Paradise Lost: Redefining the Filipino Concept of Ownership

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Paradise Lost, by 17th-century English poet John Milton, is a poetic rendition of the fall of man and his eventual eviction from the Garden of Eden. The character responsible for the entire debacle is Satan (formerly Lucifer, fairest of the angels in Heaven) who chose to rebel against his Creator with his claim to notoriety best summed up in the famous quote “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven” (sounds familiar MLQ?). The story closely parallels what we see unfolding before our very eyes in the Philippines, with the tragic loss of our tropical island paradise to the destructive force known as Filipinos, driven by a dark underlying motivating factor: self-centered greed (the new flag of R.P. bearing proof).

waste_management_philippines

In America and other capitalist countries, greed is welcomed and considered to be good for business; and thereby beneficial for the general welfare of the entire society as it keeps the economy humming. On the flip side, greed has its damaging and destructive effects as made evident in the creeping urban sprawl, pollution and irreversible degradation of the environment, and the loss of originally rich flora and fauna.

Our Current Destructive Concept of Ownership

Greed is a selfish desire that exists in the context of the concept of ownership. It is the State that defines ownership – through titles and rights. Humans behave and treat their surrounding environment based on their perceived concept of ownership. Basically, if you own something, you have the right to freely do as you please. But for most people, owning an item brings with it an innate responsibility to care for and maintain it. If you don’t own it, you generally don’t give a damn.

It is a common behavior among Filipinos to litter and vandalize in public, but not in their own premises; you will notice residents dumping garbage out on the street or nearby vacant lot in order to keep their own yard within property walls clean.

Social climbers, wishing to project their aristocratic self-worth to the rest of the zombie community, desire to flash out their wealth to gain admiration and respect. Thus there is an “arms race”-like open competition among Filipinos to grab as much of the pie as they can, with hacienderos and oligarchs gobbling up more even lands and properties through their money-making machines, while the rest of the unfortunate masses scramble for the left overs.

A Healthier Perspective

Of the 90% of the population who claim to be Christians and know their text book, there is a different idea of ownership that is unveiled in the letters of Paul: “All things are yours, whether … the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours.” (this being in the context of the Creator being one’s own Father, and them being children as heirs).  It is a paradigm shift that transcends our current traditional beliefs.

Just the mere interpretation and application of this “radical concept” of ownership can work wonders. Here’s how.

Why will there be a need to acquire increasingly more properties when “everything is already yours” to begin with? For some it is some kind of self-delusion to think that you own, for example, Megamall or Boracay Island. But to come to think of it, what’s the difference between you and the actual owner – when both of you can actually access and enjoy it just the same? The only real difference is even an advantage on your end since you are spared of the headaches and costs of operating and maintaining the facility.

Applying the “It’s All Mine” Ownership Concept

On the other hand, we can see ownership to be just a figment of human imagination. If I went to Rizal Park and said to myself: “This park is mine. All these people roaming around here – well I’m just letting them enjoy my property. And those guys tending the flower garden there – they all work for me to keep my park pretty and clean. ”

Audacious as it may seem, there is a different attitude that grows out of one’s bosom when you know you own an entire public park. You will voluntarily pick up any litter you see messing up your property. You will reprimand the gardener for not doing a good job. (Remember the passion Jesus had in driving out the template traders even though no one perceived him to be the property owner?) You begin to see Rizal Park in an entirely different light. You will even want to visit it more frequently because you have every right to access and enjoy it – It’s all yours!

And the good thing about knowing you own everything is that it doesn’t cost you a single peso – just like the air you breathe and the rain you are blessed with.  So you can just walk into the lobby of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and claim “this is all mine” while sitting in their fine elegant lobby chairs gazing at the grandeur before you.

As Filipinos and even guests of the Philippines, try to think of it this way: This land is your land – it’s all yours. So anyone messing up YOUR little P.I. paradise on earth has got to stop! Let us in unison all say with iron-willed passion now… “This has got to STOP!

[Photo courtesy EcoWaste Coalition.]
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33 Comments on “Paradise Lost: Redefining the Filipino Concept of Ownership”

  1. How do we get past the Filipino mindset of exclusivity?

    When a Filipino owns something, he hoards it, and does not share. He does not share, as long as he can help it, because to him it means giving up some sort of “advantage” he has over others. If he does not charge others for “allowing” them to use something he owns, he feels cheated and taken advantage of.

  2. Ownership: A commitment of the head, heart, and hands to fix the problem and never again affix the blame.

  3. Agricultural land ownership; especially, the “Oligarch Hacienderos”, were remnants of the Feudal Oligarchy society, that the Spanish colonizers, had set up. In the town area, live the Land Owners. In the surrounding Barrios, where agricultural lands are; live the “Filipino Peasants”, who till the agricultural lands. They look not much more than you and me. While most “mestizos” , live in the town areas.

    Feudalism was removed in Europe, many years ago. In Mexico, land reform was won by the Mexican revolutionaries. Same, as in China and Russia…only these countries became communists.

    In Japan, it was the Feudal Lords, who encouraged, the Japanese Militarization and Imperialism. After Japan’s defeat in World War II. Gen. MacArthur, initiated the Land Reform program of Japan.

    Ownership is a concept. Actually, you don’t own anything here on this Planet Earth. After, you die: you cannot bring a single Peso , with you. All you need , is a piece of small plot/land, on this Planet Earth, where they can bury you.

    It is good to own; but to be tied to what you own. You become a slave of what you own…

    I believe that Feudalism must go, in our country. If you don’t till the land: you cannot own it. Let share the bounties of our agricultural lands…

  4. The Filipinos’concept of ownerhip is ‘Take Take Take’ but never ‘Give Give Give.’ Or, to be more exact,

    “Patay-Gutom” (eat/take as if it will be their last or before the food runs out), “Dakot” (take/eat more than what they need to survive), “Laman-Tiyan” (eat/take more than what they need now; they’ll need it later) mentalities—while hiding behind the thin veil of rigtheousness, piousness, humility, unselfishness, and regality.

    1. Ironically 90% of them are affiliated to some Christian sect/organization whose primary command is to love and give.

      1. “To love and give” is mostly preached from the churches’pulpits but never applied in real life.

        Failipinos will still resort to their indigenous ways of outshining and destroying one another, on their personal quest to achieve status and wealth, even at the cost of “selling out” each other and their own country.

        Failipinos may have reached a milestone in their professional and personal goals, but they still think and live their lives in primitive way—like what their ancestors did centuries ago.

        1. Not really NEVER applied. There is one day they apply it, and it even goes with a matching song with the lines “why don’t you give love on Christmas Day…”

          No wonder everyone is in eager anticipation starting from the first “ber” month, with count-downs running on a daily basis.

        2. That one day of giving “aguinaldo” on Christmas Day has become more of an obligation than coming from the heart, as if these “gift giving” and/or “aguinaldo” will somehow endear our superstitious people with their “tit for tat” generosity to God or their godson/goddaughter’s parents, to whom they made their “padrino” or “pare/mare” (take care of my children if something should happen to me) pact.

        3. Yeah, most Pinoys give because they expect something in return. If they don’t get anything back – they will demand it. Maybe that is how they see/apply the teaching:

          “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

          There is a thin line between a gift and a bribe. It all has to do with inner motive – which nobody can see.

          Well that’s human nature – people are naturally greedy. But nowhere is it more pronounced than in an overpopulated resource-limited third world shithole.

          If you want to change Pinoys, you have to overhaul the entire culture. One step is to NOT give to people who are caroling at your doorsteps. Whatever Pinoys normally do -> Do the opposite.

  5. Reading the comments in Facebook, I just have to react to something:

    Per wiki…
    “The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently and rationally according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource.”

    This article is not about the management of common resources in a top-down paradigm (although it is a valid area of improvement in overpopulated resource-limit PH filled with zombies), but rather a mindset trick that any person can individually apply to keep himself from getting into the spiral of hoarding and wealth accumulation.

    For example, I used to maintain a private lawn. I noticed it was consuming my weekends to maintain – cutting the grass, etc. But now, I’ve been set free from the bondage of “having to own my personal park”, since I now see the public park as my very own. I still enjoy the green grass – with the only difference that it’s much wider.

    Look at the setup in New York. They have Central Park, rather than each resident maintaining their own mini-park within their premises. But Pinoys have to have that “my own kingdom” mentality – which is why sharing something together is not popular.

    Now if you can’t accept the fact that something publicly available is yours, you can try the concept of “stewardship” – in that it is just temporarily under your care. It is similar to the concept of children being are not really ours, but only lent to us for a season.

    Either way, a mind trick allows citizens to care for their surroundings more passionately. The real problem of Pinoys is just in the mind. That’s why we need a mind revolution.

    1. I get what you said in the article zaxx, but most Filipinos wouldn’t. You’re suggesting that viewing everything as “mine” should bring with it a sense of responsibility. Filipinos don’t understand responsibility. They’re only interested in rights. Thus when something becomes “mine” – for example, a piece of land given by the government – the Pinoy’s first thought is either to plunder it or exchange it for cash. It never occurs to him to treat this little part of God’s creation with reverence and care, as the designated person responsible for it.

      Incidentally I quite agree with your conception of the burden of private property. It’s utterly appalling that most of the ideas you present (which are mainstream Christian ideas) are completely alien to the average Filipino Catholic.

      1. @marius
        >>Filipinos don’t understand responsibility. They’re only interested in rights.

        How much a person cares for something depends on how much he values it and how much he put in to acquire it.

        For example, if one receives a car as a gift from his parents, he would probably care less in maintaining it than if he actually worked hard to buy it with his own sweat and blood. Some Filipinos would fume if you put even a small scratch on their vehicle – it’s because they had to dish out a fortune to get it.

        That’s the kind of responsibility and care we want to see in Filipinos for public properties.

        Unfortunately, sense of responsibility is as rare a commodity to find as common sense in PH. Many Filipinos do not see the value of things around them when all that matters in their small world is how to fill their empty stomach.

        1. >> For example, if one receives a car as a gift from his parents, he would probably care less in maintaining it than if he actually worked hard to buy it with his own sweat and blood.

          This is one reason I dislike the endless dole-outs to “farmers” and “the poor”. Many of them have everything they need to be comfortably off, yet they’re still asking for government support.

        2. At least, most dole outs now have preconditions. In the case of the givernment’s condition cash transfer program, parents and children have to attend seminars/school (much like a college scholarship program for deserving/responsible students):

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantawid_Pamilyang_Pilipino_Program

          It’s a good practice to give with conditions of some guarantee that the recipients at least make some effort to improve themselves. Otherwise, we will just create self-entitled lazy freeloaders.

  6. @Aeta:

    The Roman Catholic Church, owns a lot of Friar Lands. They are part of the country’s Feudal Oligarchy. A religion that became a “haciendero”…

    Jesus Christ teachings are not, to own agricultural lands; and let the “peasants” till the lands for you. Jesus Christ teachings are: love of fellowmen and sharing what you have with the needy.

    1. 098Toro007Hyden7898788.99 and zaxx,

      That would be great if the compassionate teachings of Jesus Christ–or other religious icons—could be realistically applied in our lives. Unfortunately, our human instinct for survival—especially our incessant, competitive desires to be at the top of the food chain–will always win over the idealism of how things should be and not how they really are.

      In “Third World shithole” like the Failippines, where the people are still trying to grapple with a ‘single’ cultural identity and language, the novelty of foreign religious and political idealism, and the opportunity to acquire money and power at the same time, makes the Failipinos susceptible to graft and corruption that continues to distort their primitive thinking and way of life, and keep them wallowing in poverty and oppression.

      Unfortunately, this problem with graft and corruption started with our leaders, since they are the gatekeepers and watchdogs who decide what happens inside and outside of the country; they are ones who set the tone for the rest of the population to follow of keeping the Failippines in constant state of turmoil—which in the early stage of our Republic is a forgivable offense; we can blame it on ignorance and naiveté of a young nation.

      Now that we claim ourselves as being smarter, educated, and socially sophisticated in the ways of the word, especially in deciding the direction we want our lives to go, we should be able to do the same for our country that had seen and experienced all manners of exploitations through the ages–if we simply set aside our personal interests and difference by being more humble and selfless—and come together to fight the tyranny that has been manipulating our country and dividing our people for as long as anyone care to remember.

      Thus, making excuses (or pointing fingers at each other) for why the Failippines is a failed nation is no longer acceptable. ‘WE’ all have done wrong to ourselves, our fellow Failipinos, and our nation.

      Aeta

    2. 098Toro007Hyden7898788.99 and zaxx,

      That would be great if the compassionate teachings of Jesus Christ–or other religious icons—could be realistically applied in our lives. Unfortunately, our human instinct for survival—especially our incessant, competitive desires to be at the top of the food chain–will always win over the idealism of how things should be and not how they really are.

      In “Third World shithole” like the Failippines, where the people are still trying to grapple with a ‘single’ cultural identity and language, the novelty of foreign religious and political idealism, and the opportunity to acquire money and power at the same time, makes the Failipinos susceptible to graft and corruption that continues to distort their primitive thinking and way of life, and keep them wallowing in poverty and oppression.

      Unfortunately, this problem with graft and corruption started with our leaders, since they are the gatekeepers and watchdogs who decide what happens inside and outside of the country; they are ones who set the tone for the rest of the population to follow of keeping the Failippines in constant state of turmoil—which in the early stage of our Republic is a forgivable offense; we can blame it on ignorance and naiveté of a young nation.

      Now that we claim ourselves as being smarter, educated, and socially sophisticated in the ways of the world, especially in deciding the direction we want our lives to go, we should be able to do the same for our country that had seen and experienced all manners of exploitations through the ages–if we simply set aside our personal interests and difference by being more humble and selfless—and come together to fight the tyranny that has been manipulating our country and dividing our people for as long as anyone care to remember.

      Thus, making excuses (or pointing fingers at each other) for why the Failippines is a failed nation is no longer acceptable. ‘WE’ all have done wrong to ourselves, our fellow Failipinos, and our nation.

      Aeta

    3. Churches should be teaching and exemplifying the words of their Founder:

      Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

      And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”

      However, like the rich young ruler’s case above, Filipinos shudder at the thought of these kinds of teaching. What we have now is “selective Christianity”, where teachers/priests/pastors pick and choose what they are comfortable with. Look at the lives of those in the original church in Acts – they lived out the true essence of “Communism” – everyone out-sharing/out-giving each other. The apostles cared the least about wealth/properties – and just gave freely what was collected to the poor.

      You are right Aeta, WE are all to blame for the state of the nation – if the man in the mirror can’t change, how can we expect the rest of this country to do so.

      The solution to all the darkness & greed that envelopes our society is very easy once we realize “Darkness is simply the absence of light.”

  7. Zaxx,
    I can not ‘destroy’ Rizal Park because trees are very important (and not only those trees in Rizal Park but all trees) for me as being a human being. Hence, I will NOT throw my Mars/Snicker/Raider/Twix (or any other bottle, paper or waste) wrapper away in public spaces.

    On a joking side: are you willing to share your wife/gf with me since we all own everything so that includes your wife? (lol).

    1. Why can’t we get Pinoys to just think like a normal Europen like you Robert? It all boils down to basic common sense.

      Now about sharing partners, I think there’s a cult group you can join to get that kind of community setup. Or you can set up your own – which will be the next step after the institution of gay marriage towards humanity’s descent into total depravity. But yeah, sharing things does have limits (like one’s toothbrush or underwear). 🙂

      1. Zaxx,
        In my neck of the woords we have a much more open mind about gay & lesbian marriage. They also are human beings. And therefore, they have the same equal individual human rights that you and I have.

        I dont see gay & lesbian marriages as a threat to humanity. We are here with 4 billion, right? If humanity would ever cease to exist, it will be caused by other factors.

        As for trees: They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues.

        1. Well Here’s my take on LGTB:

          Everyone has some form of delusion. But there are beneficial delusions, and there are harmful ones. The mind trick on ownership I presented in the article is a beneficial one. But I see no benefit in the delusion of thinking one is a woman trapped in a man’s body.

          curbing population growth? Actually populations need to grow to sustain economic growth, and to replace the aging. The problem with gays/lesbians is that many of them are very successful professionals who are more than qualified to procreate and raise children; but they’re not doing so due to their delusion.

          Thus what we have in PH are stupid poor people who have no business reproducing their own kind being the ones multiplying like rabbits with 5, 8, 12 kids – creating the kind of dysfunctional society we now face.

          I know a lot of these professionals who are gays (some even quite good looking) – all I can say is : what a waste! They should be the fathers raising responsible/educated children; instead the squatter in the railways/esteros are the ones taking on the role.

          If anyone here feels like he’s gay, be man enough to face reality, and take on the role you were born to assume. Whatever you’re given, use it properly. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole.

          You know what happens to people who think they can fly – they don’t have very happy endings. So shake off that stupid perverted delusion of having the opposite sex and help bring back sanity into our society. I’m not speaking in any religious context; it’s all just common sense. Get real!

        2. Zaxx,
          “But I see no benefit in the delusion of thinking one is a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
          This is what I assume, happens with/to people who want a sex-op.
          I dont think, I ever met one but my stake in it is very simple: live and let live.

          “curbing population growth? Actually populations need to grow to sustain economic growth,”
          This can also be reached by increasing productivity per person with any current population.

          “to replace the aging.”
          Ideally, yes. But guess what? The decision to procreate is never based on such a variable.
          I know a lot of reasons why NOT to procreate. Living in a war-zone (Syria), being poor, being low or non-educated, living in a country without any future, are just a few reasons not to procreate.

          “I know a lot of these professionals who are gays (some even quite good looking) – all I can say is : what a waste! They should be the fathers raising responsible/educated children; instead the squatter in the railways/esteros are the ones taking on the role.”

          There are a lot of women (at least in my country) who will not and who do not want to procreate (and they are no lesbians) for very obvious reasons. Having kids doesnt make a couple happy/happier per se.

        3. My take on LGBT is simple. As long as you do not hurt anybody or anything–yourself included–on whatever it takes to float your boat, keep on sailing. Life is too short to try to reach a destination. Just enjoy the voyage until its over.

        4. My take on LGBT is simple. As long as you do not hurt anybody or anything–yourself included–on whatever it takes to float your boat, keep on sailing. Life is too short to try to reach a destination. Just enjoy the voyage until it is over.

        5. Dear Aeta,
          let me give you the thoughts/minds of most (gays & lesbians) people in my neck of the woods:

          they dont give a shit about other people’s emotions (being or getting hurt).

          (Note: by law, I am even allowed to hurt (emotionally, mentally) and insult you.)

          We live in a high/strong individualized country/region (of Europe). If you/they (the others) cant stand the heat, leave the kitchen.

          Furthermore, each individual is protected by Dutch (and EU) law. So, also gays and lesbians. For the very SIMPLE fact, that they too are human beings. That is how we seperate church and state in an absolute way.

          (Note #2): So far, I never heard nor read anything about ‘bi-sexuals’ (the B part in LGBT). Personally, I dont know what/which rights they are fighting for.

          Summarized in a non-personal way:
          If gays and/or lesbians hurt your feelings/emotions (by being gay and/or lesbian and/or bec they want human civil rights), then you are the one who is having a problem. The Dutch/EU law doesnt protect you bec your feelings are hurt.

      2. Robert: trees are far, far more important than that. “Removing carbon” is silly political nonsense. Trees sustain and enable all other life on earth by holding the soil together, pumping nutrients and water, capturing solar energy and nurturing more sensitive plants, providing habitat and food for a range of animals … the list is endless.

        All the Filipinos want to do is cut them down, set fire to them, and pour concrete on the space where they used to be. And then they wonder why they’re poor.

        If they taught nothing else in schools except the fundamental importance of trees, the country would be a lot nicer than it is.

        1. Marius,
          I know but I didnt want to vent everything here about trees.

          There are things we dont need to be taught in school during classes. Parents also have a big responsibility about teaching us (kids) things (like the functions of trees and sex-ed). That is what we call common knowledge (things not taught in school).

          Tht is why it is so important that prospect future parents will first think about what they can ‘give’ (teach) their own kids. If the answer is nothing then such prospect parents should be forbidden to procreate. Harsh? I dont think so. Unfortunetaly, I dont know any country that forbids certain groups of people to procreate.

        2. Robert: I quite agree it’s a parental responsibility, but since parents here don’t take much interest in their kids’ intellectual or social development (beyond drumming into their heads that they have to get a job as soon as possible to support their boneidle parents), the schools have to pick up the pieces.

          There was actually a study done quite recently on preventing juvenile delinquency. The authors concluded that out of all the possible interventions, a parenting course was the most cost-effective. Governments weren’t interested, of course.

          I wonder how well parenting courses would work in a country where everyone thinks they already know everything, and have no ambition to be more than they are?

        3. Marius,
          you raised all very good points. Even I dont know if I will be a good dad. All I have, are my parents and friends’ parents (as examples). But there is no school, where they teach me how to become the perfect dad. I can be the best engineer in my country and at the same time the worst dad in the country. Isnt that scary?

        4. Marius,

          Modern Failipinos don’t care about the trees, the environment, or saving their agricultural livelihood. That idea is too antiquated for them and it belonged to their forefathers. What the modern Failipinos want are high rise condominiums, shopping malls, and other commercial complexes, so they can brag to the world that they are no longer a primitive people who farmed for a living. Failipinos want to be seen as proud “world class” urbanites.

          Aeta

        5. Robert: the fact that you have doubts about your own abilities suggests you’ll do just fine. The cognitive ability to assess one’s own skills accurately is the same as the cognitive ability needed to improve those skills. The failures are the people who think they don’t need to learn anything.

          >> What the modern Failipinos want are high rise condominiums, shopping malls, and other commercial complexes, so they can brag to the world that they are no longer a primitive people who farmed for a living.

          Aeta: honestly, if that’s what they want, then the government should let them have it … and pay for it. Let them sell their farms – perhaps even sell them back to the government for a guaranteed (low) price. They can then buy all the concrete boxes and traffic fumes that their hearts desire.

          The land they abandon can then be leased to people who promise to care for it properly, and generate profits from it.

        6. marius,

          Unfortunately, the opposite has been happening in the last 30 years.

          These farmlands and virgin forests/beaches are procured from our ignorant Failipino landowners by our national and local government officals for their own personal use; or, auctioned off to rich Chinese or Failipino (Does Senator/real estate mogul Manny Villar ring a bell?) developers to be turned into housing subdivisionS, resorts/condominiums, shopping malls, or other commercial properties. These land are leased to businesses who will definitely make lots of profit from them but never cared for them properly—at least as far as ensuring that the damages to the environment and the sorrounding ecosytems are minimized.

          Just look at the increased level of soil and ground water contaminants, as well as widespread flooding in areas that have never experienced them before. We certainly can’t blame these environmental/ecological issues on Mother Nature like “El Nino.” We ‘Fliptard’ have contributed a lot to the destruction of our country and hardship to our people.

          Aeta

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