Monday, June 02, 2008

Oh shit where is this going? Life in the Philippines

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After Brian Gorrell's exponential rise to notoriety, I am starting to get a bit worried. I actually have something to say about the Philippines having lived here for 18mths, and lived in several countries. I appreciate the positive feedback from some Filipinos,. But there has been negative feedback as well. I think from people associated with DJ Montano, but perhaps just other 'very proud' Filipinos. I also realise that there are idiots in every country, and in the Philippines people carry flick knives. It bothers me that my GF might be in danger, or that it might affect her job. Unlike Brian I am not identifying the people I critique. The intent is to change lives rather than destroy them. People will say that criticism doesn't change people, but it does if people are not defended by others who just want to avoid conflict. Some battles have to be fought. My GF can make up her own mind whether she wants to fight. I do it with words, but I know there are 'chest beatiing' cavemen out there who do it with flick knives, etc. I would prefer to live in a world where people are accountable rather than tolerated, but neither do I embrace a public lynching.
I think there will be those who will attack me because on the criticism and profile Brian Gorrell has gathered. Yes, another Australian. They dont fall too far from the same tree.
I'm not saying all Filpinos are bad. Mostly I spend my time with my GF, but otherwise I meet a lot of people who seem to be looking for some advantage or whom express dubious values. The feedback from my GF about what Filipinos (mostly middle aged women) say to her is pretty bad too. Its along the lines of 'what you can get from foreigners'. In a certain context it could be considered joking, but these are strangers we have met.
It was just this weekend that a women suggested to my GF that she should get pregnant to 'lock me in'. Three years ago on a holiday to the Philippines with my Japanese ex-GF, a Filipino women was gesturing to my her that she should 'use this' (pointing to her vagina) to lock me in so to speak. Very crude, very blunt, and for Westerners pathetic. Desperation comes with the territory. I'm not saying such thinking doesn't exist in the West, just less extreme.
In Australia, I've had materialistic women ask if I live locally (in a high class suburb), what type of car do I drive, and I guess asking 'what do you do?' is a universal question that might provide an indication of income. But this only occurs in the snobby suburbs and is often English girls from North England trying to lock in a 'worthy partner'. But what is surprising in the Philippines is the extent to which there is 'cultural acceptance' of this behaviour, and the blantant directness of the proposition. Westerners are much more subtle. I guess you could say Filpinos are more honest about it, but it says something that these people see no shame in it.
Like I say some of the nicest people I have met are Filipinos. I can recall some particularly real and sincere conversations with Filipino strangers I could never hope for with people from other countries. I love that openness of Filipinos. But I dont think honesty and sincerity need be lost for the sake of ethical standards. I dont see any dichotomy there.
A poster on another blog made the comment "U look at the person as a whole. Everyone has his own dirty little secret". I agree, but for the reasons I'm mentioned, there is something more unhealthy about the Philippines. But I would add that it is important for each of us to be the best possible person we can be, and not hypocrites. Its not because of poverty, though clearly desperation would make it easier for people to rationalise. A call centre owner gave an example of a Filipino agent who embezzled funds to finance his sick father's medical treatment. Its a big problem. This call centre owner said 'he doesn't trust any of them' - but I dont believe they mean that. There is no basis for saying its a universal, but it is a significant share of the Philippine population.
I disagree with 'shoeboxfame' who said "What others think about me is none of my business". In response I suggest 'people should judge and be prepared to be judged', but its clear in my mind that the world is just not ready for that. People are insecure, they don't reason well, so they resort to smearing. And to her last point - "either he's Australian or a politician", I dont think I am a typical Australian. I'm probably identify more with American values, but only 3% of that population if I was to judge. Dont consider myself a politician, though passionate about the topic. I could not engage in politics in a world where reason is not the standard.
Andrew Sheldon
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