Baguio City: the Ultimate Metaphor of the Character of Filipinos

In the past few days I’ve tapped into my picture file to gather some pictures that I often look at, pictures that contain details that say everything about the Filipino mentality and what being married to a Filipina may entail.

The karatula or billboard I saw on a white-sandy beach represents for me how wanton consumption and the shopping mall and fast food culture edge the exotic scenarios out of the mind of many Filipinos who seem to care very little about the natural beauty they are surrounded by. The alambre na nakabitin or the messy wires that hang overhead and the jumpers who tap into the electric grid without paying the electric bill, remind me of the Filipino mentality of relying on others for support and the bus with pundido or blown out headlights in the night represents how cheap life can be for Filipinos and how they cut back on health and safety.

Today I want to expand on another metaphor of the Filipino culture that I briefly touched on in a previous post. I am talking about Baguio City in the Cordillera Mountains.

Baguio was designed by Americans who envisioned some sort of garden-city and under many aspects it is a garden-city.

It’s cool climate and the many parks and gardens give a tourist the impression that Baguio has very little to do with the rest of the Philippines.

However, if you look at the pictures above, you can’t help but notice the sharp contrast between the orderliness of Wright Park (and several other green areas in town) and the Quiapo-like environment of many back streets (the one in the picture is only a couple of blocks away from Burnham Park, another neat green area of Baguio situated in the downtown area).

The people of Baguio were offered the possibility to live in an orderly city but the Filipino mentality turned order into chaos and much of the city, outside the beaten tourist track, is quite messy.

My trip to Baguio (that I made after having already experienced a few years of being in a relationship with a Filipina) strengthened my mental picture of Filipinos as people who complicate their lives unnecessarily even when they are offered the possibility to live a more straightforward and easy life on a golden plate.

Some Filipinos here in my country have employers who esteem them and pay them well and yet, as I said many times, too many Pinoy here end up broke and the possibilities they are offered to live a more “orderly” life with savings to tap into when life gets tough go down the drain and they find themselves living messy lives.

Obviously generalizations are never in order and I know a few Filipinos who bought a house here and do have savings but most don’t and I am talking about people who have been working here for 20-30 years and who came here when the economy was still thriving.

In much the same way as the inhabitants of Baguio City mismanaged their city, and instead of improving on the foundation that had been laid by the Americans who designed the city, turned many parts of it into something that is very far from being a garden-city, many (not all of course) expatriate Filipinos who have had all the possibilities in the world to improve their socio-economic condition have made no progress whatsoever.

Filipinos are, by and large, not masters at creating added value, at least socio-economically.

If you marry a Filipina there is a chance that your financial house will end up like Baguio City. On the flip side other qualities of your Filipino spouse can make you a better man: their way of taking care of their families, their gregarious way of life, their hospitality and their sense of laughing away at tragedies could create added value in your level of humanity.

It is a matter of deciding what matters the most in your life.

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