The Lusot Mentality


The Lusot Mentality

We’ve heard often of such popular vices among Filipinos as mañana (procrastination), “Filipino time” (punctuality) or bahala na mentality (leaving the fate of something to chance).   What we don’t nearly mention enough is another habit we have that we so easily take for granted but is very unhealthy to have.

This is the “lusot” mentality.  In literal terms, lusot means squeezing through, either into or out of something, usually the latter.   We usually compliment a lusot when it involves a trouble or a problem which the person is trapped in, but he cleverly sneaks out of.   Cleverness is an important aspect of the lusot, since it entails “finding a way through”.

“Lusot”, however, has permeated the daily Filipino life that we tend to forgive little violations for the sake of “lusot”.  We smile when a person talks his way out of the trouble he created for himself, though he clearly was at fault.   We admire the person who finds a way around a regulation or law (pissing just beside a Bawal Umihi Dito sign, or cheating his way to answering a quiz or recitation in a clever way).   And it equates to big-time violations—a corrupt congressman can lusot his way out of a graft conviction through a technicality or the weak morals of the judge.   No matter if a person does a wrong thing, we easily forgive him because he found a way around it cleverly—so it wasn’t technically wrong anyway.

From the positive side of it, the habit shows the innate resourcefulness of Filipinos, and how we easily reward it with admiration.   On the bad side, regardless of how impossible, wrong, or difficult something is that it inconveniences others, it’s okay with us so long as we succeed.  Like squeezing the last breathable space in an MRT, a bus, and even an elevator.   So long as there is room to lusot, no matter what the cost, we make the jump.

We have to reevaluate our lusot mentality.  It’s not just about getting around something—we should think about the consequences of what we’re doing, the effects on other people, and if we’re justifying doing something wrong.    There’s nothing wrong with finding a way through the situation, but there’s more to a situation than our own welfare.