One of the main problems with the Philippines is the national obsession with money. Of course money is important but here it seems its importance transcends every other consideration. It is literally the difference for many between life and death. Hospital treatment stories exemplify that very well with cases of people being refused admission because they couldn’t afford to pay a hefty deposit, and dying for lack of medical attention.
It is virtually impossible to contest a bill these days. Challenging a bill is such a long and tedious process as to be just not worth commencing, particularly as the service will just be cut off because the provider’s billings haven’t been paid in time.
It becomes a question of admission of responsibility for making a mistake. In Asia and in the Philippines in particular, owning up to a mistake is something that people just don’t do. “It’s not my fault”, “I was not responsible” are standard responses to almost anything that goes wrong and people will go to enormous lengths to deny responsibility for having made a mistake, and it’s not just in preparing utility bills!
In the end there is little point trying to contest e-pass charges, Meralco, PLDT, mobile phone or water bills. It’s just too difficult. To submit a massive list of difficult to put together “requirements” that then get lost in some bureaucratic system or other, and to be told, “but you haven’t submitted these yet” seems like the claim of omission should be challenged, but after a while you don’t challenge it, you just assemble them all again and as requested submit them all again.
Flights from Palawan to Manila were all cancelled last night [Monday] due to “high winds”, no compensation or help was offered to the stranded passengers. “The flight will now depart at 7am” – sort yourselves out. In the event the 7am departure was again delayed. My innate character would have had me challenging Air Asia on this one, “high winds ?”, “overnight accommodation provided ?” etc etc. But there would be no point whatsoever getting all stressed out and mounting a challenge to which the only response would have been “not our fault, it’s the weather, force majeure”. So in the end you just accept it and the “service provider” just carries on in its own self interest protecting way with absolutely no consideration for its customers on whose good will the business theoretically depends for its survival.
To fight for what is right in the Philippines is a hard thing to do. Major issues arise such as the DAP and corruption in general, drug dealing, law and order, generate lots of outrage at the time and the particular issue takes up lots of media space of one sort or another but in the end it all gets forgotten or overtaken by the next scandal and nothing changes as a result.
If people were not so terrified of taking responsibility for their mistakes at all levels of society then progress can be made. To spend enormous amounts of time and effort, and no doubt money to portray infallibility – the inability to be wrong, is a terrific waste of resources just to portray a quality which everybody knows does not exist.
The problem I guess is that to admit to having made a mistake is seen as a weakness as well as having the potential for its having a monetary cost. But of course it is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength to own to mistakes and then be prepared to take the consequences. “I’m sorry, I am wrong you are correct, it was my fault” – so difficult to say !! No doubt Roman Catholics say this to priests in the confessional but there they can gain instant absolution and forgiveness, and there is no potential for loss of money involved.
Mike can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.