Saturday, August 21, 2004

How deep are the roots?

I wouldn't be surprised if most students would doubt the relevance of some rules imposed on them in schools. In my school alone, there are rules that would seem impractical if not non-sensical to their young minds. One of these rules, for example, is to always keep right when climbing up and down the stairs and using only one from among four for each year level. Well, maybe not a good example because there is a good reason for tha: to decongest the stairway and preventing from bumping one another. But impose it even when chances are high that nobody's going to go in the opposite direction?

Or why should boys have a prescribed haircut? They're not in military school, are they? Well, if I am to gauge it during my high school days, I know the teachers of today would certainly be living a nightmare had they lived during the 70's. We grew our hair at shoulder length, even longer. Pre-martial law days saw teen-aged boys sporting long hair in schools like San Beda, San Sebastian, UE, and FEU, and even tolerated at a certain extent at La Salle and the Ateneo. This is the reason I was having second thougths of prescribing a #3 guard on students who wished to go "semi-kal" or semi-bald. It seems like we are not after the hair, we are after the fad.

Then it dawned on me. Never mind the rationale of every rule. A this point of our lives, it is imperative that every young Filipino learn to follow the rules. We know very well that we lack discipline and not doing something about it. Our hard-headedness has been the cause of our problems to boot. Just look at pedestrians crossing the streets everywhere and anywhere at will. See public commuters running after a bus, pushing and shoving one another just to get a ride. Look at the litter in the streets. Look at drivers who snake their way in traffic. Need I say more? All these things manifest lack of self-discipline, don't they? And we complain endlessly at discomforts brought about by these phenomena.

Why do we lack self-discipline as a people? Poverty? Lack of education? Laziness? Maybe, but where did all these traits come from? Sadly, I believe the problem is deeply rooted. I think that these characteristic traits are embedded in our psyche as a result of having been a colonized country for so long. Three centuries of Spain, fifty years of American education and three war torn years from Japanese imperialism will surely take its toll on a people abused, tormented and made to believe that they were inferior. Just look at our concept of beauty. We look in admiration at the mestizo's acquiline nose, white skin and blonde hair. When I was growing up, mothers marvel when their young had these features. "Uy, pwedeng-pwedeng artista," they would say. Look at how we go gaga over whitening lotions and soaps?

Now, what has all that got to do with our lack of discipline? Why not? I could just imagine our ancestors doing all they can to evade the oppressive Spanish fraile or guardia civil just to spare humiliation or even death. I can almost see wily Filipinos using their imagination to put one over their oppressors. After all, our literature is replete with characters like Posong of the Pusung tales, a trickster who uses a lot of tricks just get the upper hand or just to get even in a certain situation. Furthermore, I strongly believe that our hard-headedness to follow rules is an offshoot of our ancestors' defiance towards authority. These are reenforced when the Americans and the Japanese came. These are what we inherited. These are what we are living today.

But it need not be so anymore. We are beginning to listen to more Filipino music, albeit its western influence. More and more public commuters are falling in line to have a ride. But we have a long way to go. WE should learn again how to follow rules, blindly, if need be. Let it start with our students now. Teach them the way of good followers so that they would become good leaders of tomorrow.


Dr. Emer said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to hear this, Tito Rolly. At first, reading the few lines of your blog for the day, I actually thought you wre maing "kunsinti" guys who wore their hair long in a traditional school considering you were a man of yor generation back then who wore his hair long :) (you do have those pictures kept of you in your hippie look days, right? :)

BUt then the latter part of your post is just true. We lack discipline. It should start somewhere.. and let it start with the kids in school.

I could go on, but I do agree with your thoughts on these. Well said :)

iskolar111 said...

Lack of discipline is cultural in origin. My observation of newly arrived filipino immigrants relatives in the U.S. was that it takes time for them to adjust to the american way but once they learned it, there's no looking back. Their brains were reprogrammed.

Jules said...

What we need is a Lee Kwan Yew. Look at Davao. Mayor Duterte exerted an iron will there and look at it, people are contented that they have reelected him over and over again. ***sigh. do you think we're ready for American style democracy?

Dr. Emer said...

Brain reprogramming, that's what we need!

How do we do that?

Jeric said...

Yes, we do need discipline but blind faith is unacceptable. How can you expect people to follow if you give them stupid rules (not all but a lot!)? Personally, i like pinoy stubbornness. It shows how much we have progressed from being mindless followers to independent (albeit stupid) thinkers. But we still have a long way to go...

santi said...

When I was a student, I enjoy it when joining the ROTC where you will be subjected to rigid exercises, discipline and you have to follow all sort of commands. I believe we all have this in ourselves and that is especially when we are growing up. The thing is that the youth has to see and feel that these things are geared toward good aims and purpose not only for them but for everybody and most importantly they can see that by doing this the system is working smoothly. The role models play an important part in this aspect and the authorities don't have to be feared in order to implement these rules and discipline. What is important is that they do their job efficiently and implement the rules consistently at the same time maintaining fairness and respectability.

rolly said...

Doc Emer where's your post? Don't worry about the grammatical errors. First, I hardly found any, and I am more concerned about the message than the medium. :-)

No anonymous I won't condone not feeling the rules simply because I am the one imposing it. :-)

iskolar111 I don't know if it's a cultural thing. I believe the rules are just not imposed to the fullest. How will I fear being apprhended by the police when I know i can get away by bribing them?

rolly said...

Julsitos Yes, as long as we don't violate people's rights.

Jeric No, not stupid rules. I don't think people would obey stupid rules. I was talking about students in school. My main point is that at the state we are in, we might have to re-structure our educational system by teaching our kids to learn how to follow rules and not question them. This way, the future generation will not be like us. We have to start somewhere.

rolly said...

That is the problem Santi. We just ignore the rules simply because we believe we can.

Jules said...

tito rolly, this sunday's issue of PDI, columnist isagani cruz compared ourselves with the rest of Asia who have shied away from democracy. =) twas somewhat a follow-up to your entry.

rolly said...

Julsitos got it. Hmm, gandang coincidence no? Favorite ko yang si CJ Isagani Cruz. Siya parating una kong binabasa nung bumibili pa ko ng dyaryo.

BatJay said...

huwag namang blindly tito rolly. kailangan alam natin ang dahilan ng rule bago natin sundin. mag impose na lang tyo ng mabigat na parusa sa mga hindi sumusunod. patayin este ikulong natin agad yung mga corrupt at yung mga nagpapalusot.

kailangan nga mapalitan ang mga mind sets. perhaps in a generation or two, gaganda rin ang pilipinas.

bayibhyap said...

My daughter han an opportunity to visit Japan two years ago and commented on an incident that made an impression on her. She was at a fairly crowded shopping mall in Tokyo going up an elevator. She was talking to a friend and noticed a peculiarity among the Japanese. They were standing on the left side of the elevator. Just as she was wondering why when a Japanese young man in a hurry said, "Excuse me." with a typical Japanese accent. He was rushing up the elevator. Then it dawned on her that everyone was standing on the left to allow others in a hurry to go past quickly without wasting time!

The Japanese are so disciplined that even the way they behave in society is conditioned for minimum time loss and maximum productivity.

bayibhyap said...

I have an American colleague. He is so disciplined, having been trained by IBM before when he worked there for a stint, that he knows his programme for the next few days and has romm for contingencies. His office walls are pasted with calenders (as planners) for the next two years, where he maps out his travelling schedules.

I told me I don't find his ways practical but he says it is discipline and it works for him.

Anonymous said...

No anonymous I won't condone not feeling the rules simply because I am the one imposing it. :-)

Well, that's good then ;-)

ting-aling said...
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ting-aling said...

I'm so spent on this issue. What we lack as a nation: discipline, education, self worth. What we have: pride, too many intelligent people, poverty. What we ought to do: give up our pride, contribute what we know, educate ourselves, so that we shake off poverty, gain self worth and respect. The success of a government depends on the help and cooperation of the people. And it start with you as an individual..extend it your household..then to your community/ I am sure there'd be a lot of reaction to this but as a citizen, can you just give it a try? Are you willing to say, "okey I have a better idea, but let's try yours and if it doesn't work, can we try mine?". So then we won't be blaming the americans for bringing in those painful financial medications, the spanish for making us indolents and the japanese for just being darn so good at making a complete turn around after the world war 2. So difficult yet so works...if you say easier said than done..then you truly are a Filipino hahaha.

rolly said...

Batjay when I said following rules blindly, I meant in basic education. At least we know that all rules have a reason and not guided by a particular hidden agenda. If we allow students at this level to question authority, then, we may be teaching them defiance rather than obedience. And as I said, at the state we are in, the time is not yet ripe for that kind of an attitude. At least that's from my own point-of-view.

Bayi this is what my main point is. If we have only learned to follow rules, then it becomes natural to us. Respect for another individual would have been more pronounced than just merely saying "po" or "opo" which our elders are so hang-up with. BTW, I noticed that in Hong Kong, too. Everybody stays at the right side of the escalators of railways.

Ting Aling "What we have is too much pride, too many intelligent people, poverty" Definitely. It seems we are using "pride" as a defense mechanism to lack of self-worth.

TECHGUY (hinde guapo pero medyo bastos) said...

Tama si Bayi, same rules exist here in Toronto, sa subway passengers taking escalators or stairs …stays at right so those in a hurry can overtake…some rules in schools are time tested…sabi nga sa isang movie…these rules are not flexible or the people implementing it…follow these rules or your are history….

BongK said...

sabi ni Plato "...Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws..." oh boy, are we Pinoys that bad?


jillsabs said...

hmmm...i'm kinda iffy about the blind faith in following rules. sure rules should be followed, but only when they make sense and seem to have a purpose. otherwise, what would be the point of its existence?

when you look at most of our rules, they do have a rationale behind them. the traffic rules are for the convenience and safety of the motorists and pedestrians alike. school rules are meant to maximize the learning process by eliminating distractions (long hair as a distraction?) etc.

basta, i don't believe in blind faith. and don't get me started on religion...:)

Sassy Lawyer said...

I hate external rules he he he

I like my freedom.

Shouldn't we make our own rules, and live by them, with one consideration: that our personal rules should not, in any manner, step on others' toes?

Problem with external rules is that they are never good for all. And while they may, to some extent, institute order, they also stunt individual growth and expression of creativity.

Perhaps the young should be subjected to rules insofar as to assure their own protection. But, when they are mature enough, they should be given the freedom to soar.

Ano na nga sabi ni Ate Shawie kay KC... I've given you your roots, now I give you your wings.

pepsi said...

hello sir rolly.

as you know our class's outreach was cut short due to the suspension of classes.

what's gonna happen to us now especially that we have a project based on the outreach?

thanks. :D

rolly said...

Techguy You're right. Ganun din nga pala sa Toronto. Hmmm, tayo na lang yata ang hindi pa ganun a.

BengK Di naman siguro. Tama si Plato but it's also in our sense of discipline. Kung ang nakagisnan mo ay chaos, it's natural for you. Parang ganun ba. That's why my proposal is to learn how to follow rules muna. Question later. Madali lang yun. We seem to have a knack for questioning authority naman e. :-)

Jillsabs I don't believe in following blindly, too. By this time, kilala na ko siguro ni Drago... When I said follow blindly, I was in teacher's mode. My paradigm was a school setting. At the rate we're going, talagang walang disiplina ang Pilipino. We have to learn how to follow rules. Kaya lang how can that be when sabi ko nga, yung nag-iimplement, like police, either sila yung nagva-violate o kung di man e nasusuhulan. I don't fear being accosted by them, as long as I have at least two hundred bucks inside my wallet. O di ba?

Sassy I agree with you a hundred percent. Ako pa, lahat yata ng batas na-question ko. I am a free bird, too. Like I said to Jill, I was in teacher's mode when I wrote this. I am all for creativity and self-expression din. But at the rate we're going, we are practically at chaos' door kasi. Observation ko lang naman yun. hehehe

uy, may estudyante... Back to teacher's mode ulit.

Pepsi I really don't know what you're teacher has in plan for you. But one thing's for sure, it has to be reasonable, and it will be. ;-)

Thanks to you guys!

Anonymous said...

Just my opinion . . .
I think that to attribute our "disobedience" inherited "chronic defiance of authority" is a bit harsh. There could be many factors that provoke one to break rules, not merely the urge to defy authority.
1)One does not agree that the rule is rational or practical.- As you mentioned in your entry if there is no good reason, why follow? Take for example the "keep right rule" for the stairways, by making your students stay on the right side even if the chance of anyone going the opposite direction is 1:100, also making them line up in pairs I might add, you're causing your students uneccesary delay. Imagine if every student in my batch did comply with that rule, more than 250 students needing to get to their classes on the last floor going up pair by pair and strictly keeping to their right, by the time every single student gets upstairs you would have already consumed 15 mins of our break (assuming that the last student still made it on time for his class). And to say that the simple solution is to come earlier is a bit unfair. We have more or less only half an hour for our breaks, asking take away 15 more mins is like asking us to immedately leave the moment we set foot in the canteen. Okay maybe that was a bit extreme, none the less I see little logic in impossing this rule if the entire batch assigned to that stairway is going in the same direction; what purpose does the rule serve if it does no protect nor benifit anyone? But if one sees it rational and infact practical, there would be no valid reason not to follow it. Take for example the "clay go rule". It helps keep the canteen and the school clean, it benefits the enire school. The only reason to break it would be if you are extremely lazy.
2)Sometimes those who impose the rules don't follow the rules themselves. - Exibit A: Teachers who reprimand their students when seen wearing a necklace, even if it is a religious one, to impose the value of simplicity but they themselves don't pracice simplicity. Ironic that the same teachers that make a big deal about simplicity are so extravagant. Scarves, expensive watches, enormous diamond, pearl and other precious stone jewelry, and yes - even designer brand clothing on casual fridays. Exibit B: Goverment official urging the public to pay correct taxes. How would you expect the public to heed this appeal when they know that the official himself does not pay correct taxes and is even so corrupt to pocket a portion if not all of their taxes.
3) Simple Selfishness - one may break rules because following the rule will not benifit themselves, breaking the rule may even be beneficial for them. Take for example pushing and shoving to get a jeep. The reason for this may not be because they just have the urge to rebel but because they are selfish and don't care about the others as long as they get to their destination as quickly as possible. Same reason may be applied to drivers snaking through traffic. Also for drivers (no epass) using the epass lane then quickly swerving to the non-epass lane when they near the tollgate.
Furhermore, if our ancesors did not develop their "developed inclinaion to defy authority" we would still be at the mercy of our colonizers,I for one am glad that they defied our colonizers, and if by my filipino ancestors doing so gave me inherited "hard-headedness", I still would be glad that they defied our colonizers.
I am not saying that we should relinquish rules or not teach the youth to follow rules. After all, rules are there to maintain order and prevent chaos. I'm just saying that in obedience one must also contemplate and use one's mind and not just mindlessly follow. Exibit A: The movie "Ella Enchanted", I need not explain the movie speaks for itself.
Aside from this, you shouldn't be worried if you see your students questioning the rules, you should be worrying if they dont. Why you might ask, when mindlessly obeying the rules will make teachers' and administrators' jobs so much easier. It is because if they didnt question, it means that you have failed as a learning institution. By questioning, your students are using their ability to think. To analyze and make distinctions means that they are thinking for themselves, using their critical thinking skills. Skills which were supposedly developed by the learning institution itself. How will he become leaders if they cannot think for themselves? Imagine raising a generation who were "mindless followers", no one will question the wrong doings and abuse of power by the authorities. There will be no change because no one will initiate the change, they will just accept what they are told as is, without exercising their own judgement.

P.S. Sorry super long comment, I got carried away hehehe :)

rolly said...

Samantha Hmm, that was a mouthful but I'm glad you did post your sentiments. Let me tackle your issues one by one.
1. My post is not entirely true in itself. It's an argument open for debate. Yes, one of the reasons maybe because one defies the rule because one does not see the practicability. That's fine. However, we do not live in a dictatorial form of government. We live in a democracy where all laws are to have a legal basis, the constitution. Before a law becomes one, it passes a rigid test from congress, to the president and back to congress if vetoed. And before all this procedure, a bill has to pass several readings, etc... you get the picture, right. Anyway, theoretically speaking, the laws should be sound. Now, if every Tom, Dick or Harry or in more local context, Juan, Pedro and Isko will not follow simply because they do not follow the logic, could you imagine what chaos that may bring? Now, let's go to the school setting. Actually, my proposition was that we have to start following rules simply because we don't. My model is Singapore. Lee Kwan Yoo used some sort of a semi-dictatorial stance and see how Singapore has progressed ever since. Marcos could have done that but because he does not follow rules himself (rules of morality and decency) and was blinded by greed, he took us to a bottomless pit that we are suffering until now. What a precedent he has set. Cheating in the elections, getting away with what he wants simply because he could, etc... The keep right on stairways may be very trivial but it's a start to tell people you have to obey the rules, question later. What practicable use has it? Well, it's about respect for anyone who is going to the opposite direction. You see this in highly disciplined societies. Japan does it, I've seen it done in escalators in Hong Kong. You must be wondering why escalators, right? Well, the left side is used by those who are really in a hurry. See, my theory is because this people were trained to obey rules, it became a habit.

2. i will not speak for the others. If you are still a student in my school, then probably you notice that I do not use any expensive thing on me. Just a watch, and my service pin. Both given by the school for my twenty year service. Okay, I admit there are other authorities who does not follow what they preach. But that is the main point I was trying to drive at. None of them had the training. Sadly, I thing it has been our culture be that way. I'm proposing to put a stop to it.

3. That is the real problem. We learned to tend for ourselves ONLY. As such, never mind the rules as long as we get what we want. Where else will you find drivers who see the red light to mean go? Or that may have been an exaggeration. But simple road signs, we neglect to follow. It is operable to other drivers but us seems to be the rule. And we are not talking about simple road courtesy. Kanya-kanya. I have driven in Canada and was surprised to find the three-way corner rule or the four way corner rule. They take turns. Whoever gets there first makes the turn, the the other... here, everybody meets at the center and inches his/her way forward until he/she has muscled the other driver into submitting the turn. Pathetic.

At any rate, I am glad you commented and aired your opinion. i like that. I like it when students use their critical skills. I may not have all the answers or even the correct one and I will not be afraid to admit it to you for after all, I am just human. I hope to see more of you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Like I said I agree with rules, I know how important rules are for a harmonious society. I just didnt agree with the "mindless obedience" and blamming it on our ancestors part. :)
P.S. I'm still a student of yours at Zobel, Sir Debate panga ako eh :)