“Mabuting Pilipino” – a term popularized over the days following the Inauguration of President Aquino. There was even a song, “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino” sung by local folk singer, Noel Cabangon, during the ceremonies at the Quirino Grandstand. The lyrics tell of a Filipino who follows rules and regulations in driving, who neither gives nor accepts bribes, who cares about the environment and does not litter, who listens to the counsel of his parents and takes his studies seriously and the list goes on.
In the euphoric atmosphere of P.Noy’s installment, it felt good to once again be able to believe that the Mabuting Pilipino can dominate and comprise the majority of our countrymen. Understandably however, many of us share, albeit in varying degrees, that cynic doubt: “Maybe it’s all just hype. Give it a few months and Filipinos will be back to their former selves who neither believe nor practise the virtues of the good citizen. Even granting that Noynoy can remain honest, what can a single man do? The rest of the government and the rest of the country would just go on being greedy and corrupt.”
In this short entry, I just intend to share a personal anecdote which I believe shows that the Mabuting Pilipino does exist and there is thus hope that given a sustained inspiring national leadership, a culture of integrity can permeate our government and society at large.
After several years of not having done so, I’ve been taking cab rides for the past few days. And last Saturday, I took a taxi. Owing largely to my general absentmindedness that morning, I left my cardholder in the cab when I got off. In it were my ATM, credit cards, gas fleet card and a handful of membership cards for commercial establishments. Worst of all, I did not have any contact information in the cardholder, no telephone number or address so there was no easy way for a finder to get in touch with me. Within the first 10 minutes of having discovered my ill fortune, I already resigned myself to not being able to retrieve my cards back and I started calling the banks to have the cards cancelled. It thus came as a big shock to me when I was contacted by the saintly lady who happened to ride the same taxi after me. She found the cardholder and looked for explicit contact information. Having found none, she went through the hassle of calling up the card establishments and asking them if they can give her the contact number of the owner. I know that in certain countries and under certain circumstances, this may have been illegal but one establishment, after a long explanation, agreed to give her my number and she was then able to contact me. We then met up and she dutifully restored what I have carelessly lost. She is Mrs. Lorenzo and she works as a stenographer in the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila. And when I learned of her occupation, I was even more pleasantly surprised. I thought to myself: Now this is an honest citizen, and a government employee at that!
Now I know firsthand that all those stories in the news about heroically honest people returning lost-and-found valuables are true. There are still Filipinos who have “malasakit” and who would go through a good deal of trouble to save others from serious crises even when they have nothing to gain from it. The Mabuting Pilipino exists. And who knows, maybe they are already the silent majority. Who knows maybe all they need, is encouragement and inspiration from the knowledge that their boss, the top man leading the country, is a man of integrity and malasakit too.