At this day and age where the Philippines ranks among the top subscribers to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we should ask whether Filipinos really have the necessary connections in life.
As they say, it is not so much of what you know, but more of who you know. So, do you have the real important connections? I find myself asking a similar question early last year when I was looking for a house where we can move into. It was difficult to start searching, did not know where to begin since I don’t know of any real estate broker. I was eventually able to manage through a referral of a friend of a friend. Yes, 2nd degree friend.
And then it dawned to me, I need connections. Real connections that matter. To an average Filipino who grows up in a middle class to below middle class family, growing up with connections will be crucial but will be difficult. More difficult than someone who grows from a rich family will find it. Why did I say that?
When you were a child, did you have a family doctor? Dentist? Pediatrician? Or were your parents chums and close with any lawyers, government official, banker, teacher, real estate brokers, car dealers, media personnel, engineers, architects, electricians, technicians, plumbers, carpenters, interior designers, caterer, driver, cook, travel agent and recruiter?
Chances are yes. Because birds of the same feather flock together. So if they are more of the white-collared jobholders, then they have higher chances of being connected to other white-collared guys, with of course some blue-collared guys as well. But if your parents were not so well-off like an ordinary office or factory worker or daily-wager (more leaning on the blue-collared jobs), then the chances of knowing above mentioned people is significantly reduced. Most likely just a few blue-collared guys, and lucky if there are any white-collared guys.
When I needed a real estate broker, I did not personally know one. Also carpenters and masons to build and paint walls and fences and cabinets for me. No fixed, personal and dedicated doctor or dentist for me so every time I need one, I go to a new one each time. Haven’t had the need for lawyers but we all know knowing someone will be important, will be valuable.
It’s just now that I’m trying to build connections.
Let us face it. I’m not promoting connections here in a bad way, just like how connections end up being abused especially in the government or in Pinoy movies. Yes, not to turn a blind eye on it but a number of Filipinos have taken connections to the wrong playing field.
But seeing the moral benefits of it, we know for a fact that if a friend of ours is in need, and we have the capacity, skills and training to help them, then we will definitely lend a helping hand right? And they will do the same for us right? All within the moral and legal boundaries.
Which brings me to the second question of whether Facebook and Twitter addresses that need for valuable connections. Filipinos are so into it (see here my take why), but on a personal experience, I haven’t met any doctor, dentist or lawyer thru these sites. Yes, there may be fan pages or advertisements for such, but for me, I want a personal relationship with them first before I consider them my real connections. Not just another page I liked or another addition to my list of webspace friends. We have so many friends and followers, but do we have lots of real life connections? Same case for majority of Filipinos.
Since birds of the same feather flock together, then chances are your real-life friends are also your Facebook friends and Twitter followers (unless you’re a celebrity). And there’s nothing wrong with that right? Of course why would you add total strangers to your list?
But, if within your current set of friends, you don’t have the connections with the likes of the above, then I think this is the time to slowly expand your base. Carefully go out of our comfort zones, get to know more people, hopefully more people who can be of help in the long run.
Again, just be careful. We should not have the mindset that we’re adding these people because we will use them someday. It should just be a matter of give and take. Of mutual co-existence. After all, the world works that way.
PS. Don’t get me wrong, socio-economic status is not the sole factor for having the necessary connections or the lack of it. There are class CDE families who are widely connected because they are skillful in that aspect. Nonetheless, I’ll argue that it definitely has an effect, somehow.
PSS. I have batch mates who will be taking their bar exams next year. I hope they make it as full-pledged beginner lawyers. And oh, I have CPA batch mate friends too. So there, keep on building connections that matter.