How to be a better Filipino for the New Year, Part 1

As the new year begins, may we reflect on the year that was and make plans to make this 2019 a better one.

If you’re a Filipino, that would also mean becoming a better Pinoy.

We are all very well aware that the Philippines has problems, some big, some small; but I believe that the state of the country largely depends on the individual excellence of every Filipino. When the people improve, the country improves.

Sadly however, we have a very self-defeatist and unpatriotic attitude. It’s reflected in the way we behave on social media, how we perceive ourselves and our country, and, perhaps most importantly, in our wallets.

In my humble attempt to inculcate change into my countrymen, here are some tips on how to be a better Filipino for the New Year.

1.  Buy Filipino products.

This is the most obvious way to help the Philippines. We love to complain that the economy is bad and that Filipino workers are so poor, but then we as a nation gleefully support American workers (Nike, Colgate, Guess, McDonalds, etc.), European workers (Adidas, H&M, Nestle, etc.) and workers from other Asian countries (Uniqlo, Korean beauty products, Samsung, etc.) instead of our own.

I have done the Buy Pinoy experiment with my students for years, and every time I do this it blows my mind how kids who have lived their entire lives in this country are completely unfamiliar with Filipino products; and so they struggled mightily just to identify them, much less become willing to use them exclusively for a month (you can serenade an amphitheater with their groans – it’s so, so, sad).

But if we Filipinos decide to consider Filipino-made products first, we will bring billions upon billions of pesos into this struggling economy of ours.

I can understand that sometimes it cannot be done, because there are no local counterparts to some products.  I get that.  My tournament-touring son uses Adidas soccer cleats because there’s no local version available.

But if simply by choice you decide to purchase an imported product when a comparable local product is readily available; then my friend, it’s like you’re feeding your neighbor’s kids while your own children starve. No parent in his or her right mind would do that; but we do that, economically speaking, to our country all the time.

I made a series of articles enumerating 12 local products that my family supports. You can use that for a start.

2. Endeavor on coming on time.

time photo
Photo by annca (Pixabay)

It’s really sad that being late is so pervasive among Filipinos that the practice has been named after Filipinos. Yes, I’m talking about “Filipino Time.”

How about we change the connotation of “Filipino Time” to mean “Filipino Always On Time”? How about we really endeavor to be punctual for a change?

You may think that a lack of punctuality is no big deal; but the truth is that being late is a sign of lack of discipline and a lack of personal responsibility. No big deal? Maybe; but if you can’t do even the small stuff, how can you be capable of handling the big stuff?

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” — Luke 16:10

Be faithful in the little things such as punctuality (and other seemingly insignificant things like keeping our surroundings clean, but that’s for another discussion) and you’ll be deserving of bigger things.

3. Share our strengths on social media.

Imagine this scenario happening in one of the many reunion parties this time of year:

“Heyyy, long time no see! How’s your son, by the way? What’s his name again? Joseph! How’s Joseph? I’m sure he’s a big boy by now!”

“Joseph? Joseph is a good-for-nothing loser!! His room is a mess, he stinks, his grades are low, and he has no real friends because he has zero social skills, or very little skill in anything for that matter.”

“Oh….”

A quick scan on most Pinoys’ timelines would likely reveal that we absolutely love to expose our country’s negatives for all to see. If there’s something good about the Philippines, we scroll past it, maybe after giving it a quick “like”; but if it’s a blunder, some unflattering survey result, or anything that puts our own people down, we immediately and gleefully share away because, you know, everyone on cyberspace needs to know about it!

Why are we like that? Would we do that to our own children as a conversation starter? (as per my example above)

No parent worth his salt would do that to his own child, but we do it to our own country all the time.  Of course, we don’t ignore the faults and errors of our children, but we shouldn’t point neon LED arrows to them either.

I suggest, as much as we can help it, we speak life, not curses, upon our country; and we do this both in person and in the virtual arena.

There are great promo videos about our tourist spots, many foreigners (like this one) post blogs and vlogs expressing their great admiration for the Philippines, there are videos of foreigners trying Pinoy food like Jollibee for the first time and loving it (such a vid made by famous dancer Chachi Gonzales), all of these should be shared and shared with gusto.

A mentor of mine taught me to praise publicly and correct privately.  I think it should be the same when it comes to our country’s strengths compared to its weaknesses.

4. Be more environmentally conscious.

Did you know that the Philippines is among the largest polluters on the planet? Air pollution, plastics in the ocean, littering, you name it, we’re ranked among the top in the world at it.

But hey, you didn’t really need me to tell you that, did you? All you need to do is look at our streets, canals, and other outdoor places for litter; our rivers and beaches for the sediments caused by commercial farming and quarrying; and take a deep, long breath when you’re in the middle of one of our big cities (go ahead, try it…I’m not paying for your hospital bills though).

Yeah, we’re not the best stewards of our environment.

However, the power is surely in us to change this. In fact, many establishments are jumping on the sustainability wagon by implementing new rules to help environmental causes (such the banning of plastic bags in many grocery stores).

We, the Filipino people, should be in the front lines of this movement and declare war against our environmentally wasteful habits and mindset. It can start in the home and go from there, and here are some suggestions:

  • Get rid of our sachet dependency. We use sashets for almost everything from instant coffee to shampoo, and if you multiply each person’s sashet usage with our population, the answer can only mean one thing: huge pollutant.
  • Bring your own bags and containers. Using your own eco bags and containers will greatly help reduce plastic waste.
  • Ditch the straw. Use metal or, better yet, bamboo straws instead.  Ditto for plastic things like toothbrushes and the like: try to find eco friendly versions of them (like this bamboo toothbrush)
  • Recycle. This one is obvious. Do you separate your biodegradables and your non-biodegradables? Do you compost your kitchen scraps?

Do you want to know more about becoming a better citizen of this country? Stay tuned to the 2nd half of this article.

In the meantime, what are your opinions on how to be a better Filipino?  I would love to hear from you.

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