The shameless Filipino elite
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo Updated February 22, 2009 12:00 AM
In 1980, a Swiss girl I met (who was here as an exchange student) made this comment: “How come the Filipinos are not revolting against the injustice here? Most of them have nothing to lose except their lives.”
That comment was surprising considering that the Swiss girl came from an upper class family in a country where it is assumed that everybody has money. After all, someone from that class in society does not usually think of revolting against a government.
But we cannot blame her for saying that. Even during the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Filipino parents were the first to discourage their sons and daughters from joining public mass actions for fear of their children getting hurt or arrested.
Foreigners who have lived here are puzzled at how we Filipinos can allow the irregularities and scandals that are happening all over the archipelago to go on with hardly any public outrage expressed. Some of them conclude that Filipinos are gut-less — too yellow to risk life and comfort to straighten out the big mess in their country.
Some foreigners conclude that Filipinos are some of the most un-nationalistic people in the world. We also cannot blame them for concluding that. They even met some Filipinos who would rather be a Yank or a Brit. There are surveys that confirmed that sad reality, especially among young Filipinos.
Some foreigners found it scandalous that Filipinos would proudly wave their ‘bastion of Christianity in Asia’ flag but are so callous to the grinding poverty around them — much of it the result of the elite’s irrational greed. The scandal is heightened by the fact that many of the greediest have graduated from Catholic educational institutions like the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University.
Indeed, we are more tribal and have really yet to achieve a sense of nation like the Japanese, Thais and Chinese. We’re led by leaders who even have this wrong notion that imposing English as education medium of instruction is the key to Filipino national salvation. They are stupidly oblivious of the fact that no nation ever progressed simply because they imposed a foreign language as their education medium of instruction.
It is also commonplace in our country to see Filipinos espousing things that favor the interests of other countries while condemning the few nationalists who stand up to protect Filipino national interest. The culture here is so badly-damaged that the promoters and protectors of foreign interests strut around as if they are the “true heroes” of the land while many idiotically condemn the nationalists as boils on the heel of progress.
Still, other foreigners have concluded that the Filipino is so selfish and will not bother to think of the community — fatally focused on paddling only his own canoe. Compared to the Japanese who are inclined to think first about their communal interest, many Filipinos are all too consumed with promoting self-interest.
During the days when your Chair Wrecker was an advertising agency CEO, a former Japanese client said something that struck home. This Managing Director of the famous Yakult Lactobacilli Drink wondered how come rich Filipinos do not even bother to help their cash-strapped government by attending to the gutted patch of road fronting their houses. To him, the cost of repair (at the time which is 1984), would have been no more than P4,000.
That observation struck home because to us Filipinos doing so would have been unthinkable. Have you ever heard of a rich Filipino who initiated the paving of the gutted road fronting his house? I haven’t. We would have been quick to rationalize that the government we pay taxes to owes us that service. So why do we pay taxes if we are to repair the road ourselves?
However, to the Japanese who is culturally conditioned to die for his country, it is expected that he should attempt to solve whatever problem of Japan he is capable of solving on his own. Now, that is why the Japanese live in a first world developed country while we Filipinos live in the rut that we are in.
The most stinging criticism Filipinos will hear from foreigners who have lived here and have gained familiarity with how we have ruined the Pearl of the Orient that our country was once touted to be — is how Filipinos are so proud individually but shameless collectively.
Few Filipinos are aware that many foreigners have observed this hypocrisy in our society. Many Filipinos think that the foreigner is impressed with inane braggadocio, unmindful that Filipinos are only managing to look smaller in the eyes of the alien. The big plunderer thinks that foreigners are awed by the immense wealth that he has stolen. He failed to realize that if they see anything big in him — that is his enormous and irrational greed.
It is the elite of this country who ought to hang their heads in shame for promoting and perpetuating the wealth gap that haunts this nation. It is the elite who can understand the national problem and do something about it. But from all indications, our elite have lost their Christian conscience.
We’re supposed to be rich in natural and manpower resources but we suffer from unexplained poverty. The Japanese do not even have the natural resources that we possess and yet look at what their nationalism accomplished.
Systematically benighted, the unkindest cut would be to blame the poor who are the victims and not the cause of the national wealth gap. If ever they are prone to electing false Messiahs, it is because of the Information and Education Gaps that the elite have perpetuated.
Between the conscience-less elite and the clueless poor, there is the largely inutile Filipino middle class, supposedly the initiator of reform and meaningful change in society. Sadly, our middle class is more engrossed in debating the unimportant and is largely oblivious of the truly important.
Just look at all those so-called civil society groups as they rush to grab newspaper headlines and broadcast media sound bytes instead of pursuing real solutions to the core problems of the country.
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