Here’s what I think: the reason why we have so many poor people in the Philippines is that our society has a pervasive culture of dependence and patronage.
It is uncommon for Filipinos, I believe, to take an active part in challenging the status quo, and be more involved in carving out a fortune for themselves- to be the master of their own fates, to be the architects of their own success.
It all starts at home: children don’t make an effort to leave the comforts of the household at age 18 to find work and carry their own weight. In fact, the opposite is true- children will try to stay with their parents for as long as they can, even if they have their own family, and start to have their own kids. On the flipside, elder adults don’t always plan for their retirement, and so many count on their kids to take care of them once they’ve grown old.
The concept of work for a regular Pinoy is hoping to find a company that would employ them for the rest of their lives- depending on a monthly, regular salary, which really is hardly enough for a comfortable lifestyle, and hoping that they also get all kinds of benefits and allowances, and that all their hard work would pay off- and lead to a lifelong stint with their employer.
Many Filipinos even depend on richer, more financially capable- often political- families to take care of them- which is why you have so many poor families sucking up to politicians to spring for anything from burial expenses to baptismal favors.
And it’s that twisted kind of mutally beneficial arrangement that forms the basis of Philippine politics, society and culture: a patronage system where the rich and powerful keep the loyalty and support of the poor, who continually work for them, and the cycle just goes on and on.
It’s like the poor expect the rich- the ones with power and influence- to take care of their needs and provide for them
I believe it is precisely that kind of mindset that keeps 85% of Filipinos poor- the way of thinking that comes from a pervasive culture of dependence and patronage.
The same way of thinking that makes noontime variety shows so popular among the masses. The exact same way of thinking that bloats up the Philippine bureaucracy. The very same way of thinking that makes people think they can get away with breaking laws and simple ordinances. The mindset that some higher power has their back, and that same higher power will take care of them.
How else can we change our country and make things better?
1. Make your own money. Getting a job will serve that purpose for now, but your ultimate goal will be to come up with multiple income streams so you don’t have to be too dependent on any one source of cash.
2. Live on your own. Teach yourself to manage your own life and make your own decisions. Break away from depending on your family.
3. Get a life. Remember there is life outside work. Don’t allow your work to consume you. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Do the things you want to do. Have some personal time.
4. Expect no special treatment. Show you’re a better person by not calling on your influential family connections. Do things the right way. Avoid getting yourself into trouble so you don’t get the temptation to call in favors.
5. Build up your market value. Keep learning new skills so you can secure yourself a more lucrative career. Invest in books. Network. Turn your hobbies into money-making ventures.
Remember: change starts with us. We have to take charge of our own lives and stop depending on others. We can make it our choice to break free from the Philippine culture of dependence and patronage.
And as we take care of our own needs, we shall then teach others to be just as self-reliant and independent. It’s gonna take a while, I know. So let’s get to it.