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12 May 2013

Four Things We Can Learn From Koreans: Absence of Slave Mentality

Part 5: Four Things We Can Learn from Koreans

When I say that Koreans do not have slave mentality, I am not saying Filipinos do.  Hold your guns people. Read first.

Some of my Filipino friends have noted that Koreans are the first people to complain about bad service.  One time, my friends saw a group of Koreans occupying the best seats in the restaurant.  Some people may think this is rude but you have to understand Koreans.  They do not have slave mentality.  They think that they are entitled like everyone else. They are not threatened by Caucasian power.  South Korea is a small country compared to the Philippines.  There are around 50 million Koreans compared to 100 million Filipinos.  But Koreans have never felt limited by the size of their country. Their national symbol is the tiger and the Korean peninsula is said to be shaped like a tiger.  Koreans complain because they know they deserve to get what they pay for.  They fight back because they believe they should not be treated as slaves. 

We should remember our many heroes who fought our invaders. They also refuse to be slaves.

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When Japan subjugated Koreans at one point in their history, they never felt that they were victims. They always fought back. Up to this day, they take pride in their accomplishments as a people. I may be stretching, correct me if I am wrong, some Koreans feel that they must outdo Japan.  Japan was responsible for the end of their monarchy.  Japan also was the cause of the downfall of the Korean empire.   

I often wonder if we Filipinos feel that we must outdo our subjugators. Do we still feel nostalgic about the time when we were under our colonial masters?  Recently on Facebook, somebody uploaded a video of Manila during the 1920s.  Many people said that Manila was such a nice city back then.  Manila during the American period was bustling.   But, was Manila a bustling city because of the Americans?

I think we Filipinos should not confuse arrogance with genuine pride.  The line that separates the two is quite obvious.  We can still remain humble while standing tall.  If we are given crap, complain. We are not helping anybody by allowing mediocrity to prosper.  If the best seat is available and you can afford it, take it. You deserve it. We should not hate people for working so hard and being successful.  Instead of pulling them down, we should study their moves. If they can do it, so can we.


I have to admit that this essay is lacking in some aspects. For instance, a thorough analysis of the socio-economic situations in the country and other historical context are not included. The essay also seemed to be focused on the perceived middle class paradigm and it totally neglects those Filipinos who cannot even join the “mainstream order.”  What do I mean by that?  Briefly, a member of the “Movable Circle” commented that in the Philippines, “We Filipinos go to school and get jobs so that we can join the mainstream order, and then be included in the overall public discourse.  The poorest of the poor do not even have the luxury to be educated and so they are not in the 'mainstream order.'  They are invisible, neglected and easily disposable.” 

The fact that this essay is written in English signifies auto-deconstruction, and that nothing in this essay is groundbreaking and aims only to enlighten the educated English-literate adults while they sip their  cappuccinos. 

4. Absence of Slave Mentality [and Disclaimer]

(First published in “The Chair” Blog) By Rob San Miguel

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