is not what some think I have in mind. It is a revolution of the mind that I have in mind. It is what I think the Philippines needs. All other forms of revolution so far have failed. And will fail. Rizal lets his (by then anti-)hero Simoun say at the end of El Filibusterismo: what if the slaves of today become the tyrants of tomorrow? Now wasn’t he right like oh so often? Who has read the Noli and the Fili properly? Or The Philippines, A Century Hence – or Rizal’s translation of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell. He seems like a mere statue today. He died at the age of 35. His thinking discontinued.
Theory and practice
Rote learning is the norm in the Philippines. Theoretical education is too divorced from practice. Common sense looked upon with disdain. The people on the ground are not listened to by the theoreticians, since they often do not have the capability to express themselves in an erudite manner. The people on the ground do not get what the theoreticians want, and often the theoreticians do not break it down properly for them. Like Joe America wrote in a recent comment, the middle is missing. Those on the ground walk on foot. The cars of the erudite have wheels above ground.
- The 1987 Constitution is beautiful in theory, but fails to fulfill even the first two ideas of its preamble, striving for a just and humane society.
- Endlessly detailed discussions on legalisms in so many different recent cases, but the law is effectively not there in many parts of the country.
- Metro Manila’s business district has all modern amenities while huge parts of the country hardly have Internet access at a reasonable speed.
- International studies are commissioned, for example on traffic, while the expertise and common sense of local experts is often ignored.
- International contractors are taken in for projects, but there is often no strategy for building local expertise in a step-by-step manner.
The present programs of DOST like the DOST AGT, the Roadtrain, the Diwata Microsatellite, the iGovPhil government IT project, or Project NOAH shine as exceptions to this sad rule. The DOST projects also took small steps to success, but with an overarching goal in mind. Wanting big successes at once does not work. Forget going federal-parliamentary in one step for example.
Models and reality
We all use mental models to simplify the reality that we see. To be able to process it in a reasonable timeframe. But mental models can become outdated. Old nationalistic mental models of the United States as the threat to national sovereignty ignore how the USA has changed, how the parameters of the global game have changed, and who is now occupying islands near Palawan. Old leftist mental models ignore that there are much better ways of creating a level playing field, and that one has to create better habits among the disadvantaged so they can use these new chances. Old rightist mental models of repression ignore that it has been proven that repression creates an adversarial relationship between citizens and the state, especially if it comes with human rights abuses – that modern policing can involve the community and value human rights without losing its necessary effectivity. It is like satellite photos may cause old maps to have to be redrawn.
Or surveyor’s measurements. It is very important to check assumptions. The adjust the map in one’s mind of the territory that is reality. It will never encompass everything. 90% is enough.
Trial and error
The Romanians have one of the fastest Internets in the world thanks to so-called neighborhood networks. A bit similar to how some Romanian gypsies and Filipino slum dwellers improvise their electricity. Now I am sure that the educated Makati crowd, or the experts at UP would have looked down upon such a suggestion with disdain, since they are world-class and not like slum dwellers at all.
But for that, one must be willing to make mistakes, accept them and learn from them. Edison tried so many designs until he finally succeeded in getting his incandescent lamp working. Good he did not grow up in a culture that immediately calls out minor mistakes, which Filipinos do. While ignoring major mistakes and those who are shameless enough to justify them as being right. A culture that calls to crucify the earnest and release the shameless is not conducive to real development. In my German IT project experience, we have corrected mistakes and moved on to do better.
A culture that seeks to learn progresses. A culture that seeks to punish stays put or regresses. The real revolution that brings lasting effects is the one that happens in the mind.
Driving the BRP Sierra Madre into a reef was a stroke of genius. Using the oldest ship in the navy to block Ayungin Shoal. Filipino ingenuity can if given the chance.
Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5 February 2016