When Bridges Collapse

Bridge ruins through the Donskoy Chulek Riverand people mostly get wet like in Zamboanga today (link) – just rebuild them. Diplomatic bridges burning like those to Kuwait recently (link) are more serious. The EU-Philippines bridge still stands, even if there have been differences (link) – with most of the drama on the Philippine side. One should remember that the EU Parliament represents the people of Europe, and that there is a sizable segment of the population that does not want to fund governments that harm their people. And of course the EU has strings attached to its help – it wants to develop allies with similar values. Every major player in the world does. And so do major political groupings. Why does the Naumann Foundation, close to the German Free Democrats (Liberals, also color yellow over here) invite the Liberal Party with VP Robredo to Berlin? Why does Akbayan partner with European Socialists?

Bridges and Respect

Bridges are important in this world. Some may be at times heavily guarded and seldom crossed, like in Cold War days the Glienicke Bridge or Bridge of Spies between West Berlin and Potsdam. Bridges between people and groups are even more important. One major bridge is mutual respect. The Mogadishu rescue operation in which German commandos stormed a Lufthansa plane held by Palestinian terrorists only got to “roll” when the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff – who was onsite at the airport in Somalia – personally asked the Somalian President for permission by phone, and got it. Ever since borders have fallen in Europe, police may cross borders in hot pursuit of criminals – but must radio their colleagues in the next country to take over the chase. Italian police help out on one particular weekend of the Oktoberfest when many Italians come – to keep them in line as guests.

Now what would happen in the case (highly improbable) that Italian police saw it fit to interfere in a fight between, let’s say, drunken Italians and equally drunken Australians protecting their girls from Italian advances – a kind of fight which is indeed possible given the ways of both countries? Not just mediate and talk to the Italians, separating the crowds, but dealing with the Aussies also? Forget it. No more Italian police in Munich next year, I am sure. But that isn’t happening for now. Serbian police hitting Albanian soccer fans (link) is more likely – the Balkans are a lot more tribal. Now how about maids in Kuwait? Yes, one died. Many may want to leave, but already seemed to have been some cooperation in place between Kuwait authorities and the Philippine Embassy. If escapes were necessary, there are discreet ways to do that. But it seems Mocha wanted a presscon.

Bridges and Borders

Fools. Kuwaitis have dealt with a real occupation by Saddam Hussein. And Arabs have their pride. Cayetano’s strangely worded “apology” saying (link) “We are apologizing for certain incidents that the Kuwaiti view as a violation of their sovereignty” in combination with the arrogant demeanor of Cayetano sounds somewhat like saying “oh, we didn’t know you were that sensitive”. Coming from a country, the Philippines, that is known for hypersensitivity to foreign criticism – not only during this administration but even before, even making a big fuss about Spanish biscuits or American TV. But that same country is arrogant, even pushy when it comes to defending even Filipino criminals in other countries. Now things have gone beyond the usual wars of words. Filipinos have crossed a real red line and ACTED in a foreign country. And not just caused shame to Kuwait by filming it.

There is allegedly a story in the Middle East where two sons allow the neighbors to steal their goat. The father tells them to get it back. More bad things are done to the family, every day. The father keeps repeating to them to get back the goat. Meaning: restore respect, restore old boundaries. Europeans also have their boundaries – the deportation of European politician Giacomo Filibeck was specifically mentioned in a speech of a partymate in the EU Parliament (link).  The attack on him was seen as an attack on all. Strangely, Duterte has not reacted with his usual personal slurs. The warning of possible trade privileges being taken away (link) was part of the recent resolution. No need for drama at all. What else is there to deal with except Duterte and the Philippines? Well, there are millions of refugees, restive Russia, troubled Turkey, a now-difficult USA, and Syria and..

Bridges you burn

True, a Filipina was killed in Kuwait. Might have been that some wanted to leave their employers. But if you already agreed to work with Kuwaiti authorities, you stick to it. Lodge a protest if they don’t let certain maids go. And the EU? If you sign agreements that your dried mangoes, among other things, may be imported without customs duties into the EU and one of the conditions is that you adhere to human rights, then don’t complain. Nobody in the EU is telling Duterte what to do. Simply giving a fair notice – something Boracay never got – of consequences to the relationship.

There was a woman from Mindanao I knew who liked to say “that’s unfair!” in a mock-sissy tone. Fairness is for sissies some do think. Fair or not, “you have to die one death”, they say in Bavaria. Meaning you have to make some choices. Tokhang or sell your dried mangoes duty-free to the EU. Be decisive. “He who dies earlier is dead for much longer” is another Bavarian saying. Real strange. But maybe it means eternal life and rest in peace. And at some point decisions are forced upon you. It is fair if you know your choices well in advance. In contracts, laws, treaties. In daily life as well.

Mutual trust is the second aspect of bridges of understanding. Fairness and predictability breed it. Even if the Philippines miraculously were able to get rid of Duterte, many might not trust again. Even an intact bridge might not be one people cross if they are unsure of what is on the other side. Unpredictable and unfair shakedown artists – or reliable partners of all sorts? A bridge can have gates that are closed on one side. Kuwait has temporarily closed its gates. What is most likely next. Which bridges will still collapse? Which bridges will be burnt, built, restored? Or even abandoned?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27 April 2018

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Filipinos know better

Magic mushrooms(Achtung Satire!) than Thais using Dengvaxia (link) and Colombians without drug war (link). First of all, they don’t speak English, not even the Thai Ministry of Health (link). Listen to Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano awe the United Nations with his high-class Ateneo English. All these dark people. All the people from poor countries that do not have giant malls like us (link).  Second, they are not allied with the future Chinese masters of the earth like us. That ICC shudders due to them (link). Third, they are darker than us – we are like the Chinese. Look at our DengVaxpert Persida Acosta.

And who wants to go there? Like I was correctly told by Filipinos from the United States, soccer is only for Latinos. So is Spanish. So who would want to go to Colombia where they speak Spanish? And Thai songs always sound like they are out of tune. How about Phuket? Come on! Pronounce Phuket, Thailand quickly and you immediately think of sex tourism. You don’t get why that’s true? Then you are not able to pack like an 18 year old or like Panelo, and should pack your bags and go. Because the Philippines is the best place on earth, and we only need the best people of the world.

Not German workers on holiday like Thailand. Pweh how cheap! We want only the best of the best. Even Americans are already second-rate. Chinese high rollers are the coming rulers of this world. That is why we decided quickly (link). When you know you know. And when you decide you decide. Just like the cause of the cause is the cause of them all. That is why you must assume that the police when they kill someone they kill, they always know what they know (link). Only women and crazy Westerners change their mind when there is new evidence. We are stronger and smarter than them.

Because our police know when they know and kill when they kill, Chinese usually survive (link). They are making shabu labs? Those who are taking drugs are worse, and hurt our own people. Our President needs China (link) to help us all. He sang for Trump once (link), yet his Asian heart loves Xi Jinping (link). Poetically, our strong leader sees that Chinese-Philippine relations (link“.. would bloom.. like a flower.. into something big and beautiful. It’s one stem and China and the Philippines will bloom, and you and I are in the middle of the flower.” Magical as mushrooms!

And so what now if that yellow Sereno has her SALN now (link)? Because our Solicitor General knows what he knows, and said what he said (link) that “The Court must not allow a person who lacks integrity and has questionable qualifications to sit at the pinnacle”. And when our SolGen shows his fist, we know what we know, that he is strong and smart. So we trust him like Duterte. And VP Leni who went to Germany (link)? Haha, does she think Germany will help against China? Always you must know who is the real supermajority. Believe me. Cause I know I know the cause.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12 April 2018

 

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A city’s rebirth

Marawi lakecannot be just based on money, the people of Marawi have made clear (link). A natural sense of Heimat (roughly: home and heritage) is tangible in the statement of the Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement: “A city symbolizes its people. Built upon the aspirations and dreams of its people. Nurtured by and reflective of the identity of its people. We are not building a city from debris. We are rebuilding a city from history and from memory.” This sounds so very different from the mentality in Manila, which did not care enough about its legacy destroyed during World War 2.

Soul and tradition

“a city is not merely the sum of its buildings. Not merely an occasion for economic gain.” the statement also says. Metro Manila, for the most part, seemed to me at least 90% based on money.  “This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul.” the Maranaws say. Strange that Manilans did not notice or care about that kind of invasion just after World War 2.  Maybe only a few people really cared for Intramuros back then. But escaping into a wasteland of malls and subdivisions with nothing but commercialism and glitter does not seem like a solution.

German cities were practically all rebuilt, as much as was possible, from history and memory – even from plans that were hidden in caves to preserve them. People cleared wartime debris with shovels by themselves in small groups. While it is also true that many German city centers look similar due to quick rebuilding after the war, with the same chain stores and a non-remarkable architecture, there was an effort to rebuild, or to at least match the new with the old. Munich was rebuilt well. But that was because a sense of identification was there. Also part of the hard to translate Heimat.

A people adrift?

But what are people without roots, without any home? Just workers and consumers maybe. Or worse, not caring at all. Not caring if the dirt accumulates in the rivers of the city where one lives. Not one’s home really. Because one cares for one’s home. What do people without a true home in their hearts care for? To survive first, to get rich after that. They might not care if those who used to live next door to them when they were still poor and struggling are victimized by tokhang. They might not care who occupies their country as long as their economic lot is good and they feel safe.

Many families and regions have their sense of home – it isn’t as if colonialism destroyed everything among mainstream Filipinos, meaning Christian lowlanders. Whether it is ancestral homes that some clans have, or certain fiestas and saints, or churches. Quiapo Church and its living Nazarene tradition. The great churches of Albay. Or UP Diliman, the home of my childhood, which grieved over an old but beloved shopping center recently (link). But of course there was a lot of migration recently, from provinces to the cities and abroad. Part of the fabric of tradition may have ripped.

What future?

The pride of the Meranaw, their resolve not to sell out, is something that I feel deepest respect for. So unlike many especially in the cities of the Philippines who just care about malls, stuff, trends. My SUV is bigger and shinier than yours. Make way for my Ferrari, do you know who I am! No? Just went to buy the latest Dolce Gabanna. So what if I am the mistress of Mr. Ugly Toad? Haha! Most Filipinos lived in bahay kubos in 1910. Only a few rich had these ancestral homes. Now what? Many have uglier places now and take drugs to feel better, while some are rich beyond all belief.

And the protest against Chinese mega-casinos planned on Boracay has been weak – except for those directly affected on the island. This is no longer about the Spratleys, where only few Filipinos live. “The blueprint of this city is in the hearts and minds of the Meranaws” said the people of the lake. WHAT national blueprint do Filipinos have in their hearts and minds? Hopefully not like in Cambodia, where Chinese casinos abound (link) but “most Cambodians.. are seeing little benefit from this investment.” But would Filipinos even care? Maybe, like so often, when it is too late.

Or will they just be “resilient” – meaning adjusting to nearly anything. Chinese become dominant? Well, everybody will probably just whiten their skin like Persida Acosta! Enough of masquerades. Might be that many, even most, Filipinos have to find their way home inside themselves first of all. Then it might still not be easy to fix and rebuild so much that is damaged. But then it could be done without pawning the future of generations to come, without condemning them to being like slaves. “With fierce determination to keep our people free and dignified.” say the Maranaw. Much respect.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 1 April 2018

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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