Wir sind Helden

Aagostini donquixote 01is the name of a German band (link) and means “we are heroes”. In a somewhat ironic sense, because they said that they wanted to reclaim the word for antiheroes. And somehow also inspired by David Bowie’s well-known “Heroes” song. Helden or heroes became a bit unpopular in Germany after 1945, because Wagnerian pomposity had ended in a Götterdämmerung (death of gods) for many who thought they were being saviors of Europe and ended up destroying half the continent.  People rebuilt quietly from ruins in Adenauer’s era of “Keine Experimente”, or no experiments.

Heroes with doubts

The muscular statues of 1930s heroes of fascism and socialism were outdated. The American heroes of the same generation were Superman and Batman, but the German public I think preferred Donald Duck, or maybe even more Looney Tunes, with more Schadenfreude than tame Disney. America still had no doubts at that time, no conflicted heroes like today’s Jason Bourne, who knows many things are wrong in his country but still is a patriot, according to CIA agent Heather Lee. That was before Vietnam and before the War against Terror, wars which made America doubt itself.

The 2004 movie “Troy” has Odysseus telling Achilles (link): War is young men dying and old men talking. You know this. Ignore the politics. That is probably even more true nowadays than in the olden days, when kings often rode into battle themselves. But were Greek heroes really heroes? Basically Troy was a civilized city raided by pirate upstarts who were still to become a civilization. The Romans who were the next to become civilized did not pretend to be heroic, in fact they had a very clear language: vae victis. Woe to the conquered. And the Germanic tribes who were next?

Jetski to Windmills

They had more of a warrior religion in which those who died well went to Valhalla (link). This mixed with Christian beliefs in righteousness may have led to the idea of the knight in shining armor. The Spaniards had their own pompous variant of heroism, brilliantly ridiculed in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Like the German words Heldentod (hero’s death) and Heldentat (heroic deed) may also have ironic meanings today. The first can mean overexerting oneself for something that isn’t worth it (not literally dying) and the second can mean creating a fiasco or catastrophe (link).

President Duterte might have had quixotism in mind when he said he would jetski to the Spratleys (link): “Matagal ko nang ambisyon na maging hero ako. Kung pinatay nila ako dun, bahala na kayo umiyak dito sa Pilipinas”  (I have long had the ambition to be a hero. If they kill me there, it is up to you to cry in the Philippines). The sarcasm was so clear then, I wonder how anyone believed it. Obviously there is a jadedness with the idea of heroes among some Filipinos. Senate President Sotto wanted to remove references to dying for the country from the national anthem (link).

Fine, Sunny Days

The last words of anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl were (link): How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action? The question is: what if hardly anyone cares at all? There have been thousands of deaths in the Philippines in the past two years and I really wonder. What I wonder is whether belief in righteousness, in interests outside one’s own group, exists there.

Or maybe the overloaded quixotic Spanish connotations of “heroe” made hero something that Filipinos couldn’t quite relate to. Add the strutting self-aggrandizement of most Filipino elites who will never make a sacrifice themselves, doesn’t have to be death, but at least take some risks also. Magsaysay’s guerrilla past could have been one factor in his popularity, since he walked his talk. But so did Rizal and Ninoy Aquino, who took the risks and faced the consequences of their actions.  Some current discussions insinuate they looked for death to become famous with posterity. What?

The Malay world

Bayani (link) is contrasted as the native, “better” concept of hero who is truly part of the bayan. The closest thing to that in Europe would be Volkshelden (popular heroes) such as Tyrolean rebel Andreas Hofer, or the legendary Swiss Wilhelm Tell, whose story Rizal translated into Tagalog. The story of Kabesang Tales / Matanglawin in El Filibusterismo has elements of a typical Volksheld or Schützen (marksman) story, including the tragic shooting of Tandang Selo by his grandson Tano. Wilhelm Tell of course does not accidentally kill a relative. Being Swiss, he did not miss the apple.

Indonesia also has its folk heroes: http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/jago-and-preman/In Indonesian popular culture, the jago is often romanticized as a champion of the people whose acts of violence are motivated by a deep sense of justice, honour and order.” Fernando Poe, anyone? But Indonesia also has its political thugs (same article): The Pancasila Youth that played a major role in the 1960s killings in Indonesia were considered preman or political thugs. There are stories of different kinds of Filipino guerrilas in World War 2, good and bad. It isn’t always that clear.

The Balkan world

The Balkans have the Hajduk (same article): who “is a romanticised hero figure who steals from, and leads his fighters into battle against, the Ottoman or Habsburg authorities…. In reality, the hajduci of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries commonly were as much guerrilla fighters against the Ottoman rule as they were bandits and highwaymen who preyed not only on Ottomans and their local representatives, but also on local merchants and travelers.” Whether a hajduk was considered good or bad may well have been a matter of how one was advantaged or affected.

In Serbia, a collectivistic, ethnic hero cult (more similar to bayani than to individualistic heroe) based on a national mythology plus paternalism led to this (p. 85): Decision-making was left to omnipotent rulers, those personifying heroic martyrs of the Battle of Kosovo, who promised to rule in the best interests of collective Serb society. Paternalism impeded the spread of democracy, the implementation of the rule of law, and the development of constitutionalism. The fierceness of hajduks plus ideology. No place or time is the same, outcomes differ.  But some patterns do exist.

Wir sind Helden

Alltagshelden is a German tabloid term: “everyday heroes”. Non-everyday heros are for the 911. “Pity the country that needs heroes” said Bertolt Brecht. I think it makes a country a lot better if most people are just plain decent. Not “disente“, another lost in translation Filipino word which often means “dressed up to the nines” or “clean-cut”. I once was carrying disente pants on a hanger, coming from a dry cleaner. They fell off, somebody noticed it, picked them up and gave them to me – in the middle of Munich city. Very decent people! Small acts of goodness add up in society.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 17 November 2018

When Bridges Collapse

Bridge ruins through the Donskoy Chulek Riverand people mostly get wet like in Zamboanga today (link) – just rebuild them. Diplomatic bridges burning like those to Kuwait recently (link) are more serious. The EU-Philippines bridge still stands, even if there have been differences (link) – with most of the drama on the Philippine side. One should remember that the EU Parliament represents the people of Europe, and that there is a sizable segment of the population that does not want to fund governments that harm their people. And of course the EU has strings attached to its help – it wants to develop allies with similar values. Every major player in the world does. And so do major political groupings. Why does the Naumann Foundation, close to the German Free Democrats (Liberals, also color yellow over here) invite the Liberal Party with VP Robredo to Berlin? Why does Akbayan partner with European Socialists?

Bridges and Respect

Bridges are important in this world. Some may be at times heavily guarded and seldom crossed, like in Cold War days the Glienicke Bridge or Bridge of Spies between West Berlin and Potsdam. Bridges between people and groups are even more important. One major bridge is mutual respect. The Mogadishu rescue operation in which German commandos stormed a Lufthansa plane held by Palestinian terrorists only got to “roll” when the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff – who was onsite at the airport in Somalia – personally asked the Somalian President for permission by phone, and got it. Ever since borders have fallen in Europe, police may cross borders in hot pursuit of criminals – but must radio their colleagues in the next country to take over the chase. Italian police help out on one particular weekend of the Oktoberfest when many Italians come – to keep them in line as guests.

Now what would happen in the case (highly improbable) that Italian police saw it fit to interfere in a fight between, let’s say, drunken Italians and equally drunken Australians protecting their girls from Italian advances – a kind of fight which is indeed possible given the ways of both countries? Not just mediate and talk to the Italians, separating the crowds, but dealing with the Aussies also? Forget it. No more Italian police in Munich next year, I am sure. But that isn’t happening for now. Serbian police hitting Albanian soccer fans (link) is more likely – the Balkans are a lot more tribal. Now how about maids in Kuwait? Yes, one died. Many may want to leave, but already seemed to have been some cooperation in place between Kuwait authorities and the Philippine Embassy. If escapes were necessary, there are discreet ways to do that. But it seems Mocha wanted a presscon.

Bridges and Borders

Fools. Kuwaitis have dealt with a real occupation by Saddam Hussein. And Arabs have their pride. Cayetano’s strangely worded “apology” saying (link) “We are apologizing for certain incidents that the Kuwaiti view as a violation of their sovereignty” in combination with the arrogant demeanor of Cayetano sounds somewhat like saying “oh, we didn’t know you were that sensitive”. Coming from a country, the Philippines, that is known for hypersensitivity to foreign criticism – not only during this administration but even before, even making a big fuss about Spanish biscuits or American TV. But that same country is arrogant, even pushy when it comes to defending even Filipino criminals in other countries. Now things have gone beyond the usual wars of words. Filipinos have crossed a real red line and ACTED in a foreign country. And not just caused shame to Kuwait by filming it.

There is allegedly a story in the Middle East where two sons allow the neighbors to steal their goat. The father tells them to get it back. More bad things are done to the family, every day. The father keeps repeating to them to get back the goat. Meaning: restore respect, restore old boundaries. Europeans also have their boundaries – the deportation of European politician Giacomo Filibeck was specifically mentioned in a speech of a partymate in the EU Parliament (link).  The attack on him was seen as an attack on all. Strangely, Duterte has not reacted with his usual personal slurs. The warning of possible trade privileges being taken away (link) was part of the recent resolution. No need for drama at all. What else is there to deal with except Duterte and the Philippines? Well, there are millions of refugees, restive Russia, troubled Turkey, a now-difficult USA, and Syria and..

Bridges you burn

True, a Filipina was killed in Kuwait. Might have been that some wanted to leave their employers. But if you already agreed to work with Kuwaiti authorities, you stick to it. Lodge a protest if they don’t let certain maids go. And the EU? If you sign agreements that your dried mangoes, among other things, may be imported without customs duties into the EU and one of the conditions is that you adhere to human rights, then don’t complain. Nobody in the EU is telling Duterte what to do. Simply giving a fair notice – something Boracay never got – of consequences to the relationship.

There was a woman from Mindanao I knew who liked to say “that’s unfair!” in a mock-sissy tone. Fairness is for sissies some do think. Fair or not, “you have to die one death”, they say in Bavaria. Meaning you have to make some choices. Tokhang or sell your dried mangoes duty-free to the EU. Be decisive. “He who dies earlier is dead for much longer” is another Bavarian saying. Real strange. But maybe it means eternal life and rest in peace. And at some point decisions are forced upon you. It is fair if you know your choices well in advance. In contracts, laws, treaties. In daily life as well.

Mutual trust is the second aspect of bridges of understanding. Fairness and predictability breed it. Even if the Philippines miraculously were able to get rid of Duterte, many might not trust again. Even an intact bridge might not be one people cross if they are unsure of what is on the other side. Unpredictable and unfair shakedown artists – or reliable partners of all sorts? A bridge can have gates that are closed on one side. Kuwait has temporarily closed its gates. What is most likely next. Which bridges will still collapse? Which bridges will be burnt, built, restored? Or even abandoned?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27 April 2018

Defamation

Vitaliano Aguirreis what Marine Le Pen is being investigated for (link). Simply alleging things without proof, like in the Philippines, is not the norm in Europe. The report says “the center-right mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, filed suit against Le Pen for accusing him of associating with Islamist militants in 2015”. In the Philippines, a Justice Secretary can allege similar things about opposition parlamentarians, or a President can tag mayors in drug lists just like that. In Germany, Section 187 Criminal Code says (link):

Whosoever intentionally and knowingly asserts or disseminates an untrue fact related to another person, which may defame him or negatively affect public opinion about him or endanger his creditworthiness shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine, and, if the act was committed publicly, in a meeting or through dissemination of written materials (section 11(3)) to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.

Law in Germany is understandable not only to lawyers. Therefore I know that my previous article did not violate Section 104 (link) even if some Filipinos saw the use of a tattered flag as a provocation. Only tearing up a real Philippine flag, especially in front of an Embassy, would qualify. Somewhat like in this conservative country, I cannot do what Pussy Riot did in Russia – or Carlos Celdran did in the Philippines – insult ANY religion inside a place of worship. One need not be ignorant of the rules here.

Village gossip

Back to defamation. Of course there is the usual gossip in villages and in parts of town over here in Germany. “She’s a bitch, everyone knows her second kid isn’t from her husband”. “He stole money from the lotto club”. As long as nobody bears witness to such conversations, no prosecutor or judge touches that. And I wonder about people who constantly say bad things about others, how bad they must be inside to bear such ill-will. In fact people of that sort tend to be avoided by the more educated in society.

But stuff about De Lima and Bilibid drugs was in the Facebook feeds of some college-educated Filipinos for years before she was – in my opinion – framed up by Aguirre. Now I am labelling my opinion as an opinion, not as a fact. Not even Aguirre could take me to court under Section 187 if he wanted to – for all I know he might be right! There is a principle in modern societies that is called fairness. Something I guess we had to learn the hard way, after centuries of Inquisitions and witch hunts of all sorts.

Summary justice

The extreme was called Feme (link) by which murders of prominent Jewish politicians in the 1920s were preceded by public defamation of the worst sort. Feme used to be the term for summary courts which could even condemn people in absentia (link). For outlaws killed due to a Vehmic court order, a knife was placed beside the person. Not a gun, and definitely not cardboard or masking/packing tape. That was from the 1200s, mostly in the 1300-1400s, until finally abolished in the times of Napoleon.

In the Philippines, there is a prosecutor making death threats against Vice-President Robredo (link) which is even more than just defamation. Or Sass Sasot who says Carlos Celdran is supporting Leni to get help on his court case (link) just because she thinks it is so, no proof offered whatsoever. The assumption that a President can influence courts, against the separation of powers, is interesting. Isn’t like that on paper in the Philippines. But that Sasot thinks it is possible is very interesting. Hmm.

The Truth

Truth is hard to find out. In the village or in a part of town one knows, one can indeed verify with some horse sense whether the things people are saying are likely. One can then decide to avoid the person – or those spreading the gossip. In a larger context, one cannot be sure. This is why modern laws protect people against vile insinuations. This is why there is such a thing as due process. Even in villages, I wonder how many women were stoned or hanged as witches just because they were not liked by many.

“Perception is only truth to those without deductive reasoning” (link) says not Sherlock Holmes, but Gang Badoy Capati. There are a few representatives of rationality in the Philippines, which has mostly not yet gone through the Enlightenment. A place where some far out arguments pass muster which would elicit amazement even in one of my favorite old TV series, Königlich Bayerisches Amtsgericht or Royal Bavarian District Court (link). So is the fear of an EU rule of law audit (link) understandable?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 16. July 2017

 

 

Poke niyo, poke niyo mabaho!

Sigmund Freud LIFEsigaw ng manyakis sa mga babae bago siya umalis – noong bandang 1975 ito sa harap ng UP Swimming Pool. Uso na yata (link) sa iilang babaeng OFW ang panalitang halos ganoon: The west use tissue to wipe their “pekpek”. The Filipina used tabo. There now you know why the Filipina “pekpek” smells so good. We do it the Asian way”. Ang itinutukoy pa man din, iyong si Dr. Agnes  Callamard ng UN na kabibisita lang sa Pilipinas. Ang ambassador naman ng Pilipinas sa UN, ganito ang isinulat (link): I was right after all and people thought I was flippant: never argue with people who don’t shower at least twice a day. It clears the mind. Buhok kaya ni Dr. Callamard ang itinutukoy niya? Parang bagong gising nga tignan, pero ganyan talaga ang buhok ng maraming dalubhasang pranses, style nila. Sana iyon lang – pasalamat po tayo na may class at diplomasya si Ambassador Locsin.

Balik tayo sa istorya ng manyakis sa UP. Lumalabas kaming mga bata sa swimming lesson. Bigla siyang tumayo sa harap namin at nagsabi ng “gusto niyong makita ang titi ko – heto!” sabay labas ng titi sa pantalon niya. Hindi namin alam kung ano ang magiging reaksiyon namin. Pero noong araw, bandang 1975/74/76, parang inosente pa ang Pilipinas. Totoong may bold movies na. Tuwang-tuwa ako noong lumabas iyong cover ni Rio Locsin sa Philippine Panorama na naka malaking T-shirt lang siya.

Ngayon Mocha na, boring sa kabataan ngayon siguro ang kaaliw-aliw para sa amin noon, halos iyon na ang suot ng marami. Pero saan ito lahat napapunta? Sabi ni Dr. Sigmund Freud: (link) – Der Verlust von Scham ist das erste Zeichen des Schwachsinn. Anong isprakenheit iyan? Sige Pilipino na: unang babala ng pagiging tanga ang nawawalang hiya. May mga preso raw sa Pinas, siraulo na sa tagal ng pagkakulong, kapag may nakita silang babaeng dumaan nagjajakol na sila kaagad sa harap.

Pananalitang “na-ano lang” at “dapat Mayor ang mauna”, pang-Senador at Presidente na yata ngayon, hindi lang para sa nag-iinuman sa may kanto. Iyong mga pagkilos namang panahon nila Maria Clara, sobrang ipokrito talaga – pero huwag din naman sana mapunta sa ugali ng mga aso sa bakuran ang ugali ng kasalukuyang Pilipino.  Sa bagay, uso na ngayon iyong kulungan na parang babuyan, o kaya kung hindi, gusto ni Bato na itali na lang ang mga taong hinuli sa poste (link) na parang mga kambing.

Anak ng tupa, paano ba iyan? Si Leni Robredo, plastic daw (link) – tingin ko friendly lang talaga ang natural niyang ugali. Tulad ng natural yata kay Mocha ang mukhang masungit at matapang, palibhasa hindi niya maintindihan ang ugali ni Leni plastic o peke na kaagad iyon? Pilipinas ngayon, ganyan. Gusto ko na bang umebak o umihi?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, 7 ng Mayo 2017, Munich

 

Charles Dickens novels come to mind

Costumed man hangingwhen one reads of Filipinos cheering about killings, like in Singapore recently (link). Executions in 19th century England were public spectacles (link) even if there was due process involved. Justice originally developed out of a need to sate the very human need for retribution – the dark but very real side of human nature of course – in a manner controlled to avoid law of the jungle. Rewriting Oliver Twist to make Fagin a drug lord and Oliver a drug pusher in Manila would not be hard, I think. Punishment in 18th/19th century England also affected the poorest people:

During the 18th century, the number of crimes that were punished by hanging rose to about 200. Some, such as treason or murder, were serious crimes, but others were what we would call minor offences. For example, the death sentence could be passed for picking pockets or stealing food.

These were the kinds of crime likely to be committed by people in most need, at a time when many families lived in poverty. Towards the end of the 1700’s, the number of people hanged for petty crimes was causing public unrest.

Of course in the Philippines, things don’t happen institutionally but in a personality-based way. Let’s face it, institutions are often just a rubber stamp for what personalities in power want. This includes the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which seems to go by what the President wants, or the Congress, which is for sale via pork barrel. A non-commissioned Filipino officer who experienced the coup attempts of the late 1980s told me that for enlisted men and non-comms, the choice was simple – one followed the orders of one’s higher ups and fought on their side.

It is allegedly barangay officials who help draw up drug lists in the Philippines (link). Setting aside the matter of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) right or wrong, how does one guarantee that these officials do not abuse their power to harrass people they don’t like? Power in the Philippines is often narcissistic, abusive and petty. Not ordering, nurturing and constructive. Can that change?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 17. December 2016

Studying its villains

Ravanamay have brought Germany much further than the Philippines studying its heroes, buried or not. Are those unworthy of emulation – “huwag tularan” – more important in teaching national lessons? The Philippine cult of heroes always was suspect to me. During martial law, it was suspected that some supposed leftists were mere agents provocateurs to get idealistic youth to show their colors. Working part-time at the Philippine Embassy in Bonn in February 1986, I saw how the new government telexed straight from the Wack-Wack golf course – while people were still at EDSA.

For every young idealistic Isagani or Basilio, there have often been enough jaded, cynical Simouns using them for their own agenda. This has cut through all ideological fronts in the Philippines. Culture of entitlement in fact makes this nothing special for many – it is very much unlike kings of old who led their men in battle, or captains who had the ethic of leaving their own ship last. Good people often get sacrificed in the Philippines – Andres Bonifacio and Heneral Luna, anyone? Or sidelined when no longer needed – think of Mabini, who unfortunately couldn’t walk his talk.

Many in the generation that experienced February 1986 are disillusioned by how the groups that then came into power, and afterwards, continued to mismanage the country. Were the “yellows” too far from the common people, was the left too ideological and power-mad, the right too corrupt and Macchiavellian? I don’t know. But principled leaders were few and usually too weak, I think. Germany also created a new constitution in 1949. It had less lofty-sounding ideals than the Philippine 1987 Constitution. But Germany’s leaders saw to it that its goals became reality on the ground.

Mistakes are there to be learned from. Airline pilots have said that the safe flying of today is due to lots of crashes that happened in the past – and how many lessons were learned by analyzing them. What is good about the present crisis in the Philippines with regards to the burial of Marcos is that the history of Martial Law is being reviewed – what happened, maybe not enough what led to it. The analysis of how post-1986 governments continued Marcos-era mistakes like wholesale labor export and allowing Metro Manila to grow uncontrolled – to learn, not to blame – hardly happened.

And it takes sustained effort to build a country. How often have Filipinos run after mere hope? Or mistaken leader’s vanity for “willpower”? The Filipino youth of today, the Millenials, seem to be more concerned about the future of the country than many had hoped. Now I hope they are less naïve than generations before them. I hope they do not let themselves be used by any group or person. It will be after all their future they are deciding on in times to come. How they will live when they are around 45-55, around 30 years from now. All I can do is wish them strength and perception.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 20. November 2016

 

 

Feeling at Home

(BL) OSSETIAN FARM, WITH WATCH-TOWERhas been a human need since we looked for caves to live in, I think. We all want to live as safely and securely as possible, be in an environment we are familiar with, with the people we can trust. Throughout history, people have conquered and migrated for reasons of their own (link). Built new homes, possibly displaced others from their homes or made others feel threatened for their home. Much politics is finally about home and about homeland. The worst off in these days are refugees who lose whatever home they once had – some never to come back to their old home, ever again.

Much of the idiosyncrasy of the ideas of Nassim Taleb (link) who wrote the book Anti-Fragile I think comes from the shock of losing his home in youth. The Lebanon of before, which was a mixture of Eastern Mediterranean and Oriental culture, with him belonging to the Eastern Mediterranean or Greek Orthodox part of it. “Modernity is too complex to understand” is one of his major ideas. There is some truth in this – and I think the “complexity” comes from the fact that things can suddenly appear over the horizon that come from somewhere very different from our known world.

Nassim Taleb’s “East-Western divan” (not his words, those of Goethe) was destroyed by political polarization between the Orient and the Occident. I wonder how he now feels in Trump’s America. Yolanda came over the horizon in 2013, and the mayor of Tacloban had not looked up what a storm surge was. Syria imploded, and millions of refugees suddenly stormed Europe last year. Cultural differences make for difficult adjustment everywhere – the many cultural mixes of today included. President Duterte has effectively disowned Filipino-Americans.

The winds and waves – and the storm surges – of history take us to strange places sometimes. Germany is one of the most stable places in today’s crazy world, possibly because it was cautious in adopting all the new things that came over the world in the past 25 or so years. For all inevitable modernization, predictability and tradition did remain, as well as a certain social justice and security.

And the Philippines? Editor and Author Joel Pablo Salud recently worried about what kind of country his daughter will live in (link). I wonder how many Filipinos even start to think about that.

Irineo B.  R. Salazar, München, 12. November 2016

Stayin’ Alive

Barry Gibb (Bee Gees) - TopPop 1973 3is a song by the Bee Gees. It could also be about our crazy world today.  But there are indeed different ways to stay alive. There are communities like Munich where I live. Which protect the lives and livelihoods of those who live within the community. There are places like the Philippines where I lived a long time ago. Which don’t protect lives, and livelihoods, of many of their own people.

There is not much caring in the Philippines outside of one’s own circles. The educated mourned an Ateneo professor killed by gunmen more than students in Dagupan who were casualties in the war in against drugs, possibly killed by vigilantes. There are anti-Marcos activists who make stones for martial law victims, but no stones for even the “collateral damage” of the present drug war.

Muslims prayed outside the Olympia mall in Munich last Wednesday, as many of the victims of the July 22 amok were Muslims. The Mayor of Munich was there. But many residents of Munich who were not Muslim or relatives lit candles and put flowers – a sea of them – near the site of the amok in front of the mall. There will be an ecumenical service tomorrow. And an official act including Merkel.

More people stay alive – and live lives worth living – if communities watch out for one another. Especially when it comes to the lowest rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (link) – livelihood and safety. That may not guarantee love and belonging, or even esteem. But it makes hatred and destruction much less likely. Even if stories like those of amok killer David S. can still happen.

Everybody’s thinking of stayin’ alive, the Bee Gees sang. Every community, worldwide, must look after its own people’s livelihoods and safety first. How can the Philippines get to that stage?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 30. July 2016

Vengeance is mine

Who is Jesus?thought a driver and shot a cyclist in Quiapo (link). I witnessed an incident in Munich years ago which started similarly. Driver and cyclist disagree on who cut whom. It happened in the Schlachthofviertel (slaughterhouse quarter) which is part of the district of Isarvorstadt where I live. Just near the river Isar, formerly a poor man’s district subject to regular flooding, but slowly gentrifying. But it was working class people who kept the two men from going too far. And the young man on the bike did not fight with the driver who grabbed him after some verbal conflict – he shouted “Ausweis”, meaning national ID. This means “give me your ID so we can call the cops”. Three things worked well in that incident. First of all, the traditional mentality of working class Munich – any disorder in one’s quarter is everybody’s business. Second, the rule of law in people’s heads which cause the young man to say “Ausweis”. Third, strict gun controls. Legally it is nearly impossible for people to get guns in Germany – last Friday’s massacre I will return to later. But it was not the working men of the Schlachthofviertel who killed last Friday, men who kill on a daily basis. Men who kill animals for a living. Nor was it policemen, who indeed “summarily executed” a raging bull that escaped some years ago, and also a cow which ran up to the Oktoberfest grounds and hurt a few passersby on the sidewalk.

Back to the Quiapo shooting (link). Nobody tried to stop the two from fighting. Even after the shooting someone just passed by. Used to be that in more traditional Philippines there was such a thing as “awat” – people stopping quarrels, although it usually had to be people both sides knew not strangers.  Nobody called the cops, although I don’t know if they would have come on time if at all. Or if people trust the cops or are afraid they might shoot them also. Maybe someone did, later on. Somehow the two men did not manage to stop by themselves in Manila, or in Munich – testosterone at work. Raging bulls.

All people have an animal inside them. Some more and some less, and also dependent on mood and things that alter them like alcohol – or drugs which are a rising problem in the entire world. Social cohesion and rule of law prevent that animal from causing too much damage. Social cohesion seems to have broken down in Metro Manila especially, which does not surprise me given that all cities with more than 10 million people have special issues – Tokyo is a notable exception but the Japanese have strong social cohesion and self-discipline plus they are highly organized.

Last Friday, David S. went on a rampage. “Vengeance was his” too (link) and he used the “Darknet” (link) to get a gun. Inspite of some difficult moments, by and large the city stuck together. There was no harrassment of anyone by police or residents, not even of the shooter’s Iranian father who went to the police when he saw his son on a viral video. There was some tension and still is, but there is no widespread looking for culprits, no calls for more blood to be shed. Cardboard was used for another purpose over here (link) – to cheer up a city in a state of shock at what happened.

Munich is not a city that will be destroyed by human rights, I think. We usually don’t fear each other or the police. Respect each other and the police – YES. Fear destroys respect and cooperation. Maybe Filipinos don’t respect each other anymore and know just fear, at least many in the cities.  Looking at the Quiapo shooting scene, I ask myself – where is the humanity in the Philippines? Seems the drug problem is huge and was ignored for years, but indeed crime has risen so the shortcut solutions of today are preferred. Could the rich/poor gap (even physically) be one reason?

There are rich and poor in Munich, but no ghettos and no gated communities. The city in fact as policy tries to mingle groups, which in my observation keeps some grounded and some disciplined – one example is a recent witnessed clean-up of balconies in an apartment block which neighbors saw as an eyesore. Heavy use of public transport also leads to mingling of different groups of people on a daily basis, even if they sometimes don’t really like each other. But just seeing the other is HUMAN helps – in not hating each other. And a system that dispenses justice, not vengeance.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 27. July 2016