WITHOUT FAIL, each time we pass through a clearly-marked one-way street on our way home, we meet an oncoming tricycle or jeep or private vehicle despite the huge DO NOT ENTER sign that prohibits their entry. Sometimes we even see a police car parked across the sign, blissfully ignoring the miscreants who endanger us every night.

I cannot understand this.

My husband blows a gasket whenever this happens and lectures the violator as he passes alongside us. The driver invariably gives him a sheepish smile, with a “pasensya na po,” a little scratching of the head, a little laugh, then goes on his way in the wrong direction.

Yesterday, we were trying to catch up with a very hectic schedule and decided to eat on the run. As we attempted to enter a fastfood drive-thru lane, our way was blocked by a UV express van that parked in the middle of the road to take in passengers. We were stuck there for a good few minutes. No degree of horn-honking or pointing to the sign that said “No Loading/Unloading” could make that van budge. There were no traffic enforcers around to do so either.



Near the college where I teach, there is a constant risk of running over pedestrians who squirm through the metal fence on the median to get to the other side. They are supposed to take a footbridge, but many of them, young and old, prefer to squeeze through a small gap someone made by removing the metal bars with a hacksaw. Whoever did it probably sold the metal as well.



These, among other things, are what make us what we now are. There is much in the Filipino to credit, and I have discussed those qualities here often enough. But these are among the habits that mar us, and these are what we must choose to excise.

Foreigners have identified our “culture of impunity” as one of the main causes of corruption, and though it pains me, I must agree with them. Why are we so hesitant to speak up against wrongdoing? Why are we so willing to let offenders go free?

I hardly think it is our forgiving nature, though Lee Kwan Yew was of that opinion. I think it is because we are afraid to rock the boat, to unsettle the powers that be, to disturb the peace of our benefactors though they may be unscrupulous, scandalous, and villainous.

I wish there were more men and women of integrity in our society who would hold to their principles and be willing to eschew the protection of a scurrilous patron. The problem is that too many of us care only about our nuclear family, our inner circle, our immediate concerns, and regard anything beyond that as “someone else’s problem.”

The traffic situation is the MMDA’s problem. The garbage situation is the LGUs’ problem. The corruption situation is the national government’s problem. Not ours, not mine, but theirs. What do we often hear? “My problem is that they are making their problem my problem!”

Pithy and amusing, but not quite accurate.

When we want to get from point A to point B in the quickest time, and we choose to violate road rules, we create a problem.

When we want to make a living (Naghahanap-buhay lang po!), but cause delays that impinge on other people’s work schedules, we create a problem.

When we see what’s wrong but choose not to do anything about it, we create a problem.

When we bash our society but do not contribute to its betterment, we create a huge problem.

I would like to see more of us create solutions than problems like these. The Philippines needs change, now. But change can only begin one person at a time.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James 4:17


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