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Sadly, We Filipinos Are So Used to Lying, It's become Second Nature to Most of Us

ompared to people from Western cultures, we Filipinos tend to lie a lot more. It's a reality we Filipinos have to face throughout our lives. Lying is so ubiquitous in our culture that oftentimes we do it unconsciously. From fibs and little white lies to more egregious dishonest acts like fraud and deceit, if you're a Pinoy, you just have to put up with more of it. Some would argue that it is actually worse in some countries. And while that may be true, there are still a lot more countries where it is better.

Here, parents lie to kids, teachers lie to students, movie actors and celebrities lie to their fans, employers lie to their employees, local politicians lie to their constituents, and of course national political figures lie to the entire country.

Admittedly, lies are sometimes made with the noblest of intentions; those lied to are either too young, too old, too unsophisticated, too fragile, too immature, or too "whatever" to handle the truth. So instead they are told lies or half-truths.

TOP: Cong. Benjie Agarao (L) with Ex-MMDA Chair. Francis Tolentino. BOTTOM: Playgirls perform a dance numberBenjamin Agarao and the Liberal Party

Take for example Laguna Congressman Benjamin Agarao who gave a big birthday bash at his home to celebrate his 58th birthday. The event was attended by many Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts including the party's presidential nominee, Senator Mar Roxas. One of Agarao's guests with decidedly juvenile taste decided he would surprise the celebrant and hired a dace group made up of scantily-clad young women called the Playgirls to perform during the party.  Unfortunately the performance was more appropriate for bachelor or stag parties than for Agarao's birthday bash where young children, women, and most importantly the press were present.

Agarao says he has no idea who invited the Playgirls to perform at his party. This is of course a lie and Agaro is a liar. Of course he knows who invited the group—and if he doesn't all he has to do is ask his staff. So this is an example of a politician deciding that it is better to hide the truth from the people. This is so typically Filipino, and Agarao is a typical lying Filipino politician.

We'd like to make this point very clear: we have issues with the lying and cover-up, and not with the dance itself, lewd though it was. Remember that U.S. President Richard Nixon was impeached not because he was involved with the Watergate break-in. He wasn't. But we was involved with its cover-up—that is what ended his presidency.

So far the entire Liberal Party seems to have developed collective amnesia. No one remembers or wants to remember Agarao's birthday bash. They're hoping the public develops amnesia as well. Shortly, after the incident Senate President Franklin Drillon another LP stalwart promised to get to the bottom of this issue. At this point in time that's also another lie.

Sadly this incident also gives Filipinos a glimpse of what a Roxas administration will be like, should he win. And what we see is disheartening. Like all previous Philippine administrations, it will lack transparency, it will actively use lies to obfuscate the truth or "sweep things under the rug," and Filipinos will again be left in the lurch not knowing or understanding what really is going on in their country.

Miriam Defensor Santiago

Another example is Miriam Defensor Santiago, a career politician who, like the typical politician she is, is used to keeping the Filipino people in the dark. Miriam Defensor Santiago points a finger during one of her many contentious senate appearancesAs we noted in our previous editorial, she suffers from hypertension and claims she had stage-four cancer. Her hypertension appears to be under control (and that's good news) and her stage-four cancer is gone—or in remission (and that's even better news). But as we noted previously, we find this good news just too hard to believe.

To make matters worse, Santiago has refused to make any of her medical records public. She wants the public to just take her word for it. What we find incredulous is that she went from having no cancer, to stage-four cancer, and back to having no cancer again, in such a short span of time. It is almost like she just made it all up. What about chemotherapy? Did her hair ever fall off? If so, does she have any pictures that show her without her usual frizzy top?

So far she's released nothing about her medical condition—even though she's now running for president and the public has the right to be told the true medical condition of someone who might be the next president.

Here's the bottom line: until we Filipinos finally say "stop it" to our fellow kabayans as well as to ourselves, and put an end to all this lying, we will remain stuck in the quagmire we are in. Our situation can never improve because there is no transparency, at home, in school, at work, in government, or anywhere else. We are thus forced into making decisions based on half-truths and outright lies. And that's not the way to move forward. Published 10/25/2015

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