One of my Facebook friend said that crab mentality among Filipinos is already a disease. The way she said it, it seems crab mentality can no longer be cured and is highly contagious. It is quite true because based on my observation, we can notice crab mentality everywhere.
One time I made a comment in Youtube about one issue that lead some Filipino netizens to react. I was expecting they will provide further valuable insights about what I said. I have no problem with others disagreeing with my thoughts, given that everyone is entitled with their own thoughts. Suprisingly, one of those who commented, criticized my use of the English language, instead of the tackling about the issue. To be honest, my ego was touched and laid more points about the issue to help divert the flow of the discussion away from my language "deficiencies" ( Let me defend a little on this. :-) I may not be perfect in English grammar but I can say, I am above average compared to others. Hehe. Did it sound like crab mentality? Hehe.) The discussion lasted for days and I was getting irritated by it. I was about to take the situation personally to stop that person, but I just kept my calmness. For me, the clear intention was to put people down while oneself superior.
I observed some Filipinos do not like people who are too good to be true. Before appreciating someone, one notices the negative traits of that person. For example, when I was teaching for four years, people somehow noticed how I taught but some people dismissed my capacity, since I came from a small city and was relatively young. To be fair, sometimes I get annoyed by these egoistic people and when they start uttering some words, one could easily differentiate what is non-sense from which is not. Forgive me if I sound self-righteous but I am not. I just do not waste my time on people who engage themselves on trash.
There are many other situations I know a lot of Filipinos can share. Crab mentality seems to be part of the lives of Filipinos. EGO. That is reason why crab mentality exists. This is when our ego can not accept our deficiencies and insecurities that one try to find ways to cope with the feeling of anxiety as a result of it. This anxiety is turned outward by showing negativity to others. However, the question is not really about why crab mentality exist, instead why it is common among Filipinos. Is it because we Filipinos have a lot of insecurities? Quite interesting.
Imagine yourself living among 100 million Filipinos. Does this fact make you feel secure? Everywhere you go there is a constant struggle to acquire the limited resources the country has. Take as an example in job application. Just for one available paid job position, hundreds or thousands line up to get it. In different situation, being in a large crowd put an immense pressure to perform better. This creates competition among people and in turn develops the need to push oneself against others. I believe there is nothing wrong with competition as it breeds excellence and high quality. However, on the other side of the coin, excellence is only developed among few people realistically speaking, and the rest realizes the need to prove themselves further. This is the beginning of the creation of egoistic needs.
Now, dealing with crab mentality maybe very difficult as this requires one to face also its own insecurities. Being aware of our weaknesses is a way to deal with crab mentality. Perhaps in an analogy, if an epidemic has no cure, the only way to deal with it is prevention. Prevention in the context of crab mentality relates with being honest to oneself. If you can not do it, find time to be better, without engaging on negativity. Hardwork is needed to achieve this. Unfortunately, not all Filipinos are willing to show courage to be better, especially in difficult situations. For example, Filipinos working abroad find it difficult to deal with other Filipinos. Other Filipinos may gossip around several things related and unrelated to work. Worse, if the intention is for their superiors to notice it. In this situation, one should show courage doing better in work. Focus on the meat of the issue. The personal attacks will be shadowed by the your effort of making a difference in your work and yourself. Personally, I have met a lot of Filipinos who would rather waste time in gossips, rather than making an effort to improve themselves. To be honest, I pity them as their lives are stuck in the mud.
There is one aspect of crab mentality that deserves to be understood. There is a very thin line between crab mentality and being righteous. Being righteous means believing, living and deciding on things based on what is right. Being right in this case I define as good for the most number of people. If a Filipino does a crime, should another Filipino tell the police about it, given you know the crime was committed due to fact that that person needs to provide food for its family? Absolutely yes! Most of the difficult cases involves money as it is considered as the most scarce resource Filipinos need to survive. In this instance, telling the truth to stop one person from doing wrongful acts is not crab mentality. This is considered a performance of an ethical duty of stewardship. Never allow others to continue on doing wrongful acts as no one never knows what other things might result, if these actions were merely tolerated. Never be afraid in doing so, regardless of how people might react. I understand that many may not share my thoughts on this. However, I learned from the upbringing of my parents that what is right is never compromised and it should be upheld, especially when more people may benefit from the truth.
Lastly, I really do not agree crab mentality exist naturally among Filipinos. It has been a result of inevitable factors that contributed Filipino people to act that way. What we Filipinos can do now is to focus on knowing our weaknesses, acknowledging and improving them through hardwork and being cautitious of our thoughts, words and actions towards other people. If we have thought of one negative trait of others, try to find two other positive traits that person has. If the positive traits overshadow the negative trait, keep ourselves from highlighting negativity. However, even if we have found many positive traits and we have determine that the negative trait may cause extreme damage to others and the person, we should exercise prudence in stopping the person in engaging these acts, whatever actions it take to rectify it.
Filipino Crab Mentality
Individuals have been aspiring for a progress in their country. With this kind of mindset, a nation will be able to embrace prosperity. On the other hand, the Philippines still remains to be poor even though we, Filipinos, have been longing for its progression. We have this disease called crab mentality that is one of the reasons that hinders the growth of our nation and is a great obstacle to the entire citizenry of our country. “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” – A very popular phrase that runs along the way of thinking of many Filipinos. This short-sighted, selfish, non-constructive thinking is called crab mentality. Crab mentality that exists among many Filipinos was first coined by Ninotchka Rosca, is metaphorically illustrated by the behavior of crabs in a bucket. All of them are struggling for survival so they desperately need to get out of the bucket. One crab tries to climb its way out of the bucket but the other crabs beneath him will not let him escape and drags him down, thinking “If I can’t escape here, then you cannot too.” In the end, all of them will not be able to get out of the bucket. Crab mentality, as narrated by Kane Lawless, is a term used colloquially referring to a person trying to leave an unprivileged-life but is kept from doing so by other people who hold them back for they resent that person’s success. It is an act of keeping others from getting what they want and not wanting others to be successful.
This prevalent Crab mentality is also reflected on the famous saying “we all like our friends to get ahead, but not too far ahead.” The tendency is they knock those people ahead of them down. A person pulls you down just to get them to the top or if it seems that that person can’t get out of his or her bad life, he or she pulls you down so that both of you will share the same misery. Filipino crab mentality entered the picture when the Spaniards colonized our country. Natural-born Filipino natives (indios) worked as servants to the peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain but residing in the islands) and insulares (Spaniards who were already born in the Islands). In order to survive, indios totally embraced the crab mentality. They destroyed the reputation of a favorite. Once the damage had been done, the indios then presented themselves as better to others for them to become the new favorite of the peninsulares and insulares. Crab mentality was still practiced even after the Spanish colonization where we were next colonized by the Japanese and Americans. Decades passed but until now, traces of crab mentality have remained with modern-day Filipino (Americanenglish.ph). Unfortunately, such mentality is widely shown everywhere. It is found in business, charitable organizations, social networks, politics, education, and religion. It’s also found across race, gender, and even at home. Crab mentality is like a zero sum game where a gain by one player must be matched by a loss of another player.
There is no mutually beneficial exchange. There are only losers and winners in this world view, and everyone is into making someone else a loser. It is common in places which have competitive environment like in an organization or at an office. A struggling worker possesses crab mentality for he negates the successful deeds of his coworkers. Workers snag at each other to pull them down rather than congratulating someone who earns a promotion. People who attempts to get out of misery often find themselves foiled by friends and relatives who keep them sucking back in. When someone decided to pursue a college at a prestigious university, some of his friends, neighbors or even family members would discourage him to so that he won’t be able to get out of his bad life situation or that he could not get ahead of them. In the world of politics, there is a character assassination. Politicians possess crustacean sensibilities. According to James, “the crab mentality in the losers of the election will not let the winners succeed. The crab mentality in them will try to pull those in power down.” For example, if Manny Villar wins, Jamby Madrigal camp will not simply shut up and pray Villar becomes a successful president. If Noynoy Aquino wins, the pro-Manny Villar group will probably not work together with Noynoy in helping him to attain progress for the country. They will not praise for their opponents vision of the Philippines nor they will help each other but they will find a new dirt to throw at someone else face instead.
This mentality strikes at all levels. Neighbors are defaming neighbors through bad rumors and gossips. Jeepney drivers flat the tires of their fellow drivers’ jeepney for them not to obtain higher income for the day. Students are destroying their classmates’ work or project so they won’t get higher grades than them. Why is there crab mentality? Crab mentality is manifested by the acts of hate, greed, envy, and jealousy. Men behave like crabs when these acts control their heart. They try to outdo each other because of insecurities and selfishness. The crab mentality exists because of the man’s unseen emotional demands and burning envy of the achievements and possessions of others. When one envies somebody, one of his natural reactions is to knock him down and that best describes crab mentality. Crab mentality is something that can be found in all segments of the society. It is reaching the top at the expense of others. Individuals hinder the path of the one aspiring for progress. They knock others down to acquire their position or to prevent them succeed. Like the crab, some people believe that lifting their selves up is to bring others down. Crab people may try to bring you down with every way they can, with anger, verbal attacks, spreading false information, talking behind your back, destroying your works and efforts, and discouraging you to greener pastures. They’ll ruin your reputation for you to lose your self-confidence and to stop reaching your dreams. We, Filipinos, fall as victim to the malady of crab mentality that wrecks the reputation of our country and that interferes to our nation’s progress.
The Philippines just can’t seem to move forward with this mentality and we still wonder why our country remains poor. So who suffers in the end? Who are trapped all together and can’t ever escape in a bucket? All of us.