It’s easy to observe that some Filipinos don’t like work. Gogs wrote about why Filipinos don’t value work. Filipinos are afraid of failure before success and just want to become famous without any effort. But aside from that, I see a few other things about Filipino views toward work that may affect how they make decisions in life and are among the bigger reasons our society remains backward. Indeed, as GRP’s logo implies, we believe it is the biggest reason.
1. Work is shameful because it puts you in the lower class. Even today, Filipinos still hold the same outdated ideas of the 1800s, or earlier, specifically class ranking and master-servant relationships. As webmaster Benign0’s astute statement puts it, “Filipinos are culturally hobbled by a compulsion to assert class dominance over the other.” We buy things, say things and do things because we want to be greater than our fellow man. And we like to avoid work because we believe that’s a trait of being greater than one’s fellow man.
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It goes back to the point Gogs made: Filipinos like to become famous without any effort. They feel as if this it is a necessary thing to be served or idolized by others. It’s perhaps part of the survival instinct that seeks subjugation of others if elimination is not possible. Perhaps it’s part of the needless search for validation, and in the wrong places.
2. Work is unnecessary. The Smiths song has the saying as a title: Work is a four-letter word. But even the song says that attitude should be dropped. Change your life, there is so much you can do with work. Not for Filipinos, though. If you recall the My Family’s Slave article by Alex Tizon, that represents the strong wish of many Filipinos – to just be served. We like having slaves because we believe we don’t need to work, and others should give our comforts to us. Thus, we become disrespectful of and contemptuous toward others.
This is why Filipinos remain impoverished. Simply speaking, to get a glass of water, one has to stand up, go to it, pour the water in the glass and drink it or take it with them. Filipinos seem to want the glass to fly over to them, or at least the water flaying to their mouths. Since supernatural powers aren’t real, the next best thing is a servant. They just don’t like the work even to get a glass of water. Problem is, they’re not likely to get such servants, and are perhaps disappointed that reality won’t fit their wishes.
3. Work is difficult and is seen as “hirap/pain.” Some believe when you endure pain, even if you’re not making any effort to fill a specific objective, it is considered work. Filipinos like to avoid pain, so they want to avoid work. Hence the song “Magtanim ay di biro” (Planting crops is not a joke). But indeed, having no work to do is not a joke either. Some workers may also seek payment even if they did not finish anything as required, claiming their “hirap” or hardship in working is enough for demanding payment. In that case, they were not working, but were just pretending to work.
There’s the other explanation on why we like having slaves. We like to pass our “hirap” on to them, escaping the reality of toil and pain. But that is why Filipino society is in the pits. Refusing to accept reality and deal with pain head on leads to the many problems with laziness, corruption and more.
Let’s not also forget that it is possible to do work without much “hirap.” People can do some things almost effortlessly and easily, but they still turn up results. Perhaps it’s because they know how to work smart aside from hard. They also understand that work is for accomplishing objectives, not just for “show.”
4. Ordering people around can be work. Giving orders is not work. It is a privilege. Some Filipinos will rationalize that giving orders to others can be a pain because others don’t always obey. That’s not a reason. Giving orders being a pain is just a play with words. Yes, perhaps some of the people you may be ordering around also refuse to work. But giving orders isn’t real work. It’s examining things, doing your legwork to get the facts, processing them in your mind and thinking of solutions that is. Ordering people around is less of the work because you’re already delegating the work to others. And if you give orders, you still have to supervise them.
5. Work is a curse. This is probably based in part on misinterpretation of the Genesis story in the Bible. After the fall of man, God says in effect, man shall toil by tilling the soil. Some might take this to mean, if the fall didn’t happen, people were never meant to work and were supposed to receive manna from heaven. Then they just laze and eat away. Even in standard Protestant circles, this is disproved as wrong.
But perhaps even without this, people may come to consider work a curse. This is another thing to disprove. Work is no curse: it is a reality. Get up and pour into the glass to quench your thirst. Or build a contraption to bring it to your mouth (at least you worked in doing that). Work is a necessary act everyone must do to fulfill basic needs in life.
Of course, I acknowledge it’s a problem in all countries and societies around the world. With Filipinos, though, we seem to make it part of our national identity. This also does not dispute that a lot of Filipinos are good workers because they may enjoy the work they do and refuse to believe in the above myths. Some realize that busting one’s muscles is necessary to live. “Magtanim ay di biro… pero kailangan pa rin magtanim (Planting crops is not a joke… but you still need to plant).” It’s sad though that the people who hate work are the ones who insist the dutiful workers become their ATMs. Perhaps it’s time to finally them off. Tell Filipinos that everyone should work, and being hacienderos with servants is a bad thing. That should lead to increased awareness and acceptance of personal responsibility, which will in turn lead to better community building.
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.