I disagree with Bob and Andrew that “the naivety of most Filipinos, and their uncritical acceptance of what they are told, is THE national characteristic.”
One of the most positive national characteristic of Filipinos is obedience to authority — a highly desirable trait, if order is to be considered valuable in long-live institutions such as the family, country, schools, military and the church. Hand-in-hand, though is resolute defiance to authority if the powers that be abuse his obedience.
Cases in point are the national upheavals that we Filipinos have entered into
“First prisoners of the Filipino revolution in 1896” by US military personnel – Downloaded from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?id=S-SCLPHILIMG-X-890%5DPHLC001.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
“EDSA Revolution pic1” by Photo taken by Joey de Vera – Previous publication. This image was published in People Power: The Philippine Revolution of 1986: An eyewitness history, among other historical books.. Via Wikipedia.
Andrew goes on to conclude that this trait “has suited two linked groups, the Catholic Church and the political elite, to keep things this way.”
On the contrary, the Philippine Catholic has adapted Liberation Theology which includes nurturing awareness of social structures that perpetuate ignorance and bondage among the faithful. The Philippine Catholic continuously evaluates its own culpability as a perpetuator of ignorance and as her resolution, she has set up Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) in the grassroots.
Her adaptation of Liberation Theology and BCCs culminated when she spoke openly against the most elite (to date) among Philippine politicians and called on Filipino masses to support a coup d’etat toppling the government peacefully in 1986.
To evaluate that Philippine education is “built on rote learning and excessive respect for authority” is inaccurate. For how can a citizenry intelligently gang-up to the call of their times, if their educational system is what Andrew has graded it to be. His adjective to Filipino respect as “excessive” is what I propose to Andrew to re-describe as “deep and genuine.”
Understand, I do, of Andrew’s apprehensions that: “failure to think critically is actually dangerous; people are walking around with their heads full of nonsense. It prevents business school graduates from thinking about the economy, it prevents almost all innovation…”
Assurance I share with Andrew: innumerable multi-sectoral initiatives are on-going.
Disagree, I must that Filipinos naiveté is the reason why “Filipinos cling to the jeepney.” Majority of Filipino leaders and common folk prefer to find and work ways to improve the country’s mass transport system rather than suffer and complain its deficiency.
Filipinos are not “manipulated crowds who allow corrupt politicians to be re-elected…”
Filipinos are thinking people who choose to elect politicians whom they think most fit to govern.
I, a Filipino and a Catholic, am a witness and a participant of Philippine elections.
Indeed Filipinos have weaknesses and Andrew has noted quite accurately, that we have an “onion skin mentality, which takes all and any criticism personally…” We have more as a matter of fact (I will leave that up to both Bob and Andrew to discover) but:
unlike what Bob and Andrew surmise as directionless, we, the Filipino People perceive our imperfections to be obstacles we as a nation and as individuals should overcome.