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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Papel ng Taongbayan

Philippine Civic Action Group Member Distributes Medicines

Sundalong Pilipinong tumutulong noong araw sa taongbayan ng Vietnam

Kalalabas lang ng isang artikulo ni Joe America tungkol sa FOI. Tama siya. Kailangang maging responsable ang lahat. Huwag na parang mga bata.

Papel ng Iba

Ang nandiyan na

Nagbigay siya ng maraming mga link para makasagap ng inpormasyon tungkol sa ginagawa ng gobyerno:

  • Revenue (perang pumapasok) by source and by department. Perang lumalabas at pumapasok galing sa DBM. Tungkol sa DAP heto naman.
  • Maraming statistics dito. Sa tingin ko – at tingin din ni Joe America – mahina mag-report ang mga dyaryo. Puro iskandalo at chika-chika lang yata.
  • Marami pang inpormasyon sa Official Gazette, sa Korte Suprema, sa Senado, sa Kongreso at sa iba’t-ibang mga Departamento ng Gobyerno.

Papel ng dyaryo

Makikitang maraming ginagawa ang lahat, kaya lang ang mga dyaryo halos puro pintas. At trabaho sana nila ang mag-summarize para sa normal na tao para maintindihan nila ang lahat. Sinabi rin ito ni Joe America. Ako naman, dahil hindi ako Amerikano – hindi gaanong mahilig magmura ang mga iyan – heto ang masasabi ko sa karamihang mga dyaryo: putangina nila! Mindanews mairerekomenda ko. Cebu Daily News OK din – at nakakatuwa ang kanilang cartoonist. Interaksyon para sa mga bagay na pambansa. Inquirer, Philstar, depende sa nagsusulat.

Citizen Ombudsman Office

Sinuggest ni Joe na merong dapat Citizen Ombudsman Office para tumulong sa taongbayan kapag kailangan ang inpormasyon. Ang sagot ko sa kanya itong komentaryo, kulang siguro ito:

  • kailangan siguro ng konting summarization dahil hindi lahat ng tao may panahon at edukasyon para pag-aralan ang lahat ng inpormasyon. Isang central website sanang may mga link.
  • kailangan siguro ng Complaints Office tulad ng meron sa Bavarian Interior Ministry – may kilala akong ale na nagtatrabaho doon, pag may nag-complain tungkol sa mga Mayor sa kanya.
  • kailangan siguro ng civic education office tulad ng meron sa Alemanya, hawak ng Interior Ministry. Doon ako kumuha ng free copy of the German Constitution noong assignment namin.

Meron ding website at hotline number ang gobyerno sa nalalaman ko, pero talagang kulang siguro iyon dahil kulang talaga sa inpormasyon at kaalaman ang mga taongbayan kaya nadidismaya.

Papel ng blog

MRT na sira (galing sa artikulo ng blog)

Pero gawin man ito ng gobyerno o hindi – o kung hindi magpakatino ang mga dyaryo, sino ang gagawa? Mga blog siguro malaking tulong:

  • Tungkol sa MRT ang ganda talaga nitong artikulo ng isang taga-Singapore. Tapos hetong blog ng isang Filipino traffic expert. May artikulo din ako pero suggestion lang iyon.
  • Tungkol sa SSS ang husay ng artikulo ng isang Australian na may koneksyon sa Labor Party – partido na para sa mga manggagawa, pero hindi Komunista, Social Democratic.
  • Ako naman, nais ko lamang tumulong para maliwanagan tayong lahat kaya narito itong blog. Ginawa tayong ignorante simula pa noong panahon ng Kastila, natatalo tayo diyan.

Anong blog ang mga puwedeng basahin. Heto ang mga binabasa ko:

  • Maganda ang blog ni Raissa Robles, pero dapat malaman na maka-Aquino ito talaga at anti-Marcos. Pansinin si Parekoy na nagkokomentaryo doon. Makulit, pero magaling.
  • Ang Get Real Philippines anti-Aquino masyado. Puro pintas tungkol sa ugali ng Pilipino pero kulang ang suggestion para pagandahin. Pero minsan may point sila, lalo na si Grimwald.
  • Si Joe America kumbinsido kay Aquino at Roxas, pero hindi puro pagpupuri lang sa kanila. Iba’t-ibang manunulat doon, maganda ang mga usapan. Si Karl Garcia, makulit dito at doon.

Sa mga blog, maaring matuto sa mga artikulo at diskusyon. Mamumulat ka talaga doon kung gugustuhin mo. Kina Joe mas madaling basahin. Kina Raissa mas simple ang format, hindi masyadong sinisita doon kahit magmura ka pa – kina Joe mas may moderasyon at structure. Kina Raissa mas maraming mga journalist at abogado, pero marami ring mga OFW at migrante. Ang maganda doon kina Raissa iyong mga bagong balita pinopost ng mga tao kaya doon ako nagpupunta para hindi mahuli. Kina Joe naman, ina-analyze, doon ako para kulitin si Joe America at iba.

Papel ng taongbayan

Mga grupong maitatayo

Maraming mga civic groups sa Pilipinas. Tulad ng Citizen Action Network for Accountability o CANA na nagmomonitor ng mga LGU pagdating sa pera. Kasi sa reklamo lang walang mangyayari. Wala ring mangyayari kung aasa-asa lang ang mga taongbayan sa politiko palaga – o kaya sa isang diktador na liligtas sa kanila. O kaya sa Diyos. Nasa kanya nga ang awa, pero nasa tao ang gawa. Kung itatanong sa akin ng isang Pilipino na hindi kontento kung ano ang magagawa niyang mag-isa, ang isasagot ko: eh di huwag kang mag-isa, talagang talo ka doon. Heto ang posible:

  • sumali sa isang civic group kung meron. Posibleng hindi ka sang-ayon sa lahat, pero kung 90% sang-ayon ka puwede na iyon. Hindi rin kami sang-ayon sa lahat ni Joe America. 90% lang. Pero mas maganda kung magtulungan ng puwersa kaysa iyong puro kanya-kanyahan lang. Diyan dapat matuto ang Pilipino sa tingin ko. Hindi marunong sa cooperation.
  • gumawa ng sariling civic group. Hindi ito madali. Nakita ko na ang buong takbo ng politika sa Pilipinas – mga high school club noong nandoon ako, Student Council. Nakita ko rin ang takbo sa mga organisasyon ng mga migrante. Napasubo din ako doon. May mga makati ang kamay. May mga mahilig magbintang kahit walang pinagbasehan. May mga masyadong pabor sa sarili lang nilang grupo kaya nagkakawatak-watak. Ako naman naloko ng isang nagmakaawa. Tinulungan ko sa pera ng grupo dahil ako ang Presidente noon. Tumakbo. Ako tuloy ang nagremedyo, ako pa ang nangutang sa bangko – pasalamat ako sa Nanay ko hanggang ngayon na siya ang nag-guarantor para pautangan ako, kundi sa kalye sana ang bagsak ko o sa preso. 22 years old ako noon. Ibinalik ko ang pera sa grupo at nag-resign ako. Pero siyempre maraming hindi naniwala sa akin, lalo na iyong pangkat ng isang ayaw sa akin. Kung magtayo ng grupo sa Pilipinas, kailangan nasa Internet ang lahat ng kuwenta para walang magduda. Kailangang matuto sa pagiging fair. Huwag pulitikang sapawan, pataasan ng ihi, siraan, paboss-boss, nakaw.
  • gumawa ng sariling Internet Forum o blog para talakayin ang mga mahalang tema para sa bayan. Pero matuto ng tunay na komunikasyon. Huwag sigaw agad, at makinig sa isa’t-isa.

Structured na paggawa

Africa Endeavor planning conference, Bamako, Mali, January 2011 (5412470973)

Disiplinado na pagplano at pag-uusap

Kung aangal-angal lang ang Pilipino kapag may nangyari na, at hahanap-hanap ng papakuhin sa krus, walang mangyayaring solusyon. Kailangan structured ang pag-analyze at pag-gawa:

  • Bigyan ng heading ang mga tema. May artikulo ako tungkol dito: Kabuhayan, Kaligtasan, Karunungan, Kakayahan, Kaunlaran. Para hindi buhol-buhol ang usapan.
  • Magsummarize ng lahat tungkol sa isang tema para mas madaling hanapin at isipin. Tungkol sa pera, meron akong summary sa artikulong ito: Money and Numbers.
  • Kung may grupo o forum, may toka-toka dapat siguro ang bawat tema o heading. Siya ang responsable. Para maayos ang pagpresenta ng mga inpormasyon at links.

Mga civic group, puwedeng kumausap sa gobyerno. Kung hindi makinig, ipahayag ang kulang pa at dapat punuhin. Ipaalam kung ano ang mga mali na dapat pang itama. Mga Internet forum, puwedeng kumolekta ng inpormasyon tungkol sa bawat heading. Tungkol sa bawat tema para kumpleto. Para big picture.

Kaninong trabaho iyan?

Trabaho nga sana ng gobyerno. Kaming mga blogger, puwede rin kaming maasar dahil ginagawa namin ang trabaho ng mga journalist na karamihan tamad yata o kaya bayaran.

Ako masuwerte at maganda magtrabaho ang gobyerno ng Alemanya at may silbi ang mga dyaryo rito, kaya may panahon ako para sa bansang iniwan ko. Pasalamat ako maganda kita ko sa negosyo ko at may panahon akong magbigay ng tulong sa Pilipinas bilang manunulat at analyst – salamat din sa mga libreng unibersidad sa Alemanya, at sa pautang sa akin ng gobyerno para sa estudyanteng mahirap. Pautang iyon hindi bigay. Bibigyan ka ng iilang taon para makahanap ng magandang trabaho, tapos babayaran mo ng unti-unti. Dahil nalaman nilang hindi maganda iyong bigay lang. Totoo iyon, dahil sinayang ko iyong una kong scholarship sa Alemanya. Sa laki ng binigay nila, ginamit ko sa pagbubulakbol. Buti pa noong sa McDo lang ako, kayod pero sipag sa pag-aaral. Talsik ako sa German scholarship, napilitang mag computer work – hindi rin masama dahil negosyo ko ngayon.

Ginawa kong aral ang bawat mali, minsan halos too late pero not yet too late. Hindi pa ako natuto sa lahat ng bagay. Naninigarilyo pa ako. O ngayon, maglabasan na ang mga nakakakilala sa akin dati na alam ang mga kabalastugan ko noon. Hindi ko ipagkakaila. Pero ang mahalaga, matuto sa mali. At sa magandang ugali ng iba – pasalamat ako sa mga Aleman. Marunong magpatawad sa pagkakamali – pero ayusin mo muna ang nagawa mong kapalpakan, at huwag mong ulitin. Saka na iyang kuwento na iyan, tungkol ito sa trabaho ko dati, balik tayo sa pinag-uusapan dito.

Kung kulang ang ginagawa ng gobyerno at hindi pa rin ipinupuno, taongbayan na ang dapat kumilos. Pero huwag mag-EDSA. Trapik na doon. Lalong huwag mag EDSA-Tres, gulo lang iyan.

Kung may mali ang gobyerno at hindi itama, magbigay ng suggestion. Kung kulang ang kaalaman ng mga civic groups at internet forum ng taongbayan, maghanap ng experto. Sulatan ang UP, Ateneo, La Salle. Lakasan ang loob. Huwag papayag na tawagin kayong mga bobong masa. Magbasa ng blog, magpakamulat para maliwanagan. Itong blog ko ginawa ko para makatulong diyan.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 2. February 2016

P.S. gaganda ang gobyerno kung dadami ang followers ng Daang Makulit. Mga katulad ni Parekoy, Joe America (kahit walang imikan iyong dalawa dahil nag-away dati tungkol sa US bases), Karl Garcia, Thaddeus Grimwald – kahit sa “kabila” siya malaki ang respeto ko sa kanya, at marami pa diyan sa mga blog tulad ng Joe America, Raissa Robles at pati na Get Real Philippines.

P.P.S. para walang makapagsabing nagdadag-bawas ako: may ikinorek akong typographical sa artikulo ngayon at dagdag ng konting paliwanag – at links para mapadali ang pagtalon-talon.


Money and Numbers

Brynner the KingDuterte said that algebra is useless. Filipinos should learn business math. I think he is wrong. King Mongkut of Siam, of the famous “The King and I” starring Yul Brynner, was a dictatorial man in real life and on screen. But there is a scene where the English teacher tells him of the importance of algebra and he orders everybody to learn it. Could that be the reason why Thailand is quite prosperous?

But Duterte also has a point somehow. Maybe we – and I include myself as a Pinoy – don’t know how to use what we learned properly. I have done advanced mathematics in school, but often failed to manage my money properly, until I learned by doing. So I did not REALLY learn my business math – which in the end is just addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and occasionally percentages. Because there are five steps to learning:

  1. understanding how something is supposed to work
  2. understanding how to be able to do it
  3. actually being able to do it
  4. applying it in reality
  5. mastering it

Mastering something means you apply it well. During a bad phase in my business I had to juggle my money, and first started by making notes, then a simple excel sheet and finally a cashflow sheet with expenses and income forecasts. Now I really know why I am doing it and how to avoid the danger zone. The classic Filipino educational system is a lot about theory and not about applicability and effects. The BBL draft I think shows this weakness. Back to money.

Talking about Money

“Mukhang pera” is a bad word in Filipino. It means money-faced. Some Filipinos say “pera lang iyan”. It’s just money. In the original abundance of the islands I guess it may not have mattered. But now where many people do not live in the barrio anymore, it does. Many Filipinos have debt issues. Some are gamblers. Many LGUs are in debt. There often have been budgeting issues.

It has dawned on me that many discussions in Philippine politics nowadays are about money. Here are some interesting articles from Joe America’s blog:

Money for Nothing

JapaneseIssuedPhilippinePeso-ObverseWhat surprises me is how many people believe that Jejomar Binay can give everybody in the Philippines the benefits he has given to Makati residents. It is clear that Makati is rich. The Philippines probably would go broke if he did what he plans to do. OK the national budget is 3 trillion pesos. Sounds like a lot of money. But divide 3 trillion by around 100 million Filipinos – keep things simple. Makes around 30 thousand pesos per Filipino a year.  That is around 600 Euro only. According to statistics government spending is around 16% of GDP. Not really much.

If one looks at other countries, the USA spends around 25% of its GDP for government, Australia around 35%, Switzerland around 30%. So you need to have the money first to be able to spend it. Common sense. There is I think a lot to be learned in these matters. There are those who think the government can print money. But it can only do so, very generally speaking, in proportion to the goods and services produced locally.

Otherwise you have inflation and your money loses value against other currencies. That is bad if you are importing a lot and/or have a lot of debt to other countries. Common sense I would say makes it logical that countries that produce more goods and services by themselves are more stable. One just has to look at prosperous countries like Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Australia, Canada to see that they have a lot of their own internal economy.

Burglars codesCollection and Distribution

Moving to another topic. It is well known that it can be hard to collect debts from some Filipinos. That many who earn salaries are dependent on loansharks for one reason or the other. But this is quite astounding:

  • That the BIR had a steep uphill fight in the last few years to improve collection efficiency
  • That the SSS has a lot of money uncollected according to the SSS article and others
  • That the money from the sale of Fort Bonifacio allegedly just vanished in thin air

On the distribution side, Pantawid Pamilya gives families ATM cards so that they can get their benefits from what I have gathered. But recently someone with 4Ps money was robbed in Albay – obviously it is paid out in cash also. Cash is of course always dangerous. It is not always traceable.

Important Questions

So there are a number of things that should be looked at to understand the money and the numbers better when it comes to the Philippines:

  • how much money is coming in (collections), being spent internally (costs) and being distributed like SSS and 4Ps?
  • how many taxpayers, how many SSS and GSIS members, how many beneficiaries of SSS, GSIS, 4Ps?
  • how much money is uncollected? BIR and SSS? How much money is not disbursed or liquidated?

In case of real freedom of information or FOI, these could be the first questions to be looked at. The details derive from the broader questions.

Some Observations

Just some observations as food for further thought:

  • In Germany, a lot is done via bank transfer. Tax offices demand quarterly advance payments, one fourth of expected annual income tax, from businesses. Businesses with employees have to submit electronic lists, I think to tax and social security offices – I am self-employed so I am not sure about this. As a former employee, I know that social security, health insurance and withholding tax are deducted from the gross monthly income, only the net income is paid out. Employers must transfer these contributions very quickly to the right institutions or risk a fine.
  • As for social security, unemployment pay or pension payments, everybody has a bank account and gets his money via bank transfer and then ATM card. There is a law that forces banks to give even poor people at least a basic bank account. Usually the very poor have a postal bank account or one at the local savings bank or rural bank. No cash and no cheques as far as I know.
  • One the personal money side, the Hanns-Seidel Foundation of Munich is helping the Philippines in the area of micro-finance and micro-enterprise development. This is good to make people depend less on loansharks and build their own existence, hopefully getting them out of poverty. Very many sari-sari stores close quickly because money is not properly managed from what I have heard so far. How financial literacy can generally be improved is a very significant question, especially among adults. Are there any DSWD programs for this? Does K-12 address it?

There is in my opinion not only much potential for leakage and inefficiency in the present Philippine system. But obviously a lot more for fraud and corruption, and persistent poverty.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 1. February 2016

Kabuhayan, Kaligtasan, Karunungan, Kakayahan, Kaunlaran

are Grace Poe’s priorities mentioned in an Inquirer article, plus two I added. The Inquirer headline is very unfair: Poe admits she has her own ‘KKK’. In the age of social media, many people only read the headline. Or they are in a hurry, and the bad impression stays. This is why – even though I did not want to write about the elections anymore – have decided to tackle the content of Poe’s ideas. I have already mentioned my preferences in a previous article. They are still the same. But still the good points of all candidates must be considered. It is about improving the country.

What I like are the three points, because they are Kabuhayan (Livelihood), Kaligtasan (Safety) and Karunungan (Knowledge). In my article about The Road Ahead, I looked at the Maslow hierarchy of needs. All three points address the basics people need in order to have minimum opportunities. From Poe’s suggestions, let us see what possibilities there are to enhance them.


Kompendium-the-best-of-german-mittelstand-erschienenFrom the Inquirer article: On livelihood, Poe said inclusive growth could not be achieved without jobs that would empower people, and jobs could not be created without the proper economic climate. “You can’t have investors if you don’t recalibrate your tax bracket, if you don’t reconsider foreign ownership,” she said.

I think that the major driver of jobs are SMEs – Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. The percentage of jobs in SMEs is very high in prosperous countries like Japan, Korea and Switzerland. Southern Germany has a lot of SMEs – from high-quality specialized machine tool factories, lens manufacturers, suppliers of automotive parts etc. that give jobs to people in the countryside, and the butchers, bakers, car repair jobs etc. that provide goods and services to the local people. Traditionally the focus was too much on big multinationals in the Philippines. The thing is, big multinationals are fine, but they can also leave. There are so many own industries the Philippines could have. One could start with native capabilities. Lambanog is starting to be a in drink in Germany, because it is being marketed like Bacardi rum. Filipino handicrafts, if done well, are beautiful and could find markets in Europe where people like original and cultured artifacts. Years ago Indonesian classic furniture, very similar to what Filipino native carpenters produce, was the craze in Germany. Trying to be too “modern” all the time is not always the right way to go.

Good thing there are now Negosyo Centers in the Philippines, thanks to the Go Negosyo Act. And a Philippine Competition Commision to prevent the oligarchs from crushing the less powerful. Because this is not what Adam Smith had in mind when he wrote about the Wealth of Nations. It is I think more like the prosperous world of Southern Germany or Switzerland, where people have opportunities if they do their work well – as engineers, as technicians, as butchers, as bakers, as mechanics. All businesses there are taxed locally also – so LGUs compete to get businesses.


Juan Carlos Nacul charla penalGrace Poe said she would hire private survey firms to determine which barangays have drug and crime problems and she would provide incentives to barangay officials who could handle these problems. She would keep in touch with these officials about those problems, she said. I wonder if delegating things to the barangay is enough. Incentives could lead to covering things up. The reputation of barangay officials is not exactly the best, even if I do not want to do those who are earnest injustice. But the idea with survey firms is good. Undercover work might be even better.

There is Oplan Lambat-Sibat which tries to address the drug problem by going for what would be called “High Value Targets” in another context. The big fishes. Just addressing drugs at the local level is not enough if one does not do what is necessary to cut of the supply. PNP initiatives for community policing that are already starting would help at the local level. It might even make sense to give witness protection and relocation to local drug dealers if they help catch the big fish – or even make the most savvy of them resident experts, like the FBI does with hackers, or did with the famous swindler Frank Abagnale.

Poe also said Kaligtasan.. refers not only to security but also to health. Regional and provincial hospitals, especially in the 20 poorest provinces, must get the proper equipment and the necessary number of doctors to attend to the medical needs of people in their areas, she said. Good. I don’t know what the DOH has been doing, so I cannot compare to her programs.

Justice is not mentioned in Poe’s programs. The only candidate who has mentioned simplification of laws so far is Rodrigo Duterte, as I mentioned in my article about his program. Filipino laws are a tangle of Spanish laws, American laws, and laws from different Republics. The principle of legal certainty is probably often violated. Clear laws make it less easy for attorneys to discuss endlessly about which law is to be applied, and for court proceedings to concentrate on whether guilt can be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It would speed up justice, increasing confidence in it.

Rizal himself said in The Philippines, A Century Hence: The thing that makes the English most respected in their possessions is their strict and speedy justice, so that the inhabitants repose entire confidence in the judges. The DOJ Criminal Code Draft of 2014 intends to replace the old Penal Code, which although revised in based on the one from 1884 that Rizal already criticized.


8 factores predictivosPoe also mentioned that the government’s scholarship program therefore must be fully funded, and a standard lunch program for children in public elementary school. The lunch program is nice, because there have been stories about how the otherwise excellent Pantawid Pamilya or 4Ps program has been misused by parents. Lunch is an incentive for the kids to really go to school.

I disagree with having to send all students to college, and tend to agree with the K-12 program which makes good professionals of people without having to give them a college degree. There is the TVET track which teaches vocational skills and integrates with TESDA. The K-12+ program which is German-sponsored is about Dual Training, the successful German model for creating highly skilled workers which are the backbone of its industrial economy and its many industrial SMEs. The academic track has the Accounting, Business and Management (ABM) strand, which can replace the overrated “commerce” bachelors from the usual diploma mills and create truly capable office workers instead. There is the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand, which is for those who may later want to take college subjects in that area, and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Strand (STEM) which is for future engineers and scientists.

And the teaching in local language in the beginning has its reasons – because modern science has found out that the capability to connect theory and practice, to use language effectively to model reality and form concepts based on reality, is built in the first years, and learning immediately in a foreign language impairs this skills. After these skills are learned, they can be transferred to another language – in this case Filipino and English. This addresses a problem in much Filipino thinking – either very complex but divorced from reality, or very concrete but without any system.

Putting things together

Which brings us back to Grace Poe. She has some very modern thinking. Much Filipino thinking is convoluted. Much is either too pragmatic (Duterte) or too theoretical (Santiago) while Poe’s thinking does have two aspects I consider important: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down: she has identified the three major needs of people in a country. Bottom-up: she has identified that certain issues need to be addressed on the ground in a practical way so that theory is not only that, but also works in practice.

What is missing is the middle. I would break down the three points further as follows:

  • Kabuhayan (Livelihood) – business and jobs, social welfare (4Ps for example), entepreneurship (Go Negosyo)
  • Kaligtasan (Safety) – policing, justice, and I think DILG might want to have a place were citizens can complain about LGUs
  • Karunungan (Education) – school lunches, K-12, adult education (maybe even something like the Volkshochschule?)
  • Kakayahan (Capabilities) – infrastructure (internet, transport, facilities), industry, agriculture
  • Kaunlaran (Progress) – science (DOST programs are already excellent), thinking (think tanks for foreign policy, defense etc.), universities (strengthen provincial colleges for example)

I have added two further points because it is not enough just to think of the basics. They must be secured, otherwise the foundation of progress is unstable. But the Philippines has great potential, and it must be harnessed. The subpoints are suggestions, and policies can be developed for each of them. There are 15 subpoints all in all in this suggestion, and 5 main points.

This structure could be used as a way for a President to report on progress using the Internet, with details for the curious. Even with maps of the Philippines to show how these points and subpoints are progressing in every LGU, in every barangay even. Shine a very bright light on everything. Because people still don’t trust the government. Which I understand from history.

Poe and Duterte – also Señeres – are addressing some weaknesses of the government. A good future government should listen. But be competent to be able to deal with it. This is why I am placing my hopes on a Roxas-Robredo tandem – Roxas for competence, Robredo for the people and common sense. If they really work together well, they can do much. But that I have already written.

Further possibilities

I am not a friend of FOI. But I do believe – just like Grace Poe – that the Executive should commit to giving transparent and well-summarized information. Like the Internet progress report and the progress map of the country i suggested. Because FOI would lead to people nitpicking and looking for errors without seeing the big picture. Like a lot of what is happening now on social media.

There could however be a simple version of FOI within LGUs. Give every LGU citizen a logon account to access summarized data about budget, projects and their status. There are already projects like DOST iGovPhil which this could be made a part of – and help build the local software industry beyond just BPO to develop true products to sell internationally. Have a citizen service office in every LGU – run by DILG – that is there to explain things and to register questions and complaints. Take the steam out of the anger that many Filipinos now still feel about their government.

Empower the Filipino. But help understand things better. Filipinos were made ignorant, by colonial masters first, then by the elite. Raise people up. Build confidence for a better future.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 31. January 2016





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Taongbayan at Gobyerno

Mahalaga ang pagkakaisa ng taongbayan at gobyerno para sa kaunlaran. Sa ngayon puro siraan pa rin ang nangyayari sa Pilipinas, imbes na pag-usapan kung ano ang dapat ayusin at pagandahin. Kung may pagkakamali, dapat matuto rito at huwag magturuan, tulad ng mga nangyari tungkol sa Mamasapano. Bakit kaya ganito ang Pilipinas? Napag-isipan ko. Punta tayong Switzerland.

Ang sambayanang Swiss


Swiss 1291 Constitution

Iyong mga Swiss, noong 1291 nila ginawa ang una nilang Konstitusyon. Napaikli. Napakaliwanag. Alam ng kahit sino kung ano ang tungkulin niya at kung ano ang bawal. Tatlong canton, tatlong tribo ng mga tagabundok ang nagkaisa para magtulungan sa pagtatanggol ng kanilang lupang tinubuan, at para maging maayos ang kanilang pamumuhay. Heto ang pagsalin ko sa unang konstitusyon nila, mahalagang malaman dito na ang tawag ng mga Swiss sa kanilang mga taongbayan hanggang ngayon ay “kasama sa panata” o Eidgenosse sa Aleman.

SA NGALAN NG DIYOS – AMEN. Naitataguyod ang karangalan at pangkalahatang kaligayahan kapag may mga naitatayong mga liga upang itatag sa tamang paraan ang katahimikan at kapayapaan.

Kaya dapat malaman ng lahat ng tao na nakita ng mga taongbayan ng valley ng Uri, ng demokrasya ng valley ng Schwyz, at ng komunidad ng mababang valley ng Unterwalden, ang karahasan ng panahon na ito. Upang maipagtanggol nila ang mga bayan at taongbayan nila ng mas maganda, at manatili sila sa magandang kondisyon, nangako silang may kagandahang loob na sila’y magtutulangan sa pamamagitan ng bawat payo at pabor, tao at gamit, sa loob at labas ng valley, sa lahat ng puwersa at tauhang kaya nila, laban sa lahat ng maaring makadulot sa kanila ng karahasan, pagkamolesta o pananakit, o tumangka ng masama sa mga tao o pag-aari nila. At sa bawat pagkakataon, ipinangako ng bawat komunidad na tulungan ang kapwa komunidad kapag kinakailangan, sa sariling gastos, habang kinakailangan upang mapaglabanan ang mga atake ng mga masasama, at gumanti sa pinsala; para rito ay nanumpa sila ng panatang tapat na itupad ito na walang lalang, at ipanibago sa paglathalang ito ang lumang anyo ng liga, na nakatayo din sa isang panata.

  1. Ngunit sa paraan na ang bawat tao, depende sa kanyang ranggo, ay magsisilbi pa rin sa among nararapat sa kanya.
  2. Isinumpa at itinakda rin namin sa pangkalahatang konsehal at nagkakaisang pagpapahintulot na hindi namin tatanggapin ang anumang husgado sa mga valley na nabanggit na napunta sa puwesto na may binayaran o may kapalit para makuha ito, o hindi taga-amin. Ngunit kung magkaroon ng anumang hindi pagsang-ayon sa pagitan ng mga kasama sa panata, lalabas ang pinakamasinop sa mga kasama sa panata upang ayusin ang problema ng dalawang grupo sa nakikita niyang nararapat; at kung hindi tanggapin ng isang grupo ang kanyang desisyon, ituturing silang kalaban ng ibang mga kasama sa panata.
  3. Naitakda na kung sino ang pumatay sa iba ng sinasadya at walang pagpapagalit ay papatayin kapag nahuli, pagkat ito ang nararapat sa kanyang malaking kasalanan, maliban kung maprueba niyang hindi niya nagawa ang krimen na iyon; at kung makatakas siya’y huwag siyang pabalikin. Kung sinong magtago at tumulong sa ganyan na kriminal ay palalayasin sa valley, hanggang sa sila’y sadyang pabalikin ng mga kasama sa panata.
  4. Pero kung sadyang saktan ng isang kasama sa panata sa araw o gabi ang ibang tao sa pamamagitan ng apoy, hindi na siya ituturing bilang kapwa taongbayan. Kung may tumulong o magtanggol sa nasabing kriminal, siya ang magaayos ng nagawang pananakit sa nasaktan.
  5. Kung sirain ng kahit sinong kasama sa panata ang pag-aari ng iba, o saktan siya sa anumang paraan, kukunin ang mga pag-aari ng gumawa, kung makuha ang mga ito sa valley, para bayaran ng makatarungan ang nanakawan o nasaktan.
  6. Walang taong aagaw ng pag-aari ng iba dahil sa utang, maliban na siya’y maliwanag na nagpautang o bilang deposito, at sa pahintulot lamang ng kanyang husgado.
  7. Susunod sa kanyang husgado ang bawat tao, at magpapakita kung kinakailangan sa husgado na nakatakda para sa kanya. At kung may magrebelde kontra sa isang sentensya, at may masaktan gawa ng kanyang katigasan ng ulo, dapat pilitin ng lahat ng kasama sa panata ang may kasalanan upang bawiin o ayusin ang nagawang pananakit.
  8. Kung magkaroon ng gyera o labanan sa loob mga kasama sa panata at ayaw tanggapin ng isang pangkat ang sentensya ng husgado o ayusin ang nagawang pananakit, dapat ipagtanggol ng mga kasama sa panata ang kabilang pangkat.

Mga nakasulat na kasunduan na ito, na itinakda para sa pangkalahatang kapakanan at kabutihan, ay mananatili magpakailanman, awa ng Diyos. Bilang katunayan nito, sa kahilingan ng mga nabanggit na pangkat, isinulat ang kasunduan na ito at binigyan ng katunayan sa pamamagitan ng mga selyo ng nasabing tatlong komunidad at valley.

Isinagawa sa taong 1291 sa simula ng buwan ng Agosto.

Natural na gumawa sila ng iilang mga iba pang konstitusyon na mas mahaba at detalyado. Mas moderno. Pero iyong mga prinsipyo na napagkasunduan sa simula, hindi gaanong nagbago. Hindi panay ang Cha-Cha. Mabagal magdesisyon ang mga Swiss. Pero may maayos na pundasyon ang lahat ng ginagawa nila. Heto ang Konstitusyon ng mga Swiss sa ngayon para sa mga interesado.

Namatay si Rudolf I ng Habsburg noong 15 ng Hulyo 1291. Kaya rin nila minadali ito para makalaya sila sa pinakamatagal na political dynasty sa Europe. Isa ring Habsburg si Felipe II na siyang nagbigay ng pangalan sa Pilipinas. Kontrabida siya sa dramang Don Carlos ni Friedrich Schiller, na naging inspirasyon daw para sa Star Wars. Papel ni Felipe II, napunta kay Darth Vader. Iyong angkan na nagpadusa sa mga taga-LuzViMinda, na nagbigay pa ng pangalan sa bansa, pinalayas na ng mga Swiss bago pa mapapadpad si Magellan sa Pilipinas. Nauna silang maging malaya.

Tagpi-tagping sambayanang Pilipino

Coat of arms of the Philippines (per 1998 Law)Maganda sana ang 1987 Constitution. Kung totoo sanang isinasagawa ang lahat ng nakalagay rito, halos perpektong bansa na sana ang Pilipinas, daig pa ang Switzerland, Japan o Korea. Ngunit hindi natutupad ang mga hangarin niya sa aktuwal, kahit simulan natin sa Preamble. Saan naging “just and humane society” ang Pilipinas? Ang daming naghihirap, ang daming mga lugar na magulo at nakakatakot pa rin hanggang ngayon. Ano ang silbi ng isang Saligang Batas na simula pa lang hindi nasusundan? Tapos iyong mga batas na ang dami at paiba-iba, hindi maintindihan.

Iyong mga edukado at mayaman, napakamoderno ng pag-iisip, ang gaganda ng mga lugar nila. Iyong mga mangmang at mahirap, mas mangmang at mahirap pa siguro kaysa mga nakatira sa LuzViMinda bago itinawag itong Pilipinas ng mga mananakop na Kastila. Masyadong malaki ang agwat – sa pera, sa edukasyon, sa nakasanayang ugali, kaya mahirap pamunuan ang Pilipinas.

Kung gaanong kawatak-watak tignan ang mga isla ng Pilipinas, ganyan ding kawatak-watak ang kanyang mga tribo, mga partido, mga taga-siyudad at promdi, mga Kristiyano at Muslim.

Ano ang solusyon?

2011 Wikimedia Philippines Annual ReportWalang madaling solusyon. Kailangan munang pag-usapan ng mga taongbayan, o kaya iyong mga kumakatawan sa kanila, kung ano ba talaga ang ninanais na sambayanan. Ang nandiyan na, huwag gibain. Kahit patong-patong at tagpi-tagpi. Batas na Kastila, Amerikano at Pilipino na madalas na hindi tugma sa isa’t-isa. Konstitusyon na hindi ibinuhay ng husto. Sana naman maiwasan ang ganito:

  1. Iyong kung anu-anong mga plano na gumawa agad ng federal o parliamentary. Iyong nandiyan na paandarin muna ng mabuti bago isipin kung paano na naman babaguhin.
  2. Iyong kung anu-anong mga inutil na diskusyon ng mga pulitikong para sa kanilang kapakanan lang kahit para sa bayan kuno. Sa Kongreso man, sa Senado o kung saan.
  3. Iyong pag-iisip na masyadong makitid. Agawan ng pera, di baling mapunta sa hirap ang buong bansa basta OK ang sariling grupo. Paunlarin muna ang buong bansa.

Pag-usapan muna sana sa matinong paraan kung ano ang mga tamang prinsipyo para sa magandang pakikisama sa loob ng LuzViMinda. Para gumanda ang buhay ng taongbayan. Masuwerte ang mga Swiss dahil noong nagsimula ang kanilang bansa noong 1291, sila mismo ang nag-usap-usap kung ano ba talaga ang mga prinsipyong pagkakasunduan nila. Konstitusyon ang tawag sa ganoon. Sa Pilipinas naman, mga sumakop ang nagdesisyon, pagkatapos nito mga matataas ang nag-usap-usap, hindi gaanong naisali ang mga normal na tao. Pero hindi pa huli ang lahat kung ito ang gawin:

  1. Huwag na sanang maliitin ng mga edukado ang mga hindi gaanong edukado. Iyong mga walang gaanong edukasyon, makinig muna sa paliwanag huwag husga kaagad kung maari.
  2. Makinig din sana ang mga edukado sa mga paliwanag ng mga hindi gaanong edukado. Baka mas alam nila ang mga nangyayari sa aktuwal, sa mundo nila, na hindi ganyang kaperpekto.
  3. Iwasan ang sisihan. Kung may nagnakaw o gumawa ng dahas, husgaan sana ng mabilis at parusahan agad, pero sa makatarungan na paraan. Ang kapalpakan o mali lang, gawing aral.

Meron na ngayong social media. Mas madaling pag-aralan ang dapat malaman. Mas madaling makipagkonekta sa ibang tao kung gugustuhin. Malaking trabaho talaga. Magkaisang hatak sana.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, ika-29 ng Enero 2016

P.S. Ang majority ng Pilipino ngayon, mga millenials. Ewan ko kung ilan sa kanila ang naguguluhan sa mga ginagawa ng mga namumuno. Sila ang mag-isip sana, para sa kinabukasan din nila.

P.P.S. kinorek ko iyong Artikulo 4, dinagdag ko iyong “sa pamamagitan ng apoy” dahil nakalimutan ko sa pagsasalin. Mahalaga itong parte dahil diyan nakikita kung gaano sigurong kagulo ang lugar na iyon noong itinaguyod ang Konstitusyon ng mga Swiss. Malamang na karahasan, nakawan at away ng mga iba’t-ibang grupo ang laging nangyayari. ika-30 ng Enero 2016, 9:30 a.m.




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Bahala na ang Diyos – by Parekoy

Christ in Ravenna (Source: Wikimedia)

Dios mio perdon!

Our generations were taught by our teachers and elders that one of our misguided beliefs is that we entrust our fate so much in faith of God. We disappoint and fail to listen to them though.

Our culture has these wrong comparisons on looking at life. One of them goes this way:

Kung ang ibon ay di pinababayaan ng Diyos tao pa kaya?

The oversimplification that God takes care of a simple bird creature poisons the mindset of our kababayans. They are misled that God takes care of everything and miraculously provides the poor bird his food on a silver platter! The reality is that the poor bird does not believe in any god but relies on his instinct and whatever intelligence it could harness from its tiny brain. Early in the morning it toils, flies, and searches for its food and sustenance.

But most of our unfortunate brothers and sisters, though literate, are not equip with skills that will help them progress beyond survival. They cling to God and the wrong belief that He provides even if they remain seated like a granite monument. Once they experienced hunger and realized that God does not provide, they are pounded by a wrecking ball of reality that indeed they better learn the ways of the bird and start to rely on themselves. For most of our kababayans, it is too late for them and it will take a generation and great odds to hurdle for their kids to climb the walls of poverty and reach a ledge of survival and able to eat three meals a day!

JfObandoSlumsPhilippinesfvf 07

Philippine slum, Obando (source: Wikimedia)

Our culture saddles us and we need to revisit our values and throw away what don’t work, keep those that empower us, and learn to borrow from other cultures why they become economically and politically superior.

One thing that we need to put in the dustbin is our pwede na attitude. Why settle for less if by a little bit more effort and trying we could achieve the norm and if we give our best we achieve the best results.

Another is we are forgiving people to a fault. There is nothing wrong being magnanimous and forgive those who wronged us, but the wrongdoers should be punished first accordingly and do their time and pay for their misdeeds, then we can talk about forgiveness. Our plunderers and politicians take advantage of this abnormality in our psyche and konting paawa and pa-effect na luha, eh pusong mamon na ang karamihang Pilipino at madaling mauto. Marcoses are a living proof on this regard and Erap as well.

But one of the hindrances and biggest culprits is our lack of discipline in our culture! It starts with a simple house cleaning and taking care of our trash. Instead of placing our trash in a proper container and disposal, we throw it to our neighbor’s property or any place but our place. We are even drawn to piss on the wall that has written warnings, Bawal ang umihi dito. We don’t follow simple rules like pumila and be considerate to others who are ahead of us in line. Instead of using the pedestrian lane, we cross our streets and treat them as our oversized patintero playground. Instead of using the overpass walkways, we endanger ourselves by betting with our lives in crossing the busy highways for gaining five minutes of crossing and reaching our destinations. Most of us got our driver’s license by cheating and paid padulas to do away with the actual driving test. Most of us treat our traffic lights as suggestion and not a command to follow. Bending the rules and getting away of not following them is our norm! We justify our little infractions by pointing to our lawmakers who are themselves the breakers of the laws they create! We are really good critics and aware of our politicians’ shenanigans and their customary use of our public money as their private accounts, yet we are proud to get them as our Ninongs and Ninangs in our Kasal o binyag of our kids and wishing that by having these relationships will pave our ways to benefit us in some ways of getting better jobs or ease of doing business.

HK Victoria Park Filipino Migrant Workers

Filipino migrant workers (source: Wikimedia)

When we examine our infractions individually they are little but if we dig deeper the effect of the accumulation of infractions is quite damaging and destroying the very fabric of our society. We are unwittingly tearing ourselves, unnecessarily.

Our OFWs and immigrants can attest that we have the ability to change for the better. We have proven that we are capable of following simple rules and be a good citizen of other countries. We became a different person and awakened our other personality, who is much better than who we were back in our country. We are not only in our spectator capacity but as active participants and contributors to the progress of other nations through the use of our skills and talents. We know our potentials and our capabilities as OFWs and Migrants for we are living proof of our contributions and achievements.

Our challenge is how do we impart to our kababayans our better attitudes and mindsets that are beneficial to our country’s well-being and progress?

Without discipline, we are our own worst enemies!


Reblog of a posting at Raissa Robles’ Cyber Plaza Miranda by Parekoy.
c/o Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 28. January 2016

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Philippine Presidential Candidates

Past Philippine Presidents

Past Philippine Presidents

I have been looking at the Presidential candidates for a while now. I have taken time to evaluate things. There are six candidates for President:

  • Manuel Roxas II
  • Roy Señeres
  • Grace Poe
  • Rodrigo Duterte
  • Miriam Santiago
  • Jejomar Binay

The order is not by chance. It is my ranking of candidates. I will not get into Senators and Congressmen. These are decisions for those back home anyway. This opinion will be my last election-related article.

Mar Roxas

Roxas has by far the most experience in national government. He has held several positions as secretary of different departments, and has been Senator and Congressman. He knows how the complex jungle of Philippine government works. He also has shown the capability to find analytical solutions and implement them in organizations, such as Oplan Lambat-Sibat and Oplan Listo within the DILG. He may at times get impatient or annoyed, and sometimes may have lacked the feeling for “on the ground” situations. Yolanda and other matters were lessons learned for him as well.

But programs like Bottom-Up-Budgeting show that he understands the basic issues of LGUs when it comes to planning their expenditures and managing their funds. Some Philippine LGUs, I have been told, rely on loansharks for financing. BUB is like Pantawid Pamilya, but for local government units – it helps and teaches good habits. It gives money, but attached to responsible planning.

And hopefully liquidation. As for some unliquidated Yolanda funds, connecting them to Mar Roxas like some do is a big stretch and sound like pure malice to me. But I do hope he listens to Leni Robredo, when it comes to the people. He should know how to appoint the right Secretaries for a good Cabinet, having done similar jobs before. This will be his main job, coordinating a Cabinet. Another of his jobs will be convincing the Senate and the Congress pass the right laws, he was in both and knows the political game well. Hope he makes good use of LEDAC so that priorities are set and kept in lawmaking.

Roy Señeres

The dark horse in the race has good ideas. He has been an ambassador. He is non-dynastic. He understands the common people. But his ideas are too focused only on taking care of OFWs. This is not enough to run a nation. He should have tried to be a Senator first. He might be a good person to consider for a Cabinet position, taking care of OFWs after Binay. To gain more experience in national government. Candidates outside old political families are still rare. More of them next time I hope.

Grace Poe

She might have good intentions. Her ideas of how to get things done are pure fantasy. Her way of dealing with some situations does not show depth of character – some might see it as treachery, maybe she is naive and misled by Chiz Escudero. Well, if she is naive, she is not ready. If she is too weak to deal straight, she has to learn to be stronger. She might be OK in 2022 – if natural-born or if the requirements have been changed by then. She does know how to talk to the people, and most probably feels for them. But that is not enough to be able to become Philippine President.

Rodrigo Duterte

He does not in my opinion understand what it takes to be President. One recent example: his stance on “feeding rich ambassadors“. Anyone who has any curiosity on diplomatic practice – and even basic Filipino hospitality – will know that it is normal to treat one’s guests well. Ambassadors represent other countries one has relationships with. Besides, most diplomatic receptions are not sit-down dinners, they are standing receptions with canapes. And not all Ambassadors are rich. Some may even come from poor families and made it to the top by being excellent in their job.

His ideas about shutting down infrastructure projects are nonsense as well. A country has contracts and obligations. One can suspend contracts to scrutinize them. But a country that is not predictable and reliable in its international dealings loses trust. Trust is a very important capital. Germany’s trust in the Philippines I think was damaged by NAIA3. This has gotten better now.

What I did like about him is his hands-on mentality, and how he talks to ordinary people. But it is too much of the saloon cowboy mentality. A big ship, a country, cannot be driven like a banca.

Miriam Santiago

Too old school and inflexible. Her legalistic approach is outdated, she would just throw out EDCA and jeopardize Philippine national security. Even assuming she is healthy.

Jejomar Binay

Not trustworthy in any way. Boo! A man who shows subservience to the Pope, but expects subservience from others “below him” is suspect. I like people who are treat everybody the same way, no matter what rank they have. Respect people (Mayor Duterte, the Pope must be respected, Mar Roxas watch your tone with common people at times) but don’t bow to them – Leni is perfect in this.

Leni Robredo

Leni Robredo is my preference for Vice-President. She combines growing competence with a totally new approach to dealing with common people, so far unknown in Filipino national politics. Could be a good President come 2022, the first after Magsaysay outside the usual political families. Exposure would help her gain the necessary national government experience.

Joey Salceda

At the provincial level, there is Governor Joey Salceda of Albay who is like Robredo in approach. But he is staying in Albay. Most probably because he cares and does not want to leave his people. Maybe because he also knows that the Filipino people do not yet have the same unity as Albayanos. They would be much more difficult to lead. I do not envy any honest Filipino President.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 23 January 2016


Der Sache wegen

Friedrich Zweite Alt

Friedrich der Große

means because of the matter at hand in German. Now I have been in Germany since 1982, when I left the Philippines where I grew up because of my opposition to the Marcos dictatorship. Now when I, then still a total Pinoy was shocked at how much stricter democratic Germany was than the Marcos dictatorship, and much more orderly. Hardly any jaywalking except for me and other Pinoys who were my first barkada in Germany. Along EDSA near Aurora boulevard in the early 1980s, people not only jaywalked, they used the street when the sidewalks were full, inspite of barriers erected to prevent this. And of course brownouts and water shortages were common, officials took bribes so very often, and people who had connections had it easier. So much for Marcos-era discipline. The Marcos dictatorship was terrifying in its impunity towards its detractors – yet ridiculous in its outward show combined with real inefficiency and incompetence.

The root cause of much Filipino failure is lack of objectivity and dispassionate analysis – Sachlichkeit in German. Sachlichkeit means concentrating on the matter at hand. Not on showing off like Marcos. Not on who is at fault like President Benigno Aquino III sometimes does, with all due respect. Not on whether someone is a former Marcos man or a proper Liberal Party member.  Because Binay was anti-Marcos and pro-Cory, now what has he become? Erap, for all his mistakes, seems to have mellowed into someone who does care for his own country more than ever.

Sure, Germany has had its witch-hunts. Real witch burnings in the Middle Ages. An old German friend of mine says – he hates the Church – that priests burned mostly redheads because they probably refused to sleep with them. Summary courts – the Femegerichte – were feared even after the Middle Ages. The trial and execution of Milady in The Three Musketeers is an example of how these kind of courts used to work. The Nazis persecuted nearly everyone. So did the Stasi in East Germany. Seeing only your own side as right, without objectivity, is a trap that can lead to this.

Law and Order

There is from old Prussia – which became the core of the German Reich in 1871, but was abolished by the Allies in 1947 – the legend of the Miller Arnold, and the real story behind it.

The legend goes that Frederick the Great was being disturbed by the clatter of the mill sails and offered to buy the mill from its miller, Johann William Grävenitz. When he refused, the king is supposed to have threatened: “Does he not know that I can take the mill away from him by virtue of my royal power without paying one groschen for it?” Whereupon the miller is supposed to have replied: “Of course, your majesty, your majesty could easily do that, if – begging your pardon – it were not for the Supreme Court in Berlin.”

The real story was that in 1768 there was a legal dispute at another location over water rights and the remaining lease between Christian Arnold, the tenant of a mill in Pommerzig in the Neumark, and his landlord, the Count of Schmettau. After the miller was found guilty on two accounts, he appealed to Frederick the Great, who intervened in the ongoing proceedings in favour of the miller. Wrongly, as it turned out later. The king referred the case to the Berlin Court of Appeal, who once again ruled against the miller. Frederick the Great, then demanded a condemnation of the judges and their imprisonment in Spandau Citadel for their unjust judgments and thus precipitated an abuse of his name. This legal battle and the story of the Sanssouci miller were woven together in the legend and were intended to emphasize the king’s justice towards all his subjects. After the death of Frederick the Great, the case was reopened.

The legend therefore was that even then, royal power was superseded by the objectivity of the law. The reality was that royal power then was not always objective (sachlich) with regards to the law. Now how this applies to President Benigno Aquino III and his objectivity may depend on the observer. Joe America will say one thing, GRP another. I tend to agree 2/3 with JoeAm on this matter, 1/3 with GRP, and fully with myself of course. I think he has been a bit partial in some cases (Purisima), objective on others (Corona) and wishy-washy in some like holding on to Secretary Abaya.

A distanced look at the evidence regarding Frederick the Great of Prussia points to his having very possibly been gay. Now that did not impact on his leadership, which was excellent in its results. Now I don’t care about Aquino’s sex life. Nor do I care about that of Senate President Franklin Drilon, or that of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Or that of former German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is admittedly gay and even took his partner with him on trips. Aquino’s performance counts. Here I might agree 80% with JoeAm, 20% with GRP. My evaluation is still ongoing.

Mehr Sein als Schein

Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew

means be more than you seem to be, and is attributed to King Frederick. It is very Protestant and very Prussian. The more Catholic it gets and the more south you go in German-speaking countries, the more they place importance on appearances. The Austrians especially the Viennese can be downright charming, Austrian and Bavarian villages have beautiful Baroque churches. Now in contrast to that, Northern Germany is austere. Berlin soil is mainly sand, Prussia was poor. It had to conquer other lands like agricultural Silesia – partly because it could not feed itself.

Now contrast that with Marcos, whom Lee Kuan Yew looked down upon for lacking true substance: “In Bali in 1976.. I was to discover that for him, the communiqué was the accomplishment itself; its implementation was secondary”. Marcos’ projects were often “built on sand” and rushed, his heavy borrowing and printing money finally impoverished the country: “He [Marcos] sent his minister for trade and industry, Bobby Ongpin, to ask me for a loan of $300-500 million to meet the interest payments. I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘We will never see that money back.’  The MRT3 seems to have been a typical Marcos-style project started in Ramos’ time – rushed and done too cheaply, and the price is being paid now. The Philippines lived beyond its means under Marcos, not just Marcos and Imelda. I have mentioned that living beyond one’s means never leads to true modernity. Just white elephants, like the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

In a country that still can’t run a 17 kilometer elevated tram system properly, a nuclear power plant in an earthquake zone. Imagine Pinatubo in 1991 and Marcos still in power, BNPP running…

Predictability and Reliability

Recent Joe America articles criticize Peter Wallace. I criticize Peter Wallace too, for putting all the blame for the perceived unreliability of the Philippine government on President Aquino, while singing the praises of some other politicians. But what I do share with Peter Wallace is his criticism of the Philippines as having been (still being?) an unpredictable and unreliable partner.

Possibly Aquino is trying to fix things. Not always in the right way. Not always successfully I can see. But for example the debacle on NAIA3 really escalated during President Arroyo’s times. Secretary Abaya letting Vitangcol recommend a company that turned out to be owned by the latter’s uncle was definitely a blunder. In most countries, he would have to “fall on his sword” – resign. What I would not do is what some are doing and insinuating Abaya was in on the deal, or even Aquino. One cannot accuse people without a shred of proof, or even indications like with Binay.

Peter Wallace on his head (source: Joe America)

Where I agree with Peter Wallace is that foreign direct investment is lacking. The true reasons may be better outlined than by him in this article by the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a paper read by many bankers for its extreme objectivity. It says that most Philippine stocks are political papers, vulnerable to who is in power and connections. It also states that foreign direct investments are hampered, according to ADB, by three reasons: insufficient infrastructure compared to other countries in the region, lack of trust in the government and a relatively narrow industrial base. Now I hardly think that it was better in the Marcos era. There are rumors that Marcos often raised the bribes for potential contractors. The NZZ does see the progress made by Aquino. Now I prefer an honest government with a learning curve in terms of competence to a corrupt government. The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines has been publishing a weekly report on the Philippines since 2011. I still have to evaluate this source. European sources, especially Swiss ones except maybe FIFA’s Sepp Binay, ahem Blatter, are usually more objective than Filipino ones.

Legal certainty is a principle in national and international law which holds that the law must provide those subject to it with the ability to regulate their conduct. Legal certainty is internationally recognised as a central requirement for the rule of law. Now is legal certainty something that exists in the Philippines? Recent debates with regard to the Condonation Doctrine, as to be applied or not applied to the Binays, as well as whether Grace Poe is to be disqualified or not, make the Philippines look more like a country of legal uncertainty – sometimes it may even be a country where legal impunity is applied, meaning that those on the wrong side of power, less educated or poorer can lose a case. No need for impunity in the form of guns and goons if the law can be used. Now I do not subscribe to the point of view that Binays and Poe are victims of legal impunity. But it is easy for them to play that role in a country where the law was often a farce to conceal raw power. President Arroyo allegedly threatened Fraport boss Wilhelm Bender with arrest if he landed in Manila. Who does she think she is, and who he is?

Aquino is mainly seen as trustworthy, so other countries are giving him a chance I think. The Philippines is out on parole I would say, but not yet exonerated. The next years shall be crucial.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 21 January 2016

P.S. 23 January 2016 – thank you Secretary Abaya for clarifying this, just saw it, so it should be given credit.

According to MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe, the signaling system is currently under contract with the joint venture of German company Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH and Filipino firm Comm Builders & Technology Phils. Corp. (SBI-CB&T JV).

After Friday’s glitches, Buenafe did not rule out the possibility of a sabotage of the train system’s operations. There is an an ongoing investigation on the MRT glitches, but Abaya said sabotage is not the main focus of the probe and that they are looking at all the possibilities.

“Just like any other credible and responsible investigation you look at all angles. There is no primary focus on sabotage — let’s make it clear, it is not the primary focus of the investigation. The primary focus of the investigation is to find out the real causes, if sabotage is ruled out then that is well and good.”

The Transport secretary said they will continue to deal with the German maintenance provider despite allegations of a sabotage.

“We should pay what is due to them, we should pay for the services rendered, we should pay for the parts delivered. We deal with them fairly and I think we should continue to engage them.”

It was not really helpful that Mr. Buenafe insinuated sabotage without a shred of proof or even indications, just a suspicion. If the Philippines is to deal with German companies on a long-term basis this is not really the right way. Germany has very little natural resources and no military power, therefore like Japan its main asset is the high quality worksmanship and good reputation of its companies. If there were proof or indications like in the Volkswagen emissions case in the United States, it would be a totally different matter.  In this case Secretary Abaya was professional.

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Ano ang Pilipinas?

Satellite image of Philippines in March 2002

Siguro heto rin ang makikita ng bagong satellite ng Pilipinas – sa pangalang Diwata.

Alam na natin kung saan ang Pilipinas. Alam na natin kung ilang isla at populasyon, mahigit-kumonti. Pero ano ba talaga ang ibig sabihin ng Pilipinas? Depende yata ito sa nagsasalita. Para siguro sa iilang mga malalaking negosyante, sila na ang Pilipinas, kung ano ang ikabubuti nila ikabubuti din nga Pilipinas. Para naman sa iilang mga grupo sa pulitika at iilan sa kanilang mga supporter, sila na ang mas nakakaalam higit sa kahit sinong hindi kasali sa kanilang grupo kung ano ang ikabubuti ng Pilipinas, at iyong hindi kagrupo madalas nilang hindi na nirerespeto.

Kahit sino ang manalo sa darating na eleksiyon, malamang na hanggang 35% lang ng boto ang makukuha niya. Iyong iilang mga talo at supporter nila malamang na aangal at kakalabanin ang Presidenteng inihalal, kahit masira pa ang pag-unlad ng Pilipinas. Masasabi bang para sila sa Pilipinas? Ano ngang “Pilipinas” ang nasa isip nila? Mga mayayaman lang? Mga maykaya lang? Mga mahihirap lang? Mga kayumanggi lang? Mga may pinag-aralan lang? Ewan ko ba. Baka maraming magsasabi, kung maging tapat sila, na “kapakananan o kapangyarihan NAMIN” ang mahalaga.

Tignan natin ng mabuti kung ano talaga ang maaring nasa isip ng iilan – pasalamat tayo sa bawat hindi ganyan at nag-iisip para sa buong bansa:

  • Iilang mga Dutertista: di baleng maghirap ang mga squatter, basta kumikita ako. Bahala na si Digong pumatay sa mga puwedeng maging problema ko, may kasalanan man o hindi.
  • Iilang mga maka-Binay: di baleng maubos ang pera ng bayan, basta kuntento ako. Bahala na si Jojong gumawa ng paraan para malibre ako sa cake, sa wifi, sa medical care.
  • Iilang mga maka-Roxas: di baleng maghintay ang mga wala pang oportunidad, basta ako meron. Kahit hindi madanas ng mga walang gaanong pinag-aralan sa talambuhay nila ang pagbabago.
  • Iilang mga maka-Poe: di baleng hindi alam ni Grace kung paano niya aayusin ang Pilipinas, basta maaliw niya ako sa magandang pangarap na itinatanghal niya.
  • Iilang mga maka-Miriam: di baleng makaluma ang pamamalakad niya at hindi epektibo, basta maramdaman ko na siya ang pinuno at mahigpit magsalita.

Ano ngayon ang mararating ng Pilipinas sa bandang huli? Wala. Kulelat pa rin. Hindi aasenso. Tuluyang maiiwan ng mga ibang bansang mas may pagkakaisa at isip.

Ipagpalagay nang may kapalpakan si Presidente Aquino. Kaunti o marami depende sa paghusga. Pero kahit ganoon huwag din ipagkaila ang mga halimbawa ng nagawa na:

  • Gawa ng Pantawid Pamilya, maraming mahihirap na natutulungan. Hindi lang iyon, mas maganda ang mga nakakasanayan nila, at mga anak nila nakakapag-aral.
  • Gawa ng K-12, tumataas ang antas ng pag-iisip ng Pilipino. Natignan ko ito at mahusay. Hindi tulad ng dating sistema, madalas na walang silbi para sa tunay na buhay.
  • Gawa ng Go Negosyo Act at Negosyo Center, napapadaling magtayo ng negosyo ang ordinaryong tao. Hanapbuhay ang pinaguusapan dito, hindi pamumulubi o pagka-api.
  • Gawa ng Oplan Lambat Sibat at pag-aayos sa PNP, maaring maging mas tahimik at sigurado ang pamumuhay ng ordinaryong tao. Hindi ko alam kung may epekto na ngayon.
  • Gawa ng pagtaas ng ekonomiya, maraming nagkakaroon ng hanapbuhay. Sa turismo at iba pang negosyo. Ewan ko lang kung mas mabilis pa rin ang pagdami ng mga Pilipino.

Hindi ko sinasabing perpekto ang gobyerno. Baka kulang pa ang ginawa nila. Hindi ko rin tiyak na masasabi kung paano mapapaganda pa ang mga nasimulan at maiwasan ang mga kapalpakan.

Pero heto ang masasabi ko: hindi tulong ang gumiba sa nasimulan na, kahit kulang pa o hindi pa ganyang kaganda ang nasimulan. Parang nagtayo ka ng bahay, tapos sinunog mo para magtayo ng mas maganda. Dahil sa wakas, nasa iisang bansa ang mga Pilipino. Walang ibang titirahan kapag binagyo. Hindi puwedeng mag-migrante o mag-OFW lahat sa dami. Pilipinas ang siyang kawawa.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 19 January 2016



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