You Had Me At "You Suck"

I recently came upon an article written by a Filipino-Chinese who shared her thoughts on what was wrong with The Philippines. The piece was titled “Why The Philippines Sucks”. It was a typical tirade that we’ve all heard before except maybe for the fact that she personally knew some victims of heinous crimes here and witnessed firsthand the equally inept bureaucracy that handled the cases. However, it wasn’t the content of her article that I’m writing about but some of the comments it received. One in particular struck a (dissonant) chord. It was actually from someone I knew personally and what he said basically was that he was tired of Filipinos hating and complaining about the state of our country. He said that those very same people are what’s wrong with the Philippines and what they ought to do is to take some action and stop the whining. This made me reflect on my current conduct.
Help me help you! Oh wait, wrong scene…

As attested to by my other blog entries here, I myself have a tendency to state my complaints (or what I’d like to think of as commentary) about the issues I see in everyday Filipino life. On the other hand I actually do take action (as minor as they may seem) instead of just bitching. For one thing I am a law-abiding citizen. I follow even the most basic traffic rules. I fall in line and wait my turn. I smile at customer service people and say thank you each time I get served adequately. So here I am, setting a so-called example, but who’s following? I feel like Jerry Maguire when he resigned from work asking, “Who’s coming with me?” The fact is most Filipinos are so content and used to the way of life here that a slow, methodical change of our systems doesn’t seem to be worth their precious time. To me, one phrase that exemplifies the way of the Filipino is, “Pwede na yan!” and with that mindset, we’re probably going to be stuck here for quite some time.

*I am aware I come off as a self-righteous bastard and maybe I am, but when I bitch for change at least I try to do my part no matter how small it may seem at first.

PWEDE NA YAN: If Your Home Is Your Castle, Then Your Toilet Is Your Throne

Part of my job is to visit different call center sites and to carry out the English Language Assessments for their recruitment and Human Resources departments. There are a couple of clients I frequent that have toilet facilities that make me shake my head in disgust. These toilets are mostly used by current employees yet I often see urine on the floor or on the sides of the toilet bowl. There are times when there are USED tissues or paper towels just left on the floor or worse, in the sink/washing area. The worst offense of all is the un-flushed toilet. For f@#%’s sake! How difficult is it to flush after yourself?! If you feel like the flush handle might be too dirty to touch with your bare hands then use a tissue or even your goddamn feet to flush. I would partly understand if this was happening in a public toilet like in a mall where you probably won’t be using the same toilet twice but in your own freakin’ office?! Talk about shitting in your own backyard. I feel very sorry for the cleaners who have to tidy up after you. They must curse your filthy, soiled name in their sleep.
Why do Filipinos do this anyway? We have a history of having no regard for the cleanliness of our surroundings. Try going to a food court in any mall and you will see tables filled with used plates and utensils even though they’re mere feet away from the waste bin. There are also citizens who throw all manner of rubbish on the streets from candy wrappers to whole plastic bags of garbage. The only explanation I can come up with is that we are so used to having people clean up after us. From household maids to street sweepers to food court waste collectors, we got our collective litterbug asses covered well. PNY indeed.

PWEDE NA YAN: Miss Universe Is A Major Major Joke

The Miss Universe contest is a joke. Some people are deluded enough to believe it is more than a beauty pageant. What led me to this train of thought was the fumbled opportunity our Miss Philippines Venus Raj had at the 2010 contest. I personally did not get a chance to watch the show but judging from what I’ve heard she was stunning in her swimsuit, elegant in her evening gown, and dazzling in all the other criteria. So in short, she was deserving of the crown if it weren’t for the inadequate answer she gave in the final round. Now I’m not going to delve into how the question she received was difficult to answer well and honestly. She’s a young woman who probably hasn’t had many MAJOR MAJOR roadblocks in her life. Nor will I bring up the fact that the question came from Billy Baldwin, a person not exactly known for his profound intellect or any MAJOR MAJOR box office hits. No I just want to focus on the reality that any given Miss Universe winner is there to be looked at and not to be listened to. Don’t give me that “you sexist, chauvinistic pig” look. Ask yourselves, if a Miss Universe were to make an appearance in your neck of the woods, would you go to check out how good-looking she really is? Or would you bring a notepad and jot down the deep, insightful words of wisdom pouring forth from her lovely mouth? Hmmm?
Every year the contestants are prepped and trained to answer an expected list of questions. How does that measure intellect? I think a fairer way to do that is to put the finalists in sound-isolation booths and ask each the same question. Another thing, why don’t non native English speakers just answer in their own language if it means they’re just going to embarrass themselves? I mean if they can get their point across more eloquently in their native tongue, why hold them back by asking them to trip over themselves? I’m looking in your direction, Manny Pacquiao.

PWEDE NA YAN: I’m Whining In The Rain

The Philippines is a tropical country yet most locals seem to detest the only elements we have, sunshine & rain. I remember when my mom visited me back when I used to live in Sydney, Australia and the time she popped-open her umbrella on a perfectly sunny day. People were giving us funny looks and double takes and some even held out their hands trying to see if it was starting to rain. Most Filipinos hide from the sun for two main reasons, the first being a wholly logical and scientifically proven one and that is skin cancer. The second though is rooted more into our past and culture: dark skin complexion. It is widely acknowledged here that fair skin complexion is more attractive and is usually a sign of nobility (see The Beautiful People).
As for the apparent fear of rain, I would say this is due by and large to old wives’ tales. My mother up to this very day constantly reminds me, “Huwag ka magpabasa sa ulan ha? (Don’t get yourself wet in the rain ok?)” as she believes I will most certainly catch a cold that way. The last time I checked rainfall is made of almost pure water which I’m pretty sure is not detrimental to our wellbeing. Just recently I was in a taxi stopped at an intersection when it began to very lightly drizzle. A young woman standing at the crossing caught my attention. She badly wanted to cross the street despite the red light because she was getting a bit rained on. The expression on her face was a mix of irritation, frustration, and anguish as she shuffled about and even stomped her feet from time to time. This amused me greatly but on the other hand I thought maybe she just had to go pee.

PWEDE NA YAN: The Beautiful People

My skin tone is slightly dark and I’ve never really had too much of a problem with it. There was the slight teasing back in elementary school but kids have never cared and would probably mock you for having an abusive, alcoholic father too. So I used to wonder why the majority of Filipinos go mad trying to ‘whiten’ their skin complexion. It’s understood that fair skin is often looked at as attractiveness but there are plenty of beautiful people with dark skin as well.
Well I’ve come to the conclusion that the motive to look “white” is rooted in the belief that fair skin was a sign of nobility back in the day. The fair-skinned people then were in most cases descendents of Spaniards whilst the “kayumanggi (brown-colored)” folk were the commoners and locals. The rich and well-to-do could safely stay in the shade while the local workers toiled in the heat of the sun hence darkening their skin. Recollect and you will remember a time when you’d hear people comment “Ay mukhang mayaman siya (Oh, she looks rich)” solely basing this on the mere fact that the person in question is fair-skinned. Thus even today, Filipinos are after a lighter complexion so that they don’t look common and so they can emulate their favorite celebrities as well. The irony is, those very same celebrities are trying to tan themselves to match our native kayumanggi color.


Bus drivers in Manila are given a hard time by everyone. The poor guys. Just because most of them probably never even went to bus driver school, don’t know how to use their rearview mirrors and have a total disregard for safety, doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good warm hug at the end of the day.
Seriously though, these drivers get very little money in terms of their base monthly salary and just make up for it through commission on the number of passengers they can cram into their buses and how many trips they make in a day. Now there must be at least a hundred bus companies operating in Metro Manila alone, so each driver from all these companies is battling it out with one another every day to snag every possible passenger on the road. This directly equates to the reckless, lane-swerving shenanigans we witness everyday on EDSA. Hence, no matter what kind of zoning, bus-only lane, or designated stops schemes the MMDA concocts up, a poor bus driver will always see those idle passengers as more money and more food on the table for their families.
The reason public bus systems in other developed countries work so well is because there are only a handful of operators running in any given city. That and the fact that drivers get a sufficient base salary. In other words, adequately-paid drivers aren’t desperate for passengers and will more likely follow traffic rules and bus stop regulations.

PWEDE NA YAN: I’d Sell Both Coke & Pepsi If They Paid Me Enough

Welcome to the Philippines. Would you like to be rich & famous? Then you’ve come to the right place. Unlike most nations that have common sense, you don’t have to be talented to make it here (see Ding Dong Dantes). You don’t even have to be good looking (see Ding Dong Dantes).

All you got to do is smile and look at the camera and say, “This product is awesome”. Oh, and showing some skin never hurt anyone’s chances either (see Ding Dong Dantes). Some might be able to read between the lines and pick up on my subtle hints that I am not a fan of unrelated, laughable celebrity endorsements* and Ding Dong Dantes. I plead guilty, but I mean c’mon! The guy looks like a creepy, serial rapist. Plus I never trust men named after the male genitalia. And why is he always half naked on enormous billboards on EDSA? I like making it to the office in the morning BEFORE I throw up my breakfast, thank you very much.

*There used to be a huge ad for Max’s Fried Chicken with Piolo Pascual looking suggestively at you while lying down on a couch holding a big plate with 1 whole fried chicken on it!