Halloween is coming

Salvador Panelo (cropped)with no escape, and tomorrow, Daylight Savings Time ends. Yesterday afternoon, I walked through a sunny Munich with 17 degrees temperature. Was it climate change or was it just the Föhn wind? Föhn also means hair-dryer in German, so you get an idea of what kind of wind the alpine Föhn is. Hair-dryers mean risk of baldness so I avoid them. I can sing, but I am not running for the Senate. Which does not mean Sen-eight, even if the opposition has 8 candidates. And even if the Latin word is derived from senex, meaning old man, and is related to senile, I think Enrile is way too old now.

But he is indeed scary, while Panelo is at least funny, like a dancing skeleton can be truly hilarious. Back to Halloween. A Celtic feast after the harvest. The Celts believed that the spirit world opened during the shift to winter, and offered food to the spirits to propitiate them. The people of the Alps have all their cows in the shed by then, having driven them all down the mountains by October. Some Alpine people have the superstition that the spirit world opens around New Year, starting with Christmas and ending with Three Kings Day, when the good spirits win against the evil.

The Schiachperchten (the ugly spirits, roughly translated) look shaggy and act rough while the Schönperchten (the beautiful spirits, roughly speaking) look shiny. Some of the evil spirits are called Krampuses, some say that Krampus is St. Nicholas’ sidekick who punishes bad children. Could Duterte be the Krampus come to punish bad Filipinos, an ugly spirit from the other world? Will he, pockfaced Calida and skeleton Panelo return to the netherworld when Enrile goes there? Was it simply Filipino karma that after a President named Benigno, a maligno would come to rule?

Shall the cycle come to another turn when the beautiful spirits, led by a beautiful Vice President, drive out the evil ones and end the reign of the Pangit? They already have been partly driven out of Facebook, so they may found a new place called PangitBook if they want. It would not matter at all. The cycles are: good/evil, Yin/Yang, Apollonian/Dionysian, democracy/tyranny, justice/injustice. Tag-araw, tag-ulan are not only the sunny and the rainy season, it is a Filipino movie and a song. Greeks went from Apollonian rationality to Dionysian excess. Filipinos love tragedy and comedy.

Though the recent events in Filipino courts and assemblies are either both or neither, somehow. Inspite of the social media commentary that follows the events like the chorus of a Greek play. Inspite of the philosophers, some bearded and half-Persian, making their comments on matters, this play is not a tragedy equal to Aeschylus’ The Persians. And even if some politicians in it look like frogs, it is not a comedy equal to Aristophanes’ The Frogs. It is reality, even if it is surreal. Possibly though, I am misled. The Philippines could be on the verge of creating new paradigms.

Albayalde says the Philippines may be the first country to win a drug war. With action men like the Tulfos and Robin Padilla, it could be possible! And inspite of the EU now certifying Dengvaxia, how do we know if Persida Acosta was not right? How do we know that the PNP was unjust in killing? And isn’t Calida a genius in redefining basic questions of existence and non-existence? Finally, the Philippines could be at the forefront of a revolution of knowledge, the greatest ever since Socrates. And the infallible, incorrigible Teddy Boy Locsin. But first, Halloween must pass. Trick or treat?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27 October 2018

Do you remember?

UP Activists during Martial Lawthe 21st night of September? The Earth, Wind and Fire Song that starts with these lyrics came out during the Martial Law period, in 1978. I was 13. The official declaration of Martial Law was not on Sept. 21 though, but on Sept. 23, 1972 if one is to look at Manolo Quezon’s account of what happened (link):

Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, PLDT, the airport, were shut down in the early hours of September 23. Media, political, and other personalities and activists were rounded up also in the early morning hours.

This is why martial law was announced with silence: people woke up to discover that TV and radio stations were off the air. Later in the day, some stations started playing easy listening music and some stations aired cartoons. But Marcos’ speechwriters were slow, then the teleprompter broke down, and the speech had to be hand-written on kartolina. So it wasn’t until dinnertime that Marcos finally appeared on TV and the country found out martial law was in place.

I do remember – vaguely – cartoons the entire day on TV. At seven years, one starts remembering. Our old black and white TV in a wooden casing. The Bagong Lipunan song on TV accompanying torch marches. Placard for a referendum saying “YES na YES”. Was it the ratification of the 1973 Constitution or was it the 1975 referendum giving Marcos more powers (link)? I don’t remember. In fact even as a child I did not feel like asking. In UP Campus, the sense of danger was present.  Much of what happened I found out only later, in “another life”, already in Europe far from that.

Simpler times?

Unlike in the Philippines today, there was hardly any news in Manila papers about “the provinces”. It was vaguely known that there was a conflict in Mindanao. Samar (link) was spoken of in hushes. Many people were jailed at the onset of Martial Law, and I think most were happy to be let out. Foreigners could be subjected to reprisals similar to those Sr. Patricia Fox is going through today. Though the thoroughly manipulative Marcos regime knew how to dose fear and reward very well. Marcos killed less people than have been killed in Duterte’s drug war, though more were tortured.

And many disappeared, or were subjected to different forms of harassment. And unlike today, there was hardly a way of making things known to a large crowd. No social media, not even Internet. Fax machines came in the 1980s. Try concealing a cassette recorder of those days to record threats. And there was a largely indifferent – by then – population. There had been a First Quarter Storm in the early 1970s, a Diliman Commune, strong opposition. And still, as Joel Pablo Salud writes (link):  Money was a means, not an end to most Filipinos. Martial Law changed that, as Salud writes:

Corruption, once a crime, had turned into practice. In so short a time, Marcos had transformed anti-materialism to a wholly materialistic mindset from top to bottom. Again, it was money for money’s sake. This bought the dictatorship more time..

..the general public had begun to heap scorn on most calls to dissent. Protest marches were marked as a menace to society. The words of the intellectuals, powerful though they may have been, fell on deaf ears.

It would be safe to assume that with the advent of Marcos’ New Society, which showcased, above all, his achievements in the area of infrastructure, economic development, and relationship with the superpowers—all paid for by the taxes of the people—the all-too-visual spectacle turned the public’s attention from any talk of reforms to such pageants as military parades, global events, virtually the sights and sounds and wonders created by this conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda.
The crass, even cold-blooded materialism of the Martial Law era is clear in my memory. The Filipino got his bread and his circuses. Miss Universe in 1973. The Thrilla in Manila: Ali vs. Frazier in 1975. UNCTAD V in 1979 (link) – which we smart ass kids connected with Voltes V (link):
Each day of the week, different robot shows were aired—“Mazinger Z,” “Daimos,” “Mekanda Robot,” “Grendizer” and “Dunguard Ace,” to name a few. They captured the imagination of a predigital generation..

..It was a wonderful time to be a kid then—until they were seized through a directive by the Marcos government. “Voltes V” and the other robot animes where banned from airing nationwide because of their alleged “excessive violence.”..

My [Toym Leon Imao’s] anger was trained on then President Ferdinand Marcos, who my young mind labeled as the Philippines version of the evil Boazanian Emperor.

Many from the generation that grew up during World War 2 and the Japanese occupation had another attitude to the Japanese warrior spirit shown in those anime. There were indeed protests from some parents and Marcos had responded to them. There was also a videogame ban (link).

Not all that glitters is gold

What I also know by now is that my mother joined the UP Cooperative in the early 1970s, when the first rice crisis hit the country, shortly before my brother was born. The UP Coop had NFA rice.  Good place to buy the basics. Only place with cash registers that also worked during brownouts.

Brownouts were frequent and so was lack of water. It is not as if frequent blackouts were something that started in the Cory years. Things were often experienced during Martial Law, hardly reported. The U.P. Fire Brigade went around distributing water to everyone one hot summer, 1975 or 1976.

When was it that the NAWASA in Balara, the ones in charge of water supply, got foreign money to improve water supply in Manila – but just built a fancy new headquarters on Katipunan? Hmm. Don’t remember the year but I know that it happened that way. Saw the fancy new building.

Just like I recall the often half-empty concert hall of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. And a story of how a foreign conductor stopped in the middle of a performance when Imelda’s people started filming him without a contract. The story I recall is that she herself came down with one.

So she didn’t dare treat him like the Beatles were treated in 1966 (link) after “snubbing” Imelda. Her showing off got a spooky note though when the Film Center accident happened in 1981 (link). Even if international friends of Imelda like George Hamilton were able to add to her glitter then.

It is only a paper moon

But then again, didn’t George Hamilton play in the vampire movie “Love at First Bite”? It is true that Filipinos until today are obsessed with appearing sophisticated and wordly. Even Napoles’ daughter buying her way into the Hollywood party circuit (link) in recent times reflects that. Colonialism I guess created an obsession with trying hard to be like those who came, conquered – and spread the word that their ways and looks were superior. Imelda Marcos’ shoes (link) are an example of the ostentatiousness of people who want to prove something at all costs, to the world.

Nowadays there exist members of the Filipino upper class who truly appreciate culture when they travel (link) – unlike some especially Marcos-era Filipinos who thought it was cool to sneer at, for example, how little Western Europeans spoke English. Or spoke it with an accent, how terrible! Quiet self-esteem looks different from grandiosity and constantly having to insult other people to prove one’s worth. What was also obvious during Marcos times was the huge difference between the too-perfect pictures of places and the real disorder and dirt around them. Only a paper moon.

Lost Golden Age?

Unfortunately the distorted picture of Martial Law seems to consist, among many, of the news that never reached Manila – meaning a seemingly less complex, chaotic world than today – and of the airbrushed pictures of the regime’s “accomplishments” which were mostly hollow – or not lasting. True, there were some good things, for example how Commissioner Mathay ran Metro Manila. Or the Metro Manila Transit Corporation – which unfortunately went bankrupt very quickly. But a regime that lasted 21 years should have done at least a few good things, it would be awful otherwise.

Could it be that the yearning back (among some) for a supposed Golden Age is that the travails of the past 32 years since 1986 have obscured how things really were during the Marcos era? One thing I see is that the Filipino middle class was much thinner back then. Sometimes I wonder if we are bad at counting our blessings, or curse even our blessings until curses come upon us. The 1960s were an economically expansive time, but somehow the dream of Martial Law seduced so many. Same with the Second Aquino Presidency (2010-2016) – it was laying the groundwork for more.

The moment you take your luck for granted, you might lose it – this is a life lesson many can learn. People can tend to forget the bad things about the past and forget how much better things are now. Probably with me, the reason why I don’t forget Martial Law – and I have left out very many things – is that I left in 1982. Maybe some things even got worse after 1986 – but I think because many things just went on due to inertia. Labor export since 1975 instead of industrial build-up. Brain drain since the 1960s. Reactive, not proactive politics. Worst: money as an end, not a means.

Symptoms and Causes

Policies that went at the symptoms and rarely at the root causes of anything. Latest example – EJK or tokhang as what many people thought would create peace and order. Just like Martial Law may have reduced street crime in the beginning (it came back later) but burglary increased, I do recall. But what to do with a people that love show over substance, like Marcos, for whom a “communiqué was the accomplishment itself, the implementation secondary”, as Lee Kuan Yew observed (link)? A people that often place their false pride first and refuse to accept criticism that could be helpful?

Well, I partly understand that sensitivity. Gossip and damaging criticism can damage you badly in a country where many people don’t form their own judgement about a person, but follow the crowd. Which is why trolls have played an important role in keeping President Duterte where he is now. What I myself admit that I was influenced by certain commonly held opinions also. Surprisingly until recently about Mar Roxas. His recent suggestions on rice policy show a man who analyzes very thoroughly (link) and with a realistic focus, not a bumbling theoretician with “analysis paralysis”.

What will happen?

Today is going to be a day of protests in the Philippines. I wonder how many people will come now. What Filipinos finally will decide. Because, as Joel Pablo Salud also wrote (link), the once proud Filipino was again reduced to the groveling, finicky and fearful crofter of Joaquin’s “The Heritage of Smallness” ..by Martial Law. And this after the 1960s.. had began shaping Philippine society into the vibrant, energetic.. constituency it was always meant to be. Or like contributor caliphman on Joe America’s blog more or less wrote, will they decide to stay carabaos? Or will they say no?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 21 Sept. 2018

Sipain ang COA

Imee Marcossabi ni Digong. Tama naman siya. Bastos talaga sila. Eh pati sa gastos nila Imee nakikialam. Puwede ba iyon? Mga Marcos ang may-ari ng Ilocos Norte. Katangahan na dilawan iyang audit. Palibhasa ayaw nila na nakawan sila, eh sila ang mang-aapi sa Pilipino mula noon pa, dapat lang. Ubusin ang buwis na binabayaran nila, hanggang sila naman ang maging mahihirap tulad natin. Tayo naman ang magiging mayaman, pahappy-happy. Sila ang magtatrabaho para sa ating lahat. Tulad ng mga mayayabang na doktor na nahuli ni Tulfo sa PGH. Sa bayan na ngayon magsisilbi.

Disentery at plastication

Hindi porke’t nakapag-aral ka puwede mo nang akalain na kung sino ka. Unang-una, mas mataas ang Presidente sa lahat ng may pinag-aralan kahit na halos bumagsak siya. Ibig sabihin nito, bobo ang mga eskwulahan at unibersidad. Tinuturo lang nila ang gumaya sa kaplastikan ng mga dating amo nating mga prayle at Kano, kumilos at magsalita ng disente at educated. Putang ina talaga! Tinuruan tayo maging mga peke. Tapos itinuro ang morals-morals. E kung kailangan talagang patayin ang adik, sagabal lang ang kunsensiya na iyan. Salitang galing Kastila, di sariling atin.

Tapos iyong diskarte na educated kuno? Para lang naman iyan doon sa pelikula ni Leonardo di Caprio, iyong Catch me if you Can. Nakita lang niya sa TV na ang mga doktor, mahilig sa salitang “I concur”. Ginaya niya, tapos lahat akala doktor siya. Mga peke sila sa diyan sa US, kita niyo? Bakit naman ngayon ang aarte pa ng mga eksperto kuno ng DOH, ayaw sumunod sa judgement ni Dra. Persida Acosta? President ang naglagay sa kanya sa puwesto. Sino ba SILA para kumontra? Tanging mga Kano ang nagpasok ng idea ng equality para guluhin tayo, para pasaway na ang lahat.

Sino ba kayo?

Karapat-dapat ba na may katulong na hindi sumusunod sa amo, anak na hindi sumusunod sa magulang, Pilipino na hindi sumusunod sa Presidente? Mga bastos ang mga Pilipino na ganyan, kunyari pa silang nagpupuna lang. Ano ba ang pagpuna kundi gusto mong gawing pasaway lahat? Kaya dapat lang makulong si Trillanes. Ano ba iyang mga batas-batas na laging sinasabi ng dilaw? Noong 1521, walang batas-batas, Konsti-konstitusyon, ang mga taongbayan kay Lapu-Lapu lahat. Ngayon walang laban ang Pilipino dahil ang dilawan, hawak ng foreign power na kalaban natin.

Alam ko iyon dahil sinabi sa amin ng isang foreign power na kaibig-ibigan natin, hawak isla natin. Pero tumahimik na kayo diyan. Hindi naman talaga puwede ang COA makialam kay Imee Marcos. Mataas na pamilya ang mga ito. Hindi tulad ng mga patapon na liberal na pinasok ng mga taga-US. Hindi maaring hindi makakain ng pinakbet ang mga Marcos, kaya pagbigyan na natin sila sa pera. Huwag tayong mainggit sa masuwerte. Mas masama iyong mga ambisyosong matatakaw sa pera na trabaho ng trabaho, gustong baguhin ang kanilang nakatakdang lugar sa lipunan. Mga pampagulo!

Wala sa lugar

Pero halos hindi na nila magagawa iyon dahil wala na ang mga amo nilang Amerikano. Talunan. Kung akala ng mga Ingleserong abogado na may “equal protection clause” at hindi puwedeng si Trillanes lang ang kasuhan, kami naman ito ang sagot: mas naniniwala pa kami kay Santa Claus. Tandaan ninyo ito: babalik ang sambayanan sa kanyang tamang anyo. Bawat tao rito may lugar. Maliban sa mga ayaw tumanggap sa lugar na binigay sa kanila ng mga matataas. Wala talaga silang dapat sisihin dahil sila lang ang mga may ambisyon ni di karapat-dapat, para matahin ang bayan.

Buti pa si Manny Pacquiao, umasenso na walang pa-Harvard-Harvard tulad nitong anak ni Lugaw. Ang pag-asenso, suwerte. Hindi mapipilit iyon. Nakakabuwisit itong mga nagpapakabuting tao na akala mo santo, lalo na kung nakapag-aral at pafact-check-fact-check pa diyan, galing sa Rappler. Ayaw kasi maniwala sa husga ng mga tito at tita. Galing sa pakiramdam ito kaya likas na tama ito. Pautot lang ang mga dinadahi-dahilan pa. Tulad ng mga dahi-dahilan ni Panelo, palusot lang sila. Pero kailangan dahil sobra pang dami nitong mga dilawan: Westernized, moralized, Trillanized..


At kung ayaw ninyong maniwala sa mga tito at tita, maniwala kayo sa mga titi, sa panel discussion. Panel discussion dahil si Panelo ang nakipagdiscuss kay Digong. Kasama nila ang mga banga na puno daw ng asin at suka, para sa mga kakainin ni Digong kung gusto niya. Wala ring bigas doon? Wala po, sabi nila itinatago daw ng mga dilawan. Kinain lahat ni Franklin Drilon. Kawawa tayo! Pero tandaan ninyo, better eat bukbok than read a book. At ito pa: “Ignorance is Blessed”. Hindi uso noong 1521 ang nagmamarunong, kaya nanalo si Lapu-Lapu. Hindi si Trillanes, Magellan pala.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 17. Sept. 2018

 

Quo warranto et ab initio in saeculo saeculorum

Wikipedia scale of justice3Social media is full of memes since the attempt to void the amnesty of Senator Trillanes.  Just like the lack of a birth certificate does not make a person unborn, a missing marriage certificate does not annul a marriage, and whether one has the death certificate of Rizal somewhere in a museum or not, Rizal (and Elvis) are dead. Will quo warranto and ab initio go the way of in saecula saeculorum (“now and forever” in Catholic liturgy – link) which became colorum (link) due to use by cult-like rebels?  Has Solicitor General Calida crossed the line, offended Filipinos?

Laws as commitments

His predecessor Florin Hilbay asked whether anyone sent to buy vinegar (Robin Padilla) can just arrest someone now. There are even memes that ask if a marriage is annulled if the marriage certificate is missing. One thing very sacred to Filipinos is marriage, not just a legal document like so much else but a sacred commitment made. Just like an amnesty is a commitment by a state to a person. Laws are also a form of commitment, like contracts between people are commitments. Morality is also a form of commitment to restrain one’s own baser instincts, and be nice to others.

The left is also defending Trillanes, not because they like him, but because the principle that an amnesty stays is essential to the safety of many former rebels among the left. Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo says that (link) “The State cannot be shackled by an act of clemency it has given to a political offender when the latter pursues subsequent acts inimical to its interest..” which betrays an idea of government “for the powerful, by the powerful for the powerful” not the people. Government should keep its commitments, not be captive to the whims of groups or factions.

Patronage and Impunity

Of course the old rules of malakas and mahina (link) or strong and weak worked out in Filipino politics for a long time, possibly even in pre-Hispanic barangays. The losers possibly even left on their own balanghai (link) to new settlements if the arrangement was too odious – there was space. Then it became convincing the powers that be that one is “right” – leading to phenomena like split-level Christianity (link) or trying to curry favor with the higher power of the time by pretending to adhere to whatever one thought would please them, even if it was only a simulation not reality.

Reagan’s Vice President Bush (senior) told Marcos (Sr.) in 1981 “We love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes” (link). Marcos must have been very pleased. The system of master pleases patron, even if only for show, to be allowed impunity downwards. Years later, Marcos was to be surprised that American society had eventually developed to also care whether human rights were adhered to abroad, away from the principle of “our SOB” (link). Thus he was “very, very disappointed” when Senator Laxalt told him to “cut, and cut cleanly” in 1986.

What does the Filipino want?

One could defend the old system as “Filipino culture”, but some recent memes show some beliefs might be changing: police ask for your driver’s license application instead of your driver’s license, or POEA wants your passport application instead of your passport.  Are they tired of impunity? There is a major principle that makes rule of law both real and yes, even pleasant for those with less power: legal certainty (link), defined as “a principle in national and international law which holds that the law must provide those subject to it with the ability to regulate their conduct.”

One could argue that the unwritten rules of Philippine society, basically the rules of patronage and impunity, are predictable to those who grow up in them. But is it a nice life having to always watch out who you might offend? Especially the Filipino entitled, who often are unpredictably grandiose? The President with his obvious narcissism is just an extreme manifestation. The others who shout “do you know who I am” to anyone they think is in their way or otherwise offended them are more. Might be that the Philippines is on the road to hell if those who dream of being like that are more.


Does the majority really think the Philippines is meant to be ruled by impunity, by face and power, and by rent-seekers forever? Quo warranto, or what gives the entitled to rule the country after all? Though some Marcos loyalists call the so-called yellows “pretenders” (link) which is a term used for fake royalty and some even say that Bongbong Marcos will soon “wear the crown” of Vice President. As if that dynasty ruled the country ab initio (from the beginning) and had the right to do so in saeculo saeculorum (for ever and ever). Mind your betters, or Magistrate Calida will punish you!

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 8 September 2018

 

Debasing the Filipino

Mocha Uson 2017is there anything else Mocha Uson’s recent Pepe Dede Ralism (link) show could have been about? Especially with the lewd dance number of the young man at the start? Granted that there has been a bit of a Kulturkampf (link) against the norms of the Catholic Church for a number of decades.

Granted that pre-Hispanic Filipino sexuality was by all accounts less repressed than after Spain, and that America may have brought some modern ideas but also is repressed about sex at times. Something like Nipplegate would not have been worth noticing in most parts of modern Europe.

Granted that it was hard to get the Reproductive Health Law through. And that a Senator Sotto was able to attack a former activist like Judy Taguiwalo for having children out of wedlock (link) when it was the Filipino left that was second to attack certain forms of hypocrisy. Rizal’s Noli was the first.


Even in outwardly more prim and proper days some decades ago, Filipino migrants already had comics with somewhat lewd jokes, including a fairy with spells like “Abra ka dabra, panty at bra!”. Probably Kris Aquino, at the latest, did away with the old prim and proper by rebelling against it.

By the time of Erap, everybody even the papers spoke about his No. 1, No.2, No. 3 etc. so that an alien from Centauri could write into his notebook that “the chiefs of these islands are polygamous, and it is accepted by the natives”. In addition “simple men often just leave their wives for younger”.

Priorities are so clearly wrong. A divorce law and clear rules that a man has to pay at least until his kids are 18 if he leaves his wife would be better than pretending monogamy always works in reality. Proper awareness would help more against teen pregnancies and HIV – that could be Mocha’s job.


But instead of raising awareness, Mocha fools the people. That isn’t new – debasing them I think is. Federalism is important, it ain’t about what pussies (pepe) and tits (dede) you have in each state. Talking to citizens about the big F as if it was not Federalism, but Fucking just talks down to them.

What was that about, making the Philippines Asia’s Red Light District, take your pick of pussy?  What do you want to buy, Marawi or Boracay? Normal or perverse? With or without tokhang porn? Putang Inang Bayan, for sale by Pimp Daddy Duts? Big D, is that what your front seat bitch means?

Duterte and Mocha have catered to a lot of Filipino inferiority complexes – and to crab mentality. What I wonder is if a rest of a sense of national dignity will be awakened by this line now crossed. Now if most Filipinos prefer that treatment, a point of no return may already have been reached.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5 August 2018

A lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse blood moon July 2018was just visible in Munich – and earlier in the Philippines also. For more than an hour during which the moon was red due to refraction of sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere – and the Earth itself blocking the really strong sunlight which is usually reflected from the moon’s surface to us.

Then slowly, a sliver of white light appeared and the time of totality was over. Still a fascinating thing to watch, even in a big city like Munich with it’s artificial light, and in today’s demystified world.

And then I went home, just being careful, lest the reappearing full moon turn me into a werewolf.


Now I ask, did Gloria Arroyo conduct her power grab a bit too early? Or was before today better? Depends on what superstition one believes in. Some say that the full moon in old Filipino culture favored the good and the new moon was the time the aswangs or vampires were out to feed.

Or how about the lunar eclipse story in Amaya, where the woman who is to slay the violent ruler Raja Mangubat is born during a lunar eclipse. Duterte might die before that woman is of age.

Amaya also calls upon the Bakunawa, the sea serpent responsible for lunar eclipses, to eat the malevolent Dian Lamitan, a scheming woman who fooled her father as well as Raja Mangubat. Nothing to do with Grace Poe. Besides, Dian Lamitan is more of a Sandra Cam type than a Gloria. Certainly more of a meal for the Bakunawa than someone the size of Arroyo, or thin as Grace Poe. But basically still like a peanut for us. Why bother? OK, Greek Gods also bother a lot with mortals.

Often, powerful men bring forth alpha females. The Athena principle. Athena was Zeus’ daughter, born out of a headache he had. Sara Duterte seems to be her father’s headache until this very day. But don’t tell me President Diosdado Macapagal was an alpha male. Yet indeed, there was Queen Elizabeth I, who outdid her father Henry VIII by far as a ruler. But Filipinos have no one like her. Probably she would have, had she been raised the Filipino way, sold islands to the Spanish crown. But then again, she was not half-Spanish and Catholic like her half-sister Mary. Quite contrary!

I did meet former Pampanga Vice-Governor Cielo Macapagal-Salgado personally, once in Germany. Seemed nice. But then again, there are so many sisters who differ in character. Think Gang Badoy and Quiche Lorraine. Not that any English king had connections to Alsace-Lorraine, or Strasbourg. Not much news about any UN, EU or others being sworn at. Duterte has not been seen for a while. Mesopotamian kings were hidden during lunar eclipses. Let us ask Mocha about the sacred rituals. Unless the President has already been ritually sacrificed at the Davao Crocodile Farm, no worries.


“’cause it’s only a paper moon, just as phony as it can be” sings Guy Smiley in the Muppet Show, before the paper moon behind the stage falls down, unceremoniously. Larry Roque continues by singing “but it wouldn’t be make believe, if you believed in me!”. Well, why should I? Am I loony?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 28 July 2018

P.S. the full moon is back now. Time to howl.

East and West

Old map timor by pigafettamet at the Raffles Hotel in the evening. It was mid-July and the rains had just stopped, leaving the air a bit steamy. The project team working to get a Vietnamese corporation’s new systems running was on its final days in the city. Two Pinoys, a Singaporean and an Australian were drinking to having done their jobs. Flights home in a few days. “Well, we managed very well everybody” said Jack, the Australian project manager, an old hand in the IT business. “Inspite of a number of difficult phases and glitches” added Wellington Ng, the solution designer from Singapore. Ryan Santos and Manny Alcatraz, the functional and technical consultant respectively, were still very quiet Filipinos.

As the night proceeded, Wellington became progressively more drunk and silent, Jack stayed the same and the two Filipinos became a lot more drunk and talkative. “Well then, I am going home to the West tomorrow”, Jack said. “What West?” asked Wellington, as if waking up. “Sydney is Southeast of Singapore”. “The cultural West” Jack said. “As if Singapore wasn’t progressive enough for you?” Wellington grumbled. “It is progressive, but it stays Eastern” Jack interjected. “Yes, the Philippines is more Western than Singapore” Ryan butted in. “No, that is stupid!” said Wellington. “Because you imitate American music and accents?”. “We are like Singapore now!” Manny said.

“I know you like your Duterte” said Wellington. “but Duterte is far from being anything like our Lee Kuan Yew!”. “Far more effective!” said Manny. “Yes, like your programs done quickly and without thinking which took us a while to debug and would have caused delay if you hadn’t done overtime” answered Wellington. “Not thinking at all first”. “No it isn’t that bad” said Ryan. “What, Duterte or Manny’s programming?” said Wellington. “Manny’s programming is outside the box and found creative solutions which your over-formalistic British approach never would have” said Ryan. “Filipino cowboys?” said Wellington with a smirk. “Yes, that is why we are more Western than you!” “Cheers!”.

“Good that the matter of our basketball teams brawling is now settled”, said Jack. “In most matters, just like the errors made and lessons learned during our project, what you do is take stock, pay the price if any and move on. And in Manny’s case, the price paid was overtime that he didn’t write down.” “Unlike Duterte, Manny killed nobody” said Ryan who was in a good mood. “Gago!” said Manny. “Just like Gilas did not injure anyone severely, even if the one Aussie player they ganged up on was a close call” said Jack. “But they insulted us Jack” said Manny. “No, not true” answered Jack. “and in all fights there is a limit to how far you go”. “Oh, that gentlemen stuff again” said Manny.

“Both East and West have concepts of gentlemen. In the East there is the Confucian gentleman” said Wellington. “Filipinos are Southern people” commented Manny. “No, we Aussies are the Southernmost people” Jack grinned. “You are Western you said” Manny reacted. “Northerners, Eastern or Western, rely on Command and Control” interrupted Ryan: “Southern peoples base everything on Community!”. “yes. you and your barangays, like our Malays here with their kampongs” said Wellington. “You guys are getting too deep into the philosophy now” said Jack. “Liked it more with us getting stuff done. See you tomorrow, let’s call it a day” with day sounding more like die.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 21 July 2018

Idols, Villains and Martyrs – the Endless Philippine Cycle

MorionsRecently, Senator Trillanes was deprived of his PNP security detail, leading to speculations that Duterte might make a martyr that will finally mobilize the people. Edgar Lores has mentioned idolatry as a major Filipino weakness (link), but I think that he mainly tackles the aspect of living idols. Figures perceived as strong like Bonifacio, Quezon, Magsaysay, Marcos and Duterte – or figures perceived as compassionate like Tandang Sora (link) and Corazon Aquino. Martyrs that mobilized the people like Gomburza (link), Rizal and Ninoy Aquino are also an aspect of idolatry.

Hoping for magicians

The father of one of my German university classmates said that Filipinos are “voodoo Catholics”. A bit true, especially if one looks at how Edgar Lores relates split-level Christianity and idolatry. Pro forma most Filipinos are Christian but in daily life it seems many forget the rules they learned. Same with democracy and rule of law – the entire system is gamed from top to bottom while lip service is rendered to its principles. The Preamble of the Philippine Constitution is the “clean kitchen” while the “dirty kitchen” is what one sees if one walks through Manila with open eyes.

From time to time, Filipinos want stern figures to force them to clean the dirty kitchen. Strongmen. They may be hated after a while, especially if they fail to really change things – or the economy fails. Martyrs are revered, but to some extent I think they, like Jesus, “wash away everybody else’s sins”. Large parts of the middle class that threw out Marcos were the same class that put him in power. Their materialism at the expense of society as a whole did not change after they ousted Marcos. Pointing at Marcos as a villain does not change the fact that they enabled him in his early years.

Same old song, once again

Kind and honest figures like Corazon Aquino and her son may rise to power after people are fed up with excessively ruthless and dishonest leaders like Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But they become culprits much faster than the ruthless players, as there never are miracles in real life. The economic progress during the time of President Benigno Aquino III was respectable but not fast enough for many who said “they did not feel it”. The painstaking rebuilding of democracy in the time of Cory was considered a failure as well by many. Easy to blame idols of all sorts, I say.

  • Will a strongman make me stronger? Only if I learn self-discipline.
  • Will a good person make me better? Only if I learn to act better.
  • Will a martyr wash away my sins for good? Only if I forgive myself.

But changing oneself takes self-knowledge. Most Filipinos lack that, prefer pretense to reality. There is a story about how a lady guest professor from Russia got into trouble for saying most Filipino students cheat during exams. Just like many people got mad at recent tarps calling the Philippines a province of China (link) – more than at so many de facto violations of sovereignty. “Filipino pride” is often a stubborn kind of denial. Probably because of too many pontificating hypocrites in the country’s history. Sometimes, those who mean well also turn into naggers.

Be good – enough!

Expectations of perfection and saintliness make people cheat, because they can never be fulfilled. So many Filipinos admire dead heroes while living examples of virtue make them uncomfortable. The defense mechanism of many is call them “hypocrite”, to try to topple the idols of morality. While playing the split-level games most people play in a country where the system hardly works. And the system hardly works because people play games. Sometimes to avoid being blamed. Usually a culprit caught is blamed for the sins of the world, shamed for life, no holy martyrdom.

How about just being good enough for a start? Because in most modern countries, people are not heroes at all. They just do their job and follow the rules. And they mostly don’t game the system. Gaming the system is a clever workaround if you are under oppressive rulers who steal from you. The more people have been under unfair rulers, the more you will find game-playing, which is a spectrum with many shades of grey. People who have seen little fairness often don’t act that fair. Unfortunately, this is like the prisoner’s dilemma (link) – who is bold to take the leap of faith?

Possibly more would take the leap of faith if the priorities in Philippine society were the right ones. Concentrate on drug lords instead of drug users, for examples. Waive bank secrecy to investigate (not in general) instead of having that laborious and ultimately useless exercise called SALN filing. Otherwise, Passion Plays with idols, villains and martyrs will keep repeating themselves uselessly, with the same dysfunctional behavior on the ground and in the dirty kitchen of national reality. Society as a whole is required. Grown-ups who act, not children who wait for the magic of idols.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 14 July 2018

As “National Parent”

President Rodrigo Duterte 080816Duterte says he can order rounding up “tambays” (link), citing the parens patriae doctrine (link) – the power of the state to “intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child or individual who is in need of protection.” Yet one wonders what kind of parent or guardian would put children in jails like those shown in a recent Al Jazeera report (link) which says that “Philippine law prohibits jailing minors but in the absence of separate detention facilities for them, they usually end up in the same jail cells..”.

The same government wants to administer mandatory drug tests to minors starting 10 years old – and not even the Church seems to oppose it (link). If that is parenthood, it not just conservative, it is reactionary. It makes every child a suspect, born with original sin but without any grace of God. One might be tempted to think that the government and church are back in the early 19th century, and that the Spanish in their palace are saying “nothing good will ever come of these Indios”- except that some supporters of Duterte proudly call him “Indio” (link) for his anti-Catholic rhetoric.

There are even ideas being floated that could scrap the 4Ps (link) which have proven effective in reducing poverty, giving poor children more of a chance to go to school. No child should ever be disadvantaged for the circumstances that made its parents poor – it is not the fault of the child. Unfortunately, the anti-tambay measures, the so-called drug war and more marginalize especially the poor Filipinos. There are those who say that as intelligence is mainly inherited, the poor will most likely be poor because of stupid genes – some are even those smart enough to know better.

Some people may be poor because of bad luck. A sickness they could not pay for, no large enough family, no OFWs or corrupt officials in it to help out with the costs – and savings can be depleted. PhilHealth coverage as it is today in the Philippines is new. Or weaknesses of personality that lead to gambling or drug addiction, dragging everybody down. The medieval mindset in the Philippines sees mental illness and drug addiction as stigmata. Add to that the Social Darwinism of the rich and the new middle classes. The old middle classes may just look away – or at most offer their prayers.

Lowering the age of criminal liability is dropped for now (link) but the mindset is still there. Native wisdom says the children have a mind of their own (may isip) at 7 years, which corresponds to what Jean Piaget (link) says. Almost all earliest memories we have start around that age. But is a child of 10 aware enough to know the full scope of all of its actions? Even teens can be a bit amoral at times. Guiding the young means teaching them to be part of society. Just punishing them teaches them:  “don’t get caught. If caught, don’t admit”. Are these the only “values” that “Punishers” really have?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 30 June 2018

Macho at ma-appeal

Young women in the Ukraine teasing a boy who is pockmarked a Wellcome L0032776(Achtung Satire!) si Solicitor General Calida, kaya gusto yata siya ng isang dalagang estudyante. Kayong mga dilaw diyan, huwag kayo magreklamo! Ayaw ng mga Pinay sa tite ninyong malambot, pero marami ang umupo sa kandungan ng matigasin na si Digong noong kampanya habang nagpapahipo! Ayaw ng babae ng sobrang bait na lalake, anong laban nito kapag may humamon na adik sa kalye? Buti pa iyang mga katulad ni Duterte at Calida, shoot to kill. Hindi kaya ito nila Bam Aquino! Not counted ang computer games. Eh mga #BabaeAko? Pangit at mataba.

E ano ngayon kung maraming kinikita ang security company ni Calida sa mga pondo nang gobyerno? Wa-is si Calida, gusto ng mga babae iyon. Aanhin nila ang isang patay-gutom na walang diskarte? O kaya baklain na puro morals-morals diyan? Matira ang matibay, ganyan ang takbo ng mundo! Tsaka iba ang dumidiskarte kapag mahirap tulad natin. Mga dilawan na pinagpala na may pera na, huwag na huwag nilang subukan ang kahit konting lusot at mahuhuli sila. Buti nga kay Sereno! Mga dilaw at puti, mga kolonyalista silang nagnakaw sa tunay na Pilipino, iyan ang katotohanan.

Panahon na natin para makabawi. Dapat umusog na ang mga dilawan at mga kaibigan nilang puti. Tayong mga tunay na Pilipino na ang dapat kumain ng husto, kasama mga kaibigan nating Tsino. Walang masama kung mga Tulfo, Teo, Calida, Montano, de Castro atbp. kumita kapag suwerte nila. Tayo naman siguro titirahan nila nang kahit kaning baboy, di tulad ng mga suwapang na dilawan. Tama merong hanapbuhay ang iilan noon, pero ang hirap naman ng trabaho diyan sa call center! Mga mang-aapi talagang dilaw at puti, gusto tayong pahirapan. Buti pa ngayon, diskarte na lang!

Kayong mga padise-disente, mga wala lang kayong sex appeal, putang ina ninyong mga bakling. Dinig ng buong ilog Pasig ang mga ungol ng isang sosyal na hindi pa nakadanas ng mga tiradang tulad ng mga galing kay Digong. Buong gabi sila, puyatan daw talaga. Di kaya ni Mar Roxas iyan!

Kaya iyan, di kami bilib sa mga reklamo ninyo, inggit lang kayo sa galing namin sa lahat ng bagay. Pati suwerte. Masuwerte ang lalakeng kumakapit sa amin, at ang babaeng nagpapakwan sa amin! Pinagpala ang bansang Pilipino sa kagalingan namin! Huwag maniwala sa mga paninira. Pek iyon!

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, ika-1 ng Hunyo, 2018