Posts Tagged Education

Speaking in Tongues

01237jfArnaiz Harrison Avenues Special Schools Barangays Churches Pasay Cityfvf 05is the message of Pentecost. How one could wish for bridges of understanding between people. Worldwide and especially in the Philippines where (link) “political and religious institutions have been grafted unto a recalcitrant native disposition” (Edgar Lores). Recalcitrant = unwilling – and  (link): “When confronted with the many problems of modern society, we Filipinos always seem to apply family/barkada analogies” (contributor Francis, Society of Honor). Someone I know noted the “insular mentality” of Filipinos. I said imagine how isolated the world was for those in 1521.

Alien invasion

Then Spanish ships came in, like in Star Wars when Imperial cruisers appear in the sky of a planet. What was not understood, or seen as hostile, was not truly assimilated. Some Filipinos just seem to recite moral, legal or democratic principles, either like over-eager or bored pupils back in school. For those who always openly acted as if it was bullshit – seen from the “barangay” point of view – someone like Duterte was a godsend, just barely finishing school and going to the movies instead of caring about what Congress debated. Some formerly over-eager types found their inner rebels.

Trouble in the Philippines is that the lowest common denominator often becomes the standard. Higher standards tend to be seen as elitist or hypocritical. Liza Soberano seemed to have to curse (link) to be accepted as a true Filipino by many. Many institutions above the original tribal culture indeed came from colonialists and were used by the over-eager pupils to show their superiority. While the bored pupils waited until after school – or for the present times – to beat the nerds up. Even worse, many native traditions were destroyed by colonialism, so “barangay culture” regressed.

Personal knowledge

Some Filipino intellectuals, confused and lost when using maps like Filipino migrants also are, unlike the migrants had a “nationalistic” excuse for it: “maps are the colonialistic top-down view”. Good that UP also teaches excuses. Few are taught that Polynesians had navigational devices (link) that also have a certain level of abstraction. You cannot just rely on your senses alone out there. Filipinos who confined themselves to fishing near the coast forgot these crafts. Those who stayed mostly in the barangay relied on their senses alone and on the accounts of the people they knew.

Responses to drug war critics that they should look “on the ground” are typical for that mentality, just like Mocha’s statement that she did not see any EJK victims coming home from work at night (there was a Winnie Monsod “Bawal ang Pasaway” episode where she said that) – or someone I know who said Leila De Lima is a drug lord. Because all relatives in Europe and Canada say so. Such thinking works fine when you and your relatives personally know everyone you deal with. Lacking “personal knowledge” of a matter can even disqualify in today’s Philippine Congress (link)!

Severe limitation

Going back to the barangay mentality and casting off the tools that extend senses and perceptions severely limits judgement. “Western” tools developed over centuries to inform and educate larger societies are for example news reports, written accounts and summaries (extension of senses) and deduction, induction, analysis by experts (extension of perception). Instead fakery is believed. Videos and fotos may be spliced or a bit skewed yet people think they really saw what happened. Popular commenters like Mocha and Tulfo make people think someone they know told them.

In the barangay – in fact in all agricultural societies – a certain homogeneity was more important than the plurality of views in modern society. Personal sympathies very important for cooperation – while in larger units morals and laws as abstract rules allow even anonymous people to cooperate. Eight so-called Justices in the Philippines applied barangay or barkada rules towards CJ Sereno, even though they couched their reasons for it in “integrity” the true reason is I think very visible. Unwittingly or wittingly, they tore up the ground rule (or illusion) that Filipino laws are impartial.

Goodbye World

Imagine a Philippines were every multinational company has to go by the whims of the President. There are already stories of how Filipino mayors can be autocratic, and that parts of the provinces are ruled like by small datus who make the rules up by themselves. The Filipino elite, though often biased in favor of its own rent-seeking businesses, did at least maintain a pretense of impartiality. Although that pretense became weaker and weaker over the years. Fraport was a warning sign. Then came Gordon and Acosta with all their baseless accusations about Dengvaxia and Aquino.

Who will still invest in the country then? Will the Imperial cruisers leave, 500 years after 1521? Unfortunately a country cannot be un-discovered, so the pristine innocence of then is forever gone. But returning something even worse than that, the confined barangay mentality of colonial times with its frustrated and frustrating lack of perspective, short-sightedness, self-involvement, envy and malice – will not help. The mentality of the village in the Noli, of Justice De Castro and many Aquino-haters is not only backward. Its neediness is easily exploited by smart “alien invaders”.

Gaining perspective

Aguinaldo’s provincial need for self-aggrandizement was successfully exploited by the Spaniards when they gave him money to exile himself in Hong Kong in the 1897 Pact of Biak-na-Bato, same thing with the USA who brought him back on a steamship. Did he hope they would make him the President of his own Republic? He invoked the “Protection of the Mighty and Humane North American Nation” (link) much like Duterte today says Xi Jinping will protect him from ouster (link) and that Filipinos must be meek and humble so Xi will have mercy (link). Provincial thinking.

Broader perspectives are needed for national leaders. The old elite perspective seems gone now. With notable exceptions, it was not really understood anyway, just the over-eager pupils reciting. The whiz kids who have gone beyond reciting to understanding and adding own ideas to matters are now teaching the Filipino nation – former Solicitor General Hilbay and CJ Sereno are examples. They excel in matters of  law and justice, matters already more assimilated into Filipino culture than democracy, since law was – after priesthood – one of the first vocations open to “the natives”.

Both are making the principles behind the law more visible to a larger audience than ever before – even more than the late Senator Santiago did. But an episode of the Word of the Lourd (link) shows how few Filipinos on the street understand “quo warranto” at all. Lourd de Veyra has a certain type of Filipino humor that has become rare nowadays, one that has a certain self-irony. Westerners gain the dispassionate distance needed for better judgement through logic, Easterners through mindfulness, Filipinos through humor. But not the caustic, attacking “humor” of Duterte. Maybe, maybe, there is a beginning in such discourse. A speaking in tongues, a bridging of minds. Maybe even democracy in the Philippines, how the polity organizes itself, may yet learn from this. But that plant has the shallowest roots of all, a recent import like hamburgers. Let’s have Jolibee.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 20 May 2018

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Duterte said he wants to die like Rizal

Mauser m98if found guilty by the ICC (link). Absurd, as Rizal hated Filipinos killing Filipinos! In El Filibusterismo (link), a section about Filipino soldiers in the Guardia Civil makes this very clear:

Yet, among the soldiers there was one who looked with disapproving eyes upon so much wanton cruelty, as he marched along silently with his brows knit in disgust. At length, seeing that the guard, not satisfied with the branch, was kicking the prisoners that fell, he could no longer restrain himself but cried out impatiently, “Here, Mautang, let them alone!”

Mautang turned toward him in surprise. “What’s it to you, Carolino?” he asked.

“To me, nothing, but it hurts me,” replied Carolino. “They’re men like ourselves.”

“It’s plain that you’re new to the business!” retorted Mautang with a compassionate smile. “How did you treat the prisoners in the war?”

“With more consideration, surely!” answered Carolino.

Mautang remained silent for a moment and then, apparently having discovered the reason, calmly rejoined, “Ah, it’s because they are enemies and fight us, while these—these are our own countrymen.”

Then drawing nearer to Carolino he whispered, “How stupid you are! They’re treated so in order that they may attempt to resist or to escape, and then—bang!”

Carolino made no reply.

Luma na iyan! (that’s just old)

Though the time is late 19th century, it could be about the PNP or AFP today. Doesn’t what Mautang says to his fellow Filipino Guardia Civil sound like “Nanlaban” (link)? Except time does crawl a bit in old novels, something we media junkies are no longer are used to – so I fast forward:

“Shoot, Carolino! What are you aiming at?” called the corporal.

At that instant a man appeared upon a rock, making signs with his rifle.

“Shoot him!” ordered the corporal with a foul oath.

Three guards obeyed the order, but the man continued standing there, calling out at the top of his voice something unintelligible.

Carolino paused, thinking that he recognized something familiar about that figure, which stood out plainly in the sunlight. But the corporal threatened to tie him up if he did not fire, so Carolino took aim and the report of his rifle was heard. The man on the rock spun around and disappeared with a cry that left Carolino horror-stricken.

Another bit of fast forward to the horrible end:

The soldiers turned to see Carolino frightfully pale, his mouth hanging open, with a look in which glimmered the last spark of reason, for Carolino, who was no other than Tano, Cabesang Tales’ son, and who had just returned from the Carolines, recognized in the dying man his grandfather, Tandang Selo. No longer able to speak, the old man’s dying eyes uttered a whole poem of grief—and then a corpse, he still continued to point to something behind the rock.

Ang corny naman! (how mushily sentimental)

The wannabe tough guy, what should I care response from a many a middle class Filipino from the Marcos era or today’s coming dictatorship could be, oh come on, it could hardly happen that any person accidentally shoots his grandfather, much less to me. I don’t know any addicts or NPAs! Instead of having the compassion and humanity to realize that it is just good fortune that keeps one safe in a country where repression is the norm. The following section of the Fili could also be from the times of Martial Law in the Philippines, especially in difficult places like Samar or Mindanao:

Matanglawin was the terror of Luzon. His band had appeared in one province where it was least expected as make a descent upon another that was preparing to resist it. It burned a sugar-mill in Batangas and destroyed the crops, on the following day it murdered the Justice of the Peace of Tiani, and on the next took possession of the town of Cavite, carrying off the arms from the town hall. The central provinces, from Tayabas to Pangasinan, suffered from his depredations, and his bloody name extended from Albay in the south to Kagayan in the north. The towns, disarmed through mistrust on the part of a weak government, fell easy prey into his hands—at his approach the fields were abandoned by the farmers, the herds were scattered, while a trail of blood and fire marked his passage. Matanglawin laughed at the severe measures ordered by the government against the tulisanes, since from them only the people in the outlying villages suffered, being captured and maltreated if they resisted the band, and if they made peace with it being flogged and deported by the government, provided they completed the journey and did not meet with a fatal accident on the way. Thanks to these terrible alternatives many of the country folk decided to enlist under his command.

As a result of this reign of terror, trade among the towns, already languishing, died out completely. The rich dared not travel, and the poor feared to be arrested by the Civil Guard, which, being under obligation to pursue the tulisanes, often seized the first person encountered and subjected him to unspeakable tortures. In its impotence, the government put on a show of energy toward the persons whom it suspected, in order that by force of cruelty the people should not realize its weakness—the fear that prompted such measures.

President Duterte has offered Lumads 20 thousand pesos each per killed NPAs (link) – a bounty that is the same as the alleged bounty for police who kill drug suspects. Lumads whose schools he had threatened to bomb just a year ago (link) for allegedly teaching against the government.

Bounties like that can create innocent victims. In the extreme, they can create the likes of former Cabesang Tales, the barangay captain turned into the bandit Matanglawin by debt and abuse. That his son is forced to go to the Carolines as a soldier before that happens is part of the whole tragedy.

Those Westernized heroes did nothing!

Many Filipinos derided the likes of Rizal and the Propaganda, seeing the likes of Matanglawin and Bonifacio, as well as other fighters before and after them, as the real saviors of the Philippines. Just Westernized konyos, jerks who went on junket to Europe on their parent’s money and did nothing. Wrote stupid, long-winded, sentimentally mushy novels nobody today understands anyway and without any damned relevance to the life of real Filipinos. “Social relevance” was a word one leftist teacher liked to use very often. What I fear is that prejudice and bad reading got the better of them.

Of course the Noli and the Fili are translated horribly badly in their Tagalog versions. I helped myself through high school with the English translations. Well, I am by definition a konyo, aren’t I? But a proper translation – and annotations to make certain historical references better understood, would alienate less students – and teachers! Because I wonder how much our own teachers got the references to certain aspects of European history, or the 19th century Philippines teaching Rizal. This made Rizal – just like Heneral Luna BEFORE the movie made him so real – seem foreign.

Sure, there are now those like Ambeth Ocampo who have written Rizal without the Overcoat (link) which is I guess the right thing to do in the Philippines. I also wear an overcoat at this time of year in Munich, where the temperatures have been consistently around zero. Rizal, although he wrote in Spanish, had a strong instinctive feel for the suffering of his own people, a lot of empathy. For sure, there were those like Bonifacio who come closer to the original native warrior ideal idolized by both leftist and rightists in the Philippines. But it is so wrong to see him as merely self-aggrandizing!

Just shut up!

Because this is the main accusation leveled at many intellectuals and writers in the Philippines – don’t talk too much, either join the rest of us in the fields, factories and the fight, or just shut up! Talk is useless, only action counts. Even if it is knee-jerk action which is not thought out at all.

Thinking of a certain complexity is seen as mere grandstanding. The dearth of real thinking in the Philippines makes it impossible for many to see the difference between pilosopo (sophist) and philosopher (real thinker). Or between valid and fake arguments, making political debate HARD. Except for a few talents like Pinoy Ako Blog who manage to bridge the chasm between logic and common sense in the Philippines. Yes, logic is often seen as a tool for showing intellectual superiority, not as a useful tool to make more of our observations and experience. Why, why?

Padre Millon not only used the depreciative tu with the students, like a good friar, but he also addressed them in the slang of the markets, a practise that he had acquired from the professor of canonical law: whether that reverend gentleman wished to humble the students or the sacred decrees of the councils is a question not yet settled, in spite of the great attention that has been given to it.

This question, instead of offending the class, amused them, and many laughed—it was a daily occurrence. But the sleeper did not laugh; he arose with a bound, rubbed his eyes, and, as though a steam-engine were turning the phonograph, began to recite.

“The name of mirror is applied to all polished surfaces intended to produce by the reflection of light the images of the objects placed before said surfaces. From the substances that form these surfaces, they are divided into metallic mirrors and glass mirrors—”

“Stop, stop, stop!” interrupted the professor. “Heavens, what a rattle! We are at the point where the mirrors are divided into metallic and glass, eh? Now if I should present to you a block of wood, a piece of kamagong for instance, well polished and varnished, or a slab of black marble well burnished, or a square of jet, which would reflect the images of objects placed before them, how would you classify those mirrors?”

Whether he did not know what to answer or did not understand the question, the student tried to get out of the difficulty by demonstrating that he knew the lesson, so he rushed on like a torrent.

“The first are composed of brass or an alloy of different metals and the second of a sheet of glass, with its two sides well polished, one of which has an amalgam of tin adhering to it.”

“Tut, tut, tut! That’s not it! I say to you ‘Dominus vobiscum,’ and you answer me with ‘Requiescat in pace!’ ”..

It continues, and ends with the usually over-obedient Penitente standing up:

“Enough, Padre, enough! Your Reverence can put all the marks against me that you wish, but you haven’t the right to insult me. Your Reverence may stay with the class, I can’t stand any more.” Without further farewell, he stalked away.

Proud and sensitive

The professor could have prompted his student to think for himself, possibly by lessening his fear of the academe, but he proceeds to humiliate the student from Batangas named Placido Penitente to the extent that he stammers. I have looked up the two types of mirrors (self-reflecting, called metal mirrors in some old books, or those with glass and something behind to make the glass reflect) and it takes a little bit of thinking to get behind the classification. Absence of fear helps in thinking, but Filipinos are often “proud and sensitive” – a description by a female American colonial educator! There was a situation in Latin class, Grade 11 or 12 in Germany, where the teacher was similarly sarcastic, I was still totally sensitive just a few years away from the Philippines, and I went silent. But he was by no means the asshole that Rizal describes in his novel – a Dominican at the UST!

The American lady (no source I quote from memory) wrote that excessive Filipino ambition came from a culture “proud and arrogant” (American) encountering a “proud and sensitive” (Filipino) culture. Well, Spanish culture is arrogant as well. And Joe America mentions face and power as currency, even in the area of knowledge (link): in blog debates between commenters, you seldom see flexibility or concession. It signifies weakness. Disagreements are two bricks whacking at one another. Solution is not the goal. Preservation of face, and power, are the goals… Filipinos deny the value of “trial and error” as scientific method in daily life. They instead waste energy defending, covering, ducking, running, attacking, undermining, dodging and digging at others. Somehow, the Spanish friar is internalized, many still are the same kind of jerks arguing.

The depth with which Rizal describes the humiliation of the UST student is an indication that he may have experienced it himself or seen others treated the same way. The education system of the Philippines may be more modern now, but in parts still has been and is – reactionary and unfair. Otherwise, the anti-intellectualism of (San Bedan) Duterte and (UST graduate) Mocha Uson would not strike a chord among so many people. The Spanish friars of today may have, to some, been Manilans who mocked the Visayan accents of their students, or the bad English of a poor student. This entire labelling of Rizal and his fellow propagandists as elitists who refused to get their hands dirty is nonsense. Rizal wanted to use his intellect as a tool to better his country, and wanted his people to learn in order to advance. Other Asian countries took his cue. Rizal is known by many.

But Filipinos today seem to WANT to be dumb. Or who wants Filipinos to think they are stupid? Too stupid to research Benham Rise, for example (link)? Or too stupid to discipline themselves (link), and therefore needing dictatorship? Freedom begins inside. Freedom begins in the heart and in the mind. This is probably a message Rizal only partly was able to convey, as he died young and his novels are still read wrongly. Who fears a free people? Those who shot Rizal back in 1896.

The Spaniards are now gone. So is it the “putangina” EU – or ICC? Or same skin, same people?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 February 2018


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Ignorance and Confidence

Ignorance is bliss - shortbread cookie with a smileseem highly intertwined among Filipinos, according to a recent social media survey (link). This is not really surprising. Who has not encountered the obstinate kind of ignorance that many Filipinos mistake for firmness? And who has not encountered the phenomenon that Filipino groups very often believe the person perceived as most “firm” in his or her beliefs? Or finally the phenomenon that what the own in-group believes in is seen as true by many Filipinos? “Everybody I know says that Leila de Lima is corrupt!” is something I have literally heard, with the corresponding firmness. More exactly, the study (link) has the Philippines among the Top 3 that are mostly wrong – and among the Top 3 that think themselves mostly right at the same time. Norway on the other hand is among the Top 3 that are mostly right – and among the Top 3 that think themselves mostly wrong!

Hard knocks

That a country like the Philippines is admiring of a President who says he will “personally defend” himself before the International Criminal Court (link) is a given. Or wanted to have a public debate with UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard (link) – which probably would have ended up similarly to the way an interview with Pia Ranada Robles went (link). Seen as a victory for him by those who are confident in their ignorance and see blustering confidence as a proof of superior knowledge. There are unfortunate comparisons between Bonifacio and Rizal that are part of this attitude – Rizal is seen by some as insecure for often questioning himself in his search for knowledge – which is even attributed to his having grown up with sisters, while Bonifacio is seen as strong and decisive – which is attributed to his having been the oldest brother, who took charge when his parents died.

I have personally seen similar attitudes to those attributed to Filipinos among people of peasant or working class origin – from different nationalities. In their spheres of life, what matters in order to succeed is to intuitively and quickly grasp the situation you are in and to act and decide similarly. There often is not that much time to think about the different aspects of possible wrong or right. Bonifacio, whose parents both died at 14 years of age, had no time to finish his schooling (link). That he was deeply insulted by Daniel Tirona questioning his lack of formal education during the Tejeros Convention (link) was understandable given his struggles. But it is also documented that Bonifacio read voraciously and that the Katipunan had a library for members. President Duterte was on the other hand too lazy to use the possibilities for education that his rich family provided.

Formal education

Sometimes, the formal education that is provided to the very rich does not necessarily help them understand life better. This is especially true for those who live a too sheltered or privileged life. This was not Rizal’s life though, even if he studied in Europe there were also difficult times there – and also difficult times for his family in Calamba, Laguna, which form a searing arc through his novels. There is a terrible prejudice in the Philippines that sees all educated people as elitists or as social climbers. This is fatal as it puts anyone who tries to improve himself in a bad light. Former Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay (link) comes from Tondo – same part of Manila as Bonifacio. To study law was a struggle for him, unlike for Duterte. Hilbay is the exact contrast to Duterte, shows how Filipino good-heartedness plus human rights education make for promising legal philosophy.

Life experience and proper education can make people and society as a whole better. If education has been misused by charlatans or by privileged classes as a status symbol – Rizal has a few asides at the Dominicans of UST in his novel Noli Me Tangere (link), showing that he disliked their conservatism and preferred the more progressive Jesuits – then resentment against it can exist. Additionally, a language very different from what is spoken at home can be a social barrier also. Recent reforms like MTB-MLE “Mother Tongue – Based Multilingual Education” in K-12 (link) –   may improve things for good: “Research stresses the fact that children with a solid foundation in their mother tongue develop stronger literacy abilities in the school language.”. There is often a gap in the thinking of many Filipinos, as if theory and practice inhabit separate worlds entirely.

Real learning

The language gap is only one factor I think. Rote is another, and even worse reactionary attitudes. Hopefully the kind of teacher with an attitude and stance similar to that of Persida Acosta is not as common anymore today – the kind that sees asking why as an offense, not a search for knowledge. Or the high-hatted type of teacher that ridicules students who make mistakes to prove “superiority” and thereby possibly creates anti-intellectual rebels. Or the kind that treat practice with disdain, seeing theory as the only field for the truly learned. Fortunately modern Filipino scientists like Dr. Mahar Lagmay of Project NOAH are the exact opposite of this. But the old reactionaries that looked down upon practitioners did help create the cesspool of resentment that dismisses the likes of Project NOAH as “useless”. Only societies that link theory and practice seamlessly win (link)!

It is good that voices like those of Dr. Gideon Lasco are also there now, who has among other things written about Dengvaxia (link) and the necessity to explain things properly to the public, even such difficult principles like “correlation does not imply causation” and dealing with large numbers. Because the issue of the Philippines remains one of insufficient public education, even if the literacy rate is nominally high and there are a lot of college graduates, one sometimes wonders what they really have understood and what they just memorized on time for examinations – unfortunately. What use will it be to oust Duterte now if in a few years the likes of Pacquiao or Sotto take over? Maybe even the likes of Persida Acosta and Mocha Uson? How to get the confidently ignorant on the trail of curiosity and learning? Stop laughing at them for a start. After that – don’t quite know.

Reasoning entails doubt – reasonable doubt. Confident ignorance creates people who believe that certain people are guilty without sufficient evidence. Confident ignorance makes things very much black and white, like in the discussions about the Dengvaxia matter centered mainly on blame, not on finding systemic reasons for certain failures. What shocked me more than the 14 children who allegedly died of vaccination but in fact didn’t was how many children still die of simple diseases in the Philippines, showing that the public health system might need a lot of improvements, still. Systematically improving public health in Europe took centuries of both practical policies and scientific findings. Fanatical screamers who accused Jews and witches and whatnot did not help. But if the Philippines wishes to repeat centuries of experience, that is its stubbornly sovereign right.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 8. February 2018



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Dunong at Kaalaman ng Sambayanang Pilipino

The Healing of the Blind; The Healing of the Possessed - Google Art Projecttanging ibinigay ng Poon sa mga tulad ni Persida Acosta, Franco Calida at Dante Jimenez. Isang babaeng maganda at maputi, dalawang lalakeng dark and handsome. Kalimutan na ninyo ang mga kalokohan na itinuturo sa inyo ng mga katulad nila Florin Hilbay, Dr. Salvaña o Tony La Viña. Maling kaalaman ng mga Westerner ang isinusunod nila, iyong nakasama sa Pilipino ng 500 years. Bago dumating ang mga dayuhan, halos lahat ng Pilipino tumatanda tulad ni Enrile, at walang mga kriminal o adik. So bakit pa kailangan ng Western medicine, ng rule of law o lohikang paikot-ikot? Iyong simpleng kaalaman ng ordinaryong Pilipino, tama na dapat. Pero huwag isipin ng mga dilaw na kaya nilang gumamit nito. Para lang ito sa mga hindi pa nahawa sa tunay na lohika o ebidensiya. Mga palusot na itinuro ng tanginang mga prayle sa UST at Ateneo, at komunistang propesor sa UP!

Kakaiba ang tunay na kaalaman na Pilipino, na meron sa atin mula pa sa panahon ng mga Lumad. Iyong mga ipapasok siyempre ni Duterte sa UP, kung hindi pa niya ipinabomba ang mga eskuwela nila na nagtuturo ng mali at Westernized na pagtuturong komunista. Ang tunay na kaalaman na Pilipino, alam kung sino ang namatay dahil sa bakuna. Walang paarte-arte pa nitong PGH na bias. Alam din ng mahiwagang kaalaman nating katutubo kung sino ang kriminal at hindi, kaya hindi nagdadalawang-isip pa bago mamaril sa salot ng lipunan. Tanginang mga CHR na humahadlang! Ang tunay na Pilipino na hindi pa nahawa sa masamang impluwensiya ng decency na iyan at tunay pang matapang – tulad nila Mocha Uson at Lorraine Badoy, alam kung sinong tunay na tao at hindi! Tunay na tao, mga katulad ni Robin Padilla. Hindi iyong mga sobrang edukado at padise-disente!

Malapit nang lumaya ang Pilipinas. Lumaya sa mga kabobohan ng mga dilaw. Lumaya sa sobrang pagsunod sa mga batas na nakasulat lang naman sa Ingles para magandang tignan, at parang mga sagot ng mga Miss Universe kung pakinggan – anong silbi ng mga ganoon sa tunay na Pilipino? Ang tanging papel ng Bagong Pinuno ng Sambayanang Pilipino na si Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang alamin kung ano ang mali at tama para sa ating lahat. Walang mga batas-batas pang dapat humadlang. Kung gusto niyang ipatanggal ang isang opisyal, banal niyang karapatan ito, huwag magreklamo! Malapit na ring lumaya ang Pilipinas sa human rights – human rights na iyan. Mga pumipigil sa pag-unlad ng bansa, dapat lang ikulong o ubusin. Mga nagrereklamong estudyante, tanggalin sa pag-aaral para palitan ng mga tunay na magalang at masunurin na kabataang Tunay na Pilipino!

Tinanggal na ni Presidente ang Project NOAH dahil hindi naman talaga kailangan ng Pilipino ito. Bakit meron bang flood prediction at kung anu-anong computerized na paraan noon sa may 1521? Kung oras mo, oras mo – matira ang matibay! Kaya matatag ang Pilipinong panahon ni Lapu-Lapu! Pero mga gagong UP na komonesta, itinuloy ang NOAH. Mga Dr. ng DOH, tinoloy ang Dimbaksya! Iyan tignan ninyo, dahil sa Dimbaksya ang daming namatay. Huwag maniwala sa mga PGH-PGH! Si Persida Acosta ang ipinasok ni Presidente sa puwesto, kaya siya ang mas magaling at matalino. Siguro marami ring namatay dahil sa Project NOAH, kaya lang hindi pa nakita ang ebidensya dahil mga gagong dilaw na iyan, magaling magwala nito! Di bale, may araw rin ang mga ugok na iyan. At si Aquino, makukulong talaga iyan. Karapat-dapat lang. Dilaw ang sakit ng sambayanang Pilipino!

E iyong mga bagon ng MRT na dalawang taon daw hindi ginamit tapos biglang umaandar ngayon? Huwag kayong maniwala sa mga sinasabi ng mga dilaw. Ang tunay na Pilipino na pinalaki ng tama, hindi nagtatanong-tanong o nagdududa sa mga sinasabi ng mga kagalang-galang na nasa puwesto! Malapit na ang pederalismo. Maghahari sa bawat lugar ang mga karapat-dapat maghari sa mga tao. Tulad noong 1521 na may mga pinuno ang bawat bayan at alam ng bawat isa ang lugar niya rito. Hindi tulad ngayon na akala ng lahat na may karapatan silang mag-isip at lalo pang magsalita ng kumokontra sa mga may kapangyarihan. Itinakda ni Lord na may mga mayaman at mahirap, na may malalakas at mahina. Tunay na disiplina kapag ang makapangyarihan ang laging masusunod. Sige, matulog na ulit kayo sa pansitan, tama na ang reklamo. Malapit na ang maginhawang buhay!

Irineo B. R. Salazar sa Munich, ika-3 ng Pebrero, 2018
BABALA: satire ang kasulatang ito, pagkat ako’y pasaway


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Mindfulness, not Perfection

Ananas~May 2008-1is what one should aim for. Negligence can land you on the DOLE in most developed countries. Not the Department of Labor and Employment, not the pineapple firm, and I know it should be written in small letters but this mistake was intentional. Negligence is behind errors like the recent one by PNA, showing a Dole logo on a news item about DOLE, or “Stop SHAIMING Duterte” placards. Mindfulness is behind the high quality of Japanese artisanship and manufacturing. Quality assurance measures how many errors are made – zero errors as we know are impossible.

The Filipino excuse is usually “we are human”.  Of course. But the moment we start neglecting matters is a slippery slope. Human beings are by nature lazy. In the Stone Age, it may have helped us survive by saving energy. Nowadays it can lead to us becoming the pigs others eat for dinner. On Twitter, Joe America reminds us (link): “Be smart. Remember to exercise your mind as well as body. Get out of the 140 character attention span by reading longer articles regularly.”  Which reminds me of the last time I read an entire book end to end. I am feeling very ashaimed of myself.

Doesn’t make sense to think of oneself as useless every time one makes a mistake. There is a Spanish journalist in one of Rizal’s two novels who says that the best way to keep the natives in place is to tell them every day how useless they are. Now, Filipinos like to do that to each other.

Strive for self-improvement, help others succeed. That should be the way. Not people who want to discipline others yet do not even have enough mindfulness to avoid pineappling their publications. Who mess up catching major shabu shipments while killing small dealers. Or was that no mistake?

Covering up in order to look perfect, or lowering one’s standards so that it “no longer matters” will not bring anything up to speed either. The true and absolute judge of things shall be competition. For international trade and tourism, for example. The world doesn’t kill you. It just overtakes you.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12. August 2017

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Ignorance is Blessed

Leni Robredo's family July 2016 (cropped)seems to be what those bashing Aika Robredo believe. Do they think it is better to be Sandro Marcos, studying abroad because of his father’s money? We all know the attacks at Mar Roxas for allegedly not being a Wharton graduate, when all he did not do were graduate studies, which you do after you become a graduate. Before that you do undergraduate studies and get a Bachelor. Obviously Roxas is no longer a bachelor. He is married to Korina. But Aika Robredo is a Harvard scholar. That is in itself a mark of excellence. Knowledge is a significant national resource. The USA imported exiles from Europe to build the atom bomb, and Wernher von Braun’s team for the space program. That Russia still is where it is now in international terms is due to the enormous respect they have always had for the learned in their culture. Yet the Philippines today shames the smart, following the US/Trump trend.

Education versus Snobbery

Part of the hatred against the educated comes from how education was misused by many in the Philippines – as a mark of status, not as a tool for life. And of course quality education is hard to attain for those who are poor or where no English is spoken at home. MTB-MLE in K-12 (link) tries to fix that by teaching children in their mother tongues in the first years of school, which is “meant to address the high functional illiteracy of Filipinos where language plays a significant factor. Since the child’s own language enables her/ him to express him/herself easily, then, there is no fear of making mistakes. It encourages active participation by children in the learning process because they understand what is being discussed and what is being asked of them. They can immediately use their mother tongue to construct and explain their world, articulate their thoughts and add new concepts to what they already know.” To put it simply, they know better WHAT they are talking about – thereby truly learning.

Theory and Practice

The significant gap between theory and practice, concrete and abstract in the Philippines is due to bad quality education. Some theorists might truly believe that the Philippine Constitution is really applied in practice – even though the realities of impunity and armed groups negate that. Or long jail times for the poor, bail for the rich. There are the split-level Christians who pray to God in Church, just after having been to their mistress the night before. Hopefully they at least confessed Sunday morning. There are the total pragmatists – to whom the President belongs – who believe in quick-fix solutions that have no permanence. Theory is thought of as unnecessary, only (short-term) results count. I actually hoped that he would at least see that the justice system needs fixing, and use his position and his power in Congress to get that done. Or to fix the laws which are old and cumbersome. But he does not see beyond his experience as Mayor, where he had no other choice (in his thinking) except quick fixes.

Engineering for Results

The engineers are rare. Those who bridge the gap between the theory of scientists and the daily work of technicians. Engineers do not seem to be highly respected even. Somehow the class-based thinking in the Philippines dictates that you are to be either a scientist (higher, clean) or a technician (lower, dirty). And please don’t tell me nobody needs applied science for results. Drive a BMW X3 or X4, and appreciate that it does not fly apart at 200 km/h to know intuitively that it DOES matter. Or rely on software with the length and breadth of SAP on which major corporations worldwide run, and you know what an investment in a properly designed system means. I could start lecturing about how duplicate checks for incoming invoices – with corresponding payment blocks to prevent accidental payment – reduce risks in SAP FI (finance). One wonders if there was something similar to prevent or at least mitigate the risk of duplicate transactions in the bank software of BPI (link), mentioned very recently.

How about the project engineers? Secretary Abaya of DOT, inspite of an intelligence that let him enter Philippine Science High School, may have lacked certain skills. Those who manage even parts of large technology (or building) projects really well have my respect. You have to coordinate multiple experts and non-experts, even workers, make them summarize their stuff, understand it, summarize for others, prioritize, push people, reward good performance and more. Then stuff like the overnight move of the Munich airport in 1992 (link) becomes possible. Just one-third of that in the Philippines might end in a bonfire of Filipino vanities, both educated and less educated – and a Senate hearing. With the engineers blaming the drivers, the drivers hating the arrogant engineers and managers, and politicians trying to grandstand. Somewhat like after Mamasapano. Skilled workers, engineers, top scientists – is is any wonder so many never return? Will that get worse in today’s de facto bobocracy?

I wonder about how much – or how little – exchange of data, information and knowledge takes place between police, public prosecutors, judges and legislators with regards to the drug problem – in order to really solve it. I have read of police complaining about public prosecutors throwing out their evidence after long investigations. Why not cooperate in advance to avoid that? Doesn’t necessarily have to be like in Germany, where public prosecutors offices are in charge of investigations and the police work for them after a certain stage. I have read that Duterte’s blanket protection to cops is because they are removed from the service, without pay, as long as they are under investigation for anything. Is it not enough just to suspend them? Intelligence does not have to mean lack of common sense, or vice versa. In the Philippines, it seems to.  Running a really modern state (that is more than a facade) requires applied knowledge, at every level and skill. Will the Philippines get that on time to get its act together?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 29 June 2017



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Insulting People’s Intelligence

Ronald dela Rosa 073116 (cropped)seems to be a Filipino specialty. Remember Rolando Galman? He was also conveniently dead. Or Mayor Espinosa? “Fought back” when being arrested – inside his cell. Now the gunman at the Resorts World Manila is dead after.. what: getting shot, shooting himself, burning himself – in what order and which of the options are true? Somehow hard to believe he wanted to steal only chips. And how did he get into a casino with a “Baby Armalite”? In Manila where even malls are guarded by security?

The motto of this blog is “the first duty of a man is to think for himself” – something the Cuban Jose Marti said. He was Jose Rizal’s contemporary. Somehow I don’t remember Jose Rizal having written anything similar. Bonifacio much less – he seems to have been the traditional Filipino kuya or elder brother, took over the father role early. I don’t think traditional Filipino families promote much independent thought. What elders say is truth, questioning their opinion is like questioning their authority.

So you see a lot of people repeating the arguments of “Tatay Digong”, “Ate Mocha” – and occasionally even SolGen Calida. Often things brought forth are total nonsense. But from the family onwards through the authoritarian school system, Filipinos are not trained to really think for themselves. Asking WHY is the first step in learning. Unfortunately there are so many who see WHY as questioning not a specific conclusion, but the person being asked and his judgement. They know no “polite inquiry”.

The problem of police killings may indeed be less bad as assumed by the opposition. But the attitude of the administration – brushing away all inquiry, refusing to clarify what really happened – leaves the field to the critics and increases possible suspicion. In fact the pissed-off attitude of President Aquino when inquiries came about Mamasapano also made those who did not like him more suspicious. But putting oneself in the other person’s shoes is even more un-Filipino than inquiry. So forget it.

Not having to confront inquiry also makes those in leadership succumb to lazy thinking – a natural reflex we all have, but I have seen how persistent inquiry keeps you on your toes and prevents you from making the usual simplistic assumptions. Genuine inquiry leads to sharper thinking, especially if one has good sparring partners. This is why I hope that Filipinos continue asking questions – and media helps piece the puzzle of Resorts World Manila together. Hopefully before a stupid Senate hearing starts.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 2. June 2017


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Learning from Mistakes

Lessons learned after dive training (9040575723)is not a Filipino strength. They are covered up if one’s own (camp) – and punished severely if someone else(‘s camp), at least in politics. Yet skills need time to develop, one has to accept that one botches up things the first (two, three) times and improves if one pays attention to avoiding the old error or doing something successively better. This has been my experience with all kinds of skills in life – yet there are Filipinos who say “you don’t have any talent” if you don’t get it the first time you try. Those who do have talent in things in the Philippines tend to stagnate because of lack of true competition, being big fishes in a small pond – while often refusing to be good teachers to those who have less talent. Some sports teachers in the Philippines just told me to watch how others played basketball instead of teaching the basics. Funny that I learned the basics quickly when a sports teacher in German senior high took the time to correct a few errors instead of letting me persist in them – like in swimming.

Swimming I indeed had learned well in the Philippines, mostly thanks to a Japanese guest teacher at UP Swimming pool. He did push us boys to our limits, often I feared drowning and swallowed I wonder how much water as he kept raising the bar for accomplishment by a few more laps. But in the end he knew how far he could go with us. My feeling was one of growing with each challenge mastered – the only small mistake my German sports teacher corrected was my somewhat hasty breathing technique. That is sports. It can be the same in any sort of domain – even in those domains that seem more theoretical. Science for example thrives on peer review, on errors being found and corrected to hopefully lead to a better result. Each major review of my draft for my master’s degree brought forth a major error – which I corrected to proceed. My career in the software industry showed me a lot of lessons learned – which is the term for mistakes made and analyzed to avoid repeating them (in the same way). 🙂

In a country where blame is given to the one caught holding the wrong end of the stick, the culture becomes avoidance of admitting errors from denial to downright lying. From President Aquino’s evasive stance on his role in Mamasapano down to Foreign Secretary Cayetano’s absurd sophistry on the definition of extrajudicial killings. There are no lessons learned through this. The lowest ranks probably learn the least, because they are in my observation the most exposed to blame games by the higher ups. Usually Filipino higher-ups will come from families with servants, will hardly have any exposure to the kind of work that shapes true grit and character – or the criticism that helps shape true character, that tells you what you are doing wrong, while telling you how to do it right – or at least do better. But those who rise up from below are often just as unforgiving or worse with those they leave behind – witness the recently observed behavior of many new Filipino middle class toward drug addicts and users.

The educational system is in many ways at fault – it is semi-feudal, sneering at practical pursuits while focusing mainly on the status one gets when one graduates, on the school and on the rank in the bar exam for example if one is a lawyer – as if the bar exam was the antiquated exam that the Chinese mandarins of old took – while failed mandarins as they were called sometimes became troublemakers and rebels, the most famous one being the one who started the Taiping rebellion in the 19th century. One person with a positive attitude in general, writing very balanced and good articles in the Inquirer and on Facebook – Gideon Lasco – turns out to have been in a high school (link) where we were assigned a piece of land to till – and you were graded according to the quality and quantity of your harvest. We learned how to use the plow and other farm tools.. Could it be that such experiences shape better attitudes than the school system segmented by “pedigree” which the Philippines now effectively has?

Making Filipinos plow the soil in school – probably a better idea to build character than going back to ROTC, which often degenerated into bullying during martial law. Doesn’t just have to be plowing the soil, it could be fishing – or even arnis. Or civic service, as long as it is led by the right people and not by thuggish barangay captains. You stumble, but you learn to get up. And those who have stumbled and gotten up again are more likely to help someone who stumbles – and not laugh like so very often.  Yes, there was YCAP or Youth Civic Action Program during Marcos times or maybe even before – but that often became a joke, just like Rural Service for professionals. Or Marcos taking off his shirt for photo-ops “working” on the ricefield, effectively predating Putin’s macho posing by decades. So in the end it all boils down to really doing it. Not laughing in the sidelines when serious people try to get things done. Not trying to feel higher and better by blaming addicts and users. Not grabbing credit from others.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 12 May 2017

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God is Dead, Let’s Be Bad!

Ruins of Igreja do Carmo at 2009-06-15one is tempted to think in these days – especially in the Philippines. Jesus was just a white man, and colonialism is over now! No more lessons from abroad please! And who wants to tempt the joke made by some Filipinos about the American preacher saying: “kapag napunta kayo sa langit, magkakaroon kayo ng mga pakpak” with an American “a” that makes pakpak, wings, sound more like pekpek, pussy? Who wants to go to heaven if it means turning into a pussy? Better be mature: go to hell and have big balls.

To have big balls, swear and have at least two mistresses in the Philippines. Be bad, to use the Afro-American term. Bad is a gangsta type with a sexy bitch by his side, ya feel me? A front seat bitch be like Mocha, or like Lorraine Marie Badoy. Good is for the pusillanimous, whatever that highfalutin word means. Who needs education anyway? Mar has no mistress, inspite of Wharton!

Unless mistress means that Mar is Korina’s servant. Poor guy. That is what you get from being decent, meaning prim and proper. Sitting with your legs crossed is bad for your testicles and your production of testosterone. That decent stuff was what colonialists used to make us pussies, you see? Look at Alvarez. He has two mistresses at least, and a watch Mar Roxas can only dream of. The name of the game is Get Rich or Die Trying. And the more you kill the more respect you get.  That is the one true law.

The other laws can be bent. Nietzsche, who said that God is dead, said that the will to power counts. If he didn’t, well then the will to lie counts even more. Truth is for pussies who are too weak to stick to a good lie. And if you are the strong one, you can drive your car past all waiting, because you can. Everybody is cool with that because you have the money and the power to dispense. Everyone just wants a piece of the action. The bitches and the homeboys. But for now, let them all repent their sins.

Because Filipino forgiveness means that you can do it again, or even more. Unless you are the little guy, the kind who flagellate themselves on the streets. The same kind that you may find dead at times on the streets – with a cardboard sign. Those that Mocha never sees after her nightly shows, so forget them – they are Western fantasies. Or if you fight for the good. For those who are not bad must be hypocrites. God is dead. Mocha and Imee are authentic. Leni Robredo is a phony. Easter Sunday will not come.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, Black Saturday 2017, München


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Them or Us

Arch enemy patronaatseems to be the central idea of many pro-Duterte people. Senator De Lima is in jail, Trillanes is “next” and trolls are trying to make Vice-President Robredo’s late husband look corrupt or worse. Strange that there was never any indication whatsover of anything while he was alive, or during his widow’s campaigns for Congress and Vice-Presidency, given the viciousness of Filipino politics.  Even those who were critical of many of Aquino’s policies praise Jesse Robredo (link) – and Tony La Viña is known as having been critical of the Arroyo and Corona cases and Mamasapano/Purisima.

Journalist Inday Espina-Varona has this to say about Filipino hyperpartisanship (link): And there’s the major cause of this country’s problems. We rail against injustice. We condemn short-cuts. We fulminate against abuse of power. And then we turn around and do the same things all over again. It’s very tribal – and that’s an insult to tribes. It reduces our democracy to a battle among playground bullies. Kill all those who won’t come to our side. We insist on slapstick and simplistic solutions. It’s a never ending settling of IOUs and payback against others.

In that article, she described how now Secretary of Justice Aguirre covered his ears when Senator Miriam Santiago berated him. And in a recent comment on Facebook, she reminds some people (link): Remember how you made Vitaliano Aguirre into a “hero”? The Corona impeachment trial showed the fault lines of our so-called political democracy …  And yet another article shows the dangers of hyperpartisanship (link): Thoughtlessness makes group membership more important than ideas.. If the source is my group, it is wise and good. If the source is the enemy, then it is evil. 

Santiago of course had the behavior of a strict principal – but also very firm principles. This could have been one reason why she was considered “crazy” in the Philippine setting. Many Filipinos are like kids – they behave when the principal is around, and revert to their real selves when she isn’t. Then all that counts is one’s barkada. Or by extension, one’s KKK, ka-whatever the context is. So it becomes like fraternity rumbles – one brod complains, the others come out to defend regardless of the cause. And possibly, there is someone delivered to UP Infirmary at night, with ice pick wounds.

Of course President Duterte does not like the testimonies of people like Lascañas and Matobato – but they should be faced and dealt with, especially by one who has boasted about killing in the past. There are no more strict American principals around to admonish anyone! If you want a code of killing as the new Constitution that reflects “true Filipino values”, just have the balls to do it! Will it be like the (fake) code of Kalantiaw (link) which says when to feed to crocodiles or to ants, or punishes those who go against chiefs? I would not be surprised at that, just a little bit sad for everyone.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 5 March 2017

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