Archive for October 9, 2010


October 9, 2010


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to all ye fellow global citizens, peace & development advocates!

I have just writ a series of articles about physical regimen and capacity-building. The topic stresses the central import of developing multiple intelligence to capacitate oneself for achieving diverse goals—from physical to spiritual. Let me then continue the trajectory of the topics to focus this time on emotional development.

To start with our discourse, high ‘emotional quotient’ or EQ contributes immensely to the building of our individual capacities. Conversely, low EQ determinately incapacitates us, thus disabling us from achieving our goals in life. This goes true for folks who aspire to graduate from low quality to high quality of life.

Emotional intelligence’s core is attitudes, which could be summed up as the integration of our capabilities to empathize, sympathize, and enact goals from an affective facet. Learning attitudes are particularly foremost in any change program. Good learning attitudes can lead one to succeed in achieving one’s goals, while bad learning attitudes could debilitate one from achieving short- and long-term goals.

Any person who aspires to be a change catalyst for whatever purpose should be equipped with the sufficient level of EQ, otherwise the person involved could be a liability to the change program. Not only should the catalyst be foremost in demonstrating good learning attitudes, the catalyst should also demonstrate the capacity for empathy that begins with good listening, and for sympathy that is exhibited by building sincere rapport and camaraderie.

A catalyst who demonstrates high levels of empathy and at the same time has the knacks for counseling—both the one-on-one and group levels—is a model for one who has high EQ. Such a person has unlearned a childish Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, or has kept the latter weakness as residual if ever. S/he is sufficiently equipped to handle and manage a change program.

A catalyst who has weak listening abilities (low empathy) but who just the same counsels a client is a bad catalyst. The counsel could be psychosocial interventnion, or financial counsel for livelihood clients, or advisory to an entire poor village for community development, or pro bono legal counsel by grassroots paralegal. Counsel without sufficient listening (with sincerity, goodwill) is intrusive type of counsel.

The message of developing good EQ for grassroots clientele is equally important too. After doing grassroots work for so long a time in my life (beginning with my adolescent years yet), I could readily exhibit to you a long list of defects of the folks that are largely traceable to bad learning attitudes.

Take the case of marginal planters. I’ve heard too many complaints of marginal farmers about miserable living conditions, about inability to raise money to build a decent home, and so on. Yet I see the same folks smoking, drinking, and gambling! I could very easily demonstrate to any poor folk who is afflicted with those vices, that if s/he would take off smoking & drinking at least, s/he could save enough money to build a decent home and buy a service mini-truck.

I’d tell the folk that a Marlboro or equivalent cigarette which sells P35 a pack would total almost P500,000 in four (4) decades, assuming that the folk smokes a pack of cigarette a day, an amount than can build a decent and spacious low-cost house. Meanwhile, if the same person saves the P1,000 a month spent on beer/gin & delicacies, then in four (4) decades s/he could save P500,000, enough to buy a very decent service vehicle for farm use. [P44 is U.S.$1]

Not only are many poor folks afflicted with vices, they also don’t save money for the rainy days. Saving behavior is a huge development challenge in this country, in as much as Filipinos as a whole don’t save. The change is now moving towards the right direction, but the pace of change towards adopting saving is too slow. This situation partly contributes to the low level of national savings in this country compared to the East Asian neighbors.

Let’s take the case of a fisherfolk, who at the end of a fishing schedule offshore makes around P1,000 post-sales. Instead of saving part of the money for the rainy days, the same person would buy some gin & delicacies + cigarettes, calls on kins and pals, and play poker or so with the latter. Comes the start of schooling, the same folk would end up complaining of not having funds for the kids’ schooling needs. Well, what do you expect from a consummate spender!

If a change catalyst (e.g. social worker) would counsel the same folks to begin saving and deposit the same in the bank, the folks would grumble and exclaim “those banks would just rob our funds!” which is indicative of the low attitude for trusting financial institutions. Without extra funds on their account, the same folks would be at the mercy of usurers who charge 20% interest on short-term loans (it’s called 5/6 in my country). Charge it to bad learning attitude!

Now, just by reflecting on bad learning attitude (low EQ) as factor, you can understand why 33% of Filipinos are very poor. The figure was already down 28% in 2001 yet, then it went up again to reach 33% in 2006 (the last time we had systematic poverty studies nationwide). To factor government corruption alone as the cause of ballooning poverty—‘bad governance in public policy jargon—is utter non-sense to me.

There are variegated tools available today for improving one’s own emotional intelligence, and I do highly recommend such tools to catalysts and clientele. They’ve worked for so many people who tried them, so why not try them (again there’s the attitude question of whether to try or not).

If your emotional problems are deep-seated, or that they are of a dysfunctional level, then please consult a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. It’s best to undergo testing, as the test tool can reveal the extent of dysfunctional syndromes. Anybody with deep-seated emotional or affective disorder syndromes is advised not to attempt at all to be a change catalyst.

To conclude, emotional intelligence is among the factors that contribute to capacity-building. Never miss out on the chance to fortify your EQ as this can capacitate you in no small measure to achieve your core goals in life. The tools are out there waiting for you from some sort of ‘fairy Godmother’ expert or specialist, please go for it for your own sake.

[Philippines, 28 September 2010]