• Compassion, sadly, is not a common Filipino virtue


    READ up on sociological, philosophical, and ordinary feature articles about the virtues and traits common to Filipinos. You will find that most anthropologists and other experts do not have compassion on their list.

    Even Filipino writers and journalists who wish to make their Filipino readers proud of themselves say we are hospitable, pious, family-oriented, caring, generous and helpful, friendly and overly prone to camaraderie, respectful to elders and authority figures, pleasant and always seeking to be agreeable, creative, resilient, tenacious survivors and ceaselessly grateful to benefactors.

    But seldom do serious authors say we Filipinos are compassionate–kind to the distressed and suffering stranger.  That is what the highest form of compassion is. To have mercy not just to one’s own but to even to stranger.

    Yes, maybe most Filipinos do not have the heart to turn away a beggar or someone unknown asking for a free meal.  And it is true that Filipino doctors and nurses abroad are praised for being the warmest caregivers.  But many are now asking if we are really hospitable, helpful, caring, generous, and compassionate.

    Compassion is a fruit of charity–love of God and love of fellow man–which is one of the key virtues that make man wants to be closer to and more like God.

    Most experts agree that compassion means being sensitive to the suffering of others, being moved by a desire to reduce the suffering of another or other persons, wishing to help and doing acts of kindness to the suffering and the needy.

    Then, if we were really a compassionate people, why do we have so many countrymen who are dirt poor, hungry and homeless? Why are so there many virtually naked children beggars? Why do our consciences allow pedophiles to abuse these children?

    Why have practically 90% of our congressmen and senators participate in the pork barrel and DAP scams that took away food from the mouth of the poor children of destitute families? Why is a part of the Department of  Social Welfare’s more than  P40 billion fund for the Conditional Cash Transfer program for the poorest of the poor going to other pockets?

    Lack of compassion for the disabled
    There’s a less miserable but equally convincing proof of our lack of compassion as a people: the absence of facilities for the disabled in most public buildings, the major entertainment houses–and even in some hospitals and churches. Obviously, the owners and managers did not spare a thought to disabled persons.

    How can people in wheelchairs enter churches and buildings that have stoops at the entrances–but no ramps for wheelchairs?

    Drills to survive the “big one” are being held in every community.  No facilities  or special provisions are being made for the blind, the people on crutches and in wheelchairs to make it possible for them to enter the amphitheaters and barangay halls in some of the Metro Manila places we surveyed where survival seminars are being held this week and next.

    In honor of the Sublime Paralytic
    Thank God for such things as the National Council on Disability Affairs.

    Today, Friday, July 17, is the start of this year’s 37th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.  The third week of July is when NDPR is observed. It was instituted  on June 22, 1978. It honors Apolinario Mabini, the Sublime Paralytic, who contributed immensely to the Philippine Revolution despite his disability.

    The theme of this week’s NPDR observance is “Health and Wellness Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive Development for All.” It aims to promote quality health care and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

    The NDPR week was institutionalized primarily to broaden public understanding of disability issues and also to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also calls for the strong partnership and collaboration between and among different sectors of society to address problems related to persons with disabilities.

    Many and different activities, starting with this morning’s opening ceremonies at the Department of Health compound in Manila, have been lined up for the weeklong celebration. There are developmental games for children with disabilities and Boccia sports tournaments, a forum on health and wellness for parents of children with disabilities, a seminar on how to handle PWDs in the tourism industry, an orientation on drug prevention and PWD empowerment through health and livelihood, a family day, a concert and wreath laying ceremony at the birthplace of Mabini, and many others.

    Congratulations to the National Council on Disability Affairs and the National Working Committee chaired by the Department of Health.


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    1. David M Meyer on

      well well !
      I have been here over 11 yrs–I am a qualified Psychiatrist I would say that if any of these “Experts”Lived in this country and moved among the ordinary people >>They would find them to be an extraordinary compassionate people..

      For the majority of people it is a hard life ..They have to work under hard conditions..The pay they get is not a lot by world standards ..In the main there is a lot of corruption and poverty..But in spite of this there is a smile and a welcome for even strangers…
      The majority are living under such conditions–but still have tine to show compassion –Albeit not sometimes very overt
      But if you get to understand these wonderful people–They extend tough love ..Which is the most many of them have experienced
      I remain yours
      D.M Meyer MD .D.P.M PhD

    2. arthur keefe on

      I often write about the contradiction between the character Filipinos claim for themselves, and the reality of my day to day experience here. Of course national stereotypes are never true of the whole population,but articles such as this should help people be a little more introspective, and maybe actually take on the characteristics they often boast about!

    3. Many good traits of Filipinos changed after 1986 as superficial character traits are largely influenced by media especially TVs. Those shallow and often repeated plots are designed to remain in our mind. They give emphasis on aping the singing and dancing skills only of what is in in the Western Civilization instead of harnessing, improving and popularize our own multi-cultural ways as if it is shameful to be Pino nowadays. Sabagay, only the former so-called dictator by his enemies, PFEM and his beautiful FL, propagated Pinoy Pride that up to now their powerful enemies together with paid minions in PH society are so TH to remove, oppose, re-write, etc. from history.

    4. Compassion is not a learned trait. It is a God given gift uniquely present among the English speaking countries of Europe, the US, Canada and Australia as evidenced by their contributions to disaster relief programs around the globe. Compassion is not an innate characteristic of Asians, Latin Americans, Middle Eastern or Eastern European people.

      Compassion is a new concept among Filipinos and learning from real life events and experiences are a good start because when a mega disaster comes, Filipinos will know that helping each other would be the only thing that matters. As futurist Jack Fresco said: compassion starts when people start to trust their neighbors.

    5. Curbside Prophet on

      The truth is we cannot always hold ourselves accountable beyond our reach or be too conscience-stricken for all the country’s ills in the name of compassion. We can only do so much for ourselves and for others. Even Jesus said there will be poor always but learn to count your blessings and share whatever you can your own way. What is ill is we can pride ourselves with being hospitable and neighborly on the outside, but can throw garbage in the esteros, spit on the streets and piss in front of other people’s houses without learning the meaning of the word PERHUWISYO.