“No low trust society will ever produce sustained innovation” – Thomas Friedman, Journalist
According to Thomas Friedman, for a person to be creative, the environment he lives in must be trustworthy. Unfortunately, most places on earth are not, would you agree? How about our country? Before we start, let us witness a day in the life of a usual Filipino, and since we are going to talk about trust, lets check if you can somehow relate to the story. Ready? Lets go.
Our usual Juan Dela Cruz wakes up in the morning, around 3:30am to 5:30am, probably because he does not trust the efficiency of the city’s traffic system, and because of his experience wherein he left his house at 7:00am being confident that he still had the time since his shift at work starts at 9:00am, and he got miserably disappointed since he arrived at 10:00am. He feels distrust, on the traffic system.
Our Juan Dela Cruz steps out of his house to buy pandesal, which is his usual breakfast, together with fried egg, Milo, or Nescafe 3 in 1. He reaches the bakery/store, and he sees 3 people in line. Our Juan Dela Cruz falls in line, waiting respectfully for the flow of things this morning, when suddenly another person who actually just wakes up as well did not follow the line and goes straight to the vendor and states “pabili nga po ng pandesal, lima lang, tsaka Marlboro na rin isa”. The vendor, who does not pay attention, heeds the non-compliant customer’s request and assists him. Our Juan Dela Cruz gets shocked, and instead of complaining that there is actually a line, to make things simpler, he does the same thing, and shouts “ako nga din po, pandesal sampu tsaka Milo”, and everyone follows him. From now on, to ensure that he will not look stupid, Juan Dela Cruz tells himself to be aggresive in buying because his neighbor might overtake which might cost time. He feels distrust, on his neighbors.
Eventually, our Juan Dela Cruz reaches his work, at 8:30am. Since he still has 30 minutes before the start of his shift, he decides to talk to HR first because he noticed that his last pay has incorrect tax deductions. According to HR, his tax status is yet to reflect his correct status, which is supposed to be M2, but BIR records show he has M. HR promises to contact BIR to ensure that this is corrected, since on their end this has been changed. Our Juan Dela Cruz gets sad, since his wife just gave birth to their second offspring and he wishes his take home pay is higher. He reaches to his payslip and sees the tax deduction for the third time. Our Juan Dela Cruz, who was recently promoted to a supervisory post 2 months ago, with a salary of Php 10,000 per cut-off, has a tax deduction of Php 1,321.00. Our Juan Dela Cruz gets more frustrated, as he remembers all the efforts he made to get this done. He feels distrust, on the government system.
Done with the day, our Juan Dela Cruz heads his way out of the office, and he is greeted by a long line of people in an MRT station. He falls in line, knowing that he does not have a choice since the bakery/store culture will not work here. As the line moves forward, he notices that some people are actually trying to push their way in front and take advantage of the crowd who are busy checking their smartphones. He gets angered by this, so he shouted “wag naman kayong sumingit! lahat tayo nahihirapan”. While he shouts this, the people who are non-compliant to the unwritten cultural rule of falling in line just smile and push their way more. After 35 minutes of waiting, finally our Juan Dela Cruz reaches the jam-packed train. With all of the difficulties he experiences on his way home, the traffic system, the tax deduction, and the inefficiencies of the government offices, he asks himself “Saan napupunta ang tax ko na Php1,300?”. He feels distrust, on the government system. Distrust on eveything that the government represents, the news about corruption, the rising economy of the country which does not represent the current plight of the masses, the behaviors of the government officials in the government offices which represents the government systems in its entirety, from different government branches.
Can you relate to it? Probably not all who would read this would do, but I’m pretty sure that some would. Or, maybe the scenario I shared can only be relatable to some people, but one thing is for sure; All of us, at some point, felt distrust against someone in this country. According to EON the Stakeholder Relations Firm study of Philippine Trust Index (PTI)*, the trust rating of Filipinos to its government, is only 12%, with only 34% believe that the government prepares communities for calamities, and only 25% believe that government leaders have proven government experience. Unfortunately, this number is low. This only means that, we might be one of the happiest countries based on the Gallup’s Positive Experience Index**, but what kind of happiness are we experiencing? We Filipinos are known to be joyful people, but if we distrust our government, where does this lead? According to an article from Bloomberg about the Happiest countries in the world***, one factor to consider if a country is happy is social cohesiveness. Well, social cohesiveness is only attainable with trust, isn’t it?
Now, other than this study, we have our own personal experiences. This distrust actually shows in a lot of situations happening around us. For example, our traffic system. I was in several situations wherein the cab I was riding in was overtaken by another car, wherein the driver would shout at the one who overtook and curse, and in return the person would do the same. Another example is our cities, and I’m pretty sure all of us have been warned by someone, could be our parents or guardians, to not go to some places in an urban area using your phone in public. Does this show distrust? Indeed. Whenever you see a police, what’s the first thing that comes to your head? By the daily news you watch, or subconsciously see in Facebook, or from the stories being shared by your peers and relatives, what does it feed you? Let’s be honest, you know what I’m talking about. All of this tells us one thing; to be careful. Now, there is nothing wrong on being careful, however it leads to two things. If you distrust someone, we tend to either despise, or be aggressive. We despise, so we become careful on the streets of our cities, or we become aggressive, because we do not trust anyone, which entails rudeness and belligerent behaviors. Experienced getting stuck inside an MRT train on your way to work or home? Maybe you acted fine, or you didn’t. How about others?
Now, with all of these things as part of reality, and with the change in governance, do you think there is a chance that this can be reversed? According to our leader, President Rodrigo Duterte:
“I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer, and healthier”.
At the latter part, our president stated:
“allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained”.
With these words, I’m pretty sure that everyone who heard it is actually satisfied by the eloquency of the message, though it is too early to judge whether this will materialize. However, like what I’ve stated in my previous article, if we want to follow through the change, we need to work on ourselves. YOU, need to change as well. If you want to trust the government, you must also be trustworthy. Just like what Dr. Jose Rizal said “Tal pueblo, tal gobierno” ( As the people are, so is their government ). We started with thinking out of the box, now we continue with the word Trust.
How do we start a Trust revolution? According to Stephen M.R. Covey, together with Greg Link, on his book Smart Trust♦, the first step in establishing trust is believing that everyone is trustworthy. And probably, because of the condition of our country, you’ll say “Wait a minute!”. I know, it’s really hard to bring back trust in our daily living. However, we are talking about a trust that is actually related to being a responsbible citizen, not on blind trust wherein you would walk on a dark street, trusting that everyone is worthy of trust, hence you do not expect to get robbed, which you might or might not ( but don’t hope for it ). I have a short list to share with you about trust.
Unfortunately, change in culture cannot be done overnight, and history has proven this. So, while waiting on the world to change, just like what John Mayer sings, we do our part. Long queue in transportation terminals? Prepare ahead and wake up early, which I am pretty sure most of us already do, just like our usual Juan Dela Cruz. Well, this is not going to be redundant, since part of being disciplined is being patient. You see others not falling in line? You see drivers overtaking or beating the traffic light? Is it the right thing to do? No. Does it promote trust? No. But would being patient help? Maybe not now, but you can avoid getting more frustrated. Everything is uncertain, but we need to start from something, right?
One of the things that I really hate the most about is we are treating our streets as our personal trashbin. Like, really? We complain about the floods, that our government has not taken action in preventing such calamity. It maybe true, but one of the things that worsen this scenario are the garbages that stay on the streets. Despite hiring people to clean up the streets, you can still see garbages floating around. Does this affect the flood? Some says that the cause of the floor is small drainages. That might be true, however if our drainages are free of garbage, probably the flood can go to where it is suppose to be. Getting a car? Where would you park it? Given how Metro Manila streets work, parking your car on the road worsens the traffic situation in that place. Now, you complain about the traffic jam, do you contribute to it?
Most of us complain about work. Many years ago, inflation was high and some Filipinos go abroad to get work. How about now? There are lots of call centers, and our country is now called the BPO hub of the world. How do we treat his opportunity? I heard a lot of stories about call center hoppers, and the high attrition rate in the BPO industry. Really?
We need to go through the tides of change. For trust to emanate from others, you need to be trustworthy, and there goes self discipline my friend.
2. Give government offices the chance.
New administration, right? For them to succeed, you need to trust them. Trust them, in a way, that when you go to a government office, show them your smile. Let go of your bias about them, and give them a chance. Unless you feel or think that there is red tape going on, abide by the rules.
This does not mean that we will not be vigilant on any actions of corruption that we might notice. If something is not right, raise the concern straight to the person in charge. If this was dismissed, with the help of social media, we can help each other by posting “Genuine” concerns about government offices. Yes, it must be genuine. It must be backed by witnesses, since there were lots of fake accounts about some concerns posted on Facebook before. We must be vigilant, but at the same time give them chance to serve us better, so we can say that the tax we pay is worth it, and hopefully it’s going to get better.
For trust revolution to start, give government offices the chance, my friend.
3. Give your fellow Filipino a chance.
Hurt people, hurt people. You might have self discipline for yourself, but when you still do not choose to trust your fellow countrymen, your self discipline is going to be difficult. Hence, you might fall off from your daily regimen of self discipline, and go back to the old ways. So, you need to choose the belief that your fellow Filipino has a chance on being trustworthy, despite past experiences. We need to let go of the past, but still be vigilant. Trusting your fellow countrymen does not mean you can be comfortable with everyone. I’m talking about a level of trust between citizens that normally show between dealings in our daily lives; at work, church, shopping centers, business centers, and finally, at home. If you are going to buy something from your fellow countrymen, we must trust that the product works. Now, the one who is selling the product, either the company or the salesman, must be honest on everything that their product provides. Everyone must be trustworthy. Now, in case you find some flaws on the product, since you trusted the company that you bought it from, instead of spreading news about the product’s flaws, give the company a chance and report the problem. Now, since the company was trusted, they must reciprocate this and respond accordingly to the situation.
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Guys, we talked about a lot of stuff related to trust, and if we must rise from the ashes of history, this is something that we need to work at.
Denmark has been on top of the happiest countries in the world since 2009 based on Transparency International, and they have the highest propensity in trust as well◊. For our country, this might lead to economic progress, and I’m no economist, but as a citizen of this country and a reader, matched with my research, I can say that trust is at the forefront of this development.
What else do you think we need to do to help our country rise? Post your comments below.
I’ll be posting the third part of Rise by next week.
*EON the Stakeholder Relations Firm website: http://www.eon.com.ph
**Gallups Positive Experience Index 2015: http://www.gallup.com/poll/182009/mood-world-upbeat-international-happiness-day.aspx
*** These Are The Happiest Countries in the World: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-23/these-are-the-happiest-countries-in-the-world
♦ Choose to Believe in Trust: Stephen M.R. Covey & Greg Link, Smart Trust pg.85, 2012
◊ Corruption Perception Index 2015: www.transparency.org/cpi2015