Balikbayan observation: Filipinos lack discipline in their own country

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I have balikbayan friends vacationing here from North America. They said they waited until after the Christmas season to come to the Philippines to avoid the rush and traffic.

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However, they are very disappointed with what they have observed here so far. They are unanimous in saying that the problem of Metro Manila is a lack of discipline.

There’s traffic where there shouldn’t be. Streets have been widened, e.g. G. Tuazon in Balik-Balik now has four lanes from two previously, but motorists are actually able to use only one of those lanes, observes one balikbayan. So when a jeepney stops, every vehicle behind has to stop. Vehicles are double-parked, and pedestrians use one other lane because structures are extended into the sidewalk. Sidewalks are used for either parking or al fresco dining by numerous small eateries in the area.

When he was in school many moons ago, the balikbayan, together with many other students from the Sampaloc district, recalled having fun walking from their house in Domingo Santiago to go to the Legarda Elementary School. He tried to retrace his steps, but he could not go beyond 100 steps due to the sidewalk obstructions and air pollution. He says, clearly this is not progress but a lack of discipline and respect for other people’s rights.

A chorus of these visiting Filipinos declared their most hated thing is the blaring karaoke sound from bars that that can be found everywhere, even in exclusive villages. People love to sing at the top of their voices over a microphone linked to what seems to be multiple loud speakers. Although Filipinos generally sing well and have that fantastic sense of rhyme and rhythm, it could also be torturous to one’s ear when the high decibels are on 24/7, especially at bedtime.

I often go to visit my sick uncle on Road 2, Barangay 596, Sta. Mesa, Manila. Across the back of his house lives a family of karaoke addicts. Everyday, they sing from as early as 8 o’clock in the morning to late in the evening, alternating with the microphone and joined in by their immediate neighbors. We could barely talk or hear the television show. My uncle has tried to plug all holes where the noise from outside could not penetrate the house but to no avail. One day he and his family could not take it anymore—they complained to the barangay office but to no avail. The barangay officials proved to be inutile. My balikbayan cousin said this kind of thing happens only in the Philippines because only Filipinos lack the discipline in their own country; Filipinos in other countries are generally well disciplined and courteous.

Two Sundays ago, there was a festive baptism celebration in my own village. They set up the karaoke tent right smack in the middle of the street and the party started from mid-morning and ended at about 2:00 the following morning. The next day, I went to my friend who lives right next to where the karaoke tent was set up. He said he and his family left early that day for the mall until closing time. But when they came home at about 11 o’clock in the evening, they saw the former barangay chairman Ading Marquez and the incumbent Jose Palajorin, along with the entire barangay council at the same karaoke party. I wondered who was taking care of the community? All our barangay tambay, este, tagay, este, tanod were all seen eating and drinking merrily. My friend lamented the uncaring attitude of these village officials toward residents in the area, like his children who were unable to sleep because of the noise but needed to wake up to go to work the next morning.

Across my house is a five-story residential building without the legally required safety elevator. Paging Mayor Erap. On the third floor is a garment factory (T-shirts, bags, etc). I don’t know how productive its employees are. What I know is they often have karaoke sessions from 9:00 in the morning to late in the evening. No admonitions from our barangay chairman and kagawad could stop them. So I made a pact with them. They must stop at 9 or 10 in the evening, or I will call the police, period. So far, they have abided by the terms of the deal. That is not discipline; that is fear of punishment for any violation under a pact. I’d hear them say, “O, let us stop already, or the cranky lady will complain again.”

My balikbayan friend declared that no matter whom we elect as President or senators or congressmen or local officials, it would still be difficult for the Philippines to achieve real progress and sustain it unless we start practicing self-discipline. For one, corruption is a high form of a lack of discipline, he said. I agree.

INTRAMUROS. I toured my Indonesian visitor, Lily Purba, in Intramuros last Saturday.
Intramuros is so cool nowadays!!!! Congratulations to the parks administrator and to President Pinoy (we blame him for the smallest of complaints, but do not give him credit for a job well-done) for their awesome job of restoring the entire Fort Santiago to its old charm. Beautiful, clean, smelling good, well-landscaped, etc. What I saw the last time I was there two years ago was a disappointment. Today, there are several picnic areas for people who bring their own food. The only frustration for us that day particularly was that a museum was closed because it was 12:00 noon. What happened to the “no lunch break” rule of the government? No discipline? Likewise, the tour guides should know their history and not twist facts. I listened in on some of their spiels and I heard things that were different from reality. And it didn’t help that the tour guides didn’t look nice—at least on that day, looking sweaty and shabby or inappropriately dressed. I am looking forward to a revitalized Intramuros in its entirety.

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7 Comments

  1. Mr. Pnoy has done nothing to our country instead he made the rich people more richer and the poor becomes poorer. He made the life of ordinary people into DISASTER.. huag mong sabihin na ang trapik ay sinyales ng pagunlad ng economy ng bansa.. Stupid mind…
    Gising Pilipinas kung Filipino ka dapat may pakialam ka..

  2. Walter P. Komarnicki on

    when I used to drive around in CDO on a Kymco 100cc scooter (until a drunken speeding motorcyclist collided with me last May), I noticed that even at 3.30am, most – 99% -drivers would run the red light at a very busy highway intersection in Kauswagan, and once during the day, I noticed a very close call by a motorcyclist doing a zigzag shortcut but was almost hit by a 10-wheeler.
    and it’s a pity that not many workers in the Philippines belong to unions: unions place great importance on industrial safety matters, so demolishing buildings containing asbestos is extremely dangerous work and has to be followed by very strict clothing and handling protocols (but which sensible rules do not seem to apply in the Philippines), and operating safety elevators requires to strict SWL standards, so that the small cage does not get overloaded and 20+ workers plunge to a horrible death below leaving many grieving widows and orphans who tend to get the bureaucratic runaround.
    Surely we can and must do better than that!

  3. I couldn’t agree with the author more, those are my exact observations in all of my trips to the Philippines. I am a Filipino-American who has visited the Philippines about seven times since I left when the population of the Philippines was only around 50 million, half of the current number of Filipinos now living elbow-to-elbow in the Philippines.

    The Filipino drivers in the Philippines utterly lack discipline. I saw how ridiculously they drive especially in the streets of Metro Manila.

    I am not joining the club of Fil-Ams who are or have retired in the Philippines. I hope they are having the time of their lives, but I am staying in my nice and safe upper middle class neighborhood over here in the U.S. that I worked very hard to achieve.

  4. It is right that Filipinos are disciplined abroad. Why? Because the system abroad forced them to be disciplined.

    If you do not follow traffic rules while driving abroad, most likely one will meet an accident. In contrast, if you follow traffic rules while driving in the Philippines, most likely one will meet an accident. Why? Because the system does not force Filipinos to be disciplined.

    Again, this situation is clearly seen when Barangay officials attended the street party.

    So whose fault is it that the people are not disciplined, the officials or the people?
    Or whose fault is if if the class is unruly, the teacher or the pupils?

    Unless we can find disciplined leaders, the Philippines has no destiny.

  5. That’s right. Many politicians always find reason to blame Pres. Aquino. People should understand that no matter how economy has improved, they will hardly feel the impact because families without jobs and place to stay have more children. They cry of lack of government intervention because many are lazy and totally dependent upon dole outs. So politicians pretend to care for the people but they are just made pawn to their desire to stay in power. So many epals would ride on that scheme. Tingnan ninyo si Colmenares na parang asong ulol na kahol ng kahol wala naming sinabi. Kaparis yan ni Sharpton ng New York kaaya tawag ko sa kanilang dalawa- mga langaw. Nandun palagi kung saan may bulok at nangangamoy.

  6. You said, ” Congratulations to the parks administrator and to President Pinoy (we blame him for the smallest of complaints, but do not give him credit for a job well-done) for their awesome job of restoring the entire Fort Santiago to its old charm. “. I totally agree with you. Filipinos (most especially the rich and graduate kuno sa exclusive schools) have the tendency of looking for small controversial things to put up their names in the media. When these Filipinos ( rich and graduate kuno sa exclusive schools) go to other countries, they look like ordinary indigenous citizen so afraid to break any laws. But returning to the Philippines make them so arrogant and fresh. They look so ordinary that not anyone even bother to turn their heads to stare at them.

  7. mikhail hieronymus on

    I was there one time. The people there even persuaded not to buy the ticket for a guided tour because it is 3:45 p.m. already. They will close soon. What a disappointment.