Published on Page A11 of the October 26, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
mga Pilipino talaga, walang modo" ["Filipinos really have no manners"],
Dad said. When I heard him say that, I could only agree with him.
It was a humid October night, and most of the commercial buildings
along the thin, potholed and slightly congested stretch of concrete
connecting our subdivision to nearby Commonwealth Avenue already had
their store signs lighted. The sun had long set and people were going
home to the middle-class subdivisions nearby.
Dad was driving home, with my sister and me, and a tricycle zoomed
past our vehicle. As it overtook our car, the tricycle spewed out
tar-black smoke that clouded our view. After a while, the smoke
thinned, and I saw a passenger drop a neon-blue plastic bag, scattering
what looked like leftover rice on the already dirty road. Whatever it
was, it was certainly
garbage, and it did not belong there.
I am not an environmentalist, but I get mad whenever people, in
their laziness and impatience, carelessly and insensitively throw their
garbage just about anywhere. I cannot understand why people can't make
the minimal effort it requires to dispose of their trash properly. But
I was about to banish the incident from my thoughts when Dad made his
remark about our people's lack of breeding and, like I said, I had to
agree with him.
I am tired of seeing piles of garbage grow with each passing day on
undeveloped lots and sidewalks. I am tired of seeing buses muscling
their way through tiny vehicles on our major thoroughfares and speeding
away at 100 kph. I hate to see people ignoring those tacky, pink signs
loudly warning that death awaits those who would cross the street at
the wrong place, but some people seem to be too lazy to use those
overpasses. I am sick of seeing people violate common courtesy by
cutting into a line.
For 16 years, I have seen many examples that tend to prove the truth
of Dad's observation, but I still cannot accept that we Filipinos have
neither principles nor good manners because I have seen others
demonstrate that they do. While I have seen several accidents caused by
reckless bus drivers, I have also seen countless examples of the
"bayanihan" [communal self-help] spirit at work. Although I have seen
mountains of garbage all over the metropolis, I have also known
Filipinos who have stuck to their principles or traveled through
mountains to serve others.
Don't get me wrong, my Dad is more Filipino than more than half of
this nation's population. Although he can be cynical at times, he still
has not given up hope for this nation of so many uncouth citizens. What
he said was true only of some of us, and I know that it was only a
reflex reaction, a reaction that came from 46 years of frustration, to a
disgusting act committed by a young man who was probably my age and who
was too lazy to look for the right place to dispose of his garbage.
I share Dad's frustration, as well as his hope.
I have lost count of the tons of garbage in makeshift dumps that I
have seen and smelled in my life, and I have seen enough uncivilized
bus drivers to last me a lifetime, but I do not lose hope, and I
cannot. I believe that so long as there are people among us who believe
that this country is a land of gold buried in a layer of mud and that
it will continue to give birth to people who will both recognize that
fact and do something to make things better, there is still hope. I
believe that so long as there are people who are willing to give their
time and put their brain, brawn and talent in the service of the
nation, there is still hope for our people. I believe that so long as
there are people who remember the glorious days of not so long ago and
are determined to bring them back, there is still hope for the
As we neared our subdivision, I saw another pile of garbage on an
empty lot near the "barangay" [neighborhood district council] hall, and
my frustrations with our country came back to me. Still I told myself
that the time would come when I would no longer have to see such
abominations, and Dad would have to take back his words.
Paolo Emmanuel S. Tamase, 16, is third year student at the Ateneo de Manila High School.
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