Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Competitive Filipino

Filipinos are a very competitive people but they fail to recognize it. They criticize it in others and even identify a phenomenon for it (the talangka) mentality but they fail to recognize it in themselves.

One phenomenon that has not been adequately explained is the phenomenon of Filipinos doing better in other countries than in their own country. I think this can be accounted for by two things.

First, people in other countries are not ashamed to admit that they are competing, and in fact, people are encouraged to compete. There is no effort wasted on the act of misrecognizing competition. Competition is laid bare for all to see.

Here in the Philippines, relations are never viewed as being competitive (except for the higher levels of competition, ex. for an award, for a promotion). That is why a person who is considered competitive is looked down upon. That is why exhortations are made for the values of pakikisama and pagkakaisa usually by the dominant who try to forestall competition.

But the reality is that the state of competition is everywhere in the Philippines (made more intense by the fact that it is misrecognized). We see it the talangka mentality. We see it in the propensity for backroom gossip and personal commentaries even during work hours. We see it in classroom settings where students who are excellent are considered arrogant/ mayabang. We see it in the competition for space on the road and in public utility vehicles.

Second, there are a great number of competitors in the Philippines, referring not principally to the population size (but of course that also matters) but to the size of the population who are neither “above the competition” (i.e. above a certain level of competition) or who are too weak to compete. In other countries, most people are competing on another level and the Filipinos who enter do not compete on that same level and on the level in which they do compete, there are very few people (ex. nurses, caregivers, maids; occupations which the locals shun). It is also true that within the level they compete, they are ascendant for various reasons (because they know some English and they are maalaga or maybe because their salaries which are relatively smaller than the salary of the locals mean more to them than it means to the locals (who are surprised that Filipinos are willing to work so hard for so little) and so they work harder).

Next Post: Friday, 21 September

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