I was inside a Suzuki Swift car when a radio host was harping on Rodrigo Duterte’s weird proposal on tax reform. According to the host, not only will the ‘reform’ worsen the lives of the poor, but also might affect the economy that Pnoy’s administration has painstakingly uplifted from the depths of the Erap-GMA shipwreck six years ago.

Technically, the host is right, since Penot did oversee an economic policy that put our country in investment grade status in the abbacus of international loan sharks, and our balance of payments were in the green during the latter years of his reign.

So now, Tatay Digong, or Katay Digong if you stand against his failed drug war, is trying to reform the tax code, and everything will once again be thrown to shamble, risking what little gains we’ve made under Penot and his Minions.

I was on the way to work then, riding the Swift that I booked using GrabCar. While listening to the rants, half my mind was analyzing his analysis (what?) and half my mind was wrapped around how awesome the Suzuki Swift is. It was black with red lines on the outside, and black on black on the inside. According to Kuya Jeffrey, the driver, it is cheap to use and cheaper to maintain. But the selling point for me was the space, since it was as spacious as a sedan and the legroom was perfect for my height.

Wait, I got lost in the moment again.

While listening to the rants, something Kuya Jeffrey said struck me in the head.

”No matter what the government does, it is always us who pays the most,” said Kuya Jeff.

“Those of us working and paying taxes right, we are the ones who are taxed the most.”

I was about to answer that everyone is taxed, even those who don’t work, because we have Value Added Tax and producers pass on their tax problems to us buyers.

But he rambled on before I can get to answer.

”The poor don’t care about taxes, they only think of themselves and their daily lives.

”For them, they want the government to give them everything but they don’t think about where the government takes money from.

”While us workers get taxed before we even get paid, and we don’t even get the help that the poor need or cry for all the time,” said Kuya Jeffrey.

I understand his sentiments though.

We Filipinos are a queer bunch. (Note that I said We.)

We have a certain disregard for rules, especially if the rules put us at a simple disadvantage. And not only we excuse ourselves from these stubborness and immaturity, we are even actually proud of them. (Para ka namang di Pilipino!)

Harmless on the surface, but these kinds of mindset leave a gash so deep that it is hard for us to move on as a nation. It is ironic that we are a country fond of saying “move on” and “walang forever”, but it seems living standards have rarely moved in the last 30 years and we are on pace to be forever a third world country. (Again, sorry guys).

I don’t have numbers and it is also really hard to quantify the times we stepped over the boundaries of good social conduct just because it is easier if we avoid them. ”People will forever choose what is easy over what is right,” said demon/angel Angela Sta. Ana in Erik Matti’s award-winning movie Seklusyon.

For us, it does not matter if we cause inconvinience to others or to the country, as long we satisfy our own and our families’ needs. In our nightly political discussions, my sisters and I rarely agree with each other, but one night we were eye-to-eye on this: Most Pinoys don’t think they have responsibilities as a citizen, that we only need to provide for our own families and then we can neglect our duties to the nation. Harsh, and kind of self-righteous, but true.

It’s like an anti-thesis to what the famous American President John F. Kennedy’s quote: ”Don’t think of what this country can do for you, but think of what you can do for the country”. For us, it’s: don’t think of what we can do for the country, think of what the country can do for us. Illegal settling, illegal parking (lol, my eyes are opened on this one now, but still fear the after effects), healthcare, vote-selling-then-crying-about-corruption-later, and many other quirky stuff that we think we deserve or have a right to. We blame a lot on others, but don’t take responsibility for ourselves and our mistakes. We want a lot of free stuff and priviledges, but don’t perform our tasks as citizens. In short, we, the poor, feel entitled.

There is a saying about the Philippines’ Metro Rail Transit: ‘You will enter as a student, you will come out as a warrior’. Why? Because Filipinos don’t know how to properly fall in line, and one who wants to go home needs to jostle and fight to get inside the train. Imagine Train to Busan, only without the zombies (well, there are brainless people too). You need to fight your way into safety, because some people want to drag you out and impose their entitlement sickness on you.

I know it’s hard to blame them, since the MRT’s platforms and trains are designed to handle hundreds at a time, but operate with thousands cramped on its stations and even the wagons themselves. But still, the everyday situation could be alleviated if only Pinoys know how to handle such situations better.

In our desire to get home as fast as we can, we tend to treat our commute as a race to the trains, forming new lines, not giving enough distance and space to alighting passengers, and worse, we physically hurt and push others so we can ram our way into the train. And instead of saying ‘sorry’ – we say ganyan talaga dto sa Pilipinas. Instead of shutting up, we say: ‘tangina bumili ka ng sarili mong tren/magtaxi ka/tanginamo arte mo’.

It does not happen only in trains, it also take place in jeeps, buses, elevators, escalators, class rooms, hospitals, and in the streets while in vehicles; pretty much everywhere Filipinos can find space, they’ll squeak their place in.
Asan ang bayanihan? Baka paunahan?

The internet’s most open secret: Everybody ignores the terms and condition page!

Well, in the Philippines, there are still imbeciles who ignore signs.

Bawal Tumawid. Bawal Umihi. Bawal Magtapon ng basura. Bawal bumili ang minor de edad. Bawal Manigarilyo. Bawal mag sakay at magbaba. Bawal mag shabu. Bawal mangutang.

There are thousands of street signs, but there are still imbeciles who ignore signs. You have to be a special kind of stupid to ignore the signs, especially if you are a fockin professional. In the words of the famous sore loser Allein Maliksi: ‘Wag po tayong tanga’.

The building where I work recently joined a tree-hugger movement for old buildings who want to modernize and be more friendly to the environment. It has a roofdeck that used to be solely for smokers, but because of the new policy, only half of the deck is now available to cancer -eaters. (Nice one RCBC :’) )

In one crazy February noon, the sun was at its peak but it was raining, and half of the smoking area has no roof, making the killzone side smaller. I was sitting on the safe-(ish, because second hand smoke is deadlier, according to science) when a group of well-dressed employees and one buffoon in a black hoodie stood near me in the pillar with a hugeass “No Smoking” sign. The gorilla in the hoodie then started to smoke a cancer-stick, trying to look cool by blowing the gas upwards like an ugly transformed baby seal crying for help. I was torn, between my desire to tell the ugly mf’er to go to the smoking zone, and my fear of getting mauled by such a horrid (and a special kind of stupid) creature, so I just told the guard, who ignored me. (Way to stand up to that uniform, good sir). To my surprise, a janitor who was doing his sweeping rounds told the ugly beast to go smoke in the killzone. Dapat siguro mag palit ng uniporme sila ung guard at janitor?.

I am 1000% against smoking. I’ve seen what it can do to people, and studies revealed it harms non-smokers too.

The government has already banned smoking in public places, and for stupid people, that includes ALL open areas but excludes only those that are designated for smokers. So, unless you own the world, the only place where you can smoke are a) INSIDE your own home (go and spread the disease to your family) and b) smoking areas. Everywhere else, everyone is prohibited to light up a cancer-stick, well, everyone except those special kind of stupid who disregard the rules.

These kind of people not only scatter nico-vapor, they also litter the streets with cigarette butts, and worse, sometimes they throw it in plant pots. (See, told ya, special kind of stupid). These wiseass crackers will also deny that they are harming others with the smoke, (Nakikiamoy ka na lang, nagrereklamo ka pa!) and will call you maarte if you tell them to stop, and will even cry about freedom and rights to expression and smoke art if you call authorities on them.

I agree, you are free to smoke, as long as you don’t do it in public places. Note to (should-be-retired) boxing icon/national hero/ multibillionaire/ senator/pastor/ spiritual adviser to everyone Manny Pacquiao: Cross dressing and homosexuality in general does not affect anyone except cross-dressers and homosexuals themselves. You know what action that actually harms others? Smoking. So I guess use your influence to toughen the anti-smoking policies of the government. Wala kasi sa bible e no? #Yeshwa

That’s why I understand Kuya Jeffrey and his hostile stance against the poor.

Us Filipinos tend to treat each other as adversaries, and don’t thnk that each of us is facing our own battles.

“My brother and I were contractors then, and we tried giving jobs to our poor neighbors,” said Kuya Jeffrey. “But then they started stealing from us. First it was tools, then it was money from our wallets. They also asked for advanced payments, then stopped going to work.”

Again, I don’t have the numbers, only experience and stories from others. In this case, instead of saying thanks and using the job as a headstart for a better life, they threw it away and burned bridges, intentionally going back to being jobless, looking for another Kuya Jeffrey to take advantage of.

I booked a Grab to work then because I didn’t want to be late, and Kuya Jeffrey praised that attitude, and talked about a similar passenger he had.

“I once had a passenger who was not only forced to cut his vacation short, but was also forced to pay PhP 1000 for a Grab ride because there was a work emergency,” said Kuya Jeffrey. “He’d rather lose the 1K than lose his job. The poor don’t treat jobs that way.”

This situation that we are in is a “which came first between the chicken and the egg” problem. Many will blame the rich leaders for deliberately hoarding the wealth of our land and calling themselves hacienderos (and eventually becoming cabezas to mayors, to senators to President), while some will blame our ancestors for not doing anything about it.

Improving the nation is like Tango, you need two dancers for it to work. But with the lead dancer trying to hog the spotlight, and the other not caring about anything, GOODLUCK.