Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Ego and I

I have come to realize that the Filipino Ego is differently evolved than the American ego. Both archetypes of self engagement tend toward hard-headed and pushy, but the expressions and motivations are different. The American ego is fundamentally confidence run amok. The Filipino Ego is more inward. It underpins the widespread trade of favors that is a stark social dysfunction, like racism. And many Filipinos, like southern American whites of the 1800's, are blind to the pains and damages caused by their self-dealings.

Filipino Ego requires a capital “E” because, like Catholic with a cap, it is a specific social structure that warrants its own profound definition.

In my blog writings, I have postulated that much of the dysfunction that occurs in the Philippines has at its core, Ego. The profound Filipino tendency toward self-involvement leads to corruption (who cares who who might be penalized by grabbing the pesos?), pollution (trash tossed onto the highway is out of mind as soon as it leaves the hand), poor preparation (planning for disasters is too much trouble and uses money that is better disposed of into my pocket), unjust justice (justice by personal or political favor), coups (my idea of government is better than yours), political murders (the nerve of you challenging my right to power), and incompetence (why hire someone with skills when a cousin or classmate will serve ME better).

The Egos who engage in the trade of favors are not at all compassionate toward those who bear the brunt of their unfairness: those who honorably pay their taxes which get funneled into private pockets, those who wait in line for their license at the LTO while a spiff-payer moves to the front, those who work hard in college and on the job and see their career opportunities cut off by someone's incapable cousin or classmate, or those killed by a ferry or typhoon or political murder or mud slide or stray dog on the National Highway because some official swapped away protection of citizen lives for a fatter wallet. The trade of favors is as pernicious as racism, that bugaboo of late American history.

Those hurt are Filipinos, not that the Egos recognize this. The corrupt and callous Filipinos believe they are as patriotic as the next guy cheering when a boxing legend enters the ring. Yet too many Filipinos are elected because they feel they are above the people; they are not elected because they want to serve the people. It is a very weird slant on patriotism. Given a weighing between take or give, the scale inevitably slides to take.

I have observed the practices of my wife, an Ego into her self, actually, but quite a sweet one. And I have observed the practices of my son who demonstrated an oversized Ego at the age of two, dismissing anyone and anything that interfered with his desires. The question arose, is this little self-consumed Ego hereditary or learned? Is it passed from parent to child in the genes, or is it developed by experience and education?

I clambered onto the internet to research something for a change . . .

Bingo. All knowledge is just a Google strike away.

Let me try to distill reams of over-the-top intelligence from PhD's offering up language thick enough to blind a bat. I'll present a layman's interpretation of one discussion* about ego and see if it fits with what you observe in the Philippines.

First, two definitions are important:

Self: the biological attributes that determine one's unique psychology; in other words, the individuality that is defined by genetic composition. The self does not change much during our lifetime.

Ego: our perception of our personal identity; in other words, that which we understand about ourself. It changes depending on our experiences and knowledge.

The self is to ego what a parent is to a child. At birth, a child is totally attached to his mother, seeing and feeling no distinction between himself and his mother. Similarly, at birth, the ego is submerged totally within the genetically determined self.

With time and experience, the child and the ego start to pull away. Both are shaped by experience and knowledge. And so the ego moves toward a state of independence, no longer bound by genetic chains of the self. In this growth, a higher self can emerge. This higher self is very aware of its individuality and surroundings and how it engages them. It is man at his most aware . . . aware of both his own capabilities and emotions and the vagaries of his environment, and able to navigate that environment as a mature adult.

And as a global collective, we participate in a migration toward a stronger and higher thinking man.

Cool. But what does that mean? How do I apply this to our current state of affairs?

On the scale of ego-independence, modern countries have moved ahead of the Philippines which, as a collective, remains bound to mama. Self awareness is weak in the Philippines and people have little idea how to organize for success. North Korea is a baby, Iran a petulant pre-teen, Myanmar a juvenile delinquent.

As a world community, if we grow enlightened fast enough, we might be able to rid the planet of wars and diseases and our current tendency to birth the planet into a dusty desert. It is a race, run in hyper slow motion, this battle between self awareness and the limits of our earth's resources. Also – sadly amusing - one watches the American political scene with its deceits, distortions and focus on elections rather than public good and grits the teeth; it is the opposite of higher self in action.

But if you think Americans are slow on the higher-self uptake, consider the Philippines.

Whereas millions of Americans see change and self-awareness as important, buying self-help books by the trainload and spending millions for psycho-therapy, the Philippines persists in a very different and narrow niche regarding comprehension of self. You seldom see self-help books carried about by Filipinos,or any books for that matter, and it is considered shameful to visit a shrink. Enlightenment is forever blocked by shame, by self involvement, by lack of effort and by a relentless search for someone else to blame.

It seems to me it is futile to debate fighting corruption or re-writing the constitution or doing much of anything until the real shame of the Philippines is acknowledged and dispensed with: Ego that has not separated far enough from self to keep pace with the evolution of more progressive nations. The immature Ego – working for self instead of community - spawns the trade of favors which, like racism, is hurtful and destructive to the well-being of the Philippines.

When people look at expanding their self awareness with pride, and when those who trade in favors are looked upon as despicably as an American white uttering the word “nigger”, the Philippines will have risen far on the scale of human enlightenment.


*adapted from the concepts presented at: Interpretations of the academic treatment are unproven and are solely extensions of Joe America's suppositional mind.


  1. Filipinos do not need self-help books. Their bible is their self-help. They do not need to change. They expect the prayers will change them while continously practicing their erratic corrosive toxic behaviour.

  2. Bible? Yes worshipping the Pople and White God has really helped the Philippines. When will Filipinos realize the only people who will help them are themselves and not some fairytale.

  3. You teach Filipinos to fish, and, they starve praying for fish.


Please take up comments at the new blog site at

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.