Much of the Philippines’ problems have to do with Filipinos’ lack of EMPATHY

There seems to be a key human virtue missing in the Philippines’ collective psyche and this is the virtue of empathy. Why would I consider Filipinos lacking in empathy? Simple. Because, as a people, Filipinos do not seem to care enough about anyone outside of their immediate social and family circles.

For proof of this, one only need fly a camera-equipped drone above Manila, the Philippines’ political, economic, and cultural capital. From above it is easy to see just how divided Filipinos are in their own capital city. In most of the world’s biggest cities, urban life is a melting pot and a hive of dynamic diversity. Not in Metro Manila.

From a bird’s eye view, it is easy to see that Manila is a divided community. The rich and not-necessarily-rich chi chi classes are cocooned within highly-fortified walled enclaves patrolled by heavily armed private armies. On the other side of these walled little cities are the teeming masses. Almost all of the country’s top opinion shapers and decision makers live in these exclusive enclaves. Small wonder then that the problems of ordinary Filipinos are never solved. Kids who are chauffeured daily from their doorsteps to their schools and offices and back wouldn’t have a clue.

One could go as far to say that the Philippines is host to a psychopathic society, albeit one that is functional. Deranged psychopaths become sadistic mass murderers. On the other hand, functional psychopaths are more of sheep in wolves’ clothing who look, at first glance, like upstanding members of polite society. Indeed, despite a sizeable and noisy community of liberal “activists” thriving in what is essentially a relatively mature democracy, no real ordinary problems ever get solved. Clean, potable running water continues to be in short supply and electricity is always on the verge of blinking out. Raw sewage continues to bubble up onto streets every year when the monsoon rains drench the capital city and generations of Filipino commuters and motorists spend the equivalent of a murderer’s sentence imprisoned in Manila’s gridlocked roads.

Check out the online discourse and you will find that much of the chatter surrounds uppity topics like “gender”, “human rights”, “equality”, “feminism”, the South China Sea, and the united colours of gay “activism” — all of which are utterly irrelevant to the average Filipino. Needless to say, all of these routinely fly way above the heads of ordinary Filipino voters, thus it is no surprise that an entire major Opposition bloc, the Otso Diretso “coalition”, which made these “issues” cornerstones of their campaign in these year’s elections suffered a catastrophic defeat.

Ordinary problems need to be solved. Filipinos want to go to and from their places of work safely and within reasonable time. They want equal access to government services of consistent quality regardless of who they are and who they know. They want the same police and emergency services that are accorded the rich.

The highest form of collective empathy can be observed in societies that are conscious about public safety and respect the time of every one of its citizens. The Philippines needs to aspire to be such a society — where the safety and well-being of all is a priority concern and personal time is not wasted on unnecessary red tape and inefficient processes. Suffice to say, a society where people are kept ill-informed by powerful people and kept waiting in various queues for basic public services is not a society of empathetic people.

All it takes is a culture within which people take the time to understand the concerns of others and the members of the broader community. If people are more understanding of where the other is coming from, perhaps Philippine politics need not to be as vicious and as winner-take-all as it is today. There will be room for compromise and aspirations to find common ground.

It’s high time Filipinos reflect a bit more deeply on their fundamental character as a people and address the confronting nature of th society they had collectively become.

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11 Comments on “Much of the Philippines’ problems have to do with Filipinos’ lack of EMPATHY”

  1. Empathy , means sympathetic understanding of the other person… it is foreign to the vocabulary of Filipinos. It is “all for himself or herself” society. Our politics; our traditions; our cultures; our tribal mindsets , are all like that ever since. It will take centuries, to change every Filipino…

    Just look at the “behaviors or misbehaviors” of our leaders and politicians. They are mostly amoral people, scammers and thieves. Once they are in office; they fill their pockets and bank accounts with our taxpayers’ money, coming from the national treasury.

    This is the reason, why we are still a Feudal Oligarchy. The Feudal Oligarchs will fight “tooth and nails”, for whoever will remove their power…We have a great divide between the rich and the poor. And, nobody cares. The psuedo activists, seem to show they care; but all the want is , power, and do the thieving of the national treasury themselves.

    This had been proven in the so called: EDSA Revolution. Did we the ordinary Filipinos profited from the so called , EDSA Revolution ? All who profited, were the Aquino Cojuangco political axis; their minions, and all kinds of unsavory political characters

    Just impose the Filipinos to abide by the law. And, prosecute those who do not follow the law to the full extent, whoever they maybe, and you will teach Filipinos about , Empathy !

  2. I suspect there is a genetic component to this. Because antisocial behavior is NEVER punished in Filipino culture – egregiously selfish and criminal behaviour is routinely ignored or rewarded – those who are sociopathic are much more likely to thrive and pass on their genes than they otherwise would. It’s sort of a voluntary dysgenics program.

  3. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.

    Despite of everything, locals in a country called the Philippines, they judge what Filipinos don’t understand.

  4. The economic system of our society is based on poverty, it is a system of society where no one is immune, even those that we see as “rich” because they cannot afford to share some of their wealth as they justify “mahirap din kami!”, no one will ever claim or say in public “hey I’m rich” because you will just be inviting a big problem that will come knocking on your door. So if we all signed up to this system of economy, why are we looking for empathy? since it’s very obvious that poverty promotes selfishness,

    What? No one wants to be in poverty? But that’s the very idea of the system, for everyone to try as hard as they can to get out of poverty, even if it means to be greedy, even if it takes corruption, even if it means others will be sacrificed for one’s own selfish survival. This is just the Pilipino way.

  5. I was taught by my parents not to empathize. I don’t know how many of you have heard these from your parents, “You should count your blessings!”, “Buti nga nakapag-aaral ka yung iba hindi”, Buti nga may trabaho ka yung iba wala”, “Buti nga kahit paano may kinakain tayo yung iba wala”, I think my parents were evil, they never taught me to be a hero, a martyr, or a saint, like, “hoy. anak, hindi kita pinalaki para magpakagago”.

    1. I think this type of parenting is pretty common. I was also taught to always be wary of other people’s intentions. I was taught that starving kids in the streets are just lazy or are results of syndicates. We must look out for ourselves and ourselves alone.

      “Your classmates are your competition. You must have higher grades than them.”
      “Your co-workers aren’t your friends, they’re your competition. You must climb higher than them.”
      “You should be more successful than your cousins.”

      Even when I volunteered for Red Cross, my father couldn’t fathom the idea of sacrificing my time and energy for others. “Ipapahamak mo pa sarili mo sa mga ganyan. Eh kung gamitin mo oras mo para mag aral ulit. Pwede ka pa mag Law.”

      There’s no sense of community whatsoever. And we supposedly pride ourselves for being HOSPITABLE.

      1. God mentality is brought by a system of competition where everyone tries to be on top of each other to the point of disregarding other’s feelings or “no empathy”. I call it God mentality because by definition, God is a unique being, there is no any other like being, the only One, and when you are the only One, empathy is non-existence. Elite mentality is God mentality but almost all Pilipinos have it, so they act the way they do but knew not what they are doing. Can the Pilipinos be saved from this mentality? No one wants to be crucified.

    2. These are parents who still expect that when old, their children have to provide for them. They feel entitled to it. This is a tradition that is likely the cause of why they teach their children to be cynical, and is best challenged or abolished.

  6. I can agree with the article published here. As a western guy who has had relationships with two Filipino women, both lovely, intelligent, kinda christian women. I was at a loss to figure out what was missing? it is empathy. neither woman was able to think about her man as she thinks about herself. I believe it is a cultural issue, the idea and act of placing your significant other ahead of yourself is foreign to the Filipino woman, they just cannot have that mindset, its a 404 error if you will, you can explain and give examples, make metaphors till exhaustion. but the fact remains, it is not possible for the Filipino woman to think about her partner above or in like mindedness to herself.

    To be honest, it is a glaringly obvious trait that is missing from the personality, because while she will not have any empathy what so ever, she will be loving, extremely jealous and quite attentive, just don’t ever expect her to understand whats its like to feel lonely or isolated. As a western person its very easy to feel a lack of care or disinterest, but im not sure that is real, i honestly think that as a culture the Filipino woman cannot feel this way no matter what she does, for eg, you haven’t had any time together for a month or two, she will not understand at all your feelings or desire to have that time, she will not think twice about going out to socialise and breaking a commitment she has made with you and when you become upset, she will not register that at all. For she only thinks of herself and her immediate needs or concerns, not yours. Your feelings do not register, does she have strong, real love for you? yes, very much, but she cannot accept your feelings or your needs. In this culture your feelings are yours and their feelings are theirs, never do the two coincide. Its a tremendous struggle and the fundamental reason a Filipino woman does not usually get to experience a genuine relationship as the men who choose them, often do not have real love for the woman, just convenience or other reasons. Without empathy it is near impossible to have a genuine relationship with a western person as our culture demands it from childhood.

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