World class. Tourist haven. Investment darling. Friendly and hospitable people. Heart and a lot of fighting spirit. A positive and happy place. The list goes on and on about how the Philippines sees itself, and consequently, how it would like the rest of the world to see it. To Filipinos and Philippine society, keeping up images and projecting oneself in a “positive” light are of utmost importance.
Filipinos place a great emphasis on how they are viewed by others. The significance of this statement is indeed a lot larger than it seems at first. Once one has lived long enough in the Philippines, however, any positive image you may have will most likely be replaced, if not completely shattered.
Infrastructure is lousy. Traffic has become unmanageable. Public transportation is running on fumes. We still have a decrepit airport even if we’re not on the 2016 list of World’s Worst Airports anymore. The ongoing bullet-planting incidents, allegedly by airport personnel themselves, are not helping our reputation and image to tourism one bit. We are only too willing to scam visiting tourists because we perceive them as having a lot of money.
The ranking of the Philippines in the Ease of Doing Business index has not only slid down a few places compared to last year, it’s downright pathetic for a country in a region of high-achievers. Corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, government ineptness, government inability to honor contracts, and the restrictive business environment in the Philippines are some of the factors that negate any “positive” thoughts Filipinos may have about doing business here. In fact, some in the business community have been quoted as saying “It’s no longer fun to do business here”.
As one can glean from Filipinos’ reaction to the World’s Worst Airports and the Ease of Doing Business index, they are more concerned about the rank than they are about the actual improvements being done on the ground.
Filipinos are a friendly and hospitable people, only until you start criticizing anything about them. Regardless of who the criticism comes from, Filipinos will more often than not raise their middle finger whenever they are the target of criticism, or they are put in what they perceive as a bad light.
Believe me, there is a lot to criticize about the Philippines. Both locals and foreigners will agree with me here.
Filipinos treat those outside of clan and friendship lines with utter disregard. The prevailing attitude here is me-first. Regardless of whether Filipinos are on foot, or behind the wheel, they have this baseless sense of being more important than anyone else. Filipinos cut lines, ignore rules and regulations if they think they won’t get caught, and worse, will pick fights and play victim if you call them out on their misbehavior.
Heart and fighting spirit alone do not make a people improve if the brain is not present. There is a lot of fight, a lot of action in Philippine society, but there is also a lot of aversion to thinking, and a thick atmosphere of anti-intellectualism.
The Philippines may be a happy and positive place, only in the sense that Filipinos are predisposed to keeping a smile on their face and keeping a “positive attitude” in the face of adversity, but the state of the country today is hardly anything to be happy and positive about.
Filipinos are too full of themselves and have such high self-regard. What is lacking is any inclination towards doing the hard work of making sure their self-perception and their reality actually match.
It is easier to spin bullshit than it is to build a solid foundation. But true progress and improvement never did come easy, nor did they come by spinning bullshit and believing it.
The Philippines’ nakedness has been called out so many times. Yet it seems like in none of those times has the Philippines ever responded and stepped up to the challenge of fixing themselves. Instead, Filipinos lash out at and blame the one who points out their flaw and makes it their fault for not putting the Philippines in a positive light.
The Philippines is a land of opportunity – a land of wasted opportunity. A lot more will continue to be wasted unless Filipinos get rid of their unnecessary self-pride and self-regard. They must come to terms with the fact that they’ve got a lot of work to do in order to improve the Philippines from the dismal state it is in now.
And no, there will be no hero who will do everything for them and lead them to the better times on his own. Filipinos need to pull their own weight.