Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Lines of trust

one thing you have to realize when living overseas is that people simply do not think the same way as you do.

Francis Fukuyama's book Trust, which explores how trustfulness allows business to flourish, discusses how the protestantization of societies in South America allow the lines of trust to now be given to non family members; in contrast, in Asia,  you only trust your relatives, compadres and extended family.

Which is why I can't figure out local politics, because I don't know who is related to whom here. And, alas, it explains why outsiders like ourselves have trouble running businesses.

Wreched comments on his own blogpost on the Pinoy escape from the terrorist insurgents in Syria by explaining how this works here.

Courage is a utilitarian concept, something you need for something. The Filipino would like nothing better than not to be in danger. But the dysfunctional aspects of his culture keep landing him in a fix and courage is the adaptation he needs to wriggle out. He gets courage unwilllingly....
"Following orders" in the abstract is also an alien concept. No Filipino trusts authority, most especially his own government. Legality is a fiction. The really binding relationship is personal. Catapang saved those people because they were "his boys" and not for some overarching loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, which truth be told, nobody cares anything about. The loyalty is to the "countryman". If you ask a Filipino in America to do something for the Philippine government he'll probably call the FBI. If you explain the request is for a "kababayan", he might listen. 
So if Catapang had let the troops get kidnapped he couldn't say "but they were ordered". An abstract order from a UN general don't mean a thing. They were your "kababayans", how could you let this happen? will be the reaction. It is the whole network of personal loyalties and obligations that matter

and he notes what I complain about here: That Obama's position of following international law and letting China manipulate international law to steal the Philippines off shore fishing grounds (and natural gas) is seen as tanga, and is breaking a line of trust that goes back to MacArthur's promise he'd return.

Lastly I will add that Obama has probably caused a great deal of damage to Filipino American psychological relations. Filipinos expect America to act like the America they knew from the Greatest Generation. It's an irrational, psychological bond. It is an expectation, it is an heirloom myth. The abstract laws and legalities are unimportant 

the irony is that Obama grew up in Indonesia and his mom was an anthropologist.and should be aware of such things, but he seems completly lost when it comes to anthropological subtleties not only when it comes to the Philippines, but when it comes to ordinary Americans

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