In my line of work, we were trained to accept and seriously study any criticism of our efforts by those who receive our projects and programs. This was, initially, a very difficult concept for many people to understand. After all, we were the ones building houses, enabling access to clean water, and giving them fishing boats and piglets and rice seeds. Complaining about whatever we did would show that they did not have utang na loob and that they were ingratas.
But we explained that humanitarian aid workers are governed by a set of rules. One such rule is that the moment we took the responsibility of replacing things that they lost during typhoon Yolanda, our fates became entwined together: we acquired an obligation to uphold their human rights (that’s actually a legal concept). We were doing this, not as a gift or favor to them, but because it was our job. Hence, there was no need for utang na loob.
Another rule was that every kind of criticism had a core of truth in it, whether big or small. This core, once tapped, could serve to improve our work, efforts, and performance. And we do have an obligation to improve our work since it is our job, and it is the rights of the people that we are talking about.
Now, take this incident involving humanitarian aid workers and try to inject utang na loob:
(Full story here)
You can just imagine what people would say.
“They have just allowed themselves to be raped/sodomized. After all, tumulong rin naman yung mga sundalo. What a bunch of ungrateful wretches!”
All of this came back to my mind as I watched how self-righteous ugly netizens (supported by ugly corporate media) crucified Nanay Celia Veloso, the mother of deathrow OFW Mary Jane, for supposedly being an ingrata without utang na loob.
Bottom line is: Nanay Celia did not have to thank anyone because it was her (and her daughter’s) human rights being violated. It was the job of the government to uphold her rights. And given all that she and her family went through, I perfectly understand why Nanay Celia would think and speak that way.
Maybe other people should imagine themselves in the shoes of others before condemning them.