Cultured Corruption, Not Culture Of Corruption

by  jun asuncion


It’s impressive this Culture Of  Honesty among ordinary Bulaneños and interesting how it supports the findings of the Reader’s Digest Global Honesty Test conducted last 2007 wherein Manila placed 5th among other world cities tested (see report below).

There is reason to have faith then in our people’s inherent integrity and sincerity, indispensable values for the town to progress.

However,  in man everything is there, all these polarities and paradoxes of values ( a fact that the physicist Heisenberg himself had problem understanding how in a system, i.e., in man, good and bad traits – honesty and dishonesty, sanity and insanity, etc. –  can exist and function at the same time).

Hence, to inhibit the negative and to elicit the positive in us, we need- aside from educational system- role models in our society.

Here is where the problem comes at least in the Philippines. For it is a common public knowledge that the incumbent national administration is marred with corrupt practices. The whole world knows about this.

This is a burden to the people and to all other local executives that may actually be honest to their constituents for there is a strong tendency for the public to generalize. And if there are anomalies or scandals in their local government- proven or not- this tendency becomes reinforced, things heard taken as true, becoming common public knowledge.

It’s difficult then for Filipino politicians in the present time. Had the president  et al  been honest and sincere, the Filipinos would have been more positive  in their perception of the local public servants also.

Judging from his publication, Bulaneño was specifically talking about the culture of corruption in the local administration of Bulan based on the COA’s findings and recommendations. In his blog he presented only these facts, no more, no less. But if he had fabricated these facts by himself, then that would be utmost denunciation, pure dishonesty. One thing more, he should prove his allegation before the court, not before the people (for they have no direct judicial power). And the court is not interested in this “common public knowledge” but only in hard evidence.

However, the fact that these issues got publicized again just a few months before the election would lead anyone to believe that this is indeed politically motivated.

Be that as it may, we just leave it to our Culture Of Honesty in Bulan to decide for itself.

In effect: Cultured Corruption, not Culture of Corruption, should properly describe the effect of the Arroyo administration to public perception, national or local.

jun asuncion


Reader’s Digest’s Global Honesty Test

Are people honest?

Reader’s Digest conducts global cell phone honesty test: Researchers ‘lose’ mobile phones in 32 cities, and two thirds are returned

By Reader’s Digest Association

Jul 23, 2007 – 6:02:20 PM

If you were sitting on a park bench and noticed that a “lost” cell phone was ringing, would you answer it? And if so, and a stranger’s voice on the other end asked you to take time from your busy day to return the phone, what would you do? Hang up? Keep the phone? Or, agree to return it?

That’s exactly what Reader’s Digest editors wanted to find out. And so the world’s most widely read magazine used its network of global editions to conduct an informal test of honesty around the world, asking reporters in the most populous cities in 32 countries to leave 960 mid-priced mobile phones in busy public places.

Local researchers from each country arranged and conducted their own tests, observing the mobiles from a distance. They rang the phones and waited to see if anyone would answer, and then watched to see if the person would (1) agree to return it, (2) call later on preset numbers that were programmed into the handsets, or (3) keep the phones for themselves. After all, these were tempting, brand-new phones with usable airtime.

The researchers tallied the results, interviewed test participants, and filed their reports in many of the August editions of Reader’s Digest, including the Web edition of U.S. Reader’s Digest ( and U.S. Selecciones magazine. While the study was not scientific, the results provided a fascinating human interest story.

“What we found out surprised and intrigued us,” said Conrad Kiechel, Editorial Director, International. “In every single city where the test was conducted, at minimum almost half of the phones were returned. And despite the temptation that people must have felt to keep the phones, and the fact that the test imposed on everyone’s time, the average return rate was a remarkable 68 percent, or about two thirds of the 30 phones we dropped in each city.”

The test followed last year’s Reader’s Digest Global Courtesy Test, which made headlines worldwide. Like the 2006 test, it was developed and overseen by the magazine editors in each of the participating countries. Both programs dramatically illustrated the magazine’s remarkable geographic “footprint” by conducting simultaneous local tests and reporting the results globally.

The highest percentage of returned phones was in the smallest city, Ljubljana, Slovenia, with a population of only 267,000. All but one of 30 cell phones were returned. From a nun at a bus stop to a young waiter at a coffee shop (who also retrieved a leather jacket the reporter had accidentally left behind – not part of the test!), the residents in this picture-postcard city in the foothills of the Alps were almost universally helpful.

Could the citizens of a major metropolis, with all its stress and pressure, be as honest? The people of Toronto, Canada (population 5.4 million), came close, returning 28 of 30 phones. “If you can help somebody out, why not?” said Ryan Demchuk, a 29-year-old insurance broker, who returned the mobile.

Seoul, South Korea, was third in the rankings, followed by Stockholm, Sweden, where Lotta Mossige-Norheim, a railway ticket inspector, found the mobile on a shopping street and handed it back. “I’m always calling people who’ve left a handset on my train,” she said.

Tied for fifth place in the rankings with 24 returned phones were: Mumbai, India; Manila, the Philippines; and New York City.

In many countries, people said they believed the young would behave worse than their elders. Yet, in the test results, young people were just as honest. In New York’s Harlem section, 16-year-old Johnnie Sparrow arranged to meet a reporter later that evening. Arriving at the scheduled time flanked by a group of younger neighborhood boys who clearly looked up to him, Sparrow was surprised to learn that the lost phone wasn’t lost at all. But he was proud of how he reacted when he found it.

“I did the right thing,” he said with a smile.

Parental influence weighed heavily with some. “My parents taught me that if something is not yours, don’t take it,” said Muhammad Faizal Bin Hassan, an employee of a Singapore shopping complex, where he answered a ringing phone.

Many adults accompanied by children were keen to show the young people how to behave when they spotted a phone. In Hounslow, West London, Mohammad Yusuf Mahmoud, 33, was with his two young daughters when he answered a phone in a busy shopping street. “I’m glad that my kids are here to see this. I hope it sets a good example,” he said.

Women were slightly more likely to return phones than were men.

All over the world, the most common reason people gave for returning a phone was that they too had once lost an item of value and didn’t want others to suffer as they had. “I’ve had cars stolen three times and even the laundry from the cellar was taken,” said Kristiina, 51, who returned a phone in Helsinki.

So, how did planet earth perform in the honesty test? Everywhere, the locally based Reader’s Digest reporters heard pessimism about the chances of getting phones back, especially given economic and other pressures. And yet, globally, 654 mobiles, or 68 percent, were returned.

The Phones we got back, city by city Rank City Country Phones Recovered (out of 30)

1 Ljubljana Slovenia 29 (Phones)

2 Toronto Canada 28

3 Seoul South Korea 27

4 Stockholm Sweden 26

5= Mumbai India 24

Manila Philippines 24

New York USA 24

8= Helsinki Finland 23

Budapest Hungary 23

Warsaw Poland 23

Prague Czech Republic 23

Auckland New Zealand 23

Zagreb Croatia 23

14= Sao Paulo Brazil 21

Paris France 21

Berlin Germany 21

Bangkok Thailand 21

18= Milan Italy 20

Mexico City Mexico 20

Zurich Switzerland 20

21= Sydney Australia 19

London UK 19

23 Madrid Spain 18

24 Moscow Russia 17

25= Singapore Singapore 16

Buenos Aires Argentina 16

Taipei Taiwan 16

28 Lisbon Portugal 15

29= Amsterdam Holland 14

Bucharest Romania 14

31= Hong Kong Hong Kong 13

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 13