Poe graceThe Supreme Court has decided that Grace Poe may run for President. Good. Why? There are three major requirements for running. I interpret their intention as follows:

  1. Age requirement. A person should have the life experience, meaning the maturity, necessary for leading such a complex country.
  2. Natural-born citizenship. A person should be rooted in the nation. A foundling who grew up in Filipino families like Grace Poe did IS rooted.
  3. Residency requirement. A person should know what is going on in a country. Grace Poe was part of the struggles of the country in the past years.

The rest for me are just technicalities. In fact I see the Philippine Constitution as still being wishful thinking, far from the real constitution (link) of the country in the sense how it is constituted. Much of what is written in it are just high-sounding words, with no impact on the reality of millions in the country, and the real constitution of their lives I do not wish to describe to stay polite this time.

Just like the oath Grace Poe took when she became an American citizen may not have been truly meant (link). It is an inheritance of colonialism and serfdom that many Filipinos often just say what they are required to say – in front of their teachers, in front of judges, in front of anyone with power – because speaking truth to power (link) can hurt you or often face is more important. Much of what those who are used to honesty see as strange is not a big deal for many Filipinos – it is seen as a trade-off in a country where honesty is seen as “rude”.

  • Grace Poe’s program for me is 1-2 steps behind Mar Roxas (link), but 2-3 steps in front of Rodrigo Duterte. My ranking remains unchanged (link).
  • In my model of evolution of order (link) I see Grace Poe as a “rebel/prophet”. She seems to want to lead her people out of Egypt but does not know the way – a bit like Cory 30 years ago.
  • I think her appeal is strong to a nation that is historically Spain’s illegitimate child and America’s foundling. A country that still struggles with its identity and has issues with its confidence.

Now if the Philippines may be likened to Oliver Twist, the orphan who ran with shady characters for a while because those were the ones he trusted more than the better-off people, Poe with her somewhat questionable connection to Chiz Escudero and the people who might be behind him is preferable to Binay anytime who might be something like a Fagin to an Oliver Twist nation.

On shifting ground

People usually can relate best to those who are at a similar stage of development. The Philippines is a country of shifting ground, legally and ethically. It is not yet sure of its own principles.

  • Aquino may have come down the mountain with the 11th Commandment (link), seeing his people dancing around the Golden Calf of Corruption, what Daang Matuwid means stayed vague.
  • The modern technocrat Roxas is mainly able to connect with parts of the educated middle class, and those who still live the vague democratic dreams of the 1986 revolution.
  • Duterte seems to want to chuck a lot of imported Western principles down the drain, coming from Mindanao where they were often meaningless in daily life (link).
  • Marcos Jr. provides a vague promise of authoritarianism to those who see the chaos and blockades of present-day Philippine democracy.
  • Leni Robredo is for people’s participation – in an elitist country where the people were outside the walls and meant little (link).

What really counts

The election only is a sideshow for me. Finally the country might have to look at three things and find answers to them in the next few weeks, months or years:

  1. Where has it been in the past (link)?
  2. What is the real situation now (link)?
  3. Where does it want to go next (link)?

Outdated terminologies and ideologies that probably never fit the specific Philippine situation have not been helpful in modeling reality for the purpose of defining how to remold it.

  • New mental models are needed I think (link),
  • Discourse at all levels must remain open (link),
  • Mutual assistance and coaching is growing (link).

The nice thing about the elections is that people are starting to discuss about a lot of things, some even think or do something. A few may even remember the real priorities after the election.

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