The "Pwede Na" Mentality...Mediocrity as a Life Principle

I was driving to work this morning and as usual, I found myself getting annoyed by many wrong practices but commonly done by people that it got me thinking (while waiting for the traffic lights to change)...
  1. are these people either clueless or plain thoughtless that they are doing the wrong thing, OR
  2. are they people who know that they are doing wrong, but are inconsiderate and plainly just don't care, OR
  3. these people are aware that what they did is not quite right but then everyone is doing it, so they might as well do it too, OR
  4. people are so used to mediocrity that this has also become the principle they follow in life.
Of the four scenarios which do you think is the most common?  I personally believe it's all of the above, but I think the last one is the worst of all.  Mediocrity is a sin, probably not the kind that will send us to hell and damnation, but it does not make it less of a transgression.  In fact it is worst than failing.  Why? Because when we fail, it means we can try again and be motivated to reach success.  But mediocrity means we continue to do the same mundane thing day after day, year after year without realizing that we can do better not only for ourselves and our family, but for the rest of society.

In the Filipino context, mediocrity is what we call the "pwede na" mentality.  This mentality abounds in our daily culture and society.  For example, take a look at the way people drive and observe traffic rules. And most traffic enforcers tolerate even the most obvious disregard of traffic rules!  Another is the way our government offices function. The Civil Service Commission tries to implement high work standards, but down the line implementation of the standards is set so low that no one bothers to complain anymore, and when one sees a high performing government office, the reaction is one of complete surprise.  Also check out our public schools...students underperform because teachers do so as well.  To compensate, they bring down the passing grade and then complain that the graduates have low proficiency in reading and math. Duh?  And how about the recent bar exams?  How many of those who passed because they lowered the passing mark will become second-rate lawyers?

My parents always taught me to always do my best, to do the right thing and to always be considerate of others.  When I was in second year high school, I remember coming home after getting my first ever grade that was below 80.  I was so scared to tell my dad but I knew I had to.  He asked me..."did you do your best?"  I knew I didn't but said yes anyway. The realization that I deserved that grade did not come right away but some years later, because it happened a few more times when I was still in school. However, after almost failing my oral revalida in my final year of med school,  it finally dawned on me that if I wanted to make something out of my unremarkable life, I had to work to the best of my ability; that luck has nothing to do with success; and that mediocrity was not an option if I wanted to make a difference in the world. I can either choose to live an exceptional life or be indifferent and unseen.

I choose exceptional.  And this did not mean that I had to do great and important things.  It did not mean that I must become rich and famous (of course, that would not be a bad idea).  It did not mean that I become a superhero or go beyond what I am able or meant to do.  To live an exceptional life simply means - to strive for excellence in everything we do by doing our very best every time and in every way.  It means going the extra mile, doing more than what others expect...looking after the smallest details and maintaining high standards in whatever we do, be it a simple thing or not.  It means being the best driver, the best street cleaner, the best teacher, the best lawyer, the best police officer, the best public servant, the best janitor, etc...etc...etc...

source: beliefs.htm
By the time I parked my vehicle, I wasn't annoyed anymore.  I was resigned to the fact that for most people "good enough" is an adequate standard of behavior.  For the general public mediocrity is an acceptable way of life.


It's sad...but as my department head at work would say ...that's life.


  1. I don't really go for pwede na or bahala na mentality as I believe luck is something we worked hard for. The harder we work, the more chances we take, the higher our chance to succeed.

  2. Pwede na mentality robs us Filipinos the chance to make better things.

  3. So dapat we'll have the mentality to say "hindi pa pwede" to go improving all through life as we age. :)

  4. I believe that hard work, coupled with prayers, is how I go through things. Everyone has gifts from God that's waiting to be accepted and maximized.

    If we always settle for less, we will always be at the same spot complaining.

  5. I agree! I always hear that word "pwede na" everyday!others even go for Bahala na si Batman! I would rather go for "hindi pwede yung pwede na yan"

  6. "Puede na" is a part of our life. We will just get stressed if we think too much about other people who live with it, and they don't have problems about it.
    There's nothing wrong with "puede na".

    1. I wish I had your "accepting" attitude and I guess if the pwede na mentality does not affect anyone except the person with that attitude, then so be it...pero hindi eh, mediocrity coupled with complacency affects not just others but society in general. But yes, I agree we should not sweat the "small stuff" para hindi ma-stress :))

  7. In blogging, we can apply this as not "copy-pasting" press releases! We can try at least to create our own article based from the press release we received and express our verdict regarding the topic.. Most especially if we attended the event right? :)

  8. we should not be contented of what is just done, if we knew it to our self that we could still further from it. .

  9. Hmmm minsan pag nasanay na sa bahala na mahirap nang baguhin pwera nalang kung may mag guguide talaga na tao para mabago mo yun.

  10. I am such an obsessive compulsive person so I really never stick to statements like "Pwede na yan!" :D

  11. "Hindi pwede ang pwede na" <<-- I can't remember where and when I heard that words via a certain TV ad. But yes, it makes sense and thanks for posting this one up, it opened my eyes again.

  12. When time runs out and if resources are exhausted we then apply the "pwede na" attitude. This is a practice that needs to be corrected. However this is better than doing nothing at all.

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