A Big Mess..

Dirty dishesis not just Boracay nowadays. The whole Philippines looks like one. But how does one clean up? Doesn’t look like a leader with a short fuse cuts it. Terminating the contract with all of Miascor nationwide over a few (link)? Closing Boracay and destroying livelihoods to “clean”? Or maybe indeed just to drive everyone away and put up a casino? Threatening to shoot drivers of colorum (unlicensed) public vehicles? Challenging the Maute to burn down Marawi? Of course there are promises like promising to end crime in 3-6 months. Who believed that sort of crap?

Short-term mentality

Instant gratification seems to be an issue with a lot of Filipinos. Thinking problems can all be solved quickly, like in action movies where heroes do exactly that. Long- or medium-term work, real work on improving fundamentals isn’t that visible, so it is not rewarded with social prestige. Maintenance is even less prestigious, and overhauling badly maintained systems is even worse as blame can be attached to it. Often the solution is just to buy something new. Nothing has really been fixed with the MRT3, but the Metro Manila Subway is all set to be built (link). Will it also rot?

The Luzon railway lines built by the Spanish and the Americans practically no longer exist today. The Bicol line still somehow worked in the 1970s, though it was rotting. Plenty of railway lines in Europe are as old as or older than the Bicol line – built in the 1930s – or the 1890s line to Dagupan. EDSA, the circumferential road around Metro Manila (also called C4 by planners) has at least survived from the times of Quezon – a leader with real long-term foresight. Just like the structure of government dates back to his times – and probably could use a massive IT-based reorganization.

Just details

But many of the entitled in positions of power and privilege tend not to care much about detail. That is something underlings do for them – at home and in the office. Politicking is important. Getting real work done is beneath them. Except possibly for soldiers and housewives. Why? Because soldiers have to take care of details from Day One of their training, down to their boots. Housewives because they also have to take care of details some more entitled men might scorn. There will also be elite housewives who just order maids around of course, but also hands-on ones.

The last former soldier to be President was Ramos – and he did fairly well. So did a lot of those who were Presidents after the war who passed through the challenges of wartime. They knew hardship. They knew situations where you are dead if you don’t watch the details. Even Marcos was a much better-organized leader than both (entitled) civilians Erap and Duterte. And there was a housewife who was President and did fairly well (link), inspite of coming from a very privileged family. But probably the challenges of bringing up her children while her husband was in jail steeled Cory.

True stewardship

A soldier, a housewife – or a former jeepney driver like President Magsaysay was, among other things – will know how to take care of stuff. Will know that details matter, not just ordering people. Many of the entitled just act like one consul who had a half-door removed that allowed his employees to talk to applicants without letting them into the office immediately – because his wife got caught in it with her Imeldific hair. The result was that all just walked in, making work much harder. Get whatever bothers me out, at once. And don’t complain to me. Or else – I will “jetski”.

You can’t do that as a leader I think – unless of course you are the kind of general who lets his enlisted men carry him over the water, who do exist in the Philippines. A real leader gets details from those working for him to get the big picture – and acts on it by delegating work back to all. Threatening to shoot or accusing people of being funded by imagined enemies is simply the petulance of a brat (link) who never truly faced a rival. Who is to help those who mistake tantrums for “leadership”? Who look down upon system thinking, attention to detail and perseverance?

True stewardship means having the drainage fixed so that waters return to clean and stay clean.  It means getting the MRT3 working again like it is almost new.  It can mean getting factories – not casinos – to come to the country to give jobs to the people. Didn’t Aquino manage to get Japanese, German and other factories to come to the Philippines? One good point not even critics can deny! But it didn’t get him much respect. Swearing, threatening and punching walls is what some see as “leadership”. VP Leni doing her work (link) is true stewardship. When will that be valued more?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 29 March 2018

Who will believe..

Fatou Bensouda (cropped)that Loida Nicolas-Lewis personally spoke with the ICC (link)? Some Pinoys maybe, who think the whole world works like their government, where pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles’ lawyer even was at a cabinet meeting (link)! Well, there is Harry Roque who says “she is rich” (link) and Duterte – the man who invented bank account numbers of Senator Trillanes (link) – even claims he was able to tap the phone of ICC prosecutor Bensouda. The second-rate prosecutor, whose political career was jump-started by being appointed by Cory on request of his mother, even puts the qualification of Bensouda in doubt. Some Philippine articles do not mention her work at the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), a pioneering tribunal dealing with war crimes (link) that happened in 1994 when the Tutsi and Hutu (not Yellowtard and Dutertard) tribes started killing each other.

Very superstitious..

Of course many Filipinos have a certain picture of Africa and a superiority complex towards blacks. What also was spread a lot on the usual troll networks was the fact that Loida Nicolas-Lewis’ deceased husband Reginald Lewis (link) was a black American billionaire. So a certain crowd is probably ready to believe anything Duterte and his group say without proof and pooh-pooh those who ask for any proof. And yes, many are probably even ready to believe that the Philippines leaving the ICC is the “beginning of the end” for the latter (link). Where does this sense of having the world revolve around the Philippines come from? It is really just one of many Asian countries. Could it be that its early role in the UN, as a founding member and a darling of the United States, made Filipinos think their country was special? Its being independent earlier than most neighbors?

“No reaction” from Fatou Bensouda might even be construed by some Filipinos as an admission of guilt – the Filipino street mentality often goes by assumptions suitable to a barangay where all gossip is immediately heard and those who do not immediately react to gossip are probably guilty. There was no strong reaction, for example, by Mar Roxas when troll networks during the election spread the malicious rumor that he had stolen Yolanda funds. His being a bit too aloof and above the fray could have made some people assume, yes, he did it. Recent articles prove otherwise (link).

Well, Fatou Bensouda will probably not be shocked, as there are similar things on her continent. Even people assumed to be witches and then hurt by neighbors. But I had a Filipina ex-girlfriend  (college-educated!) who told me that certain neighbors in her hometown were known as aswang. There are also things I have read about VACC and others who have no objection with evidence being planted on people who are “known to be guilty”. Known in what way? Because it is assumed? The history of urban legends in Manila (link) calls for caution. Cats in siopao, worms in burgers.

Lost respect..

The Philippines did have international respect in the beginning. For one thing, Dr. Jose Rizal is known and respected in most of Asia and inspired other nations in their quest for independence. Second, the country was richer than even South Korea just after the war. Third, the likes of Magsaysay and Garcia interacted a lot with their Asian colleagues, within SEATO for example. Probably the rudeness of some Filipinos who looked down on fellow Asians for speaking little English was later. Not to mention the junketeers who looked down on Europeans for the same.

There was of course back then the glorious feeling of being on the right side – the American side – and lots of Filipinos working for US Forces, US Embassies worldwide. But from that crowd, there were people who told me that the willingness to employ Filipinos went down the moment US bases were told to leave the Philippines. One wonders what all the tirades of the present administration against the UN will mean for the willingness to employ Filipinos there, up to now still quite high. And often working for Western bosses – Americans, British, French. They also read the papers.

And the BPO industry in the Philippines which mainly serves Western countries. A German who managed a major BPO outfit in Manila once said (I heard this in my circles over here) that the main good thing about Filipinos is that they are highly Westernized. There is an aspect of TRUST in this. BPO firms also manage sensitive data. Lose that trust, especially by being perceived as being way too close to a country with a reputation for stealing both intellectual property and confidential information (China) and you lose business. This can happen very gradually.  But with finality.

Trust forfeited..

Because the world usually doesn’t work like among many Filipino politicians who play a low-down game with one another, smile as if nothing happened and on to the next round. As if fooling others was just as much a harmless game as trying to grab a basketball from the other team. Their fault if they didn’t protect the ball well or dribble right. There are things you don’t do, things not forgotten. Fraport and NAIA-3 (link) may be ancient history to Filipinos, but not to Germans or Europeans. This is why I was surprised that Aquino did manage to get EU firms to invest in the Philippines!

Probably more of a let’s see, let’s put a few calculated bets there, might get better than before. Possibly a bit like the trust given to someone who is let out on parole. Has the parolee relapsed? There are still a lot of EU firms in the Philippines. Well, they will not withdraw their engagement. Not at once. The European mentality is long-term and strategic. But they may place more bets on places like Vietnam and Indonesia now. The risk of shakedowns in favor of Chinese partners might figure into the equation – see what is happening in Boracay, or with the possible 3rd telco player!

Past reputation

Foreign Secretary Cayetano speaks with an Ateneo accent, which is vaguely remiscent of the New York state accent the first American Jesuits who came to the Philippines had. High prestige in the Philippines, indicative of upper class. At the UN, he may still think he people remember Romulo, the Philippine Foreign Secretary who said “I want that dot!” – on the UN logo when it was created. But a country that sets aside a UNCLOS ruling in its favor to deal with those who grab its islands, slaps its former allies in the face, and disrespects agreements (ICC) it once wanted to belong to?

Coming back

Talking down to everybody because one thinks one is the bird on top of the new carabao – China? China speaks as if its future global hegemony is already a done deal. That is far from sure. And if it turns out otherwise, I doubt that other nations will be like Filipino politicians, smile and it’s OK. The Philippines might have to fall in line behind other partners who have proven greater reliability. Maybe even behind African countries it still looks down on now. But looking down on now more advanced Asian neighbors was not too long ago either. Pride comes before the fall, Proverbs 16:18.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 24 March 2018

 

 

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Kilig siguro sa akin si Sharon..

2397-sharon-cuneta-dead-serious-about-p10mn-bounty-if-husband-kiko-pangilinan-proven-guilty-of-pork-corruption-400x252 (1)isip ni Duterte bago matulog sa kulambo, tapos maglulô. “Tagal di nakatikim ng tunay na lalaki iyan, dilaw lang, wah buring!” sinabi niya. “e baka pati sa sex, simbahan palagi ang sinosonod!”. “Tapos ni walang excitement” inisip niya “e di ba gusto ng babae iyong marunong umaksiyon?” nagsalita ulit siya “anong silbi ng lalakeng puro opisina lang, e kung hamunin iyan ng nasa kanto tatakbo, ang babae walâ man proteksiyon”. “ay walâ, mahinâ” inisip niya ulit. “Tapos mawala pa trabaho ng disente, wala na. Buti pa tayong mga madiskarte, may lusot-lusot sa tabi-tabi”.

Umupo siya sa kama at nagsimulang magsalita ulit: “iyan, putangina, bakit kasi iyang mga disente, nakikialam sa hanapbuhay nating mga mi diskarte? Kung hindi nila hinabol ng hinabol ang mga Marcos, si Arroyo, pork baril, uki pa sana silâ ngayon, di bâ?” Nagkamot siya ng ulo. “Yaman yaman na ng dilaw, ayaw pagbigyan ang ordinaryong Pilipino tulad natin dumiskarti ng kontî man! Eh ngayon, bawi na tayo! Casino sa Boracay. Projek-projek sa Marawi.” Tumawa si Duterte. “Anong alam ng dilaw, Ingles-Ingles lang. Mawala Kano nila, wala na sila. Buti nga”.

Inantok si Duterte at natulog. Pagsikat ng araw, bigla siyang nakaupo sa labas ng isang cottage sa may beach. Tinignan niya iyong kapaligiran niya. “Ano ito, Boracay?”  sabi niya. “Partido ito” sabi ng boses sa katabing upuan. Lumingon si Duts sa kanan. “Leni?” “Oo.” “Anong ginagawâ ko dito?” “Bisita ka namin dito sa Bikol.” “Paano?” “Ikaw mismo ang nagpunta rito, kaya lang matagal kang natulog.” “Talaga?” “Heto muna suman, kumain ka”. “Baka magtae ako.” “Hindi”. Tatlong suman sa ibos ang kinain ni Duterte. “Saan ninyo ako dadalhin?” sabi niya “sa Den Haag na ba?”.

“Kung puwede sana, matauhan ka man lang” sabi ni Leni. “bigyan natin ng kinabukasan ang mga Pilipino, huwag iyong alila lang ng Intsik. Sana lahat may pagkakataon mag-aral ng kayang pag-aralan at makakuha ng trabahong sapat.” Sagot ni Digong “e di ba libre na ang kolehiyo ngayon” “Galing kay Bam Aquino ang batas na iyan” tugon ni Leni. “e paano kaming mga gago na tamad mag-aral? Ma, inutil talaga ako, Maaaaa” umiyak siya at sumandal kay Leni, pero itinulak siya nitong pataas. Kontrolado ang mukha niya, parang empleyado sa Mental.

“Tsaka paano iyong mga mawalan ng trabaho, anong silbi ng subrang pag-aaral? Sa sistema namin, magdependi sila sa amin na may diskarte.” “Sa pagnakaw ninyo, ibig mong sabihin?” sagot ni Leni. “Hende ah, my Lady, Madame Beautipul, utakan lang, abilidad! Mula pa noong 1521 ganyan talaga tayo kung mag-survive. E tanggalin mo ang moral, ang batas, survival of the fittest ang meron. Diyan tayo magaling, kahit walang pari, walang batas. Tsaka mga babae, sabaw ang poke sa lawyer and killer tulad ko! Dilaw lang natikman mo, sayang ang ganda mo!”

Mabilis na tumayo sa Leni, mas mabilis pa siyang sumampal. Biglang napunta sa buhangin si Duterte at paiyak-iyak: “Maa, huwag mo akong hampasin sa tenga, huwag na masakiiit”. Biglang nagising si Duterte sa may sahig, siyempre sa labas nang kulambo. Pumasok si Bong Go. “Anu ang kumalampag diyan?” sabi niya. “Bakit ka nasa sahig!”. “Eh wala, masarap lang ang panaginip ko!” “Gago, tumayo ka, bihis, maraming papirmâ sa iyoh Chinese Ambassador!” Tumayo si Duts. Kinuha niya ang pantalon niya sa may silya at sinuot niya, tapos iyong gusot-gusot na barong.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 23 ng Marso 2018

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A concerted effort against him

Passion of Christ-Bearing of the Crossis what Duterte calls the ICC preliminary investigation (link). Isn’t that a bit like a counterflowing driver in Manila who sees everybody driving the wrong way around? Funny though that in Manila, those who insist on their right of way against such jerks can be seen as obstructive. So it might well be that Duterte might get sympathy for effectively showing contempt of court, painting himself as a victim of oppressive foreign forces – even if he is seen as a coward by many already. That might just be my “yellow” (Westernized, educated) bubble though, just like those who sympathize with Chief Justice Sereno. Who knows what the typical man on the street or the OFW in Saudi Arabia thinks of CJ Sereno, does he see her as an arrogant bitch who refuses to leave even if “many people” (link) don’t like her as a boss anymore? Or didn’t people ask Maggie Dela Riva once “how it feels to be responsible for the death of four men”? (link) Her answer was: “I’m not responsible for the death of four men. They did it to themselves. They had the power of choice. They chose to be evil. They had to meet the consequences of their action.” They had raped her, a famous actress, back in 1967.

Facing the Consequences

Dela Riva’s idea of people having to face the consequences of their actions seems downright quaint if one looks at the sad state of the Philippines today. The President himself, quintessential Filipino everyman, shirks the consequences of his actions. Leaves the ICC, tries to impeach a Chief Justice who admonished him due to drug lists that included judges, puts a Senator who tried to investigate extrajudicial killings in jail based on testimonies of alleged drug lords who now have been released by his own Secretary of Justice, gives the mastermind of the pork barrel scheme Witness Protection and will most probably use her testimony against political rivals – while many of those originally accused are free. Or isn’t there a Vice-Presidential Candidate over 60 who still acts like a petulant, spoiled dictator’s teenage son who refuses to acknowledge obvious defeat in the last elections? He may well be still able to rig things, much like Admiral General Aladeen of Wadiya in “The Dictator” (link) who has servile minions rig a sprint for him while shooting down those who get too near. Counterflowing drivers, wang-wang politicians, children of dynastic politicians – similar attitudes.

Even in middle-class families it can be bad enough. One woman who dared take her philandering husband to court for bigamy in the late 1960s was vilified by her husband’s folks – he got pity. Spanish colonial accounts of Filipinos in court mentioned that each side tried to show up in as large as possible numbers to make it look as if their own side was right. For me, one of the biggest culture shocks when coming to Germany was reading that courts really give smaller sentences when a culprit shows a sense of regret. Filipino courts might see it as drama and give a greater sentence. Friends might tell the culprit what kind of fool are you to admit, stupid enough if you get caught! There is no true presumption of innocence in the culture. And indeed – corruption, extortion and dishonesty prevail. Mila Aguilar said in a Facebook post that the Juan Pusong (link) or trickster attitude is quite common among Filipinos and that Duterte is a prime example of that Visayan folk hero. And there is a certain disbelief among many that the Daang Matuwid government of former President Aquino could ever have been that honest. Some examples of possible bias are mentioned.

Them or Us

There are pressures to be biased. There was even once a Filipino overseas association where the clique of its President tried to pressure him to rig a raffle so they could win the main prize. There can be enormous petulance and even a sense of being treated unfairly if one is not favored. The massive incompetence of most Duterte appointees is an extreme manifestation of this attitude. At least most appointees of the previous President were competent, even if there always will be some favoritism in this world, even in the corporate world with its harsher, more competitive winds.

And though there may have been some rigging the game in the previous administration, the present administration is downright antisocial in its ways, just barely even minding the legality of matters. The pre-Marcos elites were monopolistic and exploitative for sure, but a certain sense of decency and at least keeping appearances kept things polite. Even the Marcos era tried to maintain a certain veneer of legality and propriety. Nowadays one has a sense of piranhas in the water, biting away. And a constituency that mostly does not seem to mind if poor people die – for their peace of mind.

Do Others Matter?

Possibly not much different from their President in showing (link“gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness”. One only needs to look at the dirt in most Philippine urban waters – notable exceptions like Iloilo City prove the rule. Or also a “grandiose sense of self-entitlement” – or what do barangay councilors have who build their houses on allotted green spaces as I recently read? Or wang-wang convoys, or counterflowing drivers. My way or the highway. Sing My Way the wrong way and you might even get killed. When is the point reached where society barely exists and most people act in an antisocial way? Rule of law becomes a farce the moment everybody cheats, from top to bottom. Where the call for violent solutions is sheer desperation. That all did not happen overnight. A society where people become ruthless, ready to “violate the rights and feelings of others” (also in Duterte’s psychological report) may already have started to develop in times when people laughed at a child made to dance ridiculously at Wowowee. It may have been there when people took smiling pictures of themselves in front of the bus where Hongkong tourists were killed.

The roots of it may even go as far back to people reelecting known rapists like Mayor Sanchez and Governor Jalosjos. There is not necessarily ruthlessness there, but indifference that tolerates evil. Or that accepts evil as good if it is for one’s own convenience, like for example “clearing the streets”.

Such a system eats itself up at some point. Rules become merely tools for winning instead of being there to guide the fundamental consideration for others that should be at the heart of any society. Yes, others. Even those – whose heads one hunted before. Culture and civilization are about that.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 17 March 2018

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The Filipino is not crazy, Mr. Hussein!

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (21509596784) (cropped)(Achtung Satire!) our President knows who is a terrorist and who is not! This Tauli-Corpuz clearly is a suspect person. If our President already told the Lumads to behave properly and she is making it impossible for him to do his job properly, she is terrorizing him, just like this Pia Raissa Robles! Let me make clear that our President has no problem with women who are true role models, who help him in erecting his.. his idea of a nation, just like Mocha Uson is doing for him every.. daily. The women he has a problem with are those who make an old man’s… work.. harder than it is. Hm.

Besides, Tauli sounds like Tau’ri, the free human race in Stargate, a barely concealed work of evil Western propaganda. Did you not know that the Filipino ruling class, the real ones, not the yellow, are descended from the Goa’uld who once ruled Egypt, until that Moses stole their energy source? Dutertane, the powerful fuel that drove their chariots and made their eyes glow red with rage when the Jaffa disobeyed. Nowadays, the Jaffa in the Philippines, the slave race, no longer respond when their rulers look at them in anger. This is due to the drug shabu and too much freedom in society.

Now the descendants of Moses, known as the Mossad, still are controlling the Dutertane that they stole from our glorious ancestors. Together with your Jordanian countrymen, dear Mister Hussein, they are conniving with Loida Nicolas-Lewis and Leila De Lima to destroy our nation with drugs. They are even known to have directly contacted the International Criminal Court and met with Agnes Callamard at the Moulin Rouge in Paris just before taking the train to Brussels 3 weeks ago. We know because a friendly alien race has helped us. They were floating over Paris at that time.

Freedom, this stupid idea, is soon to be replaced by good old ways which served the world better. Enlightened and compassionate leaders like President Duterte, Solicitor General Calida, Public Attorney Persida Acosta, Honorable Imbecile Speaker Alvarez, Caped Crusader Dante Jimenez shall lead the way in doing what is necessary for those who must follow the leader to live a most comfortable life. That is the fate of the Jaffa, and they shall learn gratefulness, embodied in our most holy principle of utang na loob, once again from us, the galactic ruling class of the Goa’uld.

And besides, Dear Prince Hussein, how can a person be crazy who knows exactly what he is doing? Only the person who does not know what he is doing is crazy. Like Chief Justice Sereno, who thinks she can apply ideas of rule of law that are not native to our people, that are only her imagination? She is the one who is truly crazy! Because she thinks she can change the true nature of our country. This freedom that only brings drugs and disobedience. Maybe at home her husband is like a dog. Our President is not dog. He is MACHO! He is brillant! More than UN, EU, US and UP! We bilib.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 March 2018

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Others thinking you think you’re better

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serenoare dangerous – in the Philippines and elsewhere. Sara Duterte about EDSA veterans (link), Supreme Court Justices about CJ Sereno, probably many about President Aquino’s handling Dengvaxia – which may have proven successful given recent indications (link). Damn, time for Martial Law and censorship! Increase the number of dengue cases, as yellow must be made bad! And they deserve hatred that is deep and personal, just like Harry Roque wishing Leila de Lima a life in jail (link) – yes, they messed up some things, but what did they do to deserve all of that?

Pakikisama and Schadenfreude

One accusation hurdled against Chief Justice Sereno is lacking pakikisama towards her colleagues in the Supreme Court – again a propaganda strategy that is very Filipino. Pakikisama often means subduing oneself to fit into a group. You don’t like the movie everybody in the barkada has seen? Bad enough if you weren’t there to see it with them. Worse if you say you think it is a stupid movie. An individual opinion against the assumed majority opinion – wow, does he think he is BETTER? Put a UP graduate into the midst of some working-class OFWs without escape. What could happen?

They might probably wait for the first slip-up of the UP graduate, and then display Schadenfreude. Sara Duterte brought the word Schadenfreude into the Philippine vocabulary (link) with regards to Mariel de Leon not topping Miss International – because she criticized the present administration. The sentiment against “yellow”, the previous administration and all related to it, is however more like the Serbian saying Da komsiji crkne krava – “If only the neighbour’s cow would die” (link) – related to the Serbian concept of inat: spitefulness, vindictiveness, hardheadedness + much more.

Spitefulness and Feindbilder

There is a similar spitefulness visible and audible among those who hate Aquino, Sereno, De Lima. Aquino? Sure he messed up certain things. But is the present government doing so much better? Sure it was easy to make him – and Mar Roxas – bogeymen due to their plantation owner origins. Feindbild is the German word for a cluster of prejudices and fears pertaining to a given group. There is also the Feindbild of the English-speaking elite, easy to trigger among common Filipinos. Why otherwise would Mocha focus on Leni Robredo’s US visits and her daughter in Harvard?

There is I think deep envy about what is perceived to be a privileged life, as opposed to one’s own.  Why otherwise make a big deal about Leni’s dresses, like some have done – yet admire the dresses of Isabelle Duterte at a lavish debut? Of course, Leni Robredo has already been identified as part of the other tribe, those who have “had it all” (not true for Leni who lived in the dormitory when she studied at UP) while “we” never had anything and now have the right to luxury and the good life. Even if no one can claim that Leni is lighter in color than most, or Sereno’s nose way too sharp!

Country and town

are both called bayan in Filipino. In a town especially a small one, there is a certain conformity. There is indeed a certain sameness, anywhere in the world. You are ruling a quite homogeneous group of people. The Philippines is a country – forced upon a collection of small communities. Countries need specialized people to be governed properly. The probably first specialized people in the Philippines were the town scribes the Spanish friars trained. More sophisticated governance and business brought about the present “elite” universities that are in international rankings (link).

That the provinces and the poor were left behind is an effect of this development until today. But the present government is playing a dangerous game in mobilizing envy of those left behind against those who had better chances. Mayors can still run their cities by sheer instinct, like Duterte did. For larger entities like countries you need truly competent people – unless you want to return to olden days with plenty of epidemics, pogroms and witch hunts. Isn’t the Philippines getting there? Measles spreading due to fear of vaccines. Pogrom mentality against drug users. And witch hunts.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 March 2018

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Drama lang daw ang EDSA

EDSAShrine0135 02sabi ng iilan. Siguro “drama” rin para sa kanila ang mga huling hingalo nila Gomburza sa garote. Mga ipokritong pari! Bakit hindi sila namatay ng tahimik! Ginalit pa nila mga kabataang Pilipino. Iyan tuloy, nagsayang pa sila Rizal ng oras sa may putanginang EU na iyan, mga aktibistang inutil!

Tumahimik na kayong mga biktima!

Maraming mapagsamantala na nagtatago sa kanilang kasamaan – maging mga manyakis, mga nambubugbog ng asawa, mga mamamatay-tao. Walang “drama” sana iyong pagpapatay kay Kian delos Santos, kaya lang ang daldal kasi ng CCTV, putanginang iyan. Di sana nabisto ang totoo.

Iyang mga madre naman sa may EDSA, pasalamat sila na maraming tao, maraming reporter, at pati internasyonal na press at TV nakatutok sa pangyayari – kaya drama lang ang tingin ni Mocha sa kanilang pagharap sa tanke. Kung walang nakatingin, nasagasaan na sana sila, di ba Mocha?

Malakas at matatag ang mga mangugulpi!

Parang sinabi ni SolGen Calida na (link): “Pasalamat si Jim Paredes hindi pinatulan nito kundi bugbog sarado ‘yang si Jim Paredes.”. Masaya siguro si Calida kung wala doon si Jamela Alindogan ng Al Jazeera na nakatutok sa eksena ng Duterte Youth at paghamon ni Jim Paredes.

Pasalamat din daw si Pia Ranada Robles na hindi siya sinaktan ng Presidential Security. Hindi na madali ngayong araw gumawa ng ganyan, sa dami ng camera na nakatutok. Noong bata pa ako, may nakita akong eksena kung paano binatukan ni Mayor Estrada ang isang lalakeng reporter.

“Buti nga” ang naisip ko habang natawa ako sa nangyari. Pero hindi bida sa pelikula si Erap doon, tunay na buhay na nangyari iyon. Siguro bida lang talaga ang pagkakilala ko sa kanya – sa movies. Ano ba talaga ang itinuturo ng mga pelikulang ganyan? Na lahat may solusyon na mabilis – gulpi.

Pusila, Pusila!

Walang nakarinig ng pananalitang iyon, nakasulat lang ito sa dyaryo. Pero nakita ng mundo kung paano dinala palabas si Ninoy Aquino noong pag-uwi niya sa Maynila. May masamang biro sa mga ka-edad ko na maraming namamatay sa akala – akala rin lang ni Rizal na mamasyal siya sa Luneta. Imbes na tuluyang maging manhid sa mapang-abusong asal na kumakalat noong Martial Law, dinaan siguro ito sa biro ng iilan. Nararamdaman naman ng bawat bata kapag may hindi tama sa paligid niya. Kasama na rin ang pagkukunyaring walang nangyayari. Nasira ito noong August 1983.

Ninoy naman, bakit ang drama mo kung mamatay? Bakit ka pa nagdala ng reporter para magfilm? Kung hindi sana nabulgar iyon at nashaim ang buong Pilipinas, buo pa sana ang Bagong Lipunan. Tuluyan kaming sanang naging mga manhid sa paghihirap ng iba. Hindi sana kami bleeding heart! Kung akala ni Ninoy na mamamasyal lang siya sa tarmac, hindi iyan nagdala ng repo-reporter! Tanginang mga dilaw na iyan, bakit puro ganyan ang zarzuela? Buti pa si Imelda na kumakanta! Gusto kong makita balang araw kung paano mag-duet si Duterte at si Imelda sa Malakanyang.

Pero tapos na ang panahon na iyan. Betamax lang iyon noong panahon ng ipinatay si Aquino. Tangina naitago nila iyong camera dahil maliit lang. Ngayon may mga digital camera at Internet. Lahat na-fa-fact check. Pati mga sila Tito, Vic and Joey hindi ko na puwedeng pagtawanan. Pambihirang Internet, nalaman ko tuloy iyong nangyari kay Pepsi Paloma. Hindi drama iyon. Nagpakamatay talaga siya. Tulad din ni Maria Theresa Carlson, asawa dati ni Rodolfo Fariñas. Hindi naman siguro drama iyong kanyang pagkuwento ng mga pang-aabuso ng asawa niya (link).

Mga abusador naman, takot mabisto kaya drama ang tawag sa pagsabi ng totoo. Tahimik at dilim ang kaibigan nila. Kakampi nila ang mga taong walang paki o manhid. Dahil mag-isa ang biktima. Hindi nag-isa sa pagdusa ang Gomburza at si Rizal noong pinatay sila. Hindi rin nag-isa si Ninoy dahil maraming kumampi sa kanya. Iba talaga ang dating ng isang bangkay na may sugat sa baril. Nakikita na walang kalaban-laban ang biktima. May natural na habag ang tao. Maliban sa manhid.  Bakit kaya ngayon, paurong na yata ang gobyerno, at ipinagkakailang balak pumatay ng marami?

Ah, expression of outrage lang daw iyong mga banta ni Duterte (link), hindi utos na pumatay? Drama lang pala – o matapang na “pagtanggol sa lahi”? Tulad ng pag-iskandalo ni Sassot sa BBC reporter? O iyong pagtaray niya sa TRT na hindi umobra? O iyong pag-eksena ni “Maharlika” sa isang US symposium ni Trillanes? Wala silang kaharap na tanke at bala. Persida Acosta naman na nakasuot ng pandoktor at hinihimatay, Batong kalbong umiiyak o tumatakbo sa labentador? Drama lahat iyan. Masakit nang panoorin. Kawawa kayo diyan. Buhay ninyo iyan. Hindi palabas.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, ika-25 ng Pebrero 2018

 

The ruler always means well

MuseumMalacanan9714 23and how dare anyone doubt that! Especially if the ruler is a narcissist, hooked on being admired. Surely there have been benevolent rulers, no matter how they were called in the past. But there are two factors which kept rulers from seeing only their own interests – popular and ethical pressure.

Pressures upon rulers

Ethical pressure could be social standards as to how a good ruler should be – whether he was a Christian King in Medieval Europe, held at least theoretically to standards the Church set for him, or an Islamic Sultan especially in the Arab world, held to ideals of the Islamic religion, a Chinese Emperor held to Confucian ideals of a balanced and harmonious society, a Japanese Emperor bound by ancient rules of honor, or tribal leaders held to honor the memory of their ancestors.

Popular pressure would be groups of people seeking that they have their share within society. Whenever the natural balance, a certain satisfaction with how things are, was disturbed, history has shown that people eventually react – more often than not constructively if their voices are heard and especially if their needs are met. Aggressively if they are not heard and their needs are not met. Passive-aggressively if the channel of aggression is blocked – even to the point of social stagnation. The passive aggressivity was very obvious in Eastern Europe of the late 1980s, just before the anger at Communist repression finally boiled over – from Berlin to Bucharest. People simply did what they had to, were cynical about nearly everything. Nothing moved forward anymore as a result.

Golden Age coming?

Well, maybe I am wrong about the Philippines. It could well be that President Duterte is the future. That the country will return to a golden age, when rulers loved their people like strict fathers and the people loved them in return! Not like the “ungrateful” and “un-Filipino” reporter Pia Ranada Robles, who was let into Daddy Diggs entourage and still dared to criticize him, and when given the punishment she deserved, still dared ask and ask the Praetorian Guard of the Philippines WHY!?

Why isn’t the kind of question traditional authoritarians in the Philippines like. Why is like asking what the hell are you doing to them, challenging their authority. Everything is so very personal. That however keeps things from advancing. Because someone always has to be the scapegoat. Insufficient focus on fixing issues like for example the MRT 3, instead the current group of datus and rajas tries to pin the fault on the ousted yellow datus or rajas. To completely isolate from the society all those who are not on the side of the ruler. Which is what Marcos did during Martial Law.

The Rude Awakening

Yes, and what happened, finally. Much like the Communist rulers in Eastern Europe, the rulers of the Philippines in the 1980s usually got to hear what they wanted to hear. Their regimes imploded. Yet Duterte’s Philippines seems to not even need formal dictatorship and full censorship for that. The warning signs – political, economic, social – are there to see yet people choose to ignore them. There will be demonstrations again this weekend, in memory of the two million on EDSA in 1986. Yes, I only recently was reminded they were that many. But that desperate remembrance may fail. The comfortable illusion of a national barangay with a jovial chieftain which is at the same time as progressive as and orderly as Singapore, a kind of Malay Wakanda, is political shabu for many. In reality China surrounds it, mines its vibranium, and will give it overpriced loans. Still dreaming?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 24 February 2018

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A National Artist died today

UP CALjf3065 10not just anybody, but Napoleon Abueva. Should be known to any Filipino, though my expectations have sunk, especially recently. A great sculptor (link) who made the death masks of both Fernando Poe Jr. and Prof. Alfredo Lagmay (link). His sculpture of the Crucified and Risen Christ is at the center of the UP Church of the Holy Sacrifice (link), just above the marble altar, also from him. Enough of lecturing and to the question I ask now: how many Filipinos still care about their heritage?

I do understand the insecurity of some not taught well, verbally and intellectually, when it comes to novelists and poets. Besides, there have been enough pseudo-intellectuals in the Philippines who have reduced verbal prowess to mere grandstanding without content, to one-upmanship, which is one of the topics of my previous article. A highly abused culture often confuses genuine intellect that cares for the country (like Rizal) with assholes trying to sound smart but without meaning. Take your pick among some figures of today for the second type. But the visual is not as affected, especially not sculpture. Paintings can also have negative, elitist associations for certain people. And the message of a painting may seem to pushy. Botong Francisco might come across too nativist for some, Amorsolo may be criticized for painting a rural idyll – even if both are authentic masters.

But there is a continuity from native weavers to the likes of Pitoy Moreno – also recently deceased – and a true continuity from the carvers of anitos through the carvers of santos to Napoleon Abueva. Nobody in his right mind, even those who wish to cast away all that was from 1521 onwards, can deny the place of a certain type of artist in what the Philippines was, is and hopefully will be. There are indeed those, especially the callous middle-class types of the Marcos era or possibly also today, whose only priority is consumerism and money, who do not have any respect for that “arty-farty”. Sad, but not too surprising in a country that did not care a lot about its national monuments, that hardly rebuilt anything of the Manila destroyed during the war, much less preserve the little left.

Filipinos probably destroyed more of their own culture through neglect and commercialism than the Taliban purposely destroyed in Afghanistan. Of those families that have ancestral homes in the provinces, I doubt that they would sell them or allow them to be destroyed for anything. That there is little sense of a common cultural heritage is sad. Given that, it is not surprising that the Filipinos are in the majority so willing to sacrifice their own countrymen – whether through neglect of the poor which was the norm throughout the decades, or through the effects of the recent drug war. Not to mention polluting the ocean with plastics, or dirtying even the center of one’s capital (link). Here in Bavaria, not even the greediest or most vulgar will sell off or dirty cultural heritage. Pride!

Yet Bavarians also have the reputation of being “polite when they don’t hit you”, meaning they are used to robust speech, including informal camaraderie by politicians. But the language that Duterte uses with his own people is downright insulting. Telling mostly female OFWs that they should not use condoms and putting a candy into his mouth to show it doesn’t taste good (link) – is condescending, practically saying “I can FUCK any and all of you if I want”. Much as I have loathed the false pride and arrogance of many Filipino entitled, I have always loved the natural dignity of so many Filipinos from all walks of life. Abueva brought back memories of this kind of Filipino, so different from the self-depreciating kind one sees too often today. A people that brings forth such artists as Abueva should stop treating themselves like garbage – and following garbage.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 16 February 2018

 

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Duterte said he wants to die like Rizal

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

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

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

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

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

“With more consideration, surely!” answered Carolino.

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

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

Carolino made no reply.

Luma na iyan! (that’s just old)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another bit of fast forward to the horrible end:

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

Ang corny naman! (how mushily sentimental)

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

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

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

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

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

Those Westernized heroes did nothing!

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

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

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

Just shut up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proud and sensitive

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

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

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

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

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

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 February 2018

 

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