‘Matiisin’: A nation of procrastinators | Inquirer Opinion

‘Matiisin’: A nation of procrastinators

As a senior who has devoted almost 40 years of his active life in public service, I can’t help but get dismayed whenever I look back on my years of experience dealing with different government offices in our bureaucracy.

Woe unto someone who does not possess limitless patience, and more often than not gets easily disgusted every time he or she transacts official business with our government offices. A simple request for a written information or a public document from any public office will usually take a minimum of at least a week or even 15 days before one gets a response. Worse, if the document you request happens to touch on a sensitive issue that could incriminate the head of office of the issuing unit, chances are you will be given the runaround, until you eventually lose your interest in obtaining the desired paper or data.


Even the public announcement of President Duterte to call 888 to report public officials violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards is a farce. On several occasions, we tried to assist a victim of the corrupt practices of a certain public official working in one of the departments concerned with the protection and conservation of our natural resources; the number 888 only kept ringing until we lost our patience.

During this pandemic, when going to a public office to personally transact business has been barred and online transactions are encouraged, following up with different government offices has become next to impossible. It is also quite disadvantageous for us seniors who are not familiar with digital systems but do not have the capacity to move around and physically call on government offices to follow up on their requests or transactions. Adding to the miserable situation we live in is the poor service of our internet providers, which leads to even more frustration.


If you happen to be one of the litigants in a court case where you need to appear every now and then in court, you will have to suffer the same excruciating delay in the resolution of your case. A simple case of theft or slight physical injury being heard in court these days will take almost five or more years of occasional appearances in court, brought about by reasons ranging from the failure of witnesses to appear during the scheduled hearing or failure to present evidence, to the absence of the judge trying the case, the non-appearance of lawyers, etc.

What a way of living in this country. Only in the Philippines.

Being “matiisin” citizens and meekly accepting our prevailing culture have made us what we are now. Perhaps only a drastic overhaul of our values and beliefs can change our mindset, particularly in electing leaders who truly love our country and whose interest is for the constituents they serve. Until then, we shall remain the laggards of Asia. God bless this country.

Despite this predicament, however, I still have strong faith in our government as well as the people manning our public offices, that it’s not yet too late to change our beliefs and values. We cannot allow future generations to blame us for not lifting a finger when they inherit this system of governance and way of life that have failed to bring real progress and development to our country.

Filipinos are capable of changing for the better. It is only a question of inspiring and motivating them, through leaders who must set an example by putting the interests of the majority first in lieu of their own narrow, self-serving ends. We deserve such leaders, but where are they?

* * *

Cesar E. Barcelona Sr. worked for the Philippine National Bank for 12 years, and for the National Food Authority for 22 years. He is now retired and lives in Daet, Camarines Norte.

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TAGS: Cesar E. Barcelona Sr., Commentary, Procrastination
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