Archive for category Culture

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

 

 

 

 

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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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Insulting People’s Intelligence

Ronald dela Rosa 073116 (cropped)seems to be a Filipino specialty. Remember Rolando Galman? He was also conveniently dead. Or Mayor Espinosa? “Fought back” when being arrested – inside his cell. Now the gunman at the Resorts World Manila is dead after.. what: getting shot, shooting himself, burning himself – in what order and which of the options are true? Somehow hard to believe he wanted to steal only chips. And how did he get into a casino with a “Baby Armalite”? In Manila where even malls are guarded by security?

The motto of this blog is “the first duty of a man is to think for himself” – something the Cuban Jose Marti said. He was Jose Rizal’s contemporary. Somehow I don’t remember Jose Rizal having written anything similar. Bonifacio much less – he seems to have been the traditional Filipino kuya or elder brother, took over the father role early. I don’t think traditional Filipino families promote much independent thought. What elders say is truth, questioning their opinion is like questioning their authority.

So you see a lot of people repeating the arguments of “Tatay Digong”, “Ate Mocha” – and occasionally even SolGen Calida. Often things brought forth are total nonsense. But from the family onwards through the authoritarian school system, Filipinos are not trained to really think for themselves. Asking WHY is the first step in learning. Unfortunately there are so many who see WHY as questioning not a specific conclusion, but the person being asked and his judgement. They know no “polite inquiry”.

The problem of police killings may indeed be less bad as assumed by the opposition. But the attitude of the administration – brushing away all inquiry, refusing to clarify what really happened – leaves the field to the critics and increases possible suspicion. In fact the pissed-off attitude of President Aquino when inquiries came about Mamasapano also made those who did not like him more suspicious. But putting oneself in the other person’s shoes is even more un-Filipino than inquiry. So forget it.

Not having to confront inquiry also makes those in leadership succumb to lazy thinking – a natural reflex we all have, but I have seen how persistent inquiry keeps you on your toes and prevents you from making the usual simplistic assumptions. Genuine inquiry leads to sharper thinking, especially if one has good sparring partners. This is why I hope that Filipinos continue asking questions – and media helps piece the puzzle of Resorts World Manila together. Hopefully before a stupid Senate hearing starts.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 2. June 2017

 

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Carpio Did Nothing

Carpio-jpg 070737according to Duterte (link). If one goes by “aksiyon” in street talk, maybe. He did not jetski. He did not swear. He did not even invite the Chinese to debate in Manila (link). Of course the winner of a public debate a la Duterte is defined by the crowd who “bilib” in the one who postures. By emotional affinity with the one talking – and the chance to taunt someone who represents something defined as the common enemy. Somewhat like the kind of taunts one has at the football field over here in Europe, the most tribal place we still have over here.

Power

Of course someone with a warlord mindset says he will ignore the Supreme Court and the Constitution (link) on Martial Law.  And his Secretary of Justice will say that the Supreme Court is powerless against a Martial Law OKed by Congress (link). To hell with the laws one has sworn to obey that say otherwise. Almost the same attitude to laws as China which ignores the UNCLOS filing which was indeed pushed by Justice Carpio (link) – they seem to prefer Mao’s “power comes from the barrel of a gun”.

Power is a great aphrodisiac, which Kissinger allegedly once said to Mao, might be something Duterte and Bill Clinton could agree upon. What their daughters think of their fathers in this respect is as yet undocumented. Yet there is a difference of several shades of grey between putting a cigar somewhere, grabbing women by the pussy or joking about soldiers raping women in a war zone. Yeah, he is just joking I hear people say. He isn’t like some Yugoslavian warlords whose men really did such things.

Rules

So sure? Someone who invites non-army troops to join the fray against the Maute group (link) sounds crazy enough. Sounds more like a real warlord for whom every man with a gun is just a hired gun for the powerful, not legitimate troops to defend a Republic and its people. And his man in Congress, Speaker Alvarez, says Congress should listen to the President on Martial Law (link) – which runs completely counter to the separation of powers – executive, legislative, judiciary – the Philippines has in theory.

Of course it does not run counter to the many a Filipinos idea of authority. There is NO equality there, in fact I once heard a Filipino say there has to be a hierarchy of ordering and following, otherwise chaos will ensue. No idea of everyone being under rules that are higher than everyone. No sense of abstraction whatsoever. In that world, someone who “only” files a case before the UN is a useless paper-pusher. Trump and Xi Jinping are respected with their respective gunboats. The UN and EU are not.

Law

Respect by Duterte for someone like Nur Misuari (link) who laid siege to Zamboanga in 2013 basically to “get some respect” – in the same sense as gang leaders in bad neighborhoods – is part of the same logic that only power constantly demonstrated is real power. A logic that only respects those that are willing to go to extremes. Discontent with Filipino institutions, perceived as elitist and ineffective, has been around for a while. But Martial Law, or even worse, Jungle Law are not the answers.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 1st of June 2017

 

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Honeylet and Leni

Cielito Avanceña croprepresent the two major parts of Philippine society – not Mocha and Leni, who are both daughters of judges. One with a tragic twist early in her biography, the other later. Honeylet was a nurse in the United States for four years (link), and women’s names with suffixes as -let or -lyn will almost never be found among the children of the traditional Filipino middle class from which Mocha Uson and Leni both come from. And like many from simpler backgrounds who have come to money, there is a certain initial hunger for conspicious consumption (link) which is not surprising – I have observed this in Filipino migrants when they earn their first bigger money. Doesn’t have to mean that it will go into endless greed like that of Imelda, which I think could have been born more out of narcissistic injury (link), defined as:

“vulnerability in self-esteem which makes narcissistic people very sensitive to ‘injury’ from criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty. They react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.”

Although this description also fits many aspects of Duterte and Mocha. What do they have in common with Imelda? Imelda was the poor cousin of a rich family, often looked down upon. Duterte was the black sheep – of a rich and powerful family. Mocha is a bit of an outcast from her original background, with or without her dancing.

Filipinos and Pilipinos

The traditional middle class can personally relate to the Philippine Republic. Many of them, looking at Facebook, are either friends or friends of friends. Many of them have had parents or even grandparents or ancestors who worked for the government – or were public figures. So there is a maximum of 2-3 degrees of separation between them and nearly anyone important now or before. The identification with the legacy built by so many is personal. Not so with the many -lets or -lyns of the Philippines.

Often they will be (children of) migrants or OFWs who themselves were from simple peasant or working-class families, maybe with an enlisted soldier or a policeman in the mix, who now have a little more. If they have some degree of connection to the traditional middle class, it might be through having worked for one of those families – if these families remember them which not all do. I have seen on the Internet that Raissa Robles’ post about Honeylet’s shopping has generated some angry reactions – which do not really surprise me. It is like “why don’t you let our kind have a share of things also, you rich people”? In his book “Motherless Tongues”, Prof. Vicente Rafael mentions the simple people of the Philippines as  being “acknowledged only to be dismissed” (Page 95, The Cell Phone and the Crowd, Postscript) and mentions the EDSA 3 battlecry as being “Nandyan na kami! Maghanda na kayo!” (we are here, now be prepared). Pilipinos warning Filipinos, two major subcultures often clashing.

The outcast Filipinos

It is outcast Filipinos (with F) like Mocha who are angrier at Leni than anyone from the simple people (Pilipinos with P). Or has anyone heard Honeylet rage against Leni? The destructive, narcissistic rage of outcasts (not all outcasts have that, notably I did not see any of that in Erap for all his faults) tapping the desire for acknowledgement and respect from the simple people is dangerous. This is why it hates the real acknowledgement and respect that Leni and those like her give to the people, calls it “plastic”.

The outcast Filipinos will destroy the entire Philippines, burn the house down if only to take revenge against those that they feel have slighted them. A corrupt President Binay, who represents Pilipinos (with P) moving up, would have been less dangerous to the Philippines than Duterte is now. Now if Filipinos are in general able to acknowledge and respect Pilipinos like VP Leni sincerely does, a lot can be won, the forces of darkness can be dispelled. Yet I do not yet see this point in time reached yet.

The Pinoy Ako Blog (link) delivers the point in a way more common people understand: Dear Honeylet.. Kumusta naman po ang experience sa pagsakay sa private plane na ang pera ng taong bayan ang gumastos? At least nakatipid kayo sa pamasahe sa pagshopping nyo. Shopping money na lang ang nagamit niyo. There is Miyako Isabel (link) from Davao, whose education is UP Anthropology but whose thinking bridges “F and P”, proudly part Lumad in ancestry. More of those are needed.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 14 May 2017

 

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