Paano Ngayon?

Mount Malinaoewan ko na. Baka naman talagang mas komportable ang karamihan ng Pilipino sa mga mukhang magiging mga Senador ngayon (link). Mas katulad na nila sa ugali at lahat. Hindi na iyong mga nakakainis na elitista. Hindi na iyong mga disenteng mga ipokrito. Hindi na iyong mga gustong sundan ang lahat ng batas na sobra-sobra ang borloloy. May ginagawa talaga! Patayin ang adik, linisin ang Boracay, durugin ang Marawi. Pinaninindigan ang alam, lalo na iyong mga destabilizer at mga dilawan na mareklamo!

Magwalâ muna

Pero hayaan muna mag-migrate ang mga iyan, mga hindi tunay na Pilipino (link). Paingles-ingles, padiyos-diyos, tapos puro Constitution. Tanginang mga Inglesero. Tanginang mga Katoliko. E sa Limasawa pa lang, swapang iyong pari na nagmisa. Kapag ang mga Bisaya nag-inom, kasama lahat, hindi lang iyong sa harap ang meron! Tapos ang pinakain sa mga Waray iyang tinapay na matigas at puti at maliit pa sa puto. Anong klaseng pagsasama iyan. Tapos ang sex life nating malandi noon, pinigil nila!

Sino ang di mawiwili sa mapupula mong pisngi?
Lalu na’t mainit-init ang matambok mong pu-
So ko’y lumulukso, dahilang sa ganda mo
Pwede bang mahipo ko ang malaki mo’ng su-
Kat ko’ng akalain, masarap ang balimbing
Pwede bang makatikim ang mahaba ko’ng u-..

Iyan tayo (link)! Kaya dapat malibog ang pinuno natin, hulog mga panty sa kanya (link)! Aanhin natin ang mga Abnoy na ayaw ng mga babae, kesa nakadalawang asawa na! Umalis na nga dito iyong mga gustong maging mga Amerikano, at doon sila kung saan sila puwedeng magsabi ng baklang thank you Sir, please Madam, tayo hindi ganyan. Tignan ninyo si Sass kung paano niya hinarap iyang mayabang na BBC na Ingles (link)! Ngayon, aalis na ang mga puti kasama iyong mga tuta nilang dilawan. Goodbye Felicia!

Pero bakit

Nakakapagod magkunyaring DDS. Pero bakit ba parang pagiging hangal na kaluluwa, bastos, ignorante, bobo at tanga na talaga ang peg ng pagiging Pilipino. Panahon ni Andres Bonifacio, normal pa sigurong marinig mo ito sa ordinaryong tao (link): Mahal ni Chel higit sa lahat ang batas. Pero mas may mahal pa siya sa batas – ang katarungan”  ngayong araw, sa propesor mo lang maririnig o kaya sa mga nasa unibersidad, sa ibang lugar baka sabihan ka pa ng “UGOK!” kapag sinabi mo iyon.

Baka akala ng maraming Pilipino diyan na walang kuwenta ang may pinag-aralan. Posibleng hindi nila nagamit ang pinag-aralan nila dahil napilitan kaagad mag-Saudi. Baka akala nila kahit sino puwede magpatakbo ng gobyerno dahil bulok ang takbo. Huwag sana silang magtaka kapag lalong bulok ang magiging takbo habang tumagal. Sige na nga, ano kayang magandang magagawa nila Bato, Imee, Manny atbp. diyan! Mga nakapunta na sa maunlad na bansa: may mga ganyan ba sa mga Senado nila?

Kinabukasan

Para saan pa kung makakapag-hapi-hapi na ngayon? Manood ng Senado araw-araw. Alisin na ang Eat Bulaga at ilipat doon. May budol-budol muna, tapos may inom at biro. Hay naku, baka makapasok pa si Bam Aquino. Boring naman, baka hindi siya sumama. Sobrang mag-iisip samantalang wala nang dapat isipin. Sagot na lahat ng mga Tsaynis. Di bale kung may utang na maiiwan, problema na iyan ng mga hindi pa ipinapanganak. Pero huwag silang maging pasaway. Kahit dose anyos kulong sila, pag malas tokhang!

May mga natatauhan na sana, pero kulang pa. Hindi ako lubos na naniniwala sa resulta daw ng botohan. Sobrang marami pa ring mga nauuto pa pero may mga nagising na. Kaya lang madalas sa lipunang Pilipino, kung sinong maingay at gago ang naririnig. Mga matitino baka tawagin pang takot o bakla, o pinakagrabe sa lahat “isip ng isip”. Tsaka palalabasin na kaunti lang ang mga tahimik pero matino – kaya siguro pinalabas na tambak ang resulta ng botohan. Ewan ko na talaga kung anong mangyayari ngayon.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, ika-13 ng Mayo 2019

Ang babastos ng mga tagabundok!

Camión transportador de botellas y envases de plástico (Av. Patriotismo y Eje 4 Sur Benjamín Franklin, México, D.F.) 01biruin ninyo, tinapunan ng bote si Bong Revilla! Buti nasangga ng agimat ang paglipad ng plastic bottle. Hindi ba nila alam na basura iyan, ano tingin niyo kay Bong, trapo? Pero huli yata talaga sa balita ang mga nandoon, mahilig pa rin yata sa country music. Palibhasa napunta sa may Sagada si Scotty, si Fr. William Henry Scott, na puro gitara at country roads daw ang ikinanta. Tapos akala mo pa kung sino sila, palibhasa marami sa kanilang Anglican, akala nila puwede na nilang bastusin isang matapang na Tagalog!

Mga awit

Sa bagay, pasaway naman talaga ang mga iyan. Lumaban na ang mga iyan noong si Marcos, na alam nating WALA talagang ninakaw ni gabundok (link) o sa bundok nila, gusto silang bigyan ng Chico River dam! Mga walang utang na loob talaga! Kanta nila:

O Makus balileng nagpa-order
Maraming helicopter
Sasakay jungle fighter
Patungo sa encounter

Pero kapag meron namang lumalapit na hindi tagaroon, pinapalit bigla ang kanta:

Mahirap balileng maging pogi
Marami kang babai
Buti pa maging pangit..

Pogi o pangit, patay na si Fr. Balweg (link)! At isa pa, magagawa sa wakas ang Chico River dam, gawa ng kagandahang-loob ng mga Tsino sa Pilipinas (link). Pirmado na!

Keri iyan

Buti hindi sila naglakas-loob kay Imee, pagkat dugo ni Lam-Ang iyan, tumalo sa kanila. Kay mismong El Dorado sila galing, sa haring ginto ng ibinalita ng mga Kastila (link). Yayaman tayong lahat kapag binahaginan tayo ng pamilya Marcos sa kayamanan nila! Tsaka huwag kayong maniniwala sa mga dilawang naninira sa ating Prinsesang Imee. Prinsesa siya, kaya nagpunta siya ng Princeton. Dinaya lang siya ng mga dilawan (link)! Hindi siya tulad ni Kris Aquino na pinagtitripan na lang (link). May class siya. Keri iyan!

Dami na raw Pilipino takot ma-EJK – 8 out of 10 daw (link). O, di ba sabi ni Tatay Digong na meron nang 8 million drug adik sa Pilipinas (link). Di sila ang mga takot mamatay! Tangina ninyo, sino ang nagsabing iba ang 8 out of 10 sa 8 million out of 100 million? Ang dami ninyong alam talaga! Pareho lang iyan. Isa pa itong si Bernard Ong (link). Ayon kay Panelo, iyong 3 million na sinabi ni Duterte noon, Metro Manila lang iyon. Bakit pa pa-compute-compute si Ong, imbesa na MANIWALA siya kay Panelo?

Jess bilib

Ang papel ng Pilipinong tunay, maniwala sa nakakataas. Huwag puro satsat at tanong. Sabi nga ni Manny Pacquiao (link): ‘Too much democracy is bad for the Philippines’. Tandaan ninyo, ang daming natulungan niyan, di baleng laging absent sa Senado (link)! Bakit may attendance pa kasi diyan, ano ba tayo, mga batang tinuturuan pa sa school? Anong silbi ng edukasyon, papogi lang iyan, tapos mahirap balileng maging pogi talaga, tulad ni Manny, marami na siyang babae, eh paano kung nag-aral pa iyan, sosobra na!

So, JESS BILIB. Ano ba kayo, walang faith sa Lord natin! Itong mga tagabundok na Anglican pa raw, walang yatang faith kay Lord Digong. Kasi brainwashed siguro ng American priests. Mga Katoliko brainwashed ng mga putangingang Padre Damaso. Tandaan ninyo na hindi magaling iyong mga puro debate at angal na malas, kundi iyong mga relax lang at magaling sa sayaw, kanta at patawa (link) na tunay na masusuwerte! Huwag puro isip dahil mapapagod lang kayo. Huwag puro duda at simangot! Istap na!

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 March 2019

Worship and celebration

Fiesta Jarois clearly the main form of community for Filipinos. A lot of Filipino groups abroad are religious in nature, and the Filipino fiesta is when the entire town comes together. Will Villanueva describes the spirit of community in worship during pre-Christmas masses (link) and Prof. Vicente Rafael describes almost festive togetherness during the 1898 revolution in his book Motherless Tongues (Chapter 1: Welcoming what comes) where towns welcomed revolutionaries, like in a town fiesta where everybody was welcome.

Town and Country

The same book also describes how during EDSA 2 in 2001, there was a sense of damayan, a kind of collective caring which for example showed itself in people not pushing each other in a huge crowd, just like people do not jostle inside a church. Therefore it is not surprising that many Filipinos look for community in religious groups, and that many Filipino uprisings had religious overtones: Hermano Pule, Sakdalistas or of course and very obviously EDSA 1. Even Katipuneros often had their anting-anting.

The Filipino word for country, bayan, is the same as the word for town. The bayan thus, like a town, cheers its boxers and beauty queens: Pacquiao, Wurtzbach and Gray. Overseas supporters of President Duterte often act like in an imagined barangay (link). Prof. Rafael also describes how texting was the major bond for people on EDSA 2 (Chapter 3: The Cell Phone and the Crowd). Needless to say, the bayan watched the Erap impeachment trial on TV. It also saw Ninoy taken off the airplane in 1983.

Demos and Polis

But it also was led by social media to excessively hate the previous President and vote for the present one, hoping a man who ran a bayan could also run the Bayan properly. Faked pictures were believed as if they were real, Mocha and her kind spread gossip. The agora (marketplace and meeting place for Greek democracy) of the Philippine polis (Greek word for city and root of the word politics) has been loud, as it is social media. Unlike in a real agora, it isn’t possible to see who is the real majority of demos (people).

It is definitely insane to think of a country as a family, for example with Duterte as the father and Bong Go as the elder brother (link). The idea of brotherhood or kapatiran which was central to the Katipunan (link) is probably better, but I doubt that an entire country of people can truly view themselves as brothers. Liberty, equality and fraternity, said the French and proceeded to behead people. Fraternity can also mean hazing. But demos in Greek also meant neighborhoods (link) into which Greek polis were divided.

Building Blocks

The euphoric togetherness of Filipinos when it comes to boxers or beauty contestants, or even when major political changes happen (1898, 1986, 2001) is usually short-lived. The energy is practically not used to follow through, and the lack of miracles frustrates. Will Villanueva mentions pagkawang-gawa (acts of love – and charity) as a concept. VP Leni of course has been practicing this for years in her projects including Angat Buhay. Only this kind of patience and work can truly change things. Miracles are not for free.

Then of course there are neighborhoods. Human beings by nature can only really know around 100-250 people, according to recent neurological studies. The Stone Age brain. The rest are strangers. This is why anywhere in the world, larger groups of people are harder to control. Small groups of people – villages and healthy city neighborhoods – tend to look after each other. Neighborhood concerns are the clearest, least abstract. Barangay drug lists (link) are exactly the wrong way, destroying neighborhood trust.

Some degree of regionalization might also make sense (link) because people can relate better to concerns and projects closer to home than broad, national stuff in an archipelago of 7500 islands stretching the distance of Oslo to Rome from north to south. Not federalism yet, I guess, as it might just strengthen dynasties. But both tyrannical barangay captains and political dynasties are something people are responsible for. If most still hope for largesse from rulers (link), little will change. Let us see in May 2019.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, December 28, 2018

What future does the Philippines have?

Satellite image of Philippines in March 2002Martial law in Mindanao extended. Self-serving charter change. Plunderers freed. Unfortunately, little outrage. “I do not know what the majority cares for now” (link). Something I wrote as a comment in the Society of Honor, quoted by Joe America.  Kaginhawaan ng bayan is defined by some as (linkmasaganang ani at pagiging palaanak ng mga babae at pagdami ng mga alagang hayop tulad ng mga babuy. Annoying that baboy is spelled babuy, is somebody trying very hard to be rustical? Aside from that, isn’t that a very limited kind of definition? Sure, that is how the first agricultural communities all over the world started – with or without babuy. Food and families are the backbone of a healthy society, but that it the simplest level of being.

Defining the people

That level of being could include being completely without modern stuff like vaccines. Without modern stuff like due process, just drug lists compiled by the barangay captain. After all, they are doing it for the good of the bayan, the true Filipinos, to clean society! And about “1898 hanggang Kasalukuyan kung kailan ang mga naging elit at Inglesero ay patuloy pang binubuhay ng mga Pilipinong naging tapat sa sariling Kalinangan” – the English-speaking elite being kept alive since 1898 by Filipinos true to their culture? Alan Robles reacted to the my last article which contained the quote like this (link): Oh no, I write in English, I must be an ingleserong elitista who oppresses the masses who truly represent Filipino culture. Wait, where’s my latigo? My opulent manorial elitista estates?

But exactly that Zeitgeist or spirit of the times makes it easy for people to believe that Mar Roxas really stole Yolanda funds, which he definitely did not, or that Maria Ressa of Rappler, very Americanized, former CNN journalist, has somehow cheated with taxes. While at the same time, “true Filipinos” like Manny Pacquiao or Bong Revilla continue to be cheered by a lot of people. Sometimes – as someone of mixed race who grew up in the Philippines – I have a feeling some Filipinos with the native crab mentality would still consider Ingleseros (English-speakers), kanluranin (Westernized people) or mestizos as rich if they had money left for an espresso once a month, and too proud if they dared fight back at those who will accuse them of nearly anything. One can’t win against that.

Of cultural divides

The Philippines has its widely discussed cultural divide. Europe has the Hajnal line (link) which separates South / East and North / West of Europe, the latter being individualistic while the former is more collective. In the Balkan, one could also say that villages are like in the model of kaginhawaan mentioned above, very group-oriented and traditional. While that certainly can have the advantage of solidarity and warmth, it can also be an oppressive state of affairs. Individualistic can at times be cold, freedom is not for free. Call me biased – or maybe it just what I have gotten used to – I like the middle of the road way that Bavaria represents, not too rough and tumble like neoliberal England, but still on the Western / Northern side of the Hajnal line. There are more aspects to this.

Croatia and Serbia are both South / East of the Hajnal line, but one is less collectivistic while Serbia is very collectivistic. The civil war that destroyed Yugoslavia had aspects like the Serbians calling the Croatians way too Westernized – and themselves “braver”. One must know that the most liberal part of ex-Yugoslavia, Slovenia, was nearly always under Austrian rule, Croatia was under either Austrian or Hungarian rule, while the more conservative parts were under Turkish rule. The Philippines also has been under two colonial powers, one very liberal (USA) and one very conservative (Spain). Edgar Lores details this in a comment (link). Is this the reason why the nationalistic / cosmopolitan conflict and the overlapping DDS / dilawan conflict remind me so much of Yugoslavia?

Do people learn?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, has written about how he and his family, Greek Orthodox Lebanese, were caught flat-footed when their country imploded and became more of a Near Eastern country, from having been a zone where Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern aspects existed side by side. Possibly, this is the way the world has been going since the 19th century when Turks and Greeks expelled one another from territories where they had been peaceful neighbors for many centuries. Don’t remember which city in Crete that was where the abandoned Turkish quarter and its mosque look like they left only yesterday. Cyprus of course has its demarcation line. Yugoslavia’s breakdown literally had in-laws going at each other, suddenly “strangers”.

The Philippines I believe never was truly more open-minded, just a bit more tolerant. Tolerant also because everybody could retreat into his own island and ethnic group, into his own clan, into his own comfort zone. An archipelago, both literally and culturally. Recent events show that there may be no more space, both physically and culturally, to continue that way – and little practice in dealing with other people and other opinions. Filipino 100%ers as described by Joe America could be “Lodis” (idols) within their own respective groups, whether it is Orion Perez in CORRECT or “President” Eli Pamatong or Pastor Quiboloy. The archipelago always had space for Tamblots, Dagohoys, sakdal groups who believed anting-anting rendered them invulnerable, to each his own belief.

Now there is a President who actively attacks Catholicism nearly 500 years later (link) and has international institutions like the ICC and UN as well as Western groups that are for human rights as his Feindbilder or bogeymen. Long-standing latent resentments of common Filipinos against Westernized elites could also be activated by his rhetoric – in order to neutralize both those who would otherwise have had the power to stop his shift towards China, and the modern, “woke” part of the Westernized Filipino elite. He cannot as easily neutralize those like VP Leni and the People’s Champions (link) since they are finally weaving liberalism into the fabric of Filipino culture, “naturalizing it”. Some might quickly try to turn the tide backwards. The Philippines is at a junction point.

Irineo  B. R. Salazar
München, 13 December 2018

People’s Champions

Workers on suspended scaffold in Korolyovare appearing in the Senate race: Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada, Samira Gutoc, Gary Alejano, Florin Hilbay, Bam Aquino. Will Villanueva has interviewed nearly all (link) while Samira Gutoc is introduced here (link). Bam Aquino’s Negosyo Centers and his initiatives for improving Internet connectivity are I think known. Each one is different, but each on is about serving the people. Three have a strong focus on improving rule of law: Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada and of course Florin Hilbay. Samira Gutoc has her record in serving the people of Marawi in difficult times. Gary Alejano has his focus on national security and territory as well as avoiding debt traps. Mar Roxas and Macalintal are surely each good in their own ways, but I leave them out as I lack some information.

Community or Command?

All the six I mentioned fit into the people’s champion image Leni Robredo revived. Possibly the first time since Ramon Magsaysay. Probably it was even Mar Roxas who tried to revive it, although the image that remains of him is unfortunately quite awkward. Except for Alejano, none fit into the warrior-like image many Filipinos consider “strong”. And warrior-like would even be OK, in many cases Filipino machismo is just thuggish. From fatal fraternity hazings to UP Regents threatening Ateneo players with injury (link). Or thuggish barangay captains who make the Bagong Lipunan song play inside me. The propaganda art of the Marcos era with strong-bodied datus and their broad swords. Yes, the old barangays raided (each other), traded (with one another) and feasted (link).

From Spanish times onwards, cabezas de barangay and gobernadorcillos (“mayors”) drawn from the co-opted native elite maintained control over their own countrymen in exchange for privileges. Sugar, tobacco and abaca plantations came into play later on. Agricultural and other trade lead to (Spanish- and Chinese-) mestizos getting rich also. The late Spanish period and American colonial times allowed the rich to get educated. Institutions like UP even gave the less affluent but talented access to good education. Seems the idea of bayanihan, effectively a mix of native self-help and American ideas of community service, had its heyday in the 1950s. The barangay, as a more toxic mix of datu culture and Spanish colonial mindset, returned in force when Marcos restored it.

Absolutist or Liberal?

The difference is so very clear when one sees VP Leni sitting WITH the people while Duterte or Imee usually sit on a podium, ABOVE the people. And of course there is a command tone inherent in Marcosian or Dutertian rhetoric. And when one hears how some older-generation Filipino lawyers argue, one wonders how much Spanish absolutism is still in their mindset. For instance the way “sovereignty” is used – more in the old sense of the ruling class having sovereign (or king-like) power than in the sense of asserting national sovereignty by defending borders. One must remember that the Philippines was born in the middle of the Spanish conflict between Absolutists and Liberals. Until the 1950s, you still had Filipino politicians who spoke Spanish fluently.

Whereas (to use a typical Filipino legal word, ha!) Spanish Liberalism was also elitist in nature (link), and the original “liberalism” of Filipino plantation owners seems closer to that than to the ideas of American Democrats. If one wants an analogy of Spanish Liberalism and Absolutism, one just needs to read Rizal’s Noli and Fili. The first is about a snooty elite Filipino who naively tries to apply foreign recipes without thinking about how they can be adapted to local conditions, and without getting local buy-in first. The second is about a Filipino elite master of intrigue and power games who wants to use violence and suppression to achieve his ends. As the adviser to the Governor-General, Simoun is Marcosian/Dutertian, as the one egging on Cabesang Tales, he is a “leftist”.

Arriving in Dapitan

One cannot discount that Rizal’s novels had an element of self-reflection in them. Goethe is said to have avoided killing himself over a young lady by writing Werther. Probably the self-reflection even revealed more about the Philippine character than Rizal intended to. The well-meaning but sometimes condescending tone of reformism from 2010-2016 – and the howling reaction of the “townspeople” – parallels the Noli. Today’s violence is El Filibusterismo – 120 years later. Rizal probably won over his worst instincts by letting them out as novels. By the time he was exiled to Dapitan, he served. The Liberal Party I think has learned from its defeat – and started Project Makinig (link). Probably also the influence of VP Leni, who has continuously been in social work (link).

Quiet, hard work and perseverance instead of showy projects and warlike “heroism”. Tackling the country’s issues one step at a time (Tañada wants to finally pass a Land Use Act, Diokno has great ideas for reforming the justice system – see Will Villanueva’s interviews for more details) instead of building expensive bridges to nowhere (link). Given a clear picture of what the issues are, their causes and the solutions to them, possibly the taongbayan, the citizenry, are ready to listen and return to katinuang-isip or clearheadedness. Even the most warrior type among those I mentioned, Gary Alejano, is not out to jetski anywhere. A man who has truly seen battle is not careless with lives. Yet as a real warrior he knows how to draw lines in the sand. So that people can live.

Vicente Rafael, in his book “Motherless Tongues”, describes the sense of happiness in some villages after some initial revolutionary victories in the late 1890s, and the sense of togetherness when people were on the street in EDSA II. Those who where on EDSA in 1986 know the exhilarating feeling as well. Others will know the anger at things going wrong – the anger of the Katipunan is documented way back to 1892, the anger of left against social injustice, the anger of the masses on EDSA III that Rafael also describes. Neither joy nor anger, nor a sense of unity (which is often short-lived) can build things. “Land of constant beginnings” is what novelist Ninotchka Rosca called the Philippines. Could a new batch of leaders help change that? Are the people ready for that? Hmm..

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 December 2018

What real effect

Rappler Logowill #StandWithRappler and #BloggersForFreedom (link) have for the Philippines? We shall see. The Black Friday Protests today were well-attended by journalists, students and others (link) but will that even reach the general Filipino public? Will they care at all. Or will it be more like (link): Ayaw nilang makarinig ng ibang balita. Palakpak ang masarap sa tenga nila. Makuntento na sa mga balita sa patayan, naholdap, nagahasa, nasunugan at tingay ng baha, buhay ng artista at drama sa telenobela. Pagkatapos, makinig sa update nina Mocha, Andanar at Roque… This is about the so-called masa, the majority that Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo sees as “not educated” enough to vote on Charter Change (link) and who Speaker Alvarez claims to truly represent (link) – but who threatens provinces that do not cooperate with “no-funds” (link).

But even most of the “educated” Filipinos might care more about their material comfort and security than their freedom. In a country of rote learning, most lessons probably never were more than skin-deep – Christianity, rule of law, democracy. Maybe what stuck was more like this (link): “Many of the things you heard about Davao were about extrajudicial killings, but look at Davao. I invested a lot. Lives? Yes. You have to kill to make your city peaceful,” Duterte said. Rest in Peace. Recently, 2 hit men who killed 2 jail guards in Muntinlupa – turned out to be policemen (link).

Charter Change may be the point of no return for Philippine democracy, as local politicians may want to secure their rule by keeping populations misinformed and intimidated. This might after all be what Filipinos really want, who knows? A smiling population ruled by a dirtily smiling Alvarez.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 19 January 2018

Gleichschaltung

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serenoput Germany under totalitarian control until 1937 (link) – is Dutertismo doing something similar? Hitler had Social Democrats banned first, and then all other parties disappeared. The Philippine Congress is run by a supermajority which is pro-Duterte. The Senate has a pro-Duterte majority, even if its opposition minority is more powerful and sometimes sways the less decided colleagues (link) like with the recent resolution against the killing of minors. The Philippine National Police seems to be firmly pro-Duterte, while the Army is for the most part I think perfunctorily obedient.

Rivals and Press

Hitler practically eliminated the left wing of his party in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 (link). One must remember that National Socialism had both left-wing (socialist) and right-wing (nationalist) aspects. The Philippine Left is now outside of Duterte’s Cabinet and seems to now have turned full force against him. The Ombudsman and the Commision on Human Rights are still occupied by appointees of the previous administration – Carpio and Beltran. Even Chief Justice Sereno is seen as an annoyance – and is presently fighting against her impeachment by Congress.

The press seems to have become quieter in its criticism (link), even neglecting to put fact checks on patently absurd statements like the recent varied statements on Trillanes’ alleged offshore accounts – from “it was a trap” to “he closed them online” to “this is now the real list”. Are Filipinos gullible (link)? Germans also were at some point, and some are still or again as the recent election shows. The equivalent of the yellow conspiracy many Dutertians think is real was “Jewish Wall Street” and “Jewish Bolshevism”. Yes, both Wall Street and Communism were the fault of Jews for some Nazis.

Foreigners and Filipinos

Germany left the League of Nations at some point during Gleichschaltung. The Philippines has not yet left the UN, even if 39 countries have now expressed serious concern over its drug war (link). The relationship with the West may already have a serious dent though, including long-term repercussions for trade. I know a German who once headed a BPO outfit in Manila who put in a word for Filipinos as being highly Westernized and therefore more compatible to work with Westerners than other Asian peoples. Filipinos may yet know what they had when it is finally gone.

Back to discussions among Filipinos. Pinoy Ako Blog (link) has been under attack in social media. Probably because the tone of the blog’s articles is as understandable to the Filipino man on the street as Mocha Uson is. Let’s say PAB is street with coffee to go, while Mocha is gutter with curses. But it seems that Dutertians now fear losing the man on the street, and even worse the defining power over “who is a true Filipino”. Because a Filipino is not just an inutile hangdog thrilled by free food and gyrating Viva Hotbabes, cursing like Duterte. That would be mental Gleichschaltung.

Dealing with Today

And besides, all the propaganda, that undefined smelly stew of resentments and inferiority complexes, slogans and half-truths doesn’t solve any problems. Hitler’s brown stew did not do it for Germany. Duterte’s weird version of adobo I am happy I cannot smell – does it have durian in it – will not bring the Philippines forward in any way whatsoever. Let us just imagine that Trillanes, Hontiveros, De Lima, Aquino, Roxas, Gascon, Sereno, Bautista etc. are all exiled and out of their positions. No excuses left for Duterte and his group. Will they lead Filipinos into a golden future?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

30 September 2017, München

Congratulations, Iloilo City

Iloilo River towards the Iloilo Strait– not only have you defended your Mayor and your reputation (link), you got a real drug lord (link). You did have to kill him, which is unavoidable at times, but the entire story of month-long leads and tips from Ilonggos sounds more plausible to me than all the off-the-cuff declarations of Duterte. That includes the malicious hints that Mayor Jed Mabilog of Iloilo was a drug lord protector or more, that Iloilo was alleged “most shabulized” (not borne out by PDEA numbers) and the planned but retracted assignment to Iloilo of someone already involved in the killing of two mayors (link).

Iloilo also happens to have one of the cleanest rivers of all larger Philippine cities. This alone tells me that they know how to take care of themselves, just like a clean bathroom is a sign of a good household. A clean kitchen may be for show only, the dirty kitchen at the back, but the bathroom? How about Davao, the famous showcase of Duterte? Safe it probably was and is in a relative sense. Maybe more like the Thunderdome was the safest place in the Mad Max movie. On a violent island, Davao was/is a place where a Burgherr (Lord of the Castle) ruled and imposed his personal order.

Cities like Iloilo and Naga, on the other hand, seem to represent a nascent urban middle class model of governance from all I have gathered – as opposed to the old, warlord-dominated cities of the fringes or the upper-class dominated cities of the center the Philippines used to be known for. Classic political dynasties in the Philippines have ruled by a mixture of money and intimidation – more intimidation in less developed areas, more money in more developed areas. Middle-class political structures characteristic of more developed Asian countries therefore remained elusive.

Even the middle-class uprising of 1986 had a patron in Cory Aquino. The new middle classes whose money comes from working abroad or in call centers have President Duterte as their patron. Citizens gathering to protect their mayor like in Iloilo (and not looking down upon him for being just a human being like everybody else) is new at least to me. But cultures develop. Consensus replaces intimidation. More complex  and advanced economies flourish better under free conditions. Sweatshops can work well under repressive conditions, but don’t expect Silicon Valley.

Korean companies are already moving to Vietnam nowadays from the Philippines. Did anyone seriously think that they would have forgotten what happened to their countryman who was killed? There are nationalities that say little, yet act after a while – like Germans, Japanese and Koreans. The Filipino street/thug/warlord subculture does not think that far, mistaking bluster for strength and silence for weakness. Little strategic sense or long-term planning. Flourishing cities like Iloilo or Naga may be gone completely if that subculture comes to dominate the future Philippines. Pity.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3. Sept. 2017

In order to build a More Perfect Society

Cacique Ron Antiguoreplaces “..build a just and humane society”  of the 1987 Constitution in a draft for a Federal Philippine Constitution (link). More perfect society sounds like Thomas More’s Utopia. There is an article from 2016 by Professor Tony La Vina already makes an uncanny comparison (link):

Superficially speaking, Duterte’s Philippines, at least in its treatment of human rights and the role of law, is not very far from Thomas More’s Utopia. In More’s world, lawyers are actually prohibited and citizens are assumed to know exactly what the law is, what right and wrong is, and are expected to comply with all the rules laid down by the state. In More’s Utopia, punishment is a certainty for those who transgress the law. In More’s imaginary world, the justice system is always fair and so human rights is not an issue. Its respect is assumed. Unfortunately, both the assumptions of an educated citizenry and an excellent justice system do not hold for our country..

How do we respond to Duterte’s Philippines? Unfortunately, the book Utopia does not give us good answers to this question. Sadly, utopian literature frequently justifies human rights violations in the name of achieving a better, more perfect society. Therein lies the danger and the tragedy that is unfolding in Duterte’s Philippines. It is not a perfect world; government makes mistakes, including terrible ones. ..

The rest of the constitutional draft remains similar to 1987, with too many words at the end of the preamble (link): “a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace” – which can mean anything, as we know since Orwell’s 1984, or Imelda Marcos’ interpretations of truth and beauty.

Or Grace Poe’s swearing allegiance to the United States. Among many Filipinos, including public officials, there is a lot of fake oath-taking. In Bavarian folk tradition, you had to at least keep your fingers crossed behind your back while swearing an oath you had to take, but did not mean to keep.

What nations want

The 1935 Constitution had three main goals that are clear: independence, to preserve patrimony, and general welfare (link) with a “regime of justice, liberty and democracy” to achieve them:

The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.

I think the Americans of before knew what they wanted in the Preamble of their Constitution (link) – clearly unity, justice, tranquility, defence, welfare and liberty for themselves and their posterity. It defines clearly how Americans wanted to live then and in the future:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Swiss Federal Charter of 1291 went straight to the point with a one-sentence intro (link) – but one can distill similar ideas out of it – common good, peace, defence:

For the common good and proper establishment of peace, the following rules are agreed :

  1. In view of the troubled circumstances of this time, the people and communities of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden promise to assist each other by every means possible against one and all who may inflict on them violence or injustice within their valleys and without.
  2. Each community shall help the other with every counsel and favour and at its own expense in the event of any assault on persons or goods within and without the valleys and to this end have sworn a solemn oath to uphold this agreement in confirmation and renewal of a more ancient accord..

The 1987 Constitution and even the Federal draft both still say in their preambles: “promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure.. independence and democracy under the rule of law” – now do these things still matter for Filipinos today? Or their leaders?

The Philippines Today

Common good. Stickers for drug-free homes, drug tests for aspiring students. The citizen as a suspect, as a potential danger to a more perfect society? What perfection is aspired to, is it the paternalistic Heavenly Peace of Chinese thought that gives its name to Tiananmen Square?

Some of its islands, its fishing grounds – its patrimony. Seems they have been sold for trains and loans with not so low interests. Mining – is it properly regulated and taxed so the country as a whole benefits? And general welfare. Are Lumads, Moros, poor people still harassed for being in the way?

Federalism and putting barangays on a leash may in fact lead to a Philippines similar to the colony under the encomienda system of before (link) only with regional political families in a role similar to encomenderos and local families being like the principalia or datus subservient to them.

Killings of families like the Espinosas and Parojinogs, bad as they may or may not have been, even warnings by the police chief involved in both to others (link), do not bode well for those leaders who do not toe the line. Like for datus that refused to serve King Philipp II or his successors.

Attempts to ignore the will of the people are now showing themselves towards Vice-President Leni Robredo. Would the powers-that-be let her lead a Bikol state in case the people there want her to? Real Federalism is about self-determined communities working together for mutual assistance (original Swiss Confederation) or towards a “more perfect union”  (USA) – not society or possibly even “New Society”. And especially not fiefdoms assigned to the entitled by.. whom? Who are they? Do they really embody the will of the people? Do Filipinos indeed prefer to be led? We shall see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 11 August 2017

 

 

 

The Absentee President

Habitual Absentee - NARA - 534650may have done Filipinos a favor – by showing that his office is not the solution to, nor the source of all problems. The war in Marawi is hopefully winding to a close thanks to a professional army, and the MRT still is running badly while Metro Manila traffic is horrible. Meanwhile, there is mostly solidarity and respect for the soldiers that fight it out in Mindanao – a far cry from decades ago. There are those who help the victims and refugees of war, and those who are colder to them. And there is mostly joy that the USA and Australia are helping with their reconnaissance capabilities.

Powers that be

The President still has enormous powers – the power to appoint thousands of positions, the power of the purse which was used for pork barrel, the control over the state monopoly of force via the PNP and AFP  – powers patterned after Spanish and American colonial governors, I have read. Quezon fired the governor of Albay once. Quirino appointed the governor of Davao, Vicente Duterte. The power to declare martial law was curtailed in 1986. The Local Government Code in the time of Aquino gave LGUs (local government units) substantial autonomy and subsidies.

Other things move on without the President. Whether it is Senator Gatchalian’s trip to Germany to learn more about energy policy (link) which was incorrectly called a junket and according to him was paid by the German counterparts. Whether it is the more doubtful trip of several Senators to France to allegedly look at the French political system which is a mix of Presidential and Parliamentary. Marcos had something similar but degraded the powers of his Prime Minister, making him a better helper to take care of details. Maybe this time – if ever – it should be different.

Powers to be?

Maybe something like the Swiss Federal Council instead of the Senate? With a rotating head of government while the President is a ceremonial Head of State only? But maybe, maybe without Federalism for now? Tito had a joint governing body to take care of Yugoslavia after his death. What happened due to semi-tribal and macho politics of provocation is now very painful history. Maybe improve regional representation, knowing that, or how many centuries it took for the Swiss to learn to manage their own quarrels? My examples of culturally diverse countries are intentional.

Maybe a Senate by regions – to give names and faces people can relate to, to weaken the personality cult of Presidency? Maybe a Congress by proportional seating based only on political parties? With campaign refunds based on seats won like in Germany to weaken major donor influence? Issues that are systemic in nature can never be solved by changing the President. Cultural weaknesses like impunity and corruption – or the lack of a technology mindset that causes trains to break down – take generations to fix even with perseverance. Maybe changing things now makes no sense yet.

What will be?

Absentee kings (the Hanover dynasty) made the British parliament stronger, yet the Philippine House is showing its very weakness now. The majority of House members is lost in traditional politics, politics in its old sense of power alone, not politics in terms of shaping the polity’s destiny. What will happen depends a lot on the people themselves – whether they will keep thinking in the concepts of patronage i.e. subservience in return for advantages, which will fully return old ways. Or whether a sense of shared destiny and responsibility finally arises, not just ‘blame then rescue’.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 24 June 2017