I was in Manila last week. In the many trips I had around the metropolitan, I was irked by scheming taxi drivers making a fool of me right in broad daylight. One said he did not know the exact way to go from Makati to Vito Cruz and expected me to tell him every twist and turn; most of them “inadvertently” forgot to turn on the taxi meter; and one bravely said his meter was busted. In all these, I had to reason with them, argue some too, and finally threaten them that I’m a lawyer and I want them to drop me to the nearest police station so that we can settle the matter there. The minute they knew of my profession and my intention, they made an abrupt change of behavior and became the meekest taxi drivers, begging to let the matter slip.
And I let them get away. I did not have the time to go to the proper authorities to have their ruthless behaviors fixed.
I felt like the time when my husband bought a cellular phone in a local store using his credit card and the cashier told him they charge additional 5% for purchases on credit – which is totally against the law. I wanted to set them straight too and perhaps file the appropriate complaint against them but what the hell, I have other matters to attend to than be a dutiful citizen and report them for a few hundred pesos.
Yeah, but I should have corrected them because it is only when someone actually does something about these trivial things that things actually start change for the better. I somehow feel bad of my indifference towards these defective practices which I tolerate like everybody else. I guess this is exactly why our country has become what it is now – because people behave like me and nobody cares to correct what may seem as little “anomalies” that are actually big things in the making.
My recent trip to Manila made me remember Atty. Alexander Lacson’s “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country”. The book was quite a success based on volume of sales. I think it was released two or three years ago.
I got the book courtesy of my cousin who gave it as a gift one or two Christmases ago . In a nutshell, the 12 things are, to quote:
1) Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
2) Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
3) Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.
4) When you talk to others, especially foreigners speak positively about us and our country.
5) Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
6) Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
7) Support your church.
8) During elections, do your solemn duty.
9) Pay your employees well.
10) Pay your taxes.
11) Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
12) Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
I doubt, though, whether those who bought the book practiced what the book preached. I’m constantly trying my best to apply them but I’m currently struggling to follow them.
Asking for receipts always takes several minutes more and I’m usually in a hurry to leave. The most that I do is ask for receipts every time I buy gas and it’s mainly because the 12% VAT is substantial and without the receipt, the tax I paid on top of the cost instead goes to the owner, rather than the country.
I don’t buy smuggled goods because I don’t even know where to look for them, however I think the pir$t3d DVDs I watch falls under this category, huh? And how can I even stop patronizing them? It’s the only source in this part of the country (except for the internet). But, but, but — I don’t buy pir$t3d Filipino cds and dvds, only foreign ones, so does that mitigate anything?
Talking (and writing) positively about my country and my countrymen is hard when the news are repeatedly wailing of some embarassing things about the Philippines and our public figures. It does not also help that the media always focuses on the bad things happening around the country rather than the good ones. What’s worse, the news are almost always exaggerated and hyped, creating a buzz which tends to wreck havoc to the stability of our economy.
Respecting the traffic enforcers, policemen and soldiers is a grind for me when I’ve seen enough of traffic enforcers idly neglecting their duties to enforce traffic laws committed in their presence; of policemen and soldiers committing crimes themselves instead of enforcing the law. I have only hostility towards them. Sorry.
I have no official scholar to send to school but I do give to the worthy students when they ask for my help. I’m also no mother, but I teach my nephews and my nieces to follow the law and love our country.
Perusing them through, ha, the little things are not little at all. They are very difficult, humongous things to practice. By the looks of everyone acting like me in the same situation, I betcha, the country’s not getting the badly needed help she cries for!
Having said it all, I believe Atty. Lacson should have added a number 13 to the list: “Do not tolerate a wrong committed in your presence.” Good luck to me in practicing this last thing.