OLD HABITS die hard. But some are so detrimental to success that they must be excised out of the human psyche.

This is something I observed after four years of mingling with my peers, both in the classroom and in the Varsitarian. Frequently, a select few would indulge in an unhealthy behavioral cycle that would usually end miserably for them.

A solid example of this would be those that violate the University’s golden rule – no absences beyond the limit given by UST, lest you receive the two most dreaded letters for any student: F/A, or “failed due to absences.” I have known exceptional students who consistently get good marks, only to falter because they didn’t show up.

I myself have been guilty of this, spending as much as the 2010 national budget on taxi rides to school just so I would not be marked absent.

I have only myself to blame, of course. Had I the discipline to wake up early (or sleep early, depends on how you see the cup of water) I wouldn’t have to do all those extreme measures just to get to class on time. Clearly, the problem lies in one’s attitude and behavior.

But while one may argue that this would be near-impossible to bend as it is natural for Filipinos suffering from the ills of “Filipino time,” or “late-clock syndrome,” this kind of outlook would seem to be a poor excuse to cover up one’s incompetence.

Even at the start of the semester, the University had set the ground rules for the absences, to which some students may object.

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I was suspicious of the F/A rule too, but I realize that had it not been implemented, there is a likely chance that no one would show up in class, only appearing during the important quizzes. When this happens, teachers (and the university as a whole) will not be able to impart knowledge and fulfill their roles.

What I am simply saying is that culture, specifically the concept of “Filipino time,” should not be used as a reference book or a shield to cover up the wrongs of an individual, especially when one is aware of the problem but refuses to do anything about it.

***

Recently, I have been fascinated with human behavior after someone asked me what were the problems I faced during my stint as the editor in chief of the Varsitarian. It boiled down to two: structural problems and behavioral problems.

Structural problems are those which are mostly technical in nature, occurring in an organization’s rules and regulations, or system. This usually happens because the rules are outdated and do not fit with the demands of the times.

But while structural problems are abundant in nature, they are by far easier to handle and solve.

All it takes is discussing the problem and coming up with a viable and practical solution to cover any loose ends. An organization is a dynamic being, after all, and a good organization constantly tailor fits itself to keep up with the changing times.

The other problem, however, is something that is harder to address, as there is no clear method on how to approach it.

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Behavioral problems are usually overlooked because they seem inferior to structural ones. But in reality, these can snowball into something bigger that could derail a harmonious work cycle, or put an organization off from its objectives. These behavioral problems can include either a lack of urgency typical of “Filipino time,” being low on morale, differing priorities, or something else.

Due to the varying nature of these problems, the solutions are arguably also varied, but they all similarly involve the process of communication.

Unfortunately, I have seen that in most cases, people would often revert to being non-confrontational, instead of talking to the person about the problem and hopefully coming to a solution. Whether or not this is something ingrained into our psyche, I do not know.

No matter how solid an organization’s system is, the people involved are still invaluable assets and must therefore be tapped for solutions to remedy new problems that may pop up.

As I leave my post, I offer these few insights to the incoming batch of Varsitarian staffers as well as to other society or organization officials who might find these useful.

I wish you all the best of luck as you steer your organizations to greater heights and become part of UST’s glorious 400-year legacy.

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