The Crab Mentality of the Filipino people

James Ryan Jonas

Imagine a pot of live crabs being cooked in boiling water. Fighting for survival, all of them would surely try to escape. One crab could no doubt climb its way out of the pot. But this is not easy, because the other crabs beneath him would not let him escape. They will pull him down, thinking “If I can’t escape here, then you cannot too.” A few minutes later, all of them will be dead.
Such is the curse of the crab mentality.
Interestingly and unfortunately, such mentality was also shown by several Philippine politicians and prominent figures in the issue of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s recent trip to the US.
It’s as if these people wanted GMA to be bitch slapped by US President Barack Obama.
I am no GMA fan either but I won’t go as far as hoping the leader of our country will be humiliated in front of the whole world.
Biazon: Not “invited” but “summoned”
Prior to the meeting, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon said he thought Obama had not so much as “invited” Ms Arroyo as “summoned” her to explain certain issues like political killings and human rights violations in the Philippines.
Biazon even went to great lengths by predicting what the Obama-Arroyo meeting would discuss: “It’s unfriendly for a government, especially if it’s an ally, to call the chief executive of a republic and ask the chief executive to explain and be accountable on the issue of corruption, human rights violations, disappearances and political killings.”
Based on reports after the actual meeting, however, these issues were barely discussed.
Deles: US has low regard for Arroyo
Former Arroyo Cabinet member Teresita Deles also seemed to frolic in the idea that the meeting will not be good for GMA. The short notice for the visit, according to her, only shows that the US government has low regard for Arroyo.
Echoing Biazon’s statement, Deles thinks GMA is being “summoned” by the White House, that “there’s a message that the White House wants to give her, and the message would likely be negative rather than positive.”
Casino: Philippines “glorified errand boy” of the US
The US tasking the Philippines as ASEAN’s coordinating country after the meeting is, for party-list lawmaker Teddy Casiño, proof that the Philippines is a “glorified errand boy” of the US.
Similar statements came from other politicians, particularly opposition members, which seem to show they indulge in the thought that the Obama-GMA meeting was surely a big fail.
And we still wonder why the Philippines remains poor.
Curse of Crab Mentality
For every thing the administration does, expect the opposition to put a negative spin on it. Every time a leader goes out to do something, those not in the team will fervently hope it won’t be a success. How can we succeed if we always hope nothing good will come out from what our leaders are doing?
Does this mentality exist simply because they don’t like Arroyo? I don’t think so.
The culture of crab mentality seems to be deeply entrenched already in most Filipinos such that this vicious cycle will continue even if Manny Villar or Mar Roxas or Jamby Madrigal becomes president in 2010.
Think about it. If Manny Villar wins, do you think the Jamby Madrigal camp would simply shut up and pray Villar becomes a successful president? Should Noynoy Aquino win, do you think the pro-Manny Villar group would work together with Noynoy in helping him make the Philippines great again?
Which is more likely? The loser Jamby Madrigal praising Manny Villar for his vision of the Philippines or Jamby finding new dirt to throw in Villar’s face?
The crab mentality in the losers of the election will not let the winners succeed. The crab mentality in them will try to pull those in power down.
Who suffers in the end? The Filipino people, no doubt, who are slowly being cooked to death in our own pot of boiling water.
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James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.