June 2018
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Subsidiarity, Solidarity, Humanity

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

16 comments to Subsidiarity, Solidarity, Humanity

  • karlgarcia

    Uncle Sonny write a second article,maybe a sequel to this.

    I tried to compose about Filipino DNA and the mestizo ,but I did know how to proceed so scrap that and think of another.

    • sonny

      Nephew, I love this topic and have a few ideas about it. I hope I can string them together relatively soon. I much appreciate your vote of confidence. Thank you. Keep your juices going too. I liked your start on the barangay, remember. Seems Irineo, you and I have strong feelings about this.

      • karlgarcia

        I am trying to do a sequel,I will e mail it to you.
        I will also email the article about filipino dna,maybe we can resurrect it.

        • I have a suggestion for the title: “The Filipino mix”. But I am not so sure as to what the conclusion should be.

          Possibly that the Philippines is the Brazil of Asia, with the main difference being more native blood than in Brazil?

  • sonny

    Irineo, this installment of your blog is altogether a clear, succinct, applicable lens with which to view our beloved Philippines as she journeys through her development and evolution. I hope, over time, that Duterte will be eventually viewed as the lowest point beyond which we should not sink and Mar Roxas as only the 2nd datapoint of the ascendancy of our times. Even as I say this, we must keep the cultural foundations that our forefathers had to go through in order to give us important reference points, good and bad, with which to navigate the nation’s future course.

    • The child was in front in the Presidential debate… and the candidates gave their closing 5-minute speeches… if I were the child I would ask myself, what opportunities for the future are THEY offering me… none of the answers really showed that long-term perspective. Sure Mar Roxas has excellent programs, and Poe has the social stuff (but does she truly know how to finance it) but none of the candidates really showed the long-term view yet.

      Hope that this will develop more in the generation of future leaders… of course people whose perspective is hand-to-mouth will not really think so far yet, but it is the job of leadership to point josephivo’s line of sight…. what also struck me is how hard up many barangays still are – in the German constitution there is an important phrase about “uniformity of living conditions” which is solidarity applied nationwide, poor states get money from rich states etc.

  • sonny

    Solidarity consists in the individual recognizing the set or code of behavior he practices is also the same set that other individuals who are both like and unlike himself also examine and practice, that one is not alone in the valuation of a practice or application. Along time, the similarity of implementation leads to reinforcement into the strengthening and facility of a tradition or institution. The spectrum of practice from beginning to fullness becomes the dynamic of action for the “local group” so formed. The questions that individual differences bring up or surface, in turn, become the grist to define or realize the richness of the principles adopted by the local group and becomes a hallmark for that group’s identity. This we might call the organic kernel (the good news) that one protects and nurtures ready for sharing and propagation.

    • The first step to achieving solidarity in the barangay and LGU is what Karl’s first and so far only article is about…

      In Germany it was the postwar clean-up in the beginning, then the national reconstruction under Adenauer with his Benedictine influences.

      • Cooperate or Collapse is about how to put solidarity together inter-community, with stewardship for disaster mitigation, agriculture and water at the forefront.

        • The barangay as the basic elemental cultural unit is so appropriate for you and Karl to point out. The fact that the country is designated and counted as 42,029 (for 2015) is truly a meaningful number to work with. It represents the comprehensive diversity of Filipino citizenry and a true number that can be used when speaking of the Filipino people. Our top political leadership must use this number as a reality check for their accountability. (Mar Roxas has the distinct advantage in this regard, since the perception (mine, anyway) is that he, among all, has the best feel for what will work for the country).

  • karlgarcia

    let me first go to defintions:

    Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that originated in the Roman Catholic church. In its most basic formulation, it holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution.


    Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.

    got confused because i confused it with subservience,which is to follow the leader.

    It is more lke the barangay,if i read the definitions correctly.

    • sonny

      Couldn’t define subsidiarity much better, Karl. Truly a perceptive rewording of the principle. Beautiful.

      When a Catholic participates in the Christian life of a parish or a religious

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