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.
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.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.