Have you been told- Money doesn’t grow on trees? If you ever visit the Islands, what of the things you’ll notice is that every electric post and every kanto (corner) has billboards large and small. The bigger billboards usually with artista (celebrity) faces are for legit businesses trying to catch their customer’s eye. The dilapidated ones, DIY placards are for those selling a service or a product usually manufactured from their homes.
Due to economic reasons, many Filipinos back home have tapped into what may seem like creative entrepreneurship here in the West; I cannot deny it’s resourcefulness.
But, the luxury of tapping into your creative left brain is usually not a luxury that the regular Filipinos have. The need to survive, feed your family & send your kids to school is the motivation that shakes up the brain to think of something creative-to survive.
The Inner Makings of the Poor and Rich
If Filipinos are not watching basketball, their noon-time TV shows like Eat Bulaga, they might be consuming Tele-serye (soap operas) like popcorn in the humid, high-noon (tanghaling tapat) right before siesta.
One of the ever-evolving themes in this tele-serye is the tension between the rich & the poor. The rich, usually someone mean-spirited, speaks the language of arrogance, a power-sucking villain.
The poor is depicted as meek, humble and taken advantage of.
If you’ve been to the Island long enough and have a keen eye to observe not just our gigantic malls but the diversity of people that frequents it, you will understand that these stories are truly someone else’s… in real life just a bit exaggerated for rankings sake.
At church, the sermon of the priest reminds us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man and that the heavens belong to the poor in spirit.
Whether or not these messages were interpreted with accuracy is not as important as to how Filipinos have managed to fit it in their psyche. A developing country with over 26 Million people in poverty.
In the Philippine setting, these teaching sends powerful messages to the the rich not to leave their brothers and sisters behind in the dumps.
This becomes especially needed in a country were disparity in income and privilege is as visible as it is hidden.
Philippine School System
In the Philippines, the public school system is seen as an education institution reserved for the poor. Middle class parents labor hard to ensure that they can afford the private schools that upper middle class and the rich can cash out without twitching a finger.
In this way, it is easy to understand why the poor remain poor and the rich, richer. Schools beyond academic offerings, offer a mind-set that bolsters what it current holds.
We can easily put a blame on affluent parents and our society for these types of segregation, I hope you will be slow in doing this. Instead, understand that we all want the best for ourselves, and our children given our circumstances.
To escape this systemic, historical and generational issue may seem like a dead-end, almost like an attempt to escape your very own skin, impossible?
There is hope.
The Mind-Set of Not Having Enough
Our minds are greatly suggestible and inviting abundance and riches is something that can be learned. When I say riches, it can mean freedom of time, money, and even energy.
It is quite possible that you have been raised in an upper middle class home but carry a mind-set that rejects the appreciation for money and abundance. Did it make you twitch when I said that? Money, money, money- sounds like a bad word to many.
Money when used for the betterment of human experiences in education, treatment, self-discovery and even for intentional fun is mighty powerful. Intentional fun is having fun responsibly at no one’s expense just to get yours.
Money used in the guise of the above is mighty dangerous (We won’t talk about this in this blog post).
Instead let’s talk about –
The 5 Pinoy Mind-Set Blocks that is Keeping You From Our Riches
1. The Rich Villain and the Meek-Hearted Poor
As mentioned earlier there are some truths to this depiction as proposed by our Tele-Seryes. This picture does not represent the whole picture and thereby, it’s rare to find stories where the poor was depicted as the aggravator, and the rich the giver and the one who possess the humble heart.
If you’re not familiar with how Filipinos consume their tele-serye, they’re very engaging , and keeps-you-at-the-edge of your seat experience. Most of the time it’s a weekday, daily show and when it’s over and done with, you simply get on to the next one.
In a culture when speaking up may not always have the most favorable response, watching Teleserye, is like watching your own personal psychodrama unfold before your very eyes.
The difference is it’s safe because even though it feels like it’s your story, no one else knows it. Best of all, it may have the outcome you thought your story may never have but an outcome nevertheless that you can continue to dream about.
Poor is kind and If being rich means being wicked and entering heaven’s door harder than a camel, why bother?
2. Togetherness & Walang Iwanan
Barkada is a social circle of friends/relatives united together by shared experiences and solidified through the bond of friendship. Barkadahood in the Philippines is the extension of the family. Many Filipinos joke around, “Nakakasira talaga ang pag-aaral sa barkada, (school can ruin the barkada ) when daily responsibilities get in the way of barkada gigs. In the Filipino culture, although some individualistic goals are encouraged like finishing school, loyalty to the units of the family and social circles are expected..
Depending on the socio economic status of the Filipino family, the mantra all for one one for all is contingent upon the level of economic need the family member belongs to. The poorer the family is, the more bonded they are with this mantra. You can see poor families strive to do what they can to send one Ate or Kuya to school and consequently this ate is bounded by the debt to return this favor to ensure that she lifts the entire family from poverty.
Although this makes a lot of sense, this type of psychological imprinting of “sharing your space,” and always “staying with the pact” permeates other levels of socio-economic status in the form of not wanting to be seen or stand out. The label of being “ Mayabang (arrogant),” is one to be avoided at all costs. This usually means you have left the pact for your own individual advancement leaving others behind.
This is permissible in occasions where leaving the pact is intended to ensure returning to it, better than ever to serve the rest in the pact.
An abundant mind-set asks the opposite. It asks for you to stand true, and at times to stand alone while others are trying to find a comfortable spot watching you.
There may be times when you have to make the decision to keep seated so that others can rise, this is ok. I just hope you don’t define yourself as the one who just sits in so that everyone else can stand. You can be patient but make sure you get your turn.
3. ‘Mo Money More Problems
Simple lang ang buhay (life is just easy) and money makes it complicated. I grew up hearing people say that, thank goodness, “I’m just a sales clerk,I don’t have to worry about the big things like the bosesse do.”
Both my parents came from humble beginnings but were successful entrepreneurs. Many summers, as a child who grew up in the Philippines, I worked as a cashier as my summer job at a pharmacy that my parents owned. I used the same punch in cards that my parents’ staff used and was paid in the same manner they were. If I grabbed an item from the pharmacy, it was subtracted from my salary. Our sales clerks were from very low-income backgrounds, and many of them were like an ates/kuyas to me.
What’s most important about this summer job was I become privy to their (sales clerk) stories and their amazing humor, dance antics and the use of their singing voices to help a rough day go by fast.
I hear them be very apologetic about “not knowing enough,” but almost relieved that they don’t because the former would take too much work or brain power.
In believing that more money equals more problems and that life can be simpler without it, why be otherwise?
4. Pasalamat Ka Nga (You Should be Thankful). The Case for Contentment
As you travel Roxas Boulevard (one of the highways in Manila) you will find many reasons for you to be grateful about. If you get stopped by the traffic lights, you’ll see impoverished kids begging for alms or providing a quick DIY service of washing your front shield glass without your permission in exchange for some coins.
If you go under the bridges, you may be taken aback by 3-4 years old still being breast fed by their mothers not for the mere love of nursing but as a method to provide nourishment when money is not within reach.
Middle class to affluent families used these powerful images to teach their children to be grateful, magpasalamat ka nga and often use it as a tactic to encourage young children to finish their food off their plates.
Our religious upbringing reminds us that everything has a reason and that what we currently have is good enough, to ask for more and therefore seek for more may be seen as greedy.
The mind-set of abundance unapologetically seeks to find purpose on an individual level whether it hopes to serve the collective (family/society) is a personal vision. It may feel that finding your own space to carve is leaving “others” behind, a Pinoy Mind-set block that many of us hold.
Is it possible that by you finding your light, you shed some brightness to those in the shadows? To understand that while in the shadows, a small glimmer of light hurts the eye, the reason why your brightness will be shunned by many at least in the beginning?
Some eyes might never adjust to your glimmer but most will and their shadows slowly diminished by your light.
5. The Cost of Sibling Rivalry
Many Filipino parents result to the same parenting practices they used to hate because it’s the same practice used on them as a child. One of the ways that favorable behaviors are encouraged is by using the act of comparing.
It looks like this when a parent wants a child to do better in school …”Buti pa si ate mo (better your ate)…Gayahin mo si kuya mo (be like your kuya).”
Interest to read more about Filipino culture and sibling rivalry? Check out this post- Filipinos on Parenting: Are you Fostering Harmful Competition in Your Children?
Now, in the Islands, I’ve observed parents used these type of statements as motivation and it has garnered the result that the adult had hoped for-in this example, better grades.
Despite of this, I contend that the results may be attained but the socio-emotional exchange of shaving off a child’s esteem and the culmination of soar sibling relationship is not worth the motivation.
Sibling rivalry creates a mind-set of scarcity. It teaches the child that to be counted, he has to be the best and that when someone else is nearing the spot of a 2nd placer, energy is focused not on bettering the self but on stopping the 2nd placer to reach the grand spot.
When you study people who have abundant mind-set and successful entrepreneurs both in business and in relationships, I notice that they busy themselves with their own space rather than being consumed with leaving second placer traps to those moving closely behind them.
If you have been brought up with this environment, it’s not too late to change your course.
Simply noticing this weird, itchy, jealous feeling of yours come up, witnessing to it and sometimes doing the opposite of what he originally proposed for you to do, is a good start.
Another way is to seek therapy.
I hope this was helpful and allowed you to see yourself in a slightly different light.
Remember that an abundant life starts with an abundant mind-set. What’s keeping you from an abundant mind-set? Comment, I would love to hear from you.