Posts Tagged Leadership

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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Talo si Sereno, Panalo si Duterte

Wikipedia scale of justice3ayan mga DDS, inyo na ngayon ang Pilipinas. Si VP Leni napakadali na lang sigurong tanggalin. Tapos si Panot kukulungin na dahil sa Dengvaxia. Wala nang husgadong aayaw sa kaso ni De Lima dahil puwede silang ikuwaranto ni Calida. Ayan makakaganti na kayo sa wakas. Sa mga elitista. Magiging pare-pareho at pantay-pantay na ang Pilipino. Siyempre may mayaman pa at mahirap. Pero wala na iyong sobrang galing mag-Ingles. Wala na iyong mga pa-rule-of-rule-of-law diyan. Lahat ng desisyon manggaling kay Tatay Digong. Tulad noong panahon ni Mahoma at Lapu-Lapu.

Walang Korte Suprema noon. Walang Katoliko. Walang mga Unibersidad na puro demonstrasyon. Walang mga borloloy na batas na sobrang komplikado. Walang dilawan na druglord. Walang adik. Pero wala pang Facebook at Globe. Huwag kayong matakot, hindi tayo babalik nang todo-todo ano. Pero iyong mga nagmamagaling ngayon hindi na pupuwede. Lahat na parang iisang barangay. Kung ano iyong kaya ng Presidenteng kantahin, iyon lang ang tugtog. Rakrakan ni Baste OK din. Mga librong Western na nakakalason sa isip ng kabataan, tatanggalin. Kailangan ba ng China iyon?

Sila Tulfo, Acosta, Calida, Topacio at Gadon, mapupunta lahat sa Senado. Mabuti pa sila kaysa kay Bam Aquino na bakla. Kung anu-ano ang gustong gawing pakulo para sa technology development. Hindi kailangan ng Pilipino iyan kapag nandiyan ang China. Kailangan nila nang tapag-alaga. Parang mga Kuya at Ate na magbibigay sa kanila ng payo, para hindi sila lumayas sa daan ni Tatay. Pagkat alam ni Tatay Digong ang tamang daan. Walang tuwid na daan sa mga isla, puro baluktot. Kaya huwag kayong umasa sa anumang pangako. Mag-adjust kayo. Para ito sa ikabubuti ng lahat.

Mga journalist. Isa-isahin talaga sila. Bastos sila. Meron bang mga anak na sumasagot sa Tatay? Western countries siguro, mga masasamang ugali. Nasa kanila ang droga, Dengvaxia at democracy. Mga bagay na pampagulo sa lipunan. Unti-unti silang makikibagay o mawawala. Tulad ng dilawan.  Happy-happy na lahat sa wakas. Simple at komportable ang magiging buhay. Huwag magtanong. Basta alam ni Tatay Digong iyan. Supreme Court? Bakit may drug lists naman sa may barangay. Paano kung mamarkahan ka? Problema mo iyon! Para ka bang Serenong di marunong makisama?

Mga seaman, alam naman siguro ninyo ang mga lumang kuwento. Sa mga mapanganib na lugar sa dagat o sa may ilog, may mga babaeng nakaistambay at umaakit sa mga seaman. Mga Sereno ito. Mermaid din ang tawag sa kanila, halimbawa doon sa pelikulang Pirates of the Carribean Nr. 4. Huwag makinig sa kanilang kanta at baka maligaw pa kayo, mga Pilipino! Huwag magpa-akit! Huwag maniwalang sila mga babaylan ng katutubong Pilipinas! Lalake lang ang namumuno noon!  Inakupo mga DDS atbp., sana ganyang kadali ang mundo ano? Gising sa panaginip..

Irineo B. R. Salazar
ika-12 ng Marso 2018, München

 

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Common knowledge ang mga narco-list

Tangena trial by ordeal Madagascardahil alam ng barangay kung sino ang adik. Pilipino may pakiramdam. Westerner lang ang bobo na naghahanap pa ng prueba, tulad ni Delimaw na puro ganyan ang hinihingi – e alam naman na ng buong Bilibid na siya ang No. 1 Drug Lord! At huwag kayong humirit ng facts-facts at logic-logic, mga putangina kayong mga dilawan. Rappler ang nag-imbento ng facts-facts, di ba mga dilawan sila? Logic-logic, pautot lang iyan ng mga propesor na Kastila sa Santo Tomas noong araw. Walang silbi sa tunay na buhay. Pampahaba lang ng kuwento. Tulad ng proseso. Kung alam na adik, tapusin!

Proseso pagkakakitaan lang iyan ng mga huwes at abogado na pumoporma sa bar exams nila. Putangina tapos iyong Konstitusyon pa na iyan. Para lang iyan sa mga tanga na di maka-adjust. Iyong mga tipong kailangan pa ng red light at green light para alam kung kailan sila tatawid. Ganyan daw sa Alemanya sabi nila. Bobong mga iyan. EU pamandin sila. Pero tanga talaga sila. Plano ng plano. Akala mo Mar Roxas. Buti pa si Tatay Digong, alam ang gagawin na walang plano. Kaartehan na iyan. Paano mo malalaman kung ano bukas? E bukas baka tinokhang na pamilya mo!

Hay naku, iyang mga de numerong prueba, facts-facts, logic-logic, proseso, batas, Konstitusyon, plano – papel lang iyan, wala ka pang tunay na nagawa. Buti pa si Digong umaaksiyon agad. Sa Boracay merong mga SWAT at helicopter. Sa Kuwait, umaksiyon sila Mocha at Thinking Pinoy. Ngayon, malapit nang umurong at makipag-usap uli ang Kuwait sa Pilipino. Kailangan nila tayo. Kasi genius tayo. Kahit walang plano kayang-kaya natin. Kung baga sa tugtog, widow tayo palagi. Tanginang mga Mozart at Beethoven na puro nota. Buti pa si Freddie Aguilar, magiging Senador.

Tsaka matapang tayo! Hinamon natin ang mga Arabo. Pinaalis ng Pangulo natin iyong taga-EU.  Ano ngayon kung nag-resolusyon na naman ang EU Parliament. Magrosaryo na lang kaya sila ‘no! Dilawan talaga sila, umaasa sa dasal at papeles. Tayo umaasa sa aksiyon, sa tapang at sa pusila! Resbak pa natin ang mga Intsik. Malakas tayo diyan. Bilib sila sa atin. Kaya pinapautangan tayo. Kaya magpapasok ng maraming negosyo sa bansa natin. Pati si Donald Trump niririspito tayo. Iyong Casino ng Galaxy, mauna pa sa Casino ng Kano. Mas sikat tayo kaysa Las Vegas at Macau.

Sa Hapon malakas din tayo. Kalimutan ninyo iyang comfort woman statue. Laos na Maria Clara. Biktima iyan tulad ni Sisa. Laos na ang paawa. Mautak na Pinay ngayon, kikita ng husto sa lalaki. Hapon, Intsik o iyong lubak-lubak na mukha man ang pinag-uusapan. Huwag bobo, sabi ni Mocha! Huwag sobrang guwapo, sabi ni Calida. Mga sobrang guwapo mga bakla. Si Coco Martin, tiyak na dumaan iyan kay Brillante Mendoza ano. Pero babae ka man o lalake, ikaw muna ang bibirahin bago ka makabira sa huli. Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Hindi tayo mga santo, kaya babuyin na natin.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
Munich, Mayo Uno 2018


https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/27/1810010/release-narco-list-does-not-violate-human-rights-palace-says-despite-past-inaccuracies

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to release the government’s list of so-called narco-politicians did not violate the human rights of individuals to be named as they were running for elective government posts.

He said that the list would just “confirm” what was supposedly common knowledge among residents of a village who knew the people involved in illegal drugs in their communities.

 

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The Filipino is not crazy, Mr. Hussein!

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (21509596784) (cropped)(Achtung Satire!) our President knows who is a terrorist and who is not! This Tauli-Corpuz clearly is a suspect person. If our President already told the Lumads to behave properly and she is making it impossible for him to do his job properly, she is terrorizing him, just like this Pia Raissa Robles! Let me make clear that our President has no problem with women who are true role models, who help him in erecting his.. his idea of a nation, just like Mocha Uson is doing for him every.. daily. The women he has a problem with are those who make an old man’s… work.. harder than it is. Hm.

Besides, Tauli sounds like Tau’ri, the free human race in Stargate, a barely concealed work of evil Western propaganda. Did you not know that the Filipino ruling class, the real ones, not the yellow, are descended from the Goa’uld who once ruled Egypt, until that Moses stole their energy source? Dutertane, the powerful fuel that drove their chariots and made their eyes glow red with rage when the Jaffa disobeyed. Nowadays, the Jaffa in the Philippines, the slave race, no longer respond when their rulers look at them in anger. This is due to the drug shabu and too much freedom in society.

Now the descendants of Moses, known as the Mossad, still are controlling the Dutertane that they stole from our glorious ancestors. Together with your Jordanian countrymen, dear Mister Hussein, they are conniving with Loida Nicolas-Lewis and Leila De Lima to destroy our nation with drugs. They are even known to have directly contacted the International Criminal Court and met with Agnes Callamard at the Moulin Rouge in Paris just before taking the train to Brussels 3 weeks ago. We know because a friendly alien race has helped us. They were floating over Paris at that time.

Freedom, this stupid idea, is soon to be replaced by good old ways which served the world better. Enlightened and compassionate leaders like President Duterte, Solicitor General Calida, Public Attorney Persida Acosta, Honorable Imbecile Speaker Alvarez, Caped Crusader Dante Jimenez shall lead the way in doing what is necessary for those who must follow the leader to live a most comfortable life. That is the fate of the Jaffa, and they shall learn gratefulness, embodied in our most holy principle of utang na loob, once again from us, the galactic ruling class of the Goa’uld.

And besides, Dear Prince Hussein, how can a person be crazy who knows exactly what he is doing? Only the person who does not know what he is doing is crazy. Like Chief Justice Sereno, who thinks she can apply ideas of rule of law that are not native to our people, that are only her imagination? She is the one who is truly crazy! Because she thinks she can change the true nature of our country. This freedom that only brings drugs and disobedience. Maybe at home her husband is like a dog. Our President is not dog. He is MACHO! He is brillant! More than UN, EU, US and UP! We bilib.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 March 2018

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The ruler always means well

MuseumMalacanan9714 23and how dare anyone doubt that! Especially if the ruler is a narcissist, hooked on being admired. Surely there have been benevolent rulers, no matter how they were called in the past. But there are two factors which kept rulers from seeing only their own interests – popular and ethical pressure.

Pressures upon rulers

Ethical pressure could be social standards as to how a good ruler should be – whether he was a Christian King in Medieval Europe, held at least theoretically to standards the Church set for him, or an Islamic Sultan especially in the Arab world, held to ideals of the Islamic religion, a Chinese Emperor held to Confucian ideals of a balanced and harmonious society, a Japanese Emperor bound by ancient rules of honor, or tribal leaders held to honor the memory of their ancestors.

Popular pressure would be groups of people seeking that they have their share within society. Whenever the natural balance, a certain satisfaction with how things are, was disturbed, history has shown that people eventually react – more often than not constructively if their voices are heard and especially if their needs are met. Aggressively if they are not heard and their needs are not met. Passive-aggressively if the channel of aggression is blocked – even to the point of social stagnation. The passive aggressivity was very obvious in Eastern Europe of the late 1980s, just before the anger at Communist repression finally boiled over – from Berlin to Bucharest. People simply did what they had to, were cynical about nearly everything. Nothing moved forward anymore as a result.

Golden Age coming?

Well, maybe I am wrong about the Philippines. It could well be that President Duterte is the future. That the country will return to a golden age, when rulers loved their people like strict fathers and the people loved them in return! Not like the “ungrateful” and “un-Filipino” reporter Pia Ranada Robles, who was let into Daddy Diggs entourage and still dared to criticize him, and when given the punishment she deserved, still dared ask and ask the Praetorian Guard of the Philippines WHY!?

Why isn’t the kind of question traditional authoritarians in the Philippines like. Why is like asking what the hell are you doing to them, challenging their authority. Everything is so very personal. That however keeps things from advancing. Because someone always has to be the scapegoat. Insufficient focus on fixing issues like for example the MRT 3, instead the current group of datus and rajas tries to pin the fault on the ousted yellow datus or rajas. To completely isolate from the society all those who are not on the side of the ruler. Which is what Marcos did during Martial Law.

The Rude Awakening

Yes, and what happened, finally. Much like the Communist rulers in Eastern Europe, the rulers of the Philippines in the 1980s usually got to hear what they wanted to hear. Their regimes imploded. Yet Duterte’s Philippines seems to not even need formal dictatorship and full censorship for that. The warning signs – political, economic, social – are there to see yet people choose to ignore them. There will be demonstrations again this weekend, in memory of the two million on EDSA in 1986. Yes, I only recently was reminded they were that many. But that desperate remembrance may fail. The comfortable illusion of a national barangay with a jovial chieftain which is at the same time as progressive as and orderly as Singapore, a kind of Malay Wakanda, is political shabu for many. In reality China surrounds it, mines its vibranium, and will give it overpriced loans. Still dreaming?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 24 February 2018

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Kneeling before Duterte

RamsesIIEgypt(his picture) was what two youths in Davao were forced to do by police recently (link). MAYBE they should be happy they were not shot in today’s Philippines. But MAYBE not. Is it normal to make young people revere a President like a God-King? Did the Philippines ever have its own Pharaoh? Datus in smaller communities, rajahs in bigger agglomerations like Manila or Cebu, but rajahs were basically paramount chiefs controlling an alliance of chieftains. There was certainly a hierarchy. It is documented that commoners had to prostrate themselves before datus. The most complex hierarchy probably was in Manila and the surrounding Tagalog regions. The Tagalog language itself has not only “po” (also documented by early colonial chroniclers) but other forms of courtesy in it, and is probably the most complex of all Philippine languages in its pure form.

Courtesy and Dignity

Not quite as complex as Javanese with its Kromo (polite), Ngoko (informal) and Madya (medium) styles of speech, but effectively similar to Chavacano (link) which although it is a Spanish-based creole has distinct formal and colloquial forms of speech. Now is Duterte speaking Ngoko to all? Someone told me that he indeed sounds more like a gangster boss speaking to subordinates than a street person talking to other street people. He lacks something traditional Filipinos, even some of the most simple peasants used to have – BEARING. Most traditional Asian people still have it. Indonesians for example have nearly the same polite body language as traditional Filipinos, I just recently observed. Duterte tells Middle Eastern nations to treat Filipinos with dignity (link) yet exudes little of it. In fact he gives OFWs the signal that it is OK to be sloppy, rude and plain stupid.

Contrast that with Vice-President Leni Robredo. Recently, she said that Lorraine Badoy is not worth talking about (link) – and that Mocha Uson is not a good example of a government employee (link). With the simple good breeding that is hers, and is far from being artificial or “plastic”. Contrast Duterte with Ombudsman Morales, who refuses to implement a patently illegal order by the President to suspend her own Deputy (link) and is now being threatened with sanctions by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (link). Contrast that also with Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who has so far defied all attempts to make her appear before the dubious impeachment proceedings against her in Congress. Women who will not kneel before Duterte. Now when will Congress find time to impeach Morales? Too many fronts to fight on.

Bilibid or not

Meanwhile, it seems Chinese drug lords have taken over Bilibid (link). Prof. Vicente Rafael says: “Far from being a site of discipline and punish, of panoptic surveillance and reformation, the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa is a haven for privileged drug lords and other gangsters where they enjoy the protection of guards and other higher ups to run their rackets. It is like a country within a country, or better yet, a mirror reflection of the country itself, where wealthy boss-criminals live in comfy apartment-cells with expensive lounge chairs and special rooms for conjugal visits, keep lots of cash and guns, and govern the place while the lesser con men, petty crooks and the innocently framed know their place and follow orders.” Speaking of innocently framed, the case against De Lima looks flimsier each day. Shouldn’t Aguirre be blamed this time?

Crazy suggestions like having Chinese ships patrol Sulu and Celebes Seas are being slammed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano (link): “I agree that we should have a hardline policy against piracy and terrorism. However, rather than immediately running to China, let us instead develop maritime cooperation with Malaysia and Indonesia. Their borders are included in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, so it would make more sense geographically for them to be involved,” he explained. Aside from the fact that even Machiavelli already recommended alliances among equals as smarter. With regards to Benham Rise, oceanographer Jay Batongbacal of UP in a long post (link) debunked the statement of Presidential spokesman Harry Roque that “Filipinos cannot afford to explore Benham Rise” – making clear that Filipinos had done plenty of expeditions by themselves for years.

Do not complain

Towards leftist UP students protesting, Duterte threatened to replace them with Lumads or children of soldiers (link). The reaction has been to stage bigger protests next time. The interesting thing is that Duterte had threatened to bomb Lumad schools (link) before for alleged leftist links. The kind of ideal Filipino that Duterte seems to want is a non-complaining, non-thinking person. Probably even beholden to him via utang na loob – a value which was valid in the older settings from which it originated as a cement for personal loyalties as well as cashless give and take, in times when communities were still small and intuitively manageable. An instrument for making people subservient in early colonialism, and increasingly unbearable as modern times approached, because the key factor in modern societies is merit, not indebtedness. Like at UP – ever since 1908.

The Philippines is in a major crisis these days. Struggling with plenty of legacies and hang-ups. But to reject practically all institutions including UP, the Constitution and democracy – for all their imperfections and contradictions to the already contradictory and confused Filipino culture – and then throw away even natural dignity and bearing, yes even respect for one’s fellow man in the culture itself – to finally have a gang-like rule backed by the Chinese both legally and illegally – is WHAT? National suicide, and I am not even talking about ill-conceived, rushed, fake Federalism. There is a lot more to keeping a country together than forcing the young to kneel before Duterte. Even the Japanese emperor always knelt before Amaterasu, the Sun-God (link). Even Kings knelt before Popes in medieval Europe. Higher principles always guided good rulers. Not just EGO.

Datus of old had people prostrating themselves before them. But they did not have guns and gold like Filipino politicians from the 20th century onward. Not even goons, as ancient warriors had to take real risks in battle – and only had bladed weapons just like peasants had their bolos. And even in Spanish times it was easy to go up the mountains. Today people have less escape and recourse. But Filipinos have also been known to be like carabaos – patient until “enough is too much”, like Popeye famously says before eating his spinach. And modern developments have created a society more complex than in 1521. Professional elites may have more chances of leaving the country, and what if more than the MRT will break down? Will Mocha and Tulfo fix things? Will Dante Jimenez and Persida Acosta cure diseases like modern-day witch doctors? Will Robin Padilla teach Tagalog?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 1 February 2018

 

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The Philippines has never stood on its own feet

Philip II's Law on the PrincipaliaA Bavarian once told me. Was he right? China claims sovereignty over Panatag (link). Duterte seems to trust China (link) just like Aguinaldo trusted the USA in 1898 (link), proclaiming independence “under the protection of our Powerful and Humanitarian Nation, The United States of America”. One wonders how the datus behaved who were made into principalia by decree of King Philipp II (picture). Did they behave like today’s Congress supermajority? There was a sizable group that resisted in 1574 in Manila (link): “all punished with some put to death and others exiled”.

Remontados and Rebels

There were rebels like Bohol’s Francisco Dagohoy (link) – a cabeza de barangay (basically a chieftain coopted into the Spanish system) who initiated an 85-year revolt from 1744 to 1828, with the mountains as protection. Heading for the hills was probably a common way of avoiding the colonial state,  with the topography of the country as an ally (link), one probable example being the Cimarrones of Bikol who: “inhabited the slopes of Mount Isarog and forested hills of Siruma and Camaroan. These groups were cultivators and hunters but were most renowned for the raids they conducted on those in the lowlands. As their names suggests, they were probably fugitives from Spanish control, and as such emerged as a distinct group only in colonial times.” Cimarron means wild cattle in Spanish and was also used for escaped black slaves in the Caribbean, called Maroons (link) in English.

The 19th century brought ideas of nationalism into the Philippines, groups like Filipino priests and Filipino intellectuals (link) brought about the First and Second Propaganda movements. The short-lived Liga Filipina may have been the spark that started the Katipunan, which combined ideas of Rizal which were European in origin with native ideas, including cultic amulets or anting-anting. Revolutionary brotherhood inspired by Western examples plus the kind of brotherhood one sees during the Black Nazarene was the fuel of the 1896 revolution, even if it started only in 8 provinces, only one of which (Pampanga) was not Tagalog-speaking. Aguinaldo, a former cabeza de barangay, quickly made the revolution his own, had Bonifacio killed, and pacted with the Spanish in 1897. The Biak-na-Bato pact even included payments to him in exchange for his voluntary exile in Hong Kong. Aguinaldo came back on an American vessel, later fought with the Americans, probably had his best general killed (link) before finally being captured. The Philippine Republic was completed later on under American tutelage (link) – but that was not its major flaw. Blaming others is easy.

Cuba vs. Collaboration

It was, I believe, the Filipinos themselves. After all, Cuba had its own Republic from 1902 (link) even if was occupied for three years before that and again from 1906-1908. And it aside from its own war of independence from 1895-1898 (link), it fought from 1868-1878 and 1879-1880. Same colonial powers before and after 1898. And possibly the Philippine revolution was also simply a bit opportunistic as Spain was already weakened – and the Spanish-American war made that worse. Manolo Quezon’s “Malakas at Mahina” (link) shows how Filipino politics plays out based on who is “strong” or “weak”. Going back to the beginnings of Spanish rule, it helps to remember that Manila was allied to Brunei, even through family ties. Was the Castilian war of 1578 (link) wherein Spain defeated Brunei decisively the more motivating factor for Filipino datus to fall in line. Malakas!

Or how quickly the Filipino ruling class, with notable exceptions, fell in line to collaborate with Japan when they occupied the Philippines. And then fell back in line before McArthur in 1945. Even Diego Silang (link) – whose wife Gabriela is better known for taking over when he got killed – was allied with the British in his quest for Ilocano independence in the 1760s. There is a Filipino saying about the bird on the back of the carabao – are most Filipinos just that after all? The few dramatic outbursts of nationalism just that – drama – and often just bullying easy targets (link) like Robin Padilla with the Korean recently. Would Padilla dare say that to a  Chinese ambassador? The Filipino UN delegates who once annoyed a Soviet into taking out his shoes probably felt strong as UN founding members and close allies of the USA. Just like I personally experienced how Filipino diplomats acted rude to Germans – when Germany was still divided and they hobnobbed with American diplomats, for example at the US Embassy club in Bonn. Birds on a really big carabao. Not much difference to Duterte being rude to the EU (seen as mahina, documented comments by Andanar on Brexit show that attitude) but subservient to both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.

Bietnamese bersus Balimbings

Contrast that to Vietnam, which fought the French, then the United States, then the Chinese. Inspite of enormous sacrifices they never gave up. Pretty rude people, not friendly Filipinos. Somehow though I would trust the word of a Vietnamese more, I am very sorry to say by now. Filipinos often are subservient when they think they can get an advantage or think they are weak (mahina) then turn around to be rude, act as if you exploited them when they think they are strong (malakas) – probably with a new ally or backer or someone they have ingratiated themselves with.

Gago, anong year iyan (Asshole, what year was that?) was Senator Gatchalian’s answer to netizens who criticized him for being highly critical of former President Aquino now and praising him to high heavens in 2012 (link). Balimbing, the fruit that easily changes sides, was one analogy used. My first memory of hearing balimbing was in 1986. Well, yes, I guess it is gago to assume that a typical Filipino politician will NOT praise the one who is malakas at a given time. Fool me twice. Even among Filipinos overseas I have seen the kapit mentality of hanging on to people for favors – and dropping them like hot potatoes once these people lost access to resources they could dispense. Possibly I am too Germanic by now, preferring people who deal straight, not caring about favors. Not lick the boots of the current patron and bark at its enemies – or all who are not that powerful.

Aso o Astig

To be a really tough guy, stop being a lapdog. Stand on your own two feet like a human being. Indonesian death penalty is not something I like – but it has due process and therefore much more character than secretly killing people via most probably staged “nanlaban” (fighting back at police) or masked vigilante groups which are most probably off-duty cops (link). Shouting down a lady reporter (link) like Pia Ranada Robles is seen as macho by some (or many?) Duterte supporters.

That is about as macho as the slum bullies who go home to beat up their wives and rape their stepdaughters in Filipino classic movies like Insiang (link) – one good and observant movie. People who laugh at necrophiliac rape jokes like the famous one Duterte made are clearly dysfunctional. Only few admire those who stand up to power like Trillanes. Would Filipinos cheer Tell or Gessler? Yes, Landvogt (bailiff) Gessler as opposed to heroic Wilhelm Tell of Swiss revolutionary legend. Sure, Filipinos have their heroes and are proud of them. But how much solidarity do their heroes get while alive? My impression, more and more, is that Filipinos prefer their heroes DEAD.

Pride Chicken is not Preedom

Because living heroes remind them of their mostly deficient characters? Put heroes in cement and put them in Rizal Park instead of sinking them in Manila Bay, but still letting the next scoundrels rule the country as always, while the majority, as Rizal already noted in the Fili “feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed.. wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty”. Collaboration with a new empire in 1571. Revolution against a fading empire in 1896, as one of the LAST remaining colonies. Quick collaboration with the USA, then Japan, then USA again. What Filipino pride? Pride chicken. Fuck the EU, Mr. Duterte? Bend over for China.

Patriotically deny the French access to research in Benham Rise (link) while letting China (link)? Rizal also said in the Fili: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”. But, oh well, he was a Westernized elitist. Not counted. But then again, both fraternities and state often seem to breed subservience, not character (link). The powerful have all the rights (link) and are usually spoiled because they are rarely challenged. True, the frontier elites of Mindanao have faced more challenges  which made it easy for them, in my opinion, to take over Manila (link). But what would Duterte have become without his goons? Datus of old had to prove their mettle in the old warrior tradition, last manifested in Northern Luzon mountain tribe headhunting. Centuries of comfort and hereditary rank, first established in Spanish times and indirectly continued by political dynasties of later on, weakened their class.

Character and Charisma

Strangely, those who criticize the faults of former President Benigno Aquino – which do exist and are because of his growing up in that kind of elite – do not see the even worse spoiled brat faults of both Bongbong Marcos and President Duterte. In fact, Aquino has shown balls on occasion, like showing up at the Dengvaxia hearing – even if there were occasions like after Mamasapano where he did not. Yet many Filipinos take the barking of Bongbong and the bluster of Digong for bravery. Or the stupidity of Robin Padilla for patriotism. For sure, President Duterte has his charisma. It is the charisma of a trickster and a joker. The German word for that is Schlitzohr, a “sly fox” or a “shark” depending on the context. Many Filipinos still believe Duterte is a trickster with the best interests of his people in mind, just wait. Yet to me it seems character and perspective is missing. His “hidden qualities” seem more like wishful thinking of those who do not wish to see what might be the painful truth – that character is mostly missing in the Philippines for lack of being cultivated. Further self-delusion might lead the country to a point of no return. If it has not yet been reached.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 21 January 2018

 

 

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Up to 200 Filipino children risk severe dengue

Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes (26444925321)based on three numbers: 730K vaccinated, 87% previously infected (link) and 2 of 1000 risk (link) of severe dengue according to Sanofi among those vaccinated but not previously infected: “The increased risk identified from the new analysis translated to two additional cases of ‘severe dengue’ out of 1,000 previously dengue-uninfected people vaccinated over five years of follow-up,” the company said in an emailed statement. Certainly not good, but a far cry from the panic in a video (link) by “major blogger” Sass Rogando Sasot implying that 700 thousand kids were at risk.

Who said what

997 children got sick after vaccination (link) say a Philstar headline – in the article it says that the Department of Health (DOH) reported that between March 18, 2016 and Aug. 20 of the same year, there were 997 “adverse events following immunization, 30 of which were considered serious cases that needed hospitalization.” The 30 serious cases included two deaths. But the DOH said these “were not related to the immunization program,” which was launched in early 2016. Other cases are claimed outside the DOH statistics, and insufficient monitoring is alleged.

There is also a difference between articles that claim WHO recommended Dengvaxia (link) and clarifications by WHO itself that it (linkdid not include a recommendation to countries to introduce the dengue vaccine into their national immunization programs. Rather, WHO outlined a series of considerations national governments should take into account in deciding whether to introduce the vaccine, based on a review of available data at the time, along with possible risks. Among other things recommending to vaccinate in areas with over 70% dengue exposure.

When what happened

Who published its position on the dengue vaccine in July 2016, based on a preliminary advice by an expert group from April 2016. The Philippines started vaccinating in April 2016 (link) – ignoring or setting aside opinions like those of UP College of Medicine Prof. Dr Antonio Dans, who warned that while the vaccine could reduce the number of dengue cases, it could later increase the disease’s severity, a phenomenon known as “antibody- dependent enhancement” – or Dr. Anthony Leachon who said the DOH should first wait for the WHO study – which came out in July 2016.

Further doubts Dr. Leachon had were also about long-term safety (link) especially with previously non-infected persons. Studies in September 2016 (link and link) and articles in CNN (link) and Voice of America (link) in late 2016 also mentioned those risks, but the DOH under a new administration continued the program (link) while having doubts on efficacy. There was a Senate hearing in December 2016 (link) but it seems it was more about the way the program was funded.  The decision to end the program after the third round of vaccination was taken in May 2017 (link).

Still, it seems that 67 thousand kids in the Central Visayas got vaccinated in August 2017 (link). Other countries like Malaysia (link, June 2016) and India (link, Oct. 2016) were more reluctant – even in April 2017 (link) and November 2017 (link). Brazil was the other country that vaccinated, the observations from there are going to be interesting. Sanofi was right to pull the brakes in late November 2017. Imagine if, let us say 20 million Filipinos had been vaccinated at a prevalence of 80% – that would have been 0.2% of 20% of 20 million at risk of severe dengue, meaning 8000.


Science and Risk

ICE4 FrontA major derailment happened in Eschede in 1998 (link) when the German speed train or ICE was hardly a decade old. A train derailed and folded together at high speed due to wheel fracture (link). 101 people died, tabloids reported scenes of horror. Yet no witch-hunts. Causes (link) were analyzed and consequences (link) – also legal ones – were decided upon. The program was not stopped, instead ICE model 1 was improved, later new models came out, new routes were built. This Friday, the Munich-Berlin route (link) shall cross 623 km in about 4 hours. Using ICE 4 (link) trains.

A book I read (link) mentions how the aircraft industry and airlines improved a lot of things by analyzing black boxes from airplane crashes and other incidents – but mentions issues in introducing similar measures in medicine. I wonder if the touch of arrogance attributed to the medical profession in the book also applies to the pharmaceutical industry. Many circles also accuse the pharma industry using third world countries as guinea pigs. But only a modern, evidence-based approach will help prove what is true. And pin down possible accountability. 

Capulet and Montague

There will probably be a hearing in aid of legislation at the Philippine Senate – once again. Which I do not expect much from. The usual political stuff, names of Presidents and Health Secretaries. VACC loudly claiming deaths NOW from last year (link) added to the fray, hardly looking credible.

Better not just allege deaths without proof as in hard evidence. Sanofi might go for an international case. Not like the De Lima case or the wannabe impeachment against Sereno. Real lawyers will be needed – like Sereno for Fraport or Carpio for ITLOS. The kind of talent the country hates (link).

One should also see that around half of the vaccinations were during the Aquino administration, the other half during the Duterte administration. Finding out the entire truth will be a long process – if the Filipino public is really interested in the truth and not just own emotional or group needs.


Galileo and Newton

The modern world is too complex for the petty village mentality on show in Filipino politics, the lack of getting the big picture. India seemed to have dealt with Dengvaxia way more maturely – but then again they send rockets into space (link). How could one deal with this in a rational manner?

200 kids are at risk, if one is to believe a certain set of numbers. What is the solution? First – monitor things. Senator Hontiveros wants that to happen in form of a database (link). Possibly, measures from this experience could be used to improve health monitoring in the Philippines.

Second – all lab data on present alleged cases (link) should be gathered in a transparent manner. Just in case there really was negligence on part of Sanofi, it can be proven in an auditable way. There is a certain self-discipline needed here, as Filipinos very often lack objective attitudes.

The Big Picture - The Noun ProjectThird – look at the big picture. Few newspapers, few experts, few leaders in the Philippines are good at that. Data is not information is not knowledge is not wisdom. This Rappler timeline (link) of what happened locally is at least information. Knowledge? We know a little, need to learn more.

In some papers I read about 3.5 billion being for vaccines only. In some I read it was for the vaccines and the entire program including monitoring for five years. Some state that monitoring was insufficient in the beginning. How was the experience in Brazil? And the more cautious countries?

India wanted to make own tests with monkeys before starting, later on Assam state decided to make a random test to check for at least 70% prevalence before going for vaccination. Malaysia wanted to wait for fourth phase tests. All in the sources quoted above. Where is the best balance?

Finding scapegoats is too easy as well – especially if the issue could be caused by weak institutions with systemic problems (link) that go beyond individual leaders. Maybe Dengvaxia could be an opportunity to learn and reform some things? There is a lot of ground to be covered I think.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
Munich, 6 December 2017

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A stable country

Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyinecessitates stable institutions, first and foremost. Then it needs stable politics. If politics are like in the Philippines, winner-take-all and leave nothing for those outside one’s group, there can never be enough trust to be able to work together. Germany is able to have varying coalitions of colors not because all parties are basically the same (the extreme right and the extreme left would disagree) but because there is enough self-discipline to stick to the commonly agreed rules and not to be sophists about them like Filipinos often are. And to negotiate in good faith when making coalitions.

Engage or Avoid?

Contrast that with the bad faith which I think was present from the very beginning between the Philippine Left and the Duterte government. Dealing with Filipinos can sometimes mean that you are on very shifting ground. Transactional, one-off stuff works better, longer-term cooperation for mutual benefit is not easy to establish. Extortion attempts, reinterpreting rules and possibly even whining about unfairness can happen easily. And then getting mad because you tell them to stick to their part of the deal, or even trying to insult or intimidate the other side – tiring power games.

Which brings us to the major part of stability – stable people. If you are dealing with people who shift the goalposts all the time, forget it. It is the kind of Filipino mentality the leaders of today represent. PLUS the narcissistic rage than some may know who have heard of “My Way” killings or white foreigners getting bludgeoned because they accidentally pissed off someone drunk or high. Possibly just wounded his fragile ego, maybe even so long ago that they forgot about it, but not the man who waited for them in the night with a knife in his hand. Why deal with that willingly?

Dangerously unstable egos

Who knows why Jee-Ick Joo, the Korean they wanted to extort money from, was strangled in Camp Crame? Did he get fed up and ask why are you doing this to me, thereby pissing of the cop’s egos and they just killed him. How about Kian Delos Santos? All he asked the police who were hurting him was to go home as he had to review? Did they take his forthrightness as “arrogance”, thinking “who is he to mention that he is studying, does he think he is better than us”? People have indeed gotten beaten up by security guards and cops in the Philippines for “answering disrespectfully”.

An unstable President who has the same hang-ups as many a Filipino drunk (link): “So you think that you are the conscience of the people? That you are the right ones because you are the white? Excuse me. Are we talking of a monkey here or…” will of course bring out the worst in his people. The threats against the more Westernized and educated sections of the population (so-called “yellows”) at present might only be the beginning, just like Hitler’s propaganda only gradually led to more and more harassment legal and illegal, then expropriation and finally killing of its targets.

Cut the excuses

Colonial centuries are excuses even some very intelligent Filipinos use as a bargaining chip, again one more example from Duterte’s recent ramble: “When you left my country after 400 years, you brought home the best of everything in this country. Tapos ganunin ninyo ako? [laughter]”. Probably the worst logging in the Philippines took place during Marcos times with forest cover visibly reduced. There are indications that some of the most rapacious mining has taken place in the last 20 years. And population increased 5 times since the 1950s, when Manila was still spacious.

So there certainly was colonial exploitation, but the stewardship of the land by its own people was not much better. Who is apparently allowing the Chinese to take soil from the Philippines to build islands on atolls in the West Philippine Sea? Of course many Filipinos think that wealth is usually stolen – again Duterte’s rant: “You were ahead in the industrial race of the planet Earth because you stole the greatest resource of the Arabs and that was — that’s oil.” Wrong. The English mined coal in the late 18th century, had to drain mines, and invented the steam engine to help in this.

That started the Industrial Revolution, including steamships and the Suez Canal. Later on, different kinds of internal combustion engine were invented, making oil interesting. Germany probably also was calculating when it helped its ally, the Ottoman Empire, build the train line from Istanbul to Baghdad. To blame Western powers alone for the chaos after the Ottoman empire disintegrated is foolish, but so is most of Duterte’s half-analyzed history. Or not to see that China is very calculating in helping the strategically located, mineral-rich Philippines. And play one’s cards better.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 14. October 2017

 

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Free Tertiary Education

Gearbox (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935) HUis a milestone for the Philippines – something I did not expect. Kudos to Senator Bam Aquino. Thanks to the others who had the sense not to torpedo it. Inspite of Aquino. The Philippine educational system may soon be able to produce the right kind of people for every level, thanks to having K-12 as well. You don’t only need the high-level theoreticians and academics. They are needed, but you need the other levels to distill the theory into useful practice – engineers, managers – and skilled workers.

Different skill levels are needed

K-12 was luckily not grounded by President Duterte, neither was K-12+ which is the special pilot project in cooperation with Germany. Yes, it produces skilled workers for German firms in the Philippines. Leftists, please protest. Call them exploiters. Do you prefer to have people in sweatshop jobs, begging for houses like Kadamay? Even the Russians knew how to build an industrial landscape within just a generation. The Chinese needed two, but Filipino leftists are for the most part I think too stupid for that.

Bavaria where I live has Fachhochschulen or Polytechnic Universities in unlikely places like Deggendorf, Rosenheim or Regensburg. I know some excellent IT people from these polytechnics, people of relatively humble peasant origins. Bavaria was a mainly agricultural state back in 1945. One level “below” engineers you have technicians. On the job training, the German dual system called Lehre – or the K-12 TVET or K-12+ which are similar – makes for highly skilled workers. Industries need these people.

Examples of tropical countries that excel

Or what would BMW in Munich be without all the levels of people in it? Or MBB in Hamburg, which had Indonesia’s Dr. Habibie in a leading position (link)? Finally, it was Habibie who was among those who got companies like Indonesian Aerospace (link) off the ground. Off course they geared up essential skills by building planes in license for MBB and the Spanish CASA which also once started off subcontracting for German firms – and is now part of Airbus Military, building the A-400M (link).

Of course the capability to build airplanes is a test of how an economy is able to get people to work together productively – something Filipinos still need to learn – FAST. Even Brazil has its own airplane manufacturer – Embraer – and I can attest to their planes being good. Or add to Indonesia and Brazil the space program of India to show that mastery of own complex industries is not something people in tropical zones cannot do. It is not just Europeans, North Americans and North Asians who can excel.

Working with the right partners

Will China ever help the Philippines jump-start anything industrially the way the German MBB and Spanish Casa, both Airbus now, did for Indonesia Aerospace? First of all, the country has to have the will to get started, nobody will spoon feed you. Filipino old-school leftists, stop complaining about exploitation, that is an old story. Second, the senior partner has to respect you. Germany respected Dr. Habibie, a former MBB VP. And Chinese often look down on brown Southeast Asians, that is well known.

Japan has been a good partner to the Philippines after the war. I even believe that neighbors like Indonesia and Vietnam would work together well with Filipinos. All that Filipinos have to do is shed their notorious prima donna mentality at all levels – with one another and especially towards fellow Asians. I do not really wonder why Rizal placed the Biblical quote “vanity, all is vanity” on the cover of El Fili. Modesty, and decades of quiet work bring results. Not jumping for Beijing loans and flattery.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5. August 2017

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