This article isn’t really about hood ornaments (you do remember them, don’t you?), nor is it really about driving, (although I am going to talk about that a bit). it’s really about vision. Seeing things. How people see things. What people do with what they see. And (perhaps) things that can be done to make improvements, both in day to day life (as in being stuck in traffic), to the long-term future of the Philippines … and the US for that matter.
Before I go any farther let me make an editorial comment. I absolutely love the number of Filipino readers that this blog, and even my articles are attracting. I rarely fail to learn something from each and every Filipino comment I receive. The problem is, what I learn most often is, a great many Filipinos are attuned to one thing, and one thing only … a bright, shiny “hood ornament” of the country that is called “corruption.”
It is no secret that there are some problems with corruption in the Philippines. Billions of Pesos get allocated to buy fertilizer for farmers and allegedly, most of it goes in the pocket of certain corrupt officials. Bad thing. The commanding general of the PNP and a number of cronies take millions and millions from the national treasury (and possibly from foreign sourced anti-terrorist funds) and spend them on a huge shopping trip to Moscow, along the way blatantly violating (by their own sworn testimony) their own countries currency and anti-money laundering rules. Heck, some where even too busy to go themselves and sent their wives, at government expense, to spend the money of the people for overpriced watches. Bad thing. I could go on. I won’t. I could just as easily say, Google Rod Blagojevich or Ted Stevens or Randy “Duke” Cunningham, or find out why the USAF is buying Airbus rather than Boeing tankers, etc., etc., Ad nauseam. Bad thing.
Corruption, incompetent government officials, legislators making laws in their personal interest rather than the “good of the nation” and more can be found in the day-to-day modern history of any country.
(actually, as a boy from Hudson County, New Jersey, I think the Philippines is essentially “bush league” when it comes to corruption, most Filipinos who rail on and on about corruption haven’t a clue as to what real organized government corruption is)
Pursuing them any farther is pointless. Wrong doing is a trait of human nature which is unfortunate, but should hardly be the focal point of any country.
When most of us learned to drive we were taught at least the principles of defensive driving. A primary point in driving defensively is to look out quite far down the road in front of your vehicle, and not to focus on the hood ornament. In fact it’s easy to see a person driving with insufficient forward vision if you happen to get stuck behind him or her. Frequent weaving and dodging, sudden braking, then accelerating, then braking again, getting stuck behind a stopped vehicle instead of changing lanes smoothly in advance of the obstacle … most drivers are well aware of the problem.
The point of safe driving, or the point of nation building ought to be, the “hood ornament” is not the highway. If you focus your driving vision on your own hood ornament
(20 bonus points, by the way, for any reader who can identify the marque of the auto in the picture and an additional 20 bonus points to anyone who can correctly identify the ship)
If you care about your own country (whatever one it might be) then you need to focus on the issues farther out than the immediate issues of who took the fertilizer money back in 1996 or whenever it was, and instead, who will lead the country tomorrow … and what can I as a citizen do to help, rather than point out failures.
A couple parting thoughts about a better Philippines that might be worth a thought or two, even if they did come from a Kano. These are examples of logic that puzzle me on a daily basis:
- Because a government official may have stolen money from the people, it makes sense to pee on the wall like a dog, right under the sign that says “Bawal Umihi Dito”. (Actually the larger question might be, why would a ‘no peeing here’ sign even be needed, do they need one under the altar in church?)
- Because a second cousin didn’t get picked for a job since she went to the “wrong” school, you throw your cigarette butts on the sidewalk.
- Because you’re driving a cheap car and some government official has a Mercedes, you teach your children to throw their McDonald’s wrappers out the window on the highway.
These are all behaviors I see every day, all degrading behaviors that directly disrespect the country, and all that don’t cost a single centavo to correct, and in every case I’ve been told by Filipino friends, “Well what can you do, our country is hobbled by the terrible sin of corruption.”
Admittedly, I’m an outsider, so my comprehension is limited. But I have a real problem in seeing the connection. Feel free to help me out.