What Makes Filipinos the Perfect Slaves?

As many of you who’ve followed Antipinoy know, most of us regular bloggers here attribute the problems of the Philippines to the country’s culture. For us, it’s too obvious. Our culture has customs and practices that make us do things that we better not do. Spend beyond our means, generate huge numbers of children, vote for who is popular despite their being poorly qualified, and just saying that trying to find a solution to our country’s problems is useless.

Filipinos easily fall into self-destructive traps, but some wonder if there is something else aside from culture that influences such behavior. Could there be a psychological mechanism that could explain this?

In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale University conducted some experiments. These had participants deliver electric shocks to a subject in another room when that subject gave wrong answers to a question. The subject was actually acting, so while he was wired with electrodes to an apparatus, he actually felt no shocks. But the participant was made to believe they were actually shocking the subject. Gradually, the participant would deliver increasingly higher levels of shock, being told that it was necessary. Before the last and most powerful shock, the subject/actor would cry that they could not take it anymore, and might die. But the accompanying researcher would tell the participant that it had to be done. The researcher could flip the switch for them, thereby “reducing” the guilt, although the participant remained responsible for the decision to deliver the final “shock.”

His highest rate from participants in delivering the final shock was 37 out of 40 in one session, the average of all experiments being 65%, which Milgram said proved his thesis that people are “wired to obey,” even if the order is illegal or harmful. People do wrong not because they are usually evil themselves, but when given sufficient coercion to do so, they are capable of the worst evil. While Milgram’s experiment has been criticized ethically, I believe that its results and conclusion are reliable and valid.

After World War II, philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote an eye-opening piece explaining the people who carried out the Nazi Holocaust were not especially evil, abnormal people; they were as normal as any of us. Arendt said that the soldiers were just “following orders,” and did not dare question these orders. In fact, Milgram held his experiments after hearing of the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, who Arendt wrote about. He addressed the question of why the Holocaust could happen on such a tremendous scale. Why did the Germans involved participate in such genocide without question? Basically, it was the “obedience factor” that allowed the Nazis to perform such wide scale murder. Of course, one could factor anti-Semitism, and the threat of death upon disobedience, among other factors. But so the same, it was eerie that nearly no one on the German side was as questioning as common sense would require.

The 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the 1994 Rwanda Massacre, Pol Pot’s Cambodian Killing Fields, the Bosnian War and the Srebrenica Massacre can all be explained using Milgram’s theory. The private army guards of the Ampatuans can also be seen as such. If there was a brave dissenter that dared oppose these actions and call others to help stop them, there might have been a way to avert them.

The Milgram theory can be applied to Filipinos. Filipinos certainly exhibit the same traits as the experiment participants and Nazi lackeys; they tend to obey the wrong orders. When told by co-workers that they should embezzle a few funds or steal some materials “once in a while,” they do it. When enjoined to jaywalk, they’ll join dozens of others who cross the street at the wrong time, even if there’s an overpass available. In my high school, a classmate told me, “you’re not a true student of this school unless you know how to forge a document,” since many students have forged documents one time or another. This implied that I should join the bandwagon and not be a “different” person with my integrity. In other words, I should just “obey” the bandwagon. Thus, corruption is easy to spread especially among the ordinary people.

An additional factor in this is a flawed culture that insists on obedience. Filipino parents tell their children that absolute obedience to authority is a value, as BongV previously wrote on. However, the culture somewhat craftily confuses who is actually an “authority.” The tendency is that we are told to be obedient, even if the “authority” is actually a despot or crook. As a result, Filipinos can be easy for bandwagons to seize because of this “Milgram obedience factor.” It can be taken advantage of to force a candidate choice onto someone.

Ours is also a culture that discourages dissent. For example, if one barkada is full of Noynoy supporters, while one member wants to dissent and vote Gordon instead, the other members of the barkada can turn on him, bully him and call him a traitor. They imply that he should “obey” them as a member of their group, and be all the same. Most less educated people fall for this, unwilling to lose friends even if he doesn’t deserve them.

Thus, the “Milgram obedience factor,” along with our dissent-suppressing culture, has helped make Filipinos into perfect slaves. We are the slaves of the oligarchs who control business with monopolies and a church that seeds us with faulty values. We are bombarded with media (TV shows and movies) that give us false lessons about life (such as being rich is being evil, or illegal means are the only way to fight against corrupt powers) and we are suckered into making them real. We have allowed incompetent people to become leaders in the nation and arrest growth and development. We thus have no choice but to become a nation of servants, as Chip Tsao described, serving other countries. We can be the perfect slaves, as long as we let the authority (or even so-called authority) hold us by the neck.

My challenge to people is that they should be aware of and suppress this “Milgram obedience factor”, challenge their culture and think carefully about their actions. We need to encourage people to increase their individual initiative and resist the crowd. But we also need to teach the right kind of obedience; for example, if Bayani tells us to use the overpasses, instead of jaywalk on the street because it’s inconvenient to go up stairs, we should do so.

This is not impossible. A recent study abroad showed that behavior demonstrated by a few can influence the majority. As long as the few repeat the behavior and demonstrate to others, those others might follow. In fact, that is how fads start; it starts with a minority, and picks up until the majority are doing it. You need only start with a gust to cause a large thunderstorm. That is why we at Antipinoy, despite being one of the few, continue to proclaim our views with fervor and fight, in the hope that others may pick up.


About ChinoFern

Just another nobody on the Internet who believes even nobodies should have a voice... because the Internet provides that.
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30 Responses to What Makes Filipinos the Perfect Slaves?

  1. FreeSince09 says:

    Add to that the need to fit the mold of “global competitveness” and “professionalism”. We are educated at an early age that to dissent is a moral evil. One that has to be crushed for the sake of peace and order. While there are many times it is true, dissenting opinions are an important part of finding alternative paths.

    • Persona Non Grata says:

      “…absolute obedience to authority …” is a farce. Filipinos fail to obey a simple “huwag umihi dito” to complex “STOP” sign.

      Filipinos comprised of amalgam of good and evil. The good cancels out the other good, only evil trait survives.

      • ChinoF says:

        Ironic, isn’t it? When people say, “go ahead and cheat,” the common Pinoy tends to obey. But when it says “bawal umihi dito” or “no entry,” they tend to disobey. Filipinos tend to obey the wrong things.

        Perhaps common Filipinos prefer to obey culture, but disobey laws. I propose that they do the opposite.

      • Persona Non Grata says:

        Remember those small things about “fake perfume”, “some nursing school in the Philippines”, “mail-to-order-bride”, “servants” by Tsing Tsao. Filipinos go nuclear on these small things. They riot over it for “love-of-Philippines” in the U.S.A.

        Bigger things like bungled investigation of ZTE, unprofessional media reporting of it; outing of rape victim Nicole; and other gross events are nothing to Filipinos. Because to Filipinos it is too deep to understand.

  2. Persona Non Grata says:

    As what my mentor has been haranguing blogsites, in one simple succinct, short, curt sentence, “FILIPINOS ARE LED, COMMANDED, CONTROLLED and THEY MEEKLY FOLLOW”.

    Filipinos are hardwired followers. A pat in the back by Erap, a photo ops with Villar, a can of sardines from Gordon, a kiss from Kris Aquino so does their vote go to them and their hearts.

    Filipinos love uniformity, too, the reason they are conformists.

  3. Persona Non Grata says:

    As to following the path to illegal mind sets?

    Take this true verifiable fact. I was taunted as “pakialamiro” by a family for protecting their estranged father from senior abuse for having him sign documents handing his property to them.

    Now I was a “pakialamero” for protecting the rights of their estranged father.

    Never report a child abuse to the U.S. government, else you’d be another “pakialamero”.

    That is why Americans progress. Fake-Americans retrogressed.

    • Persona Non Grata says:

      Now, the family is now invistigated by the District Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles. I wish these Filipinos would accuse the American government of “pakialamero”. I doubt. Because Filipinos are cowards not revolutionaries. They easily Flip on the right side of the law by saying “Oh, we didn’t know United States work this way!” Fool the Filipinos but not the Americans. That is why Filipinos are aptly and appropriately called Flips. They use their version of law but when faced with the might of U.S. Law they Flip “Oh, we didn’t know!”.

      I would rather be fooled by white salesman than fooled by a Filipino salesman.

  4. benign0 says:

    It’s like the herd mentality as well and it was also the defense used by the Nazi defendants in the Nuremberg trials — “we were just following orders”. It’s part of the human condition and if it can be seen in relatively individualist Western nations, what more in a society such as ours where parents deliberately suppress individualism and self-expression in their kids?

    The Philippine Media likes to see itself as one of the past “heroes” in the Filipino’s Laban against the forces of “evil”. Yet it is one of the sharpest instruments in the continuous dumbing down of the Filipino Mind. The visually-appealing content that is devoid of any substance that it pumps into the airwaves 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is mind control on a national scale — dooming Pinoys into the very slavery they (the Media) claim to be rescuing them from.

  5. Persona Non Grata says:

    “About Chino:
    Chino is a freelance work-at-home writer and aspiring artist based in Quezon City. He blames his dreams not being fulfilled on a suppressive and repressive culture, which is also the cause of corruption and dysfunction in the country. He thus makes it his personal goal to oppose and criticize the parts of Philippine culture that he sees as damaging and advocate cultural reform. ”

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Artists are recognized when dead

  6. Persona Non Grata says:


    1. Speak good english
    2. Write good english
    3. Filipinos are led and they follow if the command is in english
    4. Filipinos speak and write good english but never conversational english. So they keep quiet and never argue with the english command.
    5. Filipinos work efficiently in cooler climes
    6. Filipinos are actually lazy, but our lazy Filipinos are actually, from the perspective of the slave holder, industrious.
    7. Filipinos do not complain because they are not good in conversational english.
    8. Filipinos find It is easier to follow than argue. Filipinos are utterly embarrassed if they argue and their english is wrong. So they follow.
    9. Filipinos complain only in the sideline. They are very good in back-stabbing.
    10.Filipinos smile though their heart is aching.

    and many more.

    • Persona Non Grata says:

      Filipinos are like Kate Winslet in the movie The Reader. She’d rather go to prison than tell the world she was illiterate. I just wonder why Filipinos are so enamored in english.

      I speak english, fear me.

      I envy people who struggles in english but speaks it anyway. I do not laugh. I do not correct. I do not fill in the words if they struggle.

      What is in english anyway? Frankly, struggle with tagalog. I would love to speak tagalog the way tagalogs speak it but it is just impossible.

      • Jett Rink says:

        Pero papaano yung mga alipin dito sa bansa natin na hindi naman masyadong marunong mag-Ingles? Na ang alam lang ay dog, cat, rat, horse? Wala sa wika o ang pagkagaling sa ibang wika ang pagiging alipin. Ito ay nasa kanyang pagkatao, kanyang pananaw.

      • Persona Non Grata says:

        Jett, Philippines is the only country in Asia who go to conferences without interpreter. They go to UN, when offered a transilator headset they go “no need for that, I fully understand english”.

        The speakers of english are the oppressors and the most corrupt.

        Because Filipinos really get carried away with people who speaks “goot country-club engischtzes”(pulot from Renato)

  7. ilda says:

    s long as the few repeat the behavior and demonstrate to others, those others might follow.

    I look forward to the day when majority of Filipinos are able to think independently like all the AntiPinoy writers.

    I’m still amazed at how all the writers here arrive at the same conclusion without even consulting each other and without even discussing what we are going to write about. It’s great to know that AP creates a breeding ground for individualism. Hey, they might even think we’re riding on some kind of bandwagon haha.

    Cool stuff!

    • ChinoF says:

      Late reply, but thanks.

      We just see things the same way… and this is without blinds or a “special set of eyeglasses.” This is the way that is with full clarity and no bias. As things are, and making a very good job of connecting the dots. When you see things this way, there’s little doubt that we’ll reach the same conclusion.

  8. Parallax says:

    my neighbor in the 80s (i was a kid back then, she was in her 30s) told me that i’m going to hell for not going to church. a decade later some other neighbor told me pretty much the same thing, because they never see us at church.

    i should have told them “i’ll see you there then.” (i was young and wasn’t equipped with quips yet.)

    they still don’t see me at church.

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  10. udf21 says:

    i jaywalk instead of using the overpass because the shortest route between 2 points is a straight line. I would still jaywalk even if doing so is a cultural no-no. I do what’s logical and I don’t follow the norm.

    • ChinoF says:

      That’s the kind of smart aleck “logic” that gets people killed, because the path between the two points puts you in the path of speeding cars. And shows that you just have the mind of a lawbreaker. Seems the words morality and social responsibility have no meaning to you.

      • innagadda54 says:

        Yup, you have pointed the morons crossing Edsa in that spot between the San Juan station and Ortigas at night . It’s a no man’s land with no obvious place to cross and drivers going at Mach 2, but they still cross.

    • famous wolf says:

      That is not logic, logic follows the most reasonable thinking. Jaywalking is not reasonable, it is dangerous, it involves breaking on what is written in the law and what are the safety pre-cautions to be undertaken.

      No wonder the MMDA writes these on their signboards:

      “Wag tumawid dito, may namatay na.”

      If it takes morbid thinking to stop an offender here, I don’t see much hope on how Filipinos would ACTUALLY OBEY THE LAW.

  11. mel says:

    Almost 500 years of slavery (from Spanish Era to date with the Oligarchs) make Filipinos the perfect slaves.

    The bigger the ratio between the poor and the rich, the more dependency thus modern slavery.

    Independence from colonial masters brought personal but not necessarily economic freedom.

    Nowadays, you cannot kill a slave but you can economically suppress him :mrgreen:

    Perhaps, the Filipinos should invent a time machine so we can start from as back as 1521! :mrgreen:

  12. meh says:

    jaywalking is as easy as voting for the winnable. 🙂

    way to go, kabayan.

  13. Paolo says:

    Mahirap talaga sa pinoy ang gumawa ng tama. Kahit mas madali pa yung tama, ayaw pa.

  14. Pingback: What is the right kind of Pinoy Pride? « Get Real Post

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