Ever since I was a boy, the words, “Crab mentality” have often been used to describe the Philippines and Filipinos, in general. It has also been fashionable in many years to complain about the state of things. Not that there wasn’t enough reason to complain. Manila’s international airport is a dump, everyone agrees— Filipinos and everybody else have said said so. And if you really need a “Microcosm”, we need not go far, a simple drive along EDSA with its perennial potholes and patch up job is more than enough to characterize how things are in the Philippines.
Columnists in every newspaper, and commentaries on Radio, television and on blogs have made an industry on pointing out what’s wrong with our nation. My point is, those realizations, and pointing things out, “How bad” things are, or the “Ugly state of things” is worn out.
To put it simply, we don’t need to be told how bad things are, because we already do know.
We don’t need to know that there aren’t enough text books to go around or classrooms aren’t enough, but we do need to have a discussion on what can we do to make it right.
We certainly don’t need to have a discussion on whether or not English or Filipino is the right medium, as if either could be done without, and as if both aren’t equally important. As if that was the right question to ask instead of, “Are teachers up to their stuff regarding their training?” or “What can we do so teachers can do their jobs?”
We don’t need a discussion on the merits of Charter Change— because at one point there should be a discussion on it, but that’s not the right question. The right question should be, are focusing on addressing issues that business leaders are telling us are the reasons why they aren’t choosing the Philippines? The Global Competitiveness Index argued— it is corruption, inefficient government, lack of infrastructure and lack of stability in public policy that are the primary reasons why investors don’t want to invest in the Philippines.
What we need to do now, is “How do we fix things?” How do we make things better? And when we have asked those things, we act. And for the most part, there is genuine hope that things are moving forward, if only in little bits and pieces. MMDA, PAGASA are just examples of how things are moving forward.
Over the years, it has been put forward that Filipinos are naturally, “Lazy”, or “dumb,” and worst— both. When I think of families and children forcing themselves to study, to finish school, to have a better life, does that sound like a culture that’s inherently lazy, dumb or without hope?
I see a nation with Faith in the Future.
I see a nation dreaming of a better tomorrow. It is a lesson many of our leaders have yet to embrace, but it is a lesson that we should as a society, and as a nation welcome. And it is that belief, I believe, is slowly permeating across how government works, and how the private sector does business.
Yes, we are a poor nation. And yes, there aren’t much resources to go around. We have people who barely eat once a day, and people who have no electricity or food, or access to clean water in an age where phones have artificial intelligence, and airplanes basically driving themselves.
Can we let go of our cynicism, and embrace a ‘we can’ attitude? Can we have Faith in the Future, and the Willpower to not only design that future, but to build it?