Archive for category Culture

Quo warranto et ab initio in saeculo saeculorum

Wikipedia scale of justice3Social media is full of memes since the attempt to void the amnesty of Senator Trillanes.  Just like the lack of a birth certificate does not make a person unborn, a missing marriage certificate does not annul a marriage, and whether one has the death certificate of Rizal somewhere in a museum or not, Rizal (and Elvis) are dead. Will quo warranto and ab initio go the way of in saecula saeculorum (“now and forever” in Catholic liturgy – link) which became colorum (link) due to use by cult-like rebels?  Has Solicitor General Calida crossed the line, offended Filipinos?

Laws as commitments

His predecessor Florin Hilbay asked whether anyone sent to buy vinegar (Robin Padilla) can just arrest someone now. There are even memes that ask if a marriage is annulled if the marriage certificate is missing. One thing very sacred to Filipinos is marriage, not just a legal document like so much else but a sacred commitment made. Just like an amnesty is a commitment by a state to a person. Laws are also a form of commitment, like contracts between people are commitments. Morality is also a form of commitment to restrain one’s own baser instincts, and be nice to others.

The left is also defending Trillanes, not because they like him, but because the principle that an amnesty stays is essential to the safety of many former rebels among the left. Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo says that (link) “The State cannot be shackled by an act of clemency it has given to a political offender when the latter pursues subsequent acts inimical to its interest..” which betrays an idea of government “for the powerful, by the powerful for the powerful” not the people. Government should keep its commitments, not be captive to the whims of groups or factions.

Patronage and Impunity

Of course the old rules of malakas and mahina (link) or strong and weak worked out in Filipino politics for a long time, possibly even in pre-Hispanic barangays. The losers possibly even left on their own balanghai (link) to new settlements if the arrangement was too odious – there was space. Then it became convincing the powers that be that one is “right” – leading to phenomena like split-level Christianity (link) or trying to curry favor with the higher power of the time by pretending to adhere to whatever one thought would please them, even if it was only a simulation not reality.

Reagan’s Vice President Bush (senior) told Marcos (Sr.) in 1981 “We love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes” (link). Marcos must have been very pleased. The system of master pleases patron, even if only for show, to be allowed impunity downwards. Years later, Marcos was to be surprised that American society had eventually developed to also care whether human rights were adhered to abroad, away from the principle of “our SOB” (link). Thus he was “very, very disappointed” when Senator Laxalt told him to “cut, and cut cleanly” in 1986.

What does the Filipino want?

One could defend the old system as “Filipino culture”, but some recent memes show some beliefs might be changing: police ask for your driver’s license application instead of your driver’s license, or POEA wants your passport application instead of your passport.  Are they tired of impunity? There is a major principle that makes rule of law both real and yes, even pleasant for those with less power: legal certainty (link), defined as “a principle in national and international law which holds that the law must provide those subject to it with the ability to regulate their conduct.”

One could argue that the unwritten rules of Philippine society, basically the rules of patronage and impunity, are predictable to those who grow up in them. But is it a nice life having to always watch out who you might offend? Especially the Filipino entitled, who often are unpredictably grandiose? The President with his obvious narcissism is just an extreme manifestation. The others who shout “do you know who I am” to anyone they think is in their way or otherwise offended them are more. Might be that the Philippines is on the road to hell if those who dream of being like that are more.

Does the majority really think the Philippines is meant to be ruled by impunity, by face and power, and by rent-seekers forever? Quo warranto, or what gives the entitled to rule the country after all? Though some Marcos loyalists call the so-called yellows “pretenders” (link) which is a term used for fake royalty and some even say that Bongbong Marcos will soon “wear the crown” of Vice President. As if that dynasty ruled the country ab initio (from the beginning) and had the right to do so in saeculo saeculorum (for ever and ever). Mind your betters, or Magistrate Calida will punish you!

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 8 September 2018


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Soft and Forgiving?

Lee Kuan YewWhere is that Filipino attribute gone? Lee Kuan Yew said it in this context (link): It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics. There is not much softness and forgiving attitude among those who are OK with poor people getting killed as drug suspects. There is downright malice towards the family and those associated with the political color that helped bring down Marcos, including recent unsubstantiated claims against the City of Naga (link) aimed at damaging Vice President Robredo. “Those who claim to be better should be measured by higher standards” a Duterte supporter once told me.

Brazenness is Strength

So much for soft and forgiving. Probably those who don’t “claim to be better” are given a free pass. Maybe those brazen like the Tulfos (link) with their 60 million are admired for their “strength”. What I do understand is that all places where there used to be oppression have some degree of admiration of sorts for bandits. Oppression made ordinary people take shortcuts, go against the law, and those who were especially bold at it had the people’s sympathy. But the Tulfos are NOT Robin Hoods. Especially this is NOT worthy of Robin Hood or Zorro and especially not my idol Batman (link): He relates how his driver bumped a little girl in Navotas and how they had taken her to the ER, only to be seen by a doctor who refused to give the girl first aid. Nothing in the video reflects this.. The video also shows Tulfo harassing the medical staff and saying “gago ka!” 

Unrepentantly, Imee Marcos has told Filipinos to move on (link) from the past. The New York Times article also says this: Thousands of people were killed and tortured during the Marcos era, and the Marcos family was accused of stealing roughly $10 billion in government treasure to enrich itself. There is a bit of a counter-reaction now, with reminders that Marcos debt will take until 2025 for the Philippines to pay. But I wonder how much that reaches most Filipinos. Money that belongs to the government I think is an abstraction to most Filipinos, and I concur (to borrow a term used by many emergency room doctors, in honor of those harrased by Mon Tulfo) with Edgar Lores in this (link): Filipino thinking is concrete thinking [not abstract thinking]. State money is to most just as endless as the money of relatives abroad, not my money, why bother?

Utang na loob

Those who have understood that it is the sum of the money paid as taxes are usually middle class. People who have worked hard for their money – and to the typical Filipino may appear as stingy or even worse, “ambitious”. The Filipino culture is one of sharing, but that sharing also has a bad side, meaning relatives and “friends” who borrow money or other stuff, never to give it back. Probably a holdover from the times were nobody had much and a lot of things were handled via an economy of favors and counter-favors, something still reflected in the idea of utang na loob. From overseas, the capitalist economy came and gave people with certain skills opportunities. Andres Bonifacio was warehouseman of Fressel & Co., a German company, many Katipuneros had similar jobs in Manila. The American period and afterwards brought more opportunities – outside of the old barangays.

Another aspect of utang na loob is indebtedness towards a patron. Probably a fair deal in the times of small settlements. A capable leader helped his supporters, who demonstrated loyalty in return and vice versa. It probably became a lopsided arrangement as the original chieftains became part of the colonial system as principalia with hereditary status, something they did not have before. Late 19th century agribusiness like sugar, tobacco and abaca made the local elites more powerful, together with the new mestizo elites. American-style democracy favored these elites even more. Finally, these elites controlled local governments and a national government to dispense favors in return for loyalty and vice versa. Commercial elites also had similar arrangements with underlings, except that a certain efficiency was also expected, at least compared to typical government service.

Ways to prosperity

Very typically, a UP graduate would tend to gravitate toward government while an Ateneo graduate would usually work in “Makati”, the private sector. The times where the difference was very pronounced is gone, when every public high school valedictorian and salutatorian automatically got a UP scholarship, just as the times are gone when UP was typically either leftist and/or nationalist and Ateneo was typically liberal and internationalist with its many rich mestizos. Marcos, Binay and Enrile all went to UP while Benigno Aquino Jr., Benigno Aquino III and Mar Roxas all went to Ateneo, but Leni Robredo and Florin Hilbay went to UP while Senator Gordon went to Ateneo. Probably BPO and other international firms coming to the Philippines also broke the unwritten rule of old that you had to usually be from Ateneo or La Salle to make a big career in the private sector.

Things went well for a while with Marcos’ system, even under Martial Law. The middle classes continued to prosper, the promise of order in the streets of burgeoning Metro Manila was kept at least on the surface, although the more covert forms of disorder like break-ins went up. The walls around houses that did not have walls before went up, and gated communities, originally a preserve of the rich, were built more and more for the middle class. Growth of slums will have accelerated then as well, as Manila did not give everybody the same access to its elusive dream. But in 1975, POEA was founded, and year by year more Filipinos were sent especially to the Middle East. Also, Export Processing Zones were created to attract foreign factories, for example Germany’s Triumph. Rice shortages or violence in the provinces hardly affected Manila, as little became known then.

Not only because the media barely reported, but also because Filipinos stay in their own circles. Also they tend to care little about circles outside their own, even if nowadays there seems to be a new crowd that has a more encompassing sense of right and wrong, outside of the usual “kami”. Kami being the “exclusive us” that means “us without you”, where you are the one being spoken to. Prof. Zialcita, a Filipino anthropologist, says that (link) in societies where the State and the City are absent, individuals live in organizations that are largely kin-based, leading to a sense that the primary moral obligation is only to the kin and not to a broader, abstract community. Corollary to that, the nonkin tend to be regarded as a potential enemy or a potential victim. So there was not much of a reckoning with Marcos in 1986. OFW export continued. So did migration to Manila.

Towards more Community

The origin of the Filipino is in barangays. There were the beginnings of cities like Manila and Cebu. And going back to the 19th century, the formation of national elites with money and education, which became the power elites of the American-era Philippines, and then those who studied to become government and private sector employees as well as military officers and intellectual elites. Those who left their own barangays last to join the teeming mass of what is now called Filipinos were the OFWs and also some BPO workers. Of course a lot of the teeming new middle class of the 1970s did not hear about the human rights victims of the Marcos dictatorship, who were often UP or Ateneo students, often left-leaning but not always. Yellow confetti falling into Makati streets fell for recently widowed Cory Aquino, not for most of those now named at Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

The new middle class of now cares as little about others as their newly arrived predecessors in the 1970s, who were usually OK with things as long as their prosperity went up. When that failed and Benigno Aquino’s murder shocked the country, a lot of those formerly indifferent became “yellow”. Not so strangely, liberals and leftists nowadays, and the graduates of the major universities as opposed to the diploma mills many OFWs come from, have a lot more common ground today. There is still some distrust, but within the different parts of the opposition the discourse is quite lively and interesting – usually taking place via social media. This is not surprising, as Edgar Lores already noted the Filipino mind is concrete, not abstract. And my corollary to that is  – it is visual. EDSA I was due to videotape, EDSA II due to text messages, recent upheavals due to social media.

Owing the Community

Facebook memes that say “why not steal from Marcos loyalists and then ask them to move on” or “why not borrow money from them, not pay it back, then say move on” show abstraction though. Certain Filipinos now have a sense of something maybe even their parents may not yet have had: that the state and the nation are a common venture of all, not just some abstract entity, or a milking cow once owned by the colonial powers and assumed to be a piggy bank for whoever is in power. The new middle classes whose came up mostly due to OFW remittances  and whose roots according to Mila Aguilar are still in the peasantry (link) might have another view of things. They might even see the older middle classes and the graduates of better universities as strangers (possible enemies or victims?) and gravitate to the same kind of patronage politicians their parents knew. Let us see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 25 August 2018

Resiliency and Readiness

Tropical cyclones 1945 2006 wikicolorseem like opposites but aren’t. There has been a vibrant discussion on social media since yesterday on resilience as a Filipino attribute. A 2013 article by Ninotchka Rosca (link) says:  “To say that Filipinos are resilient is an assurance for those who have imposed upon them – much and repeatedly. It is to say to themselves that we shake off tragedy much like ducks shaking off water.” Miyako Izabel twitters (link) “I’m sorry, there’s nothing wrong with Filipino resilience. Why are you attacking it? Filipino psychology is observable. You can see how Filipinos use tawa to conceal hiya and ngiti to hide takot. It’s our coping mechanism. We process hopelessness and helplessness differently”. Tawa or laughing to conceal shame, and smiling or ngiti to hide fear – I don’t think this is Filipino-specific. Many Asians conceal embarrassment with laughter. Smiling to hide FEAR sounds like a response towards those that one must not anger. In 2014, Shakira Sison wrote (link) that “The problem with our resilience is the speed by which we transform trauma into acceptance. Instead of solving problems, we simply cope or wait for the problem to pass.”

Anong magagawa natin?

Miyako Izabel does add this to the discussion later: The self-projected resilience of Filipinos is a coping mechanism embedded in their consciousness or psyche. The politicians’ dismissive nonchalance–“nevermind Filipinos; they’re resilient to hardship, hunger, poverty, persecutions, killings, calamities”–is an oppressive insult. Just like another netizen tweets (link): “We’re only resilient because we have no fucking choice.” or Inday Espina-Varona who tweets (link): “Walang masama sa resiliency. Helped us survive centuries of disasters (and colonisers and abusive leaders). The important point is, not to rely on it as solution to problems. Resilience is no substitute for accountability and reform.” Anong magagawa natin becomes may magagawa tayo. Indeed the improvisation by private parties and LGUs, as well as the higher degree of preparation by LGUs such as Marikina and Cainta, turned out to be a highlight of yesterday and today. Kudos. The Filipino is not as helpless and hopeless as it seems, after all. The President was hardly missed. Resiliency in the sense of excusing lack of preparation was not at all evident in those doing things.

The bayanihan spirit of spontaneous helping one another (Ateneo, CBCP and a number of other groups launched drives to collect relief goods) plus the contemporary spirit of for example having highly modern evacuation centers in Marikina (link) combined to deal with a perennial scourge. There were some of the netizens who did remember that overbuilding – even over canals and streams as well as natural flooding areas – and garbage clogging drains were part of the causes. Certainly there is more than can be done here, especially to avoid Manila Bay spitting back. Possibly the key is “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,  Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”. Another of course is to start with what is necessary, then do what is possible – another basic principle in setting priorities. That easy?

Barangays and polders

Far-flung barangays, especially 500 years ago when the Philippines had only 600 thousand people, relied on their own resiliency to survive. Probably even 120 years ago, with not even 10 million Filipinos, it was similar. One still had to take a steamship to get to storm-ridden Bikol or Samar. The strength of storms hadn’t increased yet due to global warming though, and it could be that people still followed some old native wisdom not to build in certain places. Anywhere one goes in the world, the poorest parts of cities were usually those near the river – even Au in Munich, which in southern German means a low lying meadow near the river. Even scientifically minded people should not look down upon, or underestimate folk wisdom. Tribes on the Andamans and Nicobars survived the 2005 tsunami by moving to higher ground (link). There are stories of Bikol people having similar strategies with storms. For all we know, native healers noticed patterns in clouds and wind before storms came and were the ones who warned the chiefs to keep the village safe. Practical adaptations like houses on stilts were part of a culture which was both ready and resilient.

Need is the driver of invention. A Filipino visitor to Europe recently noted that many trash cans here have no lids and windows have no screens (link) – leading to a lot of flies in the recent heat wave over here. On the other hand, houses here have tilted roofs – to keep snow from piling up. Romans described what later became the Netherlands as a country that was neither land nor sea. Yet the Dutch made the most out of it. Waterschapen or water boards were among their first democratic institutions to take care of water in every respect (link): “Punishments meted out by water boards were fines for misdemeanors such as emptying waste in the nearest canal; however, according to various historical documents, the death penalty was used more than once for serious offenders who threatened dike safety or water quality.” The collective effort of making one’s own land – very literally – can be compared with what it took to build the Banaue rice terraces, or the Inca irrigation systems in the Andes. The Afsluitdijk (link) crowns centuries of work, and fulfills the motto of its chief engineer Cornelius Lely, that “a people that lives builds for its future”.

Up and Down the Country

American officials in the early 20th century described the Tagalogs as one people. There is some sense in that as they spoke the same language with several dialects (like the marked Batangas dialect) already then. Tondo as the settlement at the mouth of the Pasig river in the large natural harbor of Manila Bay existed for centuries, even before Malays established what became Maynila or later Intramuros. Certainly the economic links with the fish-rich Laguna de Bay already formed a country in the sense of people who constantly interact with one another. Probably Spanish times helped spread Tagalog upwards all the way to Nueva Ecija. Certainly if an archipelago is not yet fully united in an abstract sense, ecological and economic areas are practical ways of dealing with common interests and resources. The Pharaohs of Upper and Lower Egypt certainly had an important role in resolving how water was distributed between the fertile delta and the upriver communities. At the very least, leaders should try to work for the collective prosperity of a common area  – unity often arises out of that. For that, leaders need a sense of the whole and the future.

Going up and down the Isar river near Munich, one senses how an entire river was tamed for those who live along its banks. From the Sylvenstein reservoir upstream, whose water is sometimes let out preemptively before heavy rains – in order to be able to keep those from affecting Munich with its 1.4 million people. Canals along the Isar help regulate the river before, in and after Munich, but also have a history as passageways for timber chopped down in the mountains – an old industry. Likewise many small hydroelectric plants – still in use – interrupt these canals, including locks. Munich’s central heating plant takes up water from the river before the city, heats it up and puts int back into the canals after it has heated large parts of the town. The canals and creeks within Munich are laid dry in early spring, before the water in the mountains melts, to clean them. There is a large artificial lake north of Munich to help regulate water flow, additionally clean the water coming from the city – even if Munich has a huge sewage treatment plant which cleans the dirty water from the city before it goes into the river, in a process involving algae and bacteria.

The Babaylan of Christmas Present

Rizal in his novels describes the Pasig River and the Laguna Lake including Talim Island very well. One feels that he knew his terrain, his countryside. Do Filipinos still know their terrain that well? One cannot immediately get to the level of Munich, which is like cleaning a toilet with a toothbrush. But it isn’t impossible to clean up things. Iloilo managed to clean up its river. Could be, or course, that many inhabitants of Manila don’t truly see it as their home. Many people who just came there. Short-sighted, narrow self-interest and greed have not helped. Nor has petty politicking helped.  Previous admins always had their mistakes. But the population density – and the newfound affluence – of today makes strategies that worked for barangays even 120 years ago unrealistic. According to a Bloomberg news report (link), 54 thousand were now evacuated in Metro Manila.

Looking at the cars that landed in the Marikina river hurts. Owning more means more to protect. Filipinos who work in international firms will know the value of the time lost due to those floods. That is a far cry from the sense of time we had in the Philippines of the 1970s, when hours went by. Resilience is good. Readiness is better. Foresight is needed. System thinking. Who will be up to it? DOST Project NOAH, very useful in predicting flood levels, was defunded by the present admin (link) and had to retreat to being a mere UP research project, bereft of its national sensor network.

One may be tempted to dismiss the fake Manila Bay clean-up drive of Manila Mayor Erap Estrada as the foolishness of an old clown. But unfortunately it isn’t that simple. Mila Aguilar, who has experienced decades of Philippine history closely, describes the present situation like this (link):

..Failure to maintain that flood control system in the past two years has been the result of:

1. Focus on divisive politics instead of good government.

2. Extreme focus on a fake drug war that kills instead of rehabilitating the poor, whether they be real addicts or not.

3. Return of gross corruption and 60 percent commissions on road projects, resulting in sloppy work that fills up culverts instead of emptying or building them, and a flurry to start them even in the midst of the rainy season.

4. Utter failure of local governments to clean up culverts and creeks of garbage, the money probably not being there.

5. Widespread demoralization among the urban poor, who because they are the primary targets of killings, price increases and insults on their persons, will naturally not cooperate in cleaning up their surroundings.

The garbage that floats out of culverts and creeks all over the National Capital Region is but a symptom of the vomit that the nation feels in its gut over the present greed..

Babaylans of old may have felt disaster coming in the wind and clouds. Raja Duterte has no seers. Yet this is visible for all to see: a hanging bridge in Rizal demolished by a flashflood. Serious masses of water coming down the river. Anyone who knows rivers knows the sheer power water can have.

Flashflood destroyed the Hanging Bridge connecting Sitio Wawa and Sitio Sto. Nino. Large part of Sitio Wawa is inaccessible by vehicles and people need to find alternative routes by foot to reach their homes. The Barangay San Rafael staffs are already assisting and on the move to help those who are affected.These footages were captured to help the LGU assess the situation and see the extent of the damages caused by the flash flood.Stay safe everyone and lets pray for the rain to stop.

Gepostet von Edzon Sison am Samstag, 11. August 2018

The Babaylan of Christmas Future

Famous author Ninotchka Rosca would probably have been a babaylan in the old Philippines. Her common sense about both the past and the present give her a good sense of what might happen. She says this on Facebook, and it sounds almost like a scary vision of the future to come (link):

Shortly after super-typhoon Hai-yan (Yolanda) hit the Philippines, I wrote a piece for Yahoo on how the word “resilient” was actually an insult; that to apply it to what Filipinos were undergoing was to minimize the disaster which had claimed lives, wiped out towns, villages and at least one city, driving them to starvation and helplessness and the prostitution even of children… And dang, hundreds of Filipinos took umbrage. So dearies, because you are resilient, nobody’s fixing your canals, your waterways; nobody’s stopping construction and over-development; nobody’s fixing your garbage disposal system; and the mega shopping malls are building over what should’ve been rivers flowing to the sea, the mouth of the sea itself is being stoppered through land reclamation… Because being resilient means you can survive the worst and the worst will hence be your condition of existence. .

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me.” is Scrooge’s reaction to the future in “A Christmas Carol”. Would a Filipino just laugh?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12 August 2018

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You Raise Me Up

is one of the theme songs at Duterte-related gatherings. It was sung today in South Korea, though not by him, and was requested by the crowd in Hong Kong not too long ago. Could the theme of this song be one of the keys to why so many Filipinos seem to NEED Duterte somehow? Let us have a look at the words of the refrain:

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

A Duterte supporter I know recently told me that the poor get more respect now in the Philippines due to Duterte. My answer was “I don’t know” – in that context more of an “I don’t quite believe that”. But how do people in the overseas “Filipino barangays” feel when their “King’s entourage” comes to “Meet and Greet” (link) like in Seoul? Maybe like teens when their favorite star comes? But they aren’t teens. But maybe they are like teens in one way. Lack of confidence. So they derive a bit of it by admiring a “lodi”, which is the recent Filipino slang word for idol.

Pulling others down

No issues with upliftment, as people need a sense of dignity that comes from self-worth. If “you raise me up” was all there was to President Duterte, he might be for the Filipinos what Martin Luther King once was to Afro-Americans. But there is also a side more like Malcolm X with his controversial anti-white statements. My tweet (link) says this:
The President has freed Filipinos from the colonial shackles of “good manners and right conduct”.
Freedom from hypocrisy and servility, called “decency” by yellows, is the achievement of our times.
Finally, no more forced bowing and smiling when hacienderos pass by. /sarcasm (bold for clarity)
There were the times when sakadas had to give forced grins to hacienderos and these smiled “benevolently” back. Deep inside, many Filipinos doing simple jobs abroad may still have a memory of of much more feudal days past. Someone who skillfully uses those complexes towards old overlords and colonial masters manipulates those feelings.

Lowering all standards

There is rage for sure. Muhammad Ali (a follower of Malcolm X) used his swearing as a form of defiance and pride. “We wish you a Merry Kano, we wish you Amerikano, we wish you Amerikano and a Happy Negro” is a Filipino joke about a Christmas carol, with a bit of sly insight in it. Uncle Toms were always “Happy”. Ali was defiantly rude.

But Ali had style in his rudeness, his cussing was poetry. Duterte’s cursing is not. Especially not the perverse stuff. The “jokes” about the dead Australian missionary and kissing IMF President Lagarde (link) might appeal to certain Pinoys who feel white women are out of their league, or even “white men and mestizos are taking all our women”.

Lowering standards for public servants while portraying those who take the effort to educate themselves as somehow being “un-Filipino” (Leni Robredo’s daughters, for example, and she is NO landlord) encourages dumbing down the entire nation. Even Marcos (Sr.) said “intellectual elitism is the only valid elitism” in a speech I heard myself once.

On others shoulders

Now I don’t fully agree with Marcos Sr. there. There are highfalutin intellectual elitists who put down normal people. Or specialists who talk down to laymen when they should be providing the service of somewhat simplifying things. American science books awakened my STEM interest because they explain well. German science books were harder.

That was decades ago and German books explain better – or have I become smarter? But they made me feel stupid. Now how stupid and incapable are Filipinos going to feel if everything in their own country is done by the Chinese? And dependency to a new elite is taught? Will it be “I am strong when I am on your shoulders” – but only then?

Really being more

BMW Isetta, Bj. 1955 (2015-08-26 2997 b Ausschnitt)Instead of “raised up to more than I can be”, why not BE more – like this here (link)? The BMW Isetta was one of the most successful products of BMW in the 1950s and 1960s. The small car whose picture I have posted in this article. Affordable for the general public then, still very thrifty. Big gas guzzlers were for American GIs.

There is a bit of a cult following for big gas guzzling US oldtimers over here in Munich, probably nourished by those times. But imagine if everybody had done whatever was necessary to buy US cars back then. Little would have been rebuilt, and most probably BMW would not have had enough incoming money to finance research and become what it is today.

Patience and solidarity

Germans still drove “baduy” (uncool) little cars in a time when Manila already had the newest American cars, really? Unfortunately, the new Filipino middle class of the 1960s voted for Marcos and martial law because many other Filipinos were swelling the slums and cramping their (life)style. Marcos promised discipline with “selda ng lasing”.

Cells for drunks is what that means. Does this sound familiar to the even more brutal war against drugs these days? Like the newcomers to the middle class in the 1960s, the new Filipino middle class today cares mainly about itself. Somehow the new German middle class in the 1930s was similarly selfish, despising those seen as “asozial” (link).

Postwar West Germany tried to leave as few as possible behind. That this no longer was done as consistently since unity is one reason for resurgent populism. Yet the lessons of the successful rebuilding still apply – better to help others keep pace and life is better. Meanwhile, postwar Manila saw its first slums and gated communities (link).

Now the Philippines has a highly antisocial TRAIN law which puts burdens on the poor via indirect taxes which raise prices – a truism. Here it is those who wanted tax cuts at all costs, even if at expense of the poor, who are antisocial and lack solidarity.  Even the 4Ps (link) which could help many out of poverty are now being considered for removal.

Will the poor in the Philippines get even poorer and risk getting shot as drug suspects, or just stay poor and hope to be “raised up” by the existence of their Lodi Duterte? Many urban poor during Martial Law idolized Imelda Marcos. Will Filipinos now acquiesce to new masters, even idolize them, while these smugly take their seat? I really wonder.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 June 2018



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Duterte said he wants to die like Rizal

Mauser m98if found guilty by the ICC (link). Absurd, as Rizal hated Filipinos killing Filipinos! In El Filibusterismo (link), a section about Filipino soldiers in the Guardia Civil makes this very clear:

Yet, among the soldiers there was one who looked with disapproving eyes upon so much wanton cruelty, as he marched along silently with his brows knit in disgust. At length, seeing that the guard, not satisfied with the branch, was kicking the prisoners that fell, he could no longer restrain himself but cried out impatiently, “Here, Mautang, let them alone!”

Mautang turned toward him in surprise. “What’s it to you, Carolino?” he asked.

“To me, nothing, but it hurts me,” replied Carolino. “They’re men like ourselves.”

“It’s plain that you’re new to the business!” retorted Mautang with a compassionate smile. “How did you treat the prisoners in the war?”

“With more consideration, surely!” answered Carolino.

Mautang remained silent for a moment and then, apparently having discovered the reason, calmly rejoined, “Ah, it’s because they are enemies and fight us, while these—these are our own countrymen.”

Then drawing nearer to Carolino he whispered, “How stupid you are! They’re treated so in order that they may attempt to resist or to escape, and then—bang!”

Carolino made no reply.

Luma na iyan! (that’s just old)

Though the time is late 19th century, it could be about the PNP or AFP today. Doesn’t what Mautang says to his fellow Filipino Guardia Civil sound like “Nanlaban” (link)? Except time does crawl a bit in old novels, something we media junkies are no longer are used to – so I fast forward:

“Shoot, Carolino! What are you aiming at?” called the corporal.

At that instant a man appeared upon a rock, making signs with his rifle.

“Shoot him!” ordered the corporal with a foul oath.

Three guards obeyed the order, but the man continued standing there, calling out at the top of his voice something unintelligible.

Carolino paused, thinking that he recognized something familiar about that figure, which stood out plainly in the sunlight. But the corporal threatened to tie him up if he did not fire, so Carolino took aim and the report of his rifle was heard. The man on the rock spun around and disappeared with a cry that left Carolino horror-stricken.

Another bit of fast forward to the horrible end:

The soldiers turned to see Carolino frightfully pale, his mouth hanging open, with a look in which glimmered the last spark of reason, for Carolino, who was no other than Tano, Cabesang Tales’ son, and who had just returned from the Carolines, recognized in the dying man his grandfather, Tandang Selo. No longer able to speak, the old man’s dying eyes uttered a whole poem of grief—and then a corpse, he still continued to point to something behind the rock.

Ang corny naman! (how mushily sentimental)

The wannabe tough guy, what should I care response from a many a middle class Filipino from the Marcos era or today’s coming dictatorship could be, oh come on, it could hardly happen that any person accidentally shoots his grandfather, much less to me. I don’t know any addicts or NPAs! Instead of having the compassion and humanity to realize that it is just good fortune that keeps one safe in a country where repression is the norm. The following section of the Fili could also be from the times of Martial Law in the Philippines, especially in difficult places like Samar or Mindanao:

Matanglawin was the terror of Luzon. His band had appeared in one province where it was least expected as make a descent upon another that was preparing to resist it. It burned a sugar-mill in Batangas and destroyed the crops, on the following day it murdered the Justice of the Peace of Tiani, and on the next took possession of the town of Cavite, carrying off the arms from the town hall. The central provinces, from Tayabas to Pangasinan, suffered from his depredations, and his bloody name extended from Albay in the south to Kagayan in the north. The towns, disarmed through mistrust on the part of a weak government, fell easy prey into his hands—at his approach the fields were abandoned by the farmers, the herds were scattered, while a trail of blood and fire marked his passage. Matanglawin laughed at the severe measures ordered by the government against the tulisanes, since from them only the people in the outlying villages suffered, being captured and maltreated if they resisted the band, and if they made peace with it being flogged and deported by the government, provided they completed the journey and did not meet with a fatal accident on the way. Thanks to these terrible alternatives many of the country folk decided to enlist under his command.

As a result of this reign of terror, trade among the towns, already languishing, died out completely. The rich dared not travel, and the poor feared to be arrested by the Civil Guard, which, being under obligation to pursue the tulisanes, often seized the first person encountered and subjected him to unspeakable tortures. In its impotence, the government put on a show of energy toward the persons whom it suspected, in order that by force of cruelty the people should not realize its weakness—the fear that prompted such measures.

President Duterte has offered Lumads 20 thousand pesos each per killed NPAs (link) – a bounty that is the same as the alleged bounty for police who kill drug suspects. Lumads whose schools he had threatened to bomb just a year ago (link) for allegedly teaching against the government.

Bounties like that can create innocent victims. In the extreme, they can create the likes of former Cabesang Tales, the barangay captain turned into the bandit Matanglawin by debt and abuse. That his son is forced to go to the Carolines as a soldier before that happens is part of the whole tragedy.

Those Westernized heroes did nothing!

Many Filipinos derided the likes of Rizal and the Propaganda, seeing the likes of Matanglawin and Bonifacio, as well as other fighters before and after them, as the real saviors of the Philippines. Just Westernized konyos, jerks who went on junket to Europe on their parent’s money and did nothing. Wrote stupid, long-winded, sentimentally mushy novels nobody today understands anyway and without any damned relevance to the life of real Filipinos. “Social relevance” was a word one leftist teacher liked to use very often. What I fear is that prejudice and bad reading got the better of them.

Of course the Noli and the Fili are translated horribly badly in their Tagalog versions. I helped myself through high school with the English translations. Well, I am by definition a konyo, aren’t I? But a proper translation – and annotations to make certain historical references better understood, would alienate less students – and teachers! Because I wonder how much our own teachers got the references to certain aspects of European history, or the 19th century Philippines teaching Rizal. This made Rizal – just like Heneral Luna BEFORE the movie made him so real – seem foreign.

Sure, there are now those like Ambeth Ocampo who have written Rizal without the Overcoat (link) which is I guess the right thing to do in the Philippines. I also wear an overcoat at this time of year in Munich, where the temperatures have been consistently around zero. Rizal, although he wrote in Spanish, had a strong instinctive feel for the suffering of his own people, a lot of empathy. For sure, there were those like Bonifacio who come closer to the original native warrior ideal idolized by both leftist and rightists in the Philippines. But it is so wrong to see him as merely self-aggrandizing!

Just shut up!

Because this is the main accusation leveled at many intellectuals and writers in the Philippines – don’t talk too much, either join the rest of us in the fields, factories and the fight, or just shut up! Talk is useless, only action counts. Even if it is knee-jerk action which is not thought out at all.

Thinking of a certain complexity is seen as mere grandstanding. The dearth of real thinking in the Philippines makes it impossible for many to see the difference between pilosopo (sophist) and philosopher (real thinker). Or between valid and fake arguments, making political debate HARD. Except for a few talents like Pinoy Ako Blog who manage to bridge the chasm between logic and common sense in the Philippines. Yes, logic is often seen as a tool for showing intellectual superiority, not as a useful tool to make more of our observations and experience. Why, why?

Padre Millon not only used the depreciative tu with the students, like a good friar, but he also addressed them in the slang of the markets, a practise that he had acquired from the professor of canonical law: whether that reverend gentleman wished to humble the students or the sacred decrees of the councils is a question not yet settled, in spite of the great attention that has been given to it.

This question, instead of offending the class, amused them, and many laughed—it was a daily occurrence. But the sleeper did not laugh; he arose with a bound, rubbed his eyes, and, as though a steam-engine were turning the phonograph, began to recite.

“The name of mirror is applied to all polished surfaces intended to produce by the reflection of light the images of the objects placed before said surfaces. From the substances that form these surfaces, they are divided into metallic mirrors and glass mirrors—”

“Stop, stop, stop!” interrupted the professor. “Heavens, what a rattle! We are at the point where the mirrors are divided into metallic and glass, eh? Now if I should present to you a block of wood, a piece of kamagong for instance, well polished and varnished, or a slab of black marble well burnished, or a square of jet, which would reflect the images of objects placed before them, how would you classify those mirrors?”

Whether he did not know what to answer or did not understand the question, the student tried to get out of the difficulty by demonstrating that he knew the lesson, so he rushed on like a torrent.

“The first are composed of brass or an alloy of different metals and the second of a sheet of glass, with its two sides well polished, one of which has an amalgam of tin adhering to it.”

“Tut, tut, tut! That’s not it! I say to you ‘Dominus vobiscum,’ and you answer me with ‘Requiescat in pace!’ ”..

It continues, and ends with the usually over-obedient Penitente standing up:

“Enough, Padre, enough! Your Reverence can put all the marks against me that you wish, but you haven’t the right to insult me. Your Reverence may stay with the class, I can’t stand any more.” Without further farewell, he stalked away.

Proud and sensitive

The professor could have prompted his student to think for himself, possibly by lessening his fear of the academe, but he proceeds to humiliate the student from Batangas named Placido Penitente to the extent that he stammers. I have looked up the two types of mirrors (self-reflecting, called metal mirrors in some old books, or those with glass and something behind to make the glass reflect) and it takes a little bit of thinking to get behind the classification. Absence of fear helps in thinking, but Filipinos are often “proud and sensitive” – a description by a female American colonial educator! There was a situation in Latin class, Grade 11 or 12 in Germany, where the teacher was similarly sarcastic, I was still totally sensitive just a few years away from the Philippines, and I went silent. But he was by no means the asshole that Rizal describes in his novel – a Dominican at the UST!

The American lady (no source I quote from memory) wrote that excessive Filipino ambition came from a culture “proud and arrogant” (American) encountering a “proud and sensitive” (Filipino) culture. Well, Spanish culture is arrogant as well. And Joe America mentions face and power as currency, even in the area of knowledge (link): in blog debates between commenters, you seldom see flexibility or concession. It signifies weakness. Disagreements are two bricks whacking at one another. Solution is not the goal. Preservation of face, and power, are the goals… Filipinos deny the value of “trial and error” as scientific method in daily life. They instead waste energy defending, covering, ducking, running, attacking, undermining, dodging and digging at others. Somehow, the Spanish friar is internalized, many still are the same kind of jerks arguing.

The depth with which Rizal describes the humiliation of the UST student is an indication that he may have experienced it himself or seen others treated the same way. The education system of the Philippines may be more modern now, but in parts still has been and is – reactionary and unfair. Otherwise, the anti-intellectualism of (San Bedan) Duterte and (UST graduate) Mocha Uson would not strike a chord among so many people. The Spanish friars of today may have, to some, been Manilans who mocked the Visayan accents of their students, or the bad English of a poor student. This entire labelling of Rizal and his fellow propagandists as elitists who refused to get their hands dirty is nonsense. Rizal wanted to use his intellect as a tool to better his country, and wanted his people to learn in order to advance. Other Asian countries took his cue. Rizal is known by many.

But Filipinos today seem to WANT to be dumb. Or who wants Filipinos to think they are stupid? Too stupid to research Benham Rise, for example (link)? Or too stupid to discipline themselves (link), and therefore needing dictatorship? Freedom begins inside. Freedom begins in the heart and in the mind. This is probably a message Rizal only partly was able to convey, as he died young and his novels are still read wrongly. Who fears a free people? Those who shot Rizal back in 1896.

The Spaniards are now gone. So is it the “putangina” EU – or ICC? Or same skin, same people?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 February 2018


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Atio Castillo died

Christian crosson Sept. 17, 2017, probably because of hazing. The details make me angry in their sheer perversion (link) and as Justice Secretary Aguirre himself does not want the details of the affidavit upon which the article is based made public, I am reprinting it as a comment after this article. Why so bad? It isn’t just the sheer physical brutality, it is the degradation of the person that shocks me. Not that he had to run errands for his brods – this is something also known, for example, from biker clubs. There is a final point where I would have said no, creatures like you can never be my brothers:

A glass is passed around. Atio sees masters spit inside the glass. What he doesn’t know is there is a second glass containing egg white. Atio is then blindfolded and is told to drink the content of the glass, which he thinks is full with saliva but in fact only contains albumen. The light is turned off. Masters tell Atio to remove his clothes. As Atio becomes naked, the light is turned on, then turned off, and on again.

This sounds almost as humiliating as something a self-confessed pimp in a shocking Austrian autobiography admitted he did to a woman he was making part of his “stable”. Also a kind of evil initiation. A little later, Atio allegedly passes out after being hit a number of times between posterior and knees with a so-called wooden “paddle”. But what if it was different? What if he, wanting to remain at least a bit of man, said stop and they reacted? This is what they allegedly did before the final stage:

Atio goes around, as if begging with his hands held together. The masters then beat Atio’s fingers using a wooden spatula while he is being indoctrinated by his lords. The masters then tell Atio to again do stretching and pumping exercises. They order Atio to “hold your balls” before he goes to the next stage of the final initiation.

“His lords”. “Masters”. This has shades of a sadomasochistic ritual. Undertaken by future lawyers of the Philippines, no less. One wonders what really happened. Because there are those in the Philippines for whom the slightest protest, even lack of subservience is disrespect. Remember Kian delos Santos, whose last words were “leave me alone, I have exams tomorrow”? Men who are used to playing God might see the slightest resistance as “arrogance”. The Filipino was made to be either timid or domineering based on position. But true character like that of Trillanes also exists.

Obviously PMA does create a number of individuals of character. If at all, this is what initiations are for. Teaching young men how to face adversity, how to face the world, strengthen them. Not to make subservience and thuggery, twin banes of the Philippines, values in themselves. German fraternity rituals of fencing in order to scar faces (Mensur) at least had man-to-man combat. Or going back to the Philippine past, the first batok or tattoo usually meant risking your own head in real combat. There is a world of difference between teaching warriors – and teaching torturers.

There is a certain sort of loathsome bully common in the Philippines today, used to abusing power. Probably hardly able to truly hold his own in a real fight, or lead a group to victory in battle. Probably not even a good leader in an office setting – just used to making others do the hard work, like the servants to the dirty work at home. Would Filipino tokhang police stand a chance against truly well-armed drug dealers like some in Rio de Janeiro? Or even just armed ones? I doubt it. What are the Aegis Juris hazers? Deranged boys from Lord of the Flies, I think. Not real men.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 Nov. 2017


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Mindfulness, not Perfection

Ananas~May 2008-1is what one should aim for. Negligence can land you on the DOLE in most developed countries. Not the Department of Labor and Employment, not the pineapple firm, and I know it should be written in small letters but this mistake was intentional. Negligence is behind errors like the recent one by PNA, showing a Dole logo on a news item about DOLE, or “Stop SHAIMING Duterte” placards. Mindfulness is behind the high quality of Japanese artisanship and manufacturing. Quality assurance measures how many errors are made – zero errors as we know are impossible.

The Filipino excuse is usually “we are human”.  Of course. But the moment we start neglecting matters is a slippery slope. Human beings are by nature lazy. In the Stone Age, it may have helped us survive by saving energy. Nowadays it can lead to us becoming the pigs others eat for dinner. On Twitter, Joe America reminds us (link): “Be smart. Remember to exercise your mind as well as body. Get out of the 140 character attention span by reading longer articles regularly.”  Which reminds me of the last time I read an entire book end to end. I am feeling very ashaimed of myself.

Doesn’t make sense to think of oneself as useless every time one makes a mistake. There is a Spanish journalist in one of Rizal’s two novels who says that the best way to keep the natives in place is to tell them every day how useless they are. Now, Filipinos like to do that to each other.

Strive for self-improvement, help others succeed. That should be the way. Not people who want to discipline others yet do not even have enough mindfulness to avoid pineappling their publications. Who mess up catching major shabu shipments while killing small dealers. Or was that no mistake?

Covering up in order to look perfect, or lowering one’s standards so that it “no longer matters” will not bring anything up to speed either. The true and absolute judge of things shall be competition. For international trade and tourism, for example. The world doesn’t kill you. It just overtakes you.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12. August 2017

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A Malay Leader

Joko Widodo 2014 official portraitis in Hamburg these days – representing his country in the G-20. Joko Widodo if dressed like the crowd would not stand out in most parts of the Philippines, he smiles much like a Filipino yet manages to look dignified at the same time. He is even eyeing that Indonesia join the Financial Action Task Force or FATF (link) – something the Philippines is far from even imagining (link).

President Duterte on the other hand looked terrible in badly worn military clothing on his attempt to go to Marawi (link) – stopped due to bad weather. The wrong undershirt and loafer shoes with weird socks. Most Southeast Asian men manage to look better in slippers and traditional peasant clothing, yes there are pictures that show barely clothed native warriors with enormous dignity – like those of Eduardo Masferre (link).

Hare and Tortoise

Indonesia became independent 3 years later than the Philippines – in 1949 – and was seemingly way behind then. Yet I have heard stories that unlike the Philippines, they bought the houses and lots of their Embassies in Europe way back in the 1950s and 1960s. A minor detail, yet it shows more strategic thinking. Other evidences were how students abroad were taken care of, and how technology was not only bought, but skills transferred. Today, Indonesia builds its own naval boats.

In the 1960s, the Philippines was richer than South Korea and behind only Japan. The Deutsche Mark and the Peso had a 1:1 exchange rate. Of course photos of Manila then showed big American cars, and English-speaking Filipinos often considered themselves superior to their fellow Asians, even until the 1970s just laughing about them. Now Indonesia is helping the Philippines patrol common waters (link) and is clearly positioning itself as a regional leader (link) – even in opposition to China.

The strategic aspect

Indonesia had enormous crises, including a spate of killings in 1965 that by far dwarf anything the Philippines has ever seen, even now. And the Suhartos are also in the notorious Top 10 most corrupt worldwide list – together with Marcos and Estrada. So what has made Indonesia succeed, and the Philippines seem to keep having phases of growth that turn out to be wasted momentum in the end – the 1960s, the mid-1990s, and most probably the recent boom as well? Maybe also the 1890s. And the 1930s.

My previous article dealt with how many Filipinos like to show off materially, spend on consumerism. Napoles’ daughter partying with Justin Timberlake comes to mind. Or the need to send one’s kids to Oxford at all costs. Another article (link) dealt with Filipino impatience in wanting to buy the latest technology always – without slowly building the capabilities to handle it. The MRT-3 fiasco is one result. Indonesia for all its mistakes managed to have people like B.J. Habibie (link) in leadership positions. There are also those who say that inspite of all corruption, the Suhartos at least spent most of their money in Indonesia, unlike the Marcoses who bought jewelry or condos in New York. Economically speaking this makes sense, as local spending fuels local jobs. And of course it is smarter to develop own industries like Habibie managed to do. Somewhere I read that German public transport is heavily subsidized. But where does Germany most probably buy its train parts? Not abroad like the MRT-3 does.

The cultural aspect

The Malay language (link) existed as a lingua franca throughout the region, making it easy to establish Bahasa Indonesia as a national language, without the conflicts that the Philippines had with Visayans rejecting Tagalog as the national language. English is fine, but it is probably easier if your school language is related to your language at home. I know Germans who had to learn High German in Grade 1, having spoken a dialect at home. But at least the structures are similar, making it easier to “migrate”.

As for state: the old empires of Majapahit and Sri-Vijaya were on future Malaysian and Indonesian soil, respectively. So there was already an idea of how a real state works – unlike the Philippine state which was established colonially and still is a bit of a foreign body for many Filipinos. Often it seems that the Philippine state is seen as spoils of victory to be exploited, like in colonial times – not as something of long-term value to be maintained properly. Plus Filipinos act as if their leaders are personally known to them, using first names. And as if a state could be run like a barangay, where the datu whimsically changes the rules based on favoritism or mere caprice, where the favors of the state automatically accrue only to those who support the winning datu. The principles of utang na loob recently seen in President Duterte’s giving positions, or who was taken along on government trips, as if the presidential plane was merely a balanghai, a ship of the datu. Or Duterte’s personal view towards both AFP and PNP.

Back to dignity: the native elite of the Philippines was coopted first by the Spanish, then by the Americans – and even by the Japanese for a while. They usually managed to act like snakes shedding their skins for new languages and styles – to the extent that they are seen as foreign by many Filipinos. Colonial criticism of Filipino natives was also used by native elites to keep their countrymen in place. It is no small wonder that the behavior of Duterte and his group often resemble a caricature of the Indio as described by the most racist among Spanish friars. And that their attitude is the exact reverse of colonial racism which put foreign whites above native whites, mestizos below whites and natives at the lowest rank – with the strange exception that it places the Chinese where the whites used to be, and seems to a favor a number of Chinese mestizos. The damaged self-esteem caused by colonialism is at the root of many dysfunctional behaviors, including what is happening just now. Those perceived to be “oppressive” are hated on: the UN, the USA, the EU, educated people, old middle classes, the Church. Those perceived to be “lower” are put under pressure: Filipino Muslims (link) and slum dwellers for example. Weirdly, affirmation is looked for among those one claims to hate: “NASA and the Best President in the Solar System”, anyone? The language/learning issue and the barangay mentality are easier to fix than self-esteem. Maybe wearing clothes properly is a start? They don’t have to be new.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 8 July 2017






Luma na iyan!

Old House, Baaoang paboritong pananalita ng iilang Pilipinong nakakainis. Baka sabihin pa nilang BADUY. Ngayon naman, may isang Badoy na nagrereklamo tungkol sa mga lumang gamit na pinakinabangan ni Bisepresidente Robredo para sa kanyang anak sa Harvard. Sa bandang huli, si Badoy ang nagmukhang bakya dahil hindi niya yata alam na normal sa US ang makinabang sa lumang gamit. Basura ang tawag niya doon. Salitang kastila ito. May basura ba ang katutubong Pilipino? Ewan ko lang.

Baduy at Badoy

Dalawang extreme na uri ng Pilipino ang nadanas ko. Meron iyong mga galing sa hirap, marunong magtipid, alam pakinabangan ang lahat ng bagay-bagay sa paligid nila. Meron ding mga galing sa hirap na kapag kumita ng unang pera, gastos agad para sa pakitang-tao. Gustong pumorma, gustong magpasiklab, gustong magpasikat. Minsan pagtatawanan pa nila iyong unang grupo, mga baduy daw. Samantalang para sa akin, mas Badoy iyong pangalawang grupo. Walang bibilib sa mga hanggang porma lang.

Tulad ng iilang mga migrante sa New York, halos bagong salta, na mahilig magkuwento kung paano sila magshopping sa New Jersey. Matagal na ito, pero hindi ko malimutan kung paano ako nag-iisip-isip kung ano iyong Sikokos na pinagsasabi nila, iyon pala Seacaucus kung saan may malaking mall. Tuwang-tuwa pa silang magkuwento kung paano “nagalit sa pera” iyong isang kasamahan nila noong isang weekend. Iyan ba ang uri ng Pilipinong gustong ipagmalaki ni Badoy? Eh di wow!

Luma at Basura

May mga Pilipinong nagsasabing luma lang naman daw ang mga building sa Europe. Di bali, maayos namang tignan. Ako naman, naalala ko iyong kintab at ganda ng Ali Mall noong itinayo ito sa Cubao – at kung gaanong kadali itong nagmukhang bulok pagkatapos lang ng isang dekada mahigit. Ang MRT3, dalawang dekada lang bulok na. Ang mga linya sa Berlin, kadalasan mahigit isang daang taon nang tumatakbo, mas maayos pang tignan at tumatakbo ng maayos. Bakit kaya naging ganyan sa Pilipinas?

Siguro dahil naisaloob ng maraming Pilipino ang mababang pagtingin sa kanila ng iilang mga Kastila. Na mga basura raw sila. Baka basura rin sa Espanya ang nagsabi. Ano naman ang ginawa ni Juan at Juana? Binasura ang sariling kultura. Nasaan na ang magagandang mga lumang bahay sa Pilipinas? Sa Europe hindi ginigiba ang luma, binibigyan ng halaga. Binasura ang sariling itsura. Ibinabalot ang sarili sa imported goods, kaya nagpapakatuwad para sa dolyares. Sarili binasura. Sayang.

Pati tao binabasura

Sa mga kalye ng Pilipinas, pati tao ngayon binabasura – nakabalot ang mga ito ng masking tape o packing tape, ewan ko ba kung ano ang tamang tawag doon. Kadalasan doon sa mga lugar nila, ang dami nang basura sa kapaligiran. Baka hindi lang tamang pag-alaga sa gamit, sa tren at building ang dapat matutunan ng Pilipino kundi tamang pag-alaga sa tao – pagdating sa kalusugan, sa pag-aaral, sa makukuhang trabaho. Huwag na iyong maarte at nagmamataas na “Pweh, BASURA”! Tama na iyan.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, ika-2 ng Hulyo 2017

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What is sacred for President Duterte?

(Jeffrey) Philippine Flag TatterdIndependence Day doesn’t seem to be, it isn’t the first time he didn’t come. The Supreme Court might or might not be, as he has flip-flopped on statements whether he would respect their judgement on Martial Law. The (formerly) pro-Western orientation of the Philippines I doubt.

Are the dead sacred for him? If their name is President Ferdinand E. Marcos, most probably. If they are among the many dead in the drug war, most probably not (link) even if they are children (link). Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo was even flushed down the toilet (link). Like some excrement.

Even Stone Age men, yes even Neanderthals respected the dead and buried them properly. Among enemies in war, it was part of the honor code to bury the enemy properly. Most famous were the honors given to Filipino General Gregorio del Pilar by his enemies in battle, the Texas Rangers.

What is even stranger is that so many Filipinos still seem to be callous (manhid) to all of this. What is still sacred to them, one may ask? Has Filipino culture turned into Wowowee, anything goes? A sense of the sacred makes us human beings. Things beyond daily survival that we think matter.

Respect for the dead who have helped build society we live in. Respect for the nation which should benefit all. Respect for laws which keep our egoisms in check. Respect for women. Respect for commitments to others – partners and allies. Is everything just expediency? What can be trusted?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 12. June 2017

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