It’s a slow Saturday at the office so…
I don’t claim to know everything or even a lot about this issue, but I’ve come to believe that most problems that Philippines is facing is caused by the Filipinos’ attitude of always looking at the short term instead of the long term. So prepare for a slightly long article about why we r who we r.
I don’t think this trait only affects Filipinos, but I do believe that it has permeated deeply into our identities that it has become almost indistinguishable from who we are (in general). And that is the root of our problems.
Exhibit A: “Minsan lang naman” which leads to “Normal na yan”
Who here has ever done something illegal or let it happen and justified it with “just this once”? What we don’t realize is that this sort of attitude builds up and compounds on itself. No, we cannot just let it happen just because it happens rarely. This is a breeding ground for bad habits.
Take a look at this video of an MMDA officer caught accepting bribes from bus operators. Scroll through the comments and you’ll see that a lot of people have been aware of that situation for a long time, and it has also happened in different places in the metro. So why hasn’t anyone done anything about it until now? Again this comes back to the mindset of Filipinos. Surely it started out as just a rare occurrence before it became tradition. One of the comments put my feelings into words precisely:
to those who say “normal na yan”…
Yes, normal rin ang nasasayang yung mga buwis natin samga buwisit na politico. normal na rin na sisingitan ka ng mga bus/taxi/jeep/pedicab/tricycle at harangin lahat ng intersection. normal narin na ang customs na maging mga tarantado at mag hingi ng extra na pera na “pampadulas”…
YUN NGA EH!!! MALI NGA! SOBRANG NORMAL NA ANG MALI OK LANG SA INYO!? PUTIK NA!!! TINGNAN MO NGA KUNG NASAAN NA ANG SINGAPORE, TAIWAN, THAILAND, MALAYSIA AND JAPAN!!!
These are the countries that were BOMB TO HELL AND BACK during WW2! These are countries with a worse economy than us (some don’t even have an economy) and in a worse state than us after the war! It’s been SEVEN DAMN DECADES! Most of those countries maayos yung public transportation systems and thriving economies! Orderly and busses nila, multiple metro lines! Saatin ang gulo ng mga bus and jeep. tatlo nga lang ang metro lines (L/MRT) natin ang gulo pa!
Kala niyo na wala lang to? kasi nasa kalye lang eh! what do you think happens when they move up the food chain? mawawala?
Yah, normal na! so ok na kayo sa “normal”?
So yes, ignore the grammatical errors, but it is true. We Filipinos lack the discipline to see how simple and rare acts of injustice can build up and affect things in the long term. While a short term mindset would say “just this once,” we should accept a long term mindset of “not even once!”
Exhibit B: Most Hospitable Country (Colonial Mentality)
One of the most positive traits that we Filipinos have is hospitality. It’s something that foreigners have boasted about us since Spain colonized us centuries ago. However, most of the hospitality I’ve seen is only limited to foreigners or, to be more precise, paying foreigners. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Filipinos treat foreigners differently from their own countrymen. We adore them, we revere them and give them lots of attention (especially if they’re fair-skinned). Foreigners that stay in the PH for less than a year boast about the hospitality of its people because they haven’t seen anything yet. Once foreigners have stayed here long enough, I’m sure they’ll also be part of the hive-mind complaining about the problems of this country. Filipinos are hospitable at first glance because that’s their initial instinct to foreigners (colonial mentality trauma?). But once we get comfortable around them, we treat them with the same attitude that we treat other Filipinos. We view hospitality as a sort of welcoming party to people where we put our best foot forward. But after that party, we go back to being our old selves.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any kind-hearted Filipinos who are hospitable because of their pure hearts. In fact I want it to always be like that. I want short-term hospitality, or hospitality just because of money/convenience/fame/power, to be replaced with genuine hospitality that stands the test of time. Hospitality should not just be something we give to visiting or paying people, but even to our fellow countrymen who have been here with us all this time.
Exhibit C: Mañana Habit, Ningas Cogon, Bahala Na Attitude, Filipino Time
I’ll condense these negative habits into one section to save time. If you study these habits, they all stem from the need for instant gratification. Procrastination (Mañana), because we’d rather relax or do something now rather than do what is needed leads to lack of time management (Filipino time). Filipinos are inherently enthusiastic and fun loving. Once we get fired up, we start to do things with passion but when it comes to the hard part, we run out of energy and end up not following through (Ningas Cogon). And before we know it, instead of finishing what we started, we just let it go and throw in the towel (Bahala na). Because we don’t get what we want immediately, or because we’d rather go the easy route, we lose sight of the long term goals that we actually want to achieve. Sure, it’s easy to say that some of our goals aren’t that big and giving up didn’t cost us that much, but once again, this turns into a habit that bleeds into bigger and more important parts of our life. If we see how things play out in the long term, I think that we can discipline ourselves better and eliminate these negative traits.
“A fire that burns twice as bright only lasts half as long.”
This quote means well, but applied to context, it can be uninspiring. It all depends on what kind of flame the situation calls for.
Exhibit D: Short term solutions to long term problems
Remember when a gang of thieves used hammers to break into shops inside malls? The response of government officials was to ban hammers from being sold inside the malls. What a laughable solution! So what did the said gang do when they lost their only weapon? They used wrenches this time! Darn it! Now wrenches will get banned. And pretty soon there will be nothing left to sell inside the malls because everything slightly threatening will have been banned.
This is just one example of how people in power solve the growing problems of this country. Another would be all the drive-by shootings and riding-in-tandem crime done by motorcyclists around the metro. Officials responded with the no-backride policy which states that no two people without relations are allowed to back-ride the same motorcycle. So I guess the metro became motorcycle crime-free after that right? Nope! My friend almost got her bag snatched by a female who was riding with a male cyclist (presumably her husband). It is adorable to see officials enact laws that they think crooks aren’t smart enough to take advantage of. Perhaps it is time to put in office people who actually try to think of long term solutions that can help improve our country, not just hide the damage.
Exhibit E: Pay a man to vote and he gets fed for a day, teach a man to vote wisely and he (hopefully) gets fed for the rest of his life.
Vote wisely! Sadly, even the choices are getting hard because it seems that every single person aiming for office seems to have one foot stuck in the corruption pool. This country is in a sad state politically and financially, but I hope that we learn not to exchange our vote for a few coins and papers. The money given to us will run out, but if we vote for the right person, we can drastically change the future of this corruption pit of a country. I do believe that there are still honest people in the government, but they are too overshadowed by their corrupt brethren. So please, let’s not add more bad eggs to the nest. Php500 might feed a family for a week, but a vote to the right person could possibly change the lives of millions.
Of course I’m not so naive to think that people will sacrifice their hunger for the possibility of a good future. It’s an exaggeration but the message is, you can do more good by thinking about the long term and voting wisely.
And if all else fails, there’s always revolution.
I’m sure there are other examples where the short term > long term mindset manifests but these are all I can think of so far. Well there goes my observation of my country and why it is such. I just hope that it’s not too late and that I can see some positive change to it in my lifetime.
P.S. These are all general claims but I’m not stupid to believe that everyone is like this. Of course we have special snowflake Filipinos that do put long-term goals into their priorities. Good for them. I’m not condemning anyone and surely even I am also guilty of this habit. However, I try to be as less a hypocrite as I can, and be a better person. I put standards on myself and I follow these standards so I can hold others up to them as well. So far it’s been disappointing and surprising seeing the results. Oh well.