have a different meaning for some Filipinos. Sandra Cam might be seen as smart and Antonio Contreras as strong. Devious and thick-faced Bongbong Marcos as both. Ethics of people who I think don’t believe in fairness, civility or honesty – possibly because they have never seen much of it in their lives. “Those who have known hunger have a scar, and may behave as if they are hungry all their lives” is wisdom I have heard from someone who knows the school of hard knocks. Makes me think of how Imelda wore just hand-me-downs in her youth, being from the poor branch of a mestizo clan. One wonders to what extent the attitudes from a scar can be passed to children. I don’t see the Binay kids behaving as desperately, eternally hungry as their boodle-fighting father. “Take what you can, give nothing back” is what they say to each other in Pirates of the Carribean. Wonder how much of the attitudes of some Filipinos date back to times of galleon trade and forced labor in the barangays.
A different Philippines already had been taking shape. Modern jobs and opportunities had come, showing that you just have to perform at work to get somewhere. Whether it was in BPO outfits or in factories run by foreigners. The old Philippines of ass-kissing towards higher ups and pushing down those below was disappearing. Seems those left behind, or those who simply wanted a bigger piece of the cake more quickly, have won this time. They may yet kill the goose that lays their golden eggs. There was always a conflict between the old, rent-seeking Philippines and the modern, liberal Philippines – I think from the moment the first ports opened for free trade in the 19th century, European migrants came in with the first modern factories, and even America started to trade with the newly opened colony – long before colonial ambitions were even in its mind.
In the rent-seeking, old Philippines, you earn your place by loyalty to certain powers that be. Whether you are Mocha Uson or Thinking Pinoy. Others in turn will have the chance to earn a place at your table and benefit from your largesse. Or even ride in your helicopter, like the one Mocha Uson recently took from Manila to Clark. Nobody really questions that. You may even hear things like – why are you so envious? People get their luck in life! Those who share their “luck” like Binay did are seen as “good”. Only those who don’t are considered “bad”. But why are people so mad at hard-working professionals or successful businessmen, and not at corrupt politicians or crooks? Well, it seems to me that those who build their affluence by design are considered greedy! Makes sense if you think all businesses are rent-seeking and all good jobs are gotten by ass-kissing. And that even good education is just a designer label that you can buy because you have money. That what you learn there is just empty words.
Oh well, maybe they are right. Possibly we are just slaves over here in the West, condemned to learn things properly and then work long hours and not even have maids or houseboys at home. Maybe the Philippines will take off, with a hierarchy that is even more pyramidal than in the Gulf States, as soon as Bongbong Marcos is Vice President. Even if it is 99.99% likely that he isn’t, who cares about the truth in the Philippines today? Perhaps we are fools over here in the West, telling the truth even to those minions that don’t deserve to be told the truth. 30 days of vacation even for ordinary workers. Who do they think they are? Fast public transport. Who needs that? Mochau Uson can take the helicopter, those two rungs below her can wang-wang, I have heard it is back. Sure, there will be a lot of people that protest in case Vice President Robredo is removed, which I think is nearly certain. But will it have an effect? Possibly some provoked violence, then nationwide Martial Law and arrests.
And the quiet rest of Filipinos? To them, what Rizal said in El Filibusterismo via the character of the native priest Padre Florentino will most probably continue to be true: “as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?”…”if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow”. To spare their families, they will acquiesce – or even collaborate so that their families are just one rung higher on Jacob’s ladder. This is a principle that rulers of Filipinos have exploited for so very long. Even a relatively simple-minded man without his father’s intelligence – yes I mean Bongbong Marcos – knows that. And this time, he might make sure things stay that way.
Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 13 July 2017