Don’t generalise, not all Filipinos are like that!

This is a common argument against opinion pieces that point out confronting observations about the collective character of the Filipino nation. The reasoning can be re-worded as a question like this: When someone asserts, say, that Filipinos are slobs, is this an unfair statement? It isn’t if one recognises that this statement is a generalisation. The important point to make here is that making a generalisation about a set is different from making an assertion about all the elements of said set.

For example, Filipino men are generally about five and a half feet tall. But not all Filipino men are that tall. From the first statement, one can make the generalisation: Filipino men are short. But the statement All Filipino men are short cannot be considered to be true, of course.


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Another way to validate a generalisation is by looking at evidence that the generalisation holds true. Going back to the example of the generalisation that Filipinos are slobs, one will find that there is abundant evidence that this generalisation is a fair one. Just on the basis of the look and smell of the Philippines’ premiere metropolis, Metro Manila, one can easily stand by such a generalisation. Vast mounds of rubbish that are matched only by the equally prevalent swarms of flies that infest this city can be observed everywhere. Even more disturbing than the total absence of modern waste management in Metro Manila is the baffling lack of a community-level ethic of cleanliness and sanitation amongst Filipinos. This is evident, to cite one popular example, in the way Filipino men nonchalantly urinate in public whenever nature happens to call them to the task.

So, the observations are quite compelling and conclusive. Filipinos are slobs.

To give a bit of air time to those who beg to differ, we can grant this: Not all Filipinos are slobs, of course. To be fair, over a series of random encounters with individual Filipinos, perhaps one out of five individuals encountered will be a neat freak. This individual who represents that 20 percent of Filipinodom postulated earlier, would wrap her spent gum in the foil package it came with and throw it in a trash can instead of sticking it underneath her desk. She will not, under any circumstances, flush her sanitary pad down a public toilet. And she won’t be caught dead driving a car that runs on leaded fuel and spews black smoke at every imminent gear change.

And the rest of the 80 percent? Well, we can all see ample evidence of their handiwork everywhere in the Philippines. Going back to the earlier example, it is fair to say that for every one Filipino who disposes of her chewed out gum properly, four will likely stick theirs under a table. In short, even if not all Filipinos are slobs, the good things done by the outlying neat freaks in Philippine society are negated by the slobs four to one. And so the Philippines remains a dump despite the heroic efforts of that 20 percent.

Given those results all Filipinos may as well be slobs.

And that is why we generalise. Because generalising provides useful insight on the emergent properties of a collective.

13 Replies to “Don’t generalise, not all Filipinos are like that!”

  1. Kasi karamihan sa ating mga Filipino, iba ang pag-tanggap sa tapik sa balikat. Iba ang dating pagnasasabihang: “wag ka magalala, di pa huli ang lahat,” o kaya “‘di lang tayo ang ganyan samakatuwid, ‘di tayo ang pinakamalala.” Kasi ang sagot ng karamihan d’yan ay “Ay ganoon! E ‘di tuloy ang buhay!!”

    Sorry kids. ‘Di kami nangbi-baby dito. Want to hear that all is fine in the Philippines? Listen to BSA III’s speeches. Want to hear the brutal truth about the country, go to Get Real Philippines.

  2. Sad to say that’s the reality we live in. However heroic one can be, if the people around him continue their decadent ways, it’s useless. Even worse if that hero is slowly being eaten by the abyss of decadence.

    Just like Heneral Luna.

  3. Exaggeration promotes comprehension. People will always only see, hear and understand what they want to anyways. Keep it real as always. And more power GRP!

  4. There is a great difference of the words: “All”, “Most” and “Some”. if you say:”All Filipinos are slobs”…that is a generalization. It is unfair, to Filipinos who are clean.

    However, you can see in the Philippine environment: streets, rivers, sea shores, canals, etc…. How most of the Filipinos, discard and dispose their garbage and trash.

    Go to the Squatter areas; and see how most of the Squatters live. They live around the garbage dumps; in carboard wall houses, without sanitary toilets…

    1. I guess the problem is there are no trash bins to be seen anywhere in malls or when they have big events, so people just throw it on the ground. I myself take it with me until I find somewhere to put it, But I suppose if there are trash bins some people go through them making a mess?, Not enough toilets around , but I find people don’t respect them anyway , leaving them dirty and water every where. I have lived here for over 4 years so have experienced All of this all over philippines! I think education from when they are children in the schools will help!

  5. Here are a few examples…fastfood chains, restaurants and food vans, why do MOST filipinos leave thier garbage on areas they used….tourist spots like sumaguing cave in sagada, we find plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, sanitary napkins etc,..we ,the filipino people shold react in a positive way by cleaning up our act. How can we improve our way of life when we cant even dispose our garbage properly…

    1. Great point! PLEASE do this. Only the Filipino people can bring about this change! You have a leaders attitude, Victor C. Please lead!

  6. I LOVE your blog! Your pieces tell the truth that Filipinos hate to hear but need to. When will they start being more concerned with making change than being offended by the truth? Here’s an idea. The next time you see a Filipino “man” urinating in the street, call him out on it (this will ONLY work if you are Filipino), and tell him to use the restroom at the karundaria. They’re everywhere. Next time you see a Pinoy throwing their garbage down, stop them and demand they pick it up. If they don’t, get a guard to make them do it. Only the change the Philippines needs can come from within. If the 20% who are decent people speak out against the 80% that keeps bringing the country down, change can happen and the Philippines can join the 21’st century.

  7. As human beings, we govern our actions with our deepest fears. But if you name that shit, you claim that shit: let enough people into your closet and you’ll find there’s no more room for skeletons. Leave yourself nowhere to hide and you can live your life unguarded.

  8. This presentation clearly separates a true thinker from the poseurs!

    I have to confess, I have a long standing envy of individuals who posses the ability to convey their thoughts into words, either verbally or in written form – creative, convincing and straightforward!

    Mr. benignO, have you written about any article re your GRP readers? Something about the comments and the reactions to issues at hand? And why sometimes it seems that fewer comments are garnered in the heavy stuff articles while in contrast to the lighter issues generate so many?

    What’s your observation so far and what’s your take on those who clearly and habitually pretends to be something they are not? GRP FanBoys who identify with the Intelligent community and use this as their Badge of Entitlement to wield against everyone as their imagined superiority against those who beg to differ?

    1. I, a regular Blogger of the GRP, never think of myself as : “having a badge of entitlement of intelligence”. I write from the heart. I write to be as truthful and accurate, as I can be; for those who want to read my Blogs. I have been a Blogger for more than five (5) years. I learned a lot from fellow bloggers, and web blog writers.

      I have a regular job. But, I want to inform my fellow countrymen, and help them.

      I do it with utmost sincerity, and to the best of my ability.

  9. “All generalizations are false, including this one.”
    -G.K. Chesterton

    but even if 99% of men urinate in public and spit anywhere and everywhere, it still does not negate the one person doing the right thing. better to wear a gas mask in the smog and exhaust and be seen to be surviving despite the odds than give in and go with the flow.

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