On being ‘Matapobre’: Why looking down upon the poor is not such a bad thing

More Filipinos should wholeheartedly embrace the Matapobre Philosophy. Stated in English, being matapobre is an entire way of life of looking down upon the ignoramus lot that infests Philippine society. And why not? There is much to be learned from the rich and very little to learn from the poor. Why elevate poverty to some perverse form of “blessedness” that it simply is not? Who wants to be poor anyway?


People who try to paint the matapobre among us as an “evil” circle of people are hypocrites. For one thing, the much-celebrated film Heneral Luna would not even exist today if its producers worshipped the tastes of the pobre or balked at challenging the industry status quo of pandering to their sentiments. Indeed, the rule of the pobre needs no additional support. It is doing quite well left on its own as it already holds the entire entertainment industry of the Philippines hostage to its detestable tastes. The fact that the intelligentsia found it worthwhile to engage in a social media campaign to keep Heneral Luna in theatres is enough proof that the tyranny of the pobre and their taste for low-brow slapstick and kabaklaan drama is a formidable force to reckon with in the fight to get quality movies enough air time in SM Cinema.

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Notice too how while there are millions of books on the subject of how to get rich being published and flying off shelves every year, one will be hard-pressed to find a single book that lays out, say, a seven-step guide to achieving poverty.

Actually, I lie. There is such a book — the Holy Bible. It is a book with hundreds of pages dedicated to persuading people that being poor is such a fantastic way of life. Ironically, this book is backed by big round-the-clock advertising campaigns funded by big mega-bucks and big politicians living in big palaces. No less than the wealthiest and most powerful organised religion in the world bankrolls the continued publication of this book to the tune of capital deployed on a scale that dwarfs the portfolios of Wall Street’s most celebrated bankers.

Having said that, the poverty we are up against in our embrace of the Matapobre Philisophy has nothing to do with the sort of poverty the Holy Bible coddles. Not at all. The poverty that is the real threat to Philippine society is a more insiduous one — a poverty of mind.

The trouble with mainstream pop-“activists” is that they fail to appreciate that there are many types of poverty. There is the “good” poverty that advocates of simplicity, pragmatism, and congruence with nature espouse. And there is Filipino-style poverty — a virulent strain of intellectual bankruptcy that is characterised by a perverse consumerism tightly-coupled with a baffling culture of mendicancy that is self-perpetuated within Philippine society.

If we are to believe these so-called “progressives” who take up “activist” causes that pander to notions of a “victimised” Filipino underclass, the poor and the manner with which they contribute to governance and culture are “under attack”. They are convinced that the continued rule of crooked and incompetent leaders is not the fault of the masa that voted for them and that the mediocre products of their entertainment industry are really more the “national pop culture phenomena” we should be learning from and not the shallow degenerate affronts to good breeding that the matapobre sneer at.

Pitched this way, these “progressives” are trying to convince us that we are “missing the chance to learn” from the poor and the manner with which they contribute to or influence Philippine society at large.

Well, ok then, perhaps somebody should take stock of the specific opportunities to “learn” that we are supposedly missing out on by being matapobre. In short;

What is there to learn from the poor?

Better yet, let’s pit the two camps side-by-side and see once and for all which of the two lists will be longer and more substantial:

* * *

(1) List of things to learn from the poor:

(2) List of things to learn from the rich:

* * *

And here is the lesson to be learned from this simple exercise:

It takes years of education (or informal learning), a mature mind, robust constitution, and sustained discipline in the way one conducts himself to be not poor; and a stretch on all of those virtues to be on the path to exceptional wealth.

In contrast to the above, any idiot can be poor. All human babies, for that matter, are born poor (babies have no money and nothing in their heads). Poor adults are essentially babies that stayed poor as they grew up.

It’s simple, really

The path to enlightenment does not lead to the Payatas or to noon-time Filipino television programming. It leads to the gentrified citadels of hip in Makati and Bonifacio Global City, to theatres that unreservedly exhibit excellent movies like Heneral Luna, and to media networks that air The Discovery Channel documentaries on prime time.

45 Replies to “On being ‘Matapobre’: Why looking down upon the poor is not such a bad thing”

  1. Hmmm. Let’s analyze this idiot’s article.

    Marie Sklodowska Curie was dirt poor and won a Nobel Prize.
    Paris Hilton is rich and… so dumb and stupid.
    I wouldn’t mind being a poor.

    Where are the braincells in this site?

    1. Yo homie, ya digz what was said by Mr Benigno? Read between the lines mate. Let me quote it for youzz – The poverty that is the real threat to Philippine society is a more insiduous one — a poverty of mind. Its not povery because you don’t have money to buy cobra energy drink and yosi. But dirt poor in philosophy that he cant even think of ways how to buy cobra and yosi because bobet is not around. Kaching!

      1. Yo homie, read the article again. The path of enlightenment for this Benigno Idiot should lead to BGC and Makati. Haha. That’s richness of the mind?

        1. While I disagree with Mr Benigno as BGC and Makati as the mecca(lack of better term) of intelligent people(marami akong tanga at mga gunggong na katrabaho partida graduate sila), you were referring to ‘poor’ as a financial state rather than a mental state given the contrast you came up with comparing bitch Hilton and curie. Comparing both is like chuck Norris to dingdong dantes, you just fuckin don’t hahaha.

        2. @Corpsegrinder You should really be consistent with the witty commenting from your first reply. Miss it already. Ka-ching, I guess.

    2. Hey Farmer you think Paris is stupid and dumb? Let me tell you this her grandpa does not have the plan to hand her the business.

      He knows Paris is not capable of managing it and Paris knows it too. So what she does is commercializing herself attending to high class events and parties.

      So now even without the inheritance Paris is in no way of giving shit because she can rack up millions just by attending any event, not including any endorsement offered to her.

      I am not her fan but you gotta give her a credit on how wise she is in earning her place even though a lot call her stupid just like you. Now can you earn million just by going to any events? Pretty sure not and it’s maybe even you who will shed some money just to get in. If she is beside you she can make you eat her money till you choke and it won’t even make a dent on her account.

      So do a little research about a person rather than just watching those mindless showbiz gossip you are fond of watching Farmer! She maybe not smart but she is wise enough to earn big money and not going bankrupt, if you think earning millions is dumb and stupid then how would you call yourself Farmer?!

      1. @Kiatan I’m using a microscope right now to locate your brain. I didn’t say earning millions is dumb and stupid. I said Paris Hilton is dumb and stupid, compared to the poor discoverer of the polonium and radium. Geez.

        1. Did you even discover new element or anything world changing? Then you are no better than her, just millions of dollar poorer I guess.

    3. Congratulations, you’ve figured it out. True poverty is not in the amount of property you own, but in the braincells you use and the way you behave towards others. Now, if the rest of our poor countrymen can find the will and intellect to lift themselves out of poverty and to realize that theirs is not a position they want to stay in. Hmmm.

  2. two of the world’s wealthiest billionaires – one an american, the other australian – are chasing for wealth in the form of casinos, but they have to trample over a lot of people who get in their way, and in the end, their product leaves only misery, dereliction, destitution and pawnshops behind.

    “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
    will himself also call and not be heard.”
    (Prov 21:13)

  3. I do in fact look down on the “ignoramus lot that infests Philippine society.” I will continue to do so as long as they exist. Being an ignoramus is a choice. It means they have been exposed to reality and education, yet have chosen to ignore those things and thus perpetuated their culture of ignorance. Only an ignorant person, or an actually mentally handicapped creature would watch Filipino noontime TV without screaming their minds out at the stupidity of those things.

    If I ever catch my kids watching that shit I’ll slap the taste right out of their mouths.

    1. That comes real easy to you, doesn’t it — being as foreign as a foreigner can get in this country, someone rather too jealous of his unique lofty pure unadulterated outside view to ever bother slipping — or as Thomas Mann wrote about puritanical aesthetes like you, different time different context (here Mann talks of f– ART!!!) same impulse —

      “Here is the end: ice, chastity, null. Here is valid no compromise, no concession, no half-way, no consideration of values. Here is the air so rarified that the mirages of life no longer exist.”

      1. I’ve lived in this country for 12 years and ignorance in most cases here is a choice. Why to people CHOOSE t be ignorant and act as if they are beyond CONSTRUCTIVE criticism?

  4. Only Filipinos can watch “Heneral (I presume they forgot how to spell General) Luna because only Filipinos speak Tagalog. Just exactly HOW do you expect the real world to understand it? I downloaded it but deleted it once I discovered it is in gibberish.

    1. Same with the Bob Ong books that tend to be held up as the height of modern Filipino literature, I wanted to read some but couldn’t find an English translation. I guess there just really isn’t a non-Filipino market for Filipino things. Penguin only added Rizal to their classics library a few years back.

    2. @Jerry Lynch,

      Filipinos watched and enjoyed “Heneral (General) Luna” because they are looking for someone–or something–to grasp, and hope, to validate their shaky “Pinoy Pride,” which, by definitions and meanings, vary according to individual experience, interpretation, and delusion; and, is not a shared as a common philosophy among ALL FILIPINOS who live their lives separately, instead of as one nation.


  5. Philippines society loves to highlight class conflict as part of its way to maintain the status quo. You can see this in the TV shows and movies we watch. Ever heard of plots in shows wherein the way the corrupt people thrive is to keep their enemies fighting each other? That’s what’s happening here.

    And part of this scheme is to relate being rich or poor with being good or evil. Being rich=good/poor=evil, or poor=good/rich=evil. This has got to stop.

    That what being “matapobre” means in this case. It’s looking down upon ignorance, not one’s economic background.

    1. Oh, and the last parts of Benign0’s article refer to laziness and the like. That’s the main problem of the country, as the GRP logo implies. I’ll be writing posting something on this theme shortly.

  6. Confucius said: “In a well-run country, be ashamed of being poor. In a badly-run country be ashamed of being rich.” or something similar.

    Poverty is often not even lack of intelligence – I know smart people who are dirt poor – but insufficient self-control.

    Nothing wrong with being “may kaya” as they say in Filipino. In fact it is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter whether you are living in a well-run country where riches are usually not stolen but a result of work or the right ideas, or in a badly-run country like the Philippines where there you don’t have real equal opportunities like in the US, Australia or Germany. Self-reliance trumps the beggar mentality anytime, anywhere.

    1. And to add: the gentrified citadels of Makati etc. often display intellectual poverty as well – they think they are sophisticated for just imitating stuff they see from abroad, without any additional thinking of their own.

      Heneral Luna is something else – a very Filipino production with international quality, no compromises, no bullshit.

  7. Ayan na naman ang mga timang na balat sibuyas na comment sa article ni benigno. Akala kinakawawa na naman ang mahihirap. Ang gusto lang sabihin ni benigno ay kung mayaman ka na, wag mong hayaan ang sarili mo na maghirap pa at kung mahirap ka, ikahiya mo ang hirap at magsikap ka para guminhawa ang buhay mo. Kaya nga tinawag na mahirap dahil puro suffering ang pagiging pobre. Motivation ang article na ito hindi pang-aapi sa karapatang pantao.

  8. The Philippines and Filipino people are not poor compared to other Third World countries. We Filipinos just have a “poor” mentality when it comes to how we see and treat ourselves, our country, and one another.

    If the average Filipino can eat 3 meals a day (with snacks in-between); watch “Eat Bulaga” on television for 2 to 3 hours in the morning and mid-afternoon, and our favorite “teleseryas” (soap) in the evening for about the same time; hangout in the malls with families and friends, and grab a bite to eat at our favorite restaurants or kiosks; put endless loads on our cellphones to socialize with everybody; or just hangout all through the day and well into the night until it is time to go home, we are not poor.

    We Filipinos just enjoy projecting a “poor” image of ourselves to the international communities, in hopes of gaining sympathy–and possibly economic assistance–as a nation and people oppressed by our own corrupt government. The truth is we Filipinos are envious of people from other developed countries and our own countrymen, whom we perceive as possessing more than what we have.

    If we cannot get what we want from others through legal means, we call ourselves “poor” by comparison; or, worse, we will do whatever it takes to covet, match, or surpassed the target of our envy by resorting to illegal, unethical, or immoral means.

    This attitude and way of life make our country the Philippines—our culture, people, and values—a corrupt nation, and why we cannot blame others—especially the international communities and our own people—to look down and despise us. There is no one to blame but ourselves; we’ve created our own image.

  9. yes Filipinos are poor mentality. Their brain is wired to reject any activity that requires brain cells to exercise.

    Filipinos shun intellectual debates because it is much easier to laugh, sing and feel emotional.

    Filipinos should read more and expand their very narrow vocabulary rather than watch worthless TV shows that are simply a waste of manhours that could have added to the GDP. time is gold but Filipinos love to just flush anything of value down their clogged sewers.

  10. Failipinos looked at other people with the tired, ignorant, slightly stupid expression that is so common in Failipinos who aren’t used to seeing the broader picture in small things.

  11. There is not enough jobs decent paying jobs in the Philippines and it is over populated country. That is why they have too much time doing nothing and just hanging out..watching novellas and noon time shows. Instead of working for a living for just any other jobs on hand …they had to much pride ,,,, they rather not work if the pay is just too low to survive..but some does and I admire them..you can try to change anything you want in the Philippines but if there is no room for change and no jobs or money to go around, people will stay poor and just hang out ..What else can they do….some ,, just steals and robbed each other….it is hard for any poor country to feed her people …if she cannot afford it…this site should rally to pressure the government to the direction of job creation for its people…This GRP site sometimes sound like the Filipino mind of this generation…just talk about ignorance of the people but also no direction…it’s hard to educate the people if their are hungry and poor and their neighbors are rich and famous.

  12. It is the Political leaders, who want the Filipino people to be Poor and Dumb. So, that they can be easily manipulated. Remember during the Spanish colonial times. If you (any Indio) was very educated. They were exiled or killed.

    Looking down on the poor, or “MataPobre” was a Spanish Aristocrat character. The dirt poor were the Indios, like us. The Rich and powerful, were the Spanish colonizers. The Spanish colonizers are now our :rich, new rich political leaders, their political followers, political opportunists, thieves of all kinds, etc…

    It is the same case, that they had in Argentina. During the time of Pres. Juan Peron. His wife, Evita Peron, was an illegitimate child of a wealthy landowner. Evita Peron was not accepted, by the “half breeds” or Argentine Upper class, who were mostly “meztizos”. So, she got a lot of enemies, until the Perons were driven out of the country. Evita Peron was a very charitable woman. She had concern with the poor, or the “decamisados”…

    Aristrocrats? Anyone? Foolish Pride…

    1. On a normal society, it’ll work.

      But this is the Philippines we’re talking about, benign0. You think the ruling elite will actually encourage/challenge the masses to climb up the social ladder (extinguishing the poverty of mind, like you wanted to imply)? They’ll be shooting themselves in the foot if they did that.

      I’m with Hayden here. It’s not easy to slay the beast known as poverty, when there are people feeding it, and gaining something from it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

  13. OMG, sorry but Imma callin BULLSHIT on this li’l tid-bit.This organization (the Catholic Church) continues to ‘bankrolls the continued publication of this book to the tune of capital deployed on a scale that dwarfs the portfolios of Wall Street’s most celebrated bankers’, WHAT? OH BULLSHIT ! PLEASE, show us where you got this ‘fact’ from, EXACTLY WHERE ?

    AH, I see, you pulled it out of your ass and decided to call it a fact, huh? That is the definition of BULLSHIT, SONNY !!!
    Rail against the Church all you like, its a fashion craze these days, but if your gonna do it….stick to the facts….not BULLSHIT, like this statement certainly is.

  14. The quality of jobs coupled with the over-abundance of worker’s is stagnating wages in an already pathetically paid work-force. How in the fuck can a person even show up for work at the mall when they are going to be paid less than $10 for their entire day of toil?
    it is not the fault of the poor in the Philippines, it is the society that accepts shit call center jobs at the expense of creating a manufacturing sector where people could actually make enough money to actually not qualify as being poor to begin with.

    1. it is the society that accepts shit call center jobs at the expense of creating a manufacturing sector where people could actually make enough money to actually not qualify as being poor to begin with.

      I’m not sure what do you mean here, but workers in manufacturing earns lower than those in call center. Typical call center agent starts earning around 12k per month. Factory worker at most earns 8k per month. Managerial position in the manufacturing earns around 15k per month. I’m not sure how much a team lead or manager earns in a call center.

      1. Either one, that is what everybody rally to put a shoes in this government to work on,,, Put Filipinos to work In the Philippines so they all have something to do.

      2. probably what he means is that we also need to focus on manufacturing products we can sell to other countries. if that product can compete against Nike, Mizuno, etc. then demand will increase, money goes in and wage will increase. example:
        japan: toyota, honda, Gunpla (gundam build).

        it seems our people remains to be consumers only. we buy stuff outside, money goes out, it weakens our internal economic market (a filipino buys a product from a filipino).

        we have wasted 30 years after marcos. guess who to blame.

  15. The Catholic Church has its own Bank: the Vatican Bank. A few years ago; there was a scandal in the Vatican Bank.Huge amount of Money was missing. One of its Bank’s official was murdered.

    Pope John Paul I, the Pope that reigned the shortest reign. Some stories, had surfaced, that Pope John Paul I, was murdered; because of this scandal.

    “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit; for they shall see the Kingdom of God.” From the “Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus Christ.

    There is a difference between: “Poor” and “Poor in Spirit”…it may not had been translated well; by translators. Aramaic was the mother tongue of Jesus Christ. To translate this to Greek, or other languages; errors or inaccuracies, may had taken place.

    1. The “poor” in “poor in spirit” refers not to just those poor who still eats three times a day. Rather, the Greek word used for “poor” refers to beggars, essentially those who rely on alms to eat any for the day.

      Adding “in spirit” limits the scope of being beggar in spiritual sense, not in material sense.

  16. Ay benign0 — kung ang tanging gusto mo lang pala e jumakol sa ibabaw ng Noli me tangere dapat sinabi mo lang straight out. Wala namang maiinis liban sa mga babae pasulyap-sulyap rito at sa mga kagaya kong bookworm na ilang beses na ring nagbasa ng Noli’t nadidismaya (lol too weak) each time binubuhay ng mga tarangagong tulad mo ang mga stereotype at mga viewpoint na inisa-isang pagpirapirasuhin ni Rizal as so much unwarranted aggrandization.

    So really, go fuck yourself.

    1. Nah that’s too easy. Blogging is much an art as it is a means to get a message out. So sorry ka na lang. If your comment is about my style, you will just have to be content with eating what is served in this excellent site. The only person really who has the option to fuck off is you. We here, on the other hand, are quite simply having too much fun to do that.

  17. It really depends on what kind of matapobre.

    If being matapobre means the upper class are willing to challenge the poor to get to their level, then I approve. But if it means looking down on the poor AND kicking them further down the ladder (in short, gipitin sila) then to hell with them.

    I know everybody here are very curious about the Filipinos’ anti-intellectual stance. But the main reason is simple, really. Had our so-called “intelligentsia” done anything to uplift the unwashed masses? As what we see today… nope. Instead they join the ruling elite on enslaving the masses.

    I really wish all Filipino intellectuals are like you guys here in GRP, because you all have the balls to say “you’re an idiot, but you can change”, contrary to the others who says “you’re an idiot, thus you don’t have the right to say anything”.

  18. I Am matapobre, and it’s regardless whatever one’s status in life, rich or average, it’s a person’s character which really define if that person is rich or poor, and there are poor among the rich and no person of sensible and exemplary character is ever poor

  19. We are all a product of our circumstances. Rather than looking down on them, why not do something to help them look up to someone/something who/which can inspire them to do better than where they’re currently at? The article has a point here and there, what made it seemed not so appealing is, I think, the typical Filipino arrogance in it.

    By the way, Mr Lynch, why are you in the Philippines, anyway? Yes, only Filipinos speak Tagalog…just like only the Chinese speak mandarin or Cantonese, or just like only the Indians speak Hindi. Sorry, you lost me there…point?

  20. Is it just me, or are middle-class people in the Philippines still kinda jologs? I mean, their vocabularies are still pretty small and they are still pretty ratchet in their behavior.

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