Many Philippines problems are due to lack of discipline.
Problems such as littering, spitting in the street, drink driving, loud music, motorcycles with noisy exhaust pipes, smoke-belching vehicles, pavements (sidewalks) and roads being blocked by parked cars or vendors, people walking in the road, drivers and cyclists driving on the wrong side of the road, queue jumping, urinating in the street, overloaded vehicles. The list goes on and on and I am sure every one of us could add to this list with things that are down to lack of discipline.
Filipinos have told me this is because you can’t discipline Filipinos, personally, I do not think this is the reason. I can’t see why Filipinos would be any better or worse than any other race at accepting discipline.
It does not matter what nationality people are there will always be some that cause the problems above if they can get away with it.
Why is this such a problem in the Philippines?
It seems that speaking up is not part of Philippines culture, foreigners that grew up in a culture of speaking up often find people in the Philippines telling them they are wrong for speaking up, even though it is clear they are in the right.
This lack of people speaking up against the culprits means they get away with it and do not even feel any shame in what they do.
There need to be more laws
There are already plenty of laws that prohibit bad behaviour, so more laws will not change anything. Some of the laws might need amending to make them clearer because they are often buried in other laws, but even that would have little impact.
While there is no doubt better enforcement is needed as you often see enforcers turn a blind eye or even break the law themselves. Better enforcement will only go a little way to solve these problems, the reason being is enforcers can’t be everywhere 24 hours a day.
Speaking up is the answer
The main reason for speaking up works to get people to behave better is shaming them to behaving better.
An example would be if you see someone drop litter, Speak up and speak loud so people round you hear and say something like “Excuse me I think you dropped your litter” this will get everyone looking at them. Stand and point at what they dropped. In most cases, this will be enough to shame them into picking up their litter. However, if it does not work hit harder with words such as “Did your parents not teach you how to use a trash can”, “Why do you have so little respect for your country.” Don’t be shy other members of the public will soon support you.
After being confronted in such a way the person that dropped the litter will feel so much shame they will think twice about doing it again.
Now imagine if every time a person dropped litter someone comments out loud, the problem of littering would almost be solved.
Shaming people corrects bad behaviour
Shaming people works not just for littering but for many other things. If someone spits or urinates in the street, speak up give them a lecture about the health hazards, moan to them that children play where they have just spat.
One of the biggest shocks to me when I first came to the Philippines was seeing tricycle drivers stop at a Sari-Sari store have a beer or two and then drive their tricycle picking up more passengers, yet no one said or did anything.
The act of drink driving is a very dangerous act, it puts not just the driver and passengers in danger but also every other road user and pedestrian in danger.
The first step in stopping people doing this should be to shame them, speak up and get others on your side, make people that are thinking of driving their car or riding their motorbike while drunk ashamed to do so. Your action of shaming them could save someone’s life.
It is common in other countries for members of the public to snatch the keys of someone that is attempting to drink-drive. In this case, if shaming them does not work by all means do whatever it takes to stop them drink driving, plus report them in every case.
Motorcycles with noisy exhaust pipes
Again shame them and also complain to them about the noise.
Many years ago when I got my first Lambretta Scooter some of my neighbours complained that it was waking them up as I used to start work at 4 am. Because they complained I used to push it down the road to the hill and start it by rolling it down the hill. It meant I got away quickly and quietly without needing to rev the engine to pull away, meaning I no longer woke my neighbours. If they had not complained I would never have realised I was waking them.
Another way of dealing with youngsters that think a noisy exhaust makes their motorbike faster is to laugh at them. Make jokes out loud at their expense laughing at how stupid they are thinking it makes their bike faster and how it is damaging their engine. If you can get other neighbours to do the same they will soon realise that rather than impressing people with their noisy exhaust they are becoming the butt of peoples jokes.
Children on a Motorbike with no helmet
We all have a duty for the safety of children even if they are not our children. A parent that carries a small child on a motorbike with no helmet is not fit to be a parent. Really go to town on shaming such people and go further report them to the police or child protection. These children are unable to protect themselves from the stupidity of their parents so it is the job of the public to protect them.
Vendors on the Sidewalk
MMDA are doing their best to clear the sidewalks but lack the manpower to have a lasting effect.
We the public have more power than MMDA. If you find the sidewalk blocked by a vendor do not simply step in the road and walk around them. Stop and have a moan at the vendor, if they have placed tables or chairs in your way insist that they move them.
The biggest weapon you have with vendors that block sidewalks and roads is your custom. Simply do not buy from them encourage all your friends and family to stop buying from them and shame people you do see buying from them. If they get no sales they will stop blocking the sidewalks and the roads.
Speak Up Now and help improve the Philippines
Speaking up can do far more to improve things than leaving it to enforcers, it also frees up enforcers to go after worse offenders.