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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Filipino Sense of Entitlement

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My girlfriend (GF) and I separated a few days ago. We are back together now with a new understanding, but it’s interesting how some 'religious' relatives of my GF perceived the events. My GF has a really good memory, and she gave me the following account on the dialogue. Their identities are concealed for the same of privacy. This is religion – Filipino style. My thoughts are coloured yellow.

“I told my religious relatives – a couple (lets call them Peter & Pam) - about our breakup. Pam said it’s good that it didn’t work out. She said she can’t believe I fell for a non-believer. That strikes me as very judgemental. I thought only God was supposed to judge, all men should be humble. Actually by my standards, one should judge & be prepared to be judged. But one would hope that reason or reality is the standard of value, not some allegiance to dogma.

Pam: I mean... uhm, what i mean to say is, good thing you didn't get married...
GF: Why ?
Pam: Well you know, it's hard if you have a joint property...
GF: No, we don't have that...
Pam: I mean to say ... but do you think you could have gotten something (gesturing $ through hands) from andrew?
GF: What do you mean (surprised... but pretending to be innocent)
Pam: Well I mean, how much could you have received from him... his overall income... i mean if he's really rich or so...
GF: Andrew doesn't hide from me the amount of money he has. I know it...
Pam: Is it true that Andrew paid for the SUV?
GF: (I was surprise)... oh no, it's being paid by my mom and my brother...
Pam: Ahh I see.... so you mean Andrew did not help you? I mean how about your land lots?
GF: Andrew gave me money for downpayment for the lots I have... It's under my name.
Pam: Does he want his money back...
GF: No.. not really. We just broke up yesterday.

This conversation highlights the sense of entitlement in Philippine culture. Living in each other’s pockets. What is yours is mine. First she needs to establish the facts. How much money they have. In a separate move she will be applying guilt. Asking for money or implying hardship.

GF: I hope I can marry a man like Andrew. I only need a good man.
Pam: I can't believe you want to marry an atheist. I can't believe how you can fall in love with such a man... I mean not to be dogmatic.. I mean.. I don’t want to be dogmatic here but... God is the supreme being. You have been brought up with God. It's in you. You were raised with god.

On that note, I was brought up with God too, just I extricated myself.

GF: Right now, I am a bit disillusioned because I have seen a lot of people who claim they are believers but they are the ones doing a lot of wrong. It's hypocrisy.
Pam: Well yeah that's true. But nobody is perfect... Everyone makes mistakes, even I make mistakes. Man has a lot of sins. That's a given. Man is a sinner... I mean I am a person who is not 2 faced... If I do not like a person, I will not be nice to him in his face and talk ill of him at his back. If someone did something I did not like, I will not speak with that person...
Pam: But you see Leah, Pam is a bit easily angered but at night, she forgives... it's as if nothing happened.
This recount was proved in 3 parts, so a little repetitive here.
I said Andrew is a good man. I’m very sad. I told Pam, Andrew is a man who doesn’t need fear of god to do what is right. I told her he and I never argued about God’s existence. She asked if I still believe. I said I want to but I have no proof. I said many believers I know are hypocrites. She said nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, and even I am not perfect. I thought, that is an empty statement. There is no honesty and courage in what Pam said. If she had courage, she would specify what bad things she did. People say they are not perfect...but of course. She could have said, I cheated on my husband too or I stole money. Those admissions would have made her more real and honest and would show she has moved on from that. If she said she isn’t perfect, she will never be. Nobody can be perfect. As Andrew said, she’s just enabling herself to do more wrong. In fact it’s a contradiction to suggest humans are evil/sinful by nature, since morality can only pertain to humans because they have a choice. I said "if I meet another man, I hope he will be like Andrew. But I know if I want a man like Andrew to marry me, I have to be a great person, more than what I am now and keep getting better till I die". She said, what else can Andrew ask for. She asked if we have a joint property and if Andrew wants his share back.

She asked if I got anything from Andrew. I said Andrew gave me a lot of advice that I earned from. I said I made P160k because Andrew traded my money. I said we broke up because Andrew found a smart girl and wants to meet with her, but I won’t allow. Andrew said he is after intellectual conversation with a girl and he is open to the potential of developing a relationship with her.

Andrew has since realised the error of his thinking. J I recognised that I had not credited my GF with the qualities which I was actually seeing in this other girl because that experience was a long time ago, and just the way the girl introduced herself was like when I was young. Her ‘passion for ideas’ reminded me of what I was like when I was younger.

I told Peter & Pam that I am very sad, but if I am not the girl that Andrew needs, Andrew will never be happy in our relationship. I told them I do not hate Andrew for feeling that. There is no regret just sadness, and I will miss him. I said I was looking to go overseas and move on with my life. I told them that I need more time to be better. And I have to undergo a process of self-reflection. I want to be at peace with my real self and ideal self. Because it is true that I might be willing to grow but I have to put myself into test of actually growing. I said I want to try to push myself if I am this driven person like what others see or if I am also going to just let myself be indulgent (as I know it is firmly embedded in our culture). I told them that Andrew never stops working hard, regardless of results. He is relentless. I said he would complain if my parent driver around for no reason. He would always want a purpose for doing things.

I said Andrew demands growth, discipline, success and critical thinking. I said I am also questioning my ability and my will to be all I can be. So I said it was a right decision for me to let go of Andrew and not fight for him to come back to me or choose me instead. I also resolved, I will not cry again. I actually don’t discourage crying – as if that were my role. However, I told myself, if I want a man like Andrew to marry me someday, I have to be an equal.

Pam said, Andrew should be credited for his honesty as at least he did not hide information. I said that's true... and I cannot stop what he feels. Pam gave me one bible verse from the Romans. (I forgot what chapter). However, it meant something like:
Whatever happens is God's will and it's all for the better.

Pam supported that statement by saying that sometimes there are things in life that happens that we do not understand in the moment but it's actually there to prepare us for something to come. Maybe this is ‘a sign’ that Pam wants my GF to see, raising some personal hardship. Pam’s siblings are all over in the USA, and I sense that she gets very little money from them, so she is pursing family members for money. Is this the story of a victim or someone setting up a guilt trip. Very subtle mind you. But I’m wondering whose consoling whom? GF just lost her boyfriend and Pam is asking what assets does he have, did you get any, and then a story of her personal hardship. Does anyone else see a pattern? To her credit Pam didn’t just bury her cancer-ridden child in the backyard and move on with life, she accepted responsibility years ago, but seemingly not at this point.

Peter & Pam told me about their son who died. His named was Jason and he died of leukaemia. Peter and Pam were supposed to buy a property in BF homes long time ago. But they were not able to process the purchase quickly. A few days after their decision to buy, they learned that Jason had leukemia. Jason had to go to hospital every 2 weeks for blood transfusion. After transfusion, he'd be very happy and giddy but after a few weeks, he will be come pale again. He got transfusions more and more up to the point that his blood vessels eventually burst because of the transfusions and he died. Peter said it was a good thing they did not buy the property so they had the money to support Jason's life.

This made me think that Peter and Pam really valued Jason. As they knew leukemia was cancer and there was no chance for survival yet they chose him over a lucrative property.>

So because of this, they said, sometimes we do not understand things that are happening but eventually, we will realize that all events are all part of a big plan -- the big plan of the SUPREME being = GOD. Well that is fate. This must have been a difficult time for them. As a result of their focus on Jason, their other son seemed neglected because their focus was Jason. He became unruly, and required discipline.

I thought there has some bearing to this while talking to Peter & Pam. I do believe that all things happen for some good reason. This was why I met Andrew... so I was more confident I can stand up again on my own without Andrew and yes perhaps our break up had to happen for something in store for me in the future.

I told Peter & Pam that I only need that my husband is a good person. Andrew is a certified good person, though impatient, he has the ability to view everyone objectively. He was never dishonest and he is realistic. He treated me like an adult and forced me to be one, I said.

Pam said I should just look for one guy to marry from church. And I said "maybe" and told them my fear is to meet a guy who is self-righteous. Who would always quote god or the bible but would do otherwise.

I said Andrew doesn't need the fear of god to make him do what is right. Pam said Andrew's philosophy is based on moral code but no code of god. Peter said ‘moral’ came from the word 'morse' which means 'tradition, culture' so the philosophy is based on the belief in the harmony of men... like a civil code.

They asked if Andrew's family is Christian. I said yes. But over the years, Andrew questioned Christianity as he began asking questions. I said Andrew may have not been exposed in the environment wherein people can answer him with logical arguments about the existence of god. Andrew didn’t get feedback but had a strong science background. If people would talk about god with Andrew, it's always baseless, no empirical or even logical proof. Peter said... "there are things that exist that we do not sense (feel, see, hear, taste). He said "look at air, can you see air?" I said no but I can provide proof it exists like put a fragrance or put colour in the gas... He shut up after that. I guess he didn't have another example...

I am sure people are going to tell me that all Christians are not like that. True enough. My point is that Christianity enables such thinking. I would suggest some Christians are relatively good despite their beliefs. Mind you, I think being good is not just about not being bad. Its about living your life as a positive, not renouncing values.

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