The Uzi Syndrome

Is it a false sense of audacity? Perhaps sheer inability to comprehend danger? Or perhaps just plain unadultered stupidity?

I am talking about those people who continue to tempt fate and court tragedy by refusing to get out of the way of the Mount Mayon lava flow. Elsewhere, the mention of lava flow should be enough to send people scampering away. But we are in the Philippines, so instead of seeing people scared witless, we see grinning people doing cartwheels and patintero a mere two feet away from the smoldering lava flow.

Those uzis (usisero, kibitzers) have made it a pastime to show off just how unconcerned they are of the imminent danger. Some local residents continue to marvel at the natural phenomenon up close. Others have even become instant tour guides to foreigners and non-residents who also want to see lava flow up close and personal. Someone was even shown on television lighting his cigarette with a piece of volcanic rock. I half expect to see someone broiling lunch over the lava flow one of these days.

In the meantime, the local mayor has been shown in various state of exasperation urging people to keep away from the 7 km danger zone, obviously to no avail.

This is not an isolated incident. This has been repeated many times - shootouts, lahar flow, typhoon, car accidents, etc. It could be funny, except that lives are at stake and laughing at the sheer folly and stupidity of it all borders on insensitivity, even cruelty.

But why do we do it? What is it about us as a people that makes us do these things?


snglguy said…
Is this a coincidence or what? I'm in the middle of writing a post about our trip up Mt. Mayon (my Mom's from Albay btw)last year, complete with pictures.

About those kibitzers or uzi's or whatever they call them, I think it's the Pinoy male's subconcious need to show how "Macho" he is that drives him to do stupid things. But that's just me...
Anonymous said…
There is just too many Filipinos doing nothing.
BongA said…

i went to your blog to check it out. nice pics. daya lang...

i agree, we are such show offs!



that, too!

Mita said…
it's not just Pinoys naman siguro. i really think making uzi is just a failure to think of the consequences of our action. we probably got so used to being a spectator like in the movies that our thinking capacity is diminished...just my kuro-kuro.
Jon Limjap said…
Hmm... lemmesee:

Bad educational system = lack of critical thinking

Lack of critical thinking = uzizeros

I don't think it has anything to do with us being Filipinos. I mean, you only have to look back at New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

If you'd argue that most of the people who acted that way are black, just look at what white man calls "extreme sports" and you still have the same banana up your sleeve.

I'm inclined to think it's natural. Humans evolved from creatures who have been used to dodging predators and hunting prey for millions of years. Now that we don't dodge predators anymore, many of us are looking for some other dangerous activity to fill in the void.
Anonymous said…
Why do you generalize about Filipinos from a few observations? How many of the X thousand residents did not leave out of stubborness. You see some people not leaving and then you ask "what makes us as a people do these things?"

If there are 60,000 people on Mayon and 500 decide to take the risk of styaing on, don't lump everybody into that group. As a percentage of people who enter grade school, more people drop out of schoold before grade 6? So maybe you should ask why we are acountry of dropouts as well?
BongA said…

i prefer to include myself in my fellow Filipinos' faults and frailties, precisely because I believe these are societal issues, not personal - rather than just blame them and say "they." so if you feel that you are of a higher moral order, then do not think yourself as belonging to the "we" I referred to.

One more time, anonymous (although I know who you are) - these are opinions, not facts, not scientific papers, not empiricals. and they are my opinions.

you do not like what you call "generalizations" on my part, but you have no problems making your own generalizations.

bong austero
Anonymous said…
First of all, you are ascribing cultural behavior based on a limited number of observations. You think those limited number of observations are sufficent; I am telling you they are not. And the simple reason is that as any person with a basic knowledge of statistics will tell you, to infer a conclusion from a sample, the sample must be valid -- both in terms of size and randomness. And X people standing on a mountainside, or on the streets near a coup, or along the baywalks when it is raining do not meet this criteria. What you are doing is degrading Filipinos based on an inaccurate observation. I am sick and tired of people putting other people down. Of the genralizations that the poor are lazy or stupid, and then blaming them for their state.

I can find 10,000 lazy people in the Philippines. Do we now conclude that Filipinos are lazy? Heck, I can find 10,000 criminals -- should I ask "What is it that makes Filipinos criminals?"

And just because it's your opinion doesn't mean it can't be wrong.

And what is it with this "I know who you are?" Does it make my observation less valid? Is it the schoolyard equivalent of "alam ko kung saan ka nakatira." Congratulations, you can do a traceroute or whois.
jher said…
ohhhhh catfight. sige pataasan na lang ng ihi or hawakan ng tenga. puhlease.
BongA said…

again, you are reading far too much into every single sentence I write. i can indulge, but quite frankly, i just don't have the time. but gee, thanks for the attention, i am deeply flattered. Even I do not take myself as seriously as you seem to do. But if you think my opinions are wrong, there is actually a simple solution - DO NOT READ THEM.

Bong austero

Bong austero
Pierre Fontecha said…
FILIPINOS that GROW UP IN the BOONDOCKS seem lazy, just like how white people that live here in America and are not prosperous seem like to the rest of America.
IT's THE CULTURE you grow up IN.

I am an American of Filipino heritage. Growing up here in America has given me a chance to see Filipinos in two very different cultural settings. Alot of the Filipinos I know are hard-working, astute, clever, entrepeneurial. We ascribe to what many in the media would say are "conservative values". To others it would seem we are "uzi'ing" in our own right, just with different tools and tactics. The mentality is the same: Impress the people around you, establish rapport, humor people, take risks, inspire, manage social relationships, all with Filipino style.
Let's just get down to it: A guy will do anything to show off in front of a girl. When all you got is lava around you, Pinoys will still find a way to be sexy beasts in front of the Pinays.
That type of behavior should not be discouraged, just channeled according to what a country needs. So now the next question is: How do you harness all this energy into something that will benefit more people? Some would say: Just leave the PI and use your energy somewhere else, but does that really solve the root problem?

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