Knowledge-Innovation-Africa-Scenarios-for-Futurewere mentioned by Manong Sonny once as the three factors for a balanced society. Bill in Oz has mentioned that the life of normal Filipinos remained essentially the same over centuries. Therein lies the crux for the loss of  Filipino kaginhawaan – the social balance of a society at ease with itself in this context, comfort or convenience is too simple a translation for this rich Filipino word. Today’s Metro Manila is the shining example of an off-balance society without kaginhawaan.

The government and the state are foreign imports, the native way of life is “salungat” or diametrically opposed to the way of life of the more modern elites in cities and in the business world. Both Mar Roxas and Rodrigo Duterte are trying to reconcile the two from their respective places in society – one from the government and elite with a methodical approach, one coming from below and having created a certain balance in his own city of Davao using more native methods and a native, improvised approach. Leni Robredo is in between, she could one day unify both sides.

The old way of life – the barangay – versus the state and business. Countless processes transformed datus into principalia and then into local politicians. The colonial state became the Republic. What is done in theory, on paper, often diverges sharply from the reality on the ground. The 1987 Constitution is wonderful, if it all were implemented in reality the Philippines would be ahead of most countries in the world – but the real issues of the Philippines are known sufficiently by now. But let us look at Manong Sonny’s three factors more closely, with kilawen and gin tonic:

  • Subsidiarity – every level knows its duties and rights. In the datu culture there was tribute, in modern government there is BIR and LGPMS. The mixed culture is corruption and vote-buying.
  • Solidarity – different parts of society help each other. In the datu culture it was a fluid thing with shifting alliances, in modern government it is IRA and BUB. Mixed culture is pork barrel.
  • Humanity – gives people slack. In the datu culture it was a chief being generous to subjects, in modern government it is 4Ps and human rights. Mixed culture: tolerance of rule-breaking.

These are just examples of the “pure cultures” – the Western administrative culture, the native barangay culture and today’s mixed culture in its less nice forms. The barangay justice system is a successful example of mixed culture – institutionalizing old customs of dispute resolution. Alleged death squads are a bad example for a workaround to create order when the cumbersome police and justice system does not work. Other countries were lucky to evolve their own mix over centuries, organically growing out of their own culture. How can the Philippines fix that disjoint?

I don’t know. Finally the Philippines must decide this. I only can contribute so much. Numerous articles here have dealt with certain aspects. How the Swiss developed democracy from a tribal oath, slowly building their own state with a constitution that closely matches reality, unlike the Philippines. The evolution of justice systems from Germanic tribal law and Roman law is a topic in itself I have hardly looked at in depth – the Malay adat may be worth looking at also. To help develop the Line of Sight (link) that is needed. Your ideas and inspirations are highly welcomed.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 21 April 2016