Ten things Filipinos can (and must) do without (First of two parts)
1. TARDINESS. Remember the tired excuse we make for being late? “Filipino time”. Now it is invoked together with “Traffic, Bro!” And we smile as though we have found the causes of a malignant type of cancer. The truth is, time is measured the same way by any race or place; traffic can also be avoided by a thousand ways, not excluding waking up and traveling early. When we arrive late, we need to acknowledge that we are late and do better the next time. Whatever the reason for our tardiness, we have no right to insult the Filipino race by blaming it on “Filipino time”. Or make traffic worse than it already is by adding on it another problem it cannot solve. By the way, why do Filipinos abroad rarely have problems with tardiness–except when attending Filipino functions?
2. Habit of improper waste disposal. Mountains of garbage in certain areas. Plastic bags alongside highways. These, entangled with other types of waste material afloat at seas, streams, rivers, canals etc. are an ordinary sight everyday anywhere in my province of Eastern Samar or the archipelago. Naturally most people point to local and national authorities for the abuse we do to our own environment (many times, I agree, their negligence and real dearth of working action plans are truly blameworthy). But I suggest something more helpful: How about looking where the other three fingers are pointing? And then do the next best thing: Stop the abuse beginning from there.
3. Calling people by wrong names. As a child, I used to hear people being called names like “Totoy Bato”, “Bulate”, “Ipis”, “Sardinas”, “Alkitran”, “Libat (cross-eyed)” apparently from perceptions of handicaps, mis-impressions, bias or bigotry. This unhealthy and unfair practice has put people in a box that limits or stymies their potentials completely sometimes for a lifetime. The sad thing is, I suspect a lot of people who call others wrong names were once called wrong names themselves. At least we can put the cycle to an end.
4. Attributing to politicians superhuman powers. Lest I be accused of contributing more fodder to anti-politician rhetoric in the country, let me sincerely express my sympathy for politicians as a whole. Many of them don’t deserve the bashing they receive in print or social media. Neither do they deserve irrationally high expectations, such as the “tunay na pagbabago (true change or transformation)” scheme because that is simply beyond their power. This is not to say that politicians at the bottom of this sky-high expectation are not part of the problem. The point is: Politics is ill-equipped to reach the heart of true transformation: conscience and moral-spiritual values together with behavioral and structural changes in society. People who line up towards politicians’ offices or houses for various problems and needs from untested social idealism to funeral, baptismal or wedding sponsorships to hospital fees to checking drug crimes and resolving EJKs to planting (evidences) and harvesting (commissions or) expenses need to wake up. They are merely nursing the continued growth among us of an unhealthy political culture of patronage, mis-governance, dependence and expectations that cannot be fulfilled. Politicians may be leaders, but they are not God. Or factotums who do what people should do for themselves.
5. Culture of antagonism and hostility. The country has inherited–or, shall we say, fallen into but later thought it has chosen–a political system of checks and balances. With it comes partisan politics that, at best, promotes healthy debate and discussion or, at worst, constantly begets antagonisms and mutual hostility among groups and individuals. Raising it in a personality-rather-than-issue-oriented culture such as ours has been a perfect recipe for constant disunity. There is no lack of people among us who think they exist to rip apart any opposition to a beloved leader or party, right or wrong. And vice versa. This often comes at the expense of truth, justice or peaceful co-existence. Unfortunately for checks and balances, Pinoy culture takes things personally. Is it any wonder that so much bile in our social and political discourse is tragically complimented by so much blood not only in terms of EJKs but also in terms of interminable conflicts? (To be continued.)