What Is The True Filipino Way of Life?

An old lady in Batanes

by Karl Acepcion

I have not been reading the Bible lately, but I remember that Jesus said something about always having the poor with us. That since life is not perfect, it is our duty to find ways of improving lives and helping others. Utopia is not the issue. A happy, healthy, productive and safe society is what matters.

I commend the promotion of a company to search for the Happiest Pinoy. A warm Filipino smile, after all, is genuine, even if there’s nothing to be happy about. I reckon that our warmth as a people stems from the gratitude of our hearts. If I can just nominate in the search this old lady that Photographer Regie Libre saw in Batanes

An old lady in Batanes
An old lady in Batanes

For some time, my notion of such a society was naive. When I figured in a bus robbery incident two years ago, I realized that life is, indeed, not perfect. The poverty we speak of is not just of poor living conditions. It is most importantly about the poor condition of one’s heart because the human weakness of stealing or getting what isn’t yours is not just limited among the so-called poor. Rich and poor alike steal from their fellowmen. It is the mindset that one needs to operate in lack which is the setback of a society, regardless if you are an ordinary person, a politician, a celebrity or a businessman. We can’t point fingers about this. When we have the habit of poking our human fingers at someone’s nose, we define our sense of selves. We are the change that we look for in others. We all have the responsibility to improve our nation in small or big ways.

We can’t play the victim all the time as well. I realized this when I came across the news about a single cop foiling a recent bus robbery. I got thankful that a society can also function to support the protection of its members. A single unfortunate incident doesn’t have to change the ideal that we can help ourselves and help improve the lives of others.

In the afternoon of May 21, 2009, Thursday, Police Inspector Christopher Obien thwarted an armed robbery all by himself. There’s nothing like the good job of a Filipino cop foiling a bus robbery to reassure me that Metro Manila is still a safe place to live in.

Sunstar Pampanga
Dismo and his two still unidentified cohorts were on board JMK bus with plate number TWH-201. They were armed with two caliber .38 revolvers and two bladed weapons when they announced the hold-up upon reaching Edsa. With presence of mind and not minding his own personal safety, Obien shot one of the suspects with his caliber .45 service firearm, according to the police. “Another suspect who was seated at his back tried to shoot him but the police officer was faster,” the statement added. While the hold-up was in progress, other bus drivers and passengers traversing Edsa witnessed the incident and wasted no time in reporting the case to Kamuning Police Station 10, the nearest police station which immediately responded to the report and set up a blockade. Upon realizing he was alone and sensing danger, Dismo hurriedly got off the bus but was arrested by responding policemen. Recovered from his possession was a caliber .38 hand gun tucked in his waist.

The PNP has since promoted Obien with PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa saying, “The PNP will never run out of heroes.”

The Filipino way of life is not about what the Spaniards tagged as our pag-aamok. The Filipino way of life is not about Juan Tamad. The Filipino way of life is more than how popular culture portrays us. On a daily basis, we continue to build who we are as a people. On our own, we continue to contribute to the collective idea of what we are about. This is why we can’t say that a simple case of littering is something that we can overlook. 1+1 = 2, right? Everything starts from something. Let’s continue to improve our lives. That cop I mentioned did his duty. In your offices and homes, be the true Filipino that you are… even if no one is looking.

I leave you with this balat ng saging that I saw inside the elevator of our office building…

How did this end up in the elevator?
How did this end up in the elevator?

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