The Filipino Mirror Syndrome

self image 01

Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait

If we look carefully, we can figure out how and why Americans and Filipinos differ in their values.

That is the main theme of this blog. The exploration is aimed at sorting out differences in motive and style. It is always going to be patently unfair because there are always exceptions to the generalities I might cite. And what happens in the Philippines happens elsewhere, too.

But proceed we must, to try to understand what is going on hereabouts . . . There are some reasons the Philippines is poor rather than prosperous, and if it is because of corrupt legislators, we must understand the bed in which these creatures lie, the substance of daily Filipino values.

My own lens is shaped by years of professional work distilling complex corporate issues into an order that means something. Gather information. Organize and analyze. Develop solutions around the goals of getting more customers and making more money.

That’s why most of my blogs end with a statement of solution. It is the logical progression after one has gathered enough information, done enough distillation, and put it all together to make some sense. If nothing is going to happen, why do it?

This morning I was talking about Filipino ways with my wife, asking her questions she can’t answer because she has never really thought about them. She’s never “introspected” as a way of self-discovery. We were talking about our neighbor who is a jerk of the first order. A goon of the thuggish type whose brother threatened me with a gun about a year ago.

I was bemoaning the fact that there is so much game-playing going on in the Philippines, at a personal level. So much posturing. I’ve written about some of this. We see game-playing . . .

  • In the 100 percenter, the blog commenter who must win the argument, every time, and therefore his starting view will be held to through thick and thin, logic and illogic, and sometimes whilst dealing a lot of insult.
  • In deft blames and excuses. Filipinos are masters of the rationalization. Pure genius, an ability learned from birth too often by emulating parents who had to explain to innocent kids why they are poor and have no advantages. They needed reasons.
  • In rampant envy, the beast that rises to drag down someone who gets ahead, who has the audacity to get or do more than we can.
  • In my neighbor, a thug, who believes macho is found in physical threats and tough demeanor, and to whom bragging is a skill set.

Our discussion then moved to the envy our neighbors display toward us for coming to this poor community and building a very nice home. The envy reached rather nasty levels, like nails in the tires and unkind rumors about my wife.  It’s our fault, I suppose, for building a large home that is a kind of “flaunting” of our means, although it was never intended to be that way. We bought the property because it was clearly titled, large, quiet and situated in gorgeous surroundings. We used to provide jobs and donations here until the harassment got so bad that we accepted that we are the enemy and have since hunkered down and tried to forget about the strange world that is beyond our walls.

“Enough of your personal sorrows, JoeAm. All God’s chillin’s got problems. What’s your point about mirrors?”

Yeah, well I was just getting to that.

If a person has strong self-esteem, he sees the outside world objectively, as it exists.

If a person has weak self-esteem, he sees the outside world as a reflection of himself.

A person sees himself as a failure for having a bad job if his neighbor gets a good job. He sees himself as a failure if he has a small house and his neighbor has a big house. That essentially is the mirror of self. Looking at oneself by reflecting off of what others have done.

Miss America is an American of Indian heritage. Her selection brought out a lot of racist remarks from some Americans. Stunningly ignorant remarks. Well, it’s understandable, I suppose:

  1. America gives people the freedom to spout their thinking, whether that thinking is good, bad, right or wrong.
  2. Even nitwits own keyboards in wealthy America.

The racist comments reflect the character of the person making the comment. Not  Miss America. And not the whole of America.

As it happened, some Filipinos read the press articles and decried the decline of America, criticizing her failure at rooting out racism. And the irony there is that the Filipinos condemning America are just as blind and off base as the racists. The truth of the matter is that no nation does diversity better or more harmoniously than America.

The comments are a reflection of the person making them, not what is factually going on.

That is the Filipino mirror.

And the crucial adjective above is “some”. “Some” Americans are racist. “Some” Filipinos see America as a failed state.

My contention is that the “some” in the Philippines is huge and goes far beyond a distorted view of America. I’d argue that large numbers of people work and live in a mirror that distorts just about every conceptual point.

  • The 100 percenter cannot accept that he might be wrong. That there is information he does not have.
  • The excuse-maker cannot accept that his choices could have been different. Better.
  • The envious person cannot see that it is his own condition that he is judging when condemning success by others.
  • The thug cannot see his crass behavior as weakness rather than strength.

I would guess a huge percentage of Filipinos spend a lifetime defending illusions. Perhaps it is a narcissism of the downtrodden. That’s why the place is so full of criticisms and blames and murders and an inability to work for community.  Why ego is huge, yet outcome weak.

I’d say it is time to set the mirror down. I’d say it is time to leverage the power of the internet and social media to encourage people to put aside face and envy and pride in the wrong things and, for sure, to ditch excuses and blames and get down to objective work. Suck it up, make the best decisions possible. Accept responsibility for outcomes, good or bad.

I’d say it is time to think right, and produce well.

  • Letting the Catholic Church determine secular law is not thinking right.
  • Electing Jejomar Binay as President is not thinking right.
  • Electing boxers, secretaries, dictator’s wives, movie stars, and corrupt former presidents as legislators is not thinking right.
  • Forgiving the corrupt is not thinking right.
  • Allowing a few rich men to control Philippine commerce is not thinking right.
  • Allowing crooks to hide behind banking laws that do not permit law enforcement access to records is not thinking right.
  • Allowing government to refuse to report to the people what they are doing and how they are spending money is not thinking right.

On-line advocacy can influence the media. The media can influence the masses. . . . and this force of discipline in search of a straight path can begin to reshape values.

I have advocated that the Department of Education ought to move aggressively to get young people onto tablet computers and the internet. The justification is to get rid of paper textbooks, make better use of buildings and teachers, and get kids adept at computers and the internet. But now I think the GREATER justification would be a kind of mass re-education toward critical thinking and candid expression that would come by using them.

With enough practice at dealing straight, people will begin to behave with a confidence founded on achievement rather than ego. They will begin seeing the world straight. Not through mirrors.

I laugh because Senator Estrada’s privilege speech on pork was a masterpiece of mirror. He was a one-man case study of how too much self-indulgent thinking creates nonsense.

But enough of that, eh? Let’s pass these guys like they were standing still. Toss them out of office. Jail them. Whatever. Just get them behind us and out of the way.

Let’s get on with thinking straight, thinking right. Deciding right. Acting right.

And voting for people who can do that, too.

30 Responses to “The Filipino Mirror Syndrome”
  1. Greg Hill says:

    A good read, Jo. Thanks.

  2. elmer says:

    What’s with the Van Gogh portrait? Wish your twisted neighbors do a Van Gogh exit? Life amid a skid row is sure hell. Anyway, you are right about the Binay and..everything. I think i have said this before, what this country needs is to reinvent the government and a cultural overhaul.And education, education, education. Oh and genocide to the crooks!

    • Joe America says:

      Just a symbol of looking at oneself. With a touch of lunacy thrown in.

      I think the overhaul will come with more computers in kid’s hands, exposing them to broader ideas, and with a bigger middle class, where values are on work instead of favor. It won’t come from within the halls of favor and corruption. It is impossible to get those whose very being is defined by a kind of greedy self-servingness to suddenly become community minded. The question is whether or not good people like Grace Poe will also get corrupted by the influence of her favor-mongering peers.

  3. Joseph-Ivo says:

    missing Edgar….

    1.Filippinos are not individual but always part of a group. You end where the other starts, thus to define yourself it is important to feel, see where the others are all the time, not where you are. How the others perceive me, defines me. What I think I am is just an illusion. Life without a mirror is hell.

    2.The picking order here is absolute, it defines your position in every sphere of live. In the US it is more fluid and depending on the context. So defending your picking order is more important here. It seems to me that it defines the number of po’s you can expect or have to use.

    3.Christian values are just a veneer. Pre-Christian values are still more relevant such as respect for Ancestors, the supra-natural and the need for wealthy children to support you in your old days and more importantly in your afterlife. The church peddles supra-natural things, not values except for their sexual obsessions, little changed since Rizal.

    4.What defines the attitude more, race, economic position, educational level, cultural elements, maturity of the society, random historic events??? As outsiders we tend to look at the Philippines as a monolithic entity, in our home country we know that the east thinks different from the west, engineers different from lawyers, rich different from poor, alumni from a Jesuit university different from alumni from a State university… Differences between the US and the Philippines might be better explained by the difference in average income than by the difference in ethnicity.

    4.1 In the same line, there is quite some evidence that corruption as the result of poverty and not the other way around. To fight corruption fight poverty. Inclusive growth, eliminate obscene income inequality…

    5. Too assertive is bad, too timid is bad. Having only one property and being ignorant of the opposite makes empathy with other people difficult. A health amount of the two seems ideal. Altruism, selfishness… greed, moderation… rational, emotional… even honesty, corruption… All ranges have a different optimum in different situations, we should be careful with absolute statements.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I miss Edgar, too. We had a conscience when he was about, a centering around values that could not be distorted by favoritism or religion or the need to feel superior.

      4. Lawyers in the Philippines seem to think differently than lawyers in the West. Here they are advocates within the looseness that exists, contributing mightily to it, rather than mechanics tightening the screws around law and order. I think engineers speak the same language in both countries. Military people are on different planets, I fear.

      4.1 I agree poverty is the root, but the corruption here seems to be beyond money and gets into delusions of betterment, your points 1 and 2. Logic becomes illogic and right becomes bendable. Solution becomes dysfunction.

      5. I’m not sure what absolute statement I have made. I thought I was plenty wishy washy, going with “some” and letting readers fill in the degrees. I actually live in a world of considerable gray and believe neither black nor white are very helpful. My wife believes otherwise. 🙂

      Retreat to 3. Yes, indeed.

  4. Amy R says:

    What a beautiful thought. I’ve always found it so exasperating how Filipinos can be so emotional about everything. Maybe because “some” of us are afflicted with this syndrome that turns every critique into a personal attack and every suggestion into an insinuation that we aren’t good enough. We are self-centered people. Everything is about us, and if it isn’t, we’ll twist and bend the issue until it becomes so. I guess that’s why we make so many bad choices during elections – we only like people who would indulge us, not threaten us. Why would we elect anyone who’s better – or who thinks they’re better – than us? Nancy Binay, who is completely non-threatening, wins. Dick Gordon, who asserted that the Philippines needed fixing (and by extension says that we need fixing too), loses.

    I think that America is run like a business empire, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We need some of that cold-hearted rationality, I guess. Take the elections for instance. I was struck by something you wrote before, about Nancy Binay being someone any self-respecting Human Resources Manager wouldn’t hire. That’s essentially the problem. We need to view elections as a hiring process. What is a senator’s/president/s job description? Why select candidates without even knowing what degrees they finished or if they had any relevant work experiences at all? Why not do background checking while we’re at it? The Rappler articles before the senatorial elections were very helpful indeed – if we cared enough to read it or if we have any access to it at all. You’re right. The scope of social media should be extended and its power exploited to the fullest.

    • Joe America says:

      Man, Amy R, what a wonderfully clear statement that I’ve been rambling to get at. “Twist and bend” it is! You make me smile, though, with the comparison of Binay and Gordon. I imagine a “Voice of the Philippines” contest that puts them in center ring together, with the most talent winning.

      Then of course the audience has to agree with what “talent” is, your second paragraph. I think Filipinos believe legislators are just movie stars or singers. Credentials don’t matter. Raves matter.

      • Amy R says:

        I like the idea. I doubt Binay would get past the blinds, though, much less get invited in the first place. Let’s have Blind Elections then. We’d have ballots that contain qualifications instead of names. Or let’s just stick a bolo at Kapunan’s face or Jinggoy’s head – and whoever can pull it out gets to be president.

  5. brianitus says:

    Forgiving the corrupt is right. Just as long as they’re behind bars.

  6. Jo says:

    “If a person has strong self-esteem, he sees the outside world objectively, as it exists.
    If a person has weak self-esteem, he sees the outside world as a reflection of himself.”

    Wow, Joe, that nails it! We speak of a Filipino crab mentality, the insistence to pull a rising person down, but not everyone has it, it’s not an exclusive Filipino trait–it just so happens that the weak Filipinos, like those racist Americans, are louder, noisier, and revels in the attention their ignorance brings and become louder and noisier as a result.

    And now I see there are a lot of morally weak Filipinos, and no amount of Catholic spirituality can correct it because it doesn’t translate to action, to change. How Filipino believers translate Catholicism in their lives is a contributing factor to the mess our country is in, which is why I agree with Andrew’s guest post re: Catholicism. Also reminds me of another fave video, you’ve probably seen this already (Secret Powers of Time by Philip Zimbardo =, though the video expounds more on geography and time perspective.

    I also often hear that the reason Filipinos do not rail that much against corruption and poverty and other societal ills is because we haven’t experienced such bloodletting like civil wars and massive rebellions. While a small part of me somehow believes that, I think it’s because we want an entity to blame for the misery of our lives.

    Fate, others call it. If it’s fated then it can’t be changed, and I’m like this because it’s fate and I don’t need to do anything because nothing will change anyway, I can only bear it as much as I can because it’s fate, aren’t you listening? Others call it God, thinking God wills it and it must be done, that God’s heart is closer to the poor and downtrodden so we must remain that way–neglecting to realize that the Bible says God wants His people to prosper, to be blessed so they can bless. There are different names, but it all boils down to an entity that controls all things and we Filipinos are powerless to stop it–a throwback to the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese.

    And now too, our elected leaders.

    A lot of us are beginning to fight now, but we are being pulled down by the weak ones who insist that “They’re all the same, nothing will change, just shut up and let’s move on”–and it’s not only because they believe themselves but because OUR actions, in THEIR minds, reflect on THEM. Like the joke my best friend shared when one of her colleagues teased her to stop working because she’s making the rest of them look bad.

    To the Filipino YOU becomes ME. It’s our narcissism.

    Stop working. Stop thinking. Stop talking. Stop moving.

    Stop changing because WE DON’T WANT TO CHANGE.

    And yes, we are NOT thinking right. It all begins with the mind–what the mind can conceive (and believe), it can achieve [Napoleon Hill]. So how do we correct our thinking?

    Education, of course. Not just in schools–a school is just another institution–but through media as well. Our local media is subpar when it comes to this, good thing the internet with its free information and knowledge just a click away. Not everyone has access to it, though, so it’s up to DepEd to push for a little more online democracy. How much is a tablet anyway, compared to the benefits you cited? A tablet per child is not extravagant–it’s an investment, and it’s a chance for progress by educating the next generation.

    This post is excellent, Joe, it really is. Though now I realize that my response is meandering and practically a blog post in itself, haha. Sorry. 😀

    P.S. Is that your picture on the sidebar? I always wonder when I see it because you never sound old to me.

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, meander away, as you go from excellent point to excellent point. And you can do a guest blog anytime you find yourself enjoying such elaborations.

      That photo is of my great grandfather, the patriarch of our family in the U.S. He was a grand character and I enjoy seeing people rise past the looks of the old codger to get to the meaning of the message, no matter who said it. I prefer to measure my own age in the lively dancing of words rather than this arthritic shoulder that used to be my baseball pitching arm. I’ve been around, but am in denial about it . . .

      The weak ones are a drag, aren’t they? The cynicism and complaint. They end up helping to pad the soft lumpy bed in which we all lie. They are exhausting. But also motivating in a way. I am reminded of the song “But I won’t do that!” Can’t succumb to that negativity.

      Yes, a tablet per student. Lessons on line. Move to the front of the pack, literate in English and use of the best tool of productivity every invented. Who o why are kids lugging tattered text books to school and scraping away on paper? (Although I did read about the horror story today about a school district that set out to give I-Pads to all its kids, but youthful hackers ruined a lot of the computers and they had to be recalled. Gadzooks, the destructionists are everywhere!)

      Thanks for your inspired contribution, Jo. Made my day.

      We’ll just keep on our own straight and demanding paths, eh?

      • Jo says:

        Wow, Joe, that’s a really generous offer. I’ll hit you up when I have something awesome to elaborate at. 😀

        Your great-grandfather looks wise and severe, like he’s too old to fall for BS from anyone, haha. And that’s a great way to measure your age–never mind that body, youth springs eternal within your spirit. You’ve found the fountain of youth and it flows from your ink or, in our digital age, your keyboard. So let them words dance!

        Oh, the weak ones. Yes, motivating in a way, because they make you read more on the issues to you can rebut their superficial ideas. Make you work harder so you can show that it can be done. Make you kinder, sometimes, so you can make them listen. Make you stronger so you can fight the negativity and strengthen them too.

        Jim Paredes tweeted, “Just a thought: Why should good people enter govt when they have bosses like us? Cheap on praise and extravagant at criticism.” A lot of us are horrible bosses. Right now in the Million People March in Makati, there are bosses calling for PNoy’s ouster. Just, why? He’s working so hard for us. He’s delivering results and there’s more–a lot more–to do. You don’t fire a guy like that. You fight to keep a guy like that.

        Kick him out? “But I won’t do that!”


        Ugh, that’s horrible. Progress ruined by ignorant hackers, just like that. Destructionists, that’s a perfect name for them.

        Glad to hear that, you made my day too. 🙂 And yes, on to the straight. No crooking, no swerving. We won’t do that. 😉

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks! I hope you find a topic that gets you inspired. You can even do an Angry Maude rant, fine by me.

          That is true, what you say, that challenges cause one to actively work on good responses, and formulate good arguments. And the Paredes’ perspective is also so true. You can see President Aquino getting exasperated from time to time. If he does anything he is criticized by someone. Tough job. I see that in the US, too. People undermining their own president to make him weak. It’s the ugly underbelly of democracy I suppose. That, along with the freedom to speak, make democracy SEEM weak.

          So that’s our job. Keeping it on an even keel.

          And avoiding the “crooking and swerving.” ahahaha

  7. Hi Joe, Some Filipinos are very emotional and when they are at the height of their emotions, they are very articulate like Senator Miriam or go ballistic like your neighbor. Some, like Senators Estrada and Revilla use the argument “why pick on me?” like petulant children.

    For a time, I thought, Estrada’s argument on the lack of notice of disallowance from COA was valid because in my experience in government, COA commonly issues this notice even for procedural findings . I received a notice from COA a few months back because I was part of a team that approved a project for a small sewage treatment plant (cost of the project was less than 1M php). There was a slight discrepancy in the bond posted by the contractor (a matter of about 1,000 php), we received a notice of disallowance and was asked to explain and provide documentary proof that there was no irregularity in the transaction. The Malampaya funds are several million times more than our transaction and yet, there was no indication that a notice of disallowance was issued by COA. Tsk. I was quite dismayed by this. I found out that COA will only issue a notice of disallowance if the agency has liquidated the expenditure. A-ha! I hope you don’t mind, I’m sharing the link from the UP School of Economics as follows: , I agree with you that most of the news articles in PDAF are sensationalized and the real issue is sometimes drowned out by the noise and sensationalism. I find the columnists of Per Se helpful in understanding the real issues, hope its ok to share it here.

    I’ve been following your blogs for the past 2 years and I’m a fan of your articles and some of your commenters (i.e. edgar lores and andrew lim) Never able to summon the nerve to post a comment before until now. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Well, Vivs, summon up that nerve more often! Your personal tale of interface with COA is very enlightening, and seems rather typical of we the “little people” dealing with the authoritarian agencies hereabouts. Every nit that can be picked will be picked. Endless photocopies and mindless processes. Whilst those with power and favors to trade dance easily along, or send some assistant to deal with things. COA indeed blew it big time with the pork shenanigans. It seems they were onto the Ampalaya funds but did not have the same aggression on it that they served up to you.

      But I do have to laugh, because it is the same way at the American Embassy, too, with the nitpicking. They are just a little more orderly in the picking of nits, with pretty numbered lights to summon the cattle to the feed pen when it is their turn.

      I also appreciate the link to the article parsing the Estrada arguments. I think I termed those arguments somewhere, succinctly, “nonsense”. heh heh

      I appreciate your loyal readership for the past two years. Please do offer up comments when the mood strikes. Edgar is on leave of absence and Andrew is out whacking priests, I think. 🙂

      • getting a US visa is a source of pride for my octogenarian father, since most of his contemporaries were (in his perception) unable to answer the questions correctly that’s why they didn’t get one. tsk!

        whacking priests?! may it be literal or figurative, the experience may be worthy of a guest article perhaps?

  8. Mel NL says:

    Great article! How I wish the lawmakers/politicians have the same insight as you! I wish also you were a Filipino, who can run to be a lawmaker. We need like you!

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, Mel. Lawmaking would be too much work for me, but this blog DOES have its important readers. So maybe we can have some influence whilst staying on lazy street. I also think there ARE good lawmakers in place, and what we can do is establish the bed of support they need to push the connivers aside to work on good product. Once the “culture of the senate”, for instance, turns to works over posturing and pilfering, we’ll see a lot better product coming out.

  9. The Mouse says:

    The problem now is not the access to information as it was decades ago, but the sorting of information that is readily accessible. Lots of helpful info out there, but lots of false ones, too. This is why Pinoys go batshit over hoax like that Art Bell letter hoax.

  10. ikalwewe says:

    If a person has strong self-esteem, he sees the outside world objectively, as it exists.
    If a person has weak self-esteem, he sees the outside world as a reflection of himself.

    You know, this is very true. Filipinos have a very low self-esteem. For example, now that the Ms World whatever is Filipina (even if a half/quarter Filipina, I’m not quite sure about Megan), people want to hang on to her success: I see “proud to be Filipino” everywhere on fb and social networks even though none of this people, I’m sure, contributed to her success. Sure, we’re happy, but she won because of her own hard work, endeavors, intellect, beauty whatever – not because of you or me or anybody else.(She’s not even representative of an average Pinay, come on!). We could have been swallowed whole by the ground beneath our feet the night of the pageant, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. But you have to understand that we Filipinos- and Asians as whole – are very collective in our way of thinking. While an American may function in his unit as “I” , a Filipino functions in terms of “We”. I am not making this up : there is an organization that studies this and ranked countries based on individualism and collectivism (Geert Hofstede Center). Even Asian American kids, born and raised in the in a tight knit Asian community in the US, are found to be more “collective” in their way of thinking than Anglo American kids. So I guess that’s why we Filipinos tend to see ourselves in terms of the outside world? Which is why people would assume that all Americans are racist based on a few internet bullies? Because people are thinking in terms of “we” and not “I” (o “them Americans” as group). You can see these in news as well: how different media “handles” the news. Accountability in the US is point blank directed to the person/suspect. But in Japan, you would read words such as the “management’s failure to oversee…” etc. Lastly, here in Japan, if you watch the Olympics and listen to the speech of the players, the players would say words like “My team and my coach has supported me” – again the WE- and they almost never say the “I”. A lot of decisions that we make big or small are influenced by this “I” / “We” thinking, and we’re not even conscious of it. It’s almost impossible to look at oneself in the mirror without seeing the group with you : which, sometimes, leads to people having a false sense of self. When a person thinks in terms of “I”, then he gets the accountability for his actions. But when a person thinks in terms of “what is best for the group”, then he can make all the excuses when he fails. And the opposite is true as evidenced by people’s actions after a Pacquiao win/ Ms World success. This is probably not going to account for your neighbors being a jerk- some people are just jerks and sadly, that is fact.

    • Joe America says:

      That is very interesting. But I think we end up with what is called a conundrum. Without question, Americans are more “I” in their individual behavior, and indeed generally leave the nest at around 18, yet somehow they develop a strong national union, and a strong awareness of others, in terms of courtesy. Whereas in the Philippines, families are deeply bound together for a lifetime, the national union is not very cohesive, and there is less awareness of others, in terms of courtesy. So there must be something to this “accountability” thing that also tightens the community bond. Maybe not so much in love or need, but in respect and mutual work. And even sacrifice.

      Fascinating, actually. Thanks for the “light bulb” moment.

      • ikalwewe says:

        the national union is not very cohesive
        True.I think people are more loyal to their respective smaller groups than to the nation. We think small and we function best at smaller groups.

        and there is less awareness of others, in terms of courtesy
        Reminds me of riding the trains in the Philippines! Passengers, in front of the door, forcing themselves in while you try to get out. Surely, it was to their benefit that I was stepping out?
        But I think it’s a bad trait on a collective scale. lack of proper education? I had this friend who lost his car keys in Rockwell. He got it back, surprisingly. He said to me, “If I lost if somewhere else, I wouldn’t have found it again! People in Rockwell are different.” But different, how? We don’t want to think that a social class can determine a person’s actions… Yet look at Tokyo, and look at Manila.. Makes you think..
        Also, my husband told me that every year, according to a stat he read somewhere, around 10+ Japanese are killed in the Philippines. And here’s the whopper : majority of the masterminds are Japanese!
        So while Japanese are very much well behaved here (0.83 murders per 100,000 people per year), it seems like they feel freer to act as they like in the Philippines. So maybe it’s because of how ever body is there that releases the aggressive savage in you, brings out the worst in you. (Besides, you can more likely get away with it, right?) If you can’t beat them, join them! I observed this especially with how I drive. And how Filipinos become law-abiding tax-paying pedestrian-lane-using citizens abroad. Sad.

        Sorry, I forgot to give credit where credit is due. The book (we/I) is called “The art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University.

        • Joe America says:

          The American national union is bitterly divided, politically, and that risks poisoning the national patriotism that has been very strong since WWII. Americans as a group do support their troops, and the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They will still sacrifice for country, I think.

          The Japanese are indeed hard to figure out. I worked directly for Japanese managers at a large bank in the US. for 13 years. It took about two years to figure things out, and the subject would take up way more space than this mere blog has room for..

  11. just wanted to say (if belatedly) thanks for this piece. needed to read it. whether or not it’s because I’m a Filipino. 😉

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