I’m going to start by saying that it’s NOT my goal in this post to tell you what would happen if the Philippines is one big island instead of many. But I’m going to ask you this: were you intrigued by the title? Did it pique your interest? Did it make you think? If your answer is yes to each of these, then you have the potential to be or you are an outside-the-Filipino-box thinker.
One quality that intelligent people in first world countries have is their ability to take hypothetical questions like this seriously. Back in the old days when the average IQ of Americans was still far below the current level of 100, if you ask the ordinary American a similar question, there’s a good chance he would not engage you in it. Such old-generation folks (who back then had an average IQ that range from 70 to 80) would probably tell you, “That’s a silly question!” To them, if it’s outside the realm of the concrete (i.e. hypothetical), it’s irrelevant.
The ordinary Filipino thinks the same way, only that he deals with it worse than that. If you ask him what if the Philippines is one big island instead of many, he’ll answer you but you can tell he’s not really interested. Nothing useful will come out of it. And not only is he uninterested in thought experiments, he also has no conviction to say, ‘That’s a silly question.’ So while both the present-day Filipino and the ordinary 19th-century American would not take the hypothetical seriously, the latter had common sense and conviction, which tells you that he knew what he was doing in spite of his way of thinking. The occupations of people during those days did not require a high level of thinking anyway, so that explains it.
If in the past only a small portion of Americans took the hypothetical seriously, today it’s commonplace. Instead of hearing, “that’s a silly question,’ you’re going to get insightful answers, unless of course the question itself is silly and irrelevant.
Hypothetical thinking goes hand in hand with high intelligence, and the present level of intelligence in turn goes hand in hand with 20th and 21st century progress. Today it’s commonplace in first world countries partly because of the sophistication of the current systems. For example, a lot of present-day occupations that did not exist in the 19th century require a high level of thinking.
But that is missing among the smaller, smarter portion of the Philippine population. They have a distinct inability to understand things by boiling them down to the fundamental truths, as well as to think beyond the conventional, and it’s partly because they are not interested in and would not bother asking questions like the title of this post. Their talent lies in assimilating existing knowledge, which usually translates to thinking inside the Filipino box or copying from other countries without first understanding the fundamental truths.
At first glance, dealing with hypothetical thoughts seems useless, like in the Philippine islands example. We all know that these islands are not going to converge into one land mass any time soon, so what’s the use of thinking about it? The use is, you’re going to find out causes. You’re going to be able to boil things down to their fundamental truths and you can understand things more clearly. From this understanding you’ll be able to implement effective actions. And if you’re able to think laterally, you may find solutions to related problems. It will give you useful insights, especially when one idea pivots to another. That’s how knowledge builds up. Sadly, this kind of buildup does not happen a lot in the Philippines. It’s all about events and people and emotions.
The world would not have reached its present state if the people who discovered and invented things did not take the hypothetical seriously. A big part of human progress can be attributed to thinking about the ‘what ifs’. I’m not saying the Filipinos need to invent things, but a higher level of thinking is required to advance economically and culturally, both on the personal and national levels.
If you take the hypothetical seriously, it’s an indication that your level of reasoning is high, more so if you come up with hypothetical questions on your own, which means you really are interested and will inevitably produce useful insights.
But the lack of depth and accuracy of thoughts is evident even among the more intelligent Filipinos. You may hear a few of them say, ‘Let’s not discuss the past but just look into the future’ as if it’s an intelligent rule. You may certainly apply that quote to a personal loss or tragedy when you’re trying to get over the hurt, but if you apply that to insightful thinking or moving forward as a nation, you’re not going to have a reference. The data that the ‘present’ provides is not enough and often does not match the value of historical data (with time as a variable) that the past provides. If you limit yourself to the present and the concrete by snubbing the past and the hypothetical, you cannot make well-thought-out decisions for the future.
It may not be immediately useful to think about hypothetical questions but being interested in it is a gauge of how intellectually and culturally evolved a particular people is. The Filipinos fail miserably if this gauge is used. A few may engage a thought experiment, but far fewer would initiate it.
This people and this, as I mentioned in two of my posts before, have been thinking outside the box for centuries so it’s really no wonder that they’re now a culturally, intellectually and economically advanced people. Due to such factors as history, climate and geography, they were able to start with the insightful way of thinking much earlier, which explains why 100 million Filipinos have not been able to contribute to the world even a small percentage of what these peoples have despite the fact that there are only 16 and 14 million of them in the world, respectively.
Because of that, I don’t really want to blame the smaller and more intelligent portion of the Filipino population for not having that way of thinking. I know that it’s going to evolve eventually, so there’s no need to feel bad about it. If this blog serves as an impetus, then good. If this influences a few policymakers, then better. But I’m not very hopeful about that. I’m just doing what I have to do.
I also don’t blame the much larger portion of the population for not having any capacity to gain a higher level of reasoning. I’m not expecting them to think outside the Filipino box just as I’m not expecting any tectonic event to unite the 7,107 islands into one land mass, which means that, considering they comprise the overwhelming majority, this country will remain as it is for some time. But I don’t hate them, which is why I don’t call them idiots or morons. I know that the only reason I am able to think and speak this way is I was dealt a good hand to begin with and they were not. And again, if you follow the centenarian’s philosophy you should know that it’s a waste of time and emotional energy to feel bad about the fact that reality is the way it is. What you need to do is do your best and move forward in life. If you can influence some, then that’s a bonus.