Being Pinoy – Entitlement

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Well Gel Santos has written another article that gets your juices flowing and your opinions on this subject is appreciated.  Again, I have to thank Gel for as she is a worthy person who sees things as what they are and expresses her opinions and views as she experienced it.  I can understand her views on this and who doesn’t want to be treated special when we’re standing in line…I mean there are other people in this world that are not Filipino but if you know of someone of same race, would you not offer to jump them in front of everyone? Okay it might depend on if you’re working in the media and your face is plastered all around the TV, Newspaper, Online, etc… or just that you look like someone important? Or, maybe they can tell that you’re a GOLD AMEX carrier.. who cares! Everyone wants to be treated like someone special no matter where or what you are! Come on, be honest, its great that you can jump a line to be able to get in front.  Why else do we get all those offers of becoming a VIP in whatever membership you belong to?  You know it makes you feel good… It felt good to me… =) I’m being honest, and am sure some of you would be too.  I have been in many lines waiting for anything and everything…serving in the United States Navy – taught me to how to hurry and wait. So, am not particularly a fan of waiting either…but if someone wants to pull me aside for whatever reason … I’ll gladly take it!  See the article that Gel wrote on the incident that happened to her…

We were at the end of the line for security check at the airport for our flight to Washington DC when a sweet Filipina airport employee approached me and lead me and my family to the “express lane” reserved for passengers traveling first class and business class. Of course I was so happy not to have to wait in line and was grateful to this Kababayan.

After security check, we put on our shoes, grabbed our bags and leisurely walked  to our gate.  My daughter Katrina who was then unusually quiet stopped me to  ask a very serious question, “Mom, why did we get off our line to go to the “Express Lane’—we are not flying first class or business class!”. Then I explained how this sweet Filipina was just being extra nice to us, that she was probably one of the viewers of “Balitang America”.  Katrina looked into my eyes and said, “That is not right, Mommy!”, as she gazed at the rest of the Filipinos patiently waiting in line, most of them flying PAL .

I must confess I was  shaken and disturbed by my daughter’s comment and I found myself groping for words  to justify the situation—after all, I was at the receiving end, enjoying the privilege. Or did I act as though I was entitled to such privilege?  After all, I did not fly first class, nor did I purchase an express security pass—why, then, did I end up getting special treatment? I realized that while I wasn’t guilty of the sin of “commission”in the sense that I did not ask for the VIP treatment, I plead guilty to the sin of “omission” as I did not say NO to the special treatment!

I was humbled, even remorseful,  when I read about the sisters of President Noynoy Aquino —Ballsy Cruz and Pinky Abellada, along with other relatives, who refused VIP treatment and insisted on being treated as ordinary passengers at the airport. They stayed  in line at the departure area even after airport and immigration officials recognized them and offered their assistance.  The two sisters also insisted on removing their shoes at the final security check even though police security personnel manning the X-ray machine told them it was not necessary for them to do so.“We created the rules and we must obey the rules,” they pointed out.

This made me fully understand why in President Aquino’s inaugural speech, the line “Walang wangwang, walang counterflow” registered so much in the Filipinos’ consciousness. It would still be one of the most talked about issues until now. The “wang-wang” issue is a reflection of the peoples’ rebellion against the growing  gap between rich and poor — the “naghaharing uri” and the “ordinaryong masang Pilipino.”

These simple acts, though trivial to some, have a big impact on the new administration’s goal to fulfill its campaign promise, especially that of weeding out corruption in the government. Corruption actually stems from some people’s misguided belief that they are better off and are more important than others, and therefore deserve and are entitled to special privileges and treatment.

Some use their money to buy this stature, others use their power and popularity. Sadly, many of these “elite” even think they are so important and special that they can be above the law—whether they  be rules and regulations within the family unit, a city, a government institution, the airport, the country, and yes, even above the laws of God.

This sense of entitlement makes a person believe he can use his position to accept bribes and accord privilege to the person who feels he is entitled to  the favor. This is  a co-dependent relationship that has permeated our  social institutions and has nurtured a culture of corruption in our society as a whole.

What have we embraced as our own ‘wang-wang” in our lives? One that shouts out, “I am entitled?” Do we bribe our way to close juicy deals, or do we get off the hook for a trouble we caused? Do we use connection just so we can get our teens drivers’ license even if they are still below the allowable driving age, and have them bypass the written or road exam?

Do we under-declare our assets and bloat our expenses and liabilities because we feel we are entitled to enjoy the money that is supposed to pay our dues in society? Do we expect to get the best seats in the theater or access to the express lane in everything?

Entitlement works both ways. Tumatanggap ka ba ng lagay dahil isip-isip mo, “kumikita naman sila, bakit hindi ako tatanggap nang ang pamilya ko rin naman ang guminhawa?”. Or some people will ask for freebies—libre sa lahat ng bagay dahil mahirap lang naman daw sila.  Kaya okay lang na kumuha ng school supplies ng mga bata sa opisinang pinagtatrabahuhan, o ang maghakot ng ilang de lata, pagkain o bigas na dapat ay nakalaan sa ibang proyekto.

Are we part of the few people who depend on government welfare without doing enough to get a job and stay employed?  Are we among the few who think the  government and the rich people owe them all these dole outs and subsidies and yet choose to bum around and wait for the checks in the mail? Do we say “I am poor and so I am entitled  to all of these,” and yet not do anything to get us out of our dismal situation?

Do we expect to be served rather than to serve, or at least do things out of our own blood, sweat and tears? Are we the teenagers and the young adults who wait for their parents’ allowance and yet do nothing for the family to earn our keep?  Are we the parents who say it is okay for our children to think and act this way?

During election day, President Aquino fell in line. In fact, he went to the end of the line and let other people cast their votes first. He did not use his name, nor the fact that he could be the next President.  The “walang wang-wang, walang counterflow”  would be another simple, yet dramatic down-to-earth example of how the new administration challenges us all to have a new mindset about how we live our day-to-day lives. Taking cue from the President’s example, more than 20 VIPs, including businessmen, celebrities, politicians, and even the US ambassador, voluntarily surrendered  their wangwangs and blinkers to LTO.

If we all would commit to changing the culture of entitlement and corruption in our lives, then maybe our children will learn from our example  as well. Children learn what we live, one day at a time. When we have lapses, then maybe our own children will help us recalibrate our moral compasses.

When that happens, we know we are heading toward the right direction. We know we are doing our share to fulfill our joint commitment toward positive change in the Philippines. One day at a time.

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