Monday, February 06, 2006

Distorted values is the real tragedy

By Jeannette I. Andrade, Manila Times Reporter

THE real tragedy in the stampede in Pasig City on Saturday is that Filipinos suffer from a serious distortion of values, a psychiatrist said Sunday.

Dr. Gilda Salangad, a psychiatrist of 23 years, blamed moral degradation for the Philsports (formerly Ultra) Arena stampede which killed 72 people and injured hundreds who were queuing up for the first anniversary of a noontime game show that promised millions worth of prizes.

Salangad told The Manila Times in an interview that TV programs, such as Wowowee, whet the appetite of the Filipino for get-rich-quick schemes.

Salangad, who worked at the National Center for Mental Health for seven years, said there is a tendency for such programs to play up the people’s fantasies for easy money. An estimated 30,000 followers of Wowowee, mostly from poor communities in and around Metro Manila, had lined up for the chance to win cash prizes being offered by the program.

“Normally, we are supposed to work hard for what we want. The reality of the situation is you have to work because in the real world, we don’t always get what we want immediately,” Sa­langad said.

She added the Filipino mindset is for “instant gratification, where we tend to allow our instinct to obtain a nice feeling immediately without having to work.”

“It boils down to the pleasure principle. All of us, through our development, would want to release things which would keep us tense. It is instinctive for us to find pleasurable things to relieve difficulty and pain.

“What we naturally ascribe to is the reward principle where we are aware that we have to work hard to get what we want or need. This is where emotional quotient [EQ] comes in,” Salangad said.

If a person’s EQ is high, he knows how to delay gratification, she said. “They know that if they work hard enough they can attain the reward they expect.”

The prevalent mentality, she claimed, is “getting so much for so little” and “what I can get without really trying or doing anything.”

Asked what could have been running in the minds of Wowowee fanatics and staff who wanted the show to go on despite the tragedy, Salangad replied, “Talagang sa maraming tao, business must go on despite everything. There is callousness to the plight of others. Ang mentality: Nangyari sa iyo, wala akong pakialam. Hindi naman ako apektado [Whatever happens to you, I don’t care because I am not affected]. This is the loss of the sense of social obligation which redounds to the deteriorating value systems.”

About 5,000 fans, evidently not put off by the tragedy, continued to wait in the stadium for the show to start.

“Sayang naman ang pagod natin [Our efforts would have been for naught],” one of the fans said. “Wala kaming pamasahe. Hindi kami makauwi [We do not have money. We cannot go home],” lamented another.

Salangad said the prevailing attitude of “to each his own” or “dog eat dog.” “The kind of values we have, masyado nang kani-kaniya ang attitude ng tao ngayon,” she emphasized.

She attributed the mindset to technology. “The nature of movies we see, television programs, they show that you can just trample on other people’s rights to make money.”

She said that values have changed drastically. “People get to be callous just to gratify their needs even if others get hurt in the process.”

If anybody could be tapped to remedy the situation, she said, these are the priests. “Where are our priests? I want to hear the bishops talk now. They should be the first there but where are they now?” she said.

“There’s something seriously wrong here. We need to reevaluate our values and reassess our values system,” Salangad said. “While it is true that times are hard, our values should not be forgotten and must be preserved.”

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