Filipinos’ ability to compete with other Southeast Asian countries hobbled by their dismal reading comprehension and listening skills

At first it seems baffling that the Philippines continues to suffer the same problems it had suffered over more than half a century after it was granted independence by the United States in 1946. The same inability to innovate, build industrial capacity that matches its enormous population, and move from labour-added-value up the food chain into design-added-value industries, and improve public services is as evident today as it was back in the kopong-kopong years. We’ve also seen how, despite ample time to learn from a string of catastrophic election losses, today’s Opposition remains an utterly flattened force — pathetic inconsequence at a time when healthy multi-partisan national debate is called for amidst a complex global landscape that the Philippines needs to navigate.

Why can’t Filipinos seem to understand that there are challenges far bigger than “the poor”, “gender equality”, and an imagined “fight” between “good” and “evil” that constitute the bulk of their national “debate”?

One word: comprehension.

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The future does not look bright for Filipino “talent” as there is mounting evidence that the Philippines suffers a severe deficit in even the most foundational of skills required to do even the most basic low-value work (the sort “outsourced” to Third World countries like the Philippines) and the sort of thinking that befits a modern democracy where ordinary citizens are enjoined to participate intelligently.

‘The most common challenge I hear is comprehension,’ Jack Madrid, who heads the country’s main BPO trade group, said in an interview, referring to failed job seekers. ‘I think they fail at a more basic level,’ he said in his office in Manila on Aug. 2.

We can see this utter lack in an ability to comprehend at profound levels in the quality of the “debate” today. Indeed, the fact that an Opposition that once prided itself in being a community of LABAN-deras has retreated into a palpable hiatus that even mainstream media columnists of their ilk such as Inquirer columnist Richard Heydarian are moved to wistfully daydream, “After UniTeam: A new opposition?”.

But with the opposition in a relative state of hibernation, thus failing to pose any real danger to the status quo, factionalism has become the inevitable dynamic within the ruling coalition.

In fact, the opposition—both functionally and ideologically—has now been divided into three main groups. There is, of course, the “Never Marcos” camp, which has been busy highlighting all the obvious shortcomings and vulnerabilities of the incumbent, while conveniently overlooking the true roots of its own weaknesses and political marginalization.

Heydarian makes two important points that highlight the barren intellectual landscape that is Philippine politics: (1) an administration coalition only held together by a common enemy that is the Yellowtard-Communist Axis and (2) an Opposition that poses the only real challenge to the status quo.

So far, the administration of current President Bongbong Marcos shows no sign of dismantling that status quo. Unfortunately for Filipinos, the Opposition that supposedly challenges that status quo remains hooked on a losing political strategy hinged on infantile and utterly obsolete Martial Law Crybaby shoutouts. And then there is the bigger status quo that neither camp is courageous enough to dismantle — the stranglehold the Roman Catholic Church maintains on the intellectual faculties of the Filipino people. With an entire belief system underpinned by, well, mere belief, Catholic influence does not contribute much to laying the fundamental foundation of economic competitiveness: intelligent people.

We can easily see why the Philippines is pretty much fucked at many levels by an inability to transform and smarten up. Stupid people cannot choose leaders wisely and stupid people will remain beholden to cults of personality whether those cults are led by a Marcos, a Duterte, a Robredo, a General Secretary, or one cardinal, bishop, or another. Positions on issues based on ideas and principles? Too hard. Better to watch It’s Showtime instead.

25 Replies to “Filipinos’ ability to compete with other Southeast Asian countries hobbled by their dismal reading comprehension and listening skills”

  1. Especially listening skills. I don’t know how many times I had to repeat myself in a general conversation with a pinoy. Insane.

  2. Yet they spout their national pride, but what are they proud of, proud that their country is ranked 111th in average IQ ranking because their country’s average IQ is below average? If many people there are smart, then these political families and the top one and top three senators won’t even get million votes. If you criticize their pride and the politicians they idolize, they either change the topic or resort to ad hominem. I can’t count how many people there insult the person they’re having a debate with instead of attacking the argument. Many people there don’t have critical thinking abilities and they enjoy watching Tulfo’s programs even if it’s about family feuds, lover’s quarrels, etc., no wonder the country’s average IQ is below average yet how can people be proud of living there? A wise and patriotic person who lives there once said that many people there are also sadists because they enjoy seeing people getting publicly humiliated in Tulfo’s media outlet, they enjoy the accused suffering the public humiliation and treat him as if he’s already guilty even though the law says that even a suspect of a crime is presumed innocent. The standards for many people there in voting for political candidates are just giving money to the poor and being famous, being a family member of their favorite politician is a huge bonus regardless of competence and intelligence. More competent and intelligent candidates didn’t even win which shows the anti-intellectualism and anti-professionalism in the country.

    1. Still sounds like a chicken-and-egg conundrum. Did the media create its audience? Or did the audience create their media? It’s a situation created by the free market.

      This is where public education comes in and, perhaps, regulatory oversight over the media. It’s where it all begins as this is where the state has full control over key input into the quality of both demand and supply. From there, one would hope, the quality of demand for content from the population begins to shape what the media supplies. And the quality of supply shapes demand.

  3. So sad yet so true! Blame it, perhaps on all the escapist trash that we Filipinos have been bombarded with–most especially in our entertainment and showbiz sectors. Instead of giving the masa what they need, our producers give them what they want: shows that reek of intellectually bankruptcy with inane questions during contests, hitting-below-the-belt humour, get rich-quick schemes (which in the end are not productive at all) and what have you. It is also very disappointing that such attitudes lead to having as their reading preferences showbiz stuff and other instead of history, art, culture, science and technology, current events or human interest topics. At the same time, such Filipinos–with low IQ and lack of what I best call introspective comprehension–do not make them good conversationalists, or shall I say, cannot get into discourses vis-a-vis those from other countries who are much more informed, have more intellectual depth and are even much more productive, proud beings.

    1. The bigger problem is they watch a certain journalist’s program which is largely about publicly shaming those who he thinks are bad people in the guise of swift justice even though it’s far from it. What do people get by enjoying seeing other people being publicly humiliated? Why do they enjoy seeing those persons getting humiliated worldwide? Besides, even if the person did something wrong or bad, the law doesn’t say that the punishment for him is public shaming. If many people in that country are smart, then they will demand for that journalist to be held accountable for his actions instead of blindly defending his actions whether his actions are right or wrong and acting like criticizing him is bad.

        1. @Gogs ikr, many of them expect trial by media or publicity will bring swift justice which can make them persecute wrong persons, no wonder their country’s IQ is below average, any reason why I should respect that kind of country? Haha

    2. It raises the question as to whether it is really wise to leave the quality of content available for public consumption entirely up to the free market to decide.

      If we see this intellectual bankruptcy for what it is — a national crisis — then perhaps emergency powers exercised through regulatory measure need to be considered. At the very least a serious conversation on such a proposal should be srarted.

  4. To whom it may concern:

    An idiot is eloquent when he stays silent. Don’t waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say, is nothing at all.

  5. If one’s resource is at the expense of another’s time-life-effort-energy, to what extent should it be?
    If business sense dictates that you make garbage products so that the business could keep going, is that what we make of economic intelligence?
    We treat the farmer’s job with disdain and just shake our heads at the failure of our agriculture. And we wonder why people are starving? If you can’t figure out the fundamentals, then how would you know what is really succesful?

  6. If you need multiple jobs just so you can eat and have shelter and the basics, what does that say about the system you’re in? There’s something wrong with the machinery that everybody needs to overcompensate.

  7. nothing will change in the pilipines. it’s owned by the american empire. status quo. its a us military base and its’ people to be exploited by the anglos for a stepping stone to China. We are NOT a sovereign nation. we are vassals to the us.

    Amongst the lowest IQs in Asia, no depth of conservation as aptly stated, not good at critical thinking or rocking the boat in a real way. Introspective is lost on pilipinos.. Simply copy catting america/americans in their degenerate and debased “culture.” Singing, dancing, dancing, singing, “rapping”, and how to chase money like usa-ian hustlers and hucksters

  8. Talking about the Filipino masses again whom you think are inferior than you in income and intelligence? Why don’t you talk oftenly about the elite Filipino few who are wealthy and intelligence so you can find your match?

    If you think money + intelligence = success and you already know the way how to be successful in that than most of Filipinos, I wonder why is your name not in the billionaires’ list and one of the intelligent minds in the Philippines today? I guess because it is “too hard. Better to watch it’s showtime instead.”

    1. You do realize that this writer cites a Bloomberg article that discusses mounting evidence that you did not appear to read. This justified the premise of his title. I guess you want the author to talk openly about something they do not have access to. Better if you provided some mounting evidence of your own.

      1. No, benignO is always trying to pick topics in his articles to highlight incompetence, unintelligence, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and mediocrities of Filipino masses in many of his articles in the past. BPO in the Philippines is so far successful in more than a decade although some applicants were not hired but not at an alarming rate.

        benignO likes to highlight where the Filipino masses are weak to make them appear stupid. Do you get happy and satisfied by bullying/mocking/insulting those whom you think are inferior than you? What would you get out of those instances? Did it make you great? Or you just have superiority complex in yourself and thus feeling entitled?

        1. Truth hurts, doesn’t it? A study showing that the average IQ of Philippines is below average proves the rampant incompetence and mediocre intelligence. The Philippines is ranked at 111th place in average IQ ranking which is alarming. The anti-intellectualism and lack of critical thinking abilities may have contributed to that reason, no wonder it’s only a third world country.

        2. Life is about competition. Everything good in your life likely came from being able to compete. The Bloomberg artcile is about the Philippines losing whatever competitive edge they had. The last thing I wrote was about the Philippines fooling themselves that they can compete in soccer at a world class level when their local training and development did nothing at world class level. Not sure why you have a problem with the scope of this piece and making it about class. It is about competition.

        3. this is because the filo has no desire to compete, rather has found a
          gold mine in doing the “dirty” but easy jobs the white man is unwilling to do.

          clean toilets in the white man’s lair for 20 dollars an hour, live in a mansion back home.


  9. It’s amongst the lowest average IQs in Asia. It absolutely embarrassing. Other than talking about mangos, rap music, basketball, dancing, copying korean pop musak, anglo style ‘beauty’ pageants, and mangos–what do Pilipinos talk about?! Camus? Cicero? Organic chemistry? Poetry? Nope. Mangos. Green ones. Yellow ones. It’s really sad place. Complacent, apathetic people who are the walking dead-mentality. No wonder why the food is so atrocious and the infrastructure is laughable.

    Given the very low average IQ, the problem will NOT change for the better bc the problem IS structural. It’s inherent. It’s ontologic. Throwing pesos at the severe problems in the Ph will not change anything.
    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”-Philip K. Dick.

    The reality of the Philippines is one of low intellectualism, poor critical thinking skills, blind obediance, and colonialism-pathologic servitude to Anglos.

    1. this is correct.

      the average filipino doesnt know dick, let alone philip k dick.

      but dont let it fool you.
      beneath that uncultured and unlearned and untechnical exterior, the filo is a clever hustler who will probably outlive the cockroach and survive the apocalypse.

      1. You’re right. That hustler / huckster leftover from the US empire and its’ vile colonialism/imperialistic war mongers. Also, what is that ‘look’ called when one tries to speak with a male Filipino? It’s like one is asked a calculus question or to solve a nuclear physics problem. A simple question, or a question that requires more than a robotic, scripted responses, devolves into: mouth gaping, duh looks, empty 1000 mile stare, looking at the persons asking the questions as if they have a penis on their forehead. It is odd. It’s seen in Pinays too. The duh look.

        Maybe that’s why Pilipinos enjoy 1 brain cell “discussions” abt: Yellow mangos, green mangos , how much do we love the us, who can dance/sing, and which beauty contestant looks the most Anglo-Saxon.

        And imbeciles wonder why the Failipines IS and WILL forever be the Failipines?

  10. Their reading comprehension is horrible. Many cannot do simple, basic math. 100 mg of medicine can be 2 50mg vials, or how many items are in 2 sets of 2 piece inasal. They cannot figure it out. Or payroll. Person works 4 hours, they put 3.6hours; therefore, “shorting” the worker.

    It is very low avg IQs, little to no critical thinking skills, blind obedience to rules/regs, and group think.

    Also, an abhorrence to being intelligent, reading realnon fiction books, really thinking about things on a tertiary level, inference skills, connecting dots, etc… Money has NOTHING to do with this.

    With Filipinos the poor reading comprehension problems and lack of critical thinking is inherent to their “DNA.” It’s their essence if you will. That’s why the Philippines is a feces magnet for expat rejects from other countries. Water seeks its’ own level amigos/amigas.

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