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Is Assertiveness Valued in Filipino Culture?

May 23, 2010

How many times have we been put in a spot because we wanted to please someone else – because we did not assert ourselves? A lot of us Pinoys are, by virtue of being “the most hospitable nation in Asia” often interpret this as a license to become Asia’s doormats. We become ninong, ninang to our “wards” who call us “bossing”, “boss”, “boss-chief” and all the endearments that come with being the proverbial boss-man. But that can be a double-edged sword because the privilege of being called “boss-man” comes with “responsibilities”.  We say “YES” for a lot of reasons – but are we saying YES for the right reasons?

We Say “YES” To Uphold “Amor Propio”

By saying “yes” nearly all the time, we also become enablers to the a libre me this a libre me that culture. We become mini-padrinos just like the trapos who “dispense” favors to their constitutent. In the process we get into a whole lot of trouble in order to meet the obligations of the role we said yes to, lest our amor propio be under question.

Amor Propio

“Amor propio” is Spanish word which means self –love; a sense of self-esteem or self respect that prevents a person from swallowing his pride. It includes sensitivity to personal insult or affront. A slight remark or offensive gesture, though insulting, would not trigger a sense of “amor propio”. The stimulus that sets it off is only that which strikes at the Filipino’s most highly valued attributes. For example, an abandoned wife will refuse to seek financial support from a husband who has abandoned her no matter how financially destitute she is on this principle. Amor propio in short means ego defensiveness, dignity or one’s personal pride akin to the traditional oriental attitude of having ‘face’.

In Philippine society, building up one’s self-esteem is essential, and to this end amor propio in all respect reinforces the Filipino trait “hiya”.

To damage another person’s amor-propio is to invite conflict, even violence; a Filipino is prevented by “hiya” from placing a person’s self-esteem in jeopardy For example, a bride who stoods up a groom in the altar places the latter’s “amor propio” at risk and could lead to a conflict between the families of both.

A person whose breach of conduct, such as the bride in the above example, is deemed to have lost him self-esteem or “amor-propio” may receive the judgment: ‘Basang basa ang papel niyan sa amin’. (’His public image is shattered with us.’) A literal translation makes reference to one’s ‘paper’ being ‘wet’, allusions to ‘image’ being presented before the public being ‘all wet’. Her act is said to be “nakaka-hiya” or shameful.

Unlike in the West where there is only wrong and right and a person only needs to feel guilty if he is wrong, hiya operates even when the person is absolutely right and the other person wrong. This is because of the Filipino interaction between “hiya” and “amor propio” . Like for example, a person may hesitate to collect a long overdue financial debt or item borrowed because to raise the matter face to face may place a person’s amor-propio at risk and can cause the latter to flare up. Public confrontation can lead to violence. Filipinos avoiding open confict as matter of amor-propio and honour.

Now if you are wondering why a Filipino hesitates to bring up a problem, or point out that “your slip is showing”, or call your attention to an anomalous situation, remember that it is hiya in operation. Filipinos feel uneasy if they are instrumental in making waves, rocking the boat and exposing someone’s volatile amor-propio to injury.

To avoid further confrontation and damage to one’s “amor propio”, the best solution one can resort to is to get a “go between”.

http://www.western-asian.com/filipino-qamor-propioq, Accessed: 05/23/2010

How many times have we said “Yes” or kept mum to corruption because of the amor propios of the parties involved?

We also say say “YES” a lot of times because we don’t to offend others

In order not to cause a personal affront to others who made the request, we say YES. In evading to cause a perceived discomfort to some one else, we cause the discomfort on ourself. This is an emotional baggage which can be carried as a “sacrifice” which in due time in the future can be used as a bargaining chip to gain a favor – clever. Or, we don’t want our “reputation” to lose points if we turn an offer down. Both of said behaviors are driven by another value – hiya.

Hiya

The Value of Shame (“Hiya”) to Filipinos

Filipinos are very sensitive to personal affront. They try, as much as possible, to avoid feeling “hiya”, a painful emotion or deep shame arising from a realization of having failed to live up to the standards of the society such as a breach of social norms. It is a kind of anxiety, a fear of being left exposed, unprotected and unaccepted. It is a fear of being shunned by society, being subjected to which would mean humiliation of oneself.

“Hiya” is the value that regulates the Filipinos social behavior. Just as one is very careful not to be subjected to embarrassment or “mapahiya” one must also make it a point not to cause another person’s embarassment. For example, in asking favor, both parties are careful not to offend the other. So if a favor cannot be granted, the person who cannot oblige apologizes for his failure to do so with an explanation that it is not his intention to refuse but that other factors beyond his control keep him from doing so.

It is the currency applied within the society, controlling and motivating a person’s social behavior; the reason why a vast majority of Filipinos still remain conservative in their actions in this modern age. Everyone is expected to have hiya in the way they behave in order to win respect from the community. Dressing and living up to your word are good ways avoiding “hiya”.

Public ridicule, or to be censured openly, or to fail to do what is expected of one, is to suffer hiya, a loss of self-esteem. Inversely, not to feel one has acted improperly or to continue to behave in a manner disapproved by the community, is to be without “hiya”. This label automatically results in withdrawal of acceptance within one’s group, if not the entire community. It is a rather difficult word that to be charged with not having this sense of hiya is regarded as a grave social sin, for one to be called “walang hiya” is an ultimate insult.

Hiya is a controlling element in the Filipino society. A person’s behaviour is restricted by his sense of “hiya” while public behaviour is censured, or approved of, by hiya. For example, an employee would refrain from asking questions from his supervisor even if he is not quite sure what to do because of hiya; a party host may end up spending more than she can afford for a party, driven by hiya, a fear of being perceived in a negative way.

One’s self-esteem goes up and down, depending on the value you place on your own hiya in public. Like an employee dismissed from his job may react violently because of “hiya” or a workmate may not openly disagree with you even if he feels strongly against your opinion out of “hiya”.

This concept would be meaningless to a westerner who values individualism and non-conformism may because his behavior is controlled more by individual sense of guilt and less by group censure. To a Filipino, to lose the support of his kinsmen is to become a social outcast.

http://www.western-asian.com/value-of-shame-qhiyaq, Accessed 05/23/2010

How many Pinoys have kept their mouths shut to corruption para walang mapahiya (so as not to cause a personal affront) ?

We Say “Yes” Because of “Pakikisama”

A lot of times, we say yes out of peer pressure, or social pressure to conform. How many times have we said yes after being told “makisama ka naman”, or “walang pakisama”? How many in the workplace have kept their mouths shut to the corruption out of “pakikisama”?

The Art of Filipino Togetherness: “Pakikisama”

To Filipinos, “pakikisama” is a very important trait. “Pakikisama” is the ability of a person to get along with others to maintain good and harmonious relationships. It implies camaraderie and togetherness in a group and the cause of one’s being socially accepted. “Pakikisama” requires someone yielding to group opinion, pressuring him to do what he can for the advancement of his group, sacrificing individual welfare for the general welfare.

A person who has become successful in his field has to be very careful not to neglect his friends lest they accuse him of becoming very proud and considering them no longer worthy of his friendship. This is why there is so much warmth, backslapping and handshaking when Filipinos meet. The best compliment that a Filipino can say to another is that he hasn’t changed ( “hindi nagbabago”), meaning he still remains the person that he was socially accepted as. Conversely, one of the worst things that can be said of a person is that he has changed a lot which means has forgotten how to get along well with others/them thus making him socially unacceptable.

If given a choice between an employee who is very good in his job but had no “pakikisama” and therefore could not get along with the others and another who did not know his job but understood “pakikisama”, employers and co-workers alike would prefer the unskilled employee. Without “pakikisama” a worker, even if skilled, was considered worthless and might even in the future cause more harm than good to a business or a group.

Another reflection would be a politician who does not know how to get along with his constituents would very much likely lose in the next election. A personality of a Filipino is greatly measured by the way they get along with others.

http://www.western-asian.com/pakikisama, Accessed 05/23/2010

We Say Yes Because of Utang Na Loob

We also “YES” a lot out of “utang na loob”. The problem is we get to say more YESes than we’d like to. A lot of the horsetrading in our politics and in the workplace is based on “utang na loob”. A lot of crooks are able to get away because of “utang na loob”. We say “YES” to crime and corruption because of “utang na loob”.

Reciprocity and The Concept of Filipino “Utang na Loob ”

Because of the interdependent society of the Philippines, interpersonal relations revolve, to a large extent, around the granting and receiving of favors. Reciprocity has developed in order to keep interpersonal relationships “smooth.”

What I mean by reciprocity is that every service received, whether solicited or not, demands a return determined by the relative status of the parties involved. To Filipinos, reciprocity could be two things:

1. Contractual- whereby two or more persons enter into a contract regarding the performance of something. This could be either a written or an oral contract. What matters is that the parties have agreed and the amount and form of performance are established beforehand. Both parties know what is expected of him and what he may expect of other. For example, upon completion of the work, a handyman is paid the agreed amount and the reciprocal relationship is terminated. There is a very little or no sentiment or emotion involved in this kind of relationship.

2. “Utang-na-loob”- Gratitude is highly valued in the Philippine society. A Filipino should at all times be aware of his obligation to those from whom he receives favors and should repay them in an acceptable manner. “Utang na loob” invariably stems from a service rendered which is impossible of quantification even though a material gift may be involved. Here, one of the parties does not expect to be paid back. The degree of debt of gratitude depends to a large extent on the favor received. For instance, if a nearly dying patient was cured by a doctor and survives the family of that patient will forever be indebted to the doctor. “Utang na loob ” in this instance is unquantifiable as there is nothing more important to a person than his life and that of his family. A child is indebted to his parents for his life and is considered ungrateful, ” walang utang na loob” (ungrateful) if he fails to care for them in their old age. We have a Filipino saying ” Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating as paroroonan (He who does not look back to the place he has been to will not get to where he is going).”

A Filipino who is a recipient of a favor shows his gratitude by returning the favor “with interest” to be sure that he does not remain in the other person’s debt and he would feel “shamed” “napapahiya” if this token of gratitude is not received. To refuse a token of gratitude would make one feel that his gift is not good enough or interprets it as a sign that the other party wants to end their relationship. For example, when a person was helped by someone secure a public office, the recipient will naturally feel grateful and try to find a way to repay the former for his help. So when this person comes to him for a for by virtue of that office, he is expected to grant this new favor an much more in order for him not to remain indebted to the former. If he is able to help him back, say, secure a government contract, “utang na loob ” is deemed offset. If the person in office refuses, the other person will feel very offended and takes it as a cue to end their relationship.

However, debts of gratitude, big or small, cannot really be paid at all, as shown in another Tagalog saying: ” Ang utang na loob, napakaliit man, utang at utang din kahit mabayaran. Sa pakitang loob at tapat na damay ay walang sukat maitimbang (A favor, no matter how small, is a debt we must never forget since no money can ever fully repay it).”

A person who continues to ask for favors cannot presume that the other party doesn’t want to ask him future favors. If he does, he is deemed as “walang pakiramdam” (literally translated means “no feeling” i.e., callous) or “makapal ang mukha ” (”thick faced’,’ i.e., shameless).

The Filipino cannot run his office as impersonally as the Westerner. In many offices, one usually gets the impression that when he gets his papers processed, for example, a favor has been done for him. It is not unusual, therefore, for people who have received such “favors” to feel that they should offer a “reward’.’ These rewards may take the form of, say, fruits and vegetables, eggs, a sack of rice, etc. and are given at a “decent” time, i.e., not too soon after the favor has been received. Giving money as a payment for a favors however, is usually considered insulting. Where a Westerner would simply write a “thank you” note for a favor received and consider his ”debt” paid, the Filipino does not write such a note but considers himself indebted and waits for a chance to return the favor.

To illustrate the difference between “utang na loob ” and another Filipino trait “pakikisama”, the latter is more like the “I owe you one” scenes in Hollywood movies which presupposes repayment of a debt on request. “Utang na loob” is more intricate and far-reaching because one is expected to repay the favour with interest, and the fact that one’s obligation is not readily quantified creates an escalating cycle of “utang na loob”, weaving a highly complex fabric of interdependence.

In the circle of Filipino relationships every Filipino is deemed to have “utang na loob” to someone, while others have “utang na loob” to him. In effect, “utang na loob” binds a group together.

A foreigner is best warned before entering in this web of reciprocal obligations, as even Filipinos are careful about getting themselves in someone’s debt. On the other hand, it is important to understand the concept of “utang no loob” because a lack of awareness thereof can cause serious errors of judgment. For example, a businessman will find that an employee who is less skilled at work and does not appear as conscientious, but who has connections in government positions and among business clients may still be considered a very good asset because he obviously has built up a bank of “utang na loob” which he can call upon when needed.

The political system, from barrio level to national machinery functions blissfully, largely on “utang na loob”, despite contradictions from the principles and tenets of the Western political model established in the Philippines. The Western model expects the political system to be determined by ‘issues’, but “utang na loob” has a stronger pull. Filipino politicians utilize political patronage in exchange for votes at election time, thus introducing the Filipino “utang na loob” element into a Western political system. The contradiction between the basic Filipino dynamics of power involving such aspects as “utang na loob” and the theory of democratic elections from the West makes up volatile and footloose political system of the Philippines.

Many historians and political analysts claim that the Filipino leaders had been placed in a disadvantageous position in negotiations between the United States and the Philippines after World War II because Filipino leaders acted under a sense of “utang na loob” for the American ‘liberation’ of the Philippines from Japan. Thus, the onerous US parity rights inserted in the Philippine constitution and the re-establishment of US military bases were disproportionate concessions given out of a feeling of obligation to repay “utang na loob” .

Therefore, one must be aware that in some diluted form or even intact in some tiny corner, “utang na loob” as well as “hiya” and “amor-propio” are could ambush an unwary person. Smooth interpersonal relations with heavy doses of euphemisms and “pakikisama” always come into play.

http://www.western-asian.com/utang-na-loob, Accessed 05/23/2010

We Say “Yes” Due to the Intercession of Go-Betweens

Oftentimes, despite having said “No”, the more dogged ones use go-betweens – a relative, a close friend, a boss to get their way. At times, we get an invitation we cannot refuse. Clearly, be very careful on owing favors, specially the ones that can never be repaid or people who don’t treat favors as being repaid ever.

Importance of “Go-betweens” in the Filipino Society

Because of the inter-play between “hiya” and “amor propio”, face to face situations are delicately handled. An intermediary or “go-between” (locally termed as “padrino”) is needed to defuse the situation. The “go-between” makes it possible to raise matters that may have caused a person’s “hiya” or embarrassment. The person addressed by the go-between has the prerogative to turn down the request, or contradict the charges and explain his side without fear that he is threatening the amor propio of the petitioner.

For example, a simple request for a job placement from a friend/family is fraught with “amor propio” elements, since to say a person is not qualified may wound that person’s “amor propio” and cause “hiya” for having presumed that he can do the job and for having aspired for it; rejection of an application creates an awkward situation for both the applicant and the person who has to turn him down. This is much harder when the other element of Filipino society such as kinship comes in. “Amor propio” would be more wounded if the person who turned down the request is, say, a relative or a friend. In this situation, the job of the third person is to convey the request, in which case the person from whom the job is solicited will feel free to say no gracefully, rejection is taken in better grace when explained by the intermediary.

A “go-between” is often used by a young man to know whether the lady he is courting likes him as well. As we say, the way to a Filipina’s heart is through her best friend, or a cousin. Because of “hiya” and “amor propio”, face to face confrontations are very much discouraged which makes the “go-between” indispensable. This is also inculcated within the Filipino family. Children approaches the mother over a grievance or disciplinary problems involving the father. A grandmother, aunt, sister, or brother may all serve as intermediaries over inter-family differences.

In business dealings with Filipinos, it is only practical for business executives to be warned that the Filipino values of “hiya” and “amor propio” is often the cause of much misunderstanding. Filipinos have a high sense of personal dignity. To a Filipino, dignity and honor is everything, so that the wounding of them, whether real or imaginary is considered a challenge to his manhood. He respects other people and he expects other people to respect him as well. Often conflicts between a foreign superior and a Filipino subordinate is founded on a disregard on the one hand, and a sacred regard on the other of individual dignity.

Go-betweens are also used in business affairs, government transactions and dealing with officialdom. A good though perverse example would be the “fixers” that hangs around in public offices offering assistance for a fee. The Philippine society need for better Smooth Interpersonal Relationship (SlR). The “go-between practice” revolves around “hiya” and “amor-propio”, a matter of the highly sensitive self-esteem.

http://www.western-asian.com/importance-of-go-betweens-, Accessed 05/23/2010

Pinoy Culture is Stacked Against Assertiveness

The preceding sections show that amor propio, hiya, pakikisama, utang na loob and go-betweens work against assertiveness. In general, Filipino culture is predisposed to be conformist instead of individualist/assertive.

The problem is – this conformist attitude can cause a lot of strain. Saying yes for the sake of saying yes, without thinking through whether “YES” is the correct answer can cause complications. For example, out of “pakikisama”, one says “YES” to attend a picnic BUT does not show up because of prior forgoteen engagements. The correct answer should have been “NO, let me think about it”.

It is OKAY to Say NO. It Is Okay. To be Assertive

There are strategies of saying “NO” without feeling bad about yourself. Remember, you are also sending a message that you value your decision, your time, your money, and your self. This means you will not commit to overload yourself leading to continuously missed deadlines, slippage in quality of work, and engaging in activities you do not enjoy doing.

Yo don’t have to say “NO” to everything that comes your way. It’s also important to know what’s on your plate, how much more you can take on, and whether a request fits your priorities. Do not cave in if you don’t want to say “YES”. Here are some strategies suggested by Leo Babauta

8 ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES TO SAYING NO

1. Try saying “yes” first. This may sound counterintuitive, but I think of it as a form of mental judo. You say “yes” to the request (assuming you want to do it but don’t have the time to do it now), and then do one of two things: 1) you say “Sure, but I am swamped right now — can you get back to me on this in a month or so? I don’t want to commit to it unless I can actually do a great job on it.” or 2) you say “Sure, but can you do x, y and z first, so we can analyze if this is going to work before we set it into action?” In both cases, you are not turning them down outright, but are putting the action back in their court. I think you should only say these things if you are sincere about wanting to do it, but can’t do it right now. This takes the burden of action off of you for the moment, without having to actually say no.

2. Know your commitments. In order to know when to say no, you need to know what’s on your plate. You should have a running list of all your current projects/assignments, as well as an action task list, made up not of projects but of concrete action steps you need to complete in the next week or so. Once you see this list of all your commitments, you can decide whether the request can fit into your schedule, and if it’s of high enough priority to place on your list of commitments. Guard that list carefully, and only add stuff on there if they are essential.

3. Value your time. One reason a lot of people can’t say no is that they (subconsciously, perhaps) feel that their time is not as valuable as someone else’s time. For example, if someone asks you to do something that they could easily do themselves, and you say yes, you are in effect saying that their time is more valuable than yours — or else why would you do it instead of them? Learn to value your time — you only have a finite amount of it, and it’s perhaps your most valuable asset — and learn to show others that you value it by not taking on requests that don’t actually need to be done by you.

4. Defer. Similar to Strategy 1, this strategy calls for you not to actually decide on something, and not to say yes or no, but to ask the requester to ask you later. For example, you might say, “My plate is really full right now. Could you ping me in two weeks on this?” If the requester is good, they’ll put a reminder in their calendar to ping you in two weeks. If not, they might forget about it. Sometimes, if you defer twice in a row, the other person will give up. But it’s not good to defer too many times on a single request, as it makes you look bad. After two deferrals, on the third request, you should give a definite answer.

5. Be polite, but firm. One mistake a lot of people make is being too nice, and too wishy-washy. They might say no but make it sound like they are wavering. If you respond like that, a strong person will continue to press that request until you say yes, because they think there’s a chance you are going to change your mind. You have to make it clear, if you say no, that you’re not going to change your mind. But don’t be rude about it. A simple, “No, I just can’t right now” will suffice.

6. Pre-empt. If you think that a request is likely to be made, it’s easier to tell people you’re busy before the request is actually made. If you’re meeting with someone, you could say something like, “Before we get started, I have to let you know that my schedule is booked solid for a month, so I won’t be taking on any new projects for at least 30 days.” That will warn the person about to make a request, and they cannot blame you if you say no to a request.

7. “I’d love to, but”. Similar to Strategy 1, this strategy sends the message that this sounds like a great project to you, but you just can’t because of your schedule or other commitments. If the project sounds genuinely interesting, I’ll often say something like, “That sounds like a great project, and I wish I could be a part of it.” I’ll also suggest alternatives if possible, giving the person other people or ideas that might work. Some people will actually appreciate this kind of rejection, as it helps them out.

8. Never say you’re sorry. Again, you have to respect your time. If you apologize, you are sending the message that you are doing something wrong by saying no, that somehow you don’t have a strong right to say no. It’s very tempting to apologize, I know. We often say things like, “I’m sorry, but …” or “I wish I could, I’m so sorry” just because we’re uncomfortable giving an outright no. But again, you are sending the wrong message. See Strategy 5 for a better approach.

It is not UN-FILIPINO to Say NO and Be Assertive

How often have you been told that you are so “pang hindi Pinoy” if you are not “pakisama”. Or that you are “walang utang na loob” if you turn down a request for questionable favor? Do you want to keep on hearing that, or do you want to try something different?

We can’t wait for the horse trading of the trapos to stop, or the unending “utang na loob” of the oligarchy, or for our co-workers to develop “hiya”

Well, don’t feel bad about doing the right thing.  Assertiveness is the ability to formulate and communicate one’s own thoughts, opinions and wishes in a clear, direct and non-aggressive way.

It’s not Un-Filipino to be assertive.

It’s not Un-Filipino to say “NO”

Assertiveness has a long way to go in the pantheon of Filipino values.  But we have to start somewhere. We can start now.

Stop being a human doormat. Do not say “yes” when you mean “no”.  Express yourself – do not keep your opinions to yourself  for fear of beginning  an argument- stand up for yourself as much as you should.

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72 Comments
  1. This is one of Senator Gordon’s campaign lectures. He wanted to make a change to the mindset of many Filipinos by being assertive and to think independently by using our own mind. He dismissed the notion of somebody will think for us and decide for us. He promised to toppled the wall between a regular Filipino against those people who are considered oligarch. I am always motivated whenever I see him speak during his interview. Sayang! sayang talaga ang pagkakataon ng bansang Pilipinas na magkaroon ng pinuno na tulad ni Gordon. He would have been a game changer. He is considered the “Ace” among the candidates.

    Ang tanong…papaano na ang Pilipinas? We won’t see Senator Gordon in the Senate anymore.

    ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES :
    1. Doctors go back to school to be nurses abroad.
    2. Rats are normal house pets.
    3. Soap opera is reality and news provide the dramas of life
    4. Actors make the rules and politicians provide the entertainment! —–“I like this one because its so true”

  2. guilbautedsookie permalink

    “1. Doctors go back to school to be nurses abroad.”

    This is the most alarming. SO ALARMING honestly.

    I like the saying yes dahil sa “utang na loob”. That is what happened this May 16

  3. Jay permalink

    Its funny how detractors view as what you said about Gordon’s vision a utopia.

    The funny part is it isn’t a utopia. If that was the case, the recovery and growth of many countries that DID THE OPPOSITE OF THE PHILIPPINES in terms of evolving mindset of the society would never have existed. Sure they may have social problems, but they also have progressive, free thinkers and respect for competitiveness to move the their economy, education and scientific progress.

    The people who look down on it are the extreme end of people that comedians like Carlin and Bill Hicks talk about; those who are satisfied and value the mediocrity.

  4. guilbauted,

    That is so true because I work with a lot of them. The funny thing those Filipino doctors who are working as nurses brag that they are top doctors in the Philippines. This has become a reality in the US esp. 2 decades ago, the strong Lobbyist in Washington DC who represents US doctors won there argument in the Capitol Hills to close all the gates of all foreign doctors to deny them to be petitioned by US hospitals. I can’t say I blame them for switching roles due to the low salary that Philippine doctors currently faced in the Philippines. It all goes back to Senator Gordon, he promised to increased salaries of doctors and dentist to P50,000 per month and look who they voted who will soon to be the president. Sino ang talo? edi yung mga gunggong na mga duktor at dentista sa Pilipinas. Pati na rin yung mga relatives and pamilya nilang bumoto kay Aquino kaysa kay Gordon.

  5. NotMasochisticFilipino permalink

    The very first word that came to me when reading this article is IRONY.

    I believe corruption destroy our honor and dignity but after reading this article, the traits “hiya”, “utang na loob” and “pakikisama” that should feed our honor and dignity could be the very cause of corruption.

  6. Jon Abaca permalink

    Such values exist in Korea and Japan too, but unlike Filipinos, Japanese and Koreans actually kill themselves when personal honor demands it.

  7. This article is right. It shows something that I have always been thinking… the intrinsic and core values of Filipino culture are flawed. They turn out not to be values. They turn out to be obstructions and traps set to inhibit the Filipino. Everyone has to see this and read… and weep… and believe… and do something about it.

  8. NMF:

    Funny that you mentioned it – but your conclusion can be an inspiration for another blog post. Thanks!

  9. Another great post, Bong.

    How does the word “confidence” fit into all of this? It seems to me that a lot of FIlipinos are really, at root, lacking confidence in themselves. What do you think? Best, Michael

  10. These are very Asian values, and I believe that the fact that people like the Chinese, or Koreans, or Japanese can maintain them very strongly yet not let them cripple their development simply means Filipinos are doing it wrong. Hate to say that, but that’s the implication.

    I don’t know exactly why that is, but here’s one thought: those other societies – to be accurate, my knowledge of the Chinese or Korean is second-hand, but I can vouch for the Japanese – have a much greater sense of community and common good than Pinoys do. Filipinos are very selfish and very self-centered, and if you read through the descriptions in this article, you can see where all these traits are somehow related to personal gain. That’s just my impression.

  11. To quote the disco song: “It’s not what you got, it’s how you use it.”😛

  12. Noe permalink

    How do we even have to be ‘assertive’? Parang yung nagegets ko dito, we’re setting an ‘outsider’s way of life, to gauge our own? O para sukatin ang pagkatama ng ating tendensiya o mga pagpapahalaga!

    Nakakasawa na. People discussing about ‘utang na loob’, ‘pakikisama’–mga pang-ibabaw na mga katangiang ipinataong sa pagkatao ng mga Pilipino? Ganun nga ba tayo? Anong klaseng pag-aaral ba ang humantong sa ganiyang kongklusyon sa pagkatao natin?

  13. Jon Abaca permalink

    I don’t need a study to prove it. It’s a conclusion I see everyday.

    At work, I watch as people in my office always try to get other people to eat with them. Offers to refuse usually result in a playful jest of “snub” . At work, people who eat alone are considered antisocial. I sometimes eat alone (when I want a specific kind of food) and I sometimes eat with groups.

    One time, I had a dinner with my friends. It was late, and I wanted to take a cab home. Some of my friends suggested that I wait for other people to go home too, so we can share the cab fare. They said that they would be going home too. Then they started talking. Thirty minutes later, I told them that I was going home, and they said the same thing. I snapped “You’re taking too damn long.” and they got mad at me, ignoring the fact that I lost thirty minutes of my life waiting for them.

    My world is surrounded by people who defer to the group rather than assert themselves. While I may not have met every single Filipino, my acquaintances are a microcosm of the population of the Philippines, giving me a rough idea of the culture of the population. It is not as accurate as a random sampling, but it is accurate enough to tell me people here don’t really like to assert themselves.

  14. Rennan permalink

    my opinion is that this is who we are as a nation. there is no escaping the very core that has shaped this country to what it is today in general. all we can do is hope that we and the next generation can grow out of this crippling whatever. ap site is one hard lesson and bitter pill that certainly keeps this hope alive no matter how fickle

  15. Hung Hang permalink

    I don’t have any of the problems with assertiveness. If u want my help but I cannot afford to give it, tough luck. If I need your help and you cannot give it, screw you. It’s as simple as that.

    And I should care what u think of me, why?

    Enough of this “Yes means Maybe or Maybe means No” crap. Manapaka pipol of the Land of the Idiots, read my lips – “No means no!”, “Yes means yes!”

    Now wasn’t that liberating?

  16. waitwat permalink

    Boy, do I need a lot of work on that… It’s pretty hard to get it out of my system as I was hardwired from childhood.

    Experience + informative pieces like these are very helpful.

  17. Josh permalink

    In the Philippines, if you try to be assertive you get slapped with any, or a combination of, the following labels:

    1.) kupal/epal
    2.) walang hiya
    3.) mayabang
    4.) arrogante
    5.) matapobre

    Ain’t life in the Philippines a bitch?😀

  18. Jay permalink

    Yep. I can vouch for that. Add suplado in that list. Much like the Pinoys don’t have a positive word for ‘assertive’ in their language (I can guarantee you Korea, Japan, China have at least for it), they have an rarely used word for efficient (mabisa) as well.

  19. Josh permalink

    Lol yeah. I get branded “suplado” very often too.

    But no, Jay, I disagree. “Mabisa” but is NOT “efficient”. Effectiveness and efficiency are two totally different concepts. The concept of “efficiency” doesn’t exist in the Filipino psyche.

    Are you from Pinoychan by any chance? I remember arguing about how Tagalog as a language is inefficient and totally unsuitable for economics and science. I was the guy who kept daring you /them to give me the Filipino word for for “efficient” and you/they kept coming back with “mabisa” lol. WTF dudes.

  20. jonphil permalink

    @ Josh

    In the Philippines, if you try to be assertive you get slapped with any, or a combination of, the following labels:
    1.) kupal/epal
    2.) walang hiya
    3.) mayabang
    4.) arrogante
    5.) matapobre
    6.) suplado (Jay)

    If I may add:

    7.) Reklamador
    8.) Idealistic

    Failpens has been constantly retrogressing into a country of MEDIOCREISTIC / LOUSYSTIC citisins.

  21. sky permalink

    Actually, the Filipino word for ‘efficient’ would either be matalab or episyente (from Spanish).

    I’m one of those people who do believe that Tagalog is, in the spirit of Lope K. Santos, capable of expressing any term or any concept, no matter how difficult or technical it is, so yeah. It’s an integral part of my line of work (as a Wikipedia editor).

  22. Josh permalink

    @sky
    Yes, it may be capable, albeit after importing a whole slew of words that already exist [i]natively[/i] in other languages.

    But is it [i]efficient[/i]? Given that if Tagalog needs to import words extensively to cover its naturally deficient vocabulary, I would guess not. Granted, all languages evolve and do import words as a natural phase of this evolution, but Tagalog? It wouldn’t even have a word for efficiency if it weren’t for the Spaniards ramming [i]episyente[/i] down our throats.😛

    A quick check online shows that “talab” is related to “bisa” (i.e. “tumalab ang gamot), and is not a good equivalent to “efficient”.

  23. sky permalink

    You know, there’s always adding definitions to existing words (example: the word kawing now means “chain link” and “link to a website”). The problem with language policy in the Philippines is that it all boils down to laziness: people resisted Santos’ overtures because they found it to be too ‘tedious’ and ‘difficult’. Even language now boils down to the issues of Filipino culture.😦

    Whatever way the word is translated, the point is, the word exists. And if we go back to the Calderon dictionary of 1915 (a time when Tagalog still had little to no influence from English, unlike today), there are two words for “efficient”: nakakagawa and mabisa. That then becomes the question of the trust of the lexicographer: Calderon during his time was one of the foremost lexicographers of the Tagalog language, with his contemporaries being along the lines of Fr. Leo James English, Vito C. Santos and Jose Villa Panganiban.

  24. Josh permalink

    Yes, precisely. It all boils down to culture, which is inherently tied to language.😀

    I’m not at all surprised at the failure of Filipinos to prosper collectively as a people, given that economically weighty words such as “quality” and “efficiency” are natively absent from the Filipino lexicon.

    Sure, you can borrow the words “kalidad” and “episyente”, but at the end of the day, it’s just that – borrowing. The concepts of “quality” and “efficiency” (among others) are still conspicuously absent from the Filipino psyche.

  25. Josh permalink

    Not Bong, but I think the real problem here isn’t a lack of confidence (which, btw, is another word that doesn’t exist natively in Tagalog). It’s the active suppression of confidence (i.e. the “wag kang kupal” mentality ) so prevalent in Filipino culture that’s the problem.😀

  26. Jon Abaca permalink

    Well, most modern languages are capable of expressing any idea. For example, German has words made up of smaller words. For example Lastkraftwagen (truck). Japanese has a similar concept, but they just string Kanji together. For example, the word for tomorrow “ashita” is made up of the kanji that means bright and sun.

    However, most modern language just save themselves the trouble and just get loanwords.

    Take Spanish, they have a word for a Spanish word for a homosexual man, maricon, but nowadays, they just use gay as well. I think it’s because maricon has negative connotations, and is a longer word. They didn’t bother making “gay” sound Spanish, or making it spelled in a Spanish way.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Japanese. They have a lot of loan words too but because of the phonetics of the Japanese language, they have to change the pronunciation. For example sarariman (salary man) . They also have the katakana alphabet specifically for loanwords.

    However, it’s also a matter of how much effort are you willing to put in keeping a language up to date. Should you bother to make up a new word to express an idea, or do you just add a new loan word. Also, do you bother changing the spelling or pronunciation of the loan word to make the idea easier to express?

    Anyway, back to the main topic, I think that you can learn a lot about a culture by studying its language.

    For example, in Tagalog, I commonly hear conversations go like this. “Excuse me, pwede po magtanong?”

    When I heard somebody ask a German teacher the same question, translated into German, the teacher just said “Okay, you’ll probably confuse people in Germany with that question. First, you’re asking people if it’s okay to ask a question, by asking a question. It’s redundant and odd.”

  27. brianitus permalink

    Curious right now. If you come off as kupal or any of the words you mentioned above, doesn’t that reflect a lack in communications skills?

    If you cannot communicate well, then you cannot effectively be assertive and may not be able to get what you want most of the time. If that is the case, then you become frustrated and possibly too aggressive. When you become too aggressive, you become labeled as kups.

  28. Jon Abaca permalink

    My American friend experienced that. It was obvious that he had difficulty expressing ideas and understanding ideas in a passive voice.

  29. Jay permalink

    @Josh

    I was there. I wasn’t the one who kept coming back with Mabisa but kept attacking the guy who was anti-bilingual. Another issue which touched on was initiative vs complacency. But once again, thanks for the distinction.

    BTW, you are the japanese translator guy?

    @Sky

    Thanks. Problem is, do Pinoys respect the word? There is one thing about expression. There is another about what it means to the culture.

    @Jon Abaca

    EXACTLY! The statement (question) is too redundant and wastes time and energy.

  30. Jay permalink

    Not just that Josh, I think in progressive countries they associate those words with qualities they desire to become. Quality is a distinction brought upon by many factors, one being efficient. In the Philippines, the words they associate are usually ones that ANYBODY can attain, like pakikisama, mabait, masunurin, magalang, etc.

  31. Might have something to do with our being the bastard child of the east and west… a twisted combination of individualism and collectivism.

  32. Josh permalink

    @Jay
    Yep, that was me. Small intarwebs eh?

  33. Jon Abaca permalink

    When somebody does something extraordinary, other Filipinos all latch onto that person like remoras on a shark.

    For example Manny Pacquiao. Granted, he is an excellent boxer, but saying that his victory is the victory of the entire Filipino people is well, a stretch.

    It’s highly possible that many Filipinos don’t want to assert themselves, because they expect their heroes to do the asserting for them, they same way they expect dole-outs.

  34. GabbyD permalink

    curious: how do u know that there is a word for efficient in other languages? (non-latin based languages)

    chinese, japanese, malay?

  35. Josh permalink

    @GabbyD

    Because I translate effin’ hentai (among other things) for a living. Isn’t that a bitch?😀

    Our (Japanese) word for efficiency is 効率, which is different from effect (効果). I am assuming that Chinese/Korean would have similar words in their vocabularies considering that Japanese, Chinese and Korean are etymologically related to each other just like the so-called romance languages.

    I am not in the position to make the same assumptions about Malay, but the point, basically, is that Tagalog as a medium of instruction and business is a failure compared to other languages. It cannot explain advanced concepts without the extensive use of loanwords, is redundant, and is syntactically inefficient. Not to mention that it serves only to further reinforce regionalistic rivalry between the Tagalogs and Bisayas and god-knows-what-else. -_-;

  36. GabbyD permalink

    what is the history of that kanji. the word efficiency, in the english language was created during the industrial revolution (1780s).

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=efficient

    in other words, someone english invented the word, by borrowing from latin.

    when was the japanese word for it invented?

  37. GabbyD is an expert in leading the discussion off to an irrelevant tangent.😛

  38. sky permalink

    That’s because Tagalog (and other Philippine languages) lack an inherent passive voice.

  39. GabbyD permalink

    @chino

    i asked josh about his language argument.

    if u think thats irrelevant, take it up with him.

    the point is the word efficient was invented by someone. it makes sense that its in english first, coz the industrial revolution started there. it makes sense that japan has a word for it, probably inspired by the english word — thats why i asked.

    words like “efficiency”, etc, are invented coz they are needed. they are borrowed, coz they are needed.

  40. Jon Abaca permalink

    Needed in a sense that people want to express the idea, but lack the means (words) to describe it.

    “it makes sense that its in english first, coz the industrial revolution started there.”

    So, you’re saying that the idea of efficiency developed with the rise of industry. That could explain why highly industrial nations like England and Japan have words for it.

    But anyway, back to the main topic…

    http://www.foreignword.com/cgi-bin/engtag.cgi?language=engtag&termbox=assertive&B1=Search

    Does that mean that the idea of “assertive” is not needed or wanted in this country?

  41. Pardon me if I sounded so obnoxious, but I was wondering about your purpose, given your consistent sidetracking methods of argumentation. I’m guessing you might want to disprove that Filipinos are not efficient despite the lack of the word?😉

    Also, to say a word is invented by someone is quite a fallacy. Words evolve over time… thus they go through many changes both in meaning and usage… and thus you don’t really know where many of the words we use come from. How can you after all explain the use of “I” to refer to the self? And the word “efficient” is no exception.

    Maybe the Dictionary.com entry on “efficient” might clear up a few things. The years given for its purported origin (1350-1400) trump the industrial era origin theory. And language theorists might even say it’s not the actual origin – it could have been derived from another language. In the end, the word may be new, but the meaning is as old as time itself.

    I think despite the lack or presence of an equivalent of “efficient” in our local language, we could see from our own observations of activities here in the Philippines that our culture does not value efficiency at all. In fact, waste is actually valued, given the consumerism and the “sosyalness” of Filipinos (wanting the ability to “waste” money to have an illusion of wealth).

  42. Jay permalink

    For example Manny Pacquiao. Granted, he is an excellent boxer, but saying that his victory is the victory of the entire Filipino people is well, a stretch.

    Pretty much if you break the context down to the lowest common denominator, its brown nosing or sucking up.

    If that is the case, the pinoy society have been used to picking someone to do the asserting for them for the longest time and needlessly iconizing people such as Ninoy Aquino to try look relevant. The society isn’t used to getting its hand dirty than having someone do it for them and say they did.

  43. The funny thing those Filipino doctors who are working as nurses brag that they are top doctors in the Philippines.

    Ay naku…. Filipino arrogance once again shows its ugly head.😦

  44. @GabbyD

    still… you don’t have a point… and your comments are deemed irrelevant.

    1. language evolves… sociologists will attest to that. so what the f uc k is this etymological BS on the word efficiency.

    2. you can coin and define your “operational definition” if there is no standard definition of what you want to say… what’s the use of writing a research paper or a thesis without “operational definitions”… YOU DON’T HAVE A THESIS on this thread… kaya tama na yang desperately looking for stupid definitions of the word efficiency… now… here is my operational definition of the phrase BRAIN INEFFICIENCY… it’s… DYARAN…. da wan en only… GABBYD.

  45. I’m reminded of Rafterman’s post about the more likely causes of corruption… laziness, stupidity and fiesta mentality…. which can corrupt otherwise benign traditions like the above.

  46. Wow, this is turning into an interesting post with the comments about language. Josh, you’re absolutely right – the suppression of confidence. I’m not Filipino, so tell me how this suppression works. Best, Michael

  47. GabbyD permalink

    from your link:

    efficient
    late 14c., “making,” from L. efficientem (nom. efficiens), prp. of efficere “work out, accomplish” (see effect). Meaning “productive, skilled” is from 1787. Related: Efficiently

    so, they made up the word efficient in1780s (industrial revolution) from the latin root word of “work out, accomplish”.

    the point is, they made up this word. someone had to, coz they needed.

    the point also is, if the word exists in another language, they’ll probably borrow it, esp if the borrowing language uses the same (roughly) alphabet. eg. spanish, filipino, etc.

    languages that use another alphabet either invent it themselves, OR borrow it. some modern chinese words are borrowed from english this way, they use characters that sound like the english word. can’t say that for sure, since my chinese is limited.

    “. I’m guessing you might want to disprove that Filipinos are not efficient despite the lack of the word? ”

    huh? recall the point of this thread, sabi ni josh:

    “Granted, all languages evolve and do import words as a natural phase of this evolution, but Tagalog? It wouldn’t even have a word for efficiency if it weren’t for the Spaniards ramming [i]episyente[/i] down our throats”

    all languages borrow words. spanish borrwed from english. english invented it from latin. we took it from english/spanish.

    further, sabi ni josh: “Yes, precisely. It all boils down to culture, which is inherently tied to language.”

    maybe. another way is that people borrow these words coz its already been invented by english from latin. that EVERYONE borrowed it, including filipinos. the fact that there is no ancient filipino word for efficiency doesnt matter coz THE root word is latin, which most everyone ulitmately borrowed from

  48. Josh permalink

    @GabbyD

    I wasn’t disputing that languages borrow words from one another. Languages evolve. You’re missing the point. The point is, most Filipinos don’t have a concept of efficiency (among other things), as evidenced by the lack of a native word for one, and the apparent confusion between the concepts of effectiveness and efficiency.

    True, the English word itself may have been imported from Latin (my sources tell me French, but that still would’ve come from Latin anyway ), but the point is, the concept is about as old as civilization itself.

    Now compare that to the Filipino lexicon. When did we gain a word for efficiency? Right. After the Spaniards came. This means that before the Spaniards came, The “Filipino” psyche never had a concept of efficiency at all, in the same way that we never had a word for “ice” before the Spaniards came. As far as the Filipino is concerned, these concepts only existed after the Spaniards came.

    Tying this into the topic at hand, what’s the Filipino word for “assertive”?
    What about “productive”?
    What about “quality”?
    What about “develop” (in a technological, rather than economic sense)?
    What about “technology”?

    You’ll probably have a hard time looking for the Filipino equivalent of these words. And even then, the only words you’ll find for these concepts are either loan words, or crippled rough equivalents that lack the nuance and flavor of the idea behind the word itself (i.e. assertive = “mapilit”; efficient = “mabisa”; productive = “mabunga”) .

    The concepts/ideas themselves are absent from the Filipino psyche. Ain’t that a bitch?😀

  49. I think one lesson from this exercise is that the lack of a word, or a concept, is a symptom of another lack in our culture itself. The language reflects the culture, and we seem to agree that the lack of both word and concept of “efficient” in our Filipino language reflects the lack of appreciation or valuing of it. Observations are common that Filipinos are wasteful and don’t care about using the most efficient methods (and they complain that they’re running out of money). Same in that assertiveness is not a valued concept in our society, and hence this lack helps keep us from evolving into a more balanced, forward-thinking society.

    If words reflect something else about the language, the names Girly, Boy and Baby show how crude and uncreative Filipinos are in names.😛

  50. GabbyD permalink

    @josh

    “True, the English word itself may have been imported from Latin (my sources tell me French, but that still would’ve come from Latin anyway ), but the point is, the concept is about as old as civilization itself.”

    if the word was created in 1780s, how do you know that the concept existed before 1780s?

    we have words to communicate concepts. without words, how do you know these existed?

    the answer is: the concept of efficiency DID NOT EXIST before it was invented.

    once invented, people copied it.

    same goes for the other words you cite. you copy/make your own the stuff thats already been invented.

    you say: “The point is, most Filipinos don’t have a concept of efficiency (among other things), as evidenced by the lack of a native word for one, and the apparent confusion between the concepts of effectiveness and efficiency.”

    but if u believe words are copied, then, save the british – NO ONE has a native word version of efficiency. but is true that ONLY THE BRITISH ARE EFFICIENT? no way.

  51. Jett Rink permalink

    liberating for who?

  52. Jay permalink

    if the word was created in 1780s, how do you know that the concept existed before 1780s?

    we have words to communicate concepts. without words, how do you know these existed?

    the answer is: the concept of efficiency DID NOT EXIST before it was invented.

    No, the concept itself existed. The word, or expression for it is different even for earlier civilizations. The universal term to describe such feats, such as methods how the Egyptians carried huge stone blocks to create pyramids, or Sun Tzu’s war tactics, or other intricate methods of engineering done by other civilizations that preceded the next did not come about until the English expanded the words then. So when people started correlating the word efficient to those kinds of things, other people started to see what their equivalent for that word is in their language.

    But see now, if Filipinos DID understand the concept for efficiency GabbyD, much like the other nations that did in their culture and language, they would have a distinction FOR IT and what it means. And in certain cases such as governance, business and economics, give it some form of high value, or a testament of what should be efficient and how they can attain it, as opposed to ignoring it.

  53. Jon Abaca permalink

    Consider that massive projects that the Egyptians, Mayans, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians, Cambodians and Japanese in their respective histories. With all the huge tombs, temples and cities their building, it’s no wonder they are more likely to have a word for efficiency.

    As for the Philippines, the big project from the past is the Rice Terraces up north. There must be some organization behind it. Maybe the Ifugao have a word describing efficiency.

  54. Jay permalink

    As for the Philippines, the big project from the past is the Rice Terraces up north. There must be some organization behind it. Maybe the Ifugao have a word describing efficiency.

    I’m not surprised if they do, considering they seem to be the smarter lot than the rest of the country.

    But yeah after reading GabbyD’s attempt to stick to his argument, I literally **facepalmed** myself several times, since the answer to his concerns is literally PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.

  55. GabbyD permalink

    ok. now ur changing ur argument.

    earlier, you said there is no native word for efficiency in the philippines. in other countries, meron.

    earlier you said:
    “But is it [i]efficient[/i]? Given that if Tagalog needs to import words extensively to cover its naturally deficient vocabulary, I would guess not. Granted, all languages evolve and do import words as a natural phase of this evolution, but Tagalog? It wouldn’t even have a word for efficiency if it weren’t for the Spaniards ramming [i]episyente[/i] down our throats.”

    so i said, efficient was created to solve a problem, to describe a concept. once invented, it spread thru trade, diplomacy and colonialsim.

    so its OK if the philippines doesnt have the native word. why? MOST COUNTRIES DONT.

    Next: you reject that:
    “No, the concept itself existed. The word, or expression for it is different even for earlier civilizations.”

    what is that word? evidence? nothing. its a bald assertion. without knowing the history of the word in other countries, there is no proof that it was there natively. but i guess u can believe whatever u want. but u should know, there is no linguistic evidence for it.

    now we are changing the argument. you are saying: forget linguistics. forget etymology. look at the wonders of the ancient world.

    you are saying the existence of the ancient wonders of the world means that they have the concept of efficiency.

    there is HUGE problem with that. the existence of ancient wonders is due to the existence of empires, kings, and religion.

    (note: the rice terraces arent an ancient wonder)

    there is ZERO evidence that they cared about efficiency. take the construction of the great wall. MANY THOUSANDS DIED building that thing, over several emperors. there are shrines dedicated to these people. same with the egyptian pyramids.

    efficiency ba yun?

    these things exist, because the rulers of the empire wanted them to exist. the rule to life is: if u want it, take a few centuries, and it’ll happen. geez, if u wanna build a pyramid now, go ahead. just spend the rest of ur life piling rocks.

    the existence of empire has little to do with efficiency. read “guns, germs and steel” to find out how some/why some societies generated empires, and others did not. (seriously, its a good book. check it out).

  56. efficiency: Causing effects; producing results; that makes the effect to be what it is; actively operative; not inactive, slack, or incapable; characterized by energetic and useful activity; as, an efficient officer, power

    ok. now ur changing ur argument.

    earlier, you said there is no native word for efficiency in the philippines. in other countries, meron.

    earlier you said:
    “But is it [i]efficient[/i]? Given that if Tagalog needs to import words extensively to cover its naturally deficient vocabulary, I would guess not. Granted, all languages evolve and do import words as a natural phase of this evolution, but Tagalog? It wouldn’t even have a word for efficiency if it weren’t for the Spaniards ramming [i]episyente[/i] down our throats.”

    so i said, efficient was created to solve a problem, to describe a concept. once invented, it spread thru trade, diplomacy and colonialsim.

    so its OK if the philippines doesnt have the native word. why? MOST COUNTRIES DONT.

    Next: you reject that:
    “No, the concept itself existed. The word, or expression for it is different even for earlier civilizations.”

    what is that word? evidence? nothing. its a bald assertion. without knowing the history of the word in other countries, there is no proof that it was there natively. but i guess u can believe whatever u want. but u should know, there is no linguistic evidence for it.

    now we are changing the argument. you are saying: forget linguistics. forget etymology. look at the wonders of the ancient world.

    you are saying the existence of the ancient wonders of the world means that they have the concept of efficiency.

    there is HUGE problem with that. the existence of ancient wonders is due to the existence of empires, kings, and religion.

    (note: the rice terraces arent an ancient wonder)

    there is ZERO evidence that they cared about efficiency. take the construction of the great wall. MANY THOUSANDS DIED building that thing, over several emperors. there are shrines dedicated to these people. same with the egyptian pyramids.

    There is  100% EVIDENCE OF ZERO understanding of efficiency as seen by the ancients. 😆

    It;s a question of which efficiency is being addressed given the state of technology.

    Q: How can the ancients be more efficient (note: efficient is different from effective) in building the monuments

    A: Adding more people. more people – faster construction = efficient (ancient perspective)

    Action taken by rulers: Conquer more people more efficiently so there are are more people who will buld the monuments.

    if the empire builders weren’t efficient in one way or another – they don’t even have to know they are efficient – they wouldn’t have an empire.

  57. Jay permalink

    so i said, efficient was created to solve a problem, to describe a concept. once invented, it spread thru trade, diplomacy and colonialsim.

    THAT IS YOUR ARGUMENT, not ours (or certainly mine) and was never the point of the main argument that was presented above. Its YOUR fault you went on a tangent while Josh and others are making correct correlations with their point to the post made.

    what is that word? evidence? nothing. its a bald assertion. without knowing the history of the word in other countries, there is no proof that it was there natively. but i guess u can believe whatever u want. but u should know, there is no linguistic evidence for it.

    now we are changing the argument. you are saying: forget linguistics. forget etymology. look at the wonders of the ancient world.

    **DOUBLE FACEPALM**

    The fact there is no linguistic evidence isn’t the point as Josh had outlined earlier YOU NITWIT! Please read this part again:

    I wasn’t disputing that languages borrow words from one another. Languages evolve. You’re missing the point.

    It wouldn’t matter about the history of the etymology of ‘efficient’ in certain cultures because words weren’t the only way to express things back in the day. Besides music (with or without lyrics), Art was also a strong physical expression. You went about the most inefficient way to understand what were saying by straying away from the topic.

    there is HUGE problem with that. the existence of ancient wonders is due to the existence of empires, kings, and religion.

    there is ZERO evidence that they cared about efficiency. take the construction of the great wall. MANY THOUSANDS DIED building that thing, over several emperors. there are shrines dedicated to these people. same with the egyptian pyramids.

    efficiency ba yun?

    Oh god the ignorance is strong in you. Lack of research seriously leads to an inefficient way to discuss a topic you are unfamiliar with. Allow me to completely destroy your waste of sentences there (but more than likely many more will follow to do the same).

    Please research why the walls were built to begin with. Either the emperor risked the lives of people building the walls to defend invaders from the north, OR NOT BUILD A WALL AT ALL and risk having to give up the tactical area to the invaders to continually raid the lands south, thus causing even more turmoil and deaths of innocents in the Empire. Oh and the wall served its purpose for over 4000 years! If that is not efficient, its probably Pinoy. Or GabbyD.

    As for the pyramids, the methods used were the architectural mark of efficiency for its time, considering how limited manpower they used to move 2,700 kilogram blocks of cut stone in such a way that the construction was done in 30-60 years! Of course in your dimwitted mind would think it would take centuries because you don’t seem to respect the concept of efficiency! Also these structures built nearly half a century have withstood the force of mother nature for over 2000 years! There weren’t any other cultures around that time that could match their ability to create such architectural juggernauts.

    Besides expressions of art in terms of architectural beauty and aesthetics, every component to it would serve its golden purpose so there is no waste for anything. Yes even those who died served their purpose but better them than half or most of the population being the workforce.

    So in the end, your argument was fatally inefficient to prove anything, even if you were trying to justify Empires in the end.

  58. Jay permalink

    if the empire builders weren’t efficient in one way or another – they don’t even have to know they are efficient – they wouldn’t have an empire.

    Actually, this is what I would have wanted to express regarding the question of empires. The result of an efficient civilization has a thriving empire. Anything less and they civilization falls/fails.

  59. Ma Xianding permalink

    What is the native word for time? Not ORAS… that came from Spanish. What is the indio word for time? Why does the indio alphabet not have numerical characters?

  60. Ma Xianding permalink

    Yes, I think there ought to be a critique of how bad Pinoy taste is because of the names like Girly, Boy, Baby and adding H like Jhun, Bhoy etc. Pinoy houses are mostly tacky too.

  61. Same principle of how we have so many words for “rice” (kanin, bigas, palay, sinaing, sinangag, etc.) and only one word (if you count isno) for “snow”, while I read somewhere that Scandinavians have many words that articulate “snow” but most likely only one concept of “rice”.

    That, as Josh calls them, “economically weighty” words are missing and any trace of a tradition of engineering and hard sciences are conspicuously absent from Tagalog and other island dialects.

  62. Josh permalink

    but if u believe words are copied, then, save the british – NO ONE has a native word version of efficiency. but is true that ONLY THE BRITISH ARE EFFICIENT? no way.

    GabbyD, you are missing the whole point of my posts.

    Let me throw the question back at you – now that the Filipinos have borrowed a word for “efficient” (among others), is their culture now capable of inherently understanding and (more importantly) appreciating the concepts and ideas behind such words?

  63. That’s GabbyD. Our resident chronic point-misser.😀

  64. Josh permalink

    The short answer is a resounding “NO”.

    And I’ll tell you why:

    As benign0 graciously pointed out below, as a culture we have many words for rice. I am familiar with kanin and bigas, but I think there are others. The Japanese also have multiple words for rice (米、飯(めし)、ご飯(ごはん)、白米、玄米、 etc, etc, etc). You will also notice that these words have a distinct nuance (i.e. bigas/米 = uncooked rice; kanin/飯/ご飯 = cooked rice; etc etc), as opposed to the English word of…well, rice.

    But I digress. The point is, as compared to western cultures, both Filipino and Japanese cultures give rice a distinct value. These cultures appreciate rice. Filipinos don’t have loanwords for rice because just like Asian cultures heavily dependent on agriculture, they developed their own native words for it. Rice itself is highly valued in the Filipino psyche.

    On the other hand, we don’t have native words for the concepts of assertiveness, efficiency, productivity, quality, technology, innovation, etc. because these concepts are completely alien to the Filipino culture. Hence these are natively absent from the Filipino vocabulary. Even after the introduction of loan words, most Filipinos still don’t have a good understanding and appreciation of the ideas behind these imported words.

    Now, let’s compare that to the Japanese.
    assertive = 積極的
    efficient = 効率的
    productive = 多作
    quality = 品質
    technology = 技術
    innovation = 改革

    No, I’m not saying that Filipinos totally devoid of efficiency/assertiveness/productivity/technology. What I’m saying is, even when they are efficient/assertive/productive, they are unable to recognize it because they, as a culture, do not have a concrete understanding and appreciationof these concepts. They can be efficient not out of a conscious collective effort, but byby accident. Now that’s a bitch.😀

  65. I wonder if GabbyD’s point is, concepts are only created when words are invented after being “borrowed.” If that’s the case, that’s wrong. We’ve all already explained why above. Concepts already exist even if words don’t exist for them.😉

  66. tikang permalink

    I’m a newbie here, and I would like to congratulate AP for espousing such site that really promotes awareness of our very own culture. I do believe blogs like these are what we need. (I just wonder that if introduce them to my students in the near future I’d be labeled heretic).

    Yes, assertiveness is not accepted dito sa Pinas. Palagi rin akong pinagkakamalang ‘mayabang’, even from the mouths of the elderly. One should know the difference between pagiging bastos and pagiging assertive.

    Then again, I don’t have to please everybody.

  67. Jon Abaca permalink

    @GabbyD

    See, people back then didn’t have the luxury of time. Given their shorter lifespans, they didn’t have time to muck around. When they had a vision, they had to use every possible resource to achieve it.

    They certainly knew, with their ancient understand of engineering, what stands and what ends up toppling over and killing the workers.

    Now, during construction, the taskmaster will most certainly be paying attention to the workers. He or she certainly doesn’t want to be late. More people did get executed back then.

    He or she will most certainly see that some people work better and faster than other people.

    Chances are, there would be a word to describe people who work better and faster, and people who work worse. Those that worked well would probably get rewarded with money, food, or a bas relief with their name scribbled on it. Those that worked poorly would probably get flogged.

    The ideas have been there since the dawn of history.

    Another thing, if the word “efficiency” did come from Latin, they they must have used a Latin word that would have probably meant the same thing, or something close in meaning. No linguist in their right mind would intentionally use a loan word that means something totally different. Even made up language like Esperanto and Interlingua are similar enough to French, Spanish, or other language that people will a little training in those languages can understand them just by using context.

    False friends will only confuse people. For a real world, modern example set in the Philippines, ask anybody who speaks both Cebuano and Hilagaynon which words are safe in one dialect, but bad in the other.

  68. Josh permalink

    Closing the italics tag to see if it fixes the posts below mine, lol.

  69. ricadoodles permalink

    So true. There are so many “virtues” ang “values” that Filipinos are taught at an early age; not all of them are good actually. Because Filipinos always say YES to the one in-charged or to elders even if they are wrong, this trait carries through to other parts of their lives..ie saying YES when voting: saying YES because the rest of his neighbors said YES as well..saying YES because it seems even when saying NO is the right thing. Filipinos should learn to say NO when he sees something wrong or corrupt is being done. Sadly, this is not the case. saying No is being equated to being a bad guy…the “kontrabido”, the assertive one who speaks out against wrong doings is usually the one being singled out as the one who wants to go against the majority’s wishes..
    Let’s face it people, the Philippine culture sees assertiveness as a negative trait. OO kasi ng OO ang mga Pinoys eh. Takot magsabi bi HINDI TAMA YAN, MAYOR! or HINDI TAMA ANG GINAWA MO, BOSS!. I’ve been through this before. In the workplace, no matter how you believe the working class to be professionals, most of them are turned off by assertiveness in the office. They favor the ones saying YES all the time..the ones saying YES, BOSS to their managers even if they know the latter’s deeds are wrong. They have the feeling of UTANG NA LOOB to their bosses…but failed to realized that at the end of the day, both of they are just employees. Ganyan sa Pinas, takot sa mga taong matatapang..mas gusto nila makasama ang mga OO, SIGE, libre kita mamaya..rather than those who say : Let’s think of better ways to do this task or Let’s make sure that we always do what is morally and ethically correct.

  70. Even in the family, boot-licking and clannism is the norm. We are cultivated to NOT have big brass balls that get us places and earn us money. That is PRECISELY why we go around and polish backsides. It’s what our families trained us to do: obey blindly the directives of powers, right or wrong.

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