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Monday, December 19, 2005

Filipino Bashing

You know, this is a topic I've always wanted to talk about. I'm sure you've probably been in a discussion about the problems of the Philippines, wondering where it all came from. Some blame the politicians, corruption, the Spanish, the Americans, but the more analytical people will bring the fauly to the most responsible party of all - 'taong bayan din may kasalanan (It's the fault of the citizenry).'

I'd agree. THe Philippines has never seen the end to its corruption, its problems with poverty, crime and what have you. You can blame the government, but it really can be traced to the individual responsibility of each Filipino.

Are you one of those who, while walking on the street, see someone cross the street though the light is green for the cars. Or you see someone ask for the price of a menu item at a restaurant when the price is posted right behind the counter. Or someone who asks for a form at Window 1, when there is already a sign saying 'forms at Window 4.' Do you say, 'ang tanga naman yan (that person's dumb)?'

I couldn't blame you. A friend rode with a taxi driver, and the driver just said 'Ang hirap ng buhay (life is hard).' My friend asked why is life hard. The taxi driver relates 'I have two women, and I bore so many children, so I have to work extra hard to feed them. It's hard.' My friend, a very frank person as he is, told the driver, 'No you can't say life is hard. That's wrong. You made life hard for yourself. You made your own problem by taking two women. You are now responsible for the problem you made.' I'm sure the taxi driver couldn't toss him out for that because my friend's right and he certainly needs the money my friend will pay for the taxi ride.

Credit card debt is so common among Filipinos because of the great purchase power, but also because of the habit of profligacy and strong potential for abuse among Filipinos. I'd say there is an Imelda Marcos in every one of us. If life is so hard, then why try to strive to live beyond your means? Heck, I've been able to hold a credit card for a year without actually using it. Amazing to you? Heck, you're weak.

I've also heard tales of what Filipinos do abroad. I was told that Filipinos were banned from a certain store in Hong Kong because a large percentage of the shoplifters caught in that store were Filipinos. And a bank in Hawaii refuses to lend money to Filipinos because most Filipinos who borrowed from it ran with the money and made no effort to pay back that loan. What a shame.

So what I've heard that's been said about that? Stupid Filipinos. My friend who rode with the taxi driver often talk this way when we're together. We talk about the problems and what does he say? Stupid Filipinos. People commit mistakes when that have the chance to avoid them. We call them stupid people.

Of course, people of all nations have this behavior. Nobody's perfect. But when other nationalities say, 'most Filipinos are cheats, most Filipinos abuse privileges,' and then you find out that it's actually true, you can't complain of racial discrimination. If a habit has been associated with the people of our country, we certainly have no choice than to work hard and behave properly to try to prove it wrong.

That good friend of mine said, when we talk about Filipinos this way, we're not Filipino-bashing. We're telling the truth! Tanga siya, gago siya, tarantado, bwisit, bobo, etc., all these will really come out when the people really behave like that.

Now you guys will say, 'Hey, don't do that, it's bad to call people stupid, bobo, gago, and all that, don't call people that.' OK, so what other words should you use to call swindlers, cheats, criminals, or careless-carefree people? My friend would say that those words exist because the people who get to be called those words deserve those words. I'd agree. I don't use them often in my daily vocabulary, yes, but I still agree they're appropriate words to use.

Based on the taxi driver's example, you should not think that life is hard. No, life is not hard; people are. People are hard... hard-headed. Hard to please. Hard to convince. Hard to make them obey rules. And so all the dumbness, headaches and disasters that happen in life will happen.

You know, looking at the corrupt people in high places in government, it comes to my mind that these people were once in low places also in the government. They were employees and started out low. So once they get high (pun not intended), how came they become money-hogging, selfish mongrels in office? Probably because while they were ordinary employees, they already had the potential, they already had those traits, though they were not being practiced. In others words, even our employees, even in their lowly offices, they are corrupt.

I go to church and I hope to avoid having worldly views like this. But sometimes you see what's happening and your blood boils and the bad words come out of your mouth, whether the mental or verbal mouth. All I can do is pray when will the minds and hearts of people be opened and when will they stop being dumb, bobo, gago, stupid, etc. Won't you? And most of all, you had better try not to be the people you see up there... the 'stupid' ones.

This is not meant to demean being Filipino, OK. It's just meant to shout 'ouch!' to all you people there who have brains and a sense of decency. I'm sure you're feeling it too.

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