Sunday, March 20, 2005

Reading the blogs on my blogrolling links, I came across Mell Ditangco's post:

Do Filipinos’ have a Victim’s Mentality?

I must confess that I am frustrated. Why? You ask. I really thought that micro-lending is the answer to the poverty that is gripping more than 60% of our countrymen in the Philippines. Based on my research results, the government’s initial micro-lending program was a failure. According to an independent study by the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, recipients of the micro-loans thought that the funds received from the government were grants. The government’s micro-lending program was designed to be self-sustaining, but since too many beneficiaries defaulted it effectively shut down the program. This failure seems to imply that even if poor Filipinos are given an opportunity to improve his/her life he/she will manage to screw it up.

The Philippine government is always seen as a bastion of corruption. However in this case the common Juan Dela Cruz squandered a golden opportunity to improve his lot in life. Had those beneficiaries paid back what they were loaned, they would have had the opportunity to borrow larger sums in the future to further grow his/her business.

Filipinos need to change his/her mindset before he/she can improve his/her condition. I am afraid that a good number of Filipinos, whether from the lower and middle class, suffer from a victim’s mentality. Rather than look for ways to improve his condition, he would rather blame the government, the multinational corporations, the Americans, corrupt elite, etc.. Let me make myself clear, I am not saying that there are no injustices occurring in the Philippines, but let us not play the blame game and quit trying to improve our lives. Let self-reliance be our battle cry to combat the injustices that we see. Let us not sit idly by and let opportunities pass us by.

We have no right to hope for our beloved Philippines if we do not change our ways.
To which I responded:

I agree with this statement, absolutely. But material conditions structure people's lives. It is not as easy as saying "change our mindset." Being born of a poor family means being disadvantaged from the womb. The baby will come out malnourished, will stay malnourished from birth, and will tend to be under-educated if not uneducated altogether. Under these conditions, how can one "beat the odds" when one doesn't have a fighting chance from the beginning? "Mindsets" are the result of the material environment. So, the culture of "kawawa" didn't come out of nowhere. And if human basic needs aren't ameliorated, how does one expect a change in mindsets?

Now if only solving poverty were as easy as micro-lending. With financial institutions running the whole world, there shouldn't be any poverty left.

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