According to Philippine tradition, bad luck happens when we displease the gods. It is really an ancient belief. People suffer bad luck when they anger the gods. Therefore, in order for you to rid yourself of bad luck, you have to offer prayers and some food (or even liquor) to the gods to mollify them.
When the Spaniards came to Philippine shores and introduced Christianity, the tradition never ceased. The gods where changed into saints, Jesus and Mother Mary, yet the same belief in luck prevailed. In fact, the Spaniards used this to their advantage. In order to scare the natives, the Spanish friars used the concept of bad luck so the hapless Filipinos gave their lands freely to the Catholic Church. Food offerings were changed to indulgences. Bad luck is changed into hell and eternal damnation. Until the 21st Century, Filipinos still believe in the concept of bad luck. Some even evolved into permanent superstitions in some Philippine traditions. Until now, a lot of Filipinos believe that wearing your wedding gown before the wedding is bad luck. Some still believe that breaking a glass dish will give you 7 years of bad luck.
Jose Rizal blamed the Church – influenced belief as the cause of lethargy in the Filipino. In Rizal’s book “The Indolence of the Filipino”, he said that the belief in bad luck has caused Filipino to tolerate laziness. This laziness was the cause of vices such as gambling, which became prevalent in his time. It seems people just rely on luck to change their lives.
However, Christianity and Catholicism are not the only religious beliefs that influenced the Filipinos in believing bad luck. Indian beliefs also found their way into the Philippines and one of the prevailing beliefs is “karma”. The concept of karma became quite simple in the Filipino version. If you did something bad to other people “makakarma ka”. Unlike the Hindu concept of karma, the Philippine version is immediate. You do not have to wait for an afterlife to feel the karmic effect. It seems to imply that the wheel of karma is about instant justice.
Oh and did I forget about the Chinese influence. Many wealthy people are investing a lot of money to make their houses bad luck free. Chinese feng sui experts are employed to make your house free from some cosmic mishaps just because you placed your furniture in the wrong side of your house. Gosh, as if the universe cares if you will become rich or not.
However, is there really such thing as luck?
Is what is happening in the Philippines right now a punishment of god? Should I blame this god for not giving the Filipinos the good things? Are we having this rice crisis, this energy crisis and this gas crisis because we angered god and now he is just giving us less blessings – more “mala” instead of “oro” and “plata”?
How about global warming and depleted ozone layer? Are we not giving enough animal sacrifices to please the gods?
If the concept of karma is right, then we have an efficient judicial system! However, based on what we see in reality, it seems justice here in the Philippines is quite hard to achieve. Belief in karma offers no real justice. Many cases of human rights violation and inhuman crimes happened here in the Philippines since the time of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos and until now, the victims and their families have not been compensated for their loss. If a rich “sonofabitch” or someone with a high position in government committed the offense, it seems impartiality is in the sticks. So what has karma done so far? Well until now, high government officials who shawl the Philippine coffers still live in fancy homes, dine in expensive places, travel around this world in luxury as the poor Juan dela Cruz eats only one meal of rice and dried fish. Just like other religions, the concept of karma merely proffers a placebo or a reassurance to those who seek fairness in their lives.
You cannot solve the problem if you will deny the problem in the first place. Maybe instead of blaming invisible beings we should concentrate more on finding the real cause of our troubles so we can think of a better and effective solution.
I remember a dialogue from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While watching Luke Skywaker deflect the training orb’s laser blasts using his light saber while wearing a blast shield, Ben Obi Wan Kenobi complimented Luke that he can do it even if he cannot see the training orb. Han Solo responded that it is just luck. Ben Kenobi answered, “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” Maybe the old Jedi was right, there is no such thing as luck.