June 2018
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Power and Responsibility

Philippine National Police train with JIATF West teamusually go together. Push-ups for police suspected of extortion (link) is not enough, neither is reinstating suspected rogue cops after retraining (link). Sufficient evidence is important, but such a betrayal of the trust they were given as policemen normally deserves a greater punishment – in order to teach others the responsibility inherent in having the power to potentially even kill in order to protect citizens. But it seems that power in the Philippines is often irresponsible – while those with less power are punished more severely. Starting from plans to punish even 9 year olds (link).

There is a saying in German: die Kleinen hängt man, die Großen lässt man laufen – the small ones are hanged, the big ones walk free. Old wisdom that knows one thing: those drunk with power can become abusive and entitled, totally regardless of the culture and times. Ideas like democracy, rule of law and human rights developed to prevent the abuse of power – it will be interesting to see how people in the United States live by these principles and defend them, now that there is a man on top who shows an irresponsible attitude to power, and could be dangerous for the world.

Now in the Philippines, wang wang culture has obviously returned in traffic (link) – now one could argue that is the culture and forget strange Western ideas of equality and rights. Asian cultures are indeed more hierarchic, but in the successful Asian cultures like Japan, those on top have a highly ingrained sense of responsibility and service which includes self-imposed punishment for error. In the Philippines, even Rizal’s novels show how some who strive for “heroism” are entitled and irresponsible (link) to the point of narcissism. The bandit Elias sacrifices himself for Ibarra, who later returns as the vengeful Simoun. Ibarra is enormously vain in the Noli, for all his striving to do good, while as Simoun he acts almost like a sociopath willing to sacrifice anybody for his idea of what the nation should be. Now is it surprising that many Filipinos refuse to sacrifice for the nation, given that many “leaders” have failed to be responsible? How often do Filipino “leaders” act as if they are saviors while the Eliases of today do the dirty work for them as servants or even henchmen, often taking most of the blame? Such a culture is not bound to be successful I think.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 5. February 2017

8 comments to Power and Responsibility


    Amid protests against the government held in the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of martial law on September 21, President Rodrigo Duterte said people from Luzon and Visayas seemed to be still adjusting to his style of administration.

    In his dzBB report, Raul Tolibas quoted Duterte as saying that people have yet to get accustomed to his leadership style, which he also implemented when he was still a Davao mayor..

  • Charm

    I struggle with articulating where the Pinoy is at. At first, I hoped that this colonial mentality schtick can be outgrown. That people can see colonial past and mixing pot and be proud Azkals – Mongrels that take the best of what is given and make a whole new Filipino. The global Pinoy is one that is accepts what has come before and uses the best of what remains to create a new Bayanihan. But Pinoys more often are the other mongrel – the dog no one wants, the mean creature that attacks and fends only for itself. It is less about being Pia Wurtzbach, a beautiful example of azkal, and more about this constant looking at ourselves through the lenses of other people that don’t really understand us (outsiders/foreigners) seeing the ugly which is valid, and reacting defensively to that when all these foreigners do is actually take their cue from us and our insecurities. The Pinoy does not see its diversity as a strength but a weakness, as evidence of lack of national identity. Our models are either purist nations such as China/Japan or Europe with centuries of identity, or the US which is a migrant/mongrel nation themselves and celebrates/abhors its mongrel roots. Pinoys long for a purist identity that it can never have, so it either embraces the US or we label everything as colonial even when it isn’t. Pinoys have an identity that we can’t accept, and our ab/use of power stems from that. One can see it not only in government, but in OFW circles, wherein Pinoys never really immerse unlike other expats or immigrants, but rather extend crab mentality practices not only within the OFW community but with other nationals. One gets lot of help as long as one proves that they are exactly the same as others, and once on is different (ay hindi Katoliko) the walls are built. The one thing that was lost in all the migration is the concept of Palabra de Honor – hence in power there is no responsibility. Tama eh.

    • True – the exuberant mixed pride of Cubans or Brazilians is something one rarely sees in Filipinos.

      And of course the pressure to be homogenous in small groups – barkadas, migrant cliques etc. even advocacy groups is often stifling, and these groups can be worst enemies to each other even abroad.

  • karlgarcia

    I took note of your mention of our generation to be jaded.( me in particular) 😉 I still don’t want to be defeatist or feel defeated. Duty, pananagutan, responsibility can still be mustered.

    Palakasan,wangwang, no sense of shame,irresponsibility and no accountability of leaders is still around, but your idea of a tipping point may yet come with a sustaining follow through.Not just change of personalities, characters, palit ulos.

    Culture can be changed.

    • The age of social media still is hopeful for me, inspite of fake news and other phenomena.

      It also exposes things that are not OK glaringly, like the new wang wang, or counterflowing buses.

      • karlgarcia

        Agreed. The reaction of the passengers on the counterflowing bus was sad, they said the victim was just playing victim or making a scene(umeepal lang).

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Wang-wangs are back. Wang-wang is a show of brown-skin colored Filipinos of their power, whereas, the last-remaining Spanish-colonists-turned-Industrialist never flaunt their power and wealth. Their white skin is power enough even Philippine Press who loves to quote “the pen is mightier than the sword” trembles in theirs in their presence, their knees turn to jelly and they lose their English not even gossips about them never make it into gossip columns known as “news”.

      To this day, brown-skin colored Filipinos still believe in Roman Catholicism the enduring remnant of colonial mentality Filipinos even protect it with their pockets and lives.

      To Filipinos power is to subjugate because they have been subjugated and still are subjugated physically, mentally, racially and spiritually. They want to turn their world around from subjugatee to subjugator. And, they subjugate their very own not the Spanish colonists. Filipinos may have been “liberated and won” against Spanish conquistadores but they are still obviously very very very quiverily afraid.

      The Filipinos have not liberated themselves from themselves. It is a constant struggle, to be white like them or not to be.

      “In power there is no responsibility” – FILIPINO

      • karlgarcia

        Do you agree with this comment about Pinoy racism.

        This is from a certain Canadian(Daniel Ewington) who visited the Philippines. This is in reaction to the Fil-Am IHOP waitress who felt thstbshe is a victim of racism.

        “Filipino’s are among the most racist people in the world. I am White, I have spent time in the Philippines, they call white people Joe, they yell it out from the street as you ride by in a trike or Jeepney, you cannot go 3 blocks literally without hearing someone yell hey Joe.

        This term comes from the American soldiers during the Vietnam war, It was a term the soldiers used, G.I. Joe because the life expectancy of a new general infantry soldier in Vietnam was very short and they would say it was not worth remembering their names because they were going to die anyways. They call every white man a Kano, (Meaning American) most white people there are NOT from America and do not like being identified as American. At first its kinda cute they yell hey Joe, but it very soon wears out. When I lived there guys in the neighborhood would do that to me all the time, so I began pulling over and yelling back Hey Juan, to them, they soon took the hint, but only in the neighborhood I lived in, everywhere else I heard it day in day out many, many times a day.I heard them refer to me as a Kano many times, even though I am Canadian, would they like it if people of other countries called them all Chinese just because they are Asian?

        So many see white people as a mark to extort money from like this is acceptable because “we are all rich”, which is why they have mostly crappy hotels and resorts, because the few nice ones are way over priced and that is why there is 50 times more foreigners in Thailand than the Philippines, because they have much nicer resorts for very reasonable money, they are not trying to get rich off of foreigners hard earned money, they cannot even see how their own greed and disrespect for foreigners hurts their economy badly and drives away tourists to other countries like Thailand.

        In Canada, Filipino’s are well liked, respected for their respectful attitudes and demeanor, they are treated like anyone else here, we are multi-cultural, it’s a shame they are so different in the Philippines, and so backwards. I have many times heard them refer to dark skinned Filipino’s as African or “Black Ni**er”, Horribly racist and disrespectful. I spent time around the Blaan and the Tboli tribal people, they are looked down upon and mocked for their darker skin coloring only, yet they are a colorful and wonderfully interesting people. I Do love many things about Filipino culture, very warm in many ways, very family oriented, but sadly the rampant racist behavior that I do not believe they even recognize as being racist is very damaging to their country and their tourism industry.

        I feel sad that this young lady in the USA was discriminated against and treated unfairly by not being tipped which I do not think is considered acceptable in America. And I understand the concerns for this type of behavior towards a Filipina in another country, but I really wished the Filipino people were more aware of their own issues with racism.”

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