Jun 11, 2014
Top: The Philippine flag; Below left: Acta de la Proclamacion de Independencia del Pueblo Filipino or The Proclamation of the Philippine Independence; Below right: image of freedom

One hundred sixteen years ago on June 12, 1898 The Philippine Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Kawit, Cavite. The revolutionary soldiers under Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed our freedom, the sovereignty and independence of our country from the colonial rule of Spain.

On the occasion of our 116th anniversary, let’s ponder on these wonderful quotes on freedom.

“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” – Malcolm X

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds!” – Bob Marley

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

What did Malcolm X (African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist), Bob Marley (Jamaican reggae musician) and Jean-Paul Sartre (20th century French philosopher, novelist and activist) have in common? They all believed in the vast power of the human mind and spirit. They all believed that man is in control and responsible for his own freedom.

Exemplary manifestations of this belief were the lives of Ninoy Aquino, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank and many more. No amount of imprisonment, solitary detention and torture could break their spirit. They “kept their freedom” because of what they did to what was done to them.

The same concept can be applied to Financial Freedom. The reality is we do not start this race called life at the same starting point. We are born with different circumstances – different talents, parents, wealth, environment, opportunities. But we must learn to do the best with the cards that we are dealt with. Unfortunately, the cards that majority of Filipinos are dealt with are  cards of poverty.

I like what financial literacy advocate Salve Duplito said when she narrated to me the financial challenges she experienced as a child, “There is no shame in being born to poverty. There is only shame in not doing anything about it.”

And the essential ingredient in turning around poverty is having the right mindset. Move away from the poverty mindset. What is the poverty mindset? It is not so much about not having food, clothing and shelter, but a debilitating hopelessness to improve one’s financial condition.

This may be deeply rooted in our culture and religious beliefs that are somewhat misinterpreted. For instance, we tend to romanticize being poor because of stories of God loving the poor. God loves the poor because He loves us all. Although it’s true that poverty (like any other hardships in life) may have some refining moments to a person, I doubt very much if God loves seeing us overstaying in the state of poverty. So if we happen to be in this state, we should remind ourselves not to overstay there. It should be perceived as a temporary state. And remember, God will still love us even if we’re rich.

Another aspect of our mindset that we have to revisit is our sense of family. Being able to count on our family members in times of need is a blessing but this may become a curse if abused. In the Philippine financial setting, No Pinoy is an island! What do I mean? Ask any Pinoy, whether married or single, with or without kids. Chances are, he or she has people depending on him financially. The biggest burden of this financial dependence is carried by our OFWs. Lonely and working hard abroad, they are now feeling the heavy load and are starting to take control of their own financial destiny.

The power of nourishing our mind is another important ingredient. Poverty thrives in ignorance. And financial ignorance is not limited to the uneducated. The proliferation of scams across social classes is a product of greed and ignorance. I applaud the gradual awareness in financial literacy in the country, but we still have a long way to go. I do hope that Pinoy families increase their FQ little by little. It all starts at home, with the simple laws of money that involves disciplined saving, not keeping up with the Jonases, knowing what your family values and aligning with them what you do with your money, holding off on the purchase of luxuries to allow your money to grow. Study the passive investments available to you. Do not be intimidated by financial jargon. There’s really no need to learn about the “beta” of this and that stock. The simpler the investment, the better for you.

The mindset of abundance will also help you reach your financial goals. Shed that crab mentality of not being happy for the success of other people. Never think that somebody’s success is your loss. Be happy for them and make them serve as your inspiration. The abundance mindset promotes a “can-do attitude” and is the opposite of poverty mindset. 

Remember your dignity as a person, a child of God. Get rid of the puede na mentality. In the things that we do, let’s ask ourselves if this is already our best. This is not to be confused with not being content. This is the all-important human need for goals in order to keep on improving, to keep on living meaningfully.

Happy 116th Independence Day and may we all use the enormous power of our mind in pursuing our financial and other forms of freedom!


ANNOUNCEMENT: To the Filipinos residing in Singapore, my husband Marvin and I will be there on June 14, 2014 to conduct a Workshop on Family Finance & Investing. This is arranged by TGFI (The Global Filipino Investors). It will be from 1-6 pm at the Anson Centre  #03-53, 51 Anson Road, Singapore (079904). Click this link to register, or contact Richard Macalintal 8223-5186 or