Posts Tagged People

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Filipinos know better

Magic mushrooms(Achtung Satire!) than Thais using Dengvaxia (link) and Colombians without drug war (link). First of all, they don’t speak English, not even the Thai Ministry of Health (link). Listen to Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano awe the United Nations with his high-class Ateneo English. All these dark people. All the people from poor countries that do not have giant malls like us (link).  Second, they are not allied with the future Chinese masters of the earth like us. That ICC shudders due to them (link). Third, they are darker than us – we are like the Chinese. Look at our DengVaxpert Persida Acosta.

And who wants to go there? Like I was correctly told by Filipinos from the United States, soccer is only for Latinos. So is Spanish. So who would want to go to Colombia where they speak Spanish? And Thai songs always sound like they are out of tune. How about Phuket? Come on! Pronounce Phuket, Thailand quickly and you immediately think of sex tourism. You don’t get why that’s true? Then you are not able to pack like an 18 year old or like Panelo, and should pack your bags and go. Because the Philippines is the best place on earth, and we only need the best people of the world.

Not German workers on holiday like Thailand. Pweh how cheap! We want only the best of the best. Even Americans are already second-rate. Chinese high rollers are the coming rulers of this world. That is why we decided quickly (link). When you know you know. And when you decide you decide. Just like the cause of the cause is the cause of them all. That is why you must assume that the police when they kill someone they kill, they always know what they know (link). Only women and crazy Westerners change their mind when there is new evidence. We are stronger and smarter than them.

Because our police know when they know and kill when they kill, Chinese usually survive (link). They are making shabu labs? Those who are taking drugs are worse, and hurt our own people. Our President needs China (link) to help us all. He sang for Trump once (link), yet his Asian heart loves Xi Jinping (link). Poetically, our strong leader sees that Chinese-Philippine relations (link“.. would bloom.. like a flower.. into something big and beautiful. It’s one stem and China and the Philippines will bloom, and you and I are in the middle of the flower.” Magical as mushrooms!

And so what now if that yellow Sereno has her SALN now (link)? Because our Solicitor General knows what he knows, and said what he said (link) that “The Court must not allow a person who lacks integrity and has questionable qualifications to sit at the pinnacle”. And when our SolGen shows his fist, we know what we know, that he is strong and smart. So we trust him like Duterte. And VP Leni who went to Germany (link)? Haha, does she think Germany will help against China? Always you must know who is the real supermajority. Believe me. Cause I know I know the cause.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12 April 2018

 

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A city’s rebirth

Marawi lakecannot be just based on money, the people of Marawi have made clear (link). A natural sense of Heimat (roughly: home and heritage) is tangible in the statement of the Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement: “A city symbolizes its people. Built upon the aspirations and dreams of its people. Nurtured by and reflective of the identity of its people. We are not building a city from debris. We are rebuilding a city from history and from memory.” This sounds so very different from the mentality in Manila, which did not care enough about its legacy destroyed during World War 2.

Soul and tradition

“a city is not merely the sum of its buildings. Not merely an occasion for economic gain.” the statement also says. Metro Manila, for the most part, seemed to me at least 90% based on money.  “This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul.” the Maranaws say. Strange that Manilans did not notice or care about that kind of invasion just after World War 2.  Maybe only a few people really cared for Intramuros back then. But escaping into a wasteland of malls and subdivisions with nothing but commercialism and glitter does not seem like a solution.

German cities were practically all rebuilt, as much as was possible, from history and memory – even from plans that were hidden in caves to preserve them. People cleared wartime debris with shovels by themselves in small groups. While it is also true that many German city centers look similar due to quick rebuilding after the war, with the same chain stores and a non-remarkable architecture, there was an effort to rebuild, or to at least match the new with the old. Munich was rebuilt well. But that was because a sense of identification was there. Also part of the hard to translate Heimat.

A people adrift?

But what are people without roots, without any home? Just workers and consumers maybe. Or worse, not caring at all. Not caring if the dirt accumulates in the rivers of the city where one lives. Not one’s home really. Because one cares for one’s home. What do people without a true home in their hearts care for? To survive first, to get rich after that. They might not care if those who used to live next door to them when they were still poor and struggling are victimized by tokhang. They might not care who occupies their country as long as their economic lot is good and they feel safe.

Many families and regions have their sense of home – it isn’t as if colonialism destroyed everything among mainstream Filipinos, meaning Christian lowlanders. Whether it is ancestral homes that some clans have, or certain fiestas and saints, or churches. Quiapo Church and its living Nazarene tradition. The great churches of Albay. Or UP Diliman, the home of my childhood, which grieved over an old but beloved shopping center recently (link). But of course there was a lot of migration recently, from provinces to the cities and abroad. Part of the fabric of tradition may have ripped.

What future?

The pride of the Meranaw, their resolve not to sell out, is something that I feel deepest respect for. So unlike many especially in the cities of the Philippines who just care about malls, stuff, trends. My SUV is bigger and shinier than yours. Make way for my Ferrari, do you know who I am! No? Just went to buy the latest Dolce Gabanna. So what if I am the mistress of Mr. Ugly Toad? Haha! Most Filipinos lived in bahay kubos in 1910. Only a few rich had these ancestral homes. Now what? Many have uglier places now and take drugs to feel better, while some are rich beyond all belief.

And the protest against Chinese mega-casinos planned on Boracay has been weak – except for those directly affected on the island. This is no longer about the Spratleys, where only few Filipinos live. “The blueprint of this city is in the hearts and minds of the Meranaws” said the people of the lake. WHAT national blueprint do Filipinos have in their hearts and minds? Hopefully not like in Cambodia, where Chinese casinos abound (link) but “most Cambodians.. are seeing little benefit from this investment.” But would Filipinos even care? Maybe, like so often, when it is too late.

Or will they just be “resilient” – meaning adjusting to nearly anything. Chinese become dominant? Well, everybody will probably just whiten their skin like Persida Acosta! Enough of masquerades. Might be that many, even most, Filipinos have to find their way home inside themselves first of all. Then it might still not be easy to fix and rebuild so much that is damaged. But then it could be done without pawning the future of generations to come, without condemning them to being like slaves. “With fierce determination to keep our people free and dignified.” say the Maranaw. Much respect.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 1 April 2018

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Others thinking you think you’re better

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serenoare dangerous – in the Philippines and elsewhere. Sara Duterte about EDSA veterans (link), Supreme Court Justices about CJ Sereno, probably many about President Aquino’s handling Dengvaxia – which may have proven successful given recent indications (link). Damn, time for Martial Law and censorship! Increase the number of dengue cases, as yellow must be made bad! And they deserve hatred that is deep and personal, just like Harry Roque wishing Leila de Lima a life in jail (link) – yes, they messed up some things, but what did they do to deserve all of that?

Pakikisama and Schadenfreude

One accusation hurdled against Chief Justice Sereno is lacking pakikisama towards her colleagues in the Supreme Court – again a propaganda strategy that is very Filipino. Pakikisama often means subduing oneself to fit into a group. You don’t like the movie everybody in the barkada has seen? Bad enough if you weren’t there to see it with them. Worse if you say you think it is a stupid movie. An individual opinion against the assumed majority opinion – wow, does he think he is BETTER? Put a UP graduate into the midst of some working-class OFWs without escape. What could happen?

They might probably wait for the first slip-up of the UP graduate, and then display Schadenfreude. Sara Duterte brought the word Schadenfreude into the Philippine vocabulary (link) with regards to Mariel de Leon not topping Miss International – because she criticized the present administration. The sentiment against “yellow”, the previous administration and all related to it, is however more like the Serbian saying Da komsiji crkne krava – “If only the neighbour’s cow would die” (link) – related to the Serbian concept of inat: spitefulness, vindictiveness, hardheadedness + much more.

Spitefulness and Feindbilder

There is a similar spitefulness visible and audible among those who hate Aquino, Sereno, De Lima. Aquino? Sure he messed up certain things. But is the present government doing so much better? Sure it was easy to make him – and Mar Roxas – bogeymen due to their plantation owner origins. Feindbild is the German word for a cluster of prejudices and fears pertaining to a given group. There is also the Feindbild of the English-speaking elite, easy to trigger among common Filipinos. Why otherwise would Mocha focus on Leni Robredo’s US visits and her daughter in Harvard?

There is I think deep envy about what is perceived to be a privileged life, as opposed to one’s own.  Why otherwise make a big deal about Leni’s dresses, like some have done – yet admire the dresses of Isabelle Duterte at a lavish debut? Of course, Leni Robredo has already been identified as part of the other tribe, those who have “had it all” (not true for Leni who lived in the dormitory when she studied at UP) while “we” never had anything and now have the right to luxury and the good life. Even if no one can claim that Leni is lighter in color than most, or Sereno’s nose way too sharp!

Country and town

are both called bayan in Filipino. In a town especially a small one, there is a certain conformity. There is indeed a certain sameness, anywhere in the world. You are ruling a quite homogeneous group of people. The Philippines is a country – forced upon a collection of small communities. Countries need specialized people to be governed properly. The probably first specialized people in the Philippines were the town scribes the Spanish friars trained. More sophisticated governance and business brought about the present “elite” universities that are in international rankings (link).

That the provinces and the poor were left behind is an effect of this development until today. But the present government is playing a dangerous game in mobilizing envy of those left behind against those who had better chances. Mayors can still run their cities by sheer instinct, like Duterte did. For larger entities like countries you need truly competent people – unless you want to return to olden days with plenty of epidemics, pogroms and witch hunts. Isn’t the Philippines getting there? Measles spreading due to fear of vaccines. Pogrom mentality against drug users. And witch hunts.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 March 2018

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Black and arrogant

Obama Portrait 2006is what Duterte called Obama (link). Or what he said to jeepney drivers (link) makes it even weirder. Misguided pro-poor, pro-Filipino officials, journalists and academics have gone too far at times in blaming the rich, educated (link) or white people (link) for everything, reasoning with “oppression”. But this is more like the attitude some Filipino upstarts show, claiming higher rank where possible. Lorraine Badoy’s (link) or Krizette Laureta Chu’s (link) towards Pinoy Ako Blog are very similar. So much for a group ostensibly against “elitism and pretentiousness.”

The Duterte crowd looks more and more like a group of wannabes who want privilege without any of the usual reasons for it: performance in the case of a meritocracy, service to the people in the case of a truly pro-people movement – or self-control and bearing for traditional, aristocratic elites. Duterte will have seen the degree of self-control the Japanese imperial couple exercise at all times. He will have seen the performance of Prime Minister Abe, what a work schedule he keeps, while Duterte is reportedly often two hours or more late for speeches in Manila (link) for no reason.

What remains if there is no performance, service or bearing. Pure force? Possibly intimidation. Force will hardly work since the military is not going to help with a revolutionary government (link) while low-key intimidation through continued “drug” killings and political chicanery might work. And Philippine territory shall not remain protected, as recent events are showing (link) – and now? Those who voted him will have to ask themselves whether all of that was worth a few junkies less. The economic situation may even go to worse (link) and if it does, what was this bumpy ride all for?

To hit back, even if it is just with jokes, against the “colonialists” of yore (link). Or to feel like the “white man” just for a short time by making stupid comments about Obama? Or feel like oligarchs by making comments about Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog who looks like – an average Filipina!? To feel like the sidekicks of the rising superpower China, when all they want is access to sea lanes? Which is what everybody coming to the islands wanted – Brunei, Spain, England, the USA, Japan – and China. Is basking fake victories satisfying – while all one has for the MRT is a prayer (link)?

That is as fleeting as the high of a drug addict. Based on the assumption of no real achievements. This includes the constant misleading nonsense propagated by trolls. And the planned reliance mainly only loans from abroad, and trains one has no capability to maintain, like with the MRT. Why not work in small steps and enjoy the small victories, like VP Leni with her programs (link)? That finally leads to solid successes. But many a Filipino has a wounded ego, similar to Duterte. Dislikes confidence and basks in mediocrity as if nothing else were possible. But is that a solution?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 11 November 2017

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