The lack of discipline of Filipinos can be traced to our lack of citizenship.
It is ironic that Filipinos exhibit discipline based on the location they are in. The undisciplined driver in Manila miraculously turns into a disciplined driver the second s/he crosses the welcome arch at Subic. Maybe we should move that arch a few meters every month until it reaches ESDA.
The lack of discipline of Filipinos can be traced to our lack of citizenship. We do not care about this country anymore and its citizens. We have, as James Fallows exposed in his 1987 article in The Atlantic, a damaged culture.
Our behavior stems from a plethora of beliefs that seems to have damaged our culture. These are well-intended beliefs that have possessed us into what we are today.
One of these is our belief that it is an inherent right of Filipinos to fight authority. We have been inculcated with messages from our youth that it is heroic to defy evil authorities. The invading Spaniards, the imperial Japanese, the deceiving Americans, the corrupt Marcos conjugal dictatorship. And we rebelled against these forces by disobeying their rules. The Spanish wore their shirts tucked-in so we wore the Barong Tagalog in the opposite manner. Martial Law prohibited people from congregating so we amassed in the millions at EDSA.
Another belief system is our devotion to Mama Mary. Or better put, it is okay to pray indirectly to our Saviour because we are close to the Mother. This well-intended religious practice have been translated into the way we deal with our elected officials. How many times have we heard from people who need service from City Hall, “Do you know a relative of the Mayor?”
Instead of going directly to the source, we take an extra effort to find a ninong or a ninang to help us with whatever we may need from the authorities. And the inclusion of this vital person, this political version Mama Mary, makes us feel closer to the sphere of influence of the actual person of authority, even if this person of authority does not really know us.
There are two interconnected belief systems that have crept in our culture and permanently planted itself into our psyche. One is that our stature in society is dictated by the material things that people can see. The bigger the car, the better. The higher end the phone, the better.
And to compensate, there is this belief system that the poor must be given special treatment because, as President Magsaysay has said “those who have less in life must have more in law.”
All these well-intended beliefs have transformed into horrendous behaviors we Filipinos either exhibit or witness.
A counter flowing driver in an SUV, will assume that motorists will recognize that an SUV carries an important person, and motorists will give way. And the driver (or most likely his boss) has a name card of a mid-level police officer, or the assistant of the city administrator, which he can use to intimidate a corrupt traffic enforcer.
On the other end of the economic spectrum, a tricyle driver counter flows because he should get special treatment because he is poor. This is the same justification you hear when apprehended snatchers get interviewed on TV. “Nagawa ko lang ito kasi nagugutom pamilya ko.” It seems that poverty is also the de facto excuse for pushing drugs. My question to that argument is why don’t they stop when they have money already?
We will not be able to change these behaviours, our damaged culture, unless we change the belief system of Filipinos. And sadly it may take generations to achieve this.