Culture Clash

“There is little difference between the Mafia and the governments in some countries I’ve visited. The corruption in the Philippines was especially surprising. It isn’t just the people at the top who are corrupt. I’ve seen cops shake people down on the street for money, cigarettes or booze” -Gary Arndt, 20 Things I’ve learned from Traveling Around the World for Three Years

As a Filipino whose relatives have been flagged down for out-of-the-blue “traffic violations”, this statement comes as no surprise at all. Top that with the common knowledge reporting to the police is useless and having friends who’ve been framed by the “higher powers that be” themselves. It is an unfortunate inevitability the middle to low class Filipino struggles with. The common Filipino’s solution? Well, explains why millions are making more money and resettling abroad right? I used to think migrating was “unpatriotic”, but as I grew up, realities such as high tax, not making enough to be independent, and heavy inflation showed why the grass is greener on the Western side. It’s not that I would want to serve another nation; everyone just desires a better life to look forward to each day.

The hostage-taking incident has internationally exposed the incompetence of our local police. A lot could have been done better, as admitted by President Aquino and officials from Hong Kong. Even more disheartening is the anger from China’s side–and who can blame them? It was tragedy that could have been avoided or at least the casualties lessened to guarantee everyone’s safety. A half-Pinoy friend living in the UK felt crushed seeing commuters read the headline “SLAUGHTER”. I would not say that I’m embarrassed as a Pinoy–we have more than enough representation all over the world as engineers, domestic helpers, caregivers, and nurses–but I am embarrassed at how our authorities will never learn. During the presidential campaigns, various parties were in a “patriotic” rush, promising change, revolution, and galing at talino. Now is a time for them to strut their promised stuff and step up as leaders. How can one say this is news if it’s just a larger, more sensationalized, and publicized incident that is similar to the other corruptions and injustices that have happened before? I cannot help but be a cynic, and pray I find better opportunities elsewhere, somewhere that I can grow without immature and unnecessary incompetence getting in the way. Say what you will, that all I do is complain, but a greater responsibility is really expected of supposed enforcers of justice and order.

“It’s an isolated incident and I think the government needs to think of a way to make sure that’s understood — that there’s not some lawless situation in the Philippines and it’s not a terrorist act,” Hamlin said. “It involved foreign guests, who made it an international incident — it wouldn’t be resonating around the world right now if it involved only locals.” -from previously linked CNN article

My country’s government is now on the spotlight, and if it takes an international mess for them to get their act together, then so be it. Maybe this is the huge slap-in-the-face us struggling citizens have been waiting for.

As Filipino nationals, it is a time for us to make everyone more aware of developments and make opinions based on fact (and not other opinions). In an age where anyone can post a status without citing proper references and state things like know it alls, let us first consider who are statements are affecting and where/what/who they are based from. We are the best sources for this matter, living and breathing the unfortunate part of a culture that has transpired this event. Such responsible citizen journalism is necessary as many international sites draw opinions and facts to develop and update their stories from local sources. Let us stand up for what should have been done right and can still be done to correct the effects of the hostage tragedy.

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