Between Poverty and Ignorance


I have a friend who disagrees very much with my social and political views about the Philippines. He thinks that my commentaries about the country come across as negative and therefore running counter to his own views. This deeply offends him even if I’ve assured him many times these commentaries are not about him. I tell him that he shouldn’t take my opinions personally. It is actually a miracle we still consider ourselves friends. I personally think that this is what a mature relationship should be like. People who have differing opinions should not end their association with one another or allow those differences to weaken any efforts being taken towards achieving a shared goal. What we need to engage in is more dialogue or discussions about the issues in order to sort out what is best for those who are affected by it. We do after all, live in a democracy.

This got me thinking though. Is democracy really working in the Philippines? Are the citizens of the Philippines ready for a mature discussion focused on the issues that affect the nation? Sadly, I personally think the answer is no because majority of the members of society are not sufficiently educated as a result of poverty and many are still trapped by beliefs or traditions that hinder the nation’s growth and development. There are also those who are educated but are indifferent to the plight of the poor and those in the elite class who wield so much influence and therefore have the power to change the course of the nation. Sadly, many of them deliberately take advantage of the situation and dismiss any kind of discussion or debate in order to maintain the status quo — one that is often disadvantageous to the poor. A few vocal people who are willing to have intellectual discussions about the problems of the country are accused of being traitors to the Filipino race or discriminatory in their remarks.

State of Delusion

I recently received a forwarded email that contained the essay “Between Poverty and Paradise” by a certain Paolo Mangahas. This essay was first published in June 2007 and apparently won some praise from the Filipino community. I suppose many were moved by the author’s acceptance of the country’s state of misfortune. Unfortunately, the essay failed to move me. In fact, it even annoyed me to a degree and raised a few questions that are often left unanswered by people who write similar stuff like his.

The piece comes across to me as another one of those feel-good essays that describes the state of people living in poverty with the aim of eliciting an emotional response. But like most of them, this one offers no solutions as to how the situation of the poor could be changed. This essay, like most like it, appeals to many Filipinos because of the way its author bandies a pride in being Filipino that seemingly puts a silver lining around the appalling circumstances he describes. I believe that kind of sugar-coating does no more than dull the Filipino’s sensibilities around regarding said circumstance for what it is — something that can only be addressed if its nature is clearly understood. This means examining the issues that contribute to it with a practical mind that is not afraid to go where the inquiry might take them. A truly critical examination that does away with any sugar-coating and strips away any that exist often yields disturbing conclusions about the Filipino’s character. Yet most Filipinos loathe people who point out or give an honest stocktaking of the failures of the country. They accuse them of being “ashamed” to be Pinoy and see their being critical as negativism. Indeed, most Filipinos would rather hear people say “how happy we are and that we are truly blessed.”

Mangahas’s essay starts with an account of him trying to describe what the Philippines is like to his German friend. He runs through a litany of the usual tourist destinations but struggles to skirt the reality of the sad state of affairs in troubled parts in the country (which is everywhere). Mangahas even compares the Philippines to Malaysia (where he holds office as head of the World Wildlife Fund) and how the workers there have more rights, earn more, and enjoy a more decent lifestyle compared to Filipinos. Towards the end of the essay, Mr. Mangahas tearfully explained to his friend how the poor people of the Philippines scratch out a life in appalling conditions everyday but still remain upbeat. He mentions “…despite all these, the Philippines is still a beautiful country and this you will also feel the very moment you get there. It is a beauty characterised by the indomitable human spirit of a people who have seen better days and yet still have the capacity to find a peace of heaven in their lives.”

I really have a problem with statements like this. Such words elicit much emotion but leave one with nothing of substance to grasp at. In what sense, in precise terms is the Philippines a “beautiful country”? You think one thing, but then read on and find that Mangahas’s idea of the country’s “beauty” in that context lies in the “indomitable human spirit” of its people.

My concept of the Philippines’ beauty is a bit more precise than that. First of all, the Philippines’ natural landscape is truly beautiful; no doubt about it. The country also has a rich trove of natural resources. It has fertile lands, a diverse pool of flora and fauna, an extensive coastline, and rich mineral deposits. There seems to be no reason why Filipinos cannot be self-sufficient and prosperous. If only we could learn to manage the utilisation of these resources well. Unfortunately, as it turns out, that is a big “if” that we failed to step up to as a people. The precision with which I describe the Philippines’ beauty makes it quite clear where such beauty ends and reality sets in.

The same people Mangahas describes as having an “indomitable human spirit” continue to lay waste to their own land today. Decades of wanton deforestation has turned much of the islands into featureless plains and bald mountain ranges. The forests that were once natural water traps are now gone and the result is uncontrollable and unpredictable torrential floods that kill hundreds of Filipinos every year during the monsoon and typhoon seasons. Loose earth eroded from these plains and mountains along with garbage and pollutants contribute to siltation and clogging of rivers and waterways as well as the degradation of drainage basins such as lakes, destroying once diverse aquatic life all over the archipelago.

These are the very same people who turn their roads into chaotic battlefields (when traffic is moving) by not obeying traffic rules and regulations, all at a cost of unnecessary loss of life and limb, lost productivity, and pollution. They are also the very same people that continue to elect the same sorts of public officials that have ruled the country for decades. They select them based on popularity gained from making empty promises, expressing hollow platitudes, and associating with glamorous celebrities and sports heroes. In the end, it is these elected politicians who are left laughing all the way to the bank.

Mangahas proudly asserts in his essay that the Filipino’s “indomitable human spirit” and “the untiring faith of a people who have learned to acknowledge their plight with reverence and yet have never lost the courage to dream big dreams” is a uniquely Filipino trait. If indeed Filipinos dream big as a matter of habit, and if we really act on these dreams with conviction, our country would be enjoying the fruits of that unique spirit by now and be taking its place among countries that are known for real strength and resilience on top of solid foundations of achievement such as America and Japan. If we are truly a people who act on our big dreams, maybe we’d even be known for some innovation in science and technology by now, or would at least be self-sufficient with our food.

Yes, “people haven’t lost the courage to dream big dreams” but they don’t really know how to make it big the right way or how to do it through sustainable means. Obtaining a decent education is one such means. The way I see it, working on those “big dreams” should start at school. Every child should be given the opportunity to learn skills that would be useful in earning a living, selecting a vocation, or contributing to the community. Hard work should be inculcated at a very young age. If people work harder than they normally do from the beginning, they are more likely to be rewarded with the fruits of their labour later on. The time to celebrate and have a good time will come with success in one’s chosen profession or with every innovation or creation.

What Mangahas fails to mention is that most Filipinos’ resignation to their fate is what hinders their ability to move forward. The perennial saying “Eh ganyan talaga” (“That’s how it is here”) and that inclination to poke fun at their own situation or regard things in jest all the time even while in the midst serious or dire situations prevents people from raising important issues that may change their fortunes.

Some traditions have downright become impractical. The average Filipino’s fondness for fiesta or community gatherings accompanied by huge banquets promotes over-consumption, wastefulness, and often leaves already impoverished people in debt and with ill-health. Even the practice of remembering and honouring dead relatives on the 1st of November holiday of All Soul’s Day turns into a circus because of the way people flock to cemeteries in droves and then leave behind their garbage with little regard for the consequences of their actions. Such gatherings are unproductive and unnecessarily drain people’s resources and that of the rest of the community.

We need to ask ourselves if any of the traditions we have been practicing for hundreds of years still make any sense today. Perhaps they are now just hindrances to our growth as a people. We may as well focus our energies and resources more to looking for ways to elevate our quality of life instead. If we can’t let go of such traditions, can we at least have the discipline to keep things in order or keep the impact of these activities to a level that will not harm the environment and our well-being?

Yes, people seem happy but the horizon of this happiness is short-term. Often this happiness is a result of habitual catering to an addiction to instant gratification. It seems that the majority lives for the day and hardly ever prepares for rainy days. How our elected public officials reflect this has come to light in recent weeks. They simply don’t think about natural disaster prevention measures. Filipinos invest so much time on reciting a lot of repetitive prayers all the while forgetting one of the most basic Christian mantras: “God helps those who help themselves.” Even the late Michael Jackson said “We cannot rely on the government alone to do everything. We have to rely on ourselves for change.”

The Philippines’ rapid population growth (our population is now an estimated 92 million) also hinders economic and social development. Birth rates remain high and have even been escalating. The Philippine Catholic Church in advocating a “the more the merrier” approach to family planning is no shining beacon of salvation here. The quality of life of the poorest of the poor continues to decline as our population soars. Many children as it is are already left to fend for themselves on the streets due to a lack of funds to care for and educate them. Many of them are unwanted anyway some may think. But these children could be facing a life of crime and therefore be menaces to society. At best, they may end up as lifetime burdens to an already economically strained state. We sow what we reap.

Towards the end of his essay Mr Mangahas states again “how abundantly blessed Filipinos truly are.” I really don’t know what he is basing this assertion on. The statement seems not to be based on facts or measurable statistics but on mere gut feel and narrative fallacies alone. If these were true, then why do hundreds of Filipinos leave for overseas to find a better life? If he can call the situation in our country being blessed, I wonder what being cursed is like?

Positive + Negative = Facts

Let’s go back to my friend. My dear friend keeps insisting that I be more positive about the future of the Philippines in my writings. He says that the country still has hope and to continue to “bash” it is unfair to people like him who try their best to be model citizens. He keeps stating that I always see the glass as half-empty and to him, that’s wrong. He calls it bashing but I call it being cruel to be kind — addressing the empty part of the glass. You can’t solve problems by focusing only on the good part of the issues. Yet it would be great if the majority of Filipinos emulated my friend. He is one of those Filipinos who claim to be doing their part in helping the poor by doing charity work. He also follows rules and regulations and refuses to pay bribes to government agencies. He wouldn’t be my friend if he wasn’t all this to begin with.

In short, my friend’s behaviour is more the exception than rule in the Philippines. I can’t see why he would not appreciate the way people like me raise issues that address the social or cultural malaise in our society. I mean, when are we ever going to accept that we have a problem? Is it when we experience more food and energy shortages? Or when another typhoon flood claims a few more thousand lives? Or when all the educated Filipinos who want to have a dialogue about the issues finally get frustrated and leave the country?

Maybe I’m a little angry about the state in which the nation is in. Paul Mangahas, is but one of many people of influence who choose to pat the Filipino on the back for something that hasn’t really been achieved. We haven’t achieved anything significant as a people. Manny Pacquiao won his boxing titles on his own and the rice terraces has already passed its use-by date.

We need more people who have the guts to stand up and say “Philippines, we have a problem and we need to fix it.” We need people who will risk being ostracised or being ridiculed by his own people in order to raise awareness and seek further enlightenment.

I personally think that we, as a society need to be less upbeat about our present condition. We need to be angry and grumpy about the way our elected public officials are neglecting their duties. The reason why they get away with incompetence is because people let them get away with it. Filipinos should be demanding free access to quality education for everyone in order to level the playing field. The rich continue to monopolise opportunity in the Philippines because they are the only ones who have access to a good education, the kind that gets the jobs more likely to lead to a pleasant existence in the future. We should be demanding that government put more funding into education across the board and reward those who excel in each field. We should be demanding that the government give more incentives to promote research in science and technology. We need to envision a society that rewards excellence and brilliance.

My friend keeps emphasizing that I am unconstructive in my views. In my defence, there was actually a study done that concluded that people who get upset are less gullible, more critical of their surroundings, and also pay more attention to the details. The study also says that whereas positive moods seem to promote creativity, flexibility and co-operation, negative moods trigger more attentive and careful thinking and forces people to pay greater attention to the external world. I do agree that a little negativity promotes information processing strategies best suited to dealing with more demanding situations. So therefore, I’d rather keep my views the way it is. It has saved me from a lot of unfortunate circumstances, frankly speaking. My wish is for every Filipino to apply this kind of mentality in meeting the challenges they wish to overcome.

Finally, my friend also thinks that I no longer see any hope in the Philippines. Yes, there is no hope as long as there is no radical change in the way we regard our issues and challenges and reflect this in the way we vote for our public officials. As long as we keep pinning the blame for our own negligence at everyone else other than ourselves, and as long as we do not apply in our own homeland the same discipline and outstanding behavior we demonstrate when we are abroad, its is hard to see any hope in the Philippines becoming a great nation.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I am taking a more positive approach to the situation because the sooner I recognise and accept what needs to be done, the sooner I can work on the issues and move forward.

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46 Responses to Between Poverty and Ignorance

  1. BenK says:

    Your friend ought to read my report, and so should Mr. Mangahas for that matter, because the hard facts tend to back your perceptions:

    — Nearly 70% of the world’s countries have higher personal savings rates than the Philippines. Saving money means thinking about the future.

    — The Philippines is out-spent in public education by almost 89% of the world’s countries. To put that in perspective, that puts the Philippines at around #161 of 182 countries for which the data can be compiled.

    — The Philippines outranks 78% of the rest of the world…in the number of degreed graduates leaving the country annually.

    These are hard data, mind you, taken from statistics largely compiled and reported by the government of the people with their “indomitable spirit.” It’s impossible to hide from the truth, and it certainly can’t be wished away.

    • ilda says:

      Hi BenK

      Thanks for backing my claim and thanks for the link to your report. It is very impressive. But our country’s performance is less remarkable though. The country is always appearing at the bottom in most of the data.

      The fact of the matter is, Filipinos can only continue to be in denial for as long as there are no disasters happening. In a tropical country such as ours, it will be hard to avoid another Ondoy that can sustain this facade.

    • Ashe Jabri says:

      I so agree with you. Thanks for sharing it to us.

      You two saw the flaws of our country and voiced it out.

      Great minds think alike.

      Thanks for the articles.

      More Power!

      • ilda says:

        Hi Ashe Jabri

        Thanks for taking the time to read it. It’s good to know you agree.

        Please feel free to share it! :o)

    • Red canda says:

      The elites and middle classes form of slavery, the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. We need Mandelas and Ghandis here.

  2. Chino F says:

    There’s the basic idea that “a little piece of heaven can be found in hell.” That basically sums up the attitude of some people here. If you’re poor, stay poor. If you’re uneducated, don’t try to be educated. If you’re in bad straits, don’t try to solve it, but just accept it and live with it. There’s this culture of inaction probably based on one emotional reaction… “ang hirap naman eh!” Basically, Kennedy’s admonition is lost on Filipinos: “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” The easy way out is just to refuse change and live with the current sorry condition. Thus, the attitude of many in the country is anti-change. That’s how Filipino culture and values sometimes is; the way you’ve seen it done for years, even if it kills or maims you, keep it the same, because it’s tradition or something like that. I agree with Ilda’s assessment: there is no hope as long as there is no radical change. Filipinos had better want the right kind of change, or else there is really no hope.

    On the need for negativity as well as positivity, as stated in the third to last paragraph, you can use a magnet as an analogy. It needs both positive and negative to work. If it has only positive, it’s not a magnet. Hmm, you can use this analogy for even batteries and generators. Both positive AND negative are needed. Else, they’re out of power.

    • ilda says:

      Hi Chino

      I’m glad you agree with me on this. This is such a taboo topic for most Filipinos.

      I guess some people have taken the scripture which says that” Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” too literally. I wish they’d learned from the parable of the wise and foolish builders instead:

      Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it

      I guess too that it is not in the nature of most Filipinos to reflect on past failures. This is why disasters keep happening again and again.

    • Red canda says:

      The driving force is not the poor. It is the elites and middle classes, unless the welfare and rights of the poor are not uplifted and protected everything will remain the same. How can you work when you are hungry? How can you go to school if you are hungry? Nobody wants even to stay close to a poor person unless it is a publicity for the elites and middle classes.

  3. Hyden Toro says:

    We can disagree, and still can be friends. It is just a matter of differences of opinions. The State of
    Affairs in our country is very sad. Chronic poverty. People with no good opportunities. So, we
    settle for jobs abroad at a pittance pay and disgusting working conditions. We voted people who
    call themselves politicians/lleaders to lead us and solve our problems. All they do is empty the
    National Treasury and make themselves important and rich. They created a class, for themselves and their families: THE RULING POLITICAL ELITE CLASS. This can be manifested in Political Dynasties rampant in our political system. Father, elected. Sons, daughters, nieces , nephews and nearest relatives being elected to the SAME political position, on and on again. Who is to blame? This is the $1 question, even at inflated rate. WE, THE PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME. BECAUSE WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!
    Citizenship of the Republic of the Philippines is not an easy matter. We all have a role to play. A job
    to do in building our nation and setting up a just society. Equal Opportunities for all. Where all can
    grow as a responsible and developing Human Being.

    Again, I qoute the Great Physicist Albert Einstein: ” We cannot solve the present significant problems
    we are facing on the level of thinking when we created them”.

    We have to highten our level of thinking. Be more intelligent in electing capable and responsible
    leaders. Spread informations to fellow citizens for them to learn to elect better leaders. And follow
    up the job performance of elected officials in office. As Jose Rizal stated: ” there are no tyrants, where
    there are no slaves.” If we became slaves. Whose Fault?

    • ilda says:

      Hi Hyden

      Your opinion is rarely bestowed but well worth the earning.

      The government should prioritise giving equal opportunity for everyone especially the poor.

    • jethernandez says:

      Hello Hyden (and Ilda)

      Studies has pointed out that policy directions of the government before the EDSA hoax of 1986 is to train and move out people. while the government, during the so-called dictatorial period, has also tried to industrialize the economy, the Marcos administration failed to handle the issue of insurgency, unionism and US puppet affiliation. The directions to send people out through the leadership of the late Blas Ople has created 72 labor attaches in different countries. This should have been OK… if industrialization worked well in parallel with this “temporary cure” of sending out Filipinos. Policy directions since then has been to educate to become migrants. The academic sector responds by developing curricula that it sees fit to the global labor demand… nursing, hrm, it… etc… Since we don’t have a strong manufacturing based economy, we don’t create jobs… what we have are PEZA zones being owned by multinationals where income is just wage… not profit. To cut it short…. Ergo, what we need are policies that encourages entrepreneurship, a fiscal policy that is equitable for its citizens (not for the multinationals) and a strong academic sector that is not easily swayed or influenced by the global demand for labor.

      Have a nice day you two.

      • ilda says:

        It is amazing how much time is wasted by petty squabbling among our political leaders. Like you said, there have been many policies in the past that were only half-heartedly or never at all implemented, what a shame. Meanwhile, more than 2 decades later, we are worse off than ever before. The lack of foresight and vision by our public officials is just baffling.

        The country doesn’t create jobs because everyone seem happy with the income generated by OFWs anyway. A temporary solution that has become a permanent one.

      • jethernandez says:

        Hi ilda

        Entrepreneurship is not encouraged in Pinas. There are numerous documentary requirements and regulations that a start up negosyante has to look into and consider… from barangay and municipal clearances, DTI docs, and other regulating agencies… Unionism (in my opinion) seems to be the pain in the ass during the Marcos era. This is probably why most of the moneyed and landed oligarchs did not venture into the manufacturing industry. The second or third generation chinese migrants have picked up from this grey area while most of the intellectual indios are moving out to more developed countries. These chinoys started to institutionalize every bit of the business process… starting small… ayan… nandyan na ang SM at Robinsons.

        The culture… or the “pathetic” culture as we all call it is not influenced by culture per se… since we don’t have a real “pinoy” culture. My opinion is that being divided geographically 7k times (having 7kplus islands), we are still in the process of transition. The nature of of the behaviour of each labor component is MOBILITY… or its migratory nature. What we see in Metro-manila is just a product of this labor mobility… the in-migration phenomenon. Inter marriages between a waray and ilocano, a bikolano and a batanggenyo, or a caviteno to a zamboangeno definitely create conflicts within families or perhaps within the “self” of a son or a daughter… Poverty in metro manila cannot be attributed to the current administration… or ignorance… but to the natural movement or behaviour labor. The expectation of higher salary or income opportunities have moved people from the countryside to the urban areas. The movement within the philippines… is now replicated in the global economy….

        Whew…. mahirap palang mag ala ABE MARGALLO…. ang hirap kayang mag ingles ilda ano… hehehehehe….

      • ilda says:

        In short, we are a nation of migrants. We don’t seem to have our roots planted anywhere in the country. Maybe that’s why most Filipinos don’t care about their environment in general because at the back of their minds, they are just passing through anyway, like transients.

        I don’t agree though that poverty is not because of ignorance because as evident in people like Efren Penaflorida, you can move up to the ladder and own your own Kariton if you are educated. You can even win an award 🙂

        Ikaw naman Jet, you just mentioned the name of Abe and now I can’t seem to shake the image of his avatar from my brain…ewww 🙂

      • jethernandez says:

        Ignorance (in my opinion) is more policy driven. The purpose of educational policies or educational policy intervention is for each labor unit to productively contribute to the economy. There should be interconnectivity between the government and the academic sector. The budget allotment for educational policy implementation of more developed countries (MDCs) is almost equal to the defense allocation. The importance of a highly skilled and a highly educated labor force is that in the grand schema of things, means they are empowered to select / elect competent leaders…. OTOH the Pinoy government system is administered by the “highly educated” greedy scions of oligarchs… it is a collusion of clans… where most of them are just there to sustain poverty and ignorance among its constituents (Luisita and Magindanao). Ergo, implementation of existing laws, rules and regulations is like a toilet paper flushed in the toilet bowl of Abe Margallo… hehehehe….

        The Penaflorida phenomenon is a classic case of the existence of ignoramuses in the media. There are other street-children based NGOs that have institutionalized the whole process of forming/re-forming a damaged child… processing them until they are fixed to contribute to society. Katarantaduhan yang ginawa ng CNN at yang mga bumoto dyan kay Efren. It is an insult to those persons who believe that forming a street child is not merely pushcart education…. Pag nakita ko yan ihahampas ko yang pushcart nya sa pagmumukha nya. A child on the street should be treated holistically… it should not be a mere tickle of the IQ… the EQ is more important. Por eksampol ang isang bata ba na iniwan sa simbahan ng magulang ay babasahan mo ng fairy tale habang kumakalam ang sikmura nya at nagtataka sya bakit sya iniwan…. yung isang bata na hinapas ng dos por dos ng lassengo nyang anak ay babasahan mo ng Alibaba and the forty a holes.

      • ilda says:

        Hi Jet

        Ang aga mo naman magising ah…

        It is in my opinion that the budget allocation for education should be increased. It’s hard to have a discussion with some people who are not on the same level of thinking. It’s like they are from a different planet. It’s hard to get anywhere when you just go around in circles in the debate.

        Part of the reason why we have incompetent public officials is because they were voted by insufficiently educated individuals. Some voters went to school but for some reason are in some sort of trance so, still voted for losers and will still vote for losers in the coming election. As I said in my article, unfortunately, there are members of our society that really want to keep the status quo because they benefit personally from the situation.

        Sa totoo lang, there are also some members of our society that thrive no matter who is the one sitting in Malacanang. I’m talking about the Chinese. Napansin mo ba na it doesn’t matter who’s the president of the country because they still go on with their business. That is why I am always advocating that people should look out for themselves because it’s so obvious that the government doesn’t know what it’s doing most times. So, if an individual has their own thing going on like a small business or if an individual keeps updating his skills, he/she will never run out of opportunities in the country or abroad.

        Mas nakakaasar yung mga die hard fans ni Efren. Imaginin mo ba naman, someone actually said to me that because of Efren, the plight of the poor has been highlighted… gimme a break! Bulag ba sila?!


      • jethernandez says:

        Actually… umaga na akong umuwi. May Christmas party… hehehehe.

        Sa totoo lang Ilda… These chinese third generation migrants have been able to produce more jobs than the konyos or the indios. From importation, buying and selling, real estate and manufacturing, they have already institutionalized their business processes… What contributes to this economic behaviour is their chinese culture’s value system… respect for the family hierarchy and the value of work and money. Por eksampol… yung kamag anak kong intsik na ang tatay ay taga mainland china… mga bata pa lang sila tinuturuan sila ng value ng trabaho sa pamamagitan ng pag suweldo sa kanila kung sila ang magbebenta ng tuyo, daing, dilis at tinapa dyan sa divisoria na dun din sila nakatira. Kahit greyd two o grade tri sila, di sila nahihiyang tumao sa tindahan at magbalot sa dyaryo ng mga dried fish na ‘to. At the end of the dey… may suweldo sila… bukod dun sa allowance. Ang sweldo nila ay kasing laki ng trabahador nila. I don’t know with other chinese families… pwede sigurong gawing thesis topic itong economic behavior na ‘to.

        Ang hypothesis ko lang Ilda ay kung ang behaviour ng mga migranteng tsinoy na kapwa natin asiano, malamang kung hindi tayo sinakop ng mga kastilaloy at amerikano, ang ugali at asal natin ay katulad din ng mga yan.

        Yang utak ni Efren at yang mga pumupuri sa kanya ay katulad ni Abe Margallo at ni Nick the prick of tingog. Wala nang pag-asa… They can sell their brains in the pushcarts kasi slightly used… kaya lang baka walang bumili dahil bulok na. Tamang tama ginawang guest si Efren ng mga pro Ignoy sa isang rally… tanong ko lang… SO EFREN… WHAT’S NEXT… will you still go on pushing carts? Sus ginoo… Baka mamaya yung mga masteral schools mag open ng MS ON PUSHCART EDUCATION… PhD on PUSHCART ECONOMICS.

      • ilda says:

        Hahahahaha…totoo lahat ang sinasabi mo dito (I agree with the above). Sabi ko nga sayo, when you are talking to someone with the same level thinking, the discussion will just flow. It’s a good thing you didn’t get your education from a pushcart 🙂

        Mabalis kumilos ang mga campaign managers ni Noynoy. They booked Efren quickly before somebody else.

        I didn’t realise that Nick is pro-Noynoy. Inis-snob na rin ako niyan eh. Well, it’s his loss not ours.

  4. benign0 says:

    It’s amazing how much damage can be done by people who are perceived to have the “best of intentions” in mind.

    It’s a principle not too different to how a child can be spoiled rotten when it is always told stuff that it wants to hear. Or a boss who loses touch with how his business is going because his staff kept feeding him rose-coloured reports.

    Malcolm Gladwell in a 2002 New Yorker article wrote about how Enron in 2001 had such a cringe-worthy feel-good high-five culture at its height as a Wall Street posterboy (and shortly before its spectacular implosion). At the time, “talented” people recruited from such grad schools as Harvard Business School were zipped up the hierarchy within months of joining the firm, constantly reminded how “talented” and “special” they were, and generally given a benefit-of-the-doubt the size of Texas. By the way, we can thank the “expertise” of the venerable “strategy” firm McKinsey & Co for that love-in culture that Enron lapped up lock stock and barrel.

    So next time we get that warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies an “expert” rave review from a be-credentialled person of inlfuence via an award-winning essay, step back and think.

  5. Conyo says:


    You may be right at our collective state of delusion.

    But where you are wrong is in your perceived notion that we wish to be freed from such delusion.

    You see: Ignorance is Bliss.

    It is like drinking Starbucks, owning a Mac, or the latest bestest galing-galing cell phone–we think it makes us “cool” and thus we are “cool.” Or take my idol, Manolo, who sometimes writes stuff which makes you scratch your head and wonder if he was on some bad acid trip. But still: If we think he is “the man” then he is “the man”.

    Or take the best example: Christianity. Christians believe that an eternity of bliss with Jesus awaits them. Will they get bored after 500 years hanging out with Jesus confined to doing only “wholesome” stuff? That’s not the point. The point is that it is a self imposed delusion to boost the ego. So the next time you are in an argument with a Christian and he is giving you that “I-know-you-are-going-to-burn-hell” smirk–now you know why!

    We all have our delusions and we cling to them as part of our identity.

    See you at Starbucks 🙂

    P.S. Manolo para sa Senado! For a senate run like hell by Filipinos! Woohoo!

    • ilda says:

      Hi Conyo

      Indeed, ignorance is bliss. Marie Antoinette had a similar attitude before they beheaded her. At least it was a quick end for her.

      Believe you me, one day the peasants will rise up and charge the gated communities once they get fed up with the inequality. After all, they have nothing to lose and more to gain in doing this, it’s just a matter of time, really.

      The members of our society who wield the power to stop this from happening better act now before it’s too late. Skip the latte.

  6. GabbyD says:

    i agree with you that any attitude that gives you the impetus for change, is good. what i dont agree with you is when u say that this demands that we get ‘mad’ or negative — being hopeful for the future can lead to change as well.

    • BenK says:

      There is the evidence of the study Ilda cited, however, that backs her assertion, so that’s one thing. On the other hand, we could point to the general hopeful attitude that put Obama into office in the US to support your point of view. So perhaps it’s fair to say that you are both right in some respects.

      However, either a positive or negative outlook alone does not promote change without one’s consciously acting on their feelings. I think one of the things Ilda’s article points out is that people here are unaccountably hopeful, in other words, hopeful without doing anything productive with that mindset. Thus, since ‘hopefulness’ is clearly not accomplishing anything, ‘getting irritated’ is a plausible alternative approach, one that may inspire more people to act on their feelings. Of course, it might not, either; it has yet to be demonstrated one way or the other, but research suggests that it is at least more likely to result in action.

      Either way, the action part is obviously the most important. Simply being positive or negative has no result.

    • ilda says:

      Hi GabbyD

      I don’t really advocate negativism per se. What I am saying is that we need to acknowedge or recognise our shortfalls so we can start working on them. I guess some people are more capable than others in accepting their flaws.

      Some people may think that in raising the issues or problems of our society, I am being negative or engaging in negativism. That is their perception though. As I said, I am more inclined to believe that because I am concerned about the fate of the poor, I am being more analytical or critical about our past and present inaction.

  7. benign0 says:

    The problem I have with an over-emphasis on positivism is that anger, sadness, frustration, and disappointment (what people consider to be ‘negative’ emotions) are all natural feelings that are valid when called for by circumstance. And in a world where everyone is pressured to be positive, people who are well within their space to feel these ‘negative’ emotions beat themselves up (and exacerbate these feelings even further) for not stepping up to the positivism that society demands of them.

    When people are angry, sad, frustrated, or disappointed, it is better to focus the discussion more on WHY they are feeling that way than on attempting to find ways to ‘positivise’ them.

    • ilda says:

      People have this pressure now to appear positive all the time which is ridiculous. This is no thanks to best selling self-help books like The Secret, a book based on feel good moments.

      We can’t all be praising and patting ourselves on the back all the time especially since we haven’t accomplished much.

      Political correctness has just gone bad nowadays. Being critical shouldn’t have to mean we are not a patriot.

  8. Chino F says:

    Hmm, hiding the negative with the positive is popular for Pinoys. Suppressing the bad memories with the good ones, getting a Latte at Starbucks while a beggar boy taps on the window outside, yeah, there’s the denial and cover-up people often do. Focusing on the pleasantries in order to forget the depressing bad stuff. People always like to feel good, but often to the point of denial of the truth to do so. What a challenge this is for our society.

    I think some have the notion of all negative being the same. Rather, we get-realists make distinctions. We focus on learning from the necessary negative, such as the anger, sadness, frustration and indignation that occurs with seeing our country falling to pieces (or at least when seeing someone do wrong). We also criticize what we see wrong: some see criticism as negative, but it’s needed. Now the negative we don’t need is the feeling of failure, feeling poor, being unable to do anything (or wanting to do anything), inaction, bahala na, etc. These are the bad negative things, and what we need to work on and remove. True, we can’t always be negative, but we need to be truthful in finding the way out of the negative and getting truly positive.

    • benign0 says:

      Yeah, it’s the difference between between pragmatic and being defeatist. Pragmatic delivers results, defeatist is that self-limiting loser mentality that hinders progress.

  9. FreeSince09 says:

    An example I think is the blind and masochistic reverence of the Ilocos region to the Marcoses, SIngsons and well warlord Datus of Moroland. But I think to truly understand why we keep on looking up to the “elites” is because of our “feudal” microstuctures. Unfortunately this does not bode well to a Philippines whose democratic and economic construction has been largely modeled around Western criteria. But as MLQ3 points out in Coping Mechanisms , the feudal structures remains largely intact because of the crisis. When we have institutions (banks, government and armies etc.) fail because of outside or internal forces unfortunately it is better to just accept things the way they are. We may lose out on the bust and booms but we survive the busts. And yes I’ve gotten that “race traitor” slogan before.

    Afterthought: If we are to advance as a meritocratic and free market economy the problem though is that the upper class and even parts of the middle class that can’t compete will go extinct.

  10. Jet Pampolina says:

    An “Audacity of Hopelessness” recipe to an already jaded and cynical Filipinos will never work. I never said there were no problems all I was asking constantly is an Updated and Balanced context of the Philippines. And also begging that we start moving out of the analysis mode to an action mode of finding our small but real, sustainable and workeable solutions, that matter (Efren Penaflorida found his’).

    And thanks, your equation sub-title said it all:

    Positive + Negative = REAL Facts

    Negative alone = Unreal Facts

    Simply put, in projecting a factual and fair view of the Philippines I just thought that you have not been dwelling on the positive side of the equation, when it was merited.

    PS. Oh btw, the picture you just used in fact does not exist anymore….the “squatters” in that spot which was some kilometers-long beside the railway tracks have all been relocated 2 years back to Cabuyao and Sta. Rosa Laguna. Some newly refurbished Philippine National Railway trains (with the old ones) are in fact plying that cleared spot every few hours in preparation to the completion of the Southrail Project with trains leading to Bicol and Sorsogon (that my friend is REAL). Peace !!

    • ilda says:

      Hi Jet

      Efren Peñaflorida does charity work by prodiving free turorial lessons to Filipino out of school youths. He specifically targets those living in the slum areas. While I commend Efren for his selfless act, I assure you that by writing my article above, free education is what I am advocating that every Filipino should get. That is, free quality education, just like what most of the elite get from private schools but provided by the government not by someone with a pushcart.

      What is the most updated context of the Philippines? Currently, the country is experiencing a shortage of petrol. This situation is also leading to a low supply of food. This, my friend, is because of mismanagement by the public officials.

      I thought my article was full of hope, really. I think I have enumerated more than enough reasons why the situation in our country is the way it is. I have also enumerated more than enough ways to elevate our country from its current state. I don’ really think its full of hopelessness. Charity work is excellent but we need to find the root of the problem so we can minimise the amount of charity work that needs to be done. After all, charity work is highly dependent on volunteers who give their extra time and resources which is more often than not, unsustainable. We need to find sustainable solutions to the problem.

      The where and when the photo was taken is really not the point of the article. But the image in the photo can be found in almost every corner of the country.

      Where was the barangay tanod to begin with when the first squatter built his shack there? The thing is, just like everything else, the situation has to go out of hand before they start noticing the thousands of squatters who set up shop on public land.

      Peace and prosperity ! 🙂

      • Jet Pampolina says:

        Ilda, what the country is now experiencing is an artificial shortage of petrol instigated by the Big Oil companies in response to EO 839 which President GMA imposed but lifted recently (EO 845). EO 839 btw, restricted the Big Oil Companies from raising the prices of fuels in locations affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng which was basically the whole of Luzon. The major players complained that this is against the Law of S&D so threatened to pull out or cause some artificial shortage, no thanks to the cue from the DOE Secretary Reyes who warned everyone that this (shortage) may happen…

        Just stopped by the Shell gas station this morning and yes they dont have my favorite and cheap Unleaded with Ethanol but they have the expensive V-Power, so no choice but to buy their non-moving inventory.

        That again is the right context of things.

        Regarding charity work, it is indeed unsustainable in the long-term but what works for people like Efren is fueling the passion of more Filipinos to hope, desire and work for a transformed Philippines…

        Moreso believing again that fuel is not short in our dear country … 🙂

        Peace, love and a happy Christmas… 🙂

      • ilda says:

        Yes, I know it’s artificial shortage. In short, it’s mismanagement. Arroyo is an economist. She should have known that freezing the price of a commodity won’t work. It’s not the oil company’s fault that Ondoy happened. They are not in business for charity. I guess both parties were just bluffing each other at the expense of the people.

        Efren’s work is well and good but I still say we need sustainable solutions more than anything. The reality is, we’ve got over 90 million people and I doubt if Efren’s work can be multiplied to cater to all the disadvantaged. Not everyone has the time to do what he does. Besides, sometimes we need to motivate the poor to find ways to be more resourceful and self-sufficient. Too much spoon feeding can be a bad thing if given in big doses. That’s why I would rather that we do away with too many celebrations that just drain people’s already dwindling funds and concentrate on saving for the future.

        We do what we do because we need to shame our public officials for their incompetence. This coming election, we need to ensure that people will vote for someone who has real vision for our future.

      • ilda says:

        Here’s something that validates what I am talking about regarding lavish feasting (this is from a recent newspaper article on China):

        A Chinese legislator says the country’s tradition of lavish banquets is “squandering of public funds” and has proposed making them a crime, a state press reported.

        “Public spending on eating and drinking is a waste of social assets,” said Zao Linzhong a delegate to China’s parliament. “We need to criminalise this by law”

        Lavish banquets have long been a tradition for both the government and businesses throughout China. It’s a practice that, besides wasting money, has also proven to be unhealthy.

        At least the Chinese are finally realising that over consumption is uneconomical, unproductive and wasteful. I wonder when the Filipinos will follow in this direction.

  11. Joe America says:


    I got it, thanks.

    Very nice discussion you have aroused here.

    I rather see the poor Filipino as being in a benign (hah) case of low-level shock. To look too hard for answers typically results in further beatings. So stick with the happy line; though it is shallow, it is real. The alternative is to give up.


    • ilda says:

      Hi Joe

      It’s nice of you to drop by. I knew you would get it ;o)

      In response to you:

      Filipinos who keep telling themselves there is still hope without even changing anything in the way they do things in the country, is equivalent to someone giving up.

      Accepting one’s flaws or shortfalls is a sign of humility. If Filipinos pride themselves in being a true Christian, they shouldn’t be ashamed of looking at themselves in the mirror and asking themselves to change their ways. After all, they have been singing these words with Michael Jackson for a long time now. Maybe the meaning of the lyrics escapes them.


  12. Pingback: We all live in a Yellow Submarine | The Anti Pinoy :)

  13. Hyden Toro says:

    We can disagree, and still can be friends. It is just a matter of differences of opinions. The State ofAffairs in our country is very sad. Chronic poverty. People with no good opportunities. So, wesettle for jobs abroad at a pittance pay and disgusting working conditions. We voted people whocall themselves politicians/lleaders to lead us and solve our problems. All they do is empty theNational Treasury and make themselves important and rich. They created a class, for themselves and their families: THE RULING POLITICAL ELITE CLASS. This can be manifested in Political Dynasties rampant in our political system. Father, elected. Sons, daughters, nieces , nephews and nearest relatives being elected to the SAME political position, on and on again. Who is to blame? This is the $1 question, even at inflated rate. WE, THE PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME. BECAUSE WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!Citizenship of the Republic of the Philippines is not an easy matter. We all have a role to play. A jobto do in building our nation and setting up a just society. Equal Opportunities for all. Where all cangrow as a responsible and developing Human Being.Again, I qoute the Great Physicist Albert Einstein: ” We cannot solve the present significant problems we are facing on the level of thinking when we created them”.We have to highten our level of thinking. Be more intelligent in electing capable and responsibleleaders. Spread informations to fellow citizens for them to learn to elect better leaders. And follow up the job performance of elected officials in office. As Jose Rizal stated: ” there are no tyrants, wherethere are no slaves.” If we became slaves. Whose Fault?

  14. I have written this last Wednesday, Feb 10, dahil sa Inis and Inip sa pag-asenso ng Philippines. Malakas ang loob kong i-share ang First Hand Experience ko as a Former Public Empleyado….dahil I’m in my 50’s already, at nakakalungkot na I couldn’t contribute (because I feel helpless), para makaahon sa Lusak ang Pinas. So what kung i-expose ko ito, nasa Land of the Free na ako nakatira and more than Over the Hill na ako. Anyway, who would check a corrupt leader? Another corrupt leader? And another corrupt of Army and Judges? Kahit anong provocation, analyses, another People’s power demo, or kung anu-ano pa….Divine Intervention lang talaga ang solution sa Philippines. Wala na akong masabi pa.

    Anyway, read lang kayo sa Piece of Note ko, below:

    Facebook Note: Lody Alarca Fojas, Wed at 10:15pm – A Note for Candidates and Voters:

    If you feel you could not really exercise a FAIR and HONEST voting in your town or city, magtanim na lang kayo ng Tomatoes on Election Day…at mag-Pray na lang kayo na hindi palitan ng mga Pulis ang ballot boxes sa munisipyo…para manalo ang candidate nyo.

    …I guest, Zorra, Filipinos are not concerned anymore about Voting or Elections, kasi noong si Joseph na hindi highly educated ang presidente, naghirap ang Philippines. Tapos pinalitan ng the most highly educated na classmate ni Clinton ang presidency, lalong naghirap ang Pilipinas. Also for so many years, ang ballot boxes ay pinapalitan ng mga Pulis dahil utos ng Chief, na inutusan din ng isa pang leader. Kaya there was really no “Actual and True” elections na nangyayari. Bakit ka pa nga naman boboto.
    Maliit lang naman ang sweldo ng mga Public Officials, why do you think nakikipagpatayan sila sa position?Dalawa lang God dito sa Mundo: the Mighty God and the Big Money! Who do you think SOME Candidates are pursuing? So it is REALLY very important to learn ang Plataforma and Background ng inyong napupusuang candidates.

    …Before I have not witnessed all these Dayaan sa Elections, I thought ang mga Pilipinos ay “Bobong Botante”, dahil ibinoboto nila ang mga Artista at kung sino-sinong “walang sinabi”. I have realized hindi pala mga Botante ang mali…kundi ang mga Pulis at Chief of Foolish. Sila ang supposedly magpo-protect sa RIGHTS NG MGA TAO, pero dahil sa ayaw nilang matanggal sa trabaho, at meron silang “Election Allowances”, kesehodang Taong Bayan ay maghirap! Bobong mga Foolish yan, dahil sa “Election Allowances” na kapiraso, ipinagbibili nila ang buhay ng buong bayan at ng kanilang kamag-anak. Hindi nila kasi alam ang consequences ng kanilang ginagawa. They thought they are doing favors to their “Bosses”…pinapatay na pala nila ang buong Bayan! Kaya kayong Madlang Bayan..bantayan nyo ang mga kamag-anak nyong Foolish sa araw ng Elections. Huwag nyo ng papasukin sa araw ng botohan, para makakain ang buong Filipinas! Kasi kapag ang nanalo, by pwersahan ng Foolish, ay ang hindi Makabayan na Kandidato, Gutom ang Philippines!

    ….To prove to you that what I am saying here is right…tingnan nyo kung sino ang nag-massacre sa Maguindanao. Check nyo kung sino ang “bodyguards” ng mga leaders nyo sa Pilipinas. Lasingin nyo ang mga Foolish, lalabas lahat kung sino ang “nirampa” nila sa utos ng Bosses nila. Ang Bosses nila ang “BOSES” nila….wala kasing BOSES ang mga iyan. Kaya nga Foolish sila, sumusunod lang sa utos ng malakas na Bosses!

    …AT PAKISABI LANG SA LAHAT…KUNG IADYA NG DIYOS NA MAGKAROON NG HONEST ELECTIONS…IBOTO NYO ANG MGA CANDIDATO NA CONCERN SA ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT NG PILIPINAS, WHICH ALSO AFFECTS THE REST OF THE WORLD. THIS WAY, LAHAT TAYO HEALTHY AT KAKAIN NG AYOS! Magkakaroon lang ng Honest Elections kung kayo ay mag-i-involve before the elections. Bantayan at questionin ang COMELEC AT ANG MGA FOOLISH. Mag-Volunteer kayong lahat sa pagbibilang or pag-watch ng counting! This is the first step to save Philippines! The next step is to PLANT TREES, VEGETABLES, AND FLOWERING PLANTS para hindi kayo maging pabigat sa Government!

    …Yong mga kabataan, gumising kayo! Life is not all about SOCIAL CLIMBING…You will not be accepted by the “Real Society” by wearing Nike, GAP, Hilfiger, Sketchers, etc., kasi accept it or not, halatang halata ang galaw ng Social Climbers. Halata ang mga kilos nyo if you were not fed in Gold Spoon. Kaya maging True kayo to yourself, baka hangaan pa kayo ng Kapwa nyo sa Humility and Simplicity nyo. Ang Trend ay sa God’s Way (not the Jones’ Way) and it is no other than being Simple and Humble. At ang dapat maging concerns nyo ay hindi ang Brand Names kundi PAANO KAYO MAKAKATULONG SA NAGHIHIRAP NA BANSA? Floating is a sign of Hopelessness, but you can’t and you shouldn’t Float habang buhay. Make use of your LIVING-LIFE here on Earth: Love your neighbors like you love and respect yourselves! Mag-involve kayo sa Future ng Philippines. Pray, pray and God will give you STRENGTH and WILLPOWER to help Philippines and your neighbors.

    …Besides….many would like to identify themselves with the Rich and Famous…only to find out and discover their ODDNESS….horrible Oddities. Walang pinipiling ethnicity ang Pagkasira ng ulo…pero I have met quite amany of them from this Species and discarded them: the Rich and the Famous!
    Kaya kung ako kayo, doon na lang sa: The Powerless, the Humble and the Simple…ito kasi ang pinapagpala ng God!

    On every election, just like in USA, let the Candidates BEG FOR YOUR VOTES !!! You can do this by Planning & Planting your own Garden…that is because your Garden can make you become Autonomous…meaning, you are on your your own. You are Eating. You are Happy. You are Peaceful. You got your own Garden business. You don’t need to SQUAT in the Big Slum Cities to live a “successful” life. Go back home to the Province, where everyone knows you, respect you and care for you! And get involve in selecting your own Honest and Hardworking Leaders and Protectors (the Police Officers)

    Take a look at my Hobby in my Photo Album: MI GARDIN, check how could you not become Autonomous, if you can plant them yourselves?

    God bless you all…Candidates and Voters. Remember, God always Forgive and Heals.

    Kindly, Spread this Note written Spontaneuosly by me, but coming from my Heart…because of the Poor.

  15. surigaokid says:

    I think you need to really understand what poverty is all about. It is not about statistics. Poverty is not economic, it is behavioral. It is not a lack of resources but a lack of caring and sharing. We are poor because we don’t care for each other. Since time immemorial, we Filipinos bash each other! We forget to be brothers to one another. We are responsible for one another.
    “Yes, there is no hope as long as there is no radical change in the way we regard our issues and challenges and reflect this in the way we vote for our public officials.”
    Corrupt politicians win elections because they take advantage of weak electorate. We have weak electorate because services like education were not delivered, we can blame it to the government, but we can also blame ourselves not doing something about. Again, we are responsible for one another. Don’t relate hope to how we elect our leaders, it’s too different things.

  16. Django says:

    Radical change requires radical measures and such changes are difficult to achieve under a democratic government. Social malaise like lack of discipline, corruption and apathy towards them is so ingrained in our society that it would be very difficult to eliminate without employing extreme methods. I have accepted the thought that in my lifetime, I may not see the Philippines rise to the levels of Singapore, Taiwan or Malaysia. But instead, I see the Philippines taking the path that Cambodia, Bosnia , Rwanda and Nazi Germany took.

  17. AA Lucman says:

    Absolutely Ilda, the matter of choices when regulated and truth obfuscated, one become confused, disorientated and definitely lost. We pile up problems one after the other, yet we would do nothing to answer instead pile up more, and more of it all of it problems, no solution.

  18. Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time
    selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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