Filipinos need a strong and unified resolve to get rid of their Squatter Mentality

These days, the woeful plight of refugees trying to get into Europe is international news.  They are running away from ISIS who have been pillaging their world and the dark forces that have been erasing their civilization.  They are seeking a world where hope could be alive and aspire to leave a world where hope has been darkened by conflicts and miseries.  They are victims of reprehensible human traffickers who sell even the slightest glimmer of hope to the desperate for a hefty profit.  And, Europe is in a most awkward quandary.

For decades, the woeful plight of the growing number of illegal settlers in the cities of the Philippines is being daily confirmed by the eyes, ears and noses of citizens and is no longer news.  They are running away, but could not, from ISIS too, the InSenstive Interest Syndrome of politicians who pillage the country and the powers-that-be who erase from the culture any sense of decency.  They are seeking hope in an urban life from the ever-growing neglect of policy makers of the rural life.  They are victims of election trafficking, a regularly-held exercise when reprehensible politicians sell hope to the gullible who don’t know they are buying unfounded promises at the price of their future.  And, Philippines is in a quandary, but now denies that quandary.


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There are squatters all over the  world.  Rio de Janeiro, and other cities in Brazil, are known for their favelas.  In Seoul, there is a large section, a stone’s throw away from the Hyatt Hotel, which one will know is the poorest section of the city, as it is a contrast to the modern landscape when viewed from the other side of the river.  Just at the outskirts of Bangkok is also a section they call the wet market, because the vendors are literally on boats. 

But, Dan Brown didn’t write about these cities and liken them to the Gates of Hell, as he did with Metro Manila.  On the contrary, the three, the poor sections of Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, and Bangkok, are tourist attractions. 

Some observers even say that Metro Manila has now some of the scariest areas for extreme adventurers and the weirdos that could easily rival those that could be found in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, where India has done recently a lot to reverse decades of neglect. 

‘It’s More Fun in the Phillippines’ won a prestigious ad award in New York for its creativity.  We suppose the ad has a double meaning, i.e., if being inconvenienced, distressed, or just having a horrible experience could also be considered as fun.  The Tourism Department better clarify the real meaning of “more fun” for there is a terrible slyness to it.  This could account for why many tourists don’t come back.  Better: “It’s More Fun in the Philippines — But Be Careful”.

There is no denying that the poor sections in our cities can’t be tourist attractions.  What they attract are criminal elements.  They are an eyesore, stinky and filthy.  In a culture where individuals are a self-centred, narcissistic, inconsiderate, discourteous, and thievin’ lot (ref: The Philippines’ traffic problems will never be solved. Here’s why…), the quandary is in asking ourselves if these squatter colonies are the cause, or the effect, of a damaged culture.  Apparently, the dubious, if not evil, loves that which is filthy.

By now, the population is experiencing the Stockholm Syndrome effect; their senses, a 24/7 captive audience of these squatter colonies.  If syndromes are an exaggeration, depression can still be a good description.  Everyone, rich and poor, young and old, has acquired a squatter mentality.  Filipino netizens, with the flimsiest of reasons, flood comment threads with Pinoy Pride comments, in order to deny, or cover-up, this mentality but, in the process, further confirm unwittingly that squatter mentality.

Squatters exist because of the disregard of laws. (ref: Why the Iglesia Ni Cristo rally on EDSA was another case of Filipinos’ SQUATTER mentality prevailing) The squatter mentality developed because any semblance of a sense of stability has long gone.  Any sense of belonging has vanished.  The law is only for those who belong, not for those who think they don’t belong.  Because most feel they don’t belong, laws are there for individual conveniences, not to serve as the rule.  Most feel they are above the law.

Consequently, the law has worked against the weak and the poor; it has favoured the influential, the criminally wily, the land grabber and the rich.  With the absence of a level playing field, personal preservation, self-protection, and advancement have become more of who-you-know, rather than on what-you-know.  Education has become basic, and incentives for advanced learning have become limited to the very few optimists.  The padrino system and patronage politics became the pillars and foundations of institutions; they are the very system.

The rich are squatters in the Philippines because their homes are really somewhere in New York, London, Paris, or Singapore, where they spend six months of every year to keep their sanity. The Philippines has been relegated to being a mere business address.  More than half of the middle class want to migrate to the US, Canada, or Australia.  And, the poor don’t know whether they want to stay in the city, or their home province, but will jump at any opportunity to be an OFW.

After the people power uprisings of EDSA I and EDSA II, things have become worse, and people now doubt if change for the better is even possible.  And, thus, people are tired and have become dismissive to calls to change.  Politicians have poisoned the very well from which fresh ideas could be fetched, and there is distrust and apathy all around.

Obviously, Philippine society is a fragmented one. There is nothing to hold it together.  Those who advocate a return to nationalism have a distorted sense of nationalism.  They want to erase the colonial past, instead of using history as points of departure.  Thus, history has repeated itself, and we are back to being a colony; only this time, the colonizers are Filipino feudal lords, who want to perpetuate the squatter mentality, so they can ravage the land.  It is history repeating itself in the worst possible way.

When the Spaniards found the archipelago, it was a loose confederations of tribes.  It was only when it became a Spanish colony that it began to have a semblance of a nation.  Ultra-nationalists say that we probably would have been a strong nation if we didn’t become a colony.  We have to doubt this.  As an archipelago, it probably would have ended as an archipelago of three nations, or more.  In fact, the basis for that could even be found up to now in our extreme parochialism.  Worse, we can’t even harbor a sense of empathy that goes beyond our families and circles of friends.

The very way urban planning of our cities is approached reflects this mentality.  Cities in the Philippines are just collections of pockets of kingdoms.  There are the enclaves of the rich and the subdivisions of the middle class — all protected by high walls. Then there are the tolerated colonies of illegal settlers.  For as long as we each don’t disturb each other worlds, then everything seems okay, even when it is not.

Imperial Manila has become less and less effective. Federalism has been pushed because this seems to fit our mentality and our geography like a glove.  It likely would permit better management and control.  Unfortunately, powers-that-be have kept on kicking the can on this one always further down the road.  They don’t want to lose their over-all control, and yet it is this control that accounts for so many areas that are neglected.

Still, we have to listen to their questions.  How does federalism contribute to the unity of Filipinos?  Or, does it aggravate a fragmented society?  Could we have unity in diversity, or diversity in unity?  For sure, we have diversity, so the question has to be about unity.  Could unity be defined in a way that would work with the Filipino mentality, and with Filipino culture, if there was any?  Where could the principles be found?  How could its practicality be formulated?

Typically, unifying a people is about allowing unifying forces to be present.  As in war, they immediately come into play because there is supposed to be a common enemy; there is an urgent common goal.  Maybe, public administration is about recognizing, or “creating”, a common enemy, or a common goal.  This is not something unknown to our leaders, and that is why they come out with slogans, what is supposed to be a common goal for a specific period; nothing about the future.  But, because they are corrupt, they could not tell the public who is the common enemy, and thus, the slogans are empty.  And, with a culture that loves to debate ad infinitum the question of who is the common enemy, leaders always get away with their empty slogans.

Let us stop the quandary, and the slogans.  It is time to look for a champion who has the character and intellect to undertake the long, arduous task of defining with us again who and what is a Filipino, so the nation can be clear again on who are really its enemies.

19 Replies to “Filipinos need a strong and unified resolve to get rid of their Squatter Mentality”

  1. Squatters – my favorite topic!
    Common sense for Pinoys: make squatting a capital offense and have judge Dredd (judge, jury, executioner) do the cleanup work.

    But seriously, judging from the article picture – Haven’t these police officers heard of teargas before? If I were president, I would have used the military to in place of these incompetent police, and send these feeling self-entitled squatting trouble makers off to the Spratleys to populate those islands China is squatting on.

    1. Unfortunately zaxx, squatting is not only protected by law but encouraged. If someone is squatting on your land, you have to compensate them for inconvenience caused by evicting them. The fact that they’ve turned your land into an open sewer or a trash dump is irrelevant.

      Making things worse is that land titles (especially out in the boondocks) are a godawful shambles, with half-a-dozen people ostensibly owning the same area of land, or overlapping bits of it. Reason? Gross incompetence, corruption, and laziness.

      1. On top of that, marius, are criminal syndicates taking advantage of the weakness and loopholes in the system

        1. First among these criminals are those called as the professional squatters. These bastards make good money out of squatting. They happen to have friends in the city hall or the police dept, and they know of private lands that are seldom visited by owners. With that, a professional squatter builds one or two shanties which he rents out. It doesn’t take very long when other guys start approaching him if they could also build a shanty in the place, for which he charges them a rent for the space. Before you know it, a squatter colony is in place. If there are 100 shanties that could fit in the place, say at 2000 per month per shanty, that is 200 thousand Pesos per month, half of which he’d most likely share with his police buddies. Not bad for a freaking guy who doesn’t own the land.

        Squatting remains a crime, but in 1992 the Urban Development & Housing Act, or more known as the Lina Law, was passed. The law was supposed to protect people against professional squatters and to start a housing program for the poor. But, as with many laws of the Philippines, they didn’t look at the implementation side, so no program could be started. But, a provision in there has even made matter worse, because a squatter cannot be evicted this time unless a house is available which the program was suppose to make available.. So, big mess. Why the law is not yet being repealed is the big question.

        2. The criminal syndicate inside the LRA, the Land Registration Authority, whether it is the main office in Quezon City, or the branches at the municipal level. They are specifically on the look-out for lands being disputed for varying reasons. If it is a complicated case, they complicate it more by coming out with three or four more titles which all look authentic, of course. Because these guys are very well connected with the courts, the courts, of course, eventually decide in favour of these guys. Meantime, the original two parties in the dispute, one of whom may have been the real owner, end up with nothing. Actually, LRA is more corrupt than the Bureau of Customs. Why there has not been a major revamp in this agency is a big question.

        3. The Land Grabbers The same as #2, but they have graduated into big time. They are only interested in big parcels of land.

      2. Add: I strongly suspected #2 from the shenanigans I’ve observed first hand in the offices of the LRA and DAR.

        I think the reason there’s been no revamp is that most of the title holders are ignorant people who barely know what a hectare looks like. They don’t know what they own, how big it is, or where the corners are, but they DO have a magic piece of paper from the government that says they own it. The fact that all their neighbours have a similar piece of paper with overlapping technical descriptions completely goes over their heads.

        1. You will have to double, triple, even 10x, check the details, the notations, the side notes, the various stamps, etc, on the title before you buy any property in the Philippines.

    2. Marius, Add – thanks for mentioning.

      A law that punishes the victim compounded by a system that coddles land-grabbing syndicates is just beyond me.

      Here’s the outcry of one of the victims…

      Squatting and the stupid Lina Law
      Posted by sheilamarie | Labels: Moments of Madness

      Good thing the heartless crocodiles won’t have the last laugh coz…
      Wolves are exposed. Corruptors fall by the hand of the Almighty to whom be glory forever. (Zaxxun Creed)

      1. A friend of mine, who is based in Dubai, was approached by their relative who wanted to sell a property near Butuan urgently. I think the relative needed immediate money to pay some hospital bills. As a way of helping the relative, he decided to buy the property without much haggling. But, that year, he already scheduled his vacation not in the Philippines, but in Europe. Because they didn’t like the international school in Dubai, the children continued to study in Manila, and the wife had to stay with the children. So, the family was really looking forward to that trip in Europe to be together for quality time. Whatever, he only managed to take a look at the property after 2 or 2-1/2 years after he bought it.

        The property is a 4-hectare farmland near Butuan. When he finally saw it, he was shocked to see a colony of squatters in it. Thus, he immediately confronted his relative why a problem was sold to him, instead of a property. Relative, however, professed that there was no squatter when he sold it. The two decided they better seek the advice of another relative who is an officer with the Butuan Police and who in turn decided to interview the squatters.

        What came out from the investigation was that the squatters thought they were there legally because they were renting the place from some bloke who claimed he was the owner of the place. The bloke turned out to be some fellow who had some very powerful friends in City Hall. He also showed them a land title to prove he was the owner. They concluded that my friend was hit by a syndicate well placed among powers-that-be in Butuan.

        The suggestion of his police relative was not to file a case in court. Not only would he spend a lot of money in a case that could drag on for 5 to 10 years, there is also the big possibility he would lose the case since he can’t just possibly be shuttling back and forth between Dubai and Butuan just to attend a court hearing. The final recommendation was to contact a certain Commander Henry of the New People’s Army (NPA).

        My friend didn’t tell me how much he paid the Commander, but he was convinced it was definitely much, much cheaper than hiring a lawyer and then going to the court. In any event, when the Commander moved, the squatters were gone within 48 hours, and that guy pretending to be the owner stopped saying he was the owner. Actually, my friend received a parcel in Dubai containing the torn pieces of the fake title to property with a note from the Commander saying that he could not send all the pieces because he had the pretender literally eat a good part of the pieces missing.

        So, there is justice for you in the Philippines; Wild, Wild West style.

        My friend has since then hired a caretaker to look after the property. But he also has been complaining a bit because every Christmas since then, and it’s been about 7 or 8 years already, he has to instruct the caretaker to prepare two sacks of rice and a box of assorted can goods like sardines, corned beef, etc, which the men of the Commander pick-up always on time. He has so far been unsuccessful in selling the property, and remains with his little headache every Christmas because of that ritual. Meantime, there have been people continuously approaching him for a joint-venture to put-up a fish pond in the area. He’s been hesitant because it might amount to a bigger headache. Can’t blame him; investing in the Philippines, you will have to think a thousand times.

  2. These squatters aren’t just aliens, drifters and undesirables. They’re new world barbarians, conquering free spaces and making them their own.

  3. It is hard to remove the “Squatter Mentality” of Filipinos. We, the Indios were conditioned in our minds by the Spaniards who came to rule us, with degrading mentalities. That, we cannot function without them. Our mindsets/consciousness/subconsciousness were further degraded by Filipino Politicians, giving us the “FreeBees “. Free Housing (just squat on somebody else property. During elections: free rice, free “tuyo”, free cell phone, free money,free slippers, free t-shirts, etc…in exchange for your votes.

    It is in the Collective Unconsciousness of Filipinos; that they don’t have to work in order to have these materials. And that, they are good for nothing. The only solution is to Change this Mindset. Not the “Proud to be Pinoy” kind…for it is only a band-aid solution.

      1. “State Slavery” cannot be a solution. Josef Stalin of the former Soviet Union, experimented it, by creating Soviet Gulags (Slave Camps)…in Siberia, Soviet Union. Stalin murdered almost 30 million Soviets…by working them to death…

  4. I have always wanted to blog about this. But sadly, I’m not a blogger and not as good a writer as you. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Should thank you, Bogs. Well, I still don’t consider myself a writer because through the years all I have been writing are long reports to my boss and the company headquarters, which are of course always boring to any disinterested party. I am also still trying to learn write an article as a blogger and get out of the boring style.

      Thus, sincerely appreciate your comment, Bogs. It helps me to go on and be better.

  5. The “Squatter Mentality” applies to all Filipinos: they will conveniently throw their trash on their neighbor’s yard, as long as their own yard stays clean.

  6. I tried taking the MRT from north avenue to taft avenue on a monday morning. HOLY F*CK! It’s not FUN in the philippines. 🙁

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