I received a letter that I know contains sentiments – a common feeling about people who are still in the Philippines – and how they view the more outspoken Pinoys like moi – who have left. Normally, I would dismiss this kind of letter. But knowing this came from someone important (to me anyways) – I thought of giving some time to go through it and reply without being condescending, obnoxious, or offensive. Consider this as a normal conversation between adults. Apparently, this is a recurring theme that I hear from time to time in one form or another. The long and short of this argument is that – those who left the Philippines are greedy and cowards, that those who stayed are selfless and brave – I beg to disagree.
But first, let me share that snippet of a remark:
You have nothing good to say about the Philippines. But these adversities that we meet everyday are the hot metals that test the resiliency and courage within each and every one of us. It brings out the best and the finest in us , making it the survival of the fittest, thus in effect an individual effort of setting us free from overwhelming odds of negativities that surround us.
Only the cowards and the weak , who have only the desire for financial gains and those who thirst for physical satisfaction of the senses , would flee at the first sight of discomfort which we call challenges giving us the power to face and in effect empowering us with more strength in character building of being responsible for our lives and not make excuses of external circumstances as a psychological crutch as justification in carrying over the past of their inability to detach from their negative habits.
It is a simplified issue , is physical and material gains sufficient to buy lasting happiness of the heart, the unspoken dialogue of camaraderie, and silent communion of peace truth and stability ?
Adversity or Productivity?
Adversity is not a one size fits all shirt. Just like corruption. There’s the garden variety corruption and then there’s the systemic corruption arising from a systemic lack of economic opportunities. In my case there is personal adversity – and there is systemic adversity. I don’t have a problem dealing with personal adversity, however when the source of adversity is not just common to you but takes on a collective nature, one has to start thinking. At times, it’s a choice between changing the direction of a well-oiled ship, plugging a leak in a ship, redesigning a ship, even… abandon the ship. – so you may live to reach your destination.
Having said that – when it comes to “adversity” – simple lang yan, you guys want to put up with the crap in the Philippines – that’s YOUR choice, and I respect that. I have been living and working in that “adversity” for the past thirty five conscious years in my life and given the average Filipino male life span of 65 years old, to spend twenty years in another environment – to learn the attitudes, behaviors, and practices – K – A – P (Knowledge-Attitude-Practices) that various cultures have adopted in order to bring about a more humane society – is an adventure in knowledge. To be able to see that there are other ways of life – other than “the Filipino way”.
Is it wrong to seek continuous improvement – not just in our shores – but in other shores as well? Knowledge and wisdom do not exhibit “patriotism” – it is there for any member of humanity that seeks to partake of it. You either do the right thing or you don’t (for example, thou shall not steal or don’t vote for thieves, idiots, and crooks) – regardless of nationality, belief (or the lack thereof), gender, and age. The question of adversity is not whether it happens in the Philippines or not – it happens like in any other country.
The uniqueness of the Philippines “adversity” is that it is self-imposed – we complain about theft, but it was us who let the thieves in fully knowing well that they are thieves. Filipinos are so oblivious of the thievery – they don’t get enraged anymore, perhaps they have become too desensitized that to a Filipino, a country where the corrupt are jailed for real is a delusion. Most of the Filipinos can’t imagine such a government – and yet, our neighbors can and have put their houses in order.
What exactly am I supposed to do? Wage a quixotic campaign waxing emo politics? – been there, done that – Philippines is worse off. I cut off the hydra’s head in 1986 only to see it give rise to more – there has to be a better way. One can chop off the hydra’s head – and indulge in “adversity” cutting off each head that regrows. Or, one need not indulge in adversity – burn the chopped head off, and no heads can regrow.
Volunteer-work, charity-work, all piecemeal activities that do not lead to the burning off the chopped head are exercises in addiction to adversity – the adversity has to exist in order for people to find meaning. In my case, I find meaning in demolishing “adversity” – how about that? Why settle for volunteer work if an extensive strategic campaign can lead to charter change which unleashes the Philippines true potential to create system-wide prosperity? Why can’t Filipinos exert the same effort, attitude, and wherewithal to adopt and change – dahil retarded ang Pinoy?
Why be addicted to systemic adversity when there are better brilliant long-lasting alternatives? You can indulge in acts that show how kind and compassionate you are to the least of the brethren – OR, you can strike at the heart of the problem – the institutionalization of protectionism in the Constitution which has left the Philippines with the crumbs in the recent waves of trade and investments. Though I have the tendency to do both.
It seems there is a pissing contest between “courage” of living in the Philippines – and living abroad.
“Courage” in the local context seems to be, courage to put up against harassment, threats of bodily harm, threats to your property, the capacity to tolerate LOUSY and EXPENSIVE telehone/water/electricity – like 3 hour brownouts! The year is 2010 peepz, for gadzooks panay pa rin ang brownout. Is this an opportunity to show how he can be kind to others like us who don’t have light, water, and electricity? Or is this a lousy inept policy that needs to be corrected?
If we have “courage” – why don’t we have the courage to vote for people who are doing right thing, on their own merit – why don’t we have the courage to buck the popular and do what’s right? Based on the voting results where Pinoys selected candidates based on winnability and popularity – para “in”, I say most Pinoys courage are plain false bravado but are intellectual cowards. I don’t want to be associated with intellectual cowards.
Tell you what – there is bigger courage going overseas – going at it ALONE, ON YOUR OWN MERIT – NO ONE ELSE, BUT I and MY WITS – no crutches, no social nets, no nothing – all repercussions all mine to bear – and THRIVING despite of, and inspite of naysayers.
The Greater Good
The Philippines is for conformists – I am not a conformist – never have never been. I do not believe in amputating an individual’s soul and aspirations for “the greater good”. I will sink and swim with that belief. I wouldn’t be quick to judge leaving the Philippines as cowardice, there are times you have to retreat so you can fight another day – come up with a better plan and come back with a vengeance like the Count of Monte Cristo. Why burn yourself up? Take it in stride, go with the rhythm of the seasons of ones life.
When I give others my truth, I am open to receiving their truth as well, and vice-versa. Is it wrong to point out that we as a nation would rather vote for thieves and lazy people instead of taking the time out to use our brains? I’ve done what I can for “the common good” – gave it the best years of my life – sacrificing MY happiness so that anyone other than me will be happy – It was either to make someone else other than I -parents, relatives, friends/amigas/amigos, or society in general, happy – except me.
But, that is nearly EVERYONE’s modeling – we did not know any better. The pressure to conform in Philippine society is a vestige of the colonial policies – a command and control mentality that everyone’s role is for the happiness of the Spanish crown or whoever was the colonial power at that time. Lots of us still put up with the feudal and colonial mindset – I don’t and will not anymore – I’ve had it – forty years and counting.
I believe life is more about finding one’s happiness than indulging in collective misery. If the Pinoy collective chooses misery, I respect that. But the collective should also respect the fact that – there are other societies that reject the misery and look for ways to solve it – that’s my kind of society, I will seek it, pursue it, learn from it, apply the lessons learned. If Pinoys reject the fruit of such lessons – it’s their loss NOT MINE. The Philippines can keep the title Asia’s Laggard, Most Dangerous Country for Journalists, Nation of Servants, Most Corrupt Country in ASEAN. The typical Pinoy schmoe will prefer to sweep the matter under the carpet and pretend everything is A-okay – who are we kidding folks? We lie to the world, and now we even have to lie to ourselves when we should be facing this head-on, stop it in its track. To achieve this, we don’t need rocket scientists – we just need to think, as in really, sit down and take stock – do we really want another good-for-nothing dumbass as president?
It’s not just the money, It’s also about FREEDOM
America (or any developed country preferred for emigration) is not just about the money. More than that America is about freedom – to say and be who you are, to realize your potentials, without having to worry about your bodily harm when you speak your truth. It is also about second chances – to live your life on the basis of who you are – not on the basis of pedigree and clan consensus.
Money is just a byproduct of the responsible use of freedom. Be irresponsible – and you lose money. Be responsible, be focused, and disciplined, be smart (after all activity is not productivity) – and you gain money. Money is just a scorecard – it’s just a means to an end, it’s not the end in itself. After all, how can the charities of the world exist if not for the people who felt no shame in making money for their trouble? Money is just like a scalpel – in the hands of a murderer it can destroy lives, in the hands of a surgeon it can save lives.
Jewels and Pigs
Think about this – every project that I touch in the company I work for, improves not just YOUR life, but EVERYONE’s life, because I make food, clothing, and shelter more affordable ALL OVER THE PLANET not just the barrio called Philippines.
If I were in the Philippines – I’ll be an atsoy of an asshole boss, unrecognized, under-compensated, always in the background – I have no impact there, it’s a WASTE of my time and I will be so miserable with the LOUSY pay and the LOUSY environment and the LOUSY benefits and the LACKLUSTER officemates and I have to conform with what everyone thinks how I should behave – dios ko maria santisima tabanga – hell no, tapos na ako sa impyernong yan, I choose life – anywhere but the Philippines, I will die early in the Philippines – mamatay ko sa konsumisyon kay napalibutan ko ug BUGO ug KORUP ug mga TSISMOSO ug PAKIALAMERO – people who don’t have a life, whose only excuse for a life is watch me live my life. There has to be something better than this collectively self-imposed misery.
Some prefer the comfort of familiar surroundings, I on the other hand am an explorer, an adventurer – I want to know, live outside the box, find out how the developed countries did it so that I can use the same knowledge and wisdom to spread prosperity and reduce ignorance. We cannot liberate minds if I we do not liberate their stomachs first. how Likewise, how can we get the lion’s cubs if we don’t enter her den?
There seems to be this misguided element common among Filipinos that “learning to love yourself” is evil and selfish. I used to believe all that crap – somehow it was such a thankless job. Para bang people expect that I put them first – e paano naman ako. I think about other people, but it seems they don’t think about me. Mukhang hindi naman tama yan, that is so one-sided – forty frakking years, I need a break.
It is not wrong to think about your personal happiness – after all how can you spread happiness when you are unhappy? I say seek your happiness first – to thyself be true, I have outgrown the Philippines, I don’t belong there anymore – it’s MY turn to be happy. I will live life on MY TERMS, and NO ONE ELSE, it’s my life and I am happy with where I am at this point in my life. It’s not the best of cards – but one plays to the best, the cards one is dealt with.
If people think am a coward for living here – that’s their problem not mine. Come to think of it, if Filipinos were such a good judge of character, how come they always have thieves, killers, or idiots for leaders? Pinoys are experiencing misery by their own imposition – alangan namang hindi nanakaw yung binoto nilang magnanakaw di ba? E kung gusto nilang magpakatanga, they can go ahead – Filipinos can reap the negative karma of their negative behavior while I reap the positive karma of my positive behavior – no rocket science.
Isn’t this the purpose of a job, a career, an enterprise – to provide for oneself and family. Why in the world will I force the issue of working in the Philippines when I can see that the same amount of effort that I exert elsewhere, brings me (and by extension, my immediate family) more reward.
I work for myself and my family and I dutifully pay my taxes. I went to get an education and developed my skill set so I can provide better for myself and my family. Why fault me for wanting convenience? If you guys are happy with nipa huts that’s fine – you can sleep in the streets if you want, as long as that’s what YOU want. But that’s not what I want – I want to be comfortable so that I am rested and ready to work the following day – be productive.
Basic decency and self-respect tells me that I do not put up with anyone or anybody who does not value me and corollary to that, to go where I am valued. In the Philippines when I blurt out a suggestion, the replies are typical – mahirap, that’s not the way we do it here, that has not been tried before. What that means to me is they value the old ways that gave them the same tired old sloppy results. Outside the PI, the reply I get is – “that’s a good idea”, “let’s do that; if that’s what it takes to do things right – let’s do it, the right way”; “why didn’t we think of that before”; or “I like the value proposition” – finally some signs of intelligence on this planet.
Say Something Good About the Philippines
What good am I supposed to say about the Philippines? The only good I can say about it is that I have family in the Philippines. Ano pa ba? It gave the world someone like moi? Too righteous and wicked – I love it.. LOL.
Other than that, as a society – that we are good at corruption? that we are good at massacres?
For all the good things that Pinoys do – they can’t run away from the core values of humanity and society – personal responsibility (no one will save the filipinos except themselves – remember the law of karma – Filipinos are just reaping what they have sown – given the harvest of corruption what did the Filipinos sow?
I just cannot be proud of that – if Filipinos have so gotten used to corruption that they shrug it off as if it were a way of life – that such corruption is needed so that the world will see that there are still honest Filipinos.
Do we have to go through such heroics – I mean do we, Filipinos, now have to exert heroic efforts to be honest? Isn’t that supposed to be an everyday thing – second nature just like breathing. It sure says a lot about Filipinos when an honest deed is celebrated – it means nearly everyone else is dishonest. Cringe to death? You bet!
Do my reactions make me less Filipino? Let’s face it – the Filipino identity is a work in progress – it’s a blank slate molded by colonial edict. For better or for worse, I was born one, and will die one – a Filipino, holder of a Philippine passport – whether Filipinos like it or not.
Tough luck b*tches -people don’t like what I write – I don’t like it either BUT that’s reality, the feeling is mutual, sweet.
Enjoy the weekend