Jaywalking, celebrity worship, being late – there are so many Pinoy bad habits deeply ingrained in our culture. And so as we enter a new decade, let’s remind ourselves that change starts with us, so it’s best to start breaking these bad habits.
Here are nine habits we should break now:
1. Mañana culture / “Bahala na”
When discussing Filipino behavior, many like to begin their argument by pulling all the way from the era of Spanish colonization. The Mañana culture (in English, morning or tomorrow) is something well known to us. It’s procrastination at its finest, and it’s a horrible habit that most say we got from the Spanish.
On the other hand, the phrase “bahala na” has its roots from pre-colonial Philippines. It is derived from the term Bathala, referring to the ancient “supreme being” that our ancestors worshiped. “Bahala na” can be interpreted positively, when it means that we put a complete trust in God. However, Filipinos who use this phrase sometimes say it to avoid responsibility, because “God will take care of the rest.”
These two are related because it’s a deadly combination. Procrastination and avoiding responsibility is a recipe for disaster. If we want a #BetterPhilippines, we need to do something about it – not tomorrow, but today.
2. Entertaining fixers and ticket scalpers
Something quite specific of Pinoy bad habits is the idea of “fixers” and “scalpers.” This illegal practice proliferates in government offices, concerts, and transport terminals.
Its popularity is because it’s a way of getting around a broken system. It’s literally in the terms we use. Fixers and scalpers sound like mechanics and doctors who provide solutions. But really, don’t they contribute to the reason why the system is broken in the first place?
Luckily, there’s been a recent crackdown on this illegal practice in both the government and private sectors. Let’s help them out by trusting the system and avoiding fixers and scalpers. Remember, you are contributing to the broken system if you patronize them!
3. Victim mentality
Filipinos love rooting for the underdogs. The telenovelas we love are mostly about a victim who transcends struggles and emerges victorious at the end. It’s heroic and aspirational, but sometimes we identify with the victim too much.
This “victim mentality” is rooted in our history of being colonial subjects. To this day, we use it to “even the odds” in a way. We think “Kawawa ako, inaapi ako,” if we think we deserve better. Sometimes, we just don’t.
It’s worth breaking because it feeds a cycle. We play victim and blame others for our misfortunes. And many times, we are resigned to that fate, we accept it.
Break the cycle – Filipinos are not victims! We are strong, and we overcome all kinds of obstacles.
Despite famously granting refuge to many in the past, racism remains a very real thing for Filipinos. A most shameful one of these 9 Pinoy bad habits. This one traces its roots to our colonial history, thinking anything foreign is superior. That white skin is more beautiful than brown. Made in the USA. And so on.
We’re even “racist” towards fellow Filipinos. We think that our ethnic or social group is better than others. This is rooted in regionalism – we have long been “tribal” people and we fiercely identify with our own regions. There may be positive effects of that, because we look out for each other, but it becomes negative when we think of people outside our “tribe” as below us.
It’s hard to fight it racism, but the first step is to acknowledge it exists. It’s about broadening our mindset and understanding people other than us. At the end of the day, we’re all Filipinos, and we’re all humans. Our differences compose the colorful tapestry of our people – it’s exactly what makes us beautiful!
5. “Filipino time”
A horrible one of Pinoy bad habits is the concept of “Filipino time”. It’s setting a meeting at 2:30 p.m. because we know people would start arriving at 3:00 p.m. It’s like we expect each other to be late by default. It perpetuates the false stereotype that Filipinos are lazy and too laid back, and it really has to go.
Punctuality is derived from respect. Respect other people’s time, and respect those who made an effort to be on time. It goes beyond business settings and has made its way into our personal lives. We don’t show up to events on time, we take our time when we’re meeting friends and loved ones. It’s disrespectful.
We have to be conscious about this, because time is a valuable resource for everyone. It doesn’t take much to be on time, or to inform beforehand that you won’t be able to make it to the agreed upon time. We need to redefine “Filipino time” – it should mean on time, or even ahead of time! Precisely because we are a people filled with care and respect.
6. Celebrity worship
Vice Ganda, Anne Curtis, Kris Aquino – we love our celebrities. We get caught up in their lives, we soak up every single thing they say. We want to know every single thing about them. It’s entertaining for many, and there’s nothing wrong with admiring someone especially if they are a good influence. But sometimes, it goes overboard.
We place our celebrities on pedestals, and we end up worshiping them. It’s as if they cannot do anything wrong. We go to great lengths defending their actions to “bashers,” and end up attacking those who don’t see it our way. We love celebrities so much, we even turn them into politicians despite their lack of credentials!
There’s nothing wrong with fandoms, and it actually makes life interesting. But if it’s bordering on blind fanaticism, we have to take a step back. Our celebrities are people too, despite their flawless skin and perfect hair. They make mistakes, and some of them are even awful people when the cameras aren’t rolling. So let’s be careful of how we regard them.
7. Not following simple rules
A lot of Pinoy bad habits can be summed up into one simple phrase: not following simple rules. No smoking, no littering, no jaywalking – these signs are up because we need constant reminders to follow rules. Rules are there for a reason, but some Filipinos think that rules are more of “suggestions” than guidelines.
We break very simple rules because we think we can get away with it. In the middle of the night, we don’t follow traffic lights because we don’t think anyone is watching. And so accidents happen. What’s worse is when we break the rules even when there are people watching, like not queuing properly, or even cutting in line.
Rules are there because they make life better and fair for everyone. It’s heartbreaking to see people break very simple rules – so please don’t be that person.
Admit it – Filipinos are a very sensitive people. Balat-sibuyas is really the best description for it. It’s having skin so thin that it’s translucent. Even just a tiny tear will bruise the flesh underneath. This characteristic deserves inclusion in our list of Pinoy bad habits.
It’s probably even known around the world, because we react violently to every single negative thing said about us. We love being validated by foreigners. But when they say something negative, we declare them persona non grata. We can be terribly insecure.
It’s okay to be truly incensed when something really offensive is hurled at us. But if it’s just an off-hand remark, or maybe in a context of a joke, we should lighten up. We have bigger fish to fry.
The worst of all Pinoy bad habits, crab mentality hinders development of our country on a fundamental level. It happens everywhere, from our communities (where we gossip about our neighbors) to our schools (where we smart-shame the honor student), and offices (where we call the competent performer a “suck up”).
Like the crabs who would have been able to get free from the basket if only they didn’t pull each other down, this Pinoy bad habit is the most destructive of all. Instead of helping each other, we sling mud and call each other names. In the end, we all lose.
Crab mentality has no place in our society. We must lift each other up if we truly want a #BetterPhilippines!