The Filipino Discipline and How It Has Been Shaped

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.     A mistaken viewpoint of many Filipinos is that theirs is an undisciplined citizenship. It is not that Pinoys do not have discipline, rather they have been disciplined in our current culture, our present values.  It is not in the lack of discipline, seen in wall-pissing, red-light beating, jaywalking, and bribing behavior of the Pinoy, but the total culture which led to our current level of discipline.

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.     Let us look at a few countries’ culture obsessions, before we look into that of Pinoys. For example, Germans are all about order. As you pass along the countryside, along tree plantations, notice the trees neatly lined up in neat squares, much like soldiers in a formation. Another thing about German sense of order is, their companies have many hierarchies and are a well-defined organization.   Everyone knows their place, and the authority whom they report to.   Organizational structure is very important and well known by all employees in a company.

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.     For another nation, the French are fascinated with ideas. It is all about coming up with novel thoughts, having new concepts. The more you discuss your thoughts, the more you fit into society. Being obsolete is not acceptable thus one has to be updated on ideas, have a say on the latest conversation topics. Notice that this permeates into their food culture. Their cuisine is vibrant with fusion from other countries’ influence. This also makes their food fresh. They use the word “artisan” for their bread which means it is handmade, fresh.

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.     For Canadians peaceful multiculturism is important. People will apologize when you bump into them or step on their foot. It is a reflex reaction due to wanting to be at peace with everyone. TV will feature bald news anchors or obese tv hosts. Their recent Transgender Bill allows transgender men (and even posers) to enter and use female restrooms, showers, change rooms.

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.     Looking more at other nations to see the distinction, for example, Japan, we see their priority on giving one’s best effort. From manga comics to tv media, it is ingrained in conversation to give one’s best. Their word for it is “gambatte kudasai”, meaning “your best please”. Whether it may be menial work, or a not noticeable task, one is still encouraged to not give shallow work. There is a Japanese obsession with having the best hamburger in Japan, the best gelato ice cream in Japan, the best Baumkuchen cake, etc.

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.     After looking at several nations, let us examine the Filipino. One of the Philippines’ cultural cornerstones is the obsession over power. Pinoys will test the limits of they can get away with or not. This is why we have rampant unpunished crime. Collectively, upon drinking sessions and informal meet-ups, workmates discuss they can bribe traffic cops easily and conveniently, how they weaved conveniently through a corner gas station to avoid the longer corner, how they used their money to coerce students to sex, etc. We see what we could get away with, and what we could not, and keep pushing the limits of what we can say we conquered. “Dude, a really cheap hooker in Pasay offered 400 (10 USD) to do it.” Other guy goes, “Oh that’s cheap but I hope you don’t get STD’s.” Our buses have no decibel limits and increasingly honk the brains out of everyone in range. We flag down jeepneys, buses and taxis anywhere on the street when there are no police looking. You can prompt the driver to stop anywhere conveniently. Our officials dip their hands in government money, as they see few people penalized for it (and the more powerful the rank, the less the accountability). It is not surprising that Eddie Villianueva, noted how the Philippine president has the most power over a nation, by law, compared to other countries.

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.     Family and interconnectedness is one of the important parts of the Philippine mentality. For example, 39.8 million Filipinos, as of May 2016, was the year’s total active users on Facebook. These are friends, and family, and extended family keeping in touch. With Philippines ranked 4th highest in the world, as percentage of country population; we are very much linked, very much aware of each other’s lives. We do good to others not because we should, but because we know them. We dislike looking bad in front of a lot of people. We appear to be polite by the words, “po & opo”, and by putting the hands of our elders to our foreheads, even if we do not hold them in esteem. Strong links such as family, are justified by single moms borrowing money and not paying back, because, family comes first. Government projects go to distant relatives or friends, as favors.

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.     Education is also an important factor as to the Filipino discipline and behavior.   Many Filipinos prioritize graduating even if they have no job after. It is like getting a chef’s hat but never cooking. There are a lot of idle Filipinos who graduate, but not work while freeloading off a money sending relative abroad. Filipinos also think that education is an entitlement to higher pay. Unlike prosperous countries like Canada where garbage collectors are paid high for their difficult task, the ones that collect our dirt is not looked on with respect. Physical work demanding jobs such as construction, farming, etc are paid higher than normal office jobs in first world countries. In Manila, low paid construction workers resort to moonlighting as robbers in the area they work. Maids take time off to sell themselves in dark areas to take home extra income. The Filipino has the perspective that what one knows is more important than what one contributes to society.

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.     The Philippine discipline and behavior is brought about by the mindset and values of the people. What is important to us, will reflect in the actions we take, in our approach. We behave depending on how strong we hold certain values. Our discipline is strong in the things we have approved of, in our agreement of how things are to be.

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