2016 is around the corner and recently, many people in the online complaintosphere have lamented that it’s the same old names. This is actually predictable, because Filipinos haven’t leveled up in what they demand from leaders. They behave the same old way: vote and forget. They vote, then assume the leaders already know what to do. No participation or active follow-up. Perhaps factored in by the Filipinos’ legendary laziness, it’s also because Filipinos likely don’t know what they should call for from leaders.
I see some patterns in how Filipinos look at their “leaders,” so I’ve decided to jot them down.
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1. Filipinos seem to vote for people who are like themselves. One thing I have opined was that Filipinos vote for people like themselves. It’s been discussed in some circles that former president Joseph Estrada has mistresses, gambles and drinks heavily (his surgery for a liver ailment could be proof of that). OK, let’s assume for this moment these are true, these are heavy vices. Yet why did he become president? Because it is likely that his voters are also womanizers, gamblers and drunkards themselves. It’s a kind of narcissism. Whether these charges about Estrada may or may not be true, it does seem like you are who you vote. Thus, if the government people are corrupt, it would be because a lot of the ordinary people themselves may be corrupt.
2. As aptly alluded to in Get Real Philippines Webmaster Benign0’s recent article, Filipinos are afraid of discipline and intelligence. Many Filipinos still lack discipline, and it can’t be denied in the face of violations of traffic regulations and how much Filipinos cheat and lie to turn things unfairly into their advantage (such as bribing officials in bids or rigging a bid through connections, or putting an unqualified relative in employment). Some Filipinos reason that since others are intending to hoodwink you, beat them to the draw! And when caught, Filipinos don’t want to be punished; they can use anything from arrogance to paawa effect to avoid punishment. Filipinos’ me-first attitudes lead then to treat rules as mere suggestions. As a result, Filipinos make other people suffer for their wrongdoings.
Right now, the fear of Bongbong Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte running for anything in higher office has sparked fears of Martial Law, something that Benign0 rightly said will not happen again. But what do Filipinos really fear: Martial Law or just discipline? Indeed, Benign0 implied that what Filipinos fear is being made to follow the rules. Some Filipinos will profess that they want other Filipinos to follow the rules, but when asked to follow the rules themselves, they might kick and scream. This will be true of all classes, rich, middle, poor or whatever.
So basically, Filipinos love kunsintidor leaders. They want the leaders who approve of their wrongdoings and will just let them go, or will even save them when punishment is being implemented on them. They would want it done to others but not to them. It can be said that most Filipinos want impunity (though a select few actually have it) and is one of the major factors why our society is backward.
3. Filipinos hate intelligence and intellectuality. Because Marcos was intelligent, they believe anybody who is intelligent will be corrupt. I also recall during the 2010 campaign, there were reports of things like Richard Gordon slapping a woman, or other more intellectual candidates committing purported abuses, though they were never proven. An even more recent example has Filipinos being butthurt over world-class star Lea Salonga’s astute and correct opinions about “kababawan” (shallowness). Indeed, Filipinos are a gullible people, so if they easily be fooled by sarcasm or hoaxes, they could indeed be fooled by tsismis (gossip) about intelligent people being “corrupt.”
There are also myths believed by people about “matalinos.” A client claimed to have an intellectual friend who is hot-tempered and does not like repeating himself when explaining something to a person, indicating low patience. And she believes that this is common among intelligent people. This may have been observed in politicians who are considered intellectuals, such as Dick Gordon and Miriam Defensor Santiago. Not all intellectuals are like this, but think about it: if you saw someone doing wrong who insists that he is still right, if wouldn’t that make you blow your stack? Also, is blowing one’s stack really a bad sign? It seems people try to demonize people rightly blowing their stack to try and gain impunity.
Not only that, we have TV shows and movies that demonize people with brains. If someone has brains, he belongs to the abusive rich, or that brains are used mostly for stealing or swindling. They believe that the purpose of intelligence is for making dastardly schemes or “diskarte,” and so Filipinos wrongly associate intelligence with evil. But that seems to show something about Filipino the Filipino psyche too: that hoodwinking or swindling someone is what Filipinos really want to do to others. Again, another example of ordinary people and not just the “leaders” being corrupt.
4. Filipinos still focus on personalities rather than ideas.
Again, we recall that famous saying of Eleanor Roosevelt:
Indeed, one may conclude that a very significant part of the Filipino populace is small-minded, elaborations on which the Get Real Post is full of. But upon just looking at how Filipinos vote, you already learn a lot. They don’t talk about the platforms or achievements. They talk about the personalities. They talk about whether the person has good bearing or “acts dignified,” which may be good, but is not really a leader in action. The worst things I hear about candidates is, “he is so handsome/she is so pretty,” as if looks had anything to do with the job. And when you see a supporter of a candidate, they often act rabidly, as if they worship their candidate as a god. Another indicator of Filipinos being starstruck ignoramuses – a.k.a. willing slaves, peasant mentality.
So with these observations, one can still retain that ever-applicable conclusion that ordinary Filipinos share responsibility for why their society is in the pits. And they still refuse to take that responsibility, saying the blame is on the leaders and everything else. Not them. Unless more Filipinos change their ways and act like responsible citizens, their country and society will remain backward.
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.