OPINION: Entitlement

Tin Bartolome

Posted at May 13 2016 10:47 PM | Updated as of Jun 16 2016 12:54 PM

Entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”—according to an online dictionary. We encounter many people everyday who carry a badge of entitlement.

We used to live in a disputed area on the southern fringes of the University of the Philippines campus. Although it was a generic government housing, many of the “awardees” of the usufructuary right were members of the university faculty or non-academic staff. However, these rights were eventually sold to outsiders who were not connected with the University at all. Informal settlers have been allowed—albeit unofficially—to live in certain areas of the campus, including the area where we used to live, which was separated from the campus residential area by rice fields.

Entitlement and the Less Educated

The rice fields have eventually given way to footpaths and easement and the informal community soon grew even larger than ours. When security problems arose, politicians seized the opportunity to speak to residents—both legal and “informal”. It was on one of these campaigns disguised as a consultation that I heard an informal leader, an old woman, who ranted and raved about her community having been allowed to live inside the campus but were not given jobs by the University.

I was indignant because even when my husband was teaching full time, we were on the bottom-end of the in-campus housing waiting list while this woman was complaining about not being given jobs by UP! That, I thought, was entitlement.

A friend once told me that she was on speaking terms with her husband’s mistress. She said the woman once told her that her children were lucky because they were all enrolled in the best but very expensive schools while hers had to settle for the less expensive ones. The mistress did not know that it was my friend who did everything she could to make sure her children got the best education. For me, that too, was entitlement.

Entitlement Among the Educated

I thought entitlement was felt only by the underprivileged uneducated or the generic “mildly” educated. I recently discovered that even among fellow residents of what is (ironically) called Teachers Village, a strong feeling of entitlement is possible.

Having lived in the neighborhood for more than ten years does not give tenants the right to decide what to do with their neighbor’s property. To be arrogant and act like some regulatory or screening board for the owner of an empty house next to theirs and failing to appreciate a gesture informing them how that property will be used—that to me, is entitlement.

I cannot imagine why informal settlers allowed to stay within campus premises would expect to be given jobs by the university, or a mistress would take it against the legal wife for sending the legitimate children to expensive schools. I do not understand why tenants would demand special or preferential treatment over neighbors who own their homes just because they feel entitled.

To quote guided meditation creator/narrator Steven Aitchison, “Successful people have a sense of gratitude, unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.”

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.