Many nationalities have their stereotypical negative traits – the British are stiff, French are arrogant, Chinese copies everything and Americans think they own the world. Filipinos are no different.
We, Filipinos also have annoying traits that although we are amazing people, negative traits or habits continue to pull us down inevitably making it difficult not only for the people to progress but for the entire country as well.
We know habits are hard to break and most often, we are not aware we have them, worse, others know they have them but deny they do! Of course not all Filipinos practice these bad habits and some may even get offended by reading the list below. The goal of this article is not to offend but to open our minds about the truth and hopefully make us think of what we should do.
If we remove the following bad qualities or attitudes, we are optimistic that real progress will follow:
- Crab Mentality (If I can’t have it, neither can you)
This refers to the attitude of preventing someone from achieving something due to jealousy or envy. Instead of acknowledging an act for a job well done, we look at the doer of the act as a competitor or threat, and try all means to pull the person down. We have a tendency to always want to be on top and thus discourage or even resort to damaging the reputation of others just to get ahead. Just like crabs trying to escape in a bucket pulling each other down, we will not be able to accomplish anything if we continue to have this attitude.
- Mañana Habit (Mamaya na na lang)
Ironically, it is the Spanish who taught us the mañana habit, the same people who would accuse us of being lazy. The word “Mañana” means ‘tomorrow’ or ‘specified future time’ also known as “procrastination” in plain English, “mamaya na” in Filipino. This attitude, which is the habit of procrastination, we Filipinos have since turned into an art form. When you need to do something now, you decide to do it later. Sometimes we work on them only when the deadline is near, worse as a result of the delay, you end up not doing it. It’s a miracle we get things done in this country.
- Bahala na
Roughly translated as “come what may”, this is the Filipinos’ own version of fatalism, the belief of leaving everything to the hands of fate or putting trust in the providence of the good Lord. This Filipino trait is the outcome of the Mañana habit.
This attitude, while not inherently detrimental in itself, is still a double-edged sword. It gives the people the ability to accept bad fortune, death and other tragedies, However, this attitude also displays a sense of helplessness and resignation of one’s fate on the leaders of the government (local level) who bought our votes for meager pesos, kilo of rice, etc. thereafter developing in us a lack of empathy and collective action on the country-wide level. We have also become too forgiving and forget too easily over the past wrongdoings committed by our leaders.
- Filipino time (tardiness)
‘Filipino time’ has brought a negative impression to our people, something we are not proud of. It’s the Filipinos’ own unique brand of time, which is known to be minutes or hours behind the standard time. Say when a program is set to start at 8:00 am, expect it to start at 10. In other words, we tend not to observe punctuality at all, a practice that has consistently annoyed many even foreigners. For many productive individuals who values time, this habit entails a lot of wasted time on waiting. This trait has already caused a lot of conflicts and discourages many including foreigners to be involved in supposedly productive activities or undertakings with us.
Admit it or not, gossiping has become the Filipinos’ national pastime, true and a sad fact. Filipinos have the perennial habit of talking (and even interfering) about other’s lives and affairs. Gossiping is popular everywhere – workplaces, eateries, salons/barber shops even sidewalks, people flock to share their stories. You see this scenario anytime of the day! Proof: We’re the world’s texting capital. When gossips are passed around, truth are twisted until the real story is far from the original, thereby causing more damage. Relationships are broken, trust are lost and friendships gone awry.
- Being Onion-Skinned (Balat Sibuyas)
Another attitude that Filipinos are famous is for is being onion-skinned or easily slighted at perceived insults. While it’s perfectly normal for us to taunt and criticize others, we can’t handle the same when it’s being hurled back at us. We need to change our being too prideful which usually results to being oversensitive. When someone makes a joke or a not so positive comment about us, we feel like we are not respected and we get offended. We are quick to call for an apology even if it was even a joke. We didn’t hear an uproar in Kingston when Stephen Bishop sang “down in Jamaica… lot’s of pretty women… steal your money and they break your heart.” Replace Jamaica with Philippines and Bishop might be considered persona-non-grata! We Filipinos should try to learn to accept constructive criticisms.
- General disregard for rules
Simple laws that are easily broken: no jaywalking, no smoking, no picking of flowers, use the overpass, even wearing the prescribed attire (“please wear semi-formal attire”) when attending wedding ceremonies become a task difficult to follow. And this social phenomenon pertains to Filipinos regardless of socio economic profile. Laws and regulations are created to provide peace, security and harmony to communities. However, we cannot even follow the simplest rules like crossing on pedestrian lanes or using the overpass? Why don’t we develop discipline and strive to change first before we demand change in the our government. Then maybe we can achieve the progress we dream of.
- Excessive Partying (“Celebrating like there’s no tomorrow”)
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a fiesta and party every now and then. Gathering of friends because of a promotion isn’t also bad. However, we Filipinos tend to just overdo it. Filipinos celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and even somber funerals like there is no tomorrow! Not to mention gathering of friends because you just got the job, the paycheck or a raise. Let’s celebrate and have a drink! Sometimes we even make up the slightest of reasons just so we could have an excuse to party. What’s more, a host would sometimes even strain his own finances just to impress his guests. Like we said, it’s alright to party, but we should really focus on austerity and working hard first.
- Hypocrisy (Being a double faced person)
As a country we always say we value morality and try to live up to the standards set by our forefathers. However, no one is perfect and often we cannot sustain these standards. To fear being an outcast a lot of people are forced to live double standard lives. We become inconsistent by doing completely the opposite of what we are saying. A very good example is while we admit we are deeply religious people, outside the Quiapo church are vendors that sells abortion formulas. Another is the criticisms faced by those who become pregnant outside marriage while the sad fact behind this scenario is that some of these critics could have actually engaged in premarital sex too, only that no proof is visible.
We have become insensitive to the needs of other people because we need to focus on ourselves first. A lot of agreements are done but Filipinos fail to fulfill these – agreeing to meet at a certain time and use traffic as alibi or agreeing to pay a loan and use an emergency happened where the money had to be used. Not to mention when there’s a celebration in the neighborhood and the party lasts until wee hours of the morning keeping the neighbors awake by the noise of the videoke singer.
People may say we cited the problems, so what then are the solutions? We say you should already know that by now. If you need to, try to brush up your knowledge of ‘good manners and right conduct’ and hopefully you would know. What is important is that we have the eagerness to fix our flaws and unite as a nation for a better and progressive future.