Filipinos Don’t Do Insecurity

As per usual, I arrived at this blog topic circuitously as one thought led to another. Here is the thought process . . .

  1. What if I wrote a blog and some really bright people showed up?
  1. What if you gave a party and no one showed up?
  1. What if you gave a party and too many people showed up?
  1. What if I wrote a blog and no one showed up?
  1. I have yet to meet an insecure Filipino.
Ahahahahaha. That’s exactly the line of thought. Somewhere between point 4 and point 5 came the swift deduction that all these questions belie a certain anxiety attached to insecurity. But Filipinos don’t seem to fall victim to those anxieties.

Janis Joplin

They arrive at any time, schedule things at the last minute and go with the flow, and react rather than plan. I’m not sure watches are sold in the Philippines.

Loosey goosey is an understatement by multiple degrees.

I’ve never met an insecure Filipino.
Well, not in the way I have met dithering or equivocating or unsure Americans. Americans are always questioning themselves. Will I succeed? Is this what I am supposed to do? What will the (neighbor, boss, sister, parent, pastor, boyfriend, guy on the street) think? I’d better go read “Dear Abby” to get some rules here. Or whoever replaced Dear Abby . . . advice for the lovelorn  and lifelost . . .
Filipinos rule the roost on certitude.
It is fascinating to me, for I am aware that hyper-sensitivity and anger are mainstream personal qualities for a lot of Filipinos, reflected in endless clan or election wars, a kind of bitterness like the Hatfield and McCoy feud that lasted for generations. Shotguns and 45’s and submachine gun killers of journalists.
Let’s just say it can be intense.
And then there’s the win/lose contest that rules every conversation, a need to raise oneself up and put down one’s antagonist, who may be one’s best friend, with subtle little underminings like “why did you pick THAT color? or “your chicken is fat and stupid!” or “why did you go out with THAT guy?” or “it was a little too spicy for me!” So there is clearly a vertical hierarchy of esteem that is being relentlessly pursued here.
Yet Filipinos project a self-assuredness that is impenetrable.
“Not a penny to my name . . .”

And they lead lifestyles that would drive JoeAm into a blithering idiocy of anxiety, like, the day laborers and tricycle peddlers who have NO assured income  . . . ever . . . for a lifetime. Joe had his 30 year working career with health benefits and a double dip on pension, private and Social Security. Emphasis on the Security.

Perhaps it’s that the more we have, the more we are afraid of losing it.
That’s what drives American insecurity, I’m sure, and is why President Barak Obama may be tossed from office no matter if he saved the planet from catastrophic economic collapse. What have you done for me LATELY Barak baby, because I am tired of awakening every fricking morning with insecurity about my job and future and the value of my heavily mortgaged house!
Put the wisdom of Janice Joplin side by side with that of the wisest of the wise men.“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”. She ‘n Bobby McGee figured that out on a truck ride across the States from Baton Rouge, singin’ every song that driver knew.
  • “Security is just another word for nothing left to lose.”
That, I think, is the true state of insecurity in the Philippines. What’s to be insecure about if you have so little to lose?
I’m all for an all-out push to drive insecurity in the Philippines up, up, up. More introspection. More second-guessing of SELF instead of the other guy. More questioning.
Like, do I really want to cheat my way to success?
And do I really have to prove myself every time I meet someone?
Up with insecurity!  Up with introspection!
Up with wealth and a career and a good life and lots to lose!
29 Responses to “Filipinos Don’t Do Insecurity”
  1. Anonymous says:

    After surviving a harrowing day with barely enough pesos earned to sustain his family, a typical barangay father would answer nonchalantly when asked how to provide for next day: "Bahala na bukas!" I think Filipinos are devoid of stress, they are generally happy-go-lucky and carefree. And like you JoeAm, this retired Fil-Am have yet to meet an insecure Filipino family!Rehired Annuitant

  2. Anonymous says:

    As the writer F. Sionil-Jose would say, Filipinos are shallow, just like many an American can be shallow, but Filipinos, unlike Americans, cannot afford to be shallow in the face of too much poverty around. DocB

  3. Anonymous says:

    You have not met a senator or congressman? Doubtful. They are the most insecured Filipinos.Look at the bills they filed:1. Criminalize libel because they do not want to be criticized2. Passed FCD law because they want to hide their stolen dollars3. Refused to pass FOI because they are afraid everyone would be exposing their dirty deals, projects and pocketing of pork4. passed cybercrime law because they dony want to be attacked on Facebook and Twittet5. New " medical parole bill" because their lady old santa wanted to be kept from prison at all.6. Refused to pass anti dynasty law because they are so insecured from losing political power. 7 They are surrounded by bodyguards when nobody threatens them unless they are abusive and offensive.Basically you're right for there are more poor carefree resilient Filipinos than insecure plastic politicians. Johnny Lin

  4. Anonymous says:

    Filipino politicians belong to a different breed of animals. They are greedy suckers and heartless leeches. Their families live off other peoples hard work. These scums of the earth are unprincipled and don't deserved to be addressed "your honor." They are the ones who cause the miseries of the wretchedly poor Filipinos. Heaven waits for all the suffering Filipinos and eternal damnation awaits these goddamn Filipino politicos!-Fed-up OFW

  5. "I don't care about tomorrow, no worries." Yep. Now how in the world can I get to that admirable mental state . . . .I must say, retirement helps . . .

  6. Anonymous says:

    For that, fedup OFW, you would need a Pinoy equivalent of Abraham Lincoln the vampire killer. Now, where is the Alex Boncayao Brigade when you need them? Maybe coopted by the local trapo-warlord?DocB

  7. Interesting, I've not read F. Sionil-Jose. Shallow. I'd have to reflect on that. I'd say simple maybe, versus the complex American, where complexity is formed around wealth and active engagement with social issues, thanks to a more vibrant media and better education. Simplicity is sometimes emotionally more secure, I think.

  8. Johnny, you prove my contention that insecurity comes with having wealth, but I'd have to add "power" to the equation. They are insecure about losing that power. I think I need to haul out my class distinctions, and the evidence of insecurity would rise as the classes got wealthier and more powerful.Also, I just read that C.J. Sereno travels with four body guards, and even wants them to fly business class so they can sit close to her. Her staff convinced her to fly three in economy and one rode with her in business class. An amusing little tale, I think. Insecurity, or prudent?

  9. Fed Up, yes, I sometimes share your opinion. But I think there is a bubble of "public accountability" that is starting to form around the politicians, partly a function of the President's good governance push, and partly a function of the internet being a better watchdog. If those two forces continue to grow, it will behoove the politicians to clean up their acts.

  10. Edgar Lores says:

    Err, ah, meet me, the insecure Filipino. How am I insecure? Let me count some ways:1. Although retired, I always wear my reliable digital Casio watch.2. The watch is set 5 minutes ahead of standard time.3. When going for an appointment – doctor, dentist, or meeting my wife at the mall – I arrive at least 10 minutes ahead of the appointed time using my adjusted watch.4. When I leave the house and am already outside, I sometimes go back to check if the stove is off and the doors are locked.5. When I pass a mirror, I check if my hair is combed and no leafy bits are stuck to my teeth.6. My login to the computer is password-protected and I have Norton 360 installed.7. I always perform a spelling and grammar check on what I write.8. I google terms and phrases to ensure I use them correctly.9. I use financial software to inventory my assets and liabilities and to keep track that my income balances my expenses.10. I’m not sure what more to add.11. When criticized, I do not react with anger but evaluate whether the criticism is true. If true, I laugh at my stupidity; if false, I laugh in relief.12. When my wife says I’m wrong, I agree with her even though I know I'm right.

  11. It is a pleasure to meet you, Edgar. You appear impeccably honest, too, but we won't get into that . . . it's a different blog.Now that number 12, I must commit to memory. I've wondered why my clothes keep getting dumped outside the front door . . .

  12. Anonymous says:

    @Edgar, Is it insecurity or Obssesive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) otherwise known as perfectionist who are also known as ill tempered. Joe #12 is called differently. In our world it is "inunder"He he heJohnny Lin

  13. Ah, "inunder". I appreciate your help in expanding my local vocabulary. I dare not allege that she is also OCD about dirt or I'd be inunderforever.

  14. Anonymous says:

    @Johny Lin, @Edgar, @Joe, We call number 12 differently in our neck of the woods. We tease and tag him Mr Understanding, loose tranlation of under de saya so our American drinking buddies will make sense of the friendly banterings!Olympia WA fan

  15. Edgar Lores says:

    @Johnny, thanks. I've read up on OCD and I might be at best borderline. I don't wash my hands excessively but I've hoarded books and CDs. I do worry about finances but permit myself to splurge at times. I was a programmer so had to be meticulous and perfectionistic. I do not exhibit compulsive behavior but I have been accused of being self-absorbed. I am deeply introspective, always aware of my moods and thoughts in Buddhistic self-analysis. I don't believe I am ill-tempered; am very emotionally balanced per item 11. I have meditated on death and have no fear of it; more like curious what's beyond the veil. My biggest obsession would be searching for enlightenment in matters small and large. And, oh, I have a good sense of humor.

  16. Coco says:

    Interesting observations, but I think that Filipinos excel in insecurity, they only speak a different insecurity language to express it, some examples / thoughts:1.Coming late is a sign of insecurity, what people coming late real want to tell is “I am important because I had something more important to do.” 2.The lack of fear has a different reason. If you only have half a sachet of shampoo in your cabinet (you buy one, wash your hair with half and keep the rest for tomorrow) then disaster tastes different then when you have a few spare bottles of different brands. You have little to lose. Filipinos are masters in keeping things small, you see many more Santo Niño’s than adult Jesuses on a Crucifix, less to fear from a Child God?3.Insecurity you see plenty in every parking. All have to park the difficult way, in reverse. They think they have to prove that they are good drivers, taking 5 minutes to do so. Insecurity you see when they have to pass an obstacle by car, they need at least one meter at either side.4.Insecurity you see in the abundance of papaya soap. I whiten my skin so nobody will think that I’m an ordinary Filipino.

  17. Ah, very good, Coco. Insecurity is rife, it is just expressed offensively rather than in a dithering, introspective way. I wondered if I was going to get called on this. Johnny did, Edgar proved it. And you got to the heart of it. Insecurity is for sure there, just expressed differently.I actually gave it away three lines up from the end when I wrote "And do I really have to prove myself every time I meet someone?"And your examples are marvelous.

  18. I am a secure Filipino. I know I will go to heaven provided I confess my sins before God turn off my switch. I am a secure Filipino because I scare the wealthy if they do not share their wealth and feed me they will not go to heaven. Most of all, what is the use of keeping their wealth when they cannot bring it with them.I am a secure Filipino because I have cousins, relatives and friends to provide for me. Because it is their religious duty so they will go to heaven.I am a secure Filipino, because I am in the U.S. If I lose my job, I stand in line at grouchy local unemployment office and ask for unemployment benefits. The U.S. Government can take care of me. I'll suck the benefits dry while I can.I am also an insecure Filipino because I just do not trust Filipinos. They may have prayer beads dangling on their hands while reading the bible and on the other is a sharpened knife ready to stab me in the back.I just love Filipinos. Never a dull moment regardless it is an inconvenient embarassing circumstance being a Filipino. But sure do they are entertaining bunch. To this day, they are still tweaking their constitution whose tweakers do not even know who conjured their constituition and absolutely knows where it was plagiarized.

  19. I am an insecure Filipino because I cannot leave the house unlocked and unmanned and hungry dogs untethered.I am an insecure Filipino becuase I cannot allow my tisay daughter unaccompanied to buy candies. Despite accompanied I am still not secure.I am an insecure Filipino because If I do not invite them for salo-salo they get angry and accused me of being "others" and not talk to me anymore.I am an insecure Filiipino because what I am reading in the papers may be mind conditioning and misinformation, low intelligence and illogical only goot englischtzes-snobberies to try and flaunt their literary excellence.AM AN AN INSECURE FILIPINO they hate the truth that I spew. It is not because of me. It is beczause of the toxic and corrosive way of how I deliver the truth. Of course, benign0 can deliver it in a way that sounded as everything is alright like American news anchor absence of emotions.

  20. I am secure Filipino because in one American study, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT AMERICANS THAN AMERICANS KNOW ABOUT THEMSELVES.I am secure Filipino because we are highly critical of englsichtzes usage. We are the protector of American English language. We go nuclear if we hear anyone mangling the use of English. We spew venom when we encounter wrong spelling. We laugh at REAL AMERICANS for not writing goot written English. I AM A SECURE FILIPINO because Intelligence Quotient is measured in perfection of Englischtzes language which we are very goot at.I am a secure Filipino because we believe we have the most beautiful women more than Argentina and Brazil. We win in every category of beauty contests. We export mail-order-brides and college graduate maids-to-order FedEx 24-hour delivery fresh and easy with perfeckt englsichtzes as added bonus. Just ask for 2×2 color picture and full body shots to their liking.

  21. I am proud Filipino. Manny Pacquiao makes me proud and secure again. To heck that Filiipnos has no life-altering contributions to the world. We do not care we do not excel in Mathematics and Science. We do not care we are not goot in education, as long as we have Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempenco, ARnold Pineda and all the beauty queens. Education is sooooo civilized, cultured and snotty.

  22. AJ says:

    "Americans are always questioning themselves. "Joe, You've just classified me as an American instead of a Filipino.I think it's in the upbringing, education, and the entertainment themes and choices that affect us as we grow.I've come from a lower-middle-class family, I believed pride and honor was the only thing I had that I've become to conscious of how people see me.I'm the first born son and a first born grandson, I've always wanted my family to be proud of me and see me as a potential patriarch. Once upon a time, failure was not an option.After watching/reading movies, cartoons, and books of the Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, King Arthur, and Star Wars, I've wanted to become a knight; chivalry had been my guide and I've wanted to do the right thing all the time.I was insecure and I still am; I'm still conflicted about coming on time or being late to meetings, the former due to my obsession of doing things perfectly, the latter out of some strange fear of making the others feel bad about being late themselves; I get depressed when I fail a goal, I feel ashamed when I can't fulfill my word.Still, I'd like to think that I am good at reacting; it's really useful when you're about to get hit by running kids, careless drivers, or a pole in the middle of the street (Sometimes, I walk while reading or with my eyes closed). Maybe that's my Filipino blood acting.

  23. AJ says:

    P.S. I think a right mix of superiority and inferiority complexes is useful.Just enough superiority for a person to do his best to prove it but not too much that he'd stop trying, thinking he can do everything perfectly. Of course, an inferiority complex is useful such that a person believes he can do more, better, but not too much that he'd give up without tryingI notice some of my countrymen are prone to having extreme versions of both complexes, believing too much in themselves to stop trying to do anything ("I can do it if I want to" seems to be a common excuse) or lacking any motivation to improve at all ("I can't do it/He's better/Nothing will change").

  24. Anonymous says:

    @ OlympiaThat must be Sasquatch country you're talking about your forest.In our polluted smoggy enclave, Mr Understanding suffers severe Asthma? When asked for decision, his answer is always "Ast ma wife" Joe and Maude must have respiratory disorder too but they got it from the environs of Mile High city, great spot in breaking virginity. According to statistic, there are more medical weed centers than Starbucks in that hyperventilating stratostosphere.Johnny Lin

  25. Ah, Mariano, I read your shots and laugh . . . and cry, . . . and laugh . . . and cry. I can't respond. You got it all. Beautiful.

  26. Welcome to Americanism, AJ. haha. Well, I think INTROSPECTION is a very good thing, and so is having a CONSCIENCE, to weigh right an wrong when it is not always easy or beneficial to do right. I don't think the two combined represent insecurity. More judgment.But you are right. Insecurity as you have described things, the emotions attached to wanting to do well and failing for example, are constructive drivers to do better. If we did not have them we'd be lazy slugs, and probably not very clean ones either.And I also agree that both the Philippines and America contain extremes of both complexes. Too many both places! We need more of us well-balanced insecure/secure types.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Many Filipinos are insecure because they see themselves going "upshit creek without a paddle." The swift current of fear anduncertainty is too tiring to navigate when its more promising togo with the flow. In the end being secure or insecure becomes a questionof survival. Many Filipinos are gifted with survival instinct….heavier thana one ton anchor on a ten foot skiff!

  28. Nice characerization. I'm doing a blog for tomorrow about subservience being an ethical value of the Philippines. It fits your description of what it takes to survive.As for your boat, the anchor can hold the boat steady if the line is long enough or the water shallow enough. But it will sink it if the conditions are different. I think Filipinos have a very long line. Elastic, even.

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