Posts Tagged People

Dust thou art

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust - A supernova remnant about 20,000 light years from Earth. (4844234574)and to dust thou shalt return. No need for people to hasten death (link). And those who feel like “killing and killing”, judicially or extrajudicially, do not see that it is not a solution to the problems of society that cause terrible crimes.

But Filipinos usually love quick “solutions”. There are the kind that rage when their cars don’t work and say they will leave them at the roadside and burn them. Or those who say “papatayin kita” in rage to people they know. Not that they would necessarily do what they say. But doesn’t it show lack of patience and perseverance? (link)

Does one contribute to the life of a nation by punishing its children from 9 years old onwards (link) – instead of helping them grow into responsible adults? Does killing people in poor areas make them better communities? At least with plants in a garden, leaves that die can turn into compost fertilizer for the plants that remain alive.

People who turn to dust become fertilizer for their respective communities by what they have done while alive, in contributing whatever they have to offer. Even those who have made mistakes can help others avoid them – drug rehab and alcohol programs prove this. Only politics dedicated to life makes this better path possible for all.

Even if all returns to dust, a society does not need to become a desert. It can be a flourishing garden that grows.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

Germany, Ash Wednesday 2017

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Nasaan ang kaluluwa ng Pilipinas

Elihu Vedder - Soul in Bondage - Google Art Project (mwFWSnRRJpG1ZA)ang tanong ko sa panahon na ito. Simpleng alitan sa trapik patayan na (link). Ano ba iyan, basta na lang magalit ka sa tao sa trapik dahil sa munting alitan, papatayin mo na?

Sa ibang pangyayari, tinatanong naman ni Sec. Aguirre sa taongbayan kung “sino ang isusunod” (link) kay De Lima. Kung ang mga supporter ng Presidente galit sa isang tao, “isusunod” na nila – sa anumang paraan?

Itanatanong ng iilan doon kung tao pa ba ang mga adik. Ang tanong ko naman, tunay na tao pa ba ang mga nagtatanong ng ganyan? Tao sa mas malalim na kahulugan, taong may kaluluwa, hindi mamatay-tao.

Ano naman iyang sinabi raw ni Sandra Cam sa rally kahapon: “masarap ang pumatay at mamatay para sa bayan” (link)? Sino bang nasasarapan sa pagpapatay kundi mga baliw, o kaya aswang at zombie?

May mga adik nga na parang mga aswang o zombie na wala nang kinikilala. Pero tila nawawalan na rin ng kaluluwa ang maraming “normal na tao” diyan sa Pilipinas.  Bakit kaya? Hindi ko masabi. Nakakalungkot na.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, ika-26 ng Pebrero 2017

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Pagmamata at Inggit

Tagalog dress, early 1800ssa tingin ko ang madalas na dahilan para sa maraming problema ng Pilipinas. Wala namang lipunang pantay-pantay, kahit sa Scandinavia may mababa at mataas na tao kahit hindi agad ito nakikita. Pero mukhang sa Pilipinas tatapakan ka talaga kapag mas mababa ang tingin sa iyo, at pahahamakin ka ng mga naiingit kung mayabang ang tingin sa iyo – kahit tangos lang ng ilong ang dahilan. Maski sa abroad meron nito, kaya hindi gaanong naghahalo ang mga grupong “edukado” (UP, Ateneo, La Salle atbp.) at “migrante”. Makikita ito kahit sa pagkontra sa paglibing ni Marcos – maraming nag-dedemonstrate sa US, may iilan sa Australia at UK, bihira sa Alemanya, halos wala sa mga tipikong bansang OFW tulad ng Espanya, Italya, Saudi, Singapore o Hong Kong. Masyadong simple para sa akin ang lumang klasipikasyon bilang masa o elite dahil wala namang aalis sa Pilipinas na talagang mayaman o oligarko, maliban para mag-aral ng iilang taon.

Mas maganda para sa akin ang paliwanag (link) ni Manolo Quezon tungkol sa “postwar middle class” na American-style ang edukasyon, kung paano ito sumuporta kay Marcos noong una, nabigo tapos sumuporta sa pag-alis ni Marcos, nabigo na naman sa mga oligarko na tumuloy sa kanilang pagpapayaman mula 1986, tapos mas marami pa sa kanilang umalis ng bansa mula noong 1990s, huling yugto nitong grupo ang EDSA Dos, pero hindi na nila malaman kung ideyalista pa sila o gusto na ring makinabang ng husto sa kikitain.

Binanggit din ni Manolo Quezon ang bagong middle class na mas simple ang pinanggalingan: “Together with the academic and professional elite that migrated in the 70s went Filipinos of modest means who have only begun to establish themselves as a new, entirely different, middle class. Their influence in politics is only beginning to be felt, not in Metro Manila, but in the provinces.” Sa madaling salita, mga pamilyang migrante at OFW na umasenso – baka nadagdag na rin dito ang mga nakapagtrabaho na sa BPO. Iba ang istorya ng mga pamilyang ito.

Halos hindi yata naghahalo ang mga mundo ng mga grupong ito. Madalas na umiiral ang pagmamata at inggit – hanggang sa pulitika. “Bobo”, “Dilaw”, “Elitista” atbp. pang mga pagtawag sa kabila.

Napapaisip din ako sa isang komentaryong ipinost ng isang matanda na sa blog ni Joe America (link): “We were practical, conventional, materialistic and happy… and proud to be so. We compromised. When martial law was imposed in ’73 we were in our early twenties. We were gainly employed, dreaming of a promotion, a bigger salary and more. We thought martial law was a good thing because it ended the disruptive street demonstrations, jailed suspected communists, improved obedience to traffic rules and the peace and order situation because there was a curfew.”

Ngayon, ano ang pinagkaiba ng luma at ng bagong middle class? Baka iisa lang – iyong isa papunta pa lamang, iyong isa pabalik na. Ang bansang Pilipino – di na nadala o natuto man lang.  Dahil heto ang karugtong ng kuwento: “When things started to go bad, we didn’t pay much attention because our priority was sustaining our personal upward trajectory. An arrest here, a disappearance there, Imelda’s foreign junkets and extravaganzas, Marcos’ cronies cornering of the banana,sugar and rice production and trading we simply ignored. We admired and applauded the people who were able to sidle into the corridors of power, and tried to get ‘connected’ to them.  After awhile the abuses mounted, the economy faltered. We became afraid, restless.  Then Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.  We woke up, as though from a stupor or a bad dream,depends where or what we were at when it happened.” Ngayong panahong ito, ano ang mangyayari? Ewan ko.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 3. Disyembre 2016

 

 

 

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Feeling at Home

(BL) OSSETIAN FARM, WITH WATCH-TOWERhas been a human need since we looked for caves to live in, I think. We all want to live as safely and securely as possible, be in an environment we are familiar with, with the people we can trust. Throughout history, people have conquered and migrated for reasons of their own (link). Built new homes, possibly displaced others from their homes or made others feel threatened for their home. Much politics is finally about home and about homeland. The worst off in these days are refugees who lose whatever home they once had – some never to come back to their old home, ever again.

Much of the idiosyncrasy of the ideas of Nassim Taleb (link) who wrote the book Anti-Fragile I think comes from the shock of losing his home in youth. The Lebanon of before, which was a mixture of Eastern Mediterranean and Oriental culture, with him belonging to the Eastern Mediterranean or Greek Orthodox part of it. “Modernity is too complex to understand” is one of his major ideas. There is some truth in this – and I think the “complexity” comes from the fact that things can suddenly appear over the horizon that come from somewhere very different from our known world.

Nassim Taleb’s “East-Western divan” (not his words, those of Goethe) was destroyed by political polarization between the Orient and the Occident. I wonder how he now feels in Trump’s America. Yolanda came over the horizon in 2013, and the mayor of Tacloban had not looked up what a storm surge was. Syria imploded, and millions of refugees suddenly stormed Europe last year. Cultural differences make for difficult adjustment everywhere – the many cultural mixes of today included. President Duterte has effectively disowned Filipino-Americans.

The winds and waves – and the storm surges – of history take us to strange places sometimes. Germany is one of the most stable places in today’s crazy world, possibly because it was cautious in adopting all the new things that came over the world in the past 25 or so years. For all inevitable modernization, predictability and tradition did remain, as well as a certain social justice and security.

And the Philippines? Editor and Author Joel Pablo Salud recently worried about what kind of country his daughter will live in (link). I wonder how many Filipinos even start to think about that.

Irineo B.  R. Salazar, München, 12. November 2016

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The Filipino dignity

Philippine Eagle in Davaothat Obama is insulting according to Duterte (link) is simply the latter’s sense of entitlement. Not the dignity of those killed and wrapped in cardboard on the street, not the dignity of Mayor Espinosa who was killed in jail (link) under strange circumstances after a long story of what looks like harassment and intimidation. Not the dignity of Senator Leila de Lima, who was subjected to public humiliation, and finally no sufficient evidence was found of any drug involvement – but before that the hearing on extrajudicial killings started by her was stopped without even hearing all potential witnesses.

It is the sense of entitlement many of the powerful in the Philippines have. Archimedes Trajano (link) did not live long after criticizing Imee Marcos. The newfound boldness in facing the USA is not because of real guts or backbone – it looks more like acting tough because of a feeling of having Chinese backing. Real valor is rare in Filipino leaders who tend to be turncoats and collaborators, going to where the advantage or the pork barrel is. The obsessive worship of heros in the Philippines, I think, is due to the fact that most Filipinos in power have rarely been heros at all. The Filipino is content with crumbs from them.

Marcos and his group got popular support by going against the oligarchy of then. A new oligarchy of cronies in the inner circle was created and some supporters got bread, some got crumbs and the rest got a sense of being on the side of power. A few members of the oligarchy were made examples of and had to leave – the Lopezes being the best-known – while the rest did not lose anything. The typical Filipino did not gain dignity. In fact slums grew during the Marcos period, the first malls were built, and labor export started – setting the country on a trajectory it never got off from until today, anything but dignified.

It takes just a look at James Deakin’s Facebook page to see the brash and pushy behavior of the newly affluent by the way they drive. It takes just a look at reports on the drug wars to see the extreme squalor in which the poor live. It is the Philippines of the Marcos era – a Philippines I personally experienced – only with its extremes magnified over decades. It is definitely not the Philippines of the 1920s or even 1950s, were there was it seems more dignity and decency in general.

The acceptance by so many Filipinos of just killing the poor they left in the dust out of pure luck is not a dignified or decent attitude to show. They insult themselves, more than anyone else can.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5. November 2016

 

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Fear and Intimidation

Koksan gun barrelwere part of the atmosphere of Martial Law in the Philippines, confused with “discipline”. But it was always there in the Philippines – from many scenes shown in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo like the random picking up of students like the orphan Basilio, provincial warlords and communist rebels in the postwar Philippines, impunity in many places after Martial Law, and yes killings even before the over 1000 killings reported since July 1st, more on the local level and never as many. So demonstrating against the Marcos burial (link) is noble, but maybe more symbolic than useful.

The goal of fear and intimidation is domination on one side and submission on the other. In the recent case of a motorist killed by police officers (link): “MMDA constables Bayani Batac III and Jeslie Manlangit said Dela Riarte was rude in confronting the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) policemen who accosted him following a traffic accident.” – many Filipino commenters on social media saw it the same way. Well from the video one could see he had attitude, but is that a reason to kill him? To make sure nobody else dares look at them the wrong way? A German book about the Philippines in the 1980s had this in its warnings for visitors: “authority that does not feel taken seriously can be vindictive, do not act in a way that may be misinterpreted”.  President Duterte said recently of an unnamed lady government official who he thinks is critical of him (link): “I will have to destroy her in public”. Could it be he feels his authority is not being taken seriously?

It seems intimidation also plays a part in making some drug users (and even just alleged users) surrender (link): “We were invited based on a list prepared the barangay. They said that, if we don’t come and yield soon, we might find ourselves in the kills count.” The lists seem to also have contained friends of suspects as well as occasional and former drug users. There are of course Filipinos of a certain bent who say too much freedom does not work with Filipinos, and that they don’t tell the truth anyway. The question is finally one of chicken and egg, the answers are not easy.

Eastern Europe also had a hard time after Communism. People used to intimidation may not know how to handle freedom properly – including the consideration for others needed for order.

To convince a large mass of people to uphold order, one has to also make it work for them, socially and economically. Fear of being shot dead even as an innocent is hardly motivating. Intimidation as a recipe to gain “respect” can breed bullies, rebels – and the apathetic type of Filipino many have noted. The goal should be a society of people that are confident AND considerate – not a society of intimidators and intimidated. Human rights alliances like the recently founded I DEFEND (link) are a step towards this, even more than the protests against the Marcos burial.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 13 August 2016

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Jago and Preman

Suzuki Bandit 650SA - sideare terms for two types of Indonesian ‘gangsters’ or ‘bad-asses’. The former ‘good’, the latter ‘bad’. According to Wikipedia, jago (link) “literally means a rooster and refers to a type of strongman that exists as a part of the everyday life in urban and rural areas of Indonesia. The jago is a social and political actor in both recent and more distant history of Indonesia. In Indonesian popular culture, the jago is often romanticized as a champion of the people whose acts of violence are motivated by a deep sense of justice, honour and order.” Sounds like a Filipino action star.

A preman is “the modern, diagonally opposite form of the jago. This word originated from the Dutch word vrijman (free man)” or pree man since it seems that Indonesians also make F into P.  The Wiki article also says: “In the traditional state of the Medang (Mataram) Kingdom, thuggery was very much part of rural Java. The jago in pre-colonial times gained their legitimacy through their physical strength and sense of justice. In contrast, preman are notorious for their bullying behavior. Due to their image as thugs, the preman in rural Java were very much despised by the locals, while Jago were highly praised as heroes.” One can also see from the article that jagos played a role as intermediaries between the people and the traditional elite or priyayi, and that they also were a major factor in Indonesian independence. The Pancasila Youth (link) that played a major role in the 1960s killings in Indonesia were considered preman or political thugs. The Act of Killing documentary movie (link) is about some of the former perpetrators of the killings that took at least half a million lives by the lowest estimates – all within just a few months.

Indonesians are also known to drink “tagay” like Filipinos – they are the neighbor closest in culture, which could be the reason why Rappler and Eat Bulaga both succeed there as well.  And the parallels are striking and worth looking at. There is indeed a history of admiring “honorable bandits” in the Philippines as well, not only in movies. The culture of the “tulisan”. Matanglawin or Eagle Eyes is the name of a dangerous and respected bandit in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo – former barangay captain Telesforo or Kabesang Tales. Well, one could also look at cowboy movies which have characters like the jago and preman – High Noon anyone? Or go to the Balkans, where the Hajduk according to Wiki (link) “is a romanticised hero figure who steals from, and leads his fighters into battle against, the Ottoman or Habsburg authorities…. In reality, the hajduci of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries commonly were as much guerrilla fighters against the Ottoman rule as they were bandits and highwaymen who preyed not only on Ottomans and their local representatives, but also on local merchants and travelers.” Sounds a bit like some NPA characters.

Filipino World War 2 guerillas will also have moved within the spectrum from jago to preman. The Makapili were neither – they were simply scumbags with baskets on their heads who pointed out fellow Filipinos for execution by the Japanese. Although they were originally formed as another flavor of Filipino nationalism, a pro-Eastern one, with former revolutionary general Artemio Ricarte playing a major role. Anti-American Ricartistas in the 1910s were often street tough types. Quezon got the Jones Law through in 1916, the Senate was founded and they had lost ground.

Nowadays one can hardly tell who are the jagos, preman and Makapili among the different groups of Filipinos. With the killing happening, Pandora’s box has been opened. Oh yes, there is also the police. The gist of a posting of Senator Gordon Facebook (link) is: ‘a policeman has the right to defend himself, but where are the reports of Internal Affairs?’. This is correct. There are indeed situations where policemen have no choice. But there are also situations where a review of strategy to learn lessons can be useful. Checks also make sure that those who bear arms in order to protect people do not start to think they are naturally right. Because violence, even if it cannot be avoided sometimes, must always be used in a controlled manner. Everything else, and that is an experience that cuts across cultures, is a very slippery slope. Recent incidents show rage rising in the Philippines – a cyclist shot over a trifle, a motorcyclist arrested and shot by some policemen, wannabe holduppers run over intentionally by an SUV (link) – and everything that heats things up more might not do the country any good. Think Indonesia in 1965 – or Bosnia in 1993.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 6 August 2016

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Marami ring napatay

Srebrenica massacre memorial wall of names 2009 2sa gyera ng dating Yugoslavia na nagsimula noong 1991. 25 years na ang simula ng pagkawatak-watak nitong dating federation (link). Mas sentralista ang gusto ng mga Serb dahil marami sila sa iba’t-ibang estado ng Yugoslavia, mas decentralized ang gusto ng mga Slovenian at Croatian. Tapos nagpataasan pa ng ihi ang dalawang pinuno ng Croatia at Serbia, si Franjo Tudjman at Slobodan Milosevic. Unang tumiwalag ang Slovenia mula noong June 27, 1991. Nakapunta ako sa banda roon mula 1998, nandoon pa sa iilang lumang bahay ang marka ng mga bala.

Ang Croatia at natirang Yugoslavia sa pamumuno ng Serbia, pinag-awayan ang mga teritoryo sa Croatia na may Serbian minority. Sa Bosnia madugo talaga dahil naandoon ang mga Bosnian mismo (Muslim), Croatian (Katoliko) at Serbian (Orthodox). Sa nakaraan galing itong pagkahati-hati. Mahabang istorya. Mula pa sa pagkahati ng Roman Empire sa Western at Eastern Roman Empire, Latin ang salita sa isang parte, Greek sa kabila, tapos iyong pagkahati ng simbahan noong 1054 sa Katoliko at Orthodox, tapos pagsakop ng mga Turko at Austrian doon sa may Balkan.

Kanya-kanyang interpretasyon siyempre ang mga iba’t-ibang panig sa kasaysayan. Hindi lang iyon, nahaluan na talaga ng kasinungalingan at black propaganda. May kasabihan rito sa Europe: katotohanan ang unang biktima kapag may gyera. Mukhang ang politika ngayon, kahit saan, gyera na rin. Ang tuluyang nangyari, madugo sa Bosnia. May pelikula tungkol rito – Savior (link) – gawa ni Oliver Stone at malapit sa talagang nangyari. Hayaan natin kung Amerikano ang bida doon, ganyan talaga kapag pelikulang Amerikano, sanay na tayo diyan di ba?

Marami akong narinig na kuwento lalo na tungkol sa Bosnia. Sa mga iba’t-ibang lahing tagaroon, na halos magka-ubusan ng lahi noong araw. Marami kasing napunta rito sa Munich, o naandito na pero hindi rin mapakali dahil may kamag-anak doon. Kahit dating magkaibigan, magkapitbahay naging kaaway o nagkalayo. Iyong mga may lahing halu-halo, kadalasan hindi na bumalik. Pero heto ang hindi ko malimutan, mula sa isang kalbo at muskulado na dating kasama sa gyera doon: “ang tao, tao. Hindi mahalaga ang relihiyon. Pulitika ang sumisira sa atin”.

Tama siya. Ang tao, tao. Gusto ko ng taong kaharap. Huwag pasanto-santo, baka banal na aso. Huwag hayop, baka patayin ako. Paano tayo matatauhan? Mahirap magpakatao. Pulitika nga ang sumisira sa tao. Kasama na doon ang pataasan ng ihi. Kasama din doon ang pagiging matakaw sa pera. Sabi ng mga Romanian: bani ochi dracul. Ang pera, mata ng demonyo. Kitang-kita ito sa kuwento ni Ma Rosa (link) na tungkol sa shabu – sa kagipitan nagsisimula lahat. Hindi kahayupan ng pagsalvage ang solusyon diyan, kundi hanapbuhay at respeto para sa TAO.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, ika-21 ng Hulyo 2016

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Rizal at kalabaw

Carabaopuwede raw ipalit ang puwesto sa Luneta, sabi ni Freddie Aguilar. Disappointed ako kay dating idol. Bakit hindi rin ipagpalit si Bonifacio sa isang kambing, doon sa Monumento? Sa bagay, sabi ng mga iilang nasyonalistang Pilipino na hindi raw tunay na bayani si Rizal, si Bonifacio lang. Sabi pa nga ng isang Pilipino teacher namin, binakla ni Rizal ang rebolusyon sa El Filibusterismo. Mali! Nagbigay lamang siya ng warning (link) kung anong maaring mangyari kung idaan sa karahasan lamang! Si Rizal at Bonifacio, magkakilala iyan sa Liga Filipina noong araw.

At malamang hindi naging rebolusyonaryo si Bonifacio kung hindi niya nakilala si Rizal. Siguro iyong mga ideya ni Rizal, naging inspirasyon sa kanya pero mas ginawa lang niyang bagay sa taongbayan. Atenista si Rizal at Mabini. Nagsulat si Propesor Xiao Chua (link) tungkol sa Diwa ng Katipunan – Kapatiran, Kabutihang-Loob, Kaginhawaan, Kalayaan. Para sa akin halata itong pangkontra sa mga ikinatatakutan ni Rizal o ni Padre Florentino sa El Filibusterismo – na ang mga inapi noon, maaring maging mga mang-aapi ngayon. 1891 lumabas ang El Fili, 1892 itinayo ang Katipunan.

Bakit kaya merong Ten Commandments? Alalahanin natin ang istorya ni Moses. Ano kaya ang mga ginagawa ng mga Hudyo sa desyerto noong umakyat siya sa bundok? Alam natin na sinasamba nila ang isang gintong guya (baka) – pero baka lahat na ng bawal sa Ten Commandments ginagawa din nila kaya iyon ang nakasulat doon. Huwag mag-shabu, sabi ni Tatay Digong sa mga Pilipino! Iyong mga nasa Kartilya ni Jacinto (link) mga ideyal na baka hindi rin ginagawa ng marami…  XI huwag mong tignan ang babae bilang libangan lamang… huwag libangan lang ha, mga kapatid!

Walang taong perpekto, kahit na si Secretary Perfecto Yasay. Walang taong santo. Tulad ng isang babaeng nagsabi sa akin na hindi raw siya santa, hindi kapani-paniwala iyon, santita na iyon. Ako hindi ko rin gaanong gusto iyong ginagawang mga banal ang mga bayani, kahit may estatua na sila sa pedestal. Alam natin na normal na tao rin si Rizal. Palabiro pa nga. Bakit kaya nagkataong Tabo ang pangalan ng barkong nasa Pasig sa mismong simula ng El Filibusterismo? Marami sigurong sobrang nasindak kay Rizal kaya siguro gusto siyang tanggalin sa pedestal niya ngayon.

Siguro kung siya mismo ang nakatayo doon (at nakasimento pang hindi makagalaw) hindi siya magiging komportable. Normal na bata tinuruan niya sa Dapitan, Mindanao. Hindi siya matapobre. Kung ganyan siya hindi siya gagalangin nila Bonifacio. Tila mas may pagkakaisa ang iba’t-ibang Pilipino noon. Sa bagay, wala pang mga subdivision para sa mayaman at slum para sa mahirap. Kastila lang ang nakatago sa loob ng pader ng Intramuros. Pilipino na ang gumawa ng bakuran sa nakaraang 120 na taon – para ituring na iba ang kapwa Pilipino. Ngayon “pusher ako” ang uso.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 17 Hunyo 2016

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What is destroyed?

First page of El filibusterismo manuscriptsays Simoun to Basilio in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo – “Evil, suffering, miserable weeds that will be replaced by healthy grain. I would call it creation, production, giving life” to justify killing those against his revolution. When Simoun later has taken poison to not fall into the hands of the Spanish alive, Filipino priest Padre Florentino tells him: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”… but the interesting part is:

“as long as we see our countrymen 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; as long as we see them 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, why give them independence?”…”if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow”.

Rizal knew his own people very well.  The present days will show whether anything has substantially improved.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 16 July 2016

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