16 February 2005

Our country in the eyes of travellers

Mr. Abbey's post related to the Valentine's Day bombings (entitled Dark Shadows on a Beautiful Country) brought to mind a visit from a fellow Filipino who works in another Asian country but frequently travels to other parts of SouthEast Asia as part of the business.

We talked about his experiences in the other countries. And he declared that if we think corruption is rampant here in the Philippines, think again. The other countries are worse. Once when their company was trying to ship in promotional materials to one of these countries, the customs department there was demanding that they give the equivalent of half of the customs duties as grease money, plus they leave half of the shipment with them! It was unbelievable.

He believes the reason why corruption is widely publicized here in the Philippines is also inherent in us: we love rumors and publicity. Proof: here in the Philippines, we see Showbusiness news as part of a current events news format. The newscasters would be reporting about the President's exploits one minute, and in the next we learn who the love team of the decade is! Likewise, reports of corruption in the government and in other areas of business get a lot of hoopla and fanfare. Outside news organizations pick this up and it spreads like wildfire.

He also mentioned one crucial thing: the people love their nation. Go there, say something against their government and you'll wish you never stepped into their country. But here, we can lash out at our government and give the media something to put in the headlines.

But that's just what we really are. Filipinos are emotional. When we care, we show it. When we hate, we show it.

We are also the friendliest. Our visitor did not need to say that for me to know it. I've had first-hand accounts of other Asians giving us the cold shoulder when we asked for directions as tourists in their country. Here, people would try their darnest to help out, even if giving directions in English meant they have to think really hard how to say it, or enlist somebody else who can.

We have a beautiful country. We have beautiful people. The corrupt and the terrorists do not belong here!


  1. Greetings From Mars...

    It's one positive note that some foreigners see us as a benign country when it comes to graft and corruption. Perhaps i could agree to this because in my past readings, i have learned that in some countries, one has to shell out something to some officer for every move you make.

    Still, we could hope further that stealing in the government will soon wane to almost a nil. If only in our dreams.

  2. Corruption in government exists everywhere but in varying degrees. Power seems to corrupt people over time. I have always theorized that the way to eliminate corrupt governments is to eliminate career politicians. Make our government run on a jury system where people are randomly selected from the civilian population to serve for a set amount of time. This is an extremely simplified version of what it would take but space is limited to write it all down here. I have written on it in depth in one of my archived blog entries.

  3. In case you are interested, the link is:

    Scroll down to the blog on Oct. 14, 2004 called, "A Government of the People and For the People"

  4. When you tune in to the local news, 3/4 of it is bad. When you get to the good news, its usually about showbiz. That's why a lot of people always have something bad to say about the country. This never ending charade of negativism overshadows the beauty of living here; we tend to think that there's no hope, it's better off for us to migrate elsewhere, etc. Well think again. At least we have it much better compared to other countries (African countries for example). That's why we should always count our blessings no matter how bad things have been on our side lately.

  5. That, Major Tom, is a dream come true.

    Hello Mr. Abbey! I read your post (the one with 50 things about you) and based on what you have written here, I heartily agree that you make both Republicans and Democrats stare in disbelief :-) I'll check on that post later.

    Hello jgotangco! Yes, at times, it's only positive thinking that sees us through.

    Quote for the day: Look at how our politicians smile during elections and their ploy to earn votes. It's showbusiness.

  6. very well said watson! amen to that!

  7. Thanks Amie!

    I've been to the government system blog, Mr. Abbey. By the way, you actually posted the link to the archive, but it was ok. I lingered in your NaNoWriMo post, then dropped by your lawn, then checked out the Conspiracy Theories article, before heading down the government system blog. An interesting and relaxed trip overall.

    You should have a name for the system. Many, though, will fight against it. Mostly the politicians :-)


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