Oliver Pelton - Benjamin Franklin - Poor Richard's Almanac Illustratedwill be involved in building their own houses in a resettlement site supported by the German government in Dasmariñas, Cavite (link) – and the Gawad Kalinga village will have a kindergarten and a public school, plus access to affordable healthcare facilities. The principle of German charity which involves activating self-help instead of encouraging mendicancy, subservience and helplessness – and of course the principle of developing healthy and educated communities. What a far cry from Kadamay!

Work always had worth in Germany. There were indeed areas like Prussia which had serfs until 1794 – a legacy of the conquest of the East. Other major parts of the country had a lot of independent farmers, tilling their own soil. And craftsmen in cities whose work had a high level of quality. Indeed one of the critiques Karl Marx had regarding capital and industrialization was Entfremdung or alienation of the worker from the product of his work, unlike the craftsman who could be proud of his own product.

Countries where serfdom and oppression caused the rich to keep getting richer and the poor to stay poor often have a different work ethic. In Romania there is a saying, said somewhat jokingly, that those who work hard are either stupid or have never used their heads. Imelda Marcos allegedly once said “some are smarter than others”. There are places in Romania where gypsy clan heads have large houses while everybody else is poor – yet they are worshipped. Sounds like some Filipino politicians.

Sometimes one looks at the Philippines and wonders whether those who work hard are indeed suckers and others are smarter. The drug lords, the gambling lords, the politicians that protect one or the other or even are into criminal ventures that can also include human trafficking, cybersex dens and prostitution. The oligopolies that can charge premium rates yet pay “endo”. Corrupt officials and different forms of extortion: kotong/hulidap cops, NPA “revolutionary tax” and Abu Sayyaf kidnappings.

Corruption and crime are both Filipino middle-class concerns. Politics so far may have addressed symptoms first, not root causes. The root cause of both may be exactly the mentality that those who work hard are suckers and those who get rich quickly and easily are somehow “smart”. How can one change that kind of attitude? Probably only by showing most people that there is another way. That work and honesty pays off. The other side is making sure crime and corruption does not pay, of course.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, Labor Day 2017, München