The challenge of being a good role model in the Philippines

A role model is someone other people look up to and want to emulate, whether it is for that person’s behavior, skills, or example. Typically, people look up to those whom they perceive as suitable role models as inspirations to work harder towards what they aspire to be. They may be people you’ve met in the course of your career. They could also be celebrities or athletes. Or they could be people from the communities you take part in.

nails-that-stick-up-get-hammered-down-largerIs it easy to be a good role model? Is it merely enough to show good behavior and to demonstrate skills to other people? It doesn’t seem to be that way; the Philippines is certainly no exception to this.

While it is unrealistic to expect to demonstrate virtuous behavior ALL the time, we all need to be mindful and as consistent as possible of the values we want to project, regardless of whether we aspire to be emulated or not. In reality, more people are watching and observing us than we think.

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The “do as I say, not as I do” syndrome is challenging to deal with. It would be easy to tell people to do something, yet when one’s actions contradict one’s words, people won’t be listening to what you said. They’ll be more interested in what one did. If they don’t outright emulate the deed, they will, at the very least, inquire as to why there was no consistency between the “say” and the “do”.

Here in the Philippines, we have our fair share of people who aspire to be in positions of power or influence; too bad that many others choose to remain sheep. Yet how many of them can actually serve as good role models? Here at Get Real Post, we assert that Filipinos generally have this baseless sense of being more important than everyone else. They also believe “freedom” is a license for them to do anything they want, regardless of their consequences.

Now try to imagine a typical Filipino who has gained a position of authority, power, or influence. You should be able to imagine further that because of his/her “promotion”, he/she assumes that the rules no longer apply to him/her; what’s worse if he/she encourages you to bend rules too. He/she assumes that he/she is entitled to respect without having the need to earn it. He/she tells people to do one thing, but does another. He/she enslaves, uses, or pins down his/her subordinates instead of empowering them. He/she does not take questions, much less criticism, too kindly. If he/she does entertain questions, he/she gives you bullsh*t answers, ah basta, ganoon!

What does this typical scene tell you? Filipinos couldn’t care less about the effects their actions have on the bigger community; first and foremost for them is to do what they want and to do it with impunity. Self-regulating and self-policing are words rarely found in a typical Filipino’s vocabulary.

As benign0 pointed out in his article about the “Pabebe” girls, in Philippine society, there is a whole lot of admonition to be picked up on what not to do and be, yet rarely is there sound advice on what people should do and be. This kind of thinking implies that the Filipino should be limited, or restrained in what he/she does. As a result, you eventually get people who refuse to be tied down by “conventions” and start acting contrary to “the accepted norm.”

Who steps in to provide examples your masa can aspire to? The media. Yet another example of an entity that refuses to be self-critical and self-policing. The media’s priority here in the Philippines is to maximize profit, not to educate the people, nor to give them examples of people to look up to (except politicians they like, such as the Aquinos, for example). Keep them dumb and ignorant, keep them emotional, and keep them coming back. That is certainly a formula that has worked here for the longest time.

It should make us wonder: how do we limit people’s exposure, most especially the youth, to media and online entities that dumb us down and act like junk food? I do remember a time when more people were encouraged to read books. And I mean books actually printed on paper, not those one can download onto a device.

In a society like the Philippines, where it’s much easier and much more widespread to do illegal, immoral, and unethical things, people who aspire to be good role models have their work cut out for them. It is hard enough to stick to one’s principles when faced with that Filipino value called pakikisama, which is societal pressure to conform to a consensus. It doesn’t help that in the Philippines, the societal pressure is not to follow rules, but to break them.

What else makes it difficult? Filipinos’ perception towards those who try to do and be good examples. People here, instead of finding value in being good examples, resort to admonishing them as holier-than-thou, self-righteous do-gooders, and attempt to pull them down to their level, which is mediocre and just like the rest.

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Wonder no more why Filipinos continue to be as dull as a bag of nails.

6 Replies to “The challenge of being a good role model in the Philippines”

  1. Misguided sense of righteousness. You definitely nailed the issue right on its head. Philippine society is something that institutionalizes peer pressure and so, getting a good role model is next to impossible.

    This may be part of the reason why people go for bad role models (because its popular) and negative role models: whose characterization is based on subverting everything. (Think of an average Game of Thrones character) And because of how oppressive Filipino society is, the latter characters are becoming more and more popular.

    Now, while it is possible to find a GOOD devious character (like Bugs Bunny or Zatoichi), to find them, you need to think outside the box. Which is something that is incredibly difficult to the average pinoy.

  2. The thing is, people don’t like role models. In the end, the “role model” is anyone who gives them money or anything they want, and if refused, they make tantrums to make the “role model” afraid.

    And in another situations, “role models” make the other people look bad. For example, think of an office worker who is doing exceptionally. But what he does is difficult for others, he is exceptional. And his co-workers are afraid of the level of this worker being imposed on them. So they do things like ruin his reputation through lie, or petition for his removal, so they can stay comfortable in their mediocrity. I think this is what makes being a “role model” difficult.

  3. We have no good role models in our country. Those who are in power; or who lead the country are Amoral people. In the Media, it is “Junk Food” to the “brains” for young people.

    Kris Aquino, the Whore, as a role model? “Teleserya ” actors as role models? Political leaders as role models?

    I cannot find a good role model, in our country. It is like me carrying a “lighted lamp” at Midday, to find an “honest man”…

  4. “Diskarte”

    “Madiskarte yan. Astig yan.”

    There are a lot of things you can interpret the above statement. On one hand it could mean the person is street-smart and can adapt to multiple and ever-changing conditions around him with relative ease WITHOUT STEPPING ON SOMEONE ELSE’S FEET.

    But in the Pinoy context we all know what that statement means. And people reward that type of behavior with awe and bewilderment. To be able to navigate the cracks WITHOUT GETTING CAUGHT is the avatar or excellence in the Pinas. And don’t give me that apologist excuse about other countries being guilty of that as well. Thank you.

  5. Everybody should be able to enjoy their life, because you only live once. So I just want to get it all out there and be the best role model that I can be, if people want to put me in that kind of predicament. I mean, I didn’t ask to be a role model, because I’m not perfect.

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