BY NIKI YARTE –
No doubt there have been remarkable strides in our effort to catch up with the rest of the world, particularly in adopting modern technology and best practices of advanced countries to make life in the Philippines manageable, if not comfortable. CCTV cameras are sprouting in every street corner, motorists have become accepting of cyclists sharing the road, green technology is fast making inroads in homes and industries. But alas, we are lagging behind in many areas as some bad old habits have taken deep roots and simply refuse to fade away. There are just some characters and situations that drive many Filipinos up the wall and out of the country faster than the promise of earning greenback. We chose only 15 that easily came off our mind or we’ll take forever . . .
1. Ugly Oldies Need Not Apply
You are not likely to see this employer unless you meet his requirements: “Female with pleasing personality and good moral character, age 25 to 35”. Such discriminatory job vacancy announcement is so common that Filipinos have learned to accept it as the norm. In advanced countries, these requirements are a no-no; workers are not even required to divulge their age, religion, sexual orientation and marital status.
2. Divine Intercession
In blatant disregard for the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, religious groups such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo and El Shaddai compel their members to vote as one bloc and campaign for candidates that support their sectarian and political agenda. But don’t tell that to politicians who move heaven and earth to receive the “divine blessing” of the INC Supremo and Brother Mike every election time.
3. Knock on Wood
You’re lucky if you happen to get on the handful of jeepneys and buses that have buttons or levers installed on them that signal to the driver when to pull over, otherwise you’ll to project your voice and shout Para! or knock on the bus or jeepney ceiling to signal that you’re getting off. This would all be unnecessary if the country would just follow the rest of the world and implement proper loading and unloading zones.
4. In God We Trust
Whether one is a Muslim, Christian, or of another faith altogether or however one conceives God to be, it’s immaterial because the government is supposed to be neutral to any religious belief as mandated by the Constitution. But lo and behold, many government offices and public schools are adorned with Catholic symbols, primarily the cross and other religious icons. First Friday Masses are observed in some government offices, and Christian prayers are routinely conducted in public schools.
5. Slow Walk to Salvation
As if the horrendous traffic conditions in big cities aren’t bad enough, some groups and individuals make it a habit to turn our main streets into their private domain by holding religious rituals and funeral processions on main roads. Honoring the saints and the dead is fine but can’t people use the side streets so as to minimize chaos on major roads?
6. What Are We in Power For?
Whether you applied for a new passport or license for your business, any request from any government agency, chances are that the government employee who processed your documents would find some trivial and often subjective reason to needlessly prolong the process of your application, prompting you to come back or, worse, fork over grease money to facilitate the transaction.
7. Gusto ko happy ka!
That’s not the title of a sitcom, it’s actually a campaign slogan that helped propel an aspirant to the Senate! During elections, you will encounter candidates and parties with no clear-cut political distinctions. Candidates preach the same promises and pro-poor agenda while dishing out catchy slogans. Philippine politics and elections are not really be a contest of platforms and principles but a battle of personality, popularity, and political machinery (spelled money).
8. Kayo Ang Boss Namin!
Perhaps the sight of the Supreme Court rank and file holding vigils and prayer rallies for Chief Justice Renato Corona at the height of his impeachment trial left a sour taste in your mouth. After all, government employees were hired by the state, through a non-partisan process overseen by the Civil Service Commission, and not by the officials who would be appointed or elected to the office they work for.
9. Hello, How May We Help You?
You will encounter this character at the lobby of an office or at the sales counter of a store. The receptionist or clerk will answer a call even as he or she is in the middle of transacting business with a customer. The proper course of action would have been for the employee to mute or put the call on hold until he or she is done attending to the customer who took time to personally do business at the office or store.
10. Welcome to the Neighborhood
You might have noticed the unassuming office or the unmistakable warehouse on your way home. While this lax implementation of zoning laws allowed sari-sari stores and bakeries to be conveniently located in your neighborhood, it also sets dangerous precedents for small factories, repair shops and KTV night clubs to be set up in your area, or convert the narrow street into a parking lot for trucks.
11. Slow Men at Work
‘Slow’ is used here as an adjective, as in slow-moving men doing road repair on busy streets during the day when traffic congestion is at its peak. In other instances, the repair crew tears the road up and in the middle of their job they mysteriously disappear, making the potholes even bigger and deeper and snarling traffic.
12. By Appointment Only
At one point you probably found that your phone or electric bill was mysteriously jacked up. Or that you’re suffering from a dismal Internet connection. While these are frustrating enough by themselves, what’s even more infuriating is that instead of resolving anything via phone or email, you are directed to take time out of your busy schedule to visit your service provider’s offices.
13. Point of No Return
If you find yourself unhappy with a purchase beyond matters of factory defects, you will be hard-pressed to find a store that will refund your payment. They will only offer store credit, forcing you to choose between an item of equal or lower value, lest you pay the difference for a higher priced but significantly better product.
14. For Your Eyes Only
Turn to your right, there’s Angel Locsin teasing you in her skimpy bikini; look up and there’s John Lloyd Cruz staring at you, as if making a pass. Here, there and everywhere on Edsa and other main roads are gigantic billboards featuring celebrities hawking all sorts of merchandise and services – from cellphones and men’s briefs to sardines and liposuction. For heaven’s sake, isn’t the metropolis ugly and dangerous than it already is?
15. Ganito Kami Dito, Paano Kayo Dyan?
Tricycles are meant for short trips in the neighborhood; pets are supposed to be kept at home; vendors are allotted stalls in the market to hawk their wares. But alas, they are everywhere except in their proper places – tricycles racing on highways, stray dogs on every street corner, vendors taking over the sidewalks. Add clogged drainage, uncollected garbage, kotong cops, unresponsive officials . . . and you’ll have an idea of life back home.