Pinoy Pride: A Floppy Ball of String?

I will resist the notion of looking up what psychologists say pride represents in favor of just thinking about it. Indeed, let me fall back on the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary to concoct a definition of pride. It is a noun, which means it is something of itself. It is not an adjective or verb or adverb or, God forbid, preposition. My wife can’t get the existing prepositions right without adding another to her list of confusions.
Prideful is an adjective. But pride itself does not automatically attach to a human being unless something happens, unless something is achieved. The Bible condemns pride as being a precursor to a fall, like in one of those self-involved people who lord it over lessers and end up eating crow. Kind of like a rooster might preen its feathers before being beheaded and served for dinner. Or put into the arena to have its eyeballs pecked out.
Why am I thinking about this Jamie Dimon character who heads  J.P. Morgan Bank right now? This arrogant dude just lost U.S. $2 billion of his shareholder’s money. What is the adjective for hubris. Hubritic?
  • Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary: “Pride is a feeling of gratification associated with an accomplishment of self or others.”
The two key attributes of pride: gratification and accomplishment.
I remember as a kid finding great joy in unraveling a baseball or golf ball to see what it was made of. You’d cut through the shell, leather or rubber, and get to a pile of string. The string in the golf ball in those days was rubberized, really fun to snap at an irritating little sister because it was long, but not firm enough to sting much. The string around a baseball was regular string, thin and strong, good for kites, and would go from Denver to Puerto Rico, where the ball was likely made. In other words, there was a lot of string. And in the center of both would be this little rubber ball, really cool and bouncy, and perhaps the precursor to those balls you can buy at the toy store today that bounce to the moon if you drop them hard enough.
Now pride is not the rubber ball in the middle. The rubber ball is self-esteem. Pride is the string we wrap around esteem as we go from incident to incident achieving things. Get an “A” on the midterm. Add a piece of string. Get a “D” and rip a piece of string off the ball and toss it into the weeds. Get a sizable amount of string and we get to something called confidence. Someone hacks at our ball with an axe, we lose that confidence.
So pride is important because it accumulates. And the odd thing is, we can add to our string based on what Manny Pacquiao does, or Miss Philippines, or Jessica Sanchez on American Idol. And the good thing about this kind of “associative pride” is that we don’t lose any string if Manny gets clubbed by some Mexican boxer named Morales. He just had a bad day. But also, the associative string is not very long, not so very strong. It makes us happy, but not confident in ourselves.
Now if we ourselves were to club a Mexican boxer named Morales, our pride would be enormous. That would be a personal achievement and build our confidence immeasurably. That would be why Jessica Sanchez cries when she puts her entire being into a killer note and nails it. We all should have that opportunity in life. To lay everything we have on the line and hit a killer note.
Screw the 15 minutes of fame. Let’s just all have a moment when we reveal every thing we are to the world, and come out a winner. To ourselves.
That is pride.
Now the kind of pride the Bible refers to as bad is when you have all string and no rubber ball in the middle, or a rubber ball the size of a pea surrounded by a lot of ratty yarn. I prefer the word “hubris” to pride in that instance. It is patchwork pride aimed at proving oneself worthwhile.
Natural pride is quieter, something you don’t have to show to others all the time. Because it is personal.
That’s where we get to the Philippines.
I know Filipinos have a lot of pride because they keep telling me so. Pinoy pride. It can be seen every time Manny Pacquiao fights or the President meets with U.S. President Obama and stands equal in that space in that time. I’m guessing Jessica Sanchez is assured of winning American Idol because: (1) she is spectacularly talented, and (2) about 300,000 prideful U.S. Filipinos will be texting votes for two hours after her performances.
But I don’t know how deep the ball of string called Pinoy pride runs or why so much of it seems to be so loud.
Pride = gratification from accomplishment.
If your nation is routinely the last horse finishing the race, where do you find your pride?
When your country does not seem to prize personal achievement, but rather rewards acquaintanceship or even cheating, where do you find your pride? I suppose attached to what SOMEONE ELSE can do, or do for you. Or what you can get away with.
I repeat. What someone else does . . . or does for you. Or what you can get away with.
It seems to me the missing dynamic, or underdeveloped dynamic, in the Philippines is the pride of personal accomplishment. It is not nurtured here. It is not taught in the schools, where “obey” takes precedence over “innovate and achieve”. It is not instilled in the workplace, where opportunity for the highly capable is blocked by some twit’s uncle. It is not injected into everyday conversation where the main interpersonal dynamic is to criticize, insult and blame rather than praise, be courteous and raise up others.
I’d personally like to see emerging in the Philippines a quieter kind of pride producing a quieter kind of leader. One who does not have to boast about how good he is, but merely energizes himself and the nation by getting good things done. And sets an example in his determined approach to things.
I’d like to see that in the workplace, country-wide. Capability being the reason people get ahead. Not friendship or favor.
I’d like to see it taught in the schools. The VALUES of aspiration, good-sportsmanship in competition, and achievement.
The ball of string here is too thin, made of weak associative threads instead of strong twine arising from determined personal accomplishment.
The government’s job ought to be to create more opportunities for individual Filipinos to achieve and feel good about how they are growing. Beyond that, to see opportunity on the horizon. Not achieve in the sense of obey and follow rote instruction to get a good grade, the grade being the reason for the pride. But to innovate, be responsible, to find personal gratification in what one does for oneself, and for others.
I love the term “to aspire”.  It is a fresh idea, clean and powerful. To me, aspiration is the process of developing oneself and finding pride in the way we achieve something meaningful.
That’s why I speak frequently of a fair employment law that ends patronization as the basis for hiring and replaces it with capability. To generate pride, not just profit. And why I argue for a revamping of school curricula and the method of teaching to put innovation, fair play and achievement front and center. Then real pride will grow in our young people and the partnership of confidence and determination will drive the nation forward. With a base of confidence and ambition to leverage, the rest of the things kids learn in school will mean more.
The Philippines today seems to be a nation that does not comprehend the “accomplishment” part of pride.
So the floppy ball of Pinoy string does not always fly straight and true, or for distance.
So I ask again: If your nation is routinely the last horse finishing the race, where do you find your pride?
Well, I have a better answer than latching onto the accomplishments of others or cheating. Or making excuses or casting blames.
It’s found in loyalty to the good people and resource-rich homeland, in the vast opportunities ahead, in the determination to come from behind, in the recognition that it is easy to gloat and hard, but intensely rewarding, to truck through a struggle.
For sure, I am proud to live in the Philippines. 
26 Responses to “Pinoy Pride: A Floppy Ball of String?”
  1. Anonymous says:

    From: My rocking chair (aka- thecricket)!Well stated, and I hope to see more "good stuff" from this BLOG….I wish your observations should be on the front page of every Pinoy newspaper and be the "table talk" of the TV talk shows…I WISH!Question: What is the cure/solution to thisproblem? Note: I was expected to be a good little alter boy, then Cub Scout, then Boy Scout, then Explorer Scout. Besides the 10 Commandments of the Big "B" we were conditioned-taught-educated-instructed… with many other laws, rules, regulaltions, manners, ethics, postive values which probably did me some good (I have survived to be a witness and tell the tale!).I suppose one answer might be putting the "load"-blame-responsiblity-corrective action… on the family, schools, church, government…but how to do this in a country that has exhibited such poor "results" (by their fruit you shall know them!)?Maybe a "do-over" (vs. make-over") would bea good place to start! I do not have any faith in the so-called "hot air" newsmedia, the mis-educational system,the "pile-of-ticks-ians" (enough ticks and fleas can kill a dog u know!), the "old-fart"bloodsuckers, and the "surf-based families"…so I suggest that the dominating clergy should be the "starting point"!Please understand that I consider all of the CRISIS my island family faces has to do with the subject of MANAGEMENT, ADMINISTRATION, EDUCATION, RIGHT ACTION AND PROVIDING WORKABLE SOLUTIONS! AS our island churches do not seem to producing good fruit/results then I am all for a "change of administration"! I suggeststart with a immediate change of thehigh and low priests!I have very little respect for the CHURCH (by my own bad and varied experiences) whenit acts badly–especially as regards the subject of war, pestilance, population, deathtime, etc.! I have even less respect for the Churches who sponsor snake-dances, beingtaken away in the so-called "spirit", and who "bible thump"….!There are many, many priests (see google fordefinitions). I have met and worked with many Anglican, Episcopal, Greek Orthadox, etc….I love them all…I love the educated ones most of all, I love the married ones even better than any of the rest of the "pack". SO MY VOTE: WE find a "priesT" that KNOWS ANDUNDERSTANDS THE "BIBLE BASIC CONCEPTS", HASA THEO-LOGICAL as well as a real-world experience, (has spent 100 hours in hospitalemergnecy rooms, 300 days in a fox-holes, 50 hours in a morgue/funeral home)has taken some management classes and has KNOWLEGE of what it takes to survive in our "world lifeboat"!THAT PRIEST I WILL GLADLY FOLLOW INTO AND OUT OF HELL!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thecricket has spoken the truth….The answer to your question is in your note and you know it. Yes sir, DepEd had done away or neglected the cubs scout, boys and girls scout. GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct) was removed too from primary and secondary school curriculum. Congress outlawed the PMT (Phil Military training) and ROTC. The building blocks of nation building and producing a productive citizens is slowly in the brink of extinction. Priests are out of touch of reality; they dont go to hospitals, they dont visit poor people in the barangay and above all they dont visit schools. They just disappear in their comfort zone, but one thing for sure they are in chuch on Sundays and fiestas to collect donations mostly from the poor people they have neglected. Neither I, have much respect to the church.We are in trouble.Its Jack

  3. brianitus says:

    Joe,That odd thing, pride, again.Don't you find it odd that this country, whose population is diverse, cannot seem to find a winning combination for success? People say that the Filipino is talented. Good at what, exactly? Maybe if we let out the hot air a bit to decrease cranial size, more blood can go back into actual mental circulation for use in problem solving.Reading the news yesterday, I chanced upon a comment from another reader. It made sense and was crazy at the same time. The reader/ commenter encourages this country to wage war to protect its sovereignty. In his mind, it will bring the people together into performing a great collective action. Um, I don't think a great common grave is something we should aspire for. But yeah, collective effort, we need that.Pride stems from accomplishment. I am not too familiar with the goals this country set except for tired political rhetoric every election season. Is the lack of a grand vision to blame? I don't mean a gesture of going to the moon and back. It can be simpler. In my mind, the country is lost in the goals that it wishes to achieve. Its citizens are in a state of denial, envy and depression.Have we been caught up too much in the challenges of daily living? If we are lucky, we live to work to live another day — just to get a semblance of breathing room from depression. We wish that someday we'll rise up from among the crowd of the tired masses — a champion of some sort. We cheer those who make it — and probably secretly wish that it was us. We draw pride from their efforts because we know we cannot offer much. We suffer in envy because we know this is as good as it will ever get. Like, how depressing is that?Maybe it's time that the Filipino come up with his OWN dream and not that version forced upon them by consumerist media. One has to accept that it's actually OKAY if you don't own a car. It's okay not to have the latest gadget. Government should ensure that it makes it worth the while of every working Filipino to engage in productive work. Make them see that all those babies they are producing have a future. At the very least, one does not even have to look further at what the basic needs of the Filipino are — FOOD and SHELTER. After meeting those needs, the Filipino can graduate to solving other problems. Can the average Filipino buy himself and his family three DECENT NUTRITIOUS meals on a daily basis? I don't mean that instant noodle junk and dried fish. If we don't have a way to slow down population growth, we might as well work on ensuring that everybody in the country eats — DECENTLY.Putting nutritious food on everyone's plate — I can't see that as any less grand a vision. It's more fun to eat in the Philippines? The Philippines, the land where no one goes hungry. :DAgain, sorry for the extra long comment. I hope it still makes sense.If you're wondering how is pride coming in the idea above, it's easier to think about grand plans if you're well fed. :DCheers, Joe!

  4. Jim, what to do, what to do. Keep pushing as near as I can figure. We seem to be seeing the same things. I write on four subject arenas, in the main: education, social values, the Church, and the President. Plus other topical items, generally incidents. Like that armada of Chinese boats right over there.I am encouraged to some extent because I think the new social media turn big brother on its ear and allow the people to watch government through a telescope with a very broad lens. So you see incidents like the flare-up of Noynoying if the President is perceived as lazy. And a lot of pressure, for he never knows when something will flare up and bite his butt.And there are a few good things popping up: a rational relationship with the U.S., a hammer being taken to corruption, casinos in Manila, earnest discussions with Muslim leaders, tourism taking off. The nation still lacks executive management skills and foresight (is reactive), is heavily influenced by the desires of the few powerful rich families, and is outrageously poor. It is disappointing to see the President not speaking as an advocate of the RH Bill.But you know, life is the path. I only got three merit badges in Boy Scouts (leatherwork, camping and shooting) but overcame those deficiencies. I figure the Philippines can, too, with enough of us pushing.I agree the Catholic Church needs to get relevant to real-world issues – the problems and the SOLUTIONS – or be declared officially irrelevant.

  5. Cheers back. I appreciate the commitment (and pride) that went into your "extra long" comment. I am, as you know, writing up a scale for rating the President and have come to the final element "Timeline Architecture". Put in other terms, a business plan. There is none. It is a disaster. The President's web sites are pathetic. I have zero confidence he is anything but reactive, and obsessed with jailing a few people. I have no idea where he thinks the nation ought to be headed or how he is going to get beyond "wing it". I was highly disappointed in what I found . . . or did not find, more correctly.I'd suggest looking around for an organization that can field a popular 2016 Presidential candidate drawn not from the legislature or "families"; perhaps from business. Then we ambitious rational types can organize around him. That is just a hatchling of an idea, the practicality of which may be thin.

  6. brianitus says:

    Joe,I think you have a better chance checking out the list of promises he made in the campaign. I think ABS-CBN has a checklist of that in their website.2016 is too near to come up with a candidate meeting your specifications. To be fair to PNoy, he's suggesting that the next president come from LP. That suggests a continuity …Continuity of what. That I don't know.Cheers!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Philippines is built to stifle people from reaching their full potential. Our values are corrupt, hence the endless parade of "scapegoats" why our country is screwed up.Outliers like Charice or Pacquiao never found success in this country when the began their career. Charice was actually really big in Korea first (they're up on Youtube) before she got picked up by the big music labels in the States. Had she started here, she'd have failed because she isn't a conventionally "pretty" mestiza. Pacquiao was a nobody until a certain American decided to train him and make him a boxing superstar.The best teachers and professionals are leaving by the droves to seek better opportunities abroad.Seems people that have genuine aspirations are those that have become disillusioned with the system. Meanwhile, the rest of the population is perfectly content associating their pride to these outliers. It's a endless cycle, and I don't think our core values as Filipinos in this archipelago will change any time soon. Lets just pray for those outliers, eh? -patrioticflip

  8. President Obama's chef. Filipina. Designer Lhullier in Los Angeles taking care of Gweneth Paltrow's clothes. Filipina. A bazillion responsible medical technicians. All trained up overseas. All we need is a business exec or two to return home and organize things. Brother. I'm the only guy with any optimism around this place.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The man's keeping the people down! -PF

  10. Anonymous says:

    I was being facetious in my last comment. Though it's still disheartening all our best minds are leaving the country. Not sure the 'mainstream' population realizes the impact this'll have to the country's nation building. – PF

  11. It is rather fascinating looked at through that light. Put up a scale and weigh the overseas talent and education against that still at home. The exodus has been quite striking. Not just maids, for sure.

  12. Anonymous says:

    'Course, the outliers here in the Philippines are the Chinese. Exiled from South China due to wars, rebellions and all that, they were forced to do well here. They cleaned house, so to speak. Good on em'. -PF

  13. Anonymous says:

    FROM: My rocking chair (aka-islander-jim-e-cricket)!Question: The Pres made a comment during a interview with either CNN or FOX NEWS CHANNEL–STATED HE HAD A 10 YEAR PLAN….!HAS ANYONE HEARD OR SEEN A OFFICAL "PALACE" NEWS RELEASE OR DISCRIPTON OF THIS TEN YEAR PLAN….?Please provide any info….thanks.

  14. Jim, interesting you would ask. I spent a couple of hours this morning rummaging around for something like that and hit nothing but brick walls. The official web site has not been updated in years. The office of communications does press releases and speeches; it is a "PR" site. The Department of Finance has the 2012 budget but no business plan. The Facebook site is annoying in its relentless praises from the masses; it has little content except announcements of this achievement or that.If you find it, let me know.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hey Joe, would be even more fascinating if you write something why mostly of the best mind and others want to join that exodus. As we all know there is no economic and job security in the Philippines and there must compelling reasons. I mean if a man makes P150/day and a 18-watts light bulb costs P180, what choice does a man has?Now, if we look at the other side of the coin, there are people who could afford that light bulb a million times espcially when a man is in the mid-level management in govt agencies. PF has a great point that the poor is being restrained to stay poor by way of economic injustice. I think these poor people which belong the lowest social class has no pride according to Humpty Dumpty New World dictionary. Joe, is it possible that one could loss that Filipino pride? Its Abe

  16. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e rocking chair (aka-the cricket)I hope GOD still has a "MASTER PLAN"….and HE has kept it up-dated/reviewed/revised/and had drop dead dates…!

  17. I found this plan this morning. It is in English but parts still need an interpreter. I have no idea if it is a working plan or was done for show at the outset. A lot of work went into it.

  18. Wow, good question. Can one lose Filipino (or American, for me) pride? I suppose yes. But more I think one retains pride in the good moments or involvement, whilst getting highly dismayed at the stupid stuff. For me, I am highly dismayed at how American leaders have lost the honorableness of government service, in trade-off for the expedience of getting re-elected. Also, that is interesting, your point that by definition, the poor don't have much pride. Because they don't achieve much. That's pretty heavy.

  19. My reply from a couple of days ago appears to have been dumped into the internet ether where things disappear. The short of it is if the Catholic Church remains irrelevant to progress, it will be declared irrelevant. Period.

  20. Anonymous says:

    this is a great topic to write about Joe, and i think you've really hit the nail on the head right here. Most Filipinos (in my experience, at least) tend to get extremely jealous when someone achieves or over-achieves at something. They then spend the rest of their effort trying to drag the achiever down rather that pulling themselves up, its a vicious cycle where no self-development takes place. I can truly say that our education system lacks the teaching of the proper values which can pull this place out of the doldrums. I believe what sets the American system apart is the ability to question authority, to dare to be different and own it. Not to the point of inciting anarchy, but you get the drift. This links very well to your delta drive articles, as well as showing that merely claiming the achievement of one as the achievement of all gets all nowhere.Ybañez-Anderson(a.k.a. Andy)

  21. Anonymous says:

    i get quite annoyed when someone here says that they're proud to be filipino only because Pacquiao knocked out Hatton or something along those lines. what did they really do? you can cheer and support him all you want, but in the end, HE'S the one who has to throw the punches. Just my venting.Andy

  22. Anonymous says:

    could we go so far as to say that they're being irrelevant on purpose? holding the masses back on purpose? Jack said it himself, tho only sure thing is the fact that they're out on Sunday to collect, perhaps also to spew out empty promises.Ybañez-Anderson (Andy)

  23. Andy, ahh, you've been prowling about the JoeAm archives, I see. That delta drive article is a favorite of mine, because I was finally able to nail what is going on. The lack of notable achievement.And, yes, associative pride has its limitations. Pacquiao hits the "macho drive" for guys, so he is definitely able to stoke the pride.People like you are the hope of a new and progressive Philippines, I think. Realists, rather than hung up on show.

  24. I doubt some cardinal is sitting on his throne saying "let's keep the Philippines poor because then we'll get rich". I rather think they are a house of cards, and if they pull one out (birth control education) the whole pile will fall. Rather like they think THEIR church is built in sand. Weak rather than strong enough to gain further enlightenment.

  25. SRVfan says:

    I think "Pinoy Pride" has been grossly exaggerated by the media, as well as Anti-Pinoy and GRP as well. In other words, a myth.What is seen online does not translate to reality. Nobody gives a shit here. It wasn't the end of the world when Jessica Sanchez did not win. Society still ran normally. People still talk about their usual business. Ditto in every Pacquiao match, except traffic is empty. Good for me.But I can't speak for Pinoys abroad.I think AP and GRP capitalize on this "imagined pride" so they can still be relevant.

  26. "What is seen online does not translate to reality."That is a very insightful point. Those of us who blog circulate amongst a small share of pseudo involved intellectuals who do not represent much of the broad Filipino population. I think we get full of ourselves, sometimes, as we write, hoping to reach an opinion maker who can move things toward our thinking. Rather like the headline writers on the newspapers, they have a job to do, be sensationalists . . . but they aren't real-world. Good of you to visit and make a sharp point.

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