A few days after Christmas, I took a little trip to Bohol for what we planned to be a day trip with a couple of friends, but to our dismay we got stranded there for two nights because of a ninja typhoon. One of those two nights, we played a “game” to pass the time. I thought the game was called “20 questions” but I googled “20 questions” and discovered that it’s a totally different game. The game I’m talking about is easy (it’s actually not even a game). You take turns asking questions and everyone has to answer them (until 20 questions are asked, I thought). Anyway, the whole reason for this game was that I just wanted to get to know my friends better, so we played it.
One of the more thought-provoking questions that was asked was this:
If you could address the entire population of the Philippines, what would you tell them?
At that time, I had an answer that had something to do with cherishing your country because it’s freakin’ awesome, but after a few months of reflection, I think there’s something more important that I would want Filipinos to hear.
So, if I could address the entire population of the Philippines, I would also tell you Filipinos this:
Stand up for yourselves.
You as a culture have overcome so much. You are strong. You can make a difference in the lives of so many.
So, stand up to your government, stand up to your employers, and stand up to businesses. Stop masquerading this fear of confrontation as the virtue of patience. There are times when patience isn’t patience. There are injustices going on, and in order to stop these injustices, you Filipinos need to tell your government, your businesses, and/or your employer what the injustice is, threaten to take action if they don’t fix it, and—here’s the biggie—take that action if they don’t fix it. This isn’t the solution to all problems, but it’s a start to what seems to me to be the most fundamental problem. If you Filipinos don’t stand up to them, you’re not only allowing injustice to prevail, but you’re hurting yourself, AND you’re hurting those who cannot stand up for themselves.
It seems you Filipinos have over the decades allowed your culture to become a one that lets the “big people” walk all over them. But if you Filipinos would begin again to stand up and take action, the government, businesses, and employers would have incentive not to commit those injustices—and it’ll help everyone.
I know a very poor family where the father’s daily wage is much lower than minimum wage. It’s a classic story of a poor man and his family, except it’s not just a story—it’s real life, and it’s all too common. If he complains to his employer, he will most likely lose his job since it’s a job that doesn’t require any special skills, so he is easily replaceable. Therefore, he allows the company to continue to under pay him. This man cannot stand up for himself because for him, too much is at stake—being able to provide for his family. In his case, low pay is better than no pay. However, if the employers were decent, honest, and just, he would be making at least minimum wage, and his quality of life would be a bit more decent. Right now, his employers have no reason to be afraid of treating him unfairly. This family needs someone to stand up for them. This family needs his country to stand up for them. They need you Filipinos to stand up for them.
If, as a culture, you Filipinos start working towards making a change—if you Filipinos started holding accountable the government, employers, and businesses—they would be afraid of treating you Filipinos poorly because they know that there will be repercussions and because you Filipinos have showed them that you can and will stand up for yourselves.
Filipinos, you are the only ones that can hold the government, employers, and businesses to a higher standard—a standard that respects the dignity if the Filipino people.