’s standpoints. I assessed the ‘impeccable’, not you. Meanwhile, you assessed me. I have no problem with you. You have good points, and you have bad points. It’s not always perfect. But we all have to learn from constructive criticism on the imperfections without the negative emotions. Like I said, if not for the ‘impeccable’, this conversation would not have rolled along.

    4. Robert, it’s a bit more complicated than merely having a vision or being a “pioneer”. The thing is, we’ve had numerous examples in various parts of the Philippines where law and order works, where people are employed and happy. We’ve had numerous examples of Filipinos who, despite disadvantage, despite not belonging to the right family or graduating from the right University have made their own personal investments which, they hope, would impact on the future of the country.

      But something happens which, I think, already was touched on in this article—Pinoys would rather be victims and be saved than be the ones who, with their own power, rise to the occasion. In fact, speaking with a few Pinoys who justify and rationalise their victimhood, they find it a greater shame that they have to save themselves.

      It’s hard to explain, but let me try in this parable:

      Little Juan was just given some money by his mother to buy some lunch. On the way to the local carinderia, someone snatches his money and, in the process, trips him to the ground. The thief makes his getaway, while some give pursuit.

      His mother comes upon the scene and they both bewail their fate.

      “Ay, naku!” says the Mom. “Why are people like that? Why can’t they stop taking advantage of other people and do the right thing?”

      “I know, right?” exclaims Little Juan.

      “Anyway,” says Mom. “Get up. Here’s some more money… go buy yourself some lunch.”

      “No,” says Juanito. “I’m not getting up. The thief has to return my money first. When it’s returned, I’m going to get myself the most delicious lunch.”

      “Don’t be a fool, my Juanito. Just get the money, get some lunch, and come back home to do your chores.”

      “Nay, can’t you see I got thrown down? Can’t you see someone stole my money? How can I get up while the thief roams free with my money? No, I’ll buy my lunch as planned when they return the money.”

      They continue like this for a while until someone dressed in yellow (who calls herself “just a housewife” but, in fact, owns a huge chunk of the neighbourhood) comes over and pulls Juan to his feet.

      “I just saved this lad,” says lady in yellow.

      “Thank you and bless you!” says Mom. “The fool won’t get up on his feet. Now can you please tell him to take this money and get something to eat.”

      “No,” says yellow. “We need to get his lunch money back before he can buy his lunch.”

      “But I’ve got it right here!” says Mom. “He can go get some right now.”

      “No, no,” says yellow. “That won’t be right. We have a good idea who took his money, so we’ll sequester as many of his stuff.”

      “Then you’ll give Juan some money to get lunch?” asks Mom expectantly.

      “Oh, no, no… the thief MUST return the actual lunch money and THEN buy Juan his lunch.”

      “Eh, how does that make sense? He’s going to be hungry before that lunch money comes back. And what are you sequestering the thief’s stuff for, if not for the lunch money.”

      “For the good of everyone in the neighbourhood who, like Juan, was dispossessed of his lunch money.”

      Juan was so impressed by yellow. “See, Nay! This is how people should be responding to our problems! They really, really care!”

      A young man in red and blue comes along.

      “Hey there, I heard you were robbed. I’m willing to help—here’s some lunch money.”

      Yellow isn’t buying it. “No, don’t take it. His dad is the thief.”

      “Well,” said red and blue. “I know you say that and you really have no proof except you’re mad at him. In the meantime, this boy needs his lunch. I’m willing to give him lunch money. How much was taken and I’ll give it to you.”

      “Are you saying,” said Juanito. “That you’re just returning what your father stole from me?”

      “No, this is not stolen from you. It’s from me. Take it. Have some lunch.”

      “Well,” said Juanito, his stomach grumbling. “Unlike you, I have principles. If that’s not stolen money returned, then I won’t take it.”

      “How are we supposed to know you aren’t going to steal his money again?” asked yellow.

      “Because I’m here, you can watch me give him his lunch money and if I do take something from him, well, you actually can attest to it because we’re all here!”

      “This is stupid,” says Mom. “I don’t need your money. I have some right here. Juan, you’re standing up na. Get some lunch.”

      “Remember, I saved him,” said yellow.

      “You just pulled him up!” said Mom. “He could have pulled himself up! He could take my money and get some lunch. Why isn’t he going to buy lunch.”

      “Because,” says Juanito and yellow together. “The thief hasn’t returned the money yet!”

      “Here!” says Mom and red&blue together. “Here’s some money! Get something to eat!”

      “And why should I have been the one to pull myself up?!” asks the enraged Juanito. “Someone threw me down, someone ought to pull me up! Why should I have TO BE THE ONE to pull me up! I’m not friendless! I’M WORTH SOMETHING!!! Only worthless people with no friends have to crawl on their own, do their own thing and take care of themselves!”

      They do this until Juanito dies—he was too principled to do anything until he got his money back.

      1. Gryphon,
        I like your story but what a waste of time.

        I hope that Little Juan’s behavior stems from his mother’s genes. I will divorce her and in the process kill Little Juan.

        Not something to be proud of to see both parties (mother & son) busy achieving nothing.

        Okay but now seriously. Is there not one person in the entire Philippines who just have a straight forward life (yes she/he can be poor for my sake) and the only upsetting moment is when mom and dad gonna die (from natural causes being old). I am sure not everybody is mugged/robbed in the Philippines.

        Now if there is such a person, then he/she can become that pioneer.
        But instead of talking, someone must take action and do something. Otherwise we will be here still in 20-30 years from now while the Philippines remain the same as it is today and the same as it was “yesterday”.

        I am not calling for a revolt/revolution/uprise against the government (EDSA7); I am calling for a revolution IN the society.

        1. That’s the long and short of it: literally every Filipino should change at a cultural level or not even good things already happening will affect them. Whichever “pioneer” will only benefit himself/herself and his/her immediate family—everyone else will just be envying their good fortune instead of taking steps to emulate them.

          So, aye, I do agree with you on there being a TRUE revolution… except that thanks to People Power, the meaning of “revolution” has changed to merely a call to camp out at EDSA and wait for whichever politician can distribute the pakain.

          I have lost count of how many times I’ve entered into an argument with another Pinoy when I mention that we should move on now and consider whatever was stolen long gone. They insist that the only time we can ever “bangon” (or get up) is when the thief (long dead) can return the “stolen wealth”.

          What good then, you may ask, is GRP? That people who wish to make a difference know they are not alone. That there will at least, in a small segment of society, something that dares call out what is wrong… even if, for now, we cannot make effective changes yet on a macro level.

          Other articles have bewailed such, the Filipino’s demand that a whatever solution there be it should be instant, quick and with as little burden of responsibility on the citzenry. Unfortunately, the only real revolution and only real lasting change should necessarily have the most burden on the actual citizens.

  2. Dare to Be

    When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.

    When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

    When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

    When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

    When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

    When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

    When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.

    When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

    When love hurts you, dare to love again.

    When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

    When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

    When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

    When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

    When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

    When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

    Dare to be the best you can –

    At all times, Dare to be!

  3. I find the Filipino mindset, more of a “victim mentality”…Most Filipinos ran away from challenges. If difficulties are on their paths; and they fail; and cannot deal with it: it is God’s will that they fail. Culture and Religion have something to do with it. They are also superstitious. Like, if they find “Yellow butterflies” flying near Aquino. His mother , is that butterfly, guiding Aquino to do the right way.

    It is dumb, and is totally ridiculous, how these people think.

    1. If you believe in Reincarnation. Cory Aquino may have Reincarnated into a Yellow Butterfly.

      Her political enemies, can “SWAT” her, at moment’s notice…then, she would be reincarnated to a Hacienda Luisita Swine…

  4. What will inspire Pinoys to work toward the future is if they can start producing excellent products or doing good jobs, or they find themselves deciding on simple to important matters that they don’t need to rely on other people like their leaders to do things for them. They can if they knew ethics and their skills and knowledge are developed. But at present where the culture is corrupted with mediocre mindset, the power-that-be need to arrive to a way that will pull them up. Why not instead of 4Ps, have a community learning centers, teaching basic to advance learning on certain discipline or skill as well as give training on leadership and group dynamics for these people to develop their own community or city on their own. This is different from TESDA in that it’ll require/encourage participation to the poor, unproductive, low-income or idle members of every community. As to skills, it’s important that they should learn the advance procedures after the basic ones otherwise they will only create “pwede na ‘yan” products or give “pwede na ‘yan” services. But before that, medium for learning must be available first and once hooked to learning, there must be continuity. Master a certain skill or add one after another. If possible, they should also be taught about parenting, work ethics, budgeting, and creativity on packaging of products.

    I just noticed that in the Philippines advance workshops are expensive that even middle class citizens find it hard to afford. It’s unpopular, too. The lack of means and mediums to acquire skills and knowledge is causing an obvious divide between rich and poor because well-off citizens who have the means grow more knowledgeable while the poor who has little to none is left to mediocrity that only resulted to them being pabigat. The goal should be to make the poor or the idle citizens acquire skills and knowledge that will serve as start-up for individual marketing or small business, help them to be self-sufficient or simply raise their kids, the next generation, better by being capable and skillful parents.

    And there are no regular town hall meeting/group discussion anymore. Gone are the days where there’ll be regular town hall meeting that will discuss certain issues and change to be enacted in the community kaya accept na lang ng accept mga tao sa naririnig o nababasa nila to the form of gossip. There should be community involvement program that will encourage critical thinking, exchange of ideas, and decision-making and this will also prevent Pinoys to be left watching the idiot box or go on a gossiping spree about their neighbor or favorite entertainers.

    These are, of course, for the grownups. With this community learning centers, the best and dedicated workshoppers, educators or teachers must be hired at first and then when the people of that community learned, it’s up for them to continue what the professionals started. There must be a transition or a handover. This can make a whole lot of difference to the lives of poor and idle citizens especially the ones who live by government dole-outs or taught one simple skill that can only support their immediate needs. If they can govern themselves or their own community it will give them confidence and they will be aware of the immediate concerns around them. Teach people to think and to harness their skills, to multitask and be flexible, and you take away the reason for them to be reliant on dole-outs. That budget for dole-outs can be used as business grants or for other innovative projects. Even students don’t have to rely on scholarship if their parents are earning better. So it’s important for the government to focus on productivity of every Filipino especially the ones who drag down the economy. Imagine grocery stores or personal products/souvenir shop instead of sari-sari stores. Imagine small cozy restaurants or fastfood services catering owner’s specialty food instead of carinderia or turu-turo where customers perspire as they eat, there are only pantawid-buhay type meals and there are flies competing with their food. The continuous flow of new and better ideas, discoveries or products coming at all levels will necessitate continuous improvement and fast development. Continual improvement equals progress.

    As for the kids who will shape this country’s future, well, there must be a change to the whole educational system first. The whole educational system is flawed. Even the local schools and universities which so-called aim is for students to strive for excellence don’t really encourage or push their students to come up with excellent work or performances. What matters for them really is that students get a passing score on exams or recite in class once in awhile or pass a project that will add up to their grade and that’s it. Even compulsory field trips add up to the student’s grade, just attend that and you get additional points. If you join the school program you also get an additional grade. In college, thesis studies are only embraced by the shelves. Basta mag-graduate students, okay na sa kanila. That’s why most graduates are meek, unconcerned with pressing issues of the society or are satisfied to be simple employees. They are not taught to be leaders. They are not taught to be entrepreneurs. They are not taught to discuss ideas. They are not taught to unleash their full potential. Wala na rin nga ang mga active student union. It only means nag-degrade na ang ating educational system dahil wala ng partisipasyon ang mga estudyante sa usaping pambansa at performance excellence.

  5. All the comments I see here are way off the point of the subject mentioned above . With all those intellectuals analysis and assessment you guys have said….I will only give you one assessment and this is the fact and I myself was the results of this…..what is lacking in the Philippines are creation of good paying jobsssss, and the people will change. That is guaranteed…..Filipinos is America or in other countries that has good paying jobs….did they change their culture …..?????. Some do and some don’t,….but our lives changed for the better we are happy just having a good paying job and a decent life….we became happy with the country that gave us this good paying job,,,,do we still have the the old culture Filipinos …yes we do….but we adapt to changes …it is human nature …whether you are Filipinos or any other…We have good paying jobsssssssss….that makes people happyyyy in any countries……Philippines is small ,,, maybe it is rich in natural resources,,, but not enough for the one hundred million people in this country……that drive Filipinos to its present mentality right now……….NO good paying jobssssss….with politicians pocketing its wealth and not thinking about how can he give good paying jobs for its people….it is the whole worlds problem even with the developed countries ….chinaaaaa has this problemmmm India has this problem, Europe has this problem….even America has this problem now……good luck people….God help us to solve this….

  6. Jobs are created by industries, like :automotive, defense, electronics, etc…

    In automotive industry alone; there are more than ten thousand parts of a car. Each part produces a manufacturer, which hires people to manufacture the parts.

    Same as in defense, electronics, and other industries. We are too dependent on foreign jobs…low paying menial jobs…or labor intensive jobs.
    Most industries are going Robotic now; which will make these jobs obsolete. Even the service industry, which the OFW is dependent can go robotic.

    This is the problem. Our leaders have no solution. All they do is “political zarzuela”…

    1. Totally agree. Filipinos should be designing machines and robots rather than exporting maids and care givers. Start learning Arduino guys – it’s easy. Kits abound – just go to eBay.

      I tried the IC card “beep” sample program and it really works. It can store information like digital money or user ID in the card. You can create a mini- economy for your school canteen with the little setup.

      They are installing this technology into the MRT system, but you can make one for yourself without millions to be paid to a contractor. Imagination is the limit with these toys.

  7. I do not believe that Innovativeness is the Monopoly of any race, country or ethnicity.

    I have worked with different nationalities, skin color, creed, etc…each has something to contribute. Human beings are human beings. Each is unique and is loaded with talent, intelligence, etc…we are just mislead by our leaders, who cares nothing but themselves.

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