Estop’s Fables: The Creatures and the Dinner Bell


The Leaders of the Bands

Once upon a time, two bands of creatures arrived on an island. One band was known by scientists as Americano Erectus Whitus, the other Filipino Cheatus Amalgamatus.

In modern terms, the first word of the scientific designation indicates the origin of the species by country, that is, America or Philippines. The second word is what is popularly seen to be the main motivation, driver or obsession of the group, that is, sex for the American band and cheating people for the Philippine band. The third word signifies predominant racial composition of the dominant class of the group, that is, European white for the American group and a giant stew of cross-breeding among the Philippine group, from Spanish to hill tribe to Chinese and maybe even an American Indian or two, tossed in for spice.

It’s perplexing that both bands have selected leaders who are not of the cultural mainstream, almost as if the mainstream recognizes that what they do and what they say can be two different things. It’s almost like a scream for higher values . . . a scream few seem to heed . . .

Well, we are not scientists or Latin scholars or even cultural philosophers, so we may take the liberty of simplifying the terms and getting on with our business.

We will call one group of creatures “Americans” and the other “Filipinos”.

Now, scientists observed that when the creatures were placed on an island together, things did not go well. Arguments ensued, and insults flew, and one group of creatures invariably looked down their noses at the other. Friction inevitably built until sparks flew and lightning struck in the form of tossing people out of military bases or somesuch.

Filipino senators rushed about crying “the humiliation, the humiliation!” and American businessmen tore their hair out because of the nonsense that greeted them upon arrival in Manila.

As it came to pass, scientists at Cambridge consulted with those from Harvard and UP Diliman. They all read up on Pavlov, Rorschach, Freud and Enrile. Then they decided on a little experiment.

They put five Americans and five Filipinos in a house together, asking them to just behave naturally.

The scientists also asked the cook to ring a bell when each meal was served.

The results were stunning.

Upon hearing the bell, the five Americans would quickly collect at the table to eat, but the Filipinos arrived later, one after the other, and generally in the same order, which scientists later determined was a kind of pecking order with the last to arrive generally considered to be the most important.

Now this confused scientists because they had heard a lot about the strength of Filipino families, and yet it was the Americans who seemed to gather as a collective while Filipinos stacked up in a row based on individual importance.

The experiment was run hundreds of times and the results were all pretty much the same. Americans arrived quickly to join together and Filipinos came later, individually in order of importance, least to most.

Scientists interviewed the subjects after the tests were done. Here are some common responses:

Question: What did the bell mean to you?

  • Americans. Time to Eat.
  • Filipinos: Food is ready.

Q: How did your band of creatures respond to the bell?

  • A: Fine. We arrived promptly to share our meal together.
  • F: Fine. We finished what was important and then went to eat.

Q: What did you think about how the other group responded?

  • A: The Filipinos were rude and inconsiderate, arriving late all the time. They seemed to think they were more important than us.
  • F: The Americans were rude and greedy, rushing to the table to get the food first. They always complained if we had important things to finish up, as if they knew better than us how to do things.

After the interviews were done – hundreds of questions, not just the three examples cited here – the scientists got together in a series of seminars and compared notes. Here’s a synopsis of their findings:

  1. Americans are team-oriented and rule-bound. The rules are viewed as important to develop a kind of productive harmony that promotes team success.
  2. Filipinos are individualistic and power bound. Rules are guidelines to be applied if they help acquire the goods and money or build power. Team harmony is not a recognized concept.

Then the scientists – Americans, Filipinos and foreigners alike – went out and got knock-down drunk because they understood that cultural oil and water can mix well only if one band of creatures or another is genetically decomposed.

The moral of the story?

  • Figure out what you want to achieve then decide if an American bell or Filipino bell works best for your band of creatures.
147 Responses to “Estop’s Fables: The Creatures and the Dinner Bell”
  1. manuel buencamino says:

    Interesting piece but I take exception to your choice of the second word, cheatus, to describe Filipinos. Cheatus describes your people better, your history is one long tale of cheating, from the Indian Treaties to the financial disaster at the end of Bush’s term. And sex is not the driver of America any more than it is for any other people. Americano Greedus Whitus is a better scientific description. Finally bells are for animals. Filipinos know this so they tolerate them rather than respond obediently to them.

    • abe galon says:

      Yeah I agree, there are rare American Cheatus, but it is worst in the Philippines.

      Additionally, there are rare Americano Greedus while the Filipino Greedus only steal the food on the table destined to the poor taxpayers. Americano Cheatus and Greedus are in the state of in danger species because they have a better law while the Filipino Cheatus and Greedus are in the state of abundancy because we have people above the law.

      I am a Filipino who is very sick and tired of our misguided nationalism. Let us all wake up and accept the fact that we have lots of work to do.

      • manuel buencamino says:


        “there are rare Americano Greedus while the Filipino Greedus only steal the food on the table destined to the poor taxpayers.” Really?

        Let’s After the last crisis in America, how many Wall Street bankers went to jail while millions of average Americans lost their jobs and homes? Did the banks go belly up or did the US government bail the out? Now where do you think the bail out money came from, did Bernanke pull it out of his ass or did it come from the poor taxpayers?

        How has the so called war on terror affected social services in America – did the government have more to spend on education, health, infrastructure or less? And how much profit did the war industry make because the poor taxpayers money went to finance the so called war on terror waged by the government?

        I am a Filipino who is very sick and tired of not only misguided nationalism but shortsightedness as well.

        • abe galon says:


          there are rare Americano Greedus while the Filipino Greedus only steal the food on the table destined to the poor taxpayers.” Really

          Hello, Good morning dude. Perhaps I did not make myself clear with the above statement. The Filipino Greedus, oh boy, I love that phrase, but anyway I was referring to our public servants who take away that food money for the poor and use that money to build mansions and other mischief. Are you denying that statement? Let us not be shortsighted now, but instead look at the horizon straight ahead as far as we possibly could and find a solution to the problem. No excuses.

          In contrast, the Americano Greedus meant American public servant. The last Amercano Greedus that I remembered who qualified for the title was Ex Vice President Agnew who took bribe when he was a lowly public servant and eventually resigned the Vice Presidency.

          There is no denying that the Wall Street fiasco happened, and let me remind you that the event was in private sector and amazingly not those people we trusted to protect our public funds. Why? Can we focus on public servants and stick with the issue.

          The taxpayer’s money you are referring to was used to bail out or help out, and oh boy I am just delighted to inform you that the US economy is coming back, it does consistently.. Don’t worry those taxpayer’s money was not a dole out because there are conditions set how it is being paid.

          Not to worry on Americanus Erectus Whitus’ social welfare because they are in good hand. I got my SSS pension the following month of my 62nd birthday. Nobody is allowed to delay or steal the money if they do, surely they will go to jail. What about the Filipino Cheatus? Well, it takes them months and years before they decide to release the SSS and GSIS pensions. Do you any idea Why?

          You see, the Filipino Cheatus became so proficient they find a way how to steal the calamity aid money destined to the poor people, so that they could build mansions and buy luxury apartments at 5th Avenue, NYC. WHY?

          That is right MB, they are so proficient, but immoral that they learned to steal from the indigent poor senior citizens. What are you talking about Abe? Well, RA 9994 “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010” gives the Indigent Senior Citizens a social pension of P500.00 monthly. DSWD is the administrator, and the Filipino Cheatus officials say there is no funding. What do you mean no funding? The law specified that there will be a Senior Citizens single line item budget entry and request to be submitted to GAA annually, so what happened?

          Why don’t you, me, and Joe band together and help this poor Indigent Senior Citizens find out what happened to their most needed P500.00 Social Pension? Oh boy! This is the food on the table I was talking about and I just tickled Joe’s aching brain to write something about it.

          By the way, the issue of my view is not about characterization or race relation, its the reality.

          • manuel buencamino says:


            The American public servant/s who was supposed to regulate the Wall Street and the US banking industry came from Wall Street, right? Conflict of interest?

            The American public servant who oversaw the Iraq war and who awarded no bid contracts to private corporations involved in the war came from and owned substantial shares in Halliburton, right? Dick Cheney ring a bell?

            The American public servant on the Republican side of the aisle wants SSS replaced by 401Ks and to prevent healthcare being made available to all Americans right? The same American public servant who supports the troops defunded veterans hospitals because waging war made it too expensive to take care of those injured in the war, right? Previous to the war in Iraq a patriotic American public servant decided to give tax breaks to the rich and caused a budget deficit that among other things resulted in sequestrations that led to the defunding of veterans hospitals. Does Ronald Reagan ring a bell?

            Sa madaling salita, there are good and bad eggs in the Philippines and in America. Let’s not quibble. Identify what’s wrong with where you live and do something about it, I will do the same with where I live. Do it your way where you are and I will do it my way where I am.

          • abe galon says:


            Yes, let is not quibble, but allow me make some comment.

            I am not sure if there is a conflict of interest if a Wall Street guy is hired as a public servant. There are few of them, but I hardly see it as conflict of interest.

            Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton and stock options made him very wealthy, but he resigned before running for Vice President. He is clean and I shook his hand when he was the Secy DOD.

            There was a proposal to invest in 401K but rejected because it is too risky. Did you know that Phil govt is invested in MERALCO?

            USA takes care of active and retired service men and women. Fact is that they even thank me when they send me a letter for serving the country and defending their freedom. Veterans hospitals are funded appropriately.

            You are right about the tax break, they send me a check and I am not even rich.

            Ronald Reagan is my hero, so please don’t mess with the man.

            Yes, I agree there are bad and good eggs everywhere. You sound like that you possess that ability to respond, so I thought I might ask you to help, but don’t worry I do what I can where I live which I have already done. I don’t want to brag, but I would like tell you that I already adopted two indigent senior citizens of which got a 500 pesos per month from me.
            You think you can spare some of your change to an indigent senior citizen? Yes you can easily do that in your place. God Bless and be a friend.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            I hardly see it as conflict of interest. He is clean and I shook his hand. Veterans hospitals are funded appropriately. Ronald Reagan is my hero, so please don’t mess with the man.Oops I didn’t realize I was talking to a true believer. Goodnight my friend. Good luck with your life and don’t eat too much of that pie in the sky.

          • jcc says:

            BTW, Reagan is the last American President who continued to prop up the bloody Marcos regime.

          • abe galon says:


            From time to time, it is nice to eat that pie in the sky. It keeps your straight.

          • abe galon says:


            That is right. Reagan doesn’t like communist.

          • jcc says:

            What part of the world this Abe Galon came from? He does not even know that American foreign policy is to promote American interest. Marcos was pro-military bases while his probable successors may not. Marcos cronies were partners of American businessmen in Mindanao and CIA was interested in his gold. Which part of this he cannot understand.

            The article as explained by Joeam was about choosing what people would want to be and follow the model he has unraveled to pursue their objective – which is the American way or Filipino way. However, he was leaning toward the American way because their way was team work and rule oriented. He was not actually giving you a choice. He made the choice for you to follow the American way, which he believes is best for the Filipinos.

            • Joe America says:

              I made no such choice “to follow the American way”. I said each band of creatures should decide what it wants to be, then structure its deeds and acts to achieve that goal. I have stated explicitly in the comment thread that I think the US way is perhaps not the best for the Philippines. Kindly don’t mislead readers, eh?

          • jcc says:

            Two people too impaired to see the light? ahehehehe….

            Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke wrote in “All The Trouble In The World” quoting Robert Malthus:

            “The most successful supporters of tyranny are without doubt those general disclaimers who attribute the distresses of the poor, and almost all the evil to which society is subject, to human institutions and the inequity of government.”

            We should wipe the gnostic smirk of self-righteousness off the faces of the moral buttinskis. Anyone who thinks he has a better idea of what’s good for the people than people do is a swine.

          • jcc says:

            Oh, I’ve got your piece all figure out Joeam. Yes, you did not propose that Pinoys go the American way, but when you presented two bands — one with good team-work and rule-bound ethics and another band that is individualistic and unbound by rules, you actually narrowed down the choice.

            • Joe America says:

              Not really. If we subscribe to a power-based, favor-trading system, and believe it will generate a better nation (such as a good dictator might, ala Singapore), we would opt for a form of government that fits the culture rather than pursue a much more difficult task like reconfigure the culture to fit the (American) social model and government. ps, enjoy your Sabbatical. Joe

              • jcc says:

                Singapore is rule-oriented. You cannot even chew gum in public places. It is team-work oriented too.

                “(I)n 1977 we passed laws to prohibit any person or his or her nominee from holding more than 3 per cent of the ordinary shares of a newspaper, and created a category of shares called management shares. The minister had the authority to decide which shareholders would have management shares. He gave management shares to Singapore’s four major local banks. They would remain politically neutral and protect stability and growth because of their business interests. I do not subscribe to the Western practice that allows a wealthy press baron to decide what voters should read day after day.” (From Third World To First, The Singapore Story, Lee Kuan Yew, p. 191-92).

                You see my friend Joeam, we tend to look at other countries always from a Western prism. Singapore may not have the same rambunctious press of the West and RP, but they look at their press management as a “teamwork” effort, not “censorship.”

              • jcc says:

                Thanks Joe. I have other things to do other than blogging and when my furlough is over, I hope I will become a better person. Rest assured though that all these exchanges were purely intellectual calisthenics. My respect and esteem for your remain undiminished.

          • abe galon says:


            Doesn’t matter in what part of the world Abe Galon came from, what matter is that I got offended with that phrase and I got your number about simplicity, academic calisthenics and especially that Filipino trait of superiority. I dealt with few people with that character.

            Excuse me! “Doesn’t know American Foreign Policy” huh? Look, I have been part of implementing American foreign policy to fight the communist. Also, I was in the Philippine Constabulary to do the same thing.

            What about you? What have you done as a Filipino Cheatus?

            I already have a life and I don’t need JoeAm or anybody to influence my life.

            Do not follow American way.
            Do not follow Filipino Way
            Follow the right way….

          • jcc says:

            Abe Galon,

            Never did I advance the idea that Filipino character is superior than that of the Americans only that I do not accept the proposition that anyone’s character is superior than that of the Filipinos, or the flaws of Pinoys are but mirror image of other cultures. Pinoys have no proprietary right over “screw-ups” —character flaw is universal.

            But why other nations with people as deficient as Pinoys have achieved international status as “wealthy” and “strong” while RP remains mired in poverty and corruption? I am entirely clueless. I can give you the cliché, “Filipinos were imprisoned in the convent for 400 years and entertained in Hollywood for 40 years, therefore their education had been entirely founded on ‘myth’ and ‘make-believe.’ They believed in their politicians who robbed them blind and for organized religion to save their souls.

            I don’t want to deflate that balloon in your proud PC uniform, but let me digress.
            Philippine Constabulary was an American tool to suppress the nationalist aspirations of the Filipinos. Part of the myth-making imposed on us by the Americans was that the PC was for the protection of the Filipinos.

            “Operating first under conditions under martial and then under colonial government that denied Filipinos full civil liberties, the U.S. regime deployed police surveillance to track suspected subversives, both Filipinos and foreign. In this tropical hothouse of institutional hybridization, the colonial police fused military intelligence methods with the latest in civilian law enforcement achieve in an exemplary efficiency. The Philippines Constabulary created a secret service, the Information Division, that became the first U.S. agency with a fully developed covert capacity. The Manila Metropolitan Police, equipped with a Secret Service Bureau of its own, soon became the most modern police force anywhere under the American flag. At the apex of this colonial intelligence community, the U.S. Army’s Division of Military Information conducted intelligence, counter-intelligence, and foreign espionage. Any crowd that formed in Manila was soon thick with spies from these three services.”

            “With a complexity and coherence that belied the speed of its formation, this nascent U.S. security state combined uniformed forces for raw coercion and secret services for covert control. Battle hardened in a dirty war against the Filipino nationalists and ardent in their embrace of empire, these American colonial police and their native auxiliaries soon mastered techniques of surveillance, intelligence, and penetration. Most important, the U.S. Army’s application of military science to municipal administration created something of a revolution in policing. Combining militarized coercion, information management, and covert operations, the army created a police force far more advanced than either its Spanish antecedent or its American contemporaries.” (Policing America’s Empire, Alfred W. McCoy, p. 60-61).

          • jcc says:

            @Abe Galon;

            Don’t you know that the first Constabulary Chief of the island, (RP) Henry T. Allen, is a white supremacist freak who compared Filipinos to rabid dogs?

            “Although he was less extreme in his opinions than many in Manila’s expatriates community, Chief Allen still believed in countering Filipino opposition with brute force. In April 1902 controversy erupted in the U.S. Congress over a report by the civil governor of Tayabas Province, Maj. Cornelius Gardener, accusing the army of abuses in its pacification campaign. “Of late by reason of the conduct of troops,” the major stated, “such as the extensive burning of the barrios in trying to law waste the country…. the torturing of natives by so-called water-cure and other methods… a deep hatred toward U.S… is being fast .. engendered.” While conceding the truth of the charge, Allen lobbied hard to have the matter swept aside in the interests of the larger imperial enterprise. In a confidential letter to a War Department officer, he admitted that he had received credible reports of torture, of soldiers raping women in Tayabas town, and of troops that had worked two Catholic priests to death on a road crew. If investigated these charges would, he said, “scandalize the army in the eyes of all decent Americans,” putting “a considerable weapon in the hands .. of people who apparently would be glad to see the Philippine problem a failure. Rural Filipinos, Allen felt, suffered from “intense ignorance” and the “fanatical tendencies characteristic of semi-savagery” for which, regrettably, “the only immediate remedy is killing and for the same reason that a rabid dog must be disposed of.” (Policing America’s Empire, Alfred W. McCoy, p. 89).

            No, Abe, I did not serve in the Philippine Constabulary, but in not serving in it does not make me a lesser patriot.

          • anonymous says:


            Thank you for the history lesson; however, it is totally unnecessary since I am already a big boy. What I am telling you is stop patronizing me as if I am your grandson. Surely, you could express your views and I shall respect it, but you will lose that respect not only from me, but other posters when you keep that heavily verbose intellectual and academic calisthenics you like to project.

            Take it from JoeAm who rarely quote smart people around the world, unless it is absolutely necessary.

            Excessive dwell in the past tense is unhealthy, let us just move on and continue to advocate good ideals and perhaps change some of our bad habits.

          • jcc says:

            ahahaa.. It never occured to me that I have patronized you… Besides history is our guide to the future. The reason RP never moves forward because we look at our exploiters, both local and foreign as our saviors. We never learned from our mistakes. One commenter was so proud of his PC uniform but totally clueless of the symbol of that uniform. I am not really quoting smart people. I am quoting merely researchers who spent time looking in the archives and documenting their position from primary sources so that records could be set right. If only online people would make a habit of looking for support of their position by citing historians or researchers before opening their mouth maybe the world would be less contentious place to live.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m glad you found he article interesting. I always thought Aesop should not have picked on foxes so much, but I did learn a lot.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        Aesop never characterized Filipinos as a race of cheaters.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, I guess you’d have to take that complaint up with the scientists who picked up that characterization from listening to those of Country A who had incorrect stereotypes of Country B. The scientists did not say the characterizations are true, only that they are held by a lot of people.

  2. jcc says:

    Americans are rule oriented. Yes, they perceive certain things and then invent the rule and follow it to the letters. They want RP to be their satellite in the 1890s, they invent the rule of “Manifest Destiny”, “Benevolent Assimilation” and “White Man’s Burden” then apply the rule to their precision. Similar to what they did to Puerto Rico, Marianas, Guam and Hawaii.

    They wanted to control the French Indochina, (Vietnam) then they invented “Domino Theory” ( the concept that if Vietnam becomes communist, all its neighboring countries will become communist).

    They wanted to invade Iraq then they invent the rule of the danger of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

    They wanted to spy on their citizens, then the invented NSA to take charge of domestic surveillance.

    They wanted to splurge on lobby groups and interest groups and rescue them from bankruptcy, then the invented the rule of “Too Big To Fail.”

    They wanted to grab the Indian Lands, then they invented the rule of “Efficient Land Management.”

    They wanted Cuba to remain weak, then they invented the rule that any nation within the territorial “hegemony” of the U.S. that has armaments that is inimical to the best interest of the U.S. will meet the appropriate response from the U.S. (The reason behind the missile crisis under Kennedy).

    • abe galon says:

      Well, American are a bunch of inventors and you know that already, What have the Filipinos had invented beneficial to mankind? One of ours invented the love bug virus out of frustration against our corrupted system. I wonder what is that doing in America, Why?

      I think the idea is working together and we fail that category miserably and that is demonstrated with Mar Roxas and that incompetent Mayor in Tacloban. Why oh why?

  3. abe galon says:

    There are two comments in all, all of which missed the point, but rather defending the national Filipino pride is a must and to hell with rest. What a concept?

    Solidarity in the Philippines is problematic because there are so many social classes and the majority wants to be the boss.

    • Joe America says:

      yes, abe, a fable has the main purpose of causing us to think about our own behavior so that we can strive for self improvement. To the extent that the fable is used as a jumping off place to criticize others, then I would agree the point is being missed.

    • jcc says:

      You pawn at everything that is American and detest your own. I am not defending the Pinoys. I am looking at races across the board. Screwing up the system is not exclusively a Filipino trait. Other cultures screw up big-time also. You just have to open your eyes and stop defecating on your own people.

      • Joe America says:

        I guess we need a definitions section. What some may term defecation others might call introspection. It depends on what the aim is. If it is to condemn for the sake of condemnation, I agree that is defecating. If it is to figure out how people can live healthier and happier lives, I’d say that some honorable introspection might be a good starting point.

        • manuel buencamino says:

          One must start with correct definitions

          • Joe America says:

            See comment elsewhere. The definitions are stereotypes. I can assure you that many outsiders view Filipinos as corrupt. If it is a problem of perception, not fact, then get all the Napoleses and plundering politicians off the front pages and put in their stead the accomplishments of the nation.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            And so we are down to stereotyping an entire people based on images created by mass media. I come from a remote town where the only channel I get is Fox News. So I conclude that America is a country where good God-fearing white people are oppressed by a vindictive black muslim from Kenya in cahoots with anti-capitalist gays and lesbians. And if I am told that my perception is wrong then the best way to change the way I think is for Americans to get rid of their president and all the gays and lesbians in their midst. Fire up the ovens!

        • Dee says:

          You have defined defecation and introspection well. In fairness, I would like to hear jcc’s definitions as well. Maybe it will shed a light on her angst filled retort and we will all be more enlightened.

        • jcc says:

          If you cross analyze Pinoys traits vis-à-vis American traits, then come up with the conclusion that American trait is superior than Pinoy, then I called that defecating.

          • Dee says:

            “The moral of the story?
            Figure out what you want to achieve then decide if an American bell or Filipino bell works best for your band of creatures.”

            That is what I thought was the conclusion. The fable is just an imaginative story-telling to drive home a point or moral. What I’ve taken away from the fable is that, timing and technique is everything. Use the right attitude at the right time and you’ll be positively rewarded for your efforts, and vice versa.

            Maybe my looking glass may be tainted by living in a household where the East meets West. The numerous strains of blood coursing through my veins makes me a natural pacifist as I try hard to understand both ideology. They say we have the best of both worlds but I can tell you that we also have some of its worst.

          • Joe America says:

            I agree with the definition with two mark-ups, that it include those Filipinos who conclude that the Filipino trait is superior to the American, and it include those who would demean a nation on the basis of isolated incidents taken out of any context whatsoever.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            Question: What did the bell mean to you?
            Americans. Time to Eat.
            Filipinos: Food is ready.

            How one responds to the bell differentiates an animal from a human. The animal hears the bell and goes to the trough to eat hungry or not. He responds to the prompting of the bell not to the promptings of his stomach. The human hears the bell and acknowledges that food is ready, he can eat when he decides.

            And that leads to question #2

            Q: How did your band of creatures respond to the bell?
            A: Fine. We arrived promptly to share our meal together.
            F: Fine. We finished what was important and then went to eat.

            Again a clear distinction between animal and human responses.

            Finally #3

            Q: What did you think about how the other group responded?
            A: The Filipinos were rude and inconsiderate, arriving late all the time. They seemed to think they were more important than us.
            F: The Americans were rude and greedy, rushing to the table to get the food first. They always complained if we had important things to finish up, as if they knew better than us how to do things.

            Both conclusions are wrong. The correct conclusion is – Americans respond to bells without thinking. Filipinos think before they act.

          • jcc says:

            @MB, bring out the fervor my friend. 🙂

          • abe galon says:


            It is Sunday morning and it is a good one. You brought up an interesting superiority issue and I want to take you on and see which one defecates best.

            Someone mentioned American is rule-oriented. Is he saying that Filipinos are not?

  4. jcc says:

    The PDAF fund scam would pale in comparison with the Madoff fund scam in 2008.

    • andy says:

      @ jcc: PDAF fund scam involves taxpayers’ money. Madoff fund scam involved schemers’ money!

      • abe galon says:

        That is one of the big point to consider. Madoff fund and pork scam are like oil and water.

        Hey, JCC I want to speak with you, I provoked your thought aggressively in my previous comment and you elect to ignore the point. Sometime we need to act like a reasonable gentleman.

      • jcc says:

        Oh, God, how simplistic you could be…. The Wall Street debacle had cascaded into the pockets of “ordinary taxpayers.” To bail out the system that is too big to fail, the FEDS siphoned off public money to rescue failing banks and investment houses with billions of people’s money.

        I said I am not defending the PINOYs. I said, please open up your eyes, because screw ups is not exclusively a PINOY trait. It infects cultures across the board. Yes, PINOYs have their shortcomings and they are corrupt. But so are Americans.

        • jcc says:

          U.S. or CIA’s involvement in Vietnam ranges from sublime to immoral. Under the guise of promoting democracy in that part of the world was a clandestine effort to control the opium trade in the triad.

          “Although there are problems in may CIA divisions, complicity with the drug lords seems limited to the agency’s covert operations units. In the broad terms, the CIA engages in two types of clandestine work: espionage, the collection of information about present and future events; and covert action, the attempt to use extralegal means – assassination, destabilization, or secret warfare — to somehow influence the outcome of those events. In the second cold war crisis of 1947, the national security act that established CIA contained a single clause allowing the new agency to perform “other functions and duties” that the president might direct – in effect, creating the legal authority for the CIA’s covert operatives to break any law in pursuit of their objectives. From this vague clause has sprung the entire CIA covert action ethos and the radical pragmatism that have encouraged repeated alliances with drug lords over the past decades.” (The Politics of Heroin, Alfred McCoy, p. 492).

          So you talk about Pinoys inability to queue in line for the bus station, or their overt criminal activities and their “entitlement” attitude then look at the U.S. through the mainstream media and sigh a great relief, “What a wonderful country this is.”

        • abe galon says:


          Thank you, that is all I want to hear that PINOYs have their shortcoming and they are corrupt. I drink to that. True, there are corrupt Americans too, but very minimal.

          Please read my response to ManueBeuncamino; There is a wall street statement there that you may find amusing.

          Whereas, why not simplistic? I got a Filipino Blood just like you who patronize “the KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. Why complicate a simple issue? When one does; things become madness.

          • jcc says:

            Nothing wrong at all with simplicity, but my response was more on the logical fallacy of oversimplification — in concluding that MADOFF scam as well as the Wall Street raid on investors’ money does not involve public money. Banking fraud always involves public money directly — the depositors/investors’ money and the pension funds of ordinary working Americans. These depositors/investors are still part of the public though they may not have put their investment in government treasury.

            Besides, money classification as public or private, while useful in civic discourse, is totally irrelevant when both moneys are stolen, the first by public officers, the second by private banks and investment companies. The effect on the economy is as hurtful and deleterious in both situations.

            “In the financial industry, there are all sorts of explicit and implicit agreements when it comes to investing, managing and protecting other people’s money. These all have one thing in common – an obligation to operate ethically. When this obligation breaks down, as when incentives that encourage violations of these agreements, bad things happen. These violations include CEOs who get paid more even when their shareholders suffer; accounting firms and rating agencies that treat as “clients” the companies they’re paid to evaluate; regulators who lower the standards to increase the number of banks in their domain; politicians who use government money and guarantees to aid the short term and get more votes at the cost of longer term; and individuals who lie or allowed to do so on credit applications. Unfortunately, the few bad actors spoil it for the many good ones, and did so in such a way during the financial crisis that it severely damaged our banking sector and our economy and hurt our trust in the financial system.” (Exile On Wall Street, Mike Mayo, p. 173).

            “(T)here was a time at Goldman, and Wall Street in general, when if people crossed an ethical line in trying to advance, they would be fired, demoted, or reprimanded. The way it works now is, you can push hard as you want and as far as you want, and as long as you keep your power, no one above you is going to step in. But even in today’s rough-and-tumble world, there’s a certain point where the maneuvering becomes so unethical that it undermines morale at large, and sets a bad example for junior people. It shows the first-year analyst and the new associate that bad behavior gets rewarded.” (Why I Left Goldman Sachs, Greg Smith, p. 227).

          • abe galon says:


      • jcc says:

        Please watch 2 Guns, (Mark Wahlberg – Denzel Washington). America seen through its underbelly.

      • manuel buencamino says:


        All of America had to pay for the bailout of banks. Where do you think the bail out money came from…Bernanke’s ass?

        • andy says:

          @manuel buencamino: Don’t be a smartass MB. This Fil-Am for all you know benefited big time from the bank bailout when I accepted an offer to refinance the mortgage to my mansion in Redmond, WA during that financial crisis year at a very very low 3.125% interest rate. It’s been over 4 years and I’ve saved tons of money on mortgage interest payments which more than compensated me for my “contribution” to the bailout. My point is: The Talented Mr. Madoff did not steal money from the oppressed and the downtrodden Americans. He picked the pockets of wealthy investors whose insatiable greed for easy gains have ruined their fortunes. I rest my case.

          • abe galon says:

            Go andy Go~!!!


          • jcc says:

            If you have a mansion you do not belong to the working-class Americans hurt by the bailout.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            Good for you Abe. Millions of Americans are cheering your stroke of good luck. Nothing like seeing an immigrant who makes it in America and who ends believing he’s in heaven while the rest of the world rots in hell.

          • abe galon says:


            I don’t need anyone to cheer for me. It is funny, I don’t believe I am in heaven and the good luck thingy you mentioned never get into my head, I am a down to earth guy who like to help out if I could. I asked you to spare your pocket change for the aged, didn’t I?

            If you excuse me, got to go for an errand, be back about noon. Can you walk the walk and do an excellent talk the talk simultaneously? Make a man out of you? Are you?

        • jcc says:

          @MB, Sometimes the money came from the printing press which is even worst. Because printing it out of thin air makes working-class Americans’ menial savings go down the drain. The dollar plummets and what used to be their 1 dollar saving becomes $50 cents savings.

  5. Joseph-Ivo says:

    Americans learned to synchronize with machines, trains, production lines, traffic lights… Many Filipinos have a rural background where nature rules without a stopwatch in its hands.

    In Europe mothers used to cook and slow food was the rule, first soup, than entrée, finally dessert. We had to respect mothers work, coming late was not an option and most often the food was so good that we couldn’t even imagine to taste it cold. In the Philippines many have helpers who cook, all is served at once, temperature and so timing is not an issue.

    Showing respect by submitting to invariable, objective “rules” or respect by acknowledging people with emotions and changing moods? I still struggle to decide what is best and hope that in paradise we can have both.

    • Joe America says:

      Your first paragraph makes clear what I think is obvious, American and Filipino standards and social processes are very different. That is the given. Both have dysfunctions that can be highlighted, but that is not the issue. The important question is, what do we want to be? What serves us best? For example, the American NSA spying culture has run aground and the question is, will it change? Is the framework in place to make it change? The Filipino plundering culture has also run aground and the question is, will it change?

      I’m working on a blog which you raised up by asking why there is no follow-through in the Philippines. There are a number of reasons, I think. But the starting point has to be, “what do we want to be?”

      The point of the fable is to ask, what is the goal? If you want to change, great. If you want to stay the same, great. If you want to deny the importance of doing the introspection, not so great.

      • Joseph-Ivo says:

        I understand, but my point is that I don’t know. Don’t know which attitude will make people more happy, don’t know if there is one optimum solution or if there are different optima possible, don’t know if it has to change naturally or if it needs action, don’t know the deeper root cause or causes, don’t know what we might lose if we change.

        Often no action and natural growth is better than over-correcting. Things are changing, malls have strict opening times, sari-sari’s don’t. The “Philippine Standard Time” since yesterday. OFW’s, call center employees… got a different mentality with regard to time. More people fly at set times rather than take buses with no time schedule.

        Specialization and thus dependency increases fast, requiring more coordination also time wise. (Specialization: a tractor needs mechanics, welders, vulcanizing, fuel station, spare parts… , a caribou can do without.)

        But how to stay light hearted and happy?

  6. Let me counter some points:

    “Americans are team-oriented and rule-bound.”

    Team oriented– Imagine US as one team in which you have Democrats and Republicans. Everyone saw how they shut their gov’t down because of gridlock.
    Rule-bound — yes when it’s convenient and when there are loopholes. Rig the system via lobbying so rules look intact ehh.. cough.. Wall Street..cough

    Harvard cheating scandal:

    BUT, this blog is not about US. It’s ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES!

    Joe said: “Filipinos are individualistic and power bound. Rules are guidelines to be applied if they help acquire the goods and money or build power. Team harmony is not a recognized concept.”

    Filipinos are power bound just like American lobbyists and their crony politicians, but Filipino trapos are not smart enough TO LEGALIZE their power hunger via loopholes…. in Filipino it’s called “garapalan” or straightforward wrongdoing.

    Individualistic– i think you got your definition mixed up.

    “Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group,” — wiki

    The above mentioned doesn’t reflect the real-life attitudes of Filipinos. Haven’t you heard “wala kang pakikisama (you aren’t a team player) ” often where you live? Most sociologist will classify the Phls as a collectivist society.

    Peace out!

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      Moving a house together or Sinulog as a symbols of Philippine individualism???

      A caste society yes, but within a caste teamwork can be very strong.

    • Joe America says:

      Interesting. My reaction. American “greed” is individualistic but carried out within a framework that for the most part protects and builds the greater community, or nation. Filipino “power” is also individualistic, but done within a framework of authority and favor-trading that protects segments of the greater community and often with easy disregard for laws that protect and build the greater community. I suppose the Mafia operates with a similar set of team rules. Or commie rebels.

      The frequent demand that we be “team players” is more an expression of authority – do what I say – than indicative of a band of people who sacrifice for the community in the spirit of real teamwork. .

      • Joseph-Ivo says:

        Overlooked “Builds the greater community, or nation”.

        This was very true in the 50’s and 60’s. Now it’s building only the 1%. Dare to look at the objective statistics of income distribution and social mobility. The 1% are the individualistic, the 99% are the Americans with team spirit, more than 3/4 of them loosing big time, not only financially, but even worse loosing trust, loosing belief in fairness, loosing dreams.

        (Trust and believe in fairness are two essential ingredients for a true democracy. Also the majority of Filipinos lack these two.)

        • Joseph-Ivo says:

          … and all this discussion because a few Filipinos came late for dinner 🙂

        • From dinner bells to statistics. WOW… So researchers are trying to explain wealth inequality through the dichotomy of individualism and collectivism. Some “social scientists” are too desperate to get that research grant. What happened to the more substantive economic concepts?

          What a hasty assumption..

          “Trust and believe in fairness are two essential ingredients for a true democracy. Also the majority of Filipinos lack these two.”

          Yes, this is kinda realistic, BUT some Americans in power also exhibit the same behavior.

          How many times do I have to point this out? Intense lobbying and campaign finance in US.

          Maybe humans have the propensity to ditch fairness for personal gain.– better explanation than choosing between two bells.

          • Joe America says:

            The moral of the fable is to decide first what you want to achieve. That is the main message of the blog. The choice of two bells is really a choice of an infinite number of bells. The whipping of either American or Filipino culture or acts or people is really a bit off the mark, as each, from Gates to Reagan to NSA, deserve to be given proper context for what they did, when they did it, and any bad outcomes they caused. Let us agree that introspection is important and finding villains or heroes is exhaustively hopeless to resolve in one blog.

      • “American “greed” within a framework that for the most part protects and builds the greater community, or nation.”

        Big words my friend, I think that framework based on “greed” is not building a greater American community based on the reality you see on the news: Repeal of Glass-Steagall Act.

        To summarize:

        Regarding choosing a bell, I won’t for now. Those 2 are full of defects…

        • jcc says:

          In fact the two bells are identical.. 🙂

          “What’s accelerated over the last few decades, however, is just how thoroughly the members of the grifter class (the grifter class is the class that belongs to JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, jcc) mastered their art. They’ve placed themselves at a nexus of political and economic connections that make them nearly impossible to police. And even if they could be policed, there are not and were not even laws on the books to deal with the kinds of things that went on at Goldman Sachs and other investment banks in the run-up to the financial crisis. What has taken place over the last generation is a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government. Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not worth saving and have taken a new mission that involves not creating wealth for all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed-out economy” (Griftopia, Matt Taibbi, p. 32).

          You look at PDAF swindling, it was also the Filipino grifter class that embraced the idea that pillaging is ethical.

    • David Murphy says:

      Interesting that garapal, the root word of garapalan, and which means “blatantly openly shameless”, is taken directly from the Spanish, garrafal. Interesting in that words sometime follow the same track of customs and practices. I’ve often heard that the corruption which is (perceived to be?) so imbedded in the Philippine government (and in other governments with the same history) can be traced back to the influence of the Spanish who ruled for 400 years. This little bit of etymology serves to reinforce that concept.

  7. Dee says:

    Reading the article, I have no doubt that Joe will raise some hackles. In the spirit of introspection, the article hit a lot of nails on the head. One in particular is the caste-like hierarchy. This is very apparent in how Filipino oligarchs and politicians act towards the poor. It bothers me that poor Filipinos keep on turning the other cheek and do not meet the issues heads on. I was told that loss of life could be the result of a loose mouth over there, especially from someone who may be looked at as inconsequential. Life there is cheap, I was told. This saddens me to no end. What could be done for Filipinos to be able to express themselves without the fear of death or retribution?

    • Joe America says:

      I once had a boss who liked to get his employees all riled up because chemical reactions occur faster when substances are heated. Maybe thinking is the same, if we can remain civil in the course of disagreement.

      Yes, life here often seems cheap. No question.

      • Dee says:

        I find that with East side of my family, indirect communication works. On the other hand, the more direct you are with the West side, the better off you are. I guess this is my point of reference as to your dinner bell fable. I do not know how you could rework it to communicate your intent to both readers. It’s easy in a conversation mode since you can shift your technique defending on you are speaking with but I have to look into ways of doing that when writing for a mixed audience.

    • manuel buencamino says:

      Dee read F Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby and tell me there is no caste-like heirarchy in American society, tell me that American oligarchs and politicians act differently from Filipino oligarchs and politicians. The rich, as Fitzgerald wrote, are different from you and me. That applies universally.

      • Dee says:

        Read the book, saw the movie, and ate the sandwich, Manuel. Have you heard or read about Buffett, Gates, Zuck and the likes treating poor people badly? NO. They are philanthropists. Now, enlighten me on how the Filipino Gatsbys do it over there.

        • manuel buencamino says:

          So now we are going to write of silly list of philantropist of your choosing? Even John Gotti had his charities. Let’s not quibble. You live and love America. Stay there. I love it here. Don’t tell me how I should live.

          • Dee says:

            I am not telling you how to live but I can see that you are telling me how to live mine.

            I see a problem, I try to find solutions. I do not put on my nationalistic bravado and change the subject when I am confronted by issues, I take it as a challenge and find as many ways I could to dissect it while hoping to find solutions or alternatives.

        • abe galon says:


          You have described MB accurately. Unreasonable bighead.

        • They are philanthropists HAHAHA. Some people need to read more…

          Gates who was obviously guilty of monopoly in the 90s:


          Fortunately, he has now developed a guilt-cleansing side.

          Zuck who now LOBBIES so that cheaper immigrant workers can replace US-born tech workers


          “Silicon Valley’s main interest here is clear: Tech companies want to be able to hire all the talented foreign engineers they need. This means more H1B visas for high-skilled workers and an easier process for getting green cards for immigrants”

          How about the US-born tech grads who want to move higher in the income strata? Yet, the good Zuck wants to replace them with lower-paid immigrants. Where’s the sympathy?

          MB has the point: The rich, as Fitzgerald wrote, are different from you and me. That applies universally.

          Bottomline: The rich and influential in the US commit lobbying which is VERY POWER-BOUND not VERY RULE-BOUND.

          • Dee says:

            Someone has to look at the positive side of things instead of muckraking people who help other people.

            A lot of companies are guilty of anti-trust violations, not just Microsoft. Gates, indeed, turn around and became a better person. Could you say that for a lot of Filipino Gatsbys?

            Be real, tech fields are hard to fill since US has a high demand and low supply of people with STEM degrees. As a member of IEEE, I am very aware of the situation and I do not have any problem with H1B visa holders. Zuck needs people and it is slim picking domestically so why begrudge him for importing highly skilled foreigners?

            Yes, they are philanthropists and you can’t dispute that FACT.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, I’m rather thinking that Bill Gates defined himself as a highly capable technology, industrialist genius, highly competitive, re-defining popular computing for the world, re-defining corporate structure (collaborative), pushing the edges of legal practices to dominate, and perhaps also a nice guy who chooses to give his money to people in need. In the context of this article, if our gangs of creatures were to have a Bill Gates or two in the midst, they would be very successful, wealthy, healthy, happy gangs.

          • Joseph-Ivo says:

            But his company created a monopoly too and was helped big time by the legislative branch of government. In the US voting system every dollar counts, not every man. Microsoft earned a lot of money they wouldn’t have got in a real free market. A market needs regulation to guarantee fair competition, not too protect the rich.

            The tax system in the US favors the higher incomes, it favors the highest as nowhere else. Even Warren Buffet is ashamed of that, also Bill Gates seems to feel the urge to be more sharing. But it’s not the individuals one should address, it’s the system and politicians allowing poverty, allowing desperation, burdening youth will lifetime studying debts, chasing the less wealthy out of their houses and pay gambling bankers high bonuses again for just doing that.

            • Joe America says:

              Well, Gates is not the subject of this blog, and it would take too much of my time and energy (and laptop battery) to argue this point. Maybe a different day.

              The tax system and politics in general favor large corporations, the latter thanks to an obscene supreme court ruling of a few years ago that allows corporations to give unlimited amounts to political groups backing this candidate or that. I agree with that point. I would however suggest there is a better “trickle down” from the rich to the middle class in America than there is in the Philippines.

              Although, I wonder, when we argue about the contributions or negatives of a guy like Bill Gates, I wonder what hope we have of ever constructing a set of values and government and acts that define a rip-roaring good nation.

          • Joseph-Ivo says:

            “Trickle down”??? Spouting up in the US you mean. Look at whatever statistic you want, income growth in relation to wealth over the last 10 years (negative for the lower incomes), worst in class high school student of rich parents having easier access to good colleges than the best high school students from poor parents (and they can start a career with no debts), real taxes paid as a percentage of total income (salaries and monetary income), etc., etc., etc…

            Here it just doesn’t trickle down and there is little to steal from the poor (PDAF, jueteng…) who pay only some VAT and sin taxes.

          • detarte says:

            Gates, Zuckerberg and other industry leaders are encouraging more young americans to learn how to code, in fact they are feature in the advocacy because they want more americans to participate in the tech sector of the American Economy. FYI, the Great Gatsby tells a story of its time, much has change since then. Henry Ford who wants to build cars for the working people fight the system and win. Even Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller etc at their time change their ways. They contribute huge amount of their wealh to help their others and become philantrophist. Try watching the The Men who built America, its a great documentary about the early elites of American Innovators.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, indeed. The industrialists were smart, competitive and always pushing edges. When they pushed too far, new laws were written to retain fairness, and laws were written to protect equal opportunity for all Americans as employees. It is easy to snipe at a failing here and there and say that that is America. It is not. The successful, honest, innovative, competitive industrialists generated the wealth that benefits all Americans and much of the greater world. Thanks for the perspective.

          • Joseph-Ivo says:

            @detarte, indeed fully agree, there are ample inspirational people I admire as much as you do, I guess. But please read what I’m saying, it’s not the individuals it’s the system.

            @Joeam. Yes what you say is correct until the 80’ies/90’ies, since then children will have less than parents did except for a small percentage that will have much more than their parents. Some reasons: The political system is more biased for those with money (lobbying, campaign supports….). Casino banking with banks reaping the profits of their gambles, the public paying for their bad bets (e.g. from bubbles they created). Bad parts of globalization, such as the downward pressure on wages and because many more people with crooked morals are competing on a freer marked requiring more and better regulation, not less. Wake up, look at the all statistics on the evolution of the income distribution and of the income evolution for the lower 50%. The world you describe is one from 50 years ago, it is not the post Reagan world.

            • Joe America says:

              I’m not sleeping, but I am afraid I have lost the logic of the argument that holds American tycoons responsible for the failings of the corrupt. American politics has always been dominated by corporate tycoons from the land grab from the Indians to the waging of the Philippine American War to the defeat of Germany and Japan in WWII to the convincing of Russia and China that free-market capitalism is a good way to generate wealth. To ascribe villainy to those who are successful because the wealth they create is too easy to grab by the corrupt seems a tad odd to me. Frankly, I see no better social model than one that creates the wealth that generates the jobs that generate a higher standard of living.

              We ought to be pointing the finger of villainy at those who promote poverty through overbirthing, or steal taxpayer wealth, or suppress innovation, or throw up walls against investment. Not the guys who played by the rules, dominated, innovated, and produced.

          • abe galon says:

            “We ought to be pointing the finger of villainy at those who promote poverty through overbirthing, or steal taxpayer wealth, or suppress innovation, or throw up walls against investment. Not the guys who played by the rules, dominated, innovated, and produced.”

            That is just lovely JoeAm; Some opinionated people just can’t figure it out. I wonder if electro-chemical imbalance of bigheads had swollen badly rendering the host inutile.

          • Joe America says:

            @Abe, thanks. And I appreciate your passionate defense of law-abiding free enterprise in this thread. Joseph Ivo is not one of the big-heads, and I think he and I may just be talking past one another.

          • Joseph-Ivo says:

            “The logic of the argument that holds American tycoons responsible for the failings of the corrupt.” Don’t understand, I said several times that I admire (some) tycoons but worry about the systems. I never addressed corruption.

            For me the deeper concern of this discussion is the question “how to alleviate poverty in the Philippines?” The article hints that a lot can be learned from the American way of doing things and I agree to a large extend. But I would like to express some caution. First, the facts today do not always align with the beliefs created in yesterday’s America. Second, it is important to see what could be worthwhile to copy and what should be avoided at all cost.

            1- I was driving in Atlanta in 1997 when on the radio they announced a minimum wage increase of 50 cents. The day before I read that the top 1000 richest people where earning 15,000$ an hour. Two months ago I read that the top 400 are earning 97,000$ an hour and that the wealth of those in the middle decreased by 40% since the crisis began, the wealth of the bottom 25% went from -2,300$ to -12,800$. The same for education, e.g. college fees are 5.5 times higher than in 1985, grants are less. Same for health, e.g. the bottom 25% live expectancy decreased by 5 years. The land of equal opportunities of last century became a myth. The tickle down economy (give the rich more money and they create more jobs, thus less poverty) does not work anymore (with a few exceptions). A lot of the “more money” goes to new business abroad or to machines destroying jobs. All this statistics differ sharply with statistics of the 50’ies and 60’ies of last century. So what America are we talking about, the real or the imagined?

            2- If we knew with certainty what caused the recent rapidly growing inequality, it would be easy to recommend what not to copy. Excessive compensations for CEO’s? Markets insufficiently controlled by regulations? Excellent schooling only accessible for the happy few? (Re)elections as the main driver in politics, not public wellbeing? Extreme lobbying and the 2 billion campaign financing by the 1%?

            For me some important follow up questions are what type of change is needed to:
            1- Increase the government’s income and reduce the leaks.
            2- Accelerate the infrastructure improvements.
            3- Generate a “cultural” change by education to achieve more individual initiative, critical thinking, problem solving, elementary mathematical literacy.

          • abe galon says:

            Joseph-Ivo is a reasonable man; he is cool and delighted to impart with the cool band.

  8. David Murphy says:

    Decades ago, in preparation for going on medical missions abroad, I attended a workshop on cross-cultural communications. One exercise involved an inane game of trading cards. The participants were divided into 3 groups, and I was in the observer group. The other two groups were given different rules and no one in one group knew the rules for the other. In the “native” group the goal was to give away all your cards. In the “outsider” group the goal was to collect cards. There were different rules on how to approach a group of strangers and on how to treat someone who was approaching a group. Conversation for the natives required an obligatory and prolonged set of mutual inquiries into the health of relatives, near and distant, including in-laws. The end result was that the “natives” found the outsiders rude and uncultured while the outsiders felt excluded and frustrated at their inability to relate to the natives. The observers were largely frustrated at the inability of the two groups to overcome the misunderstandings and at their enforced inability to intervene.
    One point of the exercise, which was driven home to the participants by their personal experience rather than by a didactic lecture, was that failure to understand and appreciate customs, values, practices and all the other assumptions that form our unrecognized expectations is a powerful impediment to communication and cooperation between divergent cultures and often leads to judgmental attitudes and to hostility.
    Well into my second decade of residence in the Philippines, I feel as if I am gradually shifting from the outsider group to observer. This posting, which I assume to be deliberately provocative, and the responses to it seem to be a replay of the game, with frustration and hostility displayed by members of both groups. Neither group seems aware of their own assumptions and expectations nor of how these are contributing to their reactions to the provocation of the blog. And once again I am frustrated by the inability of the two groups to achieve mutual understanding, both on the scale of this post and on the larger scale of Americans and Filipinos, of personal and international interactions, and by my inability to do anything about it. I think it is unlikely that I will ever become a native.

    • Joe America says:

      Wonderfully said, David. The reactions to the blog indeed prove the point, that cultures differ. The simple point of the blog was non-judgmental, offering the “lesson” that we should think about what we do rather than just do it. I wonder if those who find Filipino Cheatus Amalgamatus to be anything but a satirical reference point also believe that Aesop’s ducks and foxes really talk.

  9. baycas says:

    “Screwus” is better than “Erectus”.

  10. Edgar says:

    Thanks David. It is not whose system and culture are better but acknowledging and understanding the differences.

    • jcc says:

      Understanding the difference between two cultures is easier said than done.. Same as to acknowledging their differences. Sociologists spend years to study cultures of people then come up with unsatisfactory explanation why people behaved so erratically. I have no problem with Joeam’s piece, even if he classifies Americans as team-work and rule-oriented and Pinoys are aren’t. I give him slacks under the broad spectrum of free speech to speak out his mind freely. It is the comments of his readers that I am reacting to and my reaction is purely for academic calisthenic, totally devoid of any “nationalistic” criteria. I believe I have become a person without borders.

    • andrew lim says:

      If this is you, Edgar Lores, then you have moved up the stages of Enlightenment! 🙂

  11. Joseph-Ivo says:

    1- The specialists I consulted differ from this article in definitions and results about individual versus group behavior and about universal versus particular rules.. (see Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner)

    2- Culture is the result of (past) circumstances. Culture looks for an optimum in given circumstances (the optimum of the happy few.) Culture drives behavior and actions. But not only culture is a driver to act also circumstances. Repeated new actions drive cultural change.

    The American culture is helping the 1% people extremely well (todays newspapers: the richest people got 522 billion dollar extra in 2013 resulting in 3.7 trillion dollar of total wealth, a 14% increase with an economy only growing 2.2% percent in the US!) The Filipino culture is helping the happy few quit well too. Inclusive growth will require a cultural change. Changing culture in a frontal attack (by changing circumstances via politics / laws) might expect resistance of some powerful people with disproportional influence in government in the US and here. As a guerrilla war, each one in his own environment will take time.

    3- In dealing with different cultures, one should search for complementarity. Knowing that too much of a good thing is bad, too little of opposite thing is equally bad. The Philippines being very open to the world should have a huge opportunity to search for these complementarities. Joeam’s stirring the pot is well appreciated.

  12. andrew lim says:


    Elated to see the blog alive again and generating a high-level discussion.

    I’m cooking up a few pieces myself on these topics:

    1. Pressuring the Marcos/Romualdez Families to Return the Ill-Gotten Wealth: An Additional Way to Bridge the Fund Gap in the Visayas Rebuilding Effort

    2. Is Lacson the Anti-Binay?

    Stir the pot, stir the pot! Yes, sir! 🙂

  13. cha says:

    Cross-cultural comparisons become problematic when the end result is that of one culture being held up as the more superior to the other. Worse is when the method employed to arrive at such conclusion is to pick out the more desireable and acceptable values and behavioral norms of one and pit it against the dysfunctional and unproductive ways of the other. That’s like choosing which has the better fashion sense between one group dressed in their Sunday’s best and another in their old and tattered workaday clothes.

    I have no disagreement with the observations about the Filipino’s sense of time. Neither with the proposition of a seemingly direct proportion between one’s social standing, political and economic power and one’s undeserved sense of entitlement in Philippine society. Or that we need to think what’s best for everyone instead of these insatiable need to satisfy our own individual ambitions. And yes, we all need to work together for the good of the country instead of tearing each other up over some petty differences of opinion.

    By all means, let’s have a long and exhaustive conversation about how we can become a better people and do right by our country and fellow Filipinos.

    But whether the right way need necessarily be branded as the American way, i.e. whether the Americans really have sole claim to the values of fair play, self-sacrifice, teammanship and the like, belongs to a different conversation.

    One’s refusal to choose the big house across the street as the ideal of what one’s abode should look like is not tantamount to refusing to acknowledge that one’s house does need repair. Maybe the more modest but well designed one next door is just more appealing to one’s taste.

    • Joe America says:

      Nice wrap up for me. Indeed I am inclined to see much difficulty from the Philippines having adopted the American political frame. On a heirarchy culture you get entrenched dynasties and disengagement of the masses. And a strange system of justice. My point is what you say. Let’s think about this. The US is NOT a good model perhaps.

      • Dee says:

        You should just stuck to Aesop’s formula, Joe. I think if you named the creatures: Carabaus Masarapus Tocinus and Tamarawus Crispus Fritus, you would had been OK 🙂 . Same species; one domesticated, one wild but I do not think someone will be offended.

      • cha says:

        I get the feeling you are already one step ahead of us again given the teaser for the next blog. It’s really great to have you back JoeAm.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      “How to become a better people?”

      More of the same results in more of the same. Knowing the root cause will help to find a new, effective approach. Why do we have to repair our house in the first place? Why do we like the house at the other side so much more? We should understand the source of our needs and cravings. Our respect for rules, our respect for superiors? Anything else?

      Of course there is always the American way: first shoot, then aim. If you have plenty of bullets and an urge to act, there is little wrong with this approach, you always can adjust if you missed the first time. But if you have only one bullet and time to aim, try not to waste.

      Let’s have a discussion too about what in our culture holds us back to become better people (better = more equal, more free, more brotherly?).

      • Joe America says:

        That’s the next blog, actually, and I like your set of goals. I was wrestling with the “what we want to be” part today.

        • Dee says:

          Ahhh… the evolution of Philippines. I have no doubt that Philippines could evolve into a better nation than what it is now but it would be a slow and painful process. There is a sundry list of that need to be taken care of for the process to achieve positive results. The checks and balances need shoring up. Some social engineering is sorely needed. Laws need to be crafted and passed to pave the way to political reforms and evolution…

  14. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe, I see you stepped on some toes.

    In a way, your blog is like a dinner party. Everyone will have a different reaction to what you’re serving or a reaction whenever someone refuses to use a serving spoon or fork, or chews with the mouth open…

    Nice to see you back online tickling some palates.

    I think the kind of bell depends on where the bell is at. If it’s change we’re driving at, then there should be some specific points. Maybe you need an intercom system.

  15. JM says:

    Wow, I can see some who overreacted. Too defensive, one trait I really hate about our culture. You point out something wrong, they get hurt and defensive and make you look the bad guy. They don’t accept their mistakes and fail to grow. Pointing out that “everybody is doing it” as an excuse makes you a loser. Filipinos are cheaters, yes. I saw it at school, on the road, on business transactions, etc. I don’t care if other nations does it or not. We must stop being cheaters. Period.

    I also read some silly comment regarding the “time to eat” justifying that being late is ok. This doesn’t just apply to food. It applies to gatherings/meetings, etc. This creates chaos in the succeeding activities. It wastes people’s time and time is money. If you and the people you are with doesn’t care about time/money then follow the Filipino culture of being late all the time. If not, then follow the American culture. That’s the gist of the post.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes. If one chooses laid back and poor over anxiety ridden and rich, that is a choice. No need to complain. Indeed that is the gist of the blog. Perhaps that is the “opposition’s” point. The Philippines is fine as is.

      Okie dokie. . . 🙂

  16. Jo says:

    “Cheatus? Joe called us Cheatus?!”

    Trust me when I say this, Joe, but there was no indignation or offense in my head while that thought ran within. Rather, I was awed by your guts in choosing that word.


    Pardon me, though, I hardly focused on the American side–I was caught up with the response of the Filipinos at the bell. I wondered initially why they arrived one after the other, and when you explained it was because of the order of importance, I was a bit fascinated.

    A realization then dawned on me: that Filipino Time happens not because of laziness but of presumption of importance. For a people priding themselves over bayanihan, we sure like lording over our “individual significance.” At the same time, we remind everyone that change begins with the self while scoffing at those who act on it for daring to dream that one person can change the world how dare you step ahead all of us and make us look bad you arrogant jerk. Come back here!


    And our unity only comes out at the worst times, hardly ever at the best times. United because we suffer, divided because we don’t.

    This is sad.

    Also, I don’t necessarily believe in the right time to eat. Like I told my boss one lunchtime, mealtime is an arbitrary construct–I’ll eat when I’m hungry, haha.

    … Oh man. I’m one of those self-important Filipinos I’m talking about.

    • Joe America says:

      I think belief in self is highly important. But if we use it to diminish others we are not so very kind. Or smart, really. Thanks for the sharp observations.

      • Jo says:

        I like that, kind. I have to remind myself sometimes that I don’t have to be right all the time. That I must be kind.

        And thank you, Joe, for this incisive post. Ouch in more ways than one, haha.

  17. Maria Socorro Reyes says:

    What has Yolanda wrought. You used to twit with subtlety, tolerance, and humor. .

    Time to shed the JoeAm mask/alias as well.

    • Joe America says:

      @ Maria,
      1) Hmm, I found your own note a tad humorless. I’d guess we are all entitled to our moods.
      2) I chuckled mightily at “American Erectus Whitus” and positively rolled on the floor lmao at a reader’s suggestion that it would be better as “Screwus” instead of “Erectus”.
      3) I suppose anyone reading satire as literal truth would tend to get cranky.
      4) Indeed Yolanda stole some of my levity. It was a serious storm.
      5) Unfortunately “Roland Brewzwesky” does not have the marketing appeal of “Joe America”.
      6) There is a certain mystique to mystery, I think, an intriguing touch, less mundane.
      7) The value of an idea is the idea, not who wrote it.
      8) Fortunately my family’s well being is not your responsibility.

      • andy says:

        I admire your candor Joe America.

        • Joe America says:

          Hi andy. I’m reading “Night Train to Lisbon”. Hard reading. 2 or 3 pages at a sitting. It is the most introspective of novels. It examines the illusions we hold about ourselves and how poorly we use language. It considers honor and the price we sometimes pay by holding onto integrity in a world of envy and deceit. Your words mean a lot to me, with that as the backdrop.

          • Dee says:

            “Sometimes, we are afraid of something because we’re afraid of something else. ”
            ~ Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

            Fear have the power to motivate as well as paralyze. For some Filipinos, upsetting the status quo means delving into an unknown and scary territory…

          • Joe America says:

            Yes. Ghosts of occupations and coups gone wrong.

  18. Adrian says:

    Perspectives. Reminds me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem. One of my favorites, especially the last 3 lines. Now, what forests do we want to carry? Or what nuts do we want to crack? If we decided to carry forests, let’s be a mountain then.


    THE MOUNTAIN and the squirrel
    Had a quarrel;
    And the former called the latter “Little Prig.”
    Bun replied,
    “You are doubtless very big;
    But all sorts of things and weather
    Must be taken in together,
    To make up a year
    And a sphere.
    And I think it no disgrace
    To occupy my place.
    If I’m not as large as you,
    You are not so small as I,
    And not half so spry.
    I’ll not deny you make
    A very pretty squirrel track;
    Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
    If I cannot carry forests on my back,
    Neither can you crack a nut.”

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  1. […] prior blog Estop’s Fables: The Creatures and the Bell served up the lesson that it is important to figure out what the nation should aspire to be, and […]

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