Honesty is no longer the best policy

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak - The Philippine Star

It’s a sad day when we come to realize with absolute certainty that honesty no longer seems to be a valued trait in our society. Sure, we would love for people to be honest with us and hopefully we do our very best to be honest in return, but the reality is that so many people in the Philippines see no problem with being dishonest that it’s become a true problem with our society and makes people untrusting and wary – which is something no one can blame them for considering the circumstances. After all, people in our government seem to have no problems lying to us on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we have trust issues.

A recent survey conducted found that one in three people were dishonest. That is such a distressing number and I know it’s only getting bigger by the day. It seems that kids these days might be raised in a different kind of environment. Perhaps they are more goals oriented – achievements no matter what – and that causes them to gloss over the more traditional values parents hammered into their children in days past.

When I was in school back in De La Salle, my teachers and my mother at home taught me not to lie – no matter the consequences. Back in the day, we were made to believe that lies will always find a way to come to the surface and it’s much better to be truthful from the get go. These lessons stayed with me throughout my life and became important bedrocks of my career as a journalist.

When I began working at The STAR over 20 years ago I lived by the motto “Truth shall prevail.” This biblical verse that Betty Go-Belmonte adhered to became the paper’s rallying cry and guiding value and remains part of the newspaper’s masthead to this day. It’s an important phrase for journalists because our job is to share the truth, all of it – including the ugly parts – so that our readers are fully informed. We all strive our best to live up to that motto in how we write and share the news.

However, it looks as if not everybody in the country feels the same way. A few months ago a coffee shop in Batanes City opened up and invited people to come in and enjoy a cup of coffee utilizing the honesty system. They left a jar out for people to pay for their food and drinks. Unfortunately this did not work out because a number of people left without paying. And just recently the owners of the Green Frog Hybrid Bus system were disappointed to realize that honesty did not work when they launched the honesty bus and encouraged passengers to honestly drop their fares when riding. Many did not and it wasn’t long before the bus had to quickly return to fares being collected by conductors.

And of course who can forget the icing on the cake when the president’s daughter, Sara Duterte said that honesty was not an integral trait to have for aspiring politicians and that it didn’t matter because government officials all “lie anyway.” What a message this sends to so many Filipinos who still look up to their leaders for guidance.

This is why we can’t have nice things. Sad to say but we can’t ask for first world things with a third world mentality. If Filipinos don’t value being honest than how can we progress past the point of where we are right now? Everyone is always begging for change but the majority of Filipinos want change to happen without changing themselves. This won’t work. Change comes from within and if they aren’t even willing to cough up the right bus fare how in the world are we going to make any real changes that matter?

I hope more Filipinos realize that we have to work together to achieve the country that we are dreaming of. This won’t happen overnight but small steps – like paying for our coffee – are important and are the way that we are going to reach our goal. After all, everything starts with the small steps. Once we achieve those then we can move on to the big.

* * *

San Miguel Corp. is doing excellent work even beyond their stellar brewing facilities. Their infrastructure projects have made life more convenient for so many. Here in the South we experience this daily on the South Luzon Expressway and Skyway. And whenever we have to go the airport the interconnectedness of NAIA Expressway has made the trip easy. Depending on the time of day we can even make it to the airport in 30 minutes. Something that was unheard of before.

And just recently, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang announced that SMC has just completed its requirements for the Boracay Bridge project proposal. This project – a bridge that would make Boracay land accessible from Panay – is most certainly a welcome piece of news for Boracay residents and local government officials as they consistently search for ways to make supplies more readily accessible and waste management more efficient.

To those worrying about an increase in tourist they can ease their fears. The bridge is not meant to increase tourist foot traffic to the island but instead provides another viable and sustainable option for the easier flow of supplies and removal of waste from the island – an important consideration as Boracay just recently opened again after six months of mandated clean up and rehabilitation. The bridge will aid in this ongoing process and help Boracay locals ensure island upkeep.

Indeed another feather in SMC’s cap.


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