Sunday, March 27, 2011

Do Unto Me

I have been trying to understand the differences between western and Filipino cultures. I have stepped back a pace from outright criticism of Filipino ways and means, for it seems to me presumptuous to think that all cultures should emulate the American culture that frames my perspectives.

It is clear that Filipino Ego is the bottom line determinant of so many behaviors here. Whereas the Golden Rule – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – drives the courtesy and consideration most westerners grant to others, it is a rule that simply is not prominent in the Philippines.

Filipinos everywhere are motivated by, driven by, personal advantage.
Take the routine lawbreaking that occurs here every day. Skirting the law for personal gain is not condemned. Indeed, people brag about what they get away with. They gain face by cheating and lose face only if caught. The Filipino Ego defines right and wrong not as society’s right and wrong, but as right and wrong in terms of personal power or advantage. The law is society’s definition and it is irrelevant if personal advantage can be gained by ignoring it or circumventing it.

This sentence bears repeating: “The Filipino Ego defines right and wrong not as society’s right and wrong, but as right and wrong in terms of personal power or advantage.”

Therein resides the foundation of broad scale corruption, of over-fishing, of chopping down forests illegally, of lack of courtesy on the roads, of tossing trash in the neighbor’s yard or blasting karaoke into their ears until dawn. Therein lies the stark difference between a community-oriented western culture and a self-engaged Filipino culture.

Right and wrong exist in the Philippines in terms of self-advantage, not in terms of what helps others, what brings about an orderly society, what brings about a productive society.

So what is an outsider to do? Forget about the golden rule and wield all the power his wealth permits? Trample on others? Honk them out of the way on the roads? Treat workers with little mercy, paying them a pittance and working them like dogs? Disregard his neighbors in all things: noise, smoke, pissing in plain view?

It is hard to go there. It really is.



They get turned upside down here, inside out – not in terms of American culture, but in terms of what is good for most Filipinos. Given that government largely sets the tone . . . after all, government officials represent the leadership . . . it is easy to flay them with contempt. So I will . . .

The notion of public good in the Philippines is fantasy, it is bull shit, vended by leaders with little capacity to put themselves into the shoes of those who have less power. When the dominant driving force is “what’s in it for me?”, you can hardly expect actions to occur that are for the good of the community.

Filipinos admire heroes, yet the country’s leaders behave exactly the opposite of how a real hero would behave. What is the opposite of a national hero? You figure out the correct description, for I don’t wish to be that rude.

All I know is that, if I succumb to the culture here, I don’t ever have to put myself out for anybody who has less power than me. I can just emulate the leaders hereabouts. Me first. Everyone else . . . I’ll deal with you when I’m ready . . .

As for those with more power . . . I hide relentlessly . . . duck, dodge, ignore, play victim, offer up every excuse in the arsenal . . .

Just like a real Filipino.


  1. Damn, Joe. I saw you had a new article today and arrived here eagerly anticipating a fresh burst of insight, and instead you delivered the Tsar Bomba of insight.

    You do realize that one little depressing irony in all this is that ego is such that the typical Filipino, reading this, is going to think you're talking about the other guy, not him.

  2. Yes, blindness toward one's own moral compass is the big block that stops progress in its tracks. It is the big Catch 22 of Philippine pride. Regards . . .

  3. HA!HA!HA! Right on Ben Kritz!!! Right on!!! See, that is why Filipinos do not blame themselves for electing idiot presidents to Malacanang. They blame the idiot presidents NOT THEM.

  4. Look, the Quantico-trained NBI, West Point-trained PMA Superentendents cannot even know where Panfilo went to. They did not trace his ATM. Did not tap the phones of his relatives and close kin. Did not freeze his account. Oh, yeah, he has account abroad. Huh? Did not know Generals and Senators get paid that much.

  5. Airport immigration agents cannot even know he left Philippines. They knew he flew in from cuckoos nest to Cebu using VALID PASSPORT !!! Then flew chartered jet to Manila and lo and behold ... not on foreign-educated, Quantico-trained posse was there to arrest him for being furigitve of law and on the lam.
    His co-Senators even welcomed him !!! The very lawmakers welcome a fugitive !!!
    I love Philippines! I feel highly of myself.

  6. Interpol did not even stop him in his vacation abroad to China and Europe! Because Filipino interpols are not communicating with the REAL INTERPOL ABROAD!!!
    Guilty or not! He is a fugitive. He is on the lam. He should be arrested and have him ensconced in luxury of Presidential Suite in Malacanang!

  7. HOW I HATE YOU FILIPINOS!!! Outsource the government now! To Timbuk2 or Burma or Vietnam! Filipinos are democratically irresponsible.
    WHAT IF FILIPINOS ARE STRAIGHT ARROWS? What if ... ? I will have lost my entertainment :)

  8. Filipinos are pure evil. An embodiment of what constitute evil. The wonderful mental state of Filipinos are they are not the cause of the evilness. They always have someone to blame. The government. The very government they elected. EXTREMELY DUMB !!! EXTREMELY OBLIVIOUS !!! TOTALLY CLUELESS !!! May their God have mercy on their souls. May they be sent to heaven so I can have hell in peace.
    Of course, God will send these proud and egotistic Filipinos to hell to spite me !!!

  9. "he Filipino Ego defines right and wrong not as society’s right and wrong, but as right and wrong in terms of personal power or advantage"

    for example?

  10. GabbyD,

    Corruption or driving the wrong way on a one way street or murdering a journalist. Cheating on scales at the market. They are against the law, the law being society's rules for knowing right and wrong. They are, however, convenient to the individuals who break the law to their own advantage. They have a different definition of right and wrong that is personal.

    In the US, there are more laws that protect the well-being of citizens. Laws of courtesy, if you will. Laws against throwing trash from a vehicle, from loud noise in a residential neithborhood, from fires and smoke within cities, from industrial firms in residential areas, against stopping in the road, against smoking in public places and so forth.

    The Philippines does not appear to have or enforce such laws of courtesy. That is a cultural distinction, too, that favors individuals who have no interest in being considerate of others.


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