“LAMANG NA NGA, GUSTO KA PANG LAMANGAN ULI” THE Art of Understanding
In a community, which is bereft of resources, people tend to outsmart or abuse one another. Resourcefulness under this situation is not the ability to formulate a plan or an act to develop something but some kind of a reflexive behavior aimed at exploiting those who happen to be around the person himself. Those who fall prey easily are educated on the way the person was duped and in return would display the same kind of cunning and the cycle goes round and round until it permeates into the system itself and eventually becomes a culture.
It is unfortunate that there are sectors that censure each other for this kind of reflexive behavior. Christians would blame the Muslims for being perfidious; Muslims on the other hand look at Christians as manipulative as if there is something in their respective religion that dictates their reactive conduct. The new jihadist ISIS hated the Christian to the point that they wanted to exterminate them. Christian soldiers and even those Muslim oriented in western culture wanted the extremists to be wiped away in the face of the earth. They would rather look at their belief system for guidance and response although in reality, it is the very social environment, which made them the way they were.
Every culture has its respective term for it. English has a lot of terms for it. There is the ability to outsmart, outwit, outpoint; to be shrewd, clever and cunning. In Israel, they have borrowed a Hebrew term “chutzpah” which means “the gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible guts, presumptuous plus arrogance.” In Pilipino, the terms “walanghiya” “gulang,” “tuso”, “astig”, “angas” and “gaspang” come to mind. Surprisingly, there are a number of terms in the vernacular but it is aimed more towards abusing another than seeking relief for one self. It is the ability to put one over another short of victimizing or rendering some one nearby to misery. It is the aptitude, the capacity to defeat anyone even if it takes cheating , duplicity and dishonesty to win over another. It is also pulling the rug from under the feet in a leveled playing field to create discomfort and promote selfish end or advantage.
From a distance, it looked like a collective instinct to cope and win. The Israelites had chutzpah and with it, they pushed their race to the limits transforming Israel as a developed nation. Filipinos much as they have the same capacity would rather be shy when prodded to apply it as work ethic. They would apply it to one who trusted them more. It is more cultural than social, more personal than ideological.
People are amazed at how Chinese are good in math. There is an impression that it is more genetic than geographic. What escapes the observer is the fact that Chinese toddlers are taught to sing at an early age with simple melodies with lyrics composed of mathematical formula. While Filipino kids sing “I have two hands, the left and the right…” the Chinese children are humming the multiplication table!
The Germans are fixated on quality. The Germanic term “qualitat” almost sent humanity in shivers when their war machines appeared on land, air and sea posed to conquer the civilized world. This was followed by USA with their properly researched manufacturing industries. This of course is a far cry from the Filipino expression of completion “puede na yan.”
At a time, a cultural time, when Filipinos are learning the discipline of workmanship, of achieving political maturity, of properly directing its capacity to compete and skip the skewed manner of exploiting his neighbor, here comes other nations nearby trying grab islands and islets within the internationally defined Philippine jurisdiction. One of them is China and it is already flexing its muscles. And why not? Over the last 40 years, it’s economy has grown 1,500% faster than that of USA!
“Lamang na nga, gusto pang manlamang uli.”
Filipinos need not resign in exasperation. It can do something like using the islands as prison fortresses but it is reluctant for fear of agitating its neighbors.
There is no worry though. Filipinos can always sigh “Bahala na si Spiderman!”