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Why does it take two years for Filipinos to make a decision?

Updated: May 21, 2021

Managing a gym for 6 years, I have observed a consistent trend. The average time from making their first inquiry to membership sign-up is two years. Likewise, the average time my physio clients wait before they allow me to help them is also two years. This only applies to Filipino clients. Funny as it is, there could be an explanation. We were never encouraged to question and own up to a decision. Here's a hypothetical life cycle of a "middle to upper class" Pinoy:

  • At 6, you need to finish your food regardless if you like it or not.

  • At 8, you have to start playing basketball, you have to talk like the best athlete ever.

  • At 10, you need to go to church even if you only really fall asleep.

  • At 13, you need to go to family gatherings even if you do not want to.

  • At 15, you need to go to college even if you could have been the best welder, farmer or artist.

  • At 17, you cannot question your teachers - it is impolite, especially they could be priests or nuns; so you just get high with your buddies and vent out frustrations.

  • At 19, you're tired of your private school routines but you cannot take that part time job. It could have taught you soft skills but your parents will be judged by their friends for not providing enough for you.

  • At 21, you cannot question your starting salary - that's what everyone goes through.

  • At 25, you cannot question your boss for charging her country club membership to the company.

  • At 27, you cannot question the Bureau of Customs for charging you exorbitant fees for the importation business you want to start.

  • At 30, you can finally move out of your parents' house but you have to be there every weekend after church. Otherwise, you ungrateful child, are a disappointment.

  • At 32, you can finally hand over your role in the family business to your cousin from the same good school you went to.

  • At 35 you have to have 2 children already and they have to be in the "best schools".

  • At 37, you have to forget that affair you just had. You cannot talk to your wife or husband about it because we do not like confrontations. Just pray that no one would find out and make "chismis". Just go to confession and make a huge donation!

  • At 40, you should have been perceived as successful - it doesn't matter if you are really happy. You have a driver to pay and yayas for your children, it's too late to question things.

  • At 45, you need to tip every server or helper. It doesn't matter if you have enough money for retirement.

  • At 55, you should be grandparents already - otherwise, your life is perceived as a waste! Imagine all that money you spent for your kids to be "cool". That didn't come without expectations!

  • At 60, you cannot question your religion - it's too late, too much novenas have been said. Your life would have been a lie so it is easier to just keep up with it.

  • At 65, you need to use your senior citizen card even if the people you are buying from are not really making money. You need that 20% discount - no questions asked. They cannot question you, it's impolite.

  • At 70, your body is failing. Apparently, spam wasn't healthy. Jollibee spaghetti was never real spaghetti. All that soda you gulped because you can afford it sent you to a private hospital you are also expected to afford. Hey, you cannot question the doctors! Didn't you see the Harvard Certificate on their clinic wall? Just do what they say. There is no reason you couldn't pay. After all, you have a Chanel bag that you got from Greenhills at 60% off.

  • At 75, you realize that your Philhealth, SSS and Pag-ibig funds are not as useful as they have promised. You cannot do anything anymore. It's just the way it is.

  • At 80, you want to talk to people but everyone has left the house. Your yaya could not think for herself and manipulates you. Your driver is having an affair with her. You want to socialize more but you cannot to go a facility for elders even if there is access to 24/7 professional care. Society will think you are a failure, or worse, poor. You should be able to afford a helper or two. If you can't, your children should support you. For all those rules you had to put up with? That didn't come without conditions.

I grew up in this environment. I have met a lot of unhappy Filipinos and in this post, we are only talking about the small percentage of middle to upper class - the minority. The only reason I started with this group is because most leaders in the private and public sectors come from these social classes. What they do, their subordinates follow. A lot more people have limited resources and we will tackle this on another post. Lower income Pinoys maybe happier or not but the point is maybe if we start questioning things, we could actually live a life we truly want.

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