Discipline Should Come from Within

My fellow writers here in GRP have explained that someone iron-handed like Rody Duterte has become popular for the wrong reasons (or maybe the right reasons, but in the wrong way). Duterte is seen as a figure like Ferdinand Marcos, who is thought to have enforced order through harshness in Martial Law. There are people today who support this harshness, because they believe it is the solution to make OTHER Filipinos disciplined. Thus, they believe that through this external discipline, people will behave and corruption will be eliminated.

Fat chance.

Martial Law was imposed in the past, but the “discipline” it supposedly instilled didn’t last long either. My conclusion: iron handed leadership doesn’t create lasting discipline, because it does not address the root cause of erring behavior. The desire for external discipline is based on the assumption that since Filipinos are “pasaway” (uncooperative/defiant), thus only harsh punishments can tame them. But as with any problem, going to the root or cause rather than treating just the symptoms tends to lead to a sounder solution. This cause can be traced to the mindset of the Filipinos themselves.

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Filipinos do not seem to understand or accept that discipline should not just have an external source. Discipline should come from within. Successful and prosperous societies are peopled by those who do right on their own, not just because they are afraid of punishment; they embrace what is right and believe in it. They rid themselves of or minimize self-entitlement and decided that one should work for their keep. They never believed trying to be above others; they instead believed that they should contribute to the society around and keep respect for public space. What they manifest is self-discipline.

In a comment under an article that compared Singapore and the Philippines, I said this to demonstrate what I believe makes Singapore a relatively better place to live in than the Philippines:

When a Singaporean couple finds prices are rising, they don’t have children. When a Filipino couple finds prices are rising, they bear so many children, hoping at least one of them will be their ATM (automated teller machine, i.e. breadwinner) to cope with rising prices, without thinking that they have to feed and make these children grow first (provided they don’t die from the complications of poverty yet). Different ways of dealing with one reality, different results, and each reveals something about the culture of the country.

Yes there is another side to Singaporeans, with reports coming out of some of them physically abusing domestic helpers. Perhaps the reason is that this generation of Singaporeans have been spoiled, thanks to prosperity. They thus cannot accept that some things they want cannot always be followed. Thus, in a sense, they are undisciplined. Without the discipline that counteracts spoilage, people will thus develop sense of entitlement that makes them act nastily towards others.


Even if there are strict rules present, if people are disciplined by themselves, that makes things a lot easier. But in the Philippines, perhaps one reason why this isn’t happening is because Filipinos want to be nasty. They feel entitled to their “pasawayness.” They twist the Golden Rule: do it to others before they do it to you. But it would seem the one fearing being “done to” is actually the first one planning something nasty against others. Even if harsh punishments are used for an act, if the Filipino wants bad behavior, then they will fall back to their erring ways. Harsh rules and punishments can be challenged and overcome.

In my Christian church, one interesting discussion we’ve had is that of an alternate explanation for “fear of God” that may relate to this concept of discipline. The idea that a believer does good because they are afraid of punishment from God is not considered the real meaning. The real meaning is that when a person loves someone, they fear angering or displeasing the person out of love. Not because they are afraid of the wrath of the person; it is because they are afraid the strained or even broken relationship that results from an act that displeases or disturbs the other person. In other words, there is genuine respect and concern for others.

The person manifesting self-discipline seeks happiness and well-being not only for themselves, but for others. Hence the local saying, “everybody happy.” Compare to the Filipino Me-first mentality: “I only want to be happy, others can’t, everybody can’t be happy.” Filipinos are instead hung up about pride and narcissism, while trying to be happy. That of course does not succeed.


Consistent reward or punishment is still needed in an orderly society. But it alone does not guarantee proper behavior. The attitude of the person should have them believe in their good actions in order to continue doing them. Self-discipline and respect and concern for the public space should be in the culture. It’s unfortunate that many Filipinos still prefer the opposite: apathy. They ridicule the idea of Filipinos being self-disciplined. It’s as if they believe Filipinos have the right to be nasty, and may even imply that it’s “abnormal” to not be nasty and want order. They would rather have “authorities” apply external discipline. Thus, the “normal” pattern they see is; Filipinos are entitled to being nasty, while authorities should be harsh to control them. But this is contradictory, since two different sides are set up to conflict with no resolution. The whole situation is rigged to fail.

Some may raise that people seek rewards. They say, give me a motivation to be good, if not, I’ll be bad. But that’s a lame excuse. Here’s what an athlete says it.


This issue shows that the problem of the country is in the Filipinos themselves. They want discipline enforced against other Filipinos, but likely cry murder when discipline is being applied on them. Who knows: what if you were the one who displayed erring behavior that others emulated, but when you saw the ones emulating you, you chided them as the undisciplined ones, even when you were the one who started it? The infographic below about littering illustrates my point.


I keep hearing from others, “Rule of law? Ha ha! It’s a joke in this country,” or something like “rule of law is a quaint notion here anyway.” Wait a minute. Under that condescending tone, could there be an actual desire for rule of law to not work? Could it be, in fact, Filipinos really don’t want the rule of law and want only the rule of whims and reactions? And yet they are the ones with the pretentiousness to lament that there is no rule of law in the country? Then don’t wonder why the country is as it is.

Once Filipinos internalize discipline in their culture and agree on their own that they should stop being “pasaway,” we are likely to see the Philippines becoming a safer and more humane society in our lifetimes.

16 Replies to “Discipline Should Come from Within”

  1. A very well written article. I am hopeful that the voters will not elect him,if Duterte was elected President, what will happen to Freedom in the Philippines??? it would be a major embarrassment to the country and it’s people within the International community, it is like saying we want Ferdinand and Emelda back to run the country (into the ground) as they did in their time. Let the people of Davao keep Duterte there, as obviously that is what they want or his family dynasty would not continue.

  2. The rise of the strongarm tactics of the FACSIST in 1930’s Europe was a production of the ‘elite’s’. This development was in order to deal with the ‘Labor problem’ that had claimed the heads (literally) of the Romanovs and was gaining significant following in the rest of Europe.The strong arm leader trumpeted: Nation 1st !and came complete w/a scapegoat (ZE JOO).


    1. from the me first mentality, the kami muna or my group first mentality is derived. Tards of all colors live this, only very few people unterstand the need for a national community. The most admirable example of that being the Swiss.

      As a part of this syndrome, Fairness and Honesty are rare commodities as well. Screw the others to get ahead was also normal in Marcos days.

    1. According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, it takes a minimum of about 21 days to build a new habit.

      Repetition is key. I don’t know how to get squatter-mentality Pinoys to repeat something for 21 days other than by having an external enforcer. Education – maybe, but haven’t we had values education subjects for ages now?

      For the few already enlightened Pinoys that populate this site, external enforcement of discipline is likely no longer needed (they already achieved self-discipline).

      I’m more concerned about the regular Pinoy zombies. The ones who litter indiscriminately. The one’s who can’t control having more babies when they can’t even feed the 7 they already have.

      Even if you teach them the logic of why they shouldn’t litter – that it’s bad for the environment, they just nod their heads at you in agreement and go back to their usual business of making this country an open cesspool.

      I’ll go for a Lee Kuan Yew leader who will strictly enforce rules nationwide. After “21 days” or however long it takes, when everyone is already programmed with new habits, we can slowly graduate from this endless cycle of stupidity & lawlessness that grips the country. We can then phase out iron-fisted leadership in favor of kind-hearted Poe-type leadership and freedom-centric democracy.

      But till then, let’s have Iron Bulldozers smashing those squatter colonies. Let’s have iron-fisted traffic enforces getting Jeepney drivers to make it a habit to fall in line for passengers. For now, our best chance of change is in iron-fisted yet benevolent leadership.

      We will become a Singapore – it just takes a few tough habit-forming steps to get there.


      We also need to consider that the generation of Pinoys under the Marcos regime is different from the new generation of Pinoys that grew under the Yellow camp. I find the generation of my parents are more disciplined, law-abiding and intellectual than the freedom- and fun-loving young people of today.

      It just shows that freedom-loving Yellow-camp leadership has failed to raise our new generation. We need a new experiment.

  3. The Filipino political leaders are lacking discipline. They act as colonizers; they show to people their dishonesty; and they are the “me first” mentality people. Just look at the political family dynasties.

    Where the leaders go; the people will follow. Where the mind goes, the body will follow…

    If the leaders will discipline, themselves. Perhaps, the people will follow their leaders.

  4. How do Filipinos expect to change their culture and values? Filipinos will never take personal responsibility for anything, It’s simply not in the culture. It will always be the fault of the government and not the individuals.

  5. Well if we’re gonna be looking for a model for disciplined people look somewhere north. I admire Japan for their disciplinary culture. I’m not saying it’s perfect but it does have some values. Just look at how clean their water is. Maybe we just need to find balance for the things we want.

    The only problem we had as a people living in this country is that, we as a people can’t decide. Whether if we are going to accept the things as it is or start working to improve it. If we’re going to do nothing then accept things as they are. Stop crying like a child and suck it up.

  6. The Failippines is hopeless. Nuke the country. The Dysfunctional and self absorbed,narcissistic tendencies of the Filipinos is what’s making it worst. A third world country cesspool.

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