By Fr. Cyrain Cabuenas
FILIPINOS MUST be the most gracious people this side of the planet. In every occasion: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and in every stage of one’s life from applying to a school to applying for a job, in fact, from the cradle to the grave, Filipinos never get tired saying “thank you” and many if not all, take it to heart. On the one hand, this could be a positive trait that tries to inculcate the importance of looking back and not ever forgetting where one comes from. It is a given that Filipino children are supposed to be grateful for being provided their basic needs: shelter, clothing, and education. Thus when they are already stable, it’s now their turn to take care of the family. The bigger the salary, the bigger the expectation. Little wonder then that OFWs and migrants are the country’s leading cash cows. The millions of balikbayan boxes painstakingly wrapped and sent to relatives back home during Christmas besides.
When we have people who have given of themselves to move us further along in the ladder of success, we are truly grateful, and we give something back. That is commendable.
St. Paul himself was exceedingly beholden to Aquila and Priscilla for “They risked their own necks for my life” (Rom 16:4).
On the other hand, there are people who pretend to be there for us. They put a price tag on relationships and shamelessly look for a return of investment. If we like flattery, we will enjoy their company and pay them back. That is deplorable.
In the political sphere, debt of gratitude almost always produces perverse outcomes.
The all too familiar lame excuse: “Utang na loob ko yan sa kanila. They were with me during the campaign” is a travesty of justice and leadership.
For those who are still capable of any form of introspection, maybe they will realize that it takes more than a macho man and a provocative youtube star to run a country. This happens when politics become a playground for ones ego.
“Utang na loob!” can also mean “Tama na, Sobra na!”