Comparing Cultures


Part 1
For this paper, the author would like to compare the cultures of two different countries  a developing one, represented in the Philippines and a developed one in the United States of America and to see how the cultures and goverments (politics) of these two countries have influenced the socio-economic conditions here.

Teodoro Agoncillo s History of the Filipino People mapped out the different experiences of the Filipino people throughout the years. It discussed the country s history of colonization, which presented the different colonizers that acquired the country. It presents the economic changes in the Philippines, how the they rise and fall. These economic forces in turn affected the education, health care and the way the people deal with their lives. There are fewer benefits given for the citizens of the country. Not everyone is enjoying a good education and a means to care for his or her health. Moreover, only a selected few are able to acquire these benefits, and these selected people are those who have the money or means to acquire it.  These socio-economic conditions are exacerbated by the corruption in government which causes anxiety in the local economy as investors are reluctant to do business here.  The lack of support to small-medium enterprises and the inability to create more jobs has had adverse effects on the people.  Several signed up to work abroad or migrated.  The more unfortunate ones turn to crime or join the insurgency.  These situations underscore the peoples disillusionment with the policy of the government and the apparent hopelessness of Philippine society.

To support this information, news and statistical data were used in order to gain a concrete idea on the standing of the Filipinos as a nation. This information helped in assessing how the Filipino reacted to the different situations that has occurred in the country. The increase in poverty and its effect on the increase in the number of people leaving the country, the quality of education, and the amount of healthcare and other benefits they receive from the government.  These challenges created the nation that we know today. Up to the present, the Philippines continues to struggle, and newspapers and books have kept track on the struggles the nation is going through. The answer as to how the Filipinos will work their way out of it is still yet to be solved.

The doctrines of the Catholic Social Teachings were also used to analyze and identify the decisions people from both cultures should choose in order to make the world a better place for both countries. The teachings both try to provide answers outside those that are provided by the scripture to aid humankind in living their lives and to create kinship for everyone despite gender, race, ethnicity, and culture.

Part 2
Prior to Spanish colonization, it is said the Filipinos already had a culture and a relatively stable society, it seems that the Philippines was unable to recover from the series of events that has occurred within the years, resulting in a  damaged culture.   At the end of World War II, the economy of the Philippines was already trying to recover. In its initial years, its economy grew rapidly, Philippines was even considered one of the richest Asian countries (U.S. Department of State, 2009). However, this growth in the economy did not last long.

During the Marcos regime, the growth of the Philippine economy began to deteriorate, moving slower compared to its predecessors, corruption ate up the economy which up to the present is unable to fully recover. Billions of dollars in the national treasury were embezzled during this time. It can be said that oppressors need not come from the outside, even those whom they treat as kin is able to pull them down. The practice of  crony capitalism  led to the mismanagement of the economy, causing it to collapse which has raised the poverty line and adversely affected the lives of the Filipinos.
 
Presently, the Philippines is still struggling as a country. The fall in their economy and the existence of corruption, continue to challenge its people. With the fall in the economy, more businesses are coming out although there are few laws that mandate and regulate them since businesses  existence in the country is a means of booming its economy. Small families as a reaction to this issue decide to start their small business in order to support their family. One of which is the Sari-sari or a small grocery. At some point in each street in their roads, one is sure to find one.

In the economic crisis in the Philippines, more people have decided to leave the country. In 2004, almost 10 of the population is working and living in other countries and territories (Asis, 2006). Due to this trend most of the laws and policies available in the country focused on emigration.  People who work abroad send remittances to their families left in the Philippines. These remittances can be called the center of the Filipino s economy, although this could symbolize the dependence of the Philippine s economy to the global economy instead of building and strengthening its own local economy.

Education has also been affected by the economic downfall. Because of poor economy and less amount of funds in the government, public schools are not given that much attention. There is an estimate of 100 students is to one classroom for every section and a book is student ratio of one is to three (Sison, 2000).

Lack of educational funds has deteriorated the quality of education in the country. Since the majority of citizens in the country is poor, education should be of importance to them since it can be their means of escaping poverty. Poverty is the still the reason why they are unable to survive.

An example of this would be a child who is eager to go to school. What he does is work while studying so that he will be able to feed himself and buy the things he needs for school. At the end of the day after going to school working, he finds that there still is not enough to feed himself. Even though he wanted to study and review his lessons, he is unable to. Lack of nutrition has made him too weak, which made him unable to think clearly. This scenario is typical to a Filipino child in the Philippines.

The economic scenario has also affected the choice of degree a student takes in a university or college. Since in the last ten years there has been a demand of nurses abroad, 85 of Filipino nurses work abroad (HEAD, 2006). The number of nurses increases over the years. This is in reaction to the prospect of good job compensation once they leave the country. The amount of money they think they could never earn if they work in the Philippines.

The result of the percentage of nurse leaving the country results to poorer health care system. The doctor to patient ratio in the Philippines is 110000-26000 while nurse to patient is 116000 (HEAD, 2006). The migration of the countries nurses and doctors has affected health care in the country,  A health care system that cannot maintain its own health human resource is not healthy at all  (HEAD, 2006). Health care system without the depletion of nurses and doctors is worse as it is, not many benefits are provided to the public. Now, with lesser doctors and nurses, it is most likely that health care will totally deteriorate.

According to a study conducted by Euromonitor, 38.29 of consumers spend on food and non-alcoholic beverages as of 2007 (2008).  This trend presents that people are more likely to purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks, since it is something they are willing to spend their money on (Euromonitor International, 2008). People in the Philippines will mostly likely spend less on luxury items and unessential things. Majority of their goal is to be able to satisfy their basic needs.

Lack of money has affected the lives of the lower-income group. They are unable to acquire enough money to sustain themselves. These can be rooted to the education scenario in the Philippines. Since less education is provided for the people, it resulted to lesser job opportunities for the Filipino poor, they can only acquire jobs that rely on physical skill. As white-collar jobs require at least a college degree.  Usually jobs with that description are underpaid, and the jobs they take require more work and effort compared to regular paying jobs like working in the office.

The deteriorating health for these people also affects their work habits. Since they do not have enough nutrition and money to allocate their resources to buy food and medicine to those who are sick, most sickness are acquired by the poor, and a number of them are labeled to have malnutrition. This takes us back to the amount of money they earn. On average, they earn 150-200 pesos a day. This is for those who have blue-collar jobs. An example would be construction laborers. Usually these men have four to eight children, and they all depend on the 150 pesos. Since the family only has 150 pesos, they have limited choices on food, and the amount of food they can consume. Typically, what this family will have is two packs of noodles, which is about eight pesos each. In order to feed a family with ten people, they will put a lot of water in the noodle and add salt in order for it to have taste and this will act as their viand. In this situation, we can see the main difference between the rich and the poor. The poor have limited choices to none at all, while those well off have the variety of choices.

Part 3
Life is difficult. These difficulties are left for people to either grieve for receiving these hardships or resist it through solving it. Effort is required in order to endure and solve our problems. The ability of these issues is the basis of classifying the success and failure of one s life. This is one subject tackled in Scott Peck s Road Less Traveled. In order to succeed and surpass these challenges, a person is required to have discipline. Discipline is a way for a person to view suffering constructively.

This can be noted from the culture and history of the Philippines. It can be said that the country is rich in the experience of suffering. These suffering that they have experienced from the being of time has transformed their outlook in life. Also, it has affected the decisions they made in their lives. In relation to the book, the Filipinos should strive to transform these hardships into internal strengths to be able to solve it. Cultures that have easily progressed might not have the same strengths as those who consistently experienced the hardship of life. The large amount of pain experienced is a way for a culture to experience maturity, and in gaining maturity, they are able to see their role and place in the world thus, they are able to see realistically their responsibilities and role in the world.

Through colonization, at an early stage the Filipinos learned that life is not all about happiness, their perception of life must be in the other end that life is full of hardships and it is so. Because of this knowledge, they devised a way in order to solve their problems and not cower from it. They realized that they should move on from the poverty they are currently experiencing, so most of their people choose self-survival through migrating to another location. This action cannot be fully bad. It may just be a means for them to help those in their country, like their families in surviving their life. It is still selfless in a way. Their decision to move to another country is somehow a strength on their part, especially for those whose family is still in the Philippines. They muster all the courage they have to travel in a foreign land and test their chance, for they are unsure on the result of their decision whether it will produce positive results for their them and the family or it was all for nothing.

This is also applicable in the state of the Filipino poor. They can transform the hardship they are experiencing into positive things since it can build character in a person. Instead of just sitting and watching their problems come to them, they could find ways to solving them. This is through finding ways to earn more income to support him or her and their families. That way, difficulty is transformed into inner strength which they can use to shield themselves from future harm. Since they already have experience in the issue.

Populorum Progressio or on the Development of the Peoples somehow cover the issues of the Philippine culture. In the Philippines, there is a large gap between the rich and the poor people. The selflessness of people is the key into solving some of the issues in the Philippines, the upper class should extend their hand to the struggling in order to achieve development. As quoted from the Catholic Social Teaching,   If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him  (1 Jn 317). . .  You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handling him what is his. . . The world is given to all, and not only to the rich,   these words from the Populorum Progressio tells us that working for the good of all or for the good of the poor helps us promote life throughout God s creation (23).

In relation to the Road Less Traveled, problems of the poor can be solved if all people actively participate in alleviating their condition. This is if people will reach out to them and assist them in reducing the problems they are encountering. Also, this is a means to follow God s commandment of love to our neighbor which invites us to treat the poor physically and spiritually as brothers and sisters and share with them our blessings. Those who are experiencing the goodness of life should shell out some of these blessing to the poor. This is through charity works which one can do in order to help. But pondering on it more, these charity works only works for one day or the moments these charity works are ongoing. The next day, when one wakes up, they are seemingly oblivious to what they have experienced and the poor in turn goes on to their regular lives.

Charity is good, but what should be done in order to alleviate their situation which could possibly have a long term effect is to provide them with options that can sustain their lives. One of these examples can come in the form of providing jobs, which they can do. This way the help or money they would receive is not short term. It would be something that could provide for the family for a long time. Another would be through seminars that they could attend to enrich their education and add up knowledge to them. It could be through educating them with new skills like dressmaking, agriculture, cosmetics, soap making in the like. They could use their new found skill afterwards in forming new businesses for themselves to fund their daily needs.

 We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of out contemporaries for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us to enlarge the human family. the reality of human solidarity which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty,   the quote talks about the individual responsibility we have for each other (17). Observing the Filipino culture, it can be said that this is something they need to apply in their life in order for them to succeed and change their standing in life. In the Philippine culture, crab mentality is rampant. Since each feels that they are deprived of the things, they think they want or need, they desire to succeed, and often this success comes with the price of another. This can be observed from Philippine politicians. They tend to put down one another in order to present their  honor  but that should not be. They should acknowledge the responsibility they have for each other, that instead of destroying one another, they should focus on making the Philippines a better place to live in for everyone.

Part 4
Compared to the Philippines, the economy and standards of living in the United States is better. Public institutions are able to help us in our needs. Comparing the standard of education in public schools in the Philippines, American students are better of. The students are able to comfortably get the education their needs. American students may also work while studying as what the Philippine student does. The difference is in the gravity of the job they perform. American students can try to enter as a bus boy in a diner or work in a cashier while what the Philippine student does is knock on every car in the highway, asking the drivers and passengers if they wanted their car to be cleaned in the middle of the highway, under the overwhelming heat. Another would be some of them entering inside jeeps, the public transportation of the Filipinos, wiping each passenger s shoe with a rug, and afterwards asking them for money for what they have done. What they usually get is zero to five pesos, which is no way enough for them to sustain themselves.

Another would be in health care, proper government funding is given to Americans who need health care. Proper benefits are given like allowance for expenses on medicine and the like. In the Philippines, health care is poor. As discussed previously, there is a scarcity of nurses and doctors in the Philippines, and to top that, not everyone acquires health care benefits since the government is unable to provide proper help to the people due to lack of government money.

The standards of living of America and the Philippines are different. The middle to high class of the Philippines are just the lower to middle class of Americans. Being poor in America is different from the poverty experienced by Filipinos. Since the Philippines is just a developing country, many thing are yet to be developed. Not much support is given to the Philippine poor as compared to the Americans. For example, in America if you write a letter to the government stating that your husband is unemployed, and you have a baby which you need to feed, you will receive immediate help from the government. They can provide you with your baby s monthly need like milk, dairy products, grocery products, and the like. From a mother in the Philippines experiencing the same thing, writing to the government will do nothing. It will just be filed along thousands of other letters asking for the same thing.

Solicitudo Rei Socialis or on Social Concern can be used to aid these people. In relation to Populorum Progressio, being the country who is better of, Americans, as what the country is doing now, can extend their help to the Filipino people to achieve the desires of the Catholic social teachings. America has the capacity to help their citizens. They could extend this help to other nations. Since America has the culture of individuality and independence, it works well with Solicitudo Rei Socialis. Solidarity  is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortune of so many people, both near and far. . . it is a. . . persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all  (38). This independence does not stop on being responsible only for oneself, it also means taking initiative and responsibility for the needy, and not just relying on social institutions to help these people. Since economic-wise the America is better of compared to the situation in the Philippines, this tells us to take initiative in preserving the good of all. Since the American culture is more advanced in education, programs to increase the poor s knowledge can be done in order to somehow alleviate the difficulty these people are having. Also, the effect will be long term. Instead of giving out money which can be consumed rapidly, knowledge is something they can use to aid them in the future like when applying for jobs. Extra skill will also help them try out new ventures.

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