East and West

Old map timor by pigafettamet at the Raffles Hotel in the evening. It was mid-July and the rains had just stopped, leaving the air a bit steamy. The project team working to get a Vietnamese corporation’s new systems running was on its final days in the city. Two Pinoys, a Singaporean and an Australian were drinking to having done their jobs. Flights home in a few days. “Well, we managed very well everybody” said Jack, the Australian project manager, an old hand in the IT business. “Inspite of a number of difficult phases and glitches” added Wellington Ng, the solution designer from Singapore. Ryan Santos and Manny Alcatraz, the functional and technical consultant respectively, were still very quiet Filipinos.

As the night proceeded, Wellington became progressively more drunk and silent, Jack stayed the same and the two Filipinos became a lot more drunk and talkative. “Well then, I am going home to the West tomorrow”, Jack said. “What West?” asked Wellington, as if waking up. “Sydney is Southeast of Singapore”. “The cultural West” Jack said. “As if Singapore wasn’t progressive enough for you?” Wellington grumbled. “It is progressive, but it stays Eastern” Jack interjected. “Yes, the Philippines is more Western than Singapore” Ryan butted in. “No, that is stupid!” said Wellington. “Because you imitate American music and accents?”. “We are like Singapore now!” Manny said.

“I know you like your Duterte” said Wellington. “but Duterte is far from being anything like our Lee Kuan Yew!”. “Far more effective!” said Manny. “Yes, like your programs done quickly and without thinking which took us a while to debug and would have caused delay if you hadn’t done overtime” answered Wellington. “Not thinking at all first”. “No it isn’t that bad” said Ryan. “What, Duterte or Manny’s programming?” said Wellington. “Manny’s programming is outside the box and found creative solutions which your over-formalistic British approach never would have” said Ryan. “Filipino cowboys?” said Wellington with a smirk. “Yes, that is why we are more Western than you!” “Cheers!”.

“Good that the matter of our basketball teams brawling is now settled”, said Jack. “In most matters, just like the errors made and lessons learned during our project, what you do is take stock, pay the price if any and move on. And in Manny’s case, the price paid was overtime that he didn’t write down.” “Unlike Duterte, Manny killed nobody” said Ryan who was in a good mood. “Gago!” said Manny. “Just like Gilas did not injure anyone severely, even if the one Aussie player they ganged up on was a close call” said Jack. “But they insulted us Jack” said Manny. “No, not true” answered Jack. “and in all fights there is a limit to how far you go”. “Oh, that gentlemen stuff again” said Manny.

“Both East and West have concepts of gentlemen. In the East there is the Confucian gentleman” said Wellington. “Filipinos are Southern people” commented Manny. “No, we Aussies are the Southernmost people” Jack grinned. “You are Western you said” Manny reacted. “Northerners, Eastern or Western, rely on Command and Control” interrupted Ryan: “Southern peoples base everything on Community!”. “yes. you and your barangays, like our Malays here with their kampongs” said Wellington. “You guys are getting too deep into the philosophy now” said Jack. “Liked it more with us getting stuff done. See you tomorrow, let’s call it a day” with day sounding more like die.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
M√ľnchen, 21 July 2018

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