Beauty and Confidence

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach in Philippine TernoConfidently beautiful ang tumpak na description ni Miss Universe, Pia Alonso Wurtzbach, sa kanyang sarili. Napakaganda rin ng mahigit 7500 (heto ang link) na isla ng Pilipinas. Pero confident ba ang Pilipinas? Mukhang hindi pa. Maikli lang itong artikulong ito, pero tignan muna natin ang mga nangyayari:

  • Minsan ang mga may lamang, inu-under ang kapwa Pilipino. Kesyo mayaman sila, edukado sila, o mas maputi.
  • Minsan ang mga dehado, talangka sa kapwa Pilipino. Dahil mahirap sila, hindi nakapag-aral, o mas maitim.
  • Madalas na walang lakas loob ang Pilipinong tumayo sa sariling paa, o mag-isip para sa sarili (heto ang link).

Lahat iyan symptoms ng mga taong walang bilib sa sarili. Kung mahina siguro ang tiwala sa sarili ni Pia, baka katulad lang ni Maui Taylor ang bagsak niya. Hindi madali ang naging buhay ni Pia Wurtzbach. Ang Pilipinas ngayon, nagiging tila isang patapon gawa ng kulang ang tiwala sa sarili. Hindi talaga Miss Universe ng mga bansa. Patapon-tapon ng basura kung saan-saan. Ang ganda ng Maynila noon, binaboy ng Pilipino mismo. Pugad Baboy komiks na ba?

Paano magkakaroon ng tiwala sa sarili ang Pilipinas? Paano magiging confidently beautiful ang bansa, kinikilalang Miss Universe ika nga at hindi lang tila isang Viva Hot Babe o kaya iyong mga talagang patapon na? Valentine’s Day ngayon. Pagmamahal ang usapan. May nabalitaan akong Hapon na kusang naglilinis sa Pilipinas, si Mazakasu Nose (heto ang link). Dayuhan mahal yata ang Pilipinas, Pilipino hindi. Sa pagtanggap sa sarili nagsisimula iyan.

Iba’t ibang kulay ang Pilipino at iba’t-ibang beauty ang Pilipina. Lahat ng pagkahati ng Pilipinas, galing sa kasaysayan at may dahilan doon, pero panahon ni kopong-kopong, ng mga Kastila at ni Mahoma pa iyan (heto ang link). Hindi lang sa kulay ang usapin, marami sigurong iba pang dapat magbago sa lipunan:

  • Huwag na sanang maliitin ng mga may edukasyon ang mga kulang sa edukasyon. Turuan sila ng mabuti, bihira ang talagang bobong tao.
  • Iyon namang mga mahirap o kulang ang edukasyon, huwag na sanang umasa lang sa iba. Mga tanga, tamad lang mag-isip, gamitin ang kokote.
  • Magtulungan, mag-bayanihan (heto ang link) – pero huwag na sanang sobrang umasa sa iba dahil tamad mag-isip o takot tumayo sa sariling paa.

Nakita din ni Joe America na may kalooban ng Pilipinas (heto ang link), merong soul. Lakas-loob lang ang kailangan. To become confidently beautiful.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, Valentine’s Day 2016

 

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Pilipinas – Saan Patungo?

Philippine FoodQuo Vadis Philippines ang una kong artikulo dito sa blog na ito. Latin ang titulo, Ingles ang nilalaman. Magmula sa Latin at Ingles, Pilipino naman ngayon.

Limang modelo ng pamumuno ang nakikita ko sa limang kandidato sa pagka-Presidente. Tignan natin sila:

  • Si Binay parang isang katutubong datu, iyong kanyang mga sister cities parang mga alyansa ng mga datu noong araw – Raiding, Trading, Feasting
  • Si Duterte tila parang si Raja Mangubat sa teleseryeng Amaya, pero ang kanyang Federalism parang Kahimunan ng mga Lumad
  • Si Santiago naman, awtoritaryo at tradisyonal, ang kanyang pag-iisip mana yata sa mga batas na galing pa sa mga Kastila
  • Si Roxas naman, technocratic, tila gusto niyang tapusin iyong sinimulan ng mga Amerikano noong panahon nila
  • Si Poe, visionary – kaya lang para siyang prophet na kulang pa ang exact definition ng kanyang nais para sa bayan

Mukhang confused ang bayang Pilipino, hindi alam ang patutunguan. Apo ng Espanya, Anak ng Amerika, pamangkin ng Mexico at pinsan ng Cuba at Puerto Rico. Dalawang tanong:

  • Paano ang magiging pagsasama ng mga bahagi ng sambayanan? Sentralista ba (Santiago), Decentralized (Roxas) o kaya Federalism (Duterte)?
  • Paano itutugma ang panahon na moderno sa lumang kulturang Pilipino? Kung baga sa Lambanog at Coke, gaanong karami ang ihahalo sa baso?

Ewan ko ba. Desisyon ng mga nasa Luzviminda iyan. Ano sa palagay ninyo ang maganda?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 13. February 2016

 

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Philippine political maturity

Carex aurea inflorescence at maturityHow politically mature is the Philippines? Not very. Maybe I have lived abroad too long. Not that things are perfect over here. But I do see this:

Sure, there is some bayanihan at the level of practical matters. But the mindset when it comes to politics seems to be: follow the herd. There are some independent thinkers, but a true revolution in mind that is necessary has not yet started. There are groups that Joe America has called Filipino 100%ers. Conformity to a thought leader and his followers is expected, like in a church or sect.

You easily get labeled some color or group. Guess that is because in old Filipino culture, you were a follower of this datu or the other. The Spanish priests came and also had their followers. Schools of thought in the Philippines usually freeze up and become rigid repetitions of what their founders might once have had as original ideas, no further development. Could it be that it never was about the truth anyway, anytime – but just about face and power? Because the actions of followers of whatever group often do not match the meaning of words – not only in split-level Christianity:

  • Those who call themselves Communist rebels are often just extortionist bandits – nothing to do with Che Guevara ideals
  • Those who call themselves democratic are often just oligarchs and elitists – the system is there to perpetuate their power
  • Those who call themselves disciplinarians are often out to discipline everybody else, but are not very disciplined themselves

How often is politics in the Philippines NOT about getting things done in a better way, but just about one’s own skin at the expense of everybody else? Zero sum games.

It has its historical reasons. But I wonder if enough will be smart enough to finally get the country off that vicious carousel? I am happy I am not in the Philippines – yet sad for the people there.

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

P.S. Jose Rizal was an independent thinker. Now he is a statue, an anito worshipped like the Black Nazarene by many but probably still only understood by a minority until now.

 

 

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Comparing three programs

Finally the programs are out: Roxas-Robredo, Poe and Duterte. I can compare them and older statements of Poe and Duterte that I already analyzed. My take on the three:

  • Roxas is systematic and thorough
  • Poe is compassionate and visionary
  • Duterte is pragmatic and grounded

In an ideal Philippines they could be a great team. In an ideal Philippines, there might be something like the Swiss Federal Council where seven persons are collectively the head of state and one is President each year, but all decide as a team by consensus. Three people, each one President for two years, with the “walang sapawan” (no upstaging) principle that made Eat Bulaga last so long?

But we do not live in an ideal world, the Philippines is not Switzerland, it is the zero-sum game Philippines. But still I have ventured to have a look at the ideas of all three (from programs and statements) and see who has good ideas, who has stuff missing, and who has really bad ideas. The result, as food for thought and discussion, is this:

threeprograms

Some short comments:

  • I think a justice system reform is first priority to ensure faster trials. Rizal already mentioned swift and fair justice as a virtue of English colonies – while criticizing Spanish colonial justice.
  • Poe has really good ideas for citizen empowerment which go towards a modern political system and party system. She of course has a strong focus on children – it was her job before.
  • Roxas’ program is extremely comprehensive, the only criticisms I have are it does not mention children (but it does mention families) and citizen empowerment explicitly.
  • Duterte’s program is patchy, his only strong points are the justice system and the laws. His rejection of higher education (algebra) is not a visionary approach at all.
  • There is hardly any statement by any about higher education, which is vital for the future. Nothing on think tanks to help the government generate ideas.

If I have missed anything – which is possible given the extent of the topic – please tell me or correct me if there is a mistake. This is my humble input – I look forward to further discussion.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 11. February 2016

P.S. thanks to giancarlo and Edgar for posting the programs. An afterthought: free tertiary for all could be red for Grace Poe due to non-fundability… Binay is totally non-fundable of course.

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General McArthur’s debacle

Gen. Douglas McArthur Statue, CorregidorMcArthur’s Role in the Philippines Debacle in 1942-3

by Bill in Oz

In 1934 Quezon president elect of the new Commonwealth of the Philippines in Washington, asked Douglas McArthur if the islands could be defended after independence. MacArthur replied “I don’t think so, I know they can defend themselves.” Quezon was reassured and asked McArthur to be his military adviser for the new republic. Later Quezon made McArthur Field Marshall of the new Philippines defence forces.

How to defend the new Commonwealth of the Philippines was an urgent problem. Starting in the 1890’s Japan embarked on a policy of making war and seizing territory. Formosa was occupied in 1894 and made into a Japanese colony. In 1905 Korea was attacked & occupied. During WW1 Japan seized the German colony ( Tsingtao ) in China’s Shandong province. The Japanese navy seized Germany’s island colonies in the Pacific – the Marianas, Caroline and Marshall Islands. In 1931 Japan attacked the Chinese province of Manchuria and made it a ‘province’ of it’s own empire. In 1935 Japan started an all out war to occupy China and incorporate it into it’s empire. In July 1941 50,000 Japanese troops occupied French Indo-China. The key to Filipino fears was the simple fact of geography. The Japanese colony of Formosa ( now named Taiwan ) with large Japanese army, air force & navy bases, was just 250 kilometers north across the straits of Luzon.

In the period from 1935 till 1941 under McArthur’s leadership the Philippino defence forces developed into a force of one hundred thousand American & Philippine troops. They were largely poorly trained and poorly armed. But McArthur issued press releases and reports saying that that they new Filipino army was an effective defence. In July 1941 after the occupation of French Indo-China President Roosevelt appointed McArthur the commander of US Army forces in the Far East. Thus from 1935 until 1942 MacArthur was thus the man responsible for developing the Philippines defence forces. He also commanded the US forces. McArthur was also responsible for the ‘strategy’ adopted for the defence of the Philippines. This was also a key aspect of what happened. The US defence forces had since the 1920’s adopted a defence strategy of attempting resist any attack by holding on to just the Bataan peninsula & Corrigidor Island at the entrance to Manila bay, until US relief forces arrived. This was the US “Orange Plan”. This strategy required concentrating troops, vehicles, weapons, medicines , munitions & food in these strategic locations.

But in late 1941 McArthur ditched this strategy. He decided that the whole of the Philippines must be defended from a Japanese attack.And so the armed forces started dispersing weapons, vehicles, munitions, medicines and food stocks all over the country. This had enormous consequences once the war started in December 1941. Within weeks it was obvious that it was impossible to defend all of the Philippines from the Japanese attacks.The only available strategy was to try and defend key defendable points like Bataan & Corrigidor island. But by then the weapons, munitions, food, fuel, vehicles & medicines were not there. The attempt by Philippine & Us forces to withstand Japanese attacks at Bataan and Corrigidor in early 1942 were undermined by  MacArthur’s strategic stupidity.

The start of the War

On Sunday morning the the 7th of December 1941 Japanese naval forces attacked the US Navy base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. This attack was a surprise. But the fact that Japan had started the war was not. US cryptographers were already able to decode Japanese radio coded signals. An attack was expected. In early November 1941 the US War Department ordered MacArthur to prepare for hostile action by Japan “at any moment”.

McArthur decided to ignore this warning and order. He announced to his US colleagues that he knew ‘from the existing alignment & movement of Japanese forces” that there would be no attack until the Spring. When the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, happened, in Manila it was Monday the 8th. of December. That morning Japanese air force planes in Formosa and carrier based aircraft were warming up ready to fly and attack. The attacks on the Philippines were supposed to happen simultaneously with the Pearl Harbor attack. Meanwhile in Manila it was the last day of a long weekend. It was the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception. Following McArthur’s ‘knowledge & expertise’ Philippine & US defence personal were all enjoying the last day of a nice relaxing long weekend. The US bomber force having been asked to relocate all it’s planes to Mindanao out of range of Japanese aerial attack, had huge party in Manila on the Sunday night.

But all was not yet lost.There was some time to mobilise the defence forces. The weather early on the 8th was very foggy in Formosa and on the surrounding seas.The planes could not take off to launch their attack at the planned time. They were delayed for over 7 hours by the weather. If McArthur had acted immediately some defence could have been mounted. But this did not happen.

MacArthur was awakened very early on that Monday morning by one of his staff with the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly afterwards at 5.00 am his air commander Major General Brereton attempted to ask McArthur for approval launch an attack on Japanese bases in Formosa and the convoys bringing troops to invade Japan. McArthur’s chief of staff General Sutherland denied him access to McArthur and told him to await further orders.

McArthur stayed in his office that day and saw nobody except Sutherland. Later he said he was studying intelligence reports. There were no orders for 7 hours after he was told of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then McArthur issued an order allowing an an initial attack o take place at sunset that day. Some aircraft ignoring the lack of orders form McArthur did take off. But It was all too late and too uncoordinated. Clark & the other air force bases were attacked.Virtually all the US air force bombers & fighters in the Philippines were destroyed in these attacks as they were being serviced, before they could get off the ground..

The Japanese air force also attacked the US Naval bases at Cavite. It was a ruin. Faced with no effective base from which to operate from and no air cover, most of the US Navy ships in the Philippines left for the the Dutch East Indies or Australia within a few days. This included the the 27 strong US submarines force. Only a few patrol oats remained. In the space of a few days the US & Philippines lost all their air force and naval power. It was a total disaster.

In the fog of war many things can go wrong. Commanders can lose their nerve just as much as privates. Stalin went missing for 3 days when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. And in these key hours at the start of the Japanese attack on the Philippines, McArthur, the commander, the field marshal, the hero, for the first time since WW1, went ‘missing’ & hid in his office.

Japanese Invasion

The destruction of US Air power & the destruction or withdrawal of US naval power opened the Philippines up to Japanese invasion. There was no way to prevent this invasion. It started on December 22, 1941 when 43,000 Japanese troops landed in Lingayen Gulf 200 Kilometers North of Manila. On the 24th of December a second force of 10,000 Japanese troops landed at Lamon Bay in South Eastern Luzon. A third Japanese force landed at Legaspi in Bicol at the same time. A fourth invasion force landed in Mindanao. It was planned well in advance and the forces well equipped with tanks and artillery..

The Commonwealth of the Philippines armed forces & the US army forces were no match for the Japanese. Philippine & US troops could not defeat the Japanese. Philippine troops were unable to defend the Philippines from the invasion. In a month the Japanese had control of Northern Luzon and of Southern Luzon & Mindanao.

There were a number of reasons for this. One major reason was that McArthur’s policy was to recruit conscripts on low pay from all over the Philippines for the Commonwealth armed forces. This meant that they new troops spoke many different languages or dialects. And the low pay did not attract men with high levels of schooling. Also most did not speak English or spoke very limited English.They spoke Visayan, Tagalog, Illocano, Bicolano etc etc. This was true both among the troops and among the lower officer levels. The higher officer levels were filled by Americans. And while they spoke English well often they had no local language skills. This made for massive communications problems and a lack of understanding or empathy between the troops and American officers. A more sensible, effective policy would have been to offer good pay to selected volunteers with a higher level of education who knew some English language.

A second major reason was that the Commonwealth Philippines forces were very poorly equipped compared to the Japanese.There was a shortage of rifles and light artillery. And many of the rifles sold to the Philippines were old WW1 ex US army vintage. Modern armaments were promised by the US after July 1941.But most did not arrive before the Japanese invasion. Again the cheap defence had a price.

The third reason for Japanese victory was that the Commonwealth Philippines forces were completely inexperienced.They had not fought in battle before. By contrast the Japanese army had been training and engaged in battles since 1932. They were battle hardened.

The fourth reason was that McArthur had committed the stupid strategic mistake of spreading his troops thinly across the islands of the Philippines, instead of concentrating them on the main target of Japanese attack in Luzon and Manila.

The Retreat To Bataan & Corregidor

Faced with defeat in the plains of northern Luzon and Batangas, MacArthur decided to reverse his strategy. On the 24th of December he abandoned defending Manila and the rest of the Philippines. The US army headquarters & the Commonwealth of the Philippines government lead by President Quezon relocated to the Island fortress of Corregidor the small fortified island at the mouth of Manila Bay. Manila was declared an ‘open city’ that is ‘ an undefended city’. He did this to spare Manila being bombed or attacked by Japanese troops .He ordered all US & Philippine troops to retreat to the Bataan peninsular . However he made this declaration without any consultation with Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commanding the US Navy Asiatic Fleet at Cavite. Although most of the ships had already left this uncoordinated action forced the Navy to destroy all their valuable stockpile of military supplies at Cavite.

In the midst of all this major defence activity on the 28th of December 1941, McArthur is reported to have called from Corregidor & asked the mayor of Manila Jorge Vargas to buy $35,000 worth of shares in Lepanto mining company for him. This single special purchase was done the following day. It made McArthur a millionaire by the end of the war.

This fighting retreat to Bataan took three weeks up to the middle of January 1842. By all accounts it was well done. And for this McArthur was given a lot of credit. One wonders why as it was a consequence of his incompetence.

This did not stop him from seeking ‘awards’ for what he had achieved. James Bowen says of McArthur on Corregidor that he

“spent his first two weeks … pestering President Quezon for rewards for his “distinguished service” to the Philippines… Quezon responded to McArthur’s pressure for rewards by granting him the sum of $500,000 from the impoverished Philippine Treasury on Corregidor. MacArthur’s closest staff officers received smaller sums.”

Some may ask also why Bataan ? Why not defend Manila itself and the surrounding plains ? The problem was that the US & Philippine troops were not equipped to defend the city. And an attempt at defending Manila would have meant a huge number of civilian deaths. So But McArthur reverted to the original US “Orange Plan” which he had abandoned in July 1941.

Karnow says that McArthur also

“knew Bataan’s rugged terrain from his days as a young engineer. It’s five hundred square miles, dangling like an ear lobe from Luzon, are dominated by a spine of jungle clad mountains…..Few regions in the Philippines were better equipped for defensive warfare- on condition that it’s defenders had adequate supplies.” ( Karnow page 292 )

A total of 90,000 troops on Luzon reached the Bataan Peninsula in the fighting retreat. They were immediately all put on half-rations. Adequate military equipment and supplies for a lengthy defence of the peninsula were not there. In July August 1941 McArthur had ordered that huge quantities of military equipment, food, and medical supplies be spread across the nine major islands of the Philippines.

US army ‘Plan Orange’ developed in the early 1030’s with the threat of Japan in mind, required the Bataan Peninsula to be stocked with sufficient food and medical supplies to enable 43,000 troops to withstand a siege for six months. In the three weeks of the retreat only enough food was shipped to Bataan by barge from Manila, for a thirty day siege. By contrast enough supplies were ferried by barge to Corregidor, from Manila to supply 10,000 men for 6 months. What made it worse was that MacArthur issued orders forbidding his army commanders from buying or or seizing food & clothing from warehouses, even those owned by Japanese citizens. MacArthur also enforced a law stopping the movement of rice stockpiles across provincial boundaries. MacArthur also stopped army quartermasters buying rice to ship to the troops at Bataan from a stock of 50 million bushels located at the town of Cabanatuan. Later on specialists looking back at this decision came to the conclusion that 20% of this stockpile of rice would have fed the Bataan troops for a year ( Karnow page 294 )

MacArthur’s successor as commander of US & Philippine forces, General Wainwright said after the war when asked about the Bataan siege “ If we had something in our bellies……things might have been a bit more endurable”

Plan Orange was also predicated on the USA being able to come to the assistance of the Philippines.However in early 1942 this was not possible. The Japanese navy & it’s carrier force dominated the seas & air of the Western Pacific ocean. And at a political level the USA was gave a higher priority to assisting Britain against Germany. Reinforcements and supplies could not be sent and no attempt was made to send them.

The troops ill-equipped and poorly fed fought with great courage lead by General Wainwright. For the first 2 months they held off the Japanese attacks. But gradually they succumbed to malnutrition & diseases like malaria & dengue fever. There were also very inadequate medical supplies for the sick & injured. Psychologically they lost hope.They realised they were expendable. And they expressed this feeling is this verse reported by Rovere & Sclesinger ( page 57)

“We’re the battling bastards of Bataan
No momma, no poppa, No Uncle Sam
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces,
No rifles, no gums or artillery pieces
And nobody gives a damn”

Rovere & Arthur Sclesinger, page 56, also say this about McArthur :

“Most people when they think of Bataan, think of McArthur.Yet he visited Bataan only once during the months of grim resistance. “ The troops noticed McArthur’s absence from Bataan. They noticed he stayed well fed & safe in the Malinta deep tunnels on Corregidor. The following derisive verse was coined about McArthur in this period by an anonymous GI. It was sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic’

“Dugout Doug McArthur lies a shakin’ on the Rock
Safe from all the bombers and from any sudden shock
Dugout Doug is eating of the best food on Bataan
And his troops go starving on…”

Another verse went :

“Dugout Doug not timid, he’s just cautious not afraid
He’s carefully protecting the starts that Franklin made
Four star generals are as rare as good food on Bataan
And his troops go starving on.”

MacArthur was tagged behind his back ‘Dugout Doug’ for the remainder of the war both in Philippines, in Australia, in PNG & Japan.

Meanwhile McArthur was sending communiques back to the USA reporting on the war in the Philippines. These communiques he personally wrote & edited. These communiques made very little mention of the other officers or men fighting in the battle. Richard Connaughton writes in his History of MacArthur in the Philippines:

“In the first three months of the war, McArthur or his staff wrote 142 communiques; 109 of which mentioned one man, McArthur. They carried brave, exciting, heartwarming, gripping though often imaginary accounts as to how McArthur’s guile, leadership, and military genius had continually frustrated the evil intentions of Japan’s armed forces. His picture appeared on the cover of Time at the end of 1941 and, early in the new year, the effect of these press releases upon the American public served to whip them up into a frenzy of fawning adulation of McArthur, American hero.” (page 225 )

They were exercises in self glorification. And as they were published in the US press McArthur became a US national hero.

In late February 1942 President Roosevelt decided to order McArthur to leave Corregidor and the Philippines. He was told to make his way to Australia and take up the role of Commander of US Forces in the South West Pacific. McArthur left Corregidor on a PT boat with his family and aides on the 11th of March. General Wainwright moved to Corregidor & became the commander of US & Philippine troops. Major General Edward King replaced him as commander of troops on Bataan itself.

Although ordered by General Marshall to take only one senior staff officer with him MacArthur took with him a large contingent of 14 of his closest and most trusted staff officers. They included his Chief of Staff, Major General Richard Sutherland who was involved in the stuff on the 8th of December when MacArthur was unavailable to his senior Air force general. . In the opinion of James Bowen these staff officers were notorious for their sycophancy and lack of combat experience. They were known in Australia as the “Bataan Gang”. A week later McArthur was in Australia.

On the 3rd of April 1942 the Japanese renewed their offensive against Bataan with fresh troops supported by heavy artillery, tanks, and air attack. McArthur from Australia ordered a general counter attack. He commanded that under no conditions should they yield. Instead they should seize a Japanese supply dump at Subic bay and then move into the Northern Cordillera and continue the fight as a guerilla war. McArthur also said that reinforcements & supplies were on their way. But it was a lie. Afterwards Brigadier General William E. Brougher, one of the US generals involved in Bataan defence said “A foul trick of deception played on a large group of Americans by a commander-in-chief and his small staff who are now eating steak and eggs in Australia”.  (Bowen )

But by then the Philippine & American troops on the Bataan were unable to offer any effective resistance. Their rations amounted to a 1000 calories a day. They were malnourished & starving. Malaria afflicted almost all the troops and seventy five per cent had dysentery. After 5 days of constant Japanese attacks, King decided to surrender. On the 5th of May Corregidor was also attacked. Wainwright surrendered a day or so later.

In the days & weeks after the surrender the Japanese ordered US & Filipino prisoners of war to walk to Camp O’Donnell about 130 kilometers to the North. This became know as the Death march.In the course of this death march many thousands of prisoners either died from lack of food, dysentery or were wantonly killed due to Japanese brutality.

Bowen says something about the Death March that is absent in all the other sources. More than 60,000 Filipino and 20,000 American prisoners of war were forced into the Bataan Death March to camp O’Donnell.“ That is there were 4 times more Filipinos than Americans fighting the siege of Bataan & the defence of Corregidor. However none of the accounts I have seen name any of the Filipinos who were involved. The only persons named are American.

Sources:

  • James Bowen 2009 : http://www.pacificwar.org.au/Philippines/Philoverview.html. This source is an interesting one as it reflects the Australian view of MacArthur for decades after he was there in 1942-45. The site was developed by James Bowen with the blessing of the Australian Returned Servicemen’s League ( RSL ) Bowen also has an extensive list of sources he used here.
  • Richard Connaughton History of MacArthur in the Philippines (2001) The Overlook Press.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica : http://www.britannica.com/event/Bataan-Death-March
  • Stanley Karnow : In Our Own Image : America’s Empire in the Philippines, Ballantine Books 1989
  • Richard Halworth Rovere & Arthur Schlesinger Jr.: General MacArthur & President Truman : The Struggle for Control of American Foreign Policy. Transaction Publishers, New Jersey 1992
  • Wikipedia : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippines_Campaign_%281941%E2%80%9342%29

Thank you to Bill in Oz for this very interesting article.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 10. February 2016

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Filipino Virtual Bayanihan

BayanihanThere has been something forming quietly, without being noticed too much by the usual suspects in blogs. I suspect we are a bit too self-centered sometimes. While we have been discussing, some people have started to act – and make websites for virtual bayanihan. Yes bayanihan, the old Filipino community spirit of self-reliance and mutual assistance – as opposed to the oppressive, authoritarian barangay where one relies on a datu-type leader for everything, including what one should think and do. Let me show some examples:

Overseas Virtual Bayanihan

There are a few sites which I have noticed in Europe, possibly there are many more, maybe even in the Middle East:

  • This is an example of an article from Migreat – which gives practical tips about migration, studying and more for Filipinos in Germany, Spain, England and Italy.
  • This is an example of an article from Pinay In Germany – which is a group of Pinays married to Germans, giving tips to other Pinays and also writing about life in Germany.
  • This is from Pinoy in Amsterdam. I would say the site is still quite rudimentary, but it does explore a lot of areas. Here there is the possibility of a commercial/business link.

What is interesting is that the makers of these websites are very unassuming, unlike most bloggers on the political scene. I even would include myself as being a bit self-promoting at times.

Local Virtual Bayanihan

Locally, there are two sites that I have noticed. I am sure there are more:

  • Efren Nolasco gives not only computer tips, but also tips on how to deal with practical matters like SSS, Philhealth etc. – one example is this article.
  • Boklit also gives practical tips on the usual day-to-day stuff like SSS, Philhealth, PAG-IBIG…, but also self-help ideas like this article on how to get out of debt.

A New Spirit?

What is interesting is that Efren Nolasco is a former OFW.  My first article at Joe America’s blog foresaw a role of those who have been abroad in changing the Philippines. Those who are poorer or less educated in the Philippines are often kept from gaining too much confidence I think – by both the rich and the educated, many of whom want to keep a colonial-style monopoly of wealth and knowledge. Being abroad is not only about earning money, it is also about seeing how things can work differently, and gaining confidence by seeing one’s hard work finally having true results.

Joe America recently mentioned the possibility of people powered journalism. People Power was not a bad thing – it removed a dictator, or an authoritarian ruler, whatever one chooses to call him, who had plundered the country and driven it into inflation and debt among other things. But People Power only replaced one ruling group with another somewhat better ruling group.

Filipinos were still hopeful sheep then. It was a necessary stage in the country’s development – away from being intimidated sheep. Now they are regaining confidence as well as community. Virtual bayanihan is in my opinion a major step forward for Filipinos – away from being just masses to becoming empowered citizens. This start is oriented towards daily needs, which I think is a good thing because that is what counts for most people, first and foremost. Between the thought leaders and the virtual citizens, there is still a divide. Bridging it remains the main challenge.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 9. February 2016

P.S. in response to an article of mine about Rising from Victimhood, Joe answered that the way to rise is knowledge that gives confidence. Will Villanueva added faith to that, and I commented that faith in good things about being Filipino is essential. This is all essential to overcoming the slave mentality that Get Real Philippines points out – but their solution is dictatorial and self-hating.

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Panahon at Distansiya

Tag CV2010 CarreraHeto sana ang tema ko sa New Year. Di bali Chinese New Year ngayon. Anong ngayon? Hindi precise ang salitang ngayon. Ang maaring ibig sabihin nito ay ngayong taon, ngayong buwan, ngayong linggo, ngayong araw. Kung agad-agad ang ibig sabihin ng Pilipino, Now Na ang salitang ginagamit. Dahil sa Ingles, maliwanag ang ibig sabihin ng now. Sa Aleman jetzt, sofort ay agad. Iyong heute ngayong araw. Iyong heuer ngayong taon, pero sa mga dialekto lang ng Bavaria at Austria. Ewan ko ba kung may kinalaman ito sa Tag Heuer na relo.

Panahon at Oras

Anong oras na? Ang oras salitang hiniram sa Kastila. Kaya lang bahagi na ng Pilipino. Ang jeepney Pilipino kahit sa jeep nanggaling. Ang Jolibee mas masarap pa kaysa McDo kahit Hamburger. Ang Hamburger na orig galing sa Hamburg, doon napunta sa barko ang karamihan sa mga Aleman na nakipagsapalaran papuntang Amerika. Pero matagal na iyan. Panahon pa ni kopong-kopong.

Ang kopong kopong, galing pala sa 19-kopong-kopong. Iyong bago pa doon, panahon ng Kastila, iyong napakatagal na panahon pa ni Mahoma. Si Mahoma daw, si Mohammed – Muslim ang Maynila noong araw na mayroon pa raw nila o indigo na tumutubo sa pampang ng ilog na Pasig. Sa bandang Tundo, Kapampangan daw ang salita noon. Sa bandang Maynila, salitang Taga-Ilog. Medyo corny iyong narinig kong tawag sa panahon ng Amerikano at ni Quezon: before the prewar. Iyong McArthur sa salitang kalye, tae raw na bumabalik kahit iflush iyong toilet. I shall return.

Layo at Distansiya

'The Last Gleanings', oil on canvas painting by Jules-Adolphe Breton, 1895, Huntington Library

Mga magsasakang Pranses

Kaya huwag nating sabihin na walang sense of history ang Pilipino. Meron din. Mas precise lang talaga ang mga taga-kanluran. Mas isinusukat lahat. Hanggang ngayon wala akong masyadong pakiramdam sa distansiya. Mga Aleman kung magbigay ng direksiyon, minsan sasabihin sa iyo lakad ka ng dalawang kilometro tapos lumiko ka ng pakaliwa. Gaanong kalayo ba ang dalawang kilometro? Tinatanong ko na lang kung ilang crossing ang tatawirin ko, o kung ano ang aking dadaanan na gasolinahan, restorante, tulay at iba pa. Isang dangkal alam ko pa. Sa bote-dyaryo.

Mga Pranses ang nagsimula sa metro, sentimetro, kilometro, gram, kilogram at iba pa. Iba’t-iba ang mga distansiya, timbang at sukat noong araw sa Europe. Ang one foot paa daw ni Emperor Charlemagne, si Carlos na matangkad. Ang one mile galing daw sa mille passuum – isang libong hakbang ng mga sundalong Roman na nagmartitsya para sakupin ang Europe, North Africa at Middle East. Napadali ang negosyo sa Europa gawa ng itinugma ang lahat ng uri ng pagsukat. Wala nang conversion of units. Itinuloy ito ng European Union. Pati pera rito halos iisa na. Euro.

Bilang, sukat, tantsiya

Roman-calendar

Lumang kalendaryong Roman

Madalas ako magbiro na tatlo lang ang uri ng tao sa mundo – iyong marunong magbilang at iyong hindi. Nagulat ako kahapon sa isang barkeeper na taga-Munich, ang bilis ng utak niya at nakasagot agad… at ang pangatlo iyong marunong magtantsiya. Iyong lumang pag-iisip na Pilipino, simple lang – tantsiya. Panahon ni Mahoma, panahon ng Kastila, panahon ni kopong-kopong. Before the prewar pinanganak ang Tatay ko, 1934. 1935 pumasa sa bar exam iyong lolo ko, pagkatapos ng maitaguyod ang 1935 Constitution. Aba biglang pumasok ang kalendaryo sa usapan.

Si Julius Caesar ang nagsimula sa modernong kalendaryo. Bago siya ang maging Pontifex Maximus, isang mataas na pari ng mga Roman, binababoy minsan ng mga pulitiko ang kalendaryo para tumagal ang kanilang term kung malakas sila sa Pontifex Maximus. Para bang mga politikong Pilipino ngayon – kung may kapit sila sa Korte Suprema, iyong mali nagagawa daw nilang tama. Magmula sa reporma ni Caesar, hindi na papalit-palit ang kalendaryo. Hindi na weder-weder. Si Papa Gregorio XIII lang ang nagreporma ulit ng konti – halos 1500 na taon pagkatapos. Continuity.

Iyong titulo ng lumang pagan na pari na Roman, inangkin ng mga Santo Papa, pati na iyong iilang tungkulin nila tulad ng kalendaryo. Iyong mga Orthodox hindi sinundan ang reporma ni Pope Gregory, kaya ang October Revolution ng mga Ruso, sa Nobyembre nangyari. Saka lang nila inadjust iyong kanilang kalendaryo. Samakatwid, ang bentaha ng mga taga-kanluran, precise sila. Lahat ibinilang, ikinukwenta, isinusukat ng mabuti. Nakarating na rin sa Pilipino. Martial law ni Marcos: September 21, 1972. February 25, 1986: Presidente si Cory. May 9, 2016 may eleksyon.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München

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Desisyon ng Sambayanan

Philippine election corridorsPalapit ng palapit na ang eleksiyon. Magdedesiyson ang Pilipino. Hindi lang tungkol sa Presidente at VP, kundi tungkol sa Senado at Kongreso. Sa mga Gobernador at Mayor. Lahat ng level ng gobyerno pagdedesisyonan. Ako naman, tagalabas na dating tagaloob na napilitang umalis – at nasanay na sa ibang pamumuhay. Hindi ko desisyon iyan, kaya ang maibibigay ko lamang na ambag ay mga palaisipan, kung makatulong ito sa iilan maganda, kung hindi OK rin sa akin. Pero heto ang nakikita kong mga dapat sanang isipin ng mabuti ng taongbayan sa kanilang desisyon:

  1. Kakayahan ng kandidato – marunong ba sa pamamalakad ang ibobotong Presidente, VP, Senador, Congressman, Gobernador o Mayor? Bagay ba siya sa level ng magiging katayuan niya? Tandaan natin ang papel ng bawat puwesto – Executive ang Presidente. Hahawak sa Kabinete, mag-aapoint ng mga Secretary sa bawat isa. Mga kenkoy lang ba ang mga hawak niya o hindi? Senador naman, kailangan marunong sa pamumuno at sa paggawa ng batas. Huwag sana iyong pasikat lang. Congressman sa batas din. Huwag sana iyong tamad mag-attend. Please naman.
  2. Programa ng kandidato – matino at kompleto ba ang programa ng kandidato para sa kabuhayan, kaligtasan, karunungan, kakayahan at kaunlaran? Tinignan ko ang programa ni Poe pati na programa ni Duterte. Roxas wala pa dahil wala pang lumalabas talaga na kumpleto, tignan natin kapag kampanya na. Binay parang hindi ko masikmura, pero tignan din natin paglabas.
  3. Ugali ng kandidato. Nasa bawat tao ang pagpasiya tungkol dito.  Merong artikulo rito tungkol kay Grace Poe na isinalin ko mula isang artikulo ni Joe America. Tungkol kay Duterte meron akong naging mga tanong tungkol sa tunay niyang pagkatao gawa ng isang posting ni Parekoy na nasa artikulong ito. Binay alam na natin ang ugali, ayaw ko nang pag-usapan sana siya. Roxas naman may nagsasabing trapo daw, pangmayaman lang daw, ahas pa nga raw. Ewan ko. Mahirap kilatisin si Roxas para sa akin. Mas buo ang tiwala ko kay Leni Robredo.

Meron akong ginawang ranking ng mga kandidato. Pero kanya-kanyang pagiisip at pakiramdam iyan. Kung halimbawa botante ako at may makapagpatunay sa akin na talagang ahas si Mar, eh di baka si Señeres na lang ang iboto ko. Dating Ambassador, medyo kulang ang programa, pero matutulungan siguro ng taongbayan dahil mukhang tapat siya. Kaya lang hindi ako boboto at ayaw ko ring mangampanya para kahit kanino. Pero gusto ko sanang makitang gumanda ang Pilipinas, kaya heto ang maibibigay ko na ambag para makatulong sa nasa Pilipinas sa napakahirap na desisyon:

  • pag-aralan ang tungkol sa pera at statistics. Maraming magagandang artikulo akong nireference doon.
  • Alamin ang tunay na nagawa ng gobyerno at hindi. Dito ako naglink ng maraming mga sources of information.
  • Huwag sana umasa lang sa Presidente. Malaki ang papel ng Senado at Kongreso. Iyong isa kadalasan pampagulo, iyong isa naman tamad. Sino ang bumoto sa kanila? Ang taongbayan.

Tunay na size ng Pilipinas

Mahirap itugma ang isip at pakiramdam para gumawa ng tamang desisyon. Pero pagdating sa pakiramdam – tignan sana ng mabuti kung ano ang nagbago sa nakaraang anim na taon. Balita ko dumami ang trabaho sa mga tourists spots. Oo sa Maynila trapik at ang MRT sira pa rin. Ang mga nasa Pilipinas ang mas nakakaalam sa tunay na anyo ng bayan. Huwag magpaimpluwensiya kahit kanino – kahit sa akin, kumuha ng inpormasyon sa lahat ng makukuhanan. Tignan ang big picture. Kanya-kanyang conclusion iyan. Tatlong halimbawa ng magandang analysis para sa akin:

  • Tito Sotto is Not a Woman. Tungkol ito sa pagtanggal ng pondo sa reproductive health. At ang sitwasyon ng mga mahirap na gustong mag Family Planning.
  • On a Clear Day You Can See the MRT. Tungkol ito sa mga kababalaghan ng kontrata ng kumpanya ng MRT at gobyerno mula noon pa, at sitwasyon ngayon.
  • The SSS in the Philippines. Maliwanag na inanalyze ng nagsulat kung bakit kulang ang pondo ng SSS, at bakit hindi ganyang kadaling itaas ang mga benefits.

Kailangan lang ng konting tiyaga para maintindihan ang mga ito. Wala pang Tagalog translation. Heto lang ang masasabi ko: huwag hahanap kaagad ng isang sisisihin. Sa lahat ng kapalpakan ngayon maraming may kasalanan. Tapos magulo ang sistema ng gobyerno mismo, tagpi-tagpi at buhol-buhol. Walang madaling solusyon sa tingin ko. Ang Pilipinas para talagang binagyo.

At ang mga pagkukulang ng mga pulitiko, kakulangan din nating lahat. Personalan. Pakitang-tao. Kanya-kanyahan. Lamangan. Baka naman dapat munang tignan kung paano napunta sa ganito. Tapos tignan kung ano ang kinakailangan tapos kung paano ito maisasagawa. Halos nagkabuhol-buhol din ang isip ko sa dami ng tema. Kaya kung baga sa mga gamit sa isang bahay na binagyo, nilagay ko sila sa iba’t-ibang kahon para hindi ako malito. Tapos nilipat-lipat ko para mas maliwanag ang aking pagkakaintindi. Kung may ibang maliwanagan din, eh di mabuti. Iyon lang muna.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 6. February 2016

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Revolution in Mind

Braid 4permis not what some think I have in mind. It is a revolution of the mind that I have in mind. It is what I think the Philippines needs. All other forms of revolution so far have failed. And will fail. Rizal lets his (by then anti-)hero Simoun say at the end of El Filibusterismo: what if the slaves of today become the tyrants of tomorrow? Now wasn’t he right like oh so often? Who has read the Noli and the Fili properly? Or The Philippines, A Century Hence – or Rizal’s translation of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell. He seems like a mere statue today. He died at the age of 35. His thinking discontinued.

Theory and practice

Rote learning is the norm in the Philippines. Theoretical education is too divorced from practice. Common sense looked upon with disdain. The people on the ground are not listened to by the theoreticians, since they often do not have the capability to express themselves in an erudite manner. The people on the ground do not get what the theoreticians want, and often the theoreticians do not break it down properly for them. Like Joe America wrote in a recent comment, the middle is missing. Those on the ground walk on foot. The cars of the erudite have wheels above ground.

  • The 1987 Constitution is beautiful in theory, but fails to fulfill even the first two ideas of its preamble, striving for a just and humane society.
  • Endlessly detailed discussions on legalisms in so many different recent cases, but the law is effectively not there in many parts of the country.
  • Metro Manila’s business district has all modern amenities while huge parts of the country hardly have Internet access at a reasonable speed.
  • International studies are commissioned, for example on traffic, while the expertise and common sense of local experts is often ignored.
  • International contractors are taken in for projects, but there is often no strategy for building local expertise in a step-by-step manner.

The present programs of DOST like the DOST AGT, the Roadtrain, the Diwata Microsatellite, the iGovPhil government IT project, or Project NOAH shine as exceptions to this sad rule. The DOST projects also took small steps to success, but with an overarching goal in mind. Wanting big successes at once does not work. Forget going federal-parliamentary in one step for example.

Models and reality

Hel spit - old mapWe all use mental models to simplify the reality that we see. To be able to process it in a reasonable timeframe. But mental models can become outdated. Old nationalistic mental models of the United States as the threat to national sovereignty ignore how the USA has changed, how the parameters of the global game have changed, and who is now occupying islands near Palawan. Old leftist mental models ignore that there are much better ways of creating a level playing field, and that one has to create better habits among the disadvantaged so they can use these new chances. Old rightist mental models of repression ignore that it has been proven that repression creates an adversarial relationship between citizens and the state, especially if it comes with human rights abuses – that modern policing can involve the community and value human rights without losing its necessary effectivity. It is like satellite photos may cause old maps to have to be redrawn.

Or surveyor’s measurements. It is very important to check assumptions. The adjust the map in one’s mind of the territory that is reality. It will never encompass everything. 90% is enough.

Trial and error

The Romanians have one of the fastest Internets in the world thanks to so-called neighborhood networks. A bit similar to how some Romanian gypsies and Filipino slum dwellers improvise their electricity. Now I am sure that the educated Makati crowd, or the experts at UP would have looked down upon such a suggestion with disdain, since they are world-class and not like slum dwellers at all.

Trial and error is so often the way to success. The DOST AGT in UP did not amount to much while the one in Bicutan is much better. Remember Bill Gates’ first DOS versions?Gluehlampe 01 KMJ

But for that, one must be willing to make mistakes, accept them and learn from them. Edison tried so many designs until he finally succeeded in getting his incandescent lamp working. Good he did not grow up in a culture that immediately calls out minor mistakes, which Filipinos do. While ignoring major mistakes and those who are shameless enough to justify them as being right. A culture that calls to crucify the earnest and release the shameless is not conducive to real development. In my German IT project experience, we have corrected mistakes and moved on to do better.

A culture that seeks to learn progresses. A culture that seeks to punish stays put or regresses. The real revolution that brings lasting effects is the one that happens in the mind.

Driving the BRP Sierra Madre into a reef was a stroke of genius. Using the oldest ship in the navy to block Ayungin Shoal. Filipino ingenuity can if given the chance.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5 February 2016

 

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About Philippine Priorities

This is about a comment about Filipino priorities by Singaporean banker chempo at Joe America’s blog. It has made me seriously ask: what priorities does the Philippines have?

To fight corruption?

Merlion, Merlion Park, Singapore - 20130315-04This is the relevant part of chempo’s comment:

If the objective is to help fight corruption — I can name other priorities —
– Anti-Dynasty Act
– Banking Secrecy Act — repeal or amend to permit criminal investigations,
– Persons-with-criminal-records-cannot-sit-in-congress/senate- or- some- other- high- institutions Act,
– Anti-universal Sufferage Act — no person or institution can demand group endorsement of candidates in an election,
– Anti-Corruption Unit Act — set up an independent body with wide ranging powers to investigate.
– Anti-bloody-nonsense TRO Act
– Anti-Representation Act — charge all giver and taker, tax-disallow representation expenses.
– Anti-switching-of-parties-after-election Act
– Serious-Notarisation Act — have proper gazetted lawyers to do this, not in a side street that advertises “Notary Services” & “Photocopy Services” on the same sign board, parties need to appear personally with ID and proper attire (respect for the law and a solemn event) — cannot send messengers.
ETC ETC ETC — give me time, I can give you 100 priorities.

To dispense justice?

Well, I answered and named two more priorities for the country:

1) Legal reform – the Criminal Code Draft of 2014 was just the beginning as is somewhere in that goddam lazy Congress.

2) Justice reform – Rizal said more than a hundred years ago that the reason why the English are respected in their possesions is their swift and speedy justice system. He was criticizing Spanish judges and the Penal Code of 1884 which is STILL today’s Filipino law.

To look good?

APEC 2015 TrafficTo be fair, the Congress and Senate have finished quite a few laws in the past years and the President signed them.  I did give credit to this here:

At least there is now a Philippine Competition Commission, meaning the Philippine Competition Act is being implemented. We worried about IRRs some months ago.

BUT I have a caveat – I read that Philippines EU FTA (free trade agreement) talks have started. Guess what one requirement of the EU was for FTA – you got it, competition legislation and implementation. We Filipinos – me included – need pressure to get moving.

A few reactions

Joe America’s answer – for which one must remember that former NEDA Secretary Balicasan, a man of high competence and integrity, is now heading the Philippine Competition Commision:

Yes, I was impressed that they met the deadlines. Commission formed, a good data-oriented, analytical head appointed. Saved me a blog article to complain about it, because I was tracking it. Kudos to both Aquinos, senatorial and presidential.

In the publications of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Manila there is an an article about Aquino’s 2015 SONA which specifically mention the Philippine Competition Act:

The Philippines has seen steady economic growth in the past years. In addition to that, the new Competition Act is a positive signal for international investors.
Back to the beginning of chempo’s comment, which I quote which it is appropriate in this context:
We have to ask ourselves first and foremost, what is the objective of the FOI in the case of Philippines? My base feeling is it’s just a showpiece — to show the world there, we too now have an FOI. We have joined the league of “clean” nations.

Figuring out things

Bmw welt + headquaterMy New Year article mentions the clean and dirty kitchen in the houses of those Filipinos who can afford it:

Because of colonialism, the Philippines have had the clean and dirty kitchen everywhere. The clean kitchen to be shown to guests, especially foreigners, and the dirty kitchen were the maids cook. Daang Matuwid was theoretically about honesty, about cleaning up the dirty kitchen. The Ombudsman seems to be hyperactive in smoking out corruption; BIR seems to have been cleaned while Customs remains a problem. And yes, charges were pressed in the Tanim-Bala scam. BBL was not handled well, and has failed. The MRT and Manila traffic not handled with enough foresight.

Walls were built to hide squatters from both visitors of the UNCTAD V conference in Manila during Marcos times, and the Pope. Does it sound similar to some things that happened this year? Yes. There are more honest Filipinos now than then in my opinion, but brutal honesty must increase. Not to hit back at “the other side”, but to solve the many problems the country has. The country is in the process of maturing, and maturity means adressing issues without resorting to passive-aggressive sullenness or denial on one side and aggressive blaming on the other.

Get Real Philippines is looking at President Aquino’s dirty kitchen all the time, while ignoring Marcos’ much dirtier kitchen. President Aquino, by virtue of having been in the United States and his mother having been there too, does have a bit of an American attitude about kitchens I think. Just like some of Aquino’s supporters have bit of an American attitude to dogs. Could this be the problem of Daang Matuwid, and most especially the Roxas campaign? The group that runs it is definitely well-meaning and seems to know what it is doing at least in theory. But they live in the clean kitchen part of the country. The Fast Forward video ad of Mar Roxas shows it clearly. And Korina Sanchez nearly fits the stereotype of the old Apo Hiking Society Song “Ang Syota Kong Burgis” (my high-class girlfriend): di pupuwede, sakay sa jeepney, sobrang usok at sikip. She can’t rid a jeepney with me, it’s too smoky and crowded.

Has Mar Roxas ever taken the MRT to work from Cubao where he lives to DILG which is EDSA Corner Quezon Avenue? Former Interior Minister Günther Beckstein of Bavaria took the Tram No. 19 every day to work. Angela Merkel goes shopping in the evenings – accompanied by some security people of course – and cooks for her husband in the evening. To Filipinos who can’t believe this, much like Europeans did not believe Marco Polo when he came back: the thing about Beckstein I just remember, and about Angela Merkel is in TIME magazine – there you have a US source:

Unified Germany is a relatively new democracy. It has no finished official residence, and if it did, Merkel would continue to live in the central Berlin apartment she shares with her husband, whose name is on the buzzer. “I always show it to Latin American visitors,” says Wissmann, who was Transportation Minister when Merkel ran the environment department. “I don’t know if it’s 100 square meters or 120, but that’s for a world leader. She is living modestly.”

The most powerful woman in the world does her own grocery shopping, dragging a small security contingent to the German equivalent of Kroger’s. “If you have good luck, you meet her on a Friday afternoon at the supermarket buying a bottle of white wine and a fish for dinner for her and her husband,” says Wissmann. “That’s not a show.”

I did like Duterte a bit when I first heard about him, the fact that he dresses simply and talks to the people of Davao regularly. But some of his statements have shown that he is too much from the dirty kitchen of the Philippines. So what does this have to do with priorities? I can only quote one of my favorite movies. This is from the end of Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone:

John Spartan: Whoa, Whoa. I’ll tell you what gonna do:
John Spartan: [to Chief Earle] Why don’t you get a little dirty?
John Spartan: [to Edgar] You a lot clean.
John Spartan: And somewhere in the middle… I don’t know. You’ll figure it out.
Alfredo Garcia: Fuckin’ A!
John Spartan: [impressed] Well put.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 3. February 2016

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