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Monday, September 29, 2014

Filipinos need to end their love affair with mediocrity and 'pwede na yan' mentality

My views are not very popular with Filipinos. I guess it’s partly my fault because I like posting topics that some might consider taboo and boring. But it’s not like I discuss religion or make fun of other people’s religious beliefs. Granted, I like talking about Philippine politics and society in general but I really think it’s time majority of Filipinos stopped pretending that things are going to be okay as long as we all maintain a “positive” outlook and be “hopeful”. Sadly, there is nothing to hope for if there is hardly anything being done to fix the country’s problems that keep coming up year after year. Flooding, anyone?
Unfortunately, most Filipinos would rather see the bright side of things probably because the reality tends to put them in a bad mood. They hold on to the old notion — the clichĂ© of always seeing the glass half-full. They think people who highlight what is wrong with Filipino culture are being “negative”. Well, think again. Filipinos can try and pretend things are okay only until the next disaster strikes the country. That’s when people realize again that the country does not have the resources to save its citizens and has to seek help from overseas.
Poverty remains a pressing national issue 30 years after 'people power' supposedly won.
Poverty remains a pressing national issue 30 years after ‘people power’ supposedly won.
The problem is, it’s been three decades since former President Ferdinand Marcos dubbed “the dictator” was ousted from power, and yet the Philippines has remained backward in a lot of ways. The fact that most Filipinos still can’t be vocal about their views on important issues plaguing the nation is proof that 30 years after democracy was supposedly “restored”, majority of us are still afraid to speak out. It seems Filipinos are afraid of retribution from the powerful if they spoke out against political corruption and cronyism.
Filipinos in general just don’t like talking about what they consider to be unpleasant things. It seems they can’t handle the truth. As James Fallows puts it in his seminal article A Damaged Culture:
The Filipino ethic of delicadeza, their equivalent of saving face, encourages people to raise unpleasant topics indirectly, or, better still, not to raise them at all.
I just can’t get over the fact that it’s been 30 years since James Fallows wrote that observation about us but not much has changed. Most Filipinos to this day still frown upon those who criticize Filipino public servants and our own shortfalls. It could be because a lot of Filipinos treat their public servants like celebrities despite their incompetence. A classic example of this is the incumbent President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino who is still revered by many despite proof that he is also one of the most corrupt public official in the land. He is revered for the single reason that he is the son of so-called “heroes” Cory and Ninoy Aquino. It’s so bizarre especially since the Edsa “People Power” revolution’s only real legacy is the continued disregard for the rule of law.
Over at the Inquirer, someone by the name of Billy A. Chan wrote an article that hits the right notes — that is, if you are into empty platitudes. If you are, you will surely like his piece titled, I love this country. Apparently, if you believe Chan, just saying “I love this country and everything about it” will make life easier for the average Filipino.
I noticed that Chan’s article is short on specifics. He is of the belief that “there will be so much change if we love instead of hate.” It’s not clear how he expects change to happen just by “loving” but it is clear that he is very good at tuning out the bad bits about the Philippines.
Let’s start from the beginning. Chan wrote: “I love that there are still public servants who are sincere and genuine in fulfilling their duties as elected officials.” If I may ask, which elected public servant was he talking about? I wish he named at least one so we could look up his track record and see for ourselves if this “sincere and genuine” elected public servant really exists.
Chan also made a big deal of people who bother to go to the polls “just to cast their votes for the candidates they think they deserve.” Hmm…Let me see, a non-performing senator won the 2010 Presidential Election and the one who came second and almost won again was convicted plunderer former President and now Mayor Joseph Estrada. Obviously, a lot of those who do go to the polls don’t choose wisely. I do commend those who refuse to sell their votes, indeed. Unfortunately, there seems to be more voters who do sell their votes compared to those who don’t.
I don’t know how old Chan is but he gave this impression that typhoon Yolanda was the first devastating typhoon that ever struck the Philippines:
I love how this country produced thousands of leaders after Typhoon “Yolanda/Haiyan” devastated parts of the Visayas. I love how Filipinos have realized the importance of mangroves along coastlines, which saved hundreds of lives from the deadly storm surges unleashed by Yolanda. I love how natural calamities make Filipinos aware of the extreme effects of climate change and push them to implement measures to protect themselves and the environment.
The country gets visited by at least 20 typhoons every year. Yolanda may have been the strongest in recent times, but the country’s other devastating typhoon Sendong in 2011 or the ones before that should have made Filipinos “realize the importance of mangroves along coastlines” already. Obviously, the previous disasters have not pushed Filipinos enough to “implement measures to protect themselves and the environment”. It remains to be seen if Filipinos did learn from Yolanda and are more prepared for the next typhoon.
Filipinos are not a 'race'. How many times does that need to be said?
Filipinos are not a ‘race’. How many times does that need to be said?
Chan claims to love how “we are still a proud and strong race.” First of all, somebody ought to tell him that the concept of race has already been debunked. Instead of referring to us as a Filipino “race”, he should use Filipino ethnicity. Researchers have agreedthat races do not exist and that the concept of race “was socially constructed, arising from the colonization of the New World and the importation of slaves, mainly from western Africa”. Second, we don’t need to be a proud people just to get respect. Rather, we need to be more humble and stoic while working hard to build our country from the ground up especially since there’s still so much work to be done before we can be truly independent.
One can be forgiven for thinking that Chan may have been smoking something illegal when he wrote the article. He just loves everything that rational folks absolutely hate having to put up with. He loves riding in the cramped trains, loves standing on the bus, he loves to endure endless traffic, making detours and seeing the roads that are under repair. He is even willing to to pay more for the experience. What a guy! No wonder our public servants do not feel the need to improve the appalling conditions in the country.
A lot of Filipinos don’t realize that Chan’s over-enthusiasm for mediocrity is part of the reason things don’t improve in the Philippines. It’s the pwede na yan or “that’ll do” mentality at work. Is he expecting Filipinos to just accept the cramped conditions on public transport? I almost fainted when I rode the MRT in the middle of the day. That wasn’t even peak hour.
Colossal loss of productivity and shrinking bottom lines from a business perspective
Colossal loss of productivity and shrinking bottom lines from a business perspective
Will people like Chan frown on those who demand that the Department of Transportation and Communications do something to ease the congestion and overcrowding on trains? Is it too much to ask for an upgrade on the facilities and infrastructure on public transport? I don’t think so. Chan also does not see things from a business point of view. The economy suffers huge productivity losses and inefficiency as a result of traffic congestion. Only when Filipinos stop accepting mediocrity will things improve.
Chan also commended “brilliant” Filipinos who stay in the country. While I do agree that brain drain is cause for concern for the country, Filipinos who choose to leave the country for lack of better opportunity and recognition in their homeland should not be treated as outcasts or regarded as “unpatriotic”. He can even ask former PAGASA employees why they left.
Migration is not a phenomenon unique to Filipinos. Some folks are just wired to seek adventure elsewhere for a sea change or tree change. In fact, those who choose to live in another country can share the knowledge they learn from their adopted country with their compatriots. Filipinos in the Philippines just have to be more open to suggestions from people who have been exposed to progressive thinking.
Likewise, Filipinos who choose to stay in the Philippines do not have a monopoly on patriotism. They just have their own reasons for staying. Some just prefer to stay because of all the perks of living among family and friends and having cheap servants. Not all of them share their “skills and talent”. I know some who don’t even work and are just slacking off.
Chan also painted such a rosy picture of the overseas foreign workers’ (OFWs) plight.
I love it when mothers and fathers who need to work abroad take pains to explain to their children the reasons for their temporary absence. I love it when these parents, the country’s modern-day heroes, come home for good to resume family life, having saved enough for themselves and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, not all families whose loved ones had to go abroad for work have a happy ending. Some of the kids who were left behind by their OFW parents grow up without a mother or father figure to look up to. Their parents weren’t there on important events and milestones. When they come back, they are often estranged from the very people they financially supported from thousands of miles away.
A lot of these OFWs do not earn a lot from their jobs as domestic workers and fail to save money. Years after toiling abroad, they don’t even have a job they can come back to. This is a result of the government’s bad economic policies since the 1970s that made the country too dependent on OFW remittances to stimulate the economy. This is something that Chan needs to highlight if he truly wants “change”. Writing his representative in congress to do something about the plight of the OFWs is more productive than mouthing off “I love” platitudes.
Filipinos can’t just say, “they love everything about the Philippines” and expect things to improve. It won’t happen unless they do something about it. Demanding for change from their elected public servants is a good first step instead.
And Filipinos who express their “hate” of our culture of mediocrity don’t necessarily hate the Philippines. They just want the best for the country.
Image courtesy Jerry Ocampo.
Image courtesy Jerry Ocampo.


In life, things are not always what they seem.

Filipinos should address the Philippines' negative image by fixing its problems

September 26, 2014
by Ilda
Aegis Malaysia, a business outsourcing company recently reiterated what some of us have been saying all along – that the Philippines will continue to be a risk to foreign investors if problems that are vital to the operation of a business are not addressed.
When the Aegis Malaysia’s ad agency released a promotional video, apparently “in error”, enticing foreign investors to Malaysia, it not only emphasized the advantages of doing business in Malaysia, it also drew attention to the disadvantages of doing business in the Philippines. The Filipino people’s reaction to the video was more disappointing than the video itself.
Instead of seeing an opportunity to demand that the Philippine government address the country’s shortfalls as enumerated in the video, a lot of Filipinos went on the defensive and expressed their “hurt” feelings towards the company. I mean, shouldn’t they have directed their anger at their government instead of Aegis Malaysia? Filipinos didn’t even have to do their own research because somebody else did it for them. All they had to do was present the evidence to the country’s administrators and clamor for solutions. But they didn’t. They, instead, helped defend the government by shaming the Malaysian company.
Presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda described the Aegis video as “below the belt” and recommended sanctions to those responsible for the video. It seems, Malacanang cannot handle the truth. They didn’t even bother to address the points raised in the video.
The promotional video enumerated the following conditions that are working against the Philippines and boosting Malaysia’s attractiveness to investment:
– Inadequate infrastructure

– An unfriendly climate for smooth operations
– Less security
– Lack of government support
No wonder Malacanang was offended. The video pointed out that the Philippine government does not give support to foreign investors. We can’t expect the current government to be happy about that. President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino himself is not known for admitting mistakes or any shortfalls. As far as he is concerned, his government has achieved significant “gains”. It doesn’t matter if the only thing significant his government has achieved is getting positive credit ratings from international credit rating agencies during his term. And never mind that some international commentators also credit the previous administrator with the essential reforms that support a stable Philippine economy.
Not attractive to business (Photo from Dennis Datu on Facebook)
Not attractive to business
(Photo from Dennis Datu on Facebook)
Most Filipinos who reacted negatively to the Aegis Malaysia video admit that what the video highlighted about the Philippines is true especially about the lack of adequate infrastructure. However, they still thought it was inappropriate and unacceptable for the company to single out the Philippines as a risky business partner.
Unfortunately, what most Filipinos do not realize or do not care to realize is that most foreign investors actually hire consultants who tell them about the risks prior to investing in a foreign country. These consultants gather information about a particular country of interest from local media and, increasingly, from political bloggers who are not subject to the editorial standards of traditional journalism. The latter is noteworthy considering that political bloggers are seen to be more reliable due to their unbiased opinions.
Therefore, the removal of the Aegis Malaysia video will be of little consequence to potential foreign investors. Filipinos may have heaved a sigh of relief knowing that the video is not available on YouTube anymore but it doesn’t change the fact that the problems of the Philippines persist.
The reaction of Filipinos who were offended by the video is similar to the way some reacted to foreign journalists who reported the real situation following typhoon Yolanda’s devastation of Leyte. Filipinos do not appreciate it when the Philippines is highlighted in a negative way. Their reason is that the Philippines is a poor country with poor infrastructure and a few resources. Never mind that a big part of the reason the Philippines is poor is because its voters keep electing leaders who mismanage the country.
Like what I have said in my previous article, those who are offended by the straightforward assessment applied by the foreign correspondents seem to be more concerned with image. It has become apparent that they just want to project a “fun” Philippines to the international community. It’s like they do not want anyone highlighting or broadcasting the real state of the poor people and the country’s decrepit infrastructure.
Hiding the real condition of the country never works. Natural calamities are guaranteed to reveal it one way or another. Disasters tend to expose not just people’s capacity to handle stressful situations, it also exposes the country’s lack of capability to save its own people.
Filipinos should discuss the Aegis Malaysia video with President BS Aquino who had just finished a European trip aimed at enticing foreign investors to seriously consider the Philippines. They should ask him why, despite spending billions of taxpayers funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the basic infrastructure needed to attract investors who will in turn provide jobs for Filipinos is not even on the drawing board. In short, Filipinos should ask him, where did all the money go?


In life, things are not always what they seem.


  • Hyden Toro707 says:
    The is two German couple, who are kidnapped by the Islamic Terrorist Group: Abu Sayaff. The leaders of that Islamic Radical Group, threatens that this German couple will be BEHEADED; if Germany will participate in the fight against ISIS. The German couple were kidnapped, from their Yatch…
    Truth hurts, but it is the truth. Peace and order; insurgency; Police corruption; political corruption are the problems, this Aquino administration have never addressed. Besides, no good Flood control. The OFWs have already been working in those foreign countries, at low paid, with long hours of work. Why invest in the Philippines…let the Filipinos come to these foreign countries, where they can be worked like Carabaos…

  • Sea Bee says:
    Aquino’s cancellation of the flood management projects started by GMA; in order to use the money to bribe the Senate into impeaching Corona, was a huge blunder on his part. Has he done anything right; aside from the stock market going up and the credit rating of the country improving? He has relocated a lot of squatters into subsidized housing. He has swollen the welfare rolls by increasing the level of Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest of the poor. He negotiated a cease fire with the MILF. He brokered a new defense treaty with the USA in order to discourage Chinese encroachment. The northern leg of the Skyway is under construction. Several new airports around the country are under construction. Despite these accomplishments, there is a general feeling that the country is “going to the dogs” Crime is rampant. Inflation keeps rising. Given the intractable nature of these problems that defy easy solutions; could any politician have done better? If so, how?

  • Sea Bee says:
    Perhaps, his mistake is that he pissed away the budget on feeble half-way measures that did little to change the downward trajectory of the country. No priorities….No vision…

    • HongKongDong says:

      Where would you even begin to start to fix the problems that have been ignored since 1965 ?

      The country has been robbed by its own people, the politicians, that sought protection from the USA (and then bit the hand that fed them in 1991) to facilitate the thievery.Forover 50 years the politicians thought they were slick, and to certain degree they were, by robbing and stealing everything and passing the buck to future generations. BUT the chickens have come home to roost and the people are soooo sick of the thieving that is sooo very blatantly obvious. BUT was Corazon Aquino right when she said that Filipino’s are cowards ? when faced with adversity they crumble and stammer as if drunk? Ms.Aquino was a leader that her Son is not, and the people of the country need to stop adoring the families of the rich, families that fleece them as sheep to the razor’s edge.
      Plainly and for all to see: THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IS FUCKED, FUCKED 365 ways to New Years Day.

  • kaloy says:
    Corruption hinders progress. Before we could dream of having world class infrastructures like modern airports, seaports, super highways, fast communication, and even bullet trains, let us address first our social infrastructures- schools, housing, hospitals, health centers and roads. Instead of thinking about foreign investors, prioritize in investing on raising the standard of living. Start with mandated family planning. We have to do something about our population growth. Then, take it from there.

    But due to corruption, we are not progressing. Our society allows corruption to prevail. We hate it if foreigners would tell us our weaknesses. We take pride in our culture of mediocrity. We are dumb, lazy and corrupt as our government.

    That is why nothing is changing.

    • marius says:
      “We are dumb, lazy and corrupt as our government.”
      Most Filipinos, kaloy, do not realise that what you just said there is an honourable thing. They thing there is shame in the truth – so it is any surprise that the entire culture is built on lies?
      You’re quite right that it has to start from a social level. Technology and investment will not fix the Philippines. You can’t install power systems if they’re likely to be stolen within 24 hours.
      The sad thing is, social change does not cost money. It’s the one thing that the Filipino people COULD change, if they wanted to, without handing around the begging bowl. But since they cannot stand up with true pride (as you just did) and admit what’s wrong, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • Noel says:
    The only thing I found stupid about the video is that they highlighted the fact that the Phililippines is in the Pacific Ring of Fire. We can’t do anything about that. XD everything else is true though. Sadly, a lot of butthurt Filipinos didn’t see it that way. Someone trying to refute the video even called our country “relatively safe”. Yeah right. Lack of infastructure is also true thanks to BS.

  • aaaaa says:
    So it’s gotten so bad that other countries are quick to openly and bluntly point out the Philippines’ problems? Looks like the fire is rising.

  • Noy P Salaula says:
    He just want to go to Europe! Do you think he accomplished anything by going there? He has no shame! Clean your house first before you ask your prospective guests to visit your house, you idiot!!!!

  • Yawn says:
    Went to Europe and spent the whole trip insulting the Chinese, Gloria, Marcos and murdered journalist. Never signed any trade deals.
    Chinese government and EU countries have signed over 90 billion dollars worth of trade deals so far this year.
    Thursday the Spanish PM signed 4 billion dollars worth of deals in Beijing.

  • Don© says:
    di na siguro mag babago yan..lahat dito mamamatay ng dilat pwera sa mga corrupt..-_- minsan gusto kong ikahiya na Filipino ako..=\ kahit daig ko pa malansang isda..!!!

  • Sacre-Bleu says:
    Ask where the money went? U R KIDDING,YES?
    Ask him to give it back, more like it.

  • Cool_Eyes says:
    Last night, I’ve watched two episodes of ‘The Slum’ of Al Jazeera documentary, it’s too depressing to see how these people of Tondo trying to live every day, in a place where seem there’s no hope. It showed how the government leaders lack of compassion to the most needed people of Tondo in spite of living in metropolis. Watching the Aegis Malaysia’s video helped us to realize what are the things our government neglected for a decades and how helpless we are to have the same incompetent leaders who’s been with us all the time. Nothing has change still ‘Richer became more richer while poorer became more poorer x3′

  • HongKongDong says:
    it is not a secret that the Philippines has zero infrastructure. The highways are a joke, the traffic is insane. Medical services are a nightmare, if you have to go to a hospital in the country, you may not come out of it alive.

    THESE ARE NOT SECRETS, any business that thinks of investing in the countrysend scouts there to investigate.The country is a quick study. The economy is controlled by oligarchs from each reason dominating the region they have control over. The National treasury is a buffet dinner for politicians that just make shit up and steal the money that over the last 50 years really could have meade a monumental difference in the countries development. But now, all the peso’s in the world can not stop the pollution that is present and getting worse,the traffic jams that are a nightmare and getting worse, the flooding of major urban area’s constantly and getting worse.

    It is obvious that the country has been its own worst enemy, politicians that have stolen the countries future for the last 50 years have doomed the Philippines to half-ass status for the next 50 years and business’s will sonn tire of getting treated soooo shabbily, and then finally, and maybe even mercifully the entire archipelago will be swallowed by the Pacific ocean.

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