Utang na loob or debt of gratitude has been ingrained in the Filipino culture for who knows how long, it makes us think that we have to return the favor to the person—especially if they extended a big help for us. It is good that we know when we have to be grateful but it isn’t good when it affects how we decide or act around others. Here are some instances when utang na loob becomes a bad thing:
When it clouds your better judgment
Utang na loob can admittedly lead to blind loyalty, where we, as recipients, see our benefactors as perfect. But we all know that this kind of loyalty is unhealthy. Yes, you can be grateful to someone who helped you get through a rough patch, or saved you from a terrible situation, but it doesn’t mean they’re always right and couldn’t make mistakes.
An example is when a daughter lets a parent get away with doing something that’s against her principles just because they provide her needs and wants. Utang na loob should never be a reason for us to ignore the red flags around us. One thing to remember is that you can be grateful and objective at the same time. It will save you from making bad decisions that are based on blind loyalty.
When it stops you from doing what’s right
In our culture, the excuse “Wala akong magagawa. May utang na loob ako sa kanya.” has been used for the longest time. Utang na loob makes us ignore our principles for someone who’s helped us at some point in our life. We’d let it slip when our benefactor does something wrong because we have a sense of gratitude towards them.
However, if you realize that something goes against your principles, you should find ways to build the courage and say no, and do the right thing. Always.
Text by Tata Mapa.