(Seoul Diaries) Discipline is a Way of LIfe

Upon arrival in Seoul last October, the first places/things my friend Me-an and I agreed to look for was food and money changer. So upon depositing our luggage in hour hotel in Jong-no, we went straight to Myeong-dong. Upon getting off the subway station, the first restaurant we saw was McDonalds. We agreed to just eat there because we were already so hungry.

Thankfully, ordering was a breeze. The staff at the counter understood basic English and I was still decent enough to understand that “in-here” means “dine-in”. Ha! I was also amazed at the presentation of the cheeseburger. It was a far cry from the way cheeseburgers are served here in in the Philippines!

After I was done eating, I immediately stood and about to head to the door when Me-an stopped me. She said I have to pick-up the wrapper of the burger and the glass where I drank from and throw it on the garbage. I looked around and realized there was a “self-service garbage disposal counter” and people were indeed throwing their own garbage. I thought what a neat practice it was, something I was not used to seeing in the Philippines.

I had two chances to eat again in a fast food restaurant: (1) a KFC branch in Hongdae, and (2) a Lotteria branch in Lotte Department Store. On both places, I noted there were self-service garbage disposal counters and people automatically throw their garbage after eating. It was then I realized it was not just some random practice but a way of life.

I wondered then why such simple practices have not been ingrained in Filipino culture. Here, after eating we leave it to the waiters to pick up our garbage. Sometimes, it can take a while to secure a table in a fast food restaurant because most are littered with garbage. On the other hand, the number of waiters are not enough to attend to the demands of the customers at order counters and to clean the tables.

Imagine the impact of implementing and sustaining such practice here in the Philippines. Customers will have a part of improving the overall dining experience in a restaurant, albeit a fast food one. They will help in lessening the load of waiters and allow them to focus on serving food. Waiting time for tables can also be shorter and a restaurant can become a whole lot cleaner.

Filipinos are often criticized for our lack of discipline and our inability to sustain discipline. I confirmed this was true to a certain extent by observing the Seoul etiquette in escalators, walkalators, for the elderly, etc. We certainly have a lot to learn from our neighbors. The practices are mentioned are just simple ones, no major investment needed, but it they make life a lot more easier and pleasant to live. I can’t help but think then what kind of paradigm shift is needed for Filipinos to be able to imitate such a practice. More importantly, what does it takes us t realize that discipline should be a way of life for it be sustained?

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