There’s no need to “normalise” dishonesty in the Philippines because dishonesty is already NORMAL there

Is Philippine society inherently an honest one to begin with? The fact is, it isn’t. Indeed, it is quite the opposite as it is one of those societies that suffers a low level of social trust.

A simple example is petty theft. In Japan, one can leave a bicycle parked unattended and unchained and expect to come back and find it still there. Not in the Philippines. In the Philippines, personal property needs to be kept close and under guard. This is the reason why affluent Filipino communities need to ring-fence and fortify their enclaves. Because that’s what is required when you live in a society where thievery is normal.

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It is therefore not surprising that Filipino politicians are perceived to be generally dishonest. Because, after all, in a democracy, leaders mirror the character of the popular vote.

Indeed, one thing that the Philippines isn’t is a truthful society. This is quite evident in the way Filipinos simply do not trust one another. Because they do not trust one another, they break their own laws as a matter of routine — because they do not trust their lawmakers and law enforcers to act in the general public’s best interests.

A Filipino’s word, therefore, is the most overrated notion. It is of very little value. This is why the top political blogger of the Opposition, for example, is known as the “Resibo Queen”. In the vernacular, resibo, is a screenshot included in, say, a blog post to prove one is not lying. It is on this reality that Jover “Resibo Queen” Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog made a name for herself on the Net — by highlighting this sad fact about Philippine society.

You can’t blame Filipinos if they suffer from collective trust issues. Jaime Licauco in an Inquirer article dated 22 May 2001 went as far as saying that: “A nation whose policies and rules are based on the assumption that everybody is a cheat and liar unless proven otherwise cannot long endure. Take a close look at our bureaucracy and its rules. It is burdened by elaborate and often unnecessary checks and balances so that nothing ever gets done in the process.”

We see the fatal effects of this profound cultural dysfunction in today’s election campaign and virtually every one that came before it. The national “debate” is focused on the issue of politicians’ honesty (or lack of it). No big issues and topics of national consequence are top of mind in the Philippines’ poltical discourse. The collective chatter is stuck underneath the low bar set by the national character.

How then can Filipinos look towards solving the big problems when its people are fixated on a small basic problem and still, despite this fixation, consistently fail to solve it? Perhaps this is the kapalaran of the Filipino’s lot — to lie to one another as a matter of routine then turn that habit into fodder for merely amusing poltical “debate”.

11 Replies to “There’s no need to “normalise” dishonesty in the Philippines because dishonesty is already NORMAL there”

  1. 1. Back in 2000. This culture killed the pope via SMS
    2. People that SMS you claiming they sent you 300 in load and send it back
    3. People that send chain email claiming you will get rich or free Disneyland or free Apple products. Chain mail even before there was email
    4. People claiming the best president is a guy who did nothing except quote his dead mom. Nothing is more proof of a bola culture than this stupid ploy working on a stupid populace.

  2. Filipinos are dysfunctionally stupid, and dysfunctionally dishonest. Most of our leaders are dysfunctionally stupid and dysfunctionally dishonest. And we elected them, over and over again.

    I don’t know, if it is in our Genes; or most of us, are insane….we commit the same mistake over and over again, hoping we expect better results. If that is not insanity…what do we call it.

    Look at the Aquinos/Cojuangcos; the son is mentally retarded. We elected him as our President. The daughter is a whore…she was in show biz, for a long time. They scammed the land Hacienda Luisita. Stole the gold coins of the Katipunan treasury. We accepted and adored them, as martyr heroes and saints.

    We even have a Shrine for their heroism and sainthood. A day of holiday to remember their martyrdom and sainthood. These people are fraudsters and scammers…we gladly accepted their scams and frauds.

    A simple case of dishonesty is that crook, Mar Roxas, who stole the Typhoon Yolanda Fund. He is not even prosecuted for his thievery. He is there, running for Senator…asking for your vote, so that he can steal even more again…

    We are a hopeless people…because we cannot learn. Maybe we are even too indolent to learn from our mistakes !

    1. You seem to have missed the point of the article.

      Everyone lies. Sometimes. But they generally try not to, because most of the time the results aren’t positive.

      Filipinos lie all the time, about everything, often for no apparent reason. Dishonesty is not just unpunished, it’s often rewarded, or at least ignored. Thus the dishonest thrive, and the honest are taken for a ride.

      You might argue: oh, but not every Filipino is like that! True. But ENOUGH of them are like that to produce the result that Benign0 mentions: a very low level of public trust. Filipinos don’t trust each other for a very good reason: they know full well how other Filipinos think and act.

      There’s a more insidious possibility. If dishonesty is accepted and routine in public discourse, then the “marketplace of ideas” cannot function, because all the ideas on the market are the equivalent of Made In China counterfeits, unfit for purpose. This, I suggest, is why Filipinos are unable to sift out truthful, useful ideas and put them to work: they don’t have the discrimination and judgement to sort truth from lies, and they don’t quite see the value in doing so in the first place.

    2. You should visit the Netherlands. My mother (Pinay) told me of the importance of telling ‘white lies’ when I was young. The Dutch hate lies, big or small.

  3. There’s one small town in the northernmost part of the Philippines (aka Maharlika) where “honesty” still exist & that is the town of Ivatan, Batanes especially if you’ll visit a coffee shop there by the name of Honesty Coffee Shop:

    Unlike on the other side of our country known as Gates of Hell, I mean, city of Manila where there’s one honesty store went bankrupt & closed down because many Filipinos who went to that store didn’t paid their orders & they think that the products are free:

    Well I wish if the town of Ivatan became an independent city state someday & they’d separated from the Philippines (aka Maharlika) just like what Singapore did to Malaysia in 1965, then Ivatan will become the most honest country in the world. Imagine that!

    1. Very interesting, mrericx. If I ever find myself up there, I’ll be sure to take a look.

      You might be aware that in some countries people put their garden produce out in boxes in front of their houses, so people can take what they want. They just provide a jar so people can drop money in.

      Can you imagine doing that in the Philippines? I might try it sometime, just to see what happens. My guess is that I’d come back and find the vegetables, the box, and the jar all gone within a couple of hours.

      1. @marius True, and probably the 1st president of the City State of Ivatan will make a comment to our country that the Philippines doesn’t need democracy but rather we need HONESTY!!! Just like what the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew commented to our country before that we need discipline rather than democracy.

        Truth to be told that without discipline & honesty in our country, then we will be doom forever!!!

  4. Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard mostly i want from you.

  5. It’s a very unfortunate truth and I can agree with that with how my family and friends act. Even in school students are already stealing, cheating and telling lies. Those actions are actually more praised than being honesty which is considered to be a “shameful” act cause honestly means you are weak-willed

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