Taurus Configurationare the keys to success, their lack causes failure, as Miyako Izabel points out (link): The EDSA Revolution has failed, primarily, because the people who have been pushing for the democratic principles promised by that revolution have not focused on professionalizing the government and intellectualizing its citizens, the requirements for the Philippines to become a knowledge society.. India is what it is today because of the Nehrus. Jawaharlal Nehru dreamed of a highly educated people and a government of experts and professionals. Indira Gandhi opened up science, engineering, and management institutes. Rajiv Gandhi introduced mass information and communication technology.  Well, one could point out that India always had a tradition of respecting knowledge and that the founders of the modern Indian state also built on that. Filipino BPO people sometimes sneer at the Indian accent, but are Filipinos launching satellites like India (link)?

The German state of Bavaria where I live also built its postwar progress on heavy investment in schools and universities, turning a formerly agricultural state into a powerhouse. There was also a foundation for that in the glorious period of the 19th century, where the newly founded Kingdom of Bavaria attracted a lot of scientists and other experts, many of whom are buried in Munich’s Old Southern Cemetery (link). The late 18th and early 19th century was also a period of institution building which accompanied modernization, creating the foundations for a strong civil service.


India of course built on the British civil service tradition, something Singapore also did. With emphasis on SERVICE, unlike the Philippine LTO. Little service there (link).

Now what does the Philippines have to offer? Public schools in the 1950s were still excellent. From what I gather, there were 7 years of elementary school and 5 years of high school before – in fact the first batches of Philippine Science High School which was founded in 1964 HAD five years of high school. K-12 is therefore not really new, but it may yet fail. There are excellent universities and private schools, but they cover too few people. Polytechnic and vocational education is still weak – due to feudal attitudes look down on “dirty work”?

So there you go – an elite that is often in higher spheres, theorizing about rule of law for example, while in the barangays of the poor that rule of law is practically non-existent. You either buy your way out of a bad situation, or go to a crowded jail for years without a chance of getting a hearing. Wonderful theorizing about democracy, while in the barangay it could well be that you are simply dead if you dare question something a local boss says – and I really wonder if this was any different before President Duterte.


While Miyako Izabel in her post quoted above mentions political dynasties practicing political patronage, extortion, and bribery, the strongest analysis I have ever seen is from Mila Aguilar (link); [the main bulwark of Dutertites] are the lower middle classes we have now, who went to public schools, got a low level college education in some diploma mill, and went abroad to earn their keep, sending enough money to their families to build houses, buy service vehicles from tricycles to jeeps, to the present Uber cars, as well as computers and cellphones to lighten their lives.

Many of them still languish in urban poor areas or extremely low-cost subdivisions, and cannot send their children or siblings to private schools, where they might become better informed. Used to be public schools were good, and the valedictorians and salutatorians of EVERY public school got an automatic UP scholarship. That was at least until the 1950s. A lot of the well-educated Filipinos from that period went to the USA starting in the 1960s – probably those who could not be absorbed by the always very small ruling class of the Philippines.

But what destroyed this road to opportunities? Was it in the Marcos period, when a new middle class also rose? Was it a case, conscious or unconscious, of of FYIGM (fuck you I got mine) which is defined as follows (link): in a race, whoever gets to be first across the bridge, destroys the bridge before the competitors can cross it. Now if one looks at the typical Duterte follower as described by Mila Aguilar, aren’t they applying FYIGM to those just one rung below them? Could it all be about being too comfortable and therefore afraid of potential competitors (link)?

The path of least resistance seems so very Filipino. Unfortunately those who do not keep abreast become laggards. It is like that with nations – and with people. There are educated Filipinos who stagnate afterwards, like an operating system that never goes online for an update, they just repeat what they learned once. Rich Filipinos are usually rent-seekers, trying to prevent competition.

But the world will not wait. The Philippines was richer than South Korea in the 1950s. Will it be behind Myanmar at some point? What a waste. Will it all finally be a story of might have beens?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 25 February 2017