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THERE are so many similarities between my native country Ireland and the Philippines. Both of our nations were colonized, both of us are predominantly Roman Catholic, and both of us have a history of mass emigration.
While watching the epic movie Heneral Luna, I could not help myself from reflecting that there is another commonality that we share. A study of Irish history will reveal that the greatest enemy of the Irish is the Irish themselves. And today a study of any Irish newspaper will also reveal that the greatest critic of Ireland is the Irish themselves. We are our own worst enemies. I believe that this is the same here in the Philippines. In the words of the great Antonio Luna; “Brothers, our greatest enemy is ourselves”. The greatest enemy of the Filipino, is the Filipino. The greatest critic of the Philippines is the Filipino themselves. So, why are we both so self-critical?
The answer lies in how our human brains are programmed. Our brains are 2 million years old. Back then our ancestor’s primarily need was survival. We were constantly looking for what is wrong, what is missing so that we could quickly detect any immediate threat to our lives. Our ancestors’ brains were wired for survival.
Today, however, for the majority of the people reading this—daily survival is not our greatest need. It is very unlikely that you or I will be killed by a wild animal or an enemy from a rival tribe. Yet, our brains are still wired the same. While our brains are on this default mode, just like our ancestors’, we will be constantly focusing on what is wrong or what is missing.
The greatest evidence of this today is the world’s news media. The vast majority of today’s national and international newspaper headlines are all focusing on something negative (corruption, murder, terrorism, natural disasters, celebrity scandal, etc.). Not that I am saying that negative news should not be brought to our attention, but the continuous consumption of negative news will give us a very unbalanced and unfair view of the world. This is what I see is happening in the Philippines.
I believe that for every one negative story written about the Philippines, there are 100 positive stories that do not get talked about. This really is the greatest time in history to be in the Philippines. Whether I am speaking to 7,000 students, 250 young professionals or 30 business executives, I share with the audience the extraordinary positive things I see every day happening in this country.
Living in the Philippines has made me a better person. There is something about the character of the Filipino that I have not seen in any other country in the world. I have not seen another nationality that models the values of care, empathy and compassion like a Filipino. As a result, I have become a better man from calling Filipinos my friends.
As my team and I travel across Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao sharing our inspirational message, the majority of the audiences are still surprised that a foreigner has so much belief in their country, where so many Filipinos do not. I explain that this self-doubt is normal. The story of the Filipino is like the story of the butterfly, it cannot see how beautiful its wings are. Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind them of that beauty.
My job is not to preach but to remind the Filipino of the extraordinary greatness of this country. I am convinced that the more people we inspire to see this new perspective, then the more people will start to believe in the Filipino dream, then the more people will start to take action for the greater good. As this mind-set shift starts to grow, then we really will see a First World Philippines in our lifetime. The greatest days of this nation are ahead of us! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
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Mike Grogan is an international speaker and best-selling author who believes in the Genius of the Pinoy. As a leadership coach, Irish native Mike has traveled to 39 countries around the world but he believes that there is something very special about the Filipino. Today he works as a consultant for People Dynamics, where he travels across the Philippines inspiring, empowering and motivating Pinoys every week to become World-Class and believe in the Filipino Dream.