Why being exceptional is a bane in the Philippines


Photo credit: michaelhyatt.com

Being exceptional in the Philippines is not only not rewarded, it is also punished. Often severely.

Being exceptional, in the eyes of Filipinos, means that you are something the rest of them aren’t. You aren’t in solidarity with the rest of them, especially if they’re mediocre. Naging iba ka sa kanila. Di ka nakisama.

Leadership is often associated with exceptional aptitude and excellence, and I think rightly so. Only the best should actually be leading their respective groups.

Filipinos have a distorted view of leadership; they do not see leaders as entities who are merely one part of a mutually beneficial, cooperative relationship, and will guide them towards meeting an objective or goal. Rather, they see leaders as people who will do all the work for them, and who are expected to tell them what to do.

You can often hear this phrase when it comes to leadership in the Philippines: “O, bahala ka na diyan, ha!” (Hey, from here on it’s your show!)

On one hand, Filipino “leaders” will be exempt from criticism because the followers don’t want to be seen as ungrateful. Because these followers wish to take little to no part in meeting the goal, their participation and scrutiny of their leaders are often misinformed or uneducated.

On the other hand, Filipino “leaders” will be blamed for everything simply because, in the eyes of the Filipino follower, they chose to take the responsibility upon themselves. Never mind if they themselves designated a particular person to be their “leader”. Never mind if responsibilities were actually thrust upon the “leaders” because everyone else avoided them.

Therefore, expect the same attitudes that Filipinos take towards “leaders” to be the same attitudes they take towards exceptional people. It is encompassed in the commonly heard line, “kung ang galing galing mo, bakit di ka tumakbo sa gobyerno?!” (If you’re so great, why don’t you run for government office?!)

Exceptional aptitude, excellence, and leadership are simply too hard for Filipinos to grasp, much less work towards.


2 thoughts on “Why being exceptional is a bane in the Philippines

  1. I enjoy your candour and critical thinking, I am a Filipino American female writer, I am exceptional and a lone wolf and I intend to marry for love and to be a world class artist, for these reasons I find it almost impossible to fit in and be a part of my native culture, thanks for speaking the truth!

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