The Filipino of the Future


We each walk our individual truths, shaded by what we experience and learn. Yours is different than mine. It’s why we disagree so much. Some see the guy who revealed U.S. state secrets as a hero, others see him as a traitor. The facts are the same, but our view of those facts is not the same.

And so we argue, each opponent in the debate believing that the concept in his head is the right one.

Actually both sides of many arguments are right in context, but Ego and ignorance do not allow us that generosity of perspective. So only one view can be right, to us. Our view.

It is just amazing to me. How little we know. How confident we are that what we know is right. What is this quality that allows us to operate from a base of gross ignorance with such overweening rectitude? It’s like cold fusion. It defies logic. But we use it to power our deeds.

  • rectitude (noun)   [rek-ti-tood, -tyood] 1. rightness of principle or conduct; moral virtue: the rectitude of her motives. 2. correctness: rectitude of judgment. 3. straightness.

Most of us are stoneheads of righteous certitude, but a few souls seem to have a refined awareness of where others are coming from. They are good at nurturing, compassion, following society’s rules, and negotiation. When you can extend into other’s shoes, you pick up a lot, from the compassions of the golden rule to guessing how someone else will react.

But most of us are busy adhering tightly to the rigid boundaries of our beliefs. The most hidebound of the stoneheads are the extremists, either left or right, often religious, who believe so ardently that their vision is correct that they set out to kill those with a different vision.

  • hidebound (adjective)  [hahyd-bound]  1. narrow and rigid in opinion; inflexible: a hidebound pedant. 2. oriented toward or confined to the past; extremely conservative: a hidebound philosopher. 3. (of a horse, cow, etc.) having the back and ribs bound tightly by the hide.

It seems to me that a lot of Filipinos tend to be highly rigid in their understandings, forced into relentless defense of intellectual self by a peculiar notion of “face” that does not allow them to concede error, or even flaw. This rigidity repels objection and instruction and invention alike. And often, compassion.

Let’s take two examples.

  • One, Senator Sotto
  • Two, Edgar Lores

Senator Sotto is defined by his ideas, and his ideas are narrow. They are deeply Catholic. His perspective on other senators or even bloggers is characterized by little tolerance for critics. This narrow rigidity has a way of driving off those who want to discuss and learn in a give and take way. The Senator has learned all that he needs to know. All the PhD doctors in the entire university ethics-sphere could not explain to him the reason plagiarism is not right.

A lot of Filipinos are like Senator Sotto. They are bound by their rules and ways. They don’t read much, know close to everything there is to know, and don’t mind instructing those of lesser minds both as to their error of their thinking and their flaws as people.

This is not a negative critique, not a condemnation. It is merely setting the stage to be able to describe the Filipino of the future, and why he means so much to the Philippines.

The upshot is that we don’t find a lot of innovation here with Senator Sotto. His laws are passed to constrain and control, not open up and uplift.

Nor do we find, among the rigid, a sense that the “other person” is a dignified being deserving our respect or encouragement. The Filipino boss does not motivate his employees. He . . . well, bosses them. Gives them orders. So again, innovation or discovery, always reaching for newer and better ways to do the job, are squelched in favor of following instruction. The obedient employee is the one who keeps his job. The original thinker is a threat.

The Filipino who aspires to set up his own business knows that the government’s penchant for control takes the form of red tape that threatens to undermine the whole idea of trying to make a profit. And, of course, the foreigner knows of the red tape. It all conspires to limit innovation and, ultimately, competitiveness.

Then there is Edgar.

Here we find a person who is not defined by his ideas because he is always reaching for new ones. The guy who was here yesterday is likely to be different than the one here tomorrow. His rules are not copied from somebody’s book and defended to the death. but are what he has figured out is best if we are to live in harmony and be productive. He has the utmost tolerance for others and is respectful 0f their occupying a different place and time and even set of ethics. He can be a student or a teacher. As a teacher, he can be literate or he can be a guy with a paddle, and not afraid to use it. He knows that, for all that he knows, he knows not enough. He welcomes new insights, new facts, even being instructed on the error of his thinking.

There is no need to justify WHO I AM for Edgar, because self-justification is not the goal. Growing is. And with that comes innovation and problem solving and the ability to listen to opposing views for the content rather than to preserve “face”.

So of our two case studies, one, the Senator, has a shape defined by his rigidity. Stuck in place. The other, Edgar, has a shape that is real, but pliable. And ever moving forward.

I think most readers of this blog are cut of the Edgar mold.

They have to be because they have to deal with an occasionally overbearing American’s attitude to find the kernels of insight. The ethos here is bound to drive less pliable people away. JoeAm knocks against the rigidity of being Filipino (the NERVE of an OUTSIDER examining OUR culture!), of being Catholic (relentlessly criticizing the CBCP political priests),  or of being offensive to the very fabric of “who I am” (rigid, indeed!). The guy does BOOK REVIEWS for gawdsakes, of all the boring things to drivel on about, as if he were better because he has read a lot.

What are the common grounds that characterize most readers of this blog?

  1. Filipino resident or citizen (ha, or wife; gotcha covered, Attila). Interested in the well-being of the Philippines.
  2. Well educated. Most have college degrees, I would suspect.
  3. Well-traveled or having a lot of contact with foreigners. A lot of OFW’s.
  4. Well-read.
  5. Open to new ideas.

Point one is the commonality and points 2, 3 and 4 lead to point 5.

The Philippines is moving to become a more open-minded culture because of places like Rappler, that feature introspections and mood indicators and active debate. Or people like The Professional Heckler who cuts the pretenses of Filipino foibles down like so much cane ready for harvest. Or entertainers like Vice Ganda who deploys humor and an off-beat personality to break down conventions. Or debate on Facebook with lots of likes and dislikes representing a kind of critical view that requires thought. And because of the daily rubs between different cultures: OFWs, call centers, tourists and travel.

The progression will occur naturally because education is a priority in the Philippines. Contact with foreigners is active. People read texts and tweets if not The Atlantic.

The leaders, and the successful people, will be those who can get outside themselves to look back within to see accurately where they are and where they need to go. And they will be able to develop apolitical, pragmatic ideas about how to get there. They will not engage in the surreal battles of face and esteem because they grasp how barren a place that is, laid side by side with thinking well and acting constructively and compassionately.

Here’s an example of what I mean by acting constructively:

The winners of tomorrow will recognize that they are an open book. The goal is not to live to impress others, but to fill one’s own pages richly by being purposeful. To fill them with knowledge, original ideas, lots of experience, and the rich satisfaction of achievement.

To break down the fears and misconceptions that confine.

To grow. To build.


Photo source:

25 Responses to “The Filipino of the Future”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Conservatives, Tea Party watch only FoxNews
    Liberals reads New York Times
    Independents, well, read independent news sources.
    These three never see eye to eye.
    They only see the world from their own view because they do not explore what news and opinions are on the other side of the fence.
    Anti-anything-Filipinos only read, what else, anti-anything blogs.

    Filipinos are obedient people, not by nature, but by teachings. I had several obedience ribbons in elementary days. “Masinoron” (obedient) “Matinahoron” (respectful). These two traits make parents proud so is JoeAm’s wife. She knows these two visayan words. These are heavy words. When my parents said these traits to me infront of everyone I’d be in cloud nine.

    These two are hammered since kindergarten all the way to highschool. Then, why is it Filipinos are not obedient? Why are they only obedient to the whites and foreigners? Why do Filipinos stand before the yellow line without being told abroad but cannot understand it when in the Philippines?

    That is the reason OFWs are in demand abroad because Filipinos are docile and domisticated that are led, commanded, controlled, whipped and they follow. These Filipinos are hired abroad not because of their brains, unlike Asian-Indians, they are hired for manual labor POEA statistics say so.

    Despite, OFWs learned the ways of their host countries. They are now seeing the yellow line and what it is meant for.

    • Joe America says:

      That is a big mystery, indeed. Taught to be respectful and obedient, and to recite instruction back. Learning to cheat around the edges. Perhaps these are simply different subsets of a larger population that is basically obedient, but pragmatic in a circumstance where there is no reward for playing by the rules, but is for skullduggery. Pragmatics leads to bending the rules, just like law abiding Joe is now pushy on the roads, too. It’s the only way to get anywhere.

  2. counterflow says:

    Thank you for your props! Indeed a lot of people (not just Filipinos) are far too concerned about face and other externalities to solving problems. But I think it is a part of human nature, and therefore it’s something we need to work around or work with when crafting solutions.

    The challenge is encouraging others to adopt the same mindsets. As much as it pains me to say so, I think your readers are pretty much sold on the concept of open minds. We might disagree with you, but rarely because you offended the PRAWD 2B PINOY mindset. But how many people can we convince to think more creatively?

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. Awww.

    2. Just over the weekend, I was thinking I am a fraud. True, I have lofty ideals, noble ideas, some compassion, and little malice… but do I have the right speech, the right action and the right mindfulness? I struggle all the time.

    3. The simple truth – or rather the great truth – is that we are in denial.

    3.1. It is far easier to see the faults in others than in ourselves.

    3.2. I have lots of little denials. I have given up on cigarettes, beer, skotch but I consume things and do things that I know are not good for me. Chocolate, for example. 🙂 I constantly quarrel with the notion that the non-fulfilment of desire, or the extinguishment of desire, is the path to liberation.

    3.3. One big denial is the one we all have and that you have alluded to: that I am superior because I am right or that I am right because I am superior. The first is the rationale of the slave, the second that of the master.

    3.4. Another big denial is that I am closer to the truth than anybody else. This is truth in terms of relativity. Despite my protestations of a universe of pluralism and diversity, I find it hard to shake off the idea that truth has a center. This is where I feel fraudulent. I try to integrate religions, but when I examine a particular tenet of one religion, I cry, “How can you believe that?”

    3.5. The biggest denial may be that of pretence – unconscious pretence – of the self. Self-deception. I think Good, I do Good, and therefore I am Good. This is how Edgar thinks. But this is how Sotto thinks as well. So you have to analyze the subtleties of deception. By what objective standard are you good? What construct have you identified with? Is there reason and heart in your right view?

    4. Therefore, look to the wisdom of Cha which is: When in doubt, look in the fridge. Food is bliss. It brings us instantly to the moment, to the present. And it is partly why we plan for the future.

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, well, keep those fraudulent ideas flowing. It keeps the rest of us intellectually off-balance, which means we must do our own thinking to return to the steady state. And as I look in my refrigerator, what do I find? One lonely San Mig, 14 Snickers bars, two bags of kisses with almonds, and a half-gone giant box of Ferrero Rocher gold foil wrapped chocolate balls. ahahaha

      • cha says:

        Lol. I got lettuce, spinach, rocket, cucumbers, tomatoes and other greens, my favorite fetta cheese, the hubby’s semi-skim milk, my daughter’s banana bread, and my son’s two cans of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and cola mix. Life is good for at least one of us. 🙂

      • edgar lores says:

        I got Zero Coke, bread and some milk. No beer. No vegies. (The vegies we gave away to our newly arrived and sponsored kin as I’m not cooking.) You both win. 😦

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          I am in my 2nd day of on-and-of-again alcohol-free lifestyle, Ed. I am not Alcoholic Anonymous candidate. I just want to mellow on alcohol to get a fresh start morning after.

          Your sponsored kin must be disappointed. They expect meat, plenty of meat, on the table than vegies. I just do not have a taste for anything with “diet” slapped on the label. They taste weird. Whenever I go home to the Philippines, I guzzle plenty of iced Coke. Coke in the Philippines taste the way I want it. Their pork belly doesn’t have that chemical after-taste, too.

          • edgar lores says:


            The sponsored kin think they are in some kind of heaven, and I am deeply amused. The streets in Oz are not paved with gold, but the kerb (sidewalk) is full of goodies. Every quarter, councils have a Kerbside Clean-up whereby residents can dump bulky waste that do not normally fit in the garbage bins which are collected weekly. To our newly arrived kin, the ‘waste’ were treasure haunts – and hunt they did. In the first quarter, they scored several CRT TVs (Oz is shifting from analogue to digital broadcast), a round dining table complete with smoked glass top, and assorted doodads. In the second quarter, they snubbed the TVs and scored a lounge furniture set and, a bicycle and a backyard swing. When I was in Sydney – to the vast amusement of the wife – I picked up a quartet of plastic bucket chairs that still had the price tags attached.

            You will note that Cha belongs to this neighborhood circle of recyclers. The quality of goods dumped varies, but some castoffs are amazing – to the point that the kin have speculated on the cost and benefit of leasing containers and shipping these treasures to Manila!

            The organized charities, such as the Salvation Army and St. Vincent’s, have collection points, and they have shops where they resell donated goods. I was horrified – and almost died laughing – when the sponsored kin ‘scored’ on some items in one of these collection points. To a certain extent, they would form the normal clientele of these charities.

            The quality of public discourse is a bit higher than that in the Philippines but we are not immune to prejudice. Still and all, we do live in a lucky country, materially speaking.

        • cha says:

          The “life is good” comment is with reference to my son and his Jack Daniels. My life will be good if I can have ferrero rocher everyday and still have a recognizeable waistline. So, joeam wins. 😦

          Mariano, the cakes also taste better in the Philippines. I can spend my whole vacation at Red Ribbon and Conti’s and Sugar House etc. etc. when I’m there. Forget about the waistline for a while eh?

    • JosephIvo says:

      My ref is the place that collects left-over’s, a station between the dining table and the garbage can, so few exciting things, but the Sari-sari at the other side of the street has a ref with an unlimited supply that can make anybody happy.

      Being in the Philippines, I think the essence is to belong, to be dependent, no to differ too much. Cross the street when everybody does, don’t look at traffic lights, share a tricycle, repeat what the teacher says, few places to hide… have a dream, someday your ate will be abroad.

      Soto is so insecure that he has to stick to his “proven” principles. Edgar is so secure that he can question his own principles, question what proven means. It’s all about thermodynamics, not overheating your brain, keep your head cool. When thinking requires a lot of effort you have to fall back on simple paradigms, but the more you know, the faster you can retrieve knowledge, the less effort it takes, the easier you can explore different avenues.

      Or is it all about education, being a good serve requires different values to thrive then being a strong master, parents teaching different but equally narrow skill sets. The middle class has to be fluent in both directions, has to exercise more and stay fit, all progress comes from the middle class.Immigrants have to think outside their traditional box, can’t fall back on old paradigms, a lot of progress comes from immigrants, long live the US. (Exceptions confirming the rule).

      • Joe America says:

        “the more you know . . . the less effort” I was on the Board of an elementary school attached to a California college. My three daughters attended. The school was a learning lab for the college and one of the most successful elements of their program was not to teach SUBJECTS at the very young years (pre-school & K, 1, 2), but to teach that learning is really fun. Instill in kids the joy of reading (at their own pace, not forced lessons) and the fun of discovery. That opened the door for knowledge to just stream in for the rest of their lives.

        Compare that to my son’s pre-school here where he is endlessly memorizing bible verses and spitting back what the teachers tell him to spit. So he gets home and I teach him the joy of discovery and reading. I’m so pleased to see him crash for his afternoon nap with a book on his chest.

        Immigrants learn to discover, too, for sure. That’s why I think the Philippines will mellow out with a middle class that is really quite broad in their experiences and modern in their perspectives. The Church will diminish as the moral authority and simple, good thinking will take its place. You are right, The middle class is the place of all progress.

  4. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Bishop Arguella said RHBill is a declaration of “open war”. I tell you folks, Vatican is used to WAR!!!

    The church did not use politically correct words. They use the bloody word “WAR”!!!

    The church has declared WAR against their flocks. I sooo love the church. The church must have a quota in bringing hungry children to the world.

    • Joe America says:

      I agree the Church made the last election unnecessarily ugly. They declared more than half the nation as wrong-headed sinners and displayed zero compassion toward women in pain.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I want the Philippines the way it was when our family surrendered to our past American colonial masters. If we had not colonized by Chinese, Spain, Americans, Japanese and Filipinos my family wouldn’t have known the difference of the four. We choose America over the other colonial masters.

    The Filipinos of the future will have OFWing as natural means of employment. Currently, 12% of able-bodied ivy-school Graduate Filipinos are working abroad! That is 11,520,000 Filipinos are abroad. The 12% are supporting the left-over Filipinos. A Filipino has an average of 5 in the household. That equates to half of 96,000,000 Filipinos rely on OFW parents.

    24,000,000 Filipinos or 25% of 96.0M are 20-years-old and younger.
    11,520,000 or 12% are working abroad
    7.5% are unemployed according to Bureau of Labor. That is the current unemployment rate of the U.S.
    96% of 12% working or living abroad are in commnad-and-control working environment according to POEA Stats. Doctors are nurses. Teachers as housemaids. Engineers as equipment operators. Nurses as caregivers. Philippine Military are contracted by United Nations as security guards.

    Philippine economy reliance on OFWs is glaring when Taiwan threatened to deport Filipino OFWs in Taiwan. PhilGov is now investigating Philippine Navy on Firing-while-Laughing at Taiwanese fishermen. Benigno submitted for approval the results of Chinese massacre investigation to Chinese government before it was released to the Filipino people.

    • Joe America says:

      OFW’s are indeed the props for the current economic rise. I think that is roundly conceded now. What is also changing, I think, is that the homebound are no longer feeling sorry for all the people who go abroad, but are recognizing it is a way for many to realize one’s hopes, and even dreams. I’ve changed my own view on that the past couple of years.

      A doctor here sits in a wee grubby office diagnosing from a complaint, giving a prescription for pills, charging 200 pesos, and calling for the next poor person in line. As a nurse, they are driving their Toyota to work, working decent hours in a clean place where they are treated professionally, dining out now and then, and sending money home.

      They have moved up, not down. The name attached to the job doesn’t matter.

  6. ella says:

    A lot of your readers like Edgar, Cha and the others are well-read, look at the reality of the Philippines as real reality of the Philippines so they look at your blogs about the Philippines and the Filipinos as constructive criticisms and diplomatically crafted in words.\

    We read your blogs with open minds and some contribute with comments and some just read and not leave anything … but definitely make their minds and hearts working. Mariano Renato’s comments are brutally honest most of the time.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks ella. Yes, you have characterized the scene well. I know for a fact that there are a lot of quiet readers – the Word Press stat tabulator shows this – and a few even spend the work day at the Palace. They have told me that, behind the scenes. It is this group of open-minded people that, I think, will grow and come to dominate Philippine leadership as educated, tech-experienced young people move into positions of influence and the middle class audience broadens.

  7. cha says:

    Aside from Edgar Lores, here is one other Filipino worth emulating. French leading newspaper Le Figaro cites the contribution of Tony Meloto and his Gawad Kalinga in empowering the poor “to live dignified and better lives”. Almost a million now living in proper houses instead of cardboard boxes. He targets at least 5 million.

  8. The Mouse says:

    You mentioned Rappler. They are a hit or miss. Almost comical when they miss but when they have good write ups, it is really good.

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