2020-10-21

The Photocopy Syndrome

by Benjie de Ubago

We Filipinos have a penchant for copying, imitating, duplicating, replicating to the tee. The “photocopy” syndrome. The gaya-gaya, puto maya mentality. We are kings and queens of imitation!

We’ve always had the Philippine version of an international recording artist. Hagibis was our version of The Village People. Block buster movies had their Filipino counterpart though some were lost in translation.

Remember when hot pandesal was introduced in the Philippines? Suddenly, those piping hot buns simmered in every street corner. Then there was lechon manok and chooks were roasted to a crispy-brown and sold on every block. But the fad fizzled out as quickly as the chickens were slaughtered for gastric consumption.

If we see that someone – anyone is doing well, there’s the sudden rush to follow suit and jump on the bandwagon without even thinking of the ingredients for success and the dire consequences. The attraction of course is the thought of instant success. Filipinos tend to follow the smell of money and get-rich schemes. But what’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander! And sadly, some fail to even see the difference until they’ve been fried.

As I have done my Filipin-Oz Directory over the years, I have noticed the trends and shifts in careers. The misis can cook and suddenly everyone was opening up their own little carinderia, take-away, restaurant, catering. And if the misis can’t, then find one who can cook. However, they fail to take into consideration the other factors of the hospitality industry. One restaurant-owner would never win the “Miss Congeniality” competition.

This time, I’ve noticed that the real estate & financial markets have multiplied. It’s been a while since Sabsy Palanca’s visit to Sydney which placed Bigornia on the real estate trail. Now everybody wants a piece of the action. Everybody seems to be selling a part of the Philippines. If they keep going the way they are, there might not be anything left of the Philippines to sell.

Another trend I noticed, is that everybody wants to write and some even opting to be called a journalist. The mere use of the word “journalist” (or “journo”) to refer to a writer, author, publisher, or columnist only amplifies the ignorance of those who use it loosely and pompously. We could of course, provide them some walls to write on. Soon they’ll want to be called publicists.

While competition may be healthy, stealing ideas is not and passing them on as your own is a definite no, no! Instead it is done in an underhanded manner – the royal sulot. Some do not even have the imagination to compete healthily.

I’m not even sure whether I’m supposed to admire those on automatic copy mode for their guts to venture into the unknown or to feel anger for their greed, arrogance and incompetence. Some just cruise along faking it without even getting anywhere. The latter is absolutely frightening and I can’t help feel sorry for their poor, unsuspecting victims. Then again, in sheer exasperation, we can simply laugh our heads off.