One of the disadvantages of having a population of more than 100 million mostly impoverished people is a robust but poorly paid service sector that is always there to do a lot of the work that we are supposed to be doing ourselves.
Because of that service sector, Filipinos have become a terribly spoiled bunch, always expecting somebody to clean up after us when we are in public. This happens when we dine out, go for groceries, watch movies, even when we take a piss or poop. This laziness and sense of entitlement has become an ugly part of our culture.
Notice how we don’t think twice about leaving our trash when we are done eating at fast food joints. Because we know that there are service staff who will clean up after us, we are not at all embarrassed to leave a certified mess at the tables we just occupied.
When going grocery shopping, a lot of our compatriots who are supposedly already middle class because they can afford their own cars still don’t have enough breeding and consideration to return the shopping carts to the provided areas. Many shopping carts are often left willy nilly around the parking lot, left there by people who have zero consideration and a maximum sense of entitlement.
At the cinema, it is often a disgusting sight to behold when the lights go on at the end of the movie. Trash is left behind everywhere by people who assume that the service crew appreciates their gesture which apparently gives those people a job when they leave behind their messes.
Let’s not talk about public toilets because how Filipinos treat that particular amenity is the reason why we can’t have nice things like those awesome Japanese washlet bidets. After all, who would be crazy enough to install those technological marvels for a public that can’t even keep a basic toilet seat decent for the next person in line?
The funny thing is that when we Filipinos go and travel to the developed world, we instantly get the memo and can CLAYGO (Clean As You Go) with the best of the locals. When eating at fast foods and food courts of Singapore or Japan, we have actually shown the capability to leave the table as we got it – which is relatively decent. We can wipe down the table, throw our trash in the bin, and responsibly return the trays.
I bet we can do the same with grocery carts and cinema trash, if we were exposed to a culture that is more considerate and responsible than ours. After all, if we can imitate their accents with ease, we should be able to CLAYGO as well. However, importing that mentality into our current culture that doesn’t know who to do that could be a bit more tough.
It will probably take a while for Filipinos to CLAYGO automatically. My estimate is that we have to deal with at least two more generations of lazy and messy Pinoys, and after that, if maybe we can get ourselves a set of leaders who can provide the vision and inspiration to be a better people, we might be able to CLAYGO by then. Hopefully by then, the daily wage is also a more livable one, which means the service industry won’t need so many workers just to clean up after their messy customers. But for that to happen, we need our society and culture to evolve, which in our case won’t happen naturally, but will need to be forced upon us.
Of course, I could be wrong and maybe it is our ASEAN compatriots who are actually jealous of us Filipinos who can get away with being so lazy most of the time. Maybe the Japanese and Singaporeans are actually jealous of how we just leave our messes behind, supremely confident that someone earning one of the worst minimum wages on the planet will magically appear and clean up after us, from Aparri to Jolo.
But if you come to think of it, the CLAYGO culture is one of the things that is common among the more developed countries, especially compared to ours. Maybe, if we adopt it as early as possible, our country could be on its way to achieving that status that we have long dreamt of. Aside from adding that ingredient to our recipe book for our first-world status dreams, it would also be nice to know that we live among people who are not lazy and can look after themselves.
It is funny how we try to teach our kids to CLAYGO when they are in school but when they are with us, we cannot be bothered to give them a good example to follow. This hypocrisy that pervades Philippine society is probably one of the reasons why we have been left behind by other countries. We preach CLAYGO, but in practice are CLAYNO. We say we hate corruption and incompetence but the quality of the leaders we put in power scream that we really don’t mind it at all.
We can’t change our culture in one go, but maybe if we start with something relatively simple like going from a CLAYNO to CLAYGO mentality, our grandchildren, if not our children, could actually have a chance of living in a better country with better compatriots.*