Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Being a Filipino: On Respect

One of my greatest complaints about being a Filipino is the rule of the society dictating that age begets respect. Ridiculous! Don't get me wrong. Having been raised in the Philippines by Filipino citizens (though, I should make it clear that I'm not a pure Filipino) resulted in that "lesson" being ingrained into my mind whether I agreed with it or not. And, I understand the sentiment. The Philippines is a country that believes that with age comes wisdom. It is a country that revers the elderly for their wisdom. But more than that, it supposedly puts the elderly on a higher pedestal in recognition of where they had come from. After all, how could one person come onto the Earth without his/her parents? I understand all these things. And, I do respect people who are older than me. I just happen to have different kinds of respect.

Being forced by societal laws and institutional rules, I had been forced to differentiate respect. Respect comes in many forms but for the purpose of this post, I'll be referring to only two- respect that has been required of you and respect that has been earned. I have a certain degree of respect toward people older than me because their age calls for it. I respect my instructors, my boss, people higher up the food chain because their authority over me calls for it. But there is respect that is earned. And this is the respect that I hold for people who have, through their integrity, their intelligence, and their character, convinced me that they are deserving of it. I know it might reflect badly on me to say this, but very few people have earned my respect. Or, at least, they are very few compared to the hundreds who have made the mistake of demanding respect from me.

I don't get it. I had learned at a very young age that respect is one of the things that can never be bought by money nor taken by force. So, why is it that so many people still don't understand this concept? And, more frustrating is the fact that people can't differentiate between respect that has been grudgingly been given due to societal demand and respect that has been earned. There's also the consideration you have to give when in a work place. Do you still defer to societal laws when within an institution which recognizes a different hierarchy of authority? How does a younger boss deal with insubordination from an older employee(But at this point, I should probably ask if it's actually possible for this scenario to happen when I suspect that government institutions usually base promotions on the age of the employee)? How does a younger subordinate deal with an older authority who is in the wrong? Does the younger one defer to the older person and, in the process, compromise not just his principles but also the quality of their work? What happens when the younger person decide to value quality of work over the chain of command? And in the indignation that follows such insubordination what marks the difference between outrage due to disrespect and wrath due to wounded pride?

Okay, yeah. This is me ranting about a personal problem again. The thing is, I have a constant frustration with people who act like their position and their age transform them into perfect beings who can't possibly be wrong about anything. At this point, I don't even know if I should be complaining about undue respect or about man's pride. But I suppose the issue at hand can be explained by my loss of respect for people who put pride before the quality of work, especially for those who use age as an excuse to belittle and disregard people like me.

So, I was thinking of starting a series on what it's like to be a Filipino. Since the first post for this series is about the Downs, I guess I'll have to make up for it with a lot more Ups. After all, being a Filipino is also kinda awesome.

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