Is Being Broken now a Part of the Filipino Identity?

Everyone in Manila was probably infuriated with the metro-wide traffic jam that saw some tired, sleep-deprived and hungry workers trapped on the road for 5 hours. It’s a good thing we haven’t heard anything like another Rolito Go. Corollary to this is how broken the transport services are: the MRT which has fewer trains than it should; buses and jeepneys that run by the boundary system and thus cause chaos on the roads; selfish, uncaring drivers that cause more chaos on the roads. There was this suggestion to force carpooling by banning cars that have 3 or less people inside; first, how can that be enforced, and what about coupe cars (those that seat only two)? A certain Vincent Marius has posted on Facebook that the solution is not to reduce the number of cars, but to fix the broken parts of the transport services in Manila.

Worst Metro Manila Traffic

Not only in Manila. Down south, suspected landgrabbing and treason are linked to the Bangamoro Basic Law or BBL, while the lives of 44 SAF men are dishonored by it. Lumad tribespeople getting killed due to preventable problems. Yolanda-affected people in Leyte receiving very little to nothing of the donations and assistance given them from all across the world. Many things are broken all over the country.

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I also recall my own earlier article about a lot of Filipino families being dysfunctional. While OFWs toil, partners at home philander and the stuff they send home gets pillaged by government personnel. Filipinos bang a girl, then leaving the mom and kids to fend for themselves. Abandoned children litter the streets, some turning to crime, and the current juvenile law is a hindrance to their effective rehabilitation. Parents teaching their children to be disrespectful of public space, consider littering all over as “normal” and live to increase their social status above others. There are so many cases of these that it seems to be the new normal these days. Oh, and need I almost forgot to mention that local television shows display dysfunctional families so much that it seems to be acceptable, even fashionable, to be dysfunctional.

It seems despite things being so obviously broken, the Aquino administration in its usual head-in-the-clouds fashion denies anything is wrong and claims things are all pointing to progress. They have truly mastered the art of reality denial. Fixing broken things isn’t in their list of priorities.

That will bring us to the question of this article, which is the title. Would it seem that dysfunction has become so common that it has become part of the Filipino identity? That if you follow traffic rules, have a stable family, don’t watch trashy telenovelas, have intellectual activities, or just have no major dysfunction at all, you are NOT Filipino?

Seems that way.

I’m not the only one who said something like this. Fellow blogger Paul Farol had offered his own concept of Being Broken: Poverty Porn. It’s like the country is deliberately made poor and broken, in order to invite donations from abroad. Then when the donations come, they get pillaged by various interests, that claim to “take charge” of them, then almost nothing or very little goes to the intended recipients (Yolanda situation obviously). Thus, poverty porn requires the Filipinos’ situations stay broken, as a stable, healthy, truly happy and fit Filipino situation just has no porn value.

People from other countries seem to know Filipinos as patient and longsuffering, willing to endure some trials without complaint. But they may also know about Filipino dysfunctions. They may soon make a habit of asking how long a Filipino worker has been separated from a partner, how much the relatives are asking from the worker, how many times he or she has lied about a relative dying so he or she could go home, how many mistresses a male Filipino worker has, how many loans they have defaulted on, about the traffic in Manila, and so forth. This seems to me what the Filipino image is becoming.

Yet perhaps that’s what we’re being told. Stop complaining, stop being “negative,” just accept things and say you’re happy, hide the fact that you’re suffering. In other words, we’re being pushed to accept broken as normal… and lying about our true situation. The more we do that, the more we deny reality, deny problems (like an alcoholic unwilling to do the first step in the Alcoholics Anonymous program), and that makes sure the problems stick and we suffer more. So it’s really time to make a stand, or if we’ve done it already, keep doing it, and resist calls to stand down. Really, the reason why “broken” becomes part of the Filipino identity is because we surrender to the pressure. Don’t “go with the program” on things such as remove negativity, focus only on positive. Hold your ground, and we’ll see the light yet.

21 Replies to “Is Being Broken now a Part of the Filipino Identity?”

  1. ChinoF,
    I talked to a lot of pinays coming from a broken background (a few kids and a boyfriend or husband left her). Now she is having just one obssesion: she wants to (re-)marry and have more kids.

    This line of thinking is for me as “broken” (obsessive/distorted) as what you described in your article “Is being broken now a part of the Filipino identity?”

    What I still miss in people coming from PH is the need and will to climb Maslow’s pyramid.

    Or can you tell me why those women have that (new) obsession?

    1. To Roberts, you did not have to ask that question , just look around see why,,, are this womana working single moms? If they are not working , then they want to marry because they wanted a husband to support them,,,having more children is a diversion on their real intention and I bet you no working single mother want to have more children.

  2. I have a friend who died of Cancer. He told me, when I visited him in the Hospital: “If I think, my Cancer is not there; I’ll soon be healed.” The next week he passed away…

    Self Denial or Denial that the problems are not there is the Strategy of the Aquino Administration, to solve the problems. They encourage people to join them in their Denial that the problems are there.

    They are incapable of solving the problems…it is easier to deny, that the problems are there. Like Ostriches, they bury their heads into their own holes; so that they cannot see the stark realities.

  3. Being broken ties into many other quirks of Pinoys. The most particular of these are the need for attention, need for drama, and the victim mentality.

    Filipinos have this constant need for attention because each one of them thinks he/she is more important than anyone else.

    Filipinos have a need for drama because a stability does not get them attention, or rather, a stable life makes them stand out, which is the kind of attention they don’t want, the one they get because “hindi sila nakikisama”.

    Filipinos like their victim mentality because it is a perfect opportunity to get attention and “assistance” from other people.

    There are also two other quirky Filipino attitudes which relate to being broken: neglect, and escape from reality.

    It is easier to neglect a problem than it is to solve it. Solving it – as in really sitting down to think and analyze the causes in detail – is too hard for the ADD (not the GRP author) afflicted Filipinos. It is much easier to say “pwede-na-iyan” and “pwede-pa-iyan” rather than do the dirty work of fixing.

    Escape from reality as a quirk should really come as no surprise. Filipinos want to be happy and blissfully ignorant all the time while chugging their “toma” which they bought from the sari-sari store at the Kanto Tinio (corner of General Tinio St.) It is easier to run away from problems and retreat to a place where everything is fine and dandy rather than confront them, and encounter an unhappy situation that brings Filipinos’ spirits down.

    So, is being broken part of the Filipino identity? It’s been that way for a long time.

  4. Who fixes broken Failipinos? Is it only other broken Failipinos, ones who’ve already been ruined? And do they all need to be fixed? It was the messiness and hurt in their pasts that drove them, and that same hurt connected them at a subdermal level, the kind of scars written so deeply in their cells that Failipinos can’t even see them anymore, only recognize them in someone else.

  5. The Filipino people are broken. I know because I am one. We have a good grasp of our spirituality, taking care of ourselves and our respective families, and pursue our goals in life.

    However, we Filipinos are broken in terms of how we see ourselves in respect to our country and our people. We simply do not like nor trust one another, and we have developed this “every man for himself” and ‘I am better than you’ attitude towards each other.

    This self-serving (“kanya-kanya” or “makasarili”) and aristocratically arrogant (“hambog”) attitude has contributed to the degradation of our relationships with one another, corrupted our culture, and eventually destroyed our nation.

    I know many Filipinos will disagree or deny my assertion of who we are; but, this aversion from our true nature is just a symptom of our deep-seated fear of not wanting to dispel the delusions we have created in our minds–of who we want to be or should be—not of who we really are:

    A Broken Nation and People.

    1. There is only so few of us who realizes the deep shit we are into .Cuz no matter how we try to be good and respectful to others and how we take care of our environment on our own way, there are hudreds if not thousands of a$$holes in our country that are who are disrespectful to others, and f**king up the environment. I hope someone can invent an “Atomic stupid bomb” and drop to our country in order for those stupid people to be disentigrated. I’m sure 80% of our population will be gone in an instant.

  6. to me the root cause of being broken is the wrong notion of our so called “democracy-liberty”. now the yellow’s idea of democracy to me is not freedom at all. it is just to tolerate the bad, dysfunctional habits of the filipino people.

  7. When something is broken, you either throw it away and replace it (Japanese mentality), fix it (American mentality), or hope and pray it gets fixed (Pinoy mentality).

    If you had big boogers blocking your nose, keeping you from breathing well, what would you do? Hope and pray it falls off by itself?

    I think God gave man common sense to know how to solve problems. yes, miracles and divine help come in certain circumstances, but don’t expect one when you have a “booger” issue. Think!

  8. We have this ‘short-cut’ mentality too. We dont like a long process, yet we tend to wait for things to just happen, cause we are pretty sure they will, if only we pray hard and long enough. Nothing is really broken since they will eventually be fixed, as if automatically, ‘pag may awa ang Dyos’, so no real worries there. We just have to live our ‘holy’ lives.

    Yes we are supposed to be (good) christians. Ever listened to Papa Jack’s callers? Funny how one can measure our morality meter through that show. Scary as hell, really.

    ‘Banal na aso, santong kabayo…natatawa ako. Hi, hi, hi, hi’

  9. I think this is a really terrific article,and all comments to the article were great too,because I was able to see some introspection,some self analysis,and self criticism,which I find lacking in filipino culture…the big question becomes how do we create a paradigm shift in thinking,so that filipinos are not “offended”,but can actually embrace and welcome criticism and critical thinking,so as to improve the fate of the nation?? The sleeping giant IS the elephant in the room,but can it be awakened?????

    1. You know what filipinos and mainland chinese have similarities. They can differentiate “poeple”,”government, and “country”. When someone criticize one of these 3 good or bad, like half of the population will get angered because it hurts their feelings. Filipinos can’t accept the fact that we are a worthless as a nation in the eyes of the entire world.

      1. “Filipinos can’t accept the fact that we are a worthless as a nation in the eyes of the entire world.”

        That’s because we Filipinos are always full from eating too much ‘Pinoy Pride Chicken,’ that prevents us from seeing our true nature: self-serving and arrogant.

  10. I have lived here for 5 years now, married a Filipina OFW. We were both working in KSA at the time and have since relocated to the PI. The problems here start at the top, Politicians whom each have carved out there slice of the pie and run this country like fifedoms. Give a filipino a t-shirt, Kilo of rice or some J-Bee and he will vote for you, Filipinos are very short sighted, cannot see how these political dynasty’s have robbed them and their children of a lively future. Instead a pinot would rather watch daytime tv, that shows dancing, worthless humour, and preys on the poor the same way politicians do, give em a few pesos, a phone and hey they will be satisfied. Also if you want to be in charge of anything here there seems to be a thinking that you must be an attorney. I have wondered much about this and can only assume that pinot think that only lawyers are smart enough to run and manage things, my personal belief is however that Lawyers are the only ones that know how to manipulate rules and laws to ingratiate themselves and line their own pockets. Why is a attorney running the LTO/MMDA? what does he know about transportation, roads, traffic management? NOTHING! Why put one of the biggest customs brokers and shipping company owners in charge of BOC? That is like putting the FOX in the Hen House! Once again I ask myself why? My only explanation is political corruption and favours! Wake up filipinos, if you don’t you may soon be eating peking duck and speaking mandarin.

  11. IDK the answer to the question, BUT THE FAILIPPINES SOCIETY IS BROKEN. A system that is soo dysfunctional that almost nothing works. the problems now are soo far out of control that there are no easy fixes available outside of nuclear bombs destroying a large part of the country and getting a ‘DO OVER’ .
    A bigger societal mess is hard to find.
    BUT Individuals are still capable of good, even great things.Count the country out, but not yourself.

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