How To Change The Philippines (It’s Not Like The Netherlands)

dutchIn a typical western country, when there’s a problem, you assemble the people and make changes in the policy. Then you can make a lasting change in society.

In the Philippines, that’s not necessarily the case. 90% of the problem is the people themselves, and only 10% the policies. I’m not even exaggerating. 10% is a generous estimate if you take into account the fact that the policies themselves are made by the people. Since the policies did not make themselves, if I’m being uncompromising I would say 100% of the problem is the people.

Filipinos and western people are different on the level of the ‘person’ who thinks, feels and takes action as dictated by his habitual preferences and intellectual inclinations and limitations. That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. They think ethnic differences aren’t a factor. They are, and they’re a huge factor.

Remember, filogic and filethic are formidable enemies you cannot underestimate. They are embedded deep within the brains of the vast majority of Filipinos and are so strongly entrenched in Philippine society that they’re a major source of headache for people from western countries who have stayed in the Philippines for an extended period of time. Without such flaws in the Filipino’s nature, I don’t think the Philippines would have become a problematic nation in the first place.

Filogic and filethic don’t exist among western people. They exist among Filipinos. Expats from western countries see these two as the main problem, and they are (though Filipinos themselves are clueless about it). Therefore, ethnic differences are a factor. You cannot take for granted the fact that the western man is different from the Filipino.

If you don’t consider it a factor, you’re going to compare apples to oranges like a man did when I talked to him on another website recently. Here’s what he said:

“We – the Dutch – have been there, where the Filipinos are today. But thank God, that was 50, 60 years ago…Although I myself am impatient by nature and I do know that most changes have to go step-by-step, its very clear that the Philippines can leap (instead of making little tiny steps) forward.”

Here was my reply:

“The Dutch of 60 years ago were not the same people as the Filipinos of today, nor are the other relevant factors such as geography, climate, population, history… The Dutch know how to think outside the box, but the Filipinos don’t. It’s in the nature. Add to it filethic. If you take away all the present-day Filipinos from these islands and replace them with 19th century Dutch, given all the technology of today the Dutch will figure it out and you’ll see progress in a decade’s time, similar to the progress the Germans rebounded with after their defeat in WW1…The Filipinos have never been in the Dutch’s situation 60 or 100 years ago because there are factors that come into play that you didn’t mention…”

amsterdamTake note that we’re talking about 100 million people and the problem is not simply about economics. It’s also about the different facets of Philippine society which along with the people’s economic status represent the receiving end of the unpleasant effects of their attitudes and way of thinking. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to read my article describing what takes place inside the Filipinos’ mind when they think about a certain issue.

For a Dutch man it’s easy to leap forward. But if you’re a Filipino and you want another Filipino to leap forward, you’re going to have a difficult time. If you have never experienced offering reason to a person who can’t appreciate or absorb it, wait till you discover that there are millions upon millions of such individuals in this country.

It’s not as if it’s the islands that need to move forward. When you say that a nation needs to move forward, we’re talking primarily about the people. It is thus imperative to know who they are and consider how many they are because they are both the subject and the object of any attempt to advance culturally, economically or otherwise. When you fully realize the enormity of the task, you’re going to stop any talk of ‘leaping forward’.

When I said that even 19th-century (1800’s) Dutch would perform better than present-day Filipinos, I didn’t mean to further belittle the latter. In fact, nothing that I say on this website is intended for that purpose. What I’m doing is teaching the able-minded to think outside the Filipino box and reason up from first principles, and you cannot do these things unless you understand the truth of the situation while looking at the big picture. Denying the truth keeps you in the dark, but being insightful and blunt about it can help you become more efficient in the things that you do.

The truth is this: an overwhelming majority of Filipinos are afflicted with either filethic or filogic or both (add to it a low emotional pain threshold if you want to). Hope will never come from these people. That’s a given. You also cannot simply Heimlich-maneuver filogic and filethic out of the Filipino’s body. That’s another given.

The other portion of the population, the ones not afflicted with filogic and filethic, are scant in comparison to the first. Not only that, they also have an acute inability to think outside the box, which is the key to move forward faster.

The intelligent Filipino’s talent is to assimilate existing knowledge. He’d go to school, pass the exams and get a job. If he’s an entrepreneur, he’s going to copy existing models. Not that there’s something inherently wrong with this, but it goes to show their indifference to insightful, outside-the-box kind of thinking.

Meanwhile, the Dutch’s love affair with insightful thinking goes back even before the time when the Dutch East India Company “pioneered the ‘implicit limited liability of shareholders’ and a ‘secondary market for equity shares’ on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange during the 1600’s — two of the most important risk management innovations ever.” The Dutch have been contributing new knowledge in geology, astronomy, and other branches of knowledge even before the 17th century. They established universities older than the Spanish-founded UST that the Filipinos are so proud of, bred the orange carrot and the Holstein cattle, came up with a method for determining a location’s longitude, printed the first atlas of nautical charts, invented the audio cassette, laserdisc, bluetooth, wifi, DVD and Blue-ray, and contributed heavily to economics, computer science, architecture, law, finance, political science, medicine and the arts.

dutch graduationConsidering their relatively small population and the amount of what they contributed and continue to contribute to the world, it’s safe to say that their insightful thinkers did not come from an uninsightful population. The difference between the nature of the Dutch and the nature of the Filipinos is so staggering that one should not even bother to wonder why the Netherlands is the way it is and the Philippines is the way it is.

Here in the Philippines, insightful thinking and conversation are almost like a taboo. Attempt to initiate it and you’ll immediately feel out of place. Yet if you go to the comments section even of sports websites like Bloody Elbow or Bleacher Report, you’re going to see a lot of insights and rational thinking among the readers, which I assume to be ordinary sports fans. This is in stark contrast to the expression of emotions, personal preferences, sentiments, dead-end opinions, and common-point storytelling that Filipinos are very capable and fond of using in their reactions to issues and their daily conversations.

If ethnic differences to you are a non-factor, then you’re starting from an inaccurate premise and it would inevitably lead to an inaccurate conclusion. If you’re a spectator, that means you’re going to have the wrong expectations.

More importantly, if you’re a policymaker and you don’t take into consideration the fact that there’s a problem among the people themselves, you’ll be prone to making policies that are mainly focused on short-term superficial changes and low-yield investments. You won’t get it. Your mind will forever be limited to such conventional models as job creation, higher incomes, etc. I’m not saying the policymakers need to throw those things into the bin. Of course you have to keep them. But if you haven’t noticed it, that’s exactly all that the policymakers have been doing since July 5, 1946. It is conventional wisdom that borders on mere convention.

To change this nation, you have to change the people. No matter how you renovate the house, if the occupants are still the same exact individuals, any change will be superficial. The house will always be a big mess.

But Filipinos are essentially blind to this. Because everyone can neither reason from first principles nor think outside the Filipino box, there’s no such thing as, “We’re probably running around in circles unless we address the 90% portion of the problem. Let’s analyze how we can change the people through education. We should probably rid the curriculum of wasteful subjects and conduct an intelligence test for every aspiring teacher so that the kids don’t become like the teachers that we currently have. If this doesn’t work, let’s have regular brainstorming sessions and come up with more ideas since our current ideas and convention-sans-wisdom are not working.”

When I say that, however, I don’t mean to influence you to be blindly hopeful about the situation. Keep in mind that the majority of the policymakers themselves are laden with filethic. And if they are intellectually capable, don’t expect them to think outside the Filipino box. I don’t look at the government officials and administrators as any different from the general population. They are only a sample taken from that population.

To be accurate, it’s not really the government that is the problem but both the people in the government and the people under that government, which are one and the same kind of people. There’s no need to zoom in and be stressed about it. I think the Filipinos’ average intelligence will naturally increase over time. We’ll see what happens then. I knew the Dutch were only able to think the way they do because their geography, climate and history enabled them to start with the insightful way of thinking much earlier than the Filipinos did.

For that reason, you can rest assured that I don’t plan on burning myself out and sacrificing the rest of my life trying to ‘convince’ 100 million people to trash their filethic (i.e. corruption, loud karaokes at night, pinoy time, the me-first attitude, leeching off a hardworking relative…you get the point?) and raise their IQ from 86 to 98. That would be a clear violation of the centenarian’s philosophy. But you and I should think outside the Filipino box for our own good, as well as for the good of our immediate surroundings and the people we influence.


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