‘Agile’ and Mabini’s ‘The True Decalogue’

/ 09:06 AM April 21, 2019

Walang tubig, walang kuryente, sinasakop tayo ng China, mainit… at ngayon wala pang signal! Anak ng teteng. Ano na Pilipinas?”

So goes a veracious tweet that has drawn hundreds of likes as we entered the Holy Week. While its author @earnieboo seems to whine, if you are Filipino, it is not difficult to sense her adaptive tonality.


Count on the Pinoy to complain aloud about the woes of living in the metro. At the end of the day though, he/she inevitably takes things in stride. Remember how “Petsa de Peligro” evolved into “Petsa de Paligo”? Our capacity for being gritty appears to be innate. It is evident in our folk songs (i.e., “pagdating sa dulo, nabali ang sanga, kapos kapalaran, humanap ng iba”) and in our proverbs (i.e., “’pag maiksi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot”).

My teacher in history points to the many years of colonization under the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese as the culprit. On the other hand, my sociology teacher traces it to how Christianity sometimes promotes unnecessary suffering.


During a course facilitated by the Project Management Institute (PMI), I was once again reminded of our adaptive characteristic when the instructor introduced us to “agile” as the emergent trend in project management. According to the PMI, the agile approach was “created to explore feasibility in short cycles and quickly adapt based on evaluation and feedback.” It is anchored on the Agile Manifesto, which software developers introduced at the dawn of the 21st century. To wit: “We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. We value working software over comprehensive documentation. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.  Responding to change over following a plan.”

I don’t know about you, but the first time I read these, I could not help but notice how Pinoy they are. We value friendship and camaraderie over policies and procedures, so “daanin natin sa usapan (let’s talk about it).” We prioritize what would get us through instead of agonizing about blueprints and prototypes; “basta gumagana, ayos na  (as long as it works, it’s fine).” We would rather cooperate than nitpick on pricing, because “ang mahalaga nagtutulungan (what’s important is we’re helping each other).” We improvise rather than plan; “nasa diskarte lang ’yan (be street-smart about it).”

I remember my supervisor who used to live in Singapore. He observed that Singaporeans are so orderly that when there is a road closure, they do not know what to do. Not the Pinoy, he quipped. We are so adaptive that we can easily counterflow or take detours via side streets.

Then again, even as our instructor expressed enthusiasm about the agile approach, he pointed out that before one adopts it, one must know the basics of project management. These consist of five process groups, 10 knowledge areas and 49 processes, each of which has inputs, tools techniques and outputs comprising nearly 500 concepts.

Could it be that the reason we are still struggling with crises in the form of traffic congestion, water and  power shortage, media repression, drug addiction, extrajudicial killings and government corruption is because we have not mastered our basics? Thankfully, if we go by Apolinario Mabini’s exhortation in his “The True Decalogue,” it will not take us 49 processes. Ten action items will do.

Easter being a time of renewal, perhaps this augurs well with going back to the basics inscribed in Mabini’s “Decalogue.” Using Agile’s “daily stand-up,” we can start each day with a huddle either with our families or coworkers. In lieu of the usual agile guide questions, each of us can take turns sharing one actionable point from “The Decalogue” we did yesterday, one we will focus on today and one hurdle we anticipate as we do so.

It may have been written in 1898, but the letter and spirit of Mabini’s work remain compelling to this day: “Love your country after God and your honor more than yourself… Strive for the happiness of your country before your own, making her the kingdom of reason, of justice and of labor… Strive for the independence of your country… Strive for a Republic and never for a monarchy in your country… Love your neighbor more than yourself… Consider your countrymen more than your neighbor; see him as friend, brother or at least your comrade….”


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Von Katindoy is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Philippine Chapter.

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