Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Pinoy ‘basta’ and ‘bahala na’

The wife is talking about her projects and wonders if there’s a common thread in how we, Filipinos, interact? The problem with a tenant-farmer remains while her favorite farming family continues to progress: they were able to buy and own their farmland, send the children to school, and only those who chose to be farmers did. For several years the wife has been working out a scheme for the farmers to own their farms – encouraging the rest to follow the lead of her favorite family. But the saga continues, i.e., with those who would simply say, ‘basta’ and ‘bahala na!’ She’s been tempted to give the small inheritance away but worried about unintended consequences.

The writer and wife are winding down their month-long homecoming – which they always look forward to, cherished moments with friends and relations . . . With the latter ever so keen to hear what the view is from the outside – which is why the writer started this blog in the first place. And to move beyond the blogosphere, he sat down with an educator, two groups doing business outside the Philippines and one local entrepreneur – who is now gearing up to venture overseas. And the writer committed to support their pursuit of competitiveness. But a friend couldn’t help: “Why do you think our entrepreneurs, big and small, are not predisposed to compete beyond our shores? Are we simply too comfortable where we are given our hierarchical structure? Why would we welcome foreign direct investments then when they would only disturb the apple cart? Is it our sad reality?”

Is Juan de la Cruz predisposed to change? Is ‘basta’ (or ‘I insist’) – whether we verbalize it or not – in our subconscious? And then we simply tuck it away with ‘bahala na’ (or ‘que sera, sera’). And are we driven by the ‘Pinoy heart’ which finds comfort in the grey area – as opposed to closure – and thus abhor ‘quentas claras?’

The Germans are taking a wait-and-see attitude about our PPP given the NAIA 3 fiasco, among others. And the writer wonders how much we’re missing, opportunity-wise? In Eastern Europe and other emerging economies, Germany, the strongest economy in Europe to come out of the Great Recession, is plenty busy investing and supporting emerging economies!

Do we see quentas claras as impersonal and insensitive that we end up with lots of loose ends? A friend chimes in: “A European diplomat wanted to know if indeed we’re the happiest people on earth; and told him how much we took on the teachings of the friars. And fundamental is the unbending faith and belief and hope in the future. Why do we smile despite growing poverty? Because we have something to cling to, a security blanket, that of hope?

“Go to the smallest town or listen to our televangelists . . . you hear an abiding faith and hope – that the future is to look forward to.” And another friend adds: “And so people even believe they would be granted their dream US visa – not necessarily tomorrow, but someday. And you know, it’s like nurturing a lucky lotto number – you don’t want to give it up because you don’t want to miss the jackpot by a hair. Are we in reality perpetuating poverty – because of ‘bahala na’?”

They were said in jest . . . but are they really far from the truth? And the wife shares: “I try to get my chores done when I am in town. My batting average is not perfect, and I probably step on toes. But I have good news to bring back to the States: The livelihood manager of our GK community returned to our group a portion of the seed money that we provided; and the even better news is they now have a larger working capital that would sustain the venture for the foreseeable future. We continue to work with them to ensure the venture’s sustainability. And it’s a delight to see how the community has evolved from once aspiring to have a roof over their heads, to generating incremental income for the families.”

There is a world beyond ‘basta’ and ‘bahala na?’ And while Christian charity is a must, driving the economy aggressively is our greater challenge – for the common good?

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