Caregivers, Caretakers, and the Filipino “Taken cared of” Syndrome

CARE takes preeminence in the heart and core of being Filipino. It is not just love the way most people would understand it, but a type of such that involves a deep sense empathy enough to draw the respondent to action and sacrifice in helping out one’s compatriot or fellow human being.

Davao City mayor Sara Duterte has recognized the Filipino attachment to this word so much that she named her new political party/alliance Tapang at Malasakit. Notice how care is targeted towards those who are afflicted with malas (misfortune) or sakit (sickness), which makes the equivalent word in Filipino bring out a plethora of cryptic spin-off meanings.

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The Philippines takes pride in being a country whose core business is in the field of care. Filipinos are not known to design and build things, they are better known for the skill of nursing the sick and elderly, or for wiping off dirt and uprooting weeds.

A child might come up to you and ask about the difference between caregivers and caretakers, and probably you didn’t realize till now they are not antonyms but in fact mysteriously ironic synonyms – just that one targets care for the elderly/disabled (givers) and the other for properties/animals (takers).

Many caregivers and caretakers just make a mere monthly PHP 10,000, give or take, yet they are people who go beyond the call of duty and take that extra mile for all that. It’s enough to qualify them as modern-day Filipino heroes: wiping off a bed-ridden granny’s ass day-in day-out can be a thankless job you know.

So what’s all this fuss talking about caregivers and caretakers? Weren’t the first couple’s job descriptions:”tending a garden” and “caring for one’s mate” – making these such lofty and fulfilling vocations?

Well care is good, but too much emphasis on care so as to make citizens think along the following lines may subtly push a society to the brink of dysfunction:

  1. It is the government’s primary role to take care of its citizens by providing free education, housing, healthcare…
  2. It is the politician’s primary campaign strategy to hypocritically offer caring motherhood statements.
  3. The CARE BEAR business takes the driver’s seat rather than engineering and science based industries to take the nation to the next level.

Yes, there is something quite dysfunctional about the Pinoy’s likely misconstrued understanding of care. Let’s admit it: many Filipinos make loads of kids to ensure their golden retirement years will be “all taken cared of” right?

Wrong! This brings us to the next topic: why do Filipinos keep making the erroneous mistake of saying “taken cared of” all the time? It is so pervasive (even among talented educated professionals), it has now become a national grammatical epidemic. What’s worse is Filipinos don’t know they’re afflicted with it, just like some self-undetectable body odor.

Blame it on the teachers? Yes, why don’t we start opening English as a subject to be taught by native English speakers in public schools? Blame it on local TV? Yes, why not NOT dub those English TV series to native dialects and start rectifying Filipino ears towards hearing proper grammar and pronunciation (a clear illustration of how Filipinos can achieve more by doing less).

Unraveling the grammatical technicalities of the Filipino “taken cared of” syndrome has all been taken care of in other articles:

The Grammatical Anomaly of ‘Taken Cared of’

The disturbing high incidence of the faulty “taken cared of” usage

Simply put, the past participle of “take care of” is “taken care of” since CARE is a noun and the inflection only happens on the verb TAKE. That’s why we say “took care of” for its simple past.

This proves that repeating a grammatical error a thousand times makes it sound right. The same holds true for lies, fake news and empty slogans. But the key to fixing any Pinoy dysfunction is very simple; it just requires a lot of repetition:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

-Frank Outlaw

So repetition is key folks (say “taken care of” 21 x and you’ll be cured). Those who built the Great Wall of China were only good at repetition: placing one stone over another. And that’s the secret of successful nations.

7 Replies to “Caregivers, Caretakers, and the Filipino “Taken cared of” Syndrome”

  1. We are just “caring people”, as you have written. But do, most of our leaders care ? They steal our taxes in any way they can…they misinform us thru the mainstream media. They work only for themselves, and not for us…

    It is because most Filipinos cannot aspire to better themselves, that they remain at the bottom of the professions of : caregivers , caretakers, laborers and household helpers. It is a mindset syndrome of ” cannot do anything about your situation”.

    The mindset of the government taking care of your needs, is a faulty mindset. It encourages mendicancy. It makes people lazy, and they do not struggle to go to the top, anymore…It maybe good, until the government runs out of money. It simply stinks, paddled by self serving politicians like Bam Aquino, who simply is begging for votes.

    Struggle is a part of life. We all have to struggle to better ourselves. It also makes us strong. I simply don’t believe in the Filipino mindset of inter dependency…It is a rotten mindset and is prevalent in most Filipino families !

  2. I am not gonna defend anyone, but for me it’s quite obvious the Philippines is the way, you describe it.
    To start with: its all written in the bible. Who is in charge? Right, the husband is. So who’s job is it to take care of everyone and everybody? Right, the mother is.

    This process, is enforced once a new kid (daughter) is born by the parents, most likely also in school and finally probably also on the job. So how can someone escape this cycle? That must be a person who is really strong (in mind) and who can afford to say “enough is enough”.

    With a close tied knit community the Philippines is, to escape is a very hard job to do and be succesfull at it.

    1. @ Robert Haighton:

      It is a vicious cycle. Like in the hunting and gathering era; where the strong in the tribe, goes for a hunt. The animals hunted, are partaken by all the people in the tribe.

      The strong in the family goes as OFW slave; where he/she remits her/his earnings, and distributed among family members. The mindset encourages :indolence, laziness , mendicancy. life of no struggle to better yourself and dependency.

      Unless we remain in this “lousy mindset”, we will never progress as a nation !

  3. I suspect – as with many of the country’s deepest dysfunction – this one comes from your schoolbooks.

    I don’t recall the exact phrasing in the textbook – you can look it up if you feel inclined – but one of the things Pinoys are supposed to be proud of is “we look after our elderly” (whereas those dastardly foreigners, as we all know, put their elderly in old people’s homes). There are variants on this referring to Filipinos being “caring” people.

    Now, of course, in the Philippines, “elderly” means “when the kids have got a paying job”, roughly around age 40. At that point the parents instantly retire – assuming they even had a job in the first place – and sponge off their ‘good children”. This is easily justified because, although the child doesn’t know it, he’s been guilt-tripped since his earliest years into exactly that position.

    Ass-wiping for pay follows naturally.

  4. It also seems Filipinos at all levels are used to receiving care and being dependent, whether it’s the middle class being waited on by servants, the poor relying on family members for loans/handouts and child care, jobseekers trying to leverage their personal relationships, whoever’s giving the tambays their daily feed…

  5. Pilipinos are just confuse by the idea of hero-martyr-saint, for them, this is the idea of being a “good” person so therefore they apply it to YOU! Whoever you are. They so believe in this idea of being “good” that they apply it to everyone, except for them.

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