Posts Tagged Perspectives

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” 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

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You Raise Me Up

is one of the theme songs at Duterte-related gatherings. It was sung today in South Korea, though not by him, and was requested by the crowd in Hong Kong not too long ago. Could the theme of this song be one of the keys to why so many Filipinos seem to NEED Duterte somehow? Let us have a look at the words of the refrain:

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

A Duterte supporter I know recently told me that the poor get more respect now in the Philippines due to Duterte. My answer was “I don’t know” – in that context more of an “I don’t quite believe that”. But how do people in the overseas “Filipino barangays” feel when their “King’s entourage” comes to “Meet and Greet” (link) like in Seoul? Maybe like teens when their favorite star comes? But they aren’t teens. But maybe they are like teens in one way. Lack of confidence. So they derive a bit of it by admiring a “lodi”, which is the recent Filipino slang word for idol.

Pulling others down

No issues with upliftment, as people need a sense of dignity that comes from self-worth. If “you raise me up” was all there was to President Duterte, he might be for the Filipinos what Martin Luther King once was to Afro-Americans. But there is also a side more like Malcolm X with his controversial anti-white statements. My tweet (link) says this:
The President has freed Filipinos from the colonial shackles of “good manners and right conduct”.
Freedom from hypocrisy and servility, called “decency” by yellows, is the achievement of our times.
Finally, no more forced bowing and smiling when hacienderos pass by. /sarcasm (bold for clarity)
There were the times when sakadas had to give forced grins to hacienderos and these smiled “benevolently” back. Deep inside, many Filipinos doing simple jobs abroad may still have a memory of of much more feudal days past. Someone who skillfully uses those complexes towards old overlords and colonial masters manipulates those feelings.

Lowering all standards

There is rage for sure. Muhammad Ali (a follower of Malcolm X) used his swearing as a form of defiance and pride. “We wish you a Merry Kano, we wish you Amerikano, we wish you Amerikano and a Happy Negro” is a Filipino joke about a Christmas carol, with a bit of sly insight in it. Uncle Toms were always “Happy”. Ali was defiantly rude.

But Ali had style in his rudeness, his cussing was poetry. Duterte’s cursing is not. Especially not the perverse stuff. The “jokes” about the dead Australian missionary and kissing IMF President Lagarde (link) might appeal to certain Pinoys who feel white women are out of their league, or even “white men and mestizos are taking all our women”.

Lowering standards for public servants while portraying those who take the effort to educate themselves as somehow being “un-Filipino” (Leni Robredo’s daughters, for example, and she is NO landlord) encourages dumbing down the entire nation. Even Marcos (Sr.) said “intellectual elitism is the only valid elitism” in a speech I heard myself once.

On others shoulders

Now I don’t fully agree with Marcos Sr. there. There are highfalutin intellectual elitists who put down normal people. Or specialists who talk down to laymen when they should be providing the service of somewhat simplifying things. American science books awakened my STEM interest because they explain well. German science books were harder.

That was decades ago and German books explain better – or have I become smarter? But they made me feel stupid. Now how stupid and incapable are Filipinos going to feel if everything in their own country is done by the Chinese? And dependency to a new elite is taught? Will it be “I am strong when I am on your shoulders” – but only then?

Really being more

BMW Isetta, Bj. 1955 (2015-08-26 2997 b Ausschnitt)Instead of “raised up to more than I can be”, why not BE more – like this here (link)? The BMW Isetta was one of the most successful products of BMW in the 1950s and 1960s. The small car whose picture I have posted in this article. Affordable for the general public then, still very thrifty. Big gas guzzlers were for American GIs.

There is a bit of a cult following for big gas guzzling US oldtimers over here in Munich, probably nourished by those times. But imagine if everybody had done whatever was necessary to buy US cars back then. Little would have been rebuilt, and most probably BMW would not have had enough incoming money to finance research and become what it is today.

Patience and solidarity

Germans still drove “baduy” (uncool) little cars in a time when Manila already had the newest American cars, really? Unfortunately, the new Filipino middle class of the 1960s voted for Marcos and martial law because many other Filipinos were swelling the slums and cramping their (life)style. Marcos promised discipline with “selda ng lasing”.

Cells for drunks is what that means. Does this sound familiar to the even more brutal war against drugs these days? Like the newcomers to the middle class in the 1960s, the new Filipino middle class today cares mainly about itself. Somehow the new German middle class in the 1930s was similarly selfish, despising those seen as “asozial” (link).

Postwar West Germany tried to leave as few as possible behind. That this no longer was done as consistently since unity is one reason for resurgent populism. Yet the lessons of the successful rebuilding still apply – better to help others keep pace and life is better. Meanwhile, postwar Manila saw its first slums and gated communities (link).

Now the Philippines has a highly antisocial TRAIN law which puts burdens on the poor via indirect taxes which raise prices – a truism. Here it is those who wanted tax cuts at all costs, even if at expense of the poor, who are antisocial and lack solidarity.  Even the 4Ps (link) which could help many out of poverty are now being considered for removal.

Will the poor in the Philippines get even poorer and risk getting shot as drug suspects, or just stay poor and hope to be “raised up” by the existence of their Lodi Duterte? Many urban poor during Martial Law idolized Imelda Marcos. Will Filipinos now acquiesce to new masters, even idolize them, while these smugly take their seat? I really wonder.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 June 2018



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Talo si Sereno, Panalo si Duterte

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The ruler always means well

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

Pressures upon rulers

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

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

Golden Age coming?

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

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

The Rude Awakening

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

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 24 February 2018

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Madilim ang Paligid

Snowstorm in Tyrol - 02sa labas ng tren pauwi. May nakita akong mga lumilipad sa labas. Inisip ko: “sino ba kayo”? Sabi nila “kami ang mga magsasabi sa iyo kung ano ang mangyayari sa Pilipinas ngayon”. “Ano naman?” sagot ko sa kanila. “Babalik ang Pilipinas sa nararapat niyang anyo at sa tunay niyang kapalaran.” sabi nila. “eh mabuti naman siguro kung ganoon” sagot ko. “Hindi para sa mga katulad ninyo” sabi nila “pagka’t kayo ang sumira sa likas na anyo ng bansa”. Sabi ko naman “at sino naman kami, mga dilaw na naman? At ano kayo, mga DDS siguro. Ang papangit ninyo!”.

Biglang may malaking boses sa likod nila na nagsalita “babalik na ang Pilipinas sa pamumuno ng natural niyang naghaharing-uri. Wala nang pakialam ang mga sistema at pag-iisip na banyaga”.  Tumuloy ang boses “likas na lakas at galing ang ibinigay sa mga pinunong-bayan na katutubo noong araw, ngunit tinanggal ito ng pag-aaping banyaga, sa puwersa at sa pag-iisip, o kaya ibinakla ito ng moralidad ng demokrasya at ng simbahan.” Tumahimik ng sandali. Dinig ko ang malakas na hangin sa labas ng tren.

“Likas ang pakiramdam ng pinuno sa tama at mali, sa dapat patayin at buhayin, sa dapat bigyan ng posisyon at hindi”. Tuloy pa rin “kayong mga nag-aral ng mga kaartehan sa sistemang maka-kanluran, hindi ninyo alam ang likas na galing ng Pilipino na wala sa may degree na kung saan-saan. Sa isip ng isip, walang nangyayari. Gawa lang ang mahalaga.” Parang ang layo ng mga ilaw sa labas ng tren. “Kahit ano pang sabihin ng mga paimportanteng pilosopo, tama rin ang hatol ng mga pinuno ngayon sa kung sino ang itotokhang, kung sino ang ipapashut-up – dahil pampagulo lang”.

“Malapit nang makamtan ng bayan ang pagkakaisang tunay, wala nang pipigil o rereklamo pa”. Sabi ng malalim na boses “babalik ang gintong panahon, at makakamtan ng lahat ng tunay na Pilipino ang kaginhawaan”. Inantok na ako. “Ano naman ang kinalaman ko diyan?”. Sagot ng malalim na boses: “kinakailangan lang ng isang isasakripisyo sa bulkang Mayon, para matanggal ang mga masamang impluwensiya ng limang dantaon”. Tumingin ako palabas “anong tingin ninyo sa akin, isang Magellan?” 

“Hindi, isang hilaw” sagot ng mararaming boses. “buwisit kang pakialamero!”. “Hindi niyo ba napapansin kung nasaan kayo?” sabi ko sa mga buwisit. “napakalamig dito. Iyang parang asukal sa wedding cake” sabi ko “niyebe iyan, o baka naman snow lang ang naiintindihan ninyo?” Biglang nangisay ang mga mukha sa bintana. Nagising ako sa malalim na boses ng konduktor na nagsasabi sa wikang Aleman na “huling stop na, Munich main station, bumaba po lahat”. Iyong maleta ko na parang may diperensiya kanina, OK na noong hinila ko. Bumaba na ako sa tren.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, ika-18 ng Enero, 2018

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Basta may postura

'Tis the seasonOK lahat, inggit lang sila, tayo pataas na. Hindi nahuhulog sa motorsiklo o nagpapakumbaba. Di bale kung ang apo mukhang Christmas tree sa dami ng kristal, bagay naman sa time of the year! At bakit naman bababa si lolo sa Biliran, ano siya isang Mar Roxas na magmumukhang tanga? Tama na hindi niya pinansin iyong itim na mayabang na iyan, iyang Obama – kay Trump siya ngayon malakas, sa puti mismo!  At problema ng dilaw kung kikita tayo ngayon sa bagong telecom na galing Tsina, pagkat sila kumita na, tayo naman ngayon. Balang araw, sila ang katulong natin.

At bakit daw masama ang Harvard ni Aika? Ugok, ang liwanag! Iyang pag-aaral na iyan, para lang iyan sa Ingles na magandang pakinggan. Anong napala ng tangang Mar Roxas sa Waharton niya? WALAAA!! Ni MRT di niya maayos! E si Aquino na Atenista? Nadenggoy sa bakuna! HAHAHAAA! Tayong mga DDS, matitinik talaga. Alam natin kung saan ang pera at kapangyarihan, so needed pa ba ang mag-aral ng marami? Tignan ninyo ang susunod nating Presidenteng si Manny Pacquiao! DISKARTE ang kailangan. Aasenso tayo, iyong mga dilawan na iyan, hahalikan nila paa natin!

Eh bakit daw kamo plastik si Leni? Siyempre, bakit ka pa bibili ng damit na simpleng tignan kung mamahalin naman pala? Ibig sabihin noon, marami kang pera masyado, ano iyon gagastos ka na hindi kita ng mga tao? Malay natin, may mga barko at Ferrari sila sa may bandang Hollywood. Iyong hindi natin kita, mga ka-DDS! Ganyan talaga iyong mga ipokritong maka-USA na ganyan. Kuripot sa Pilipino, pero pag sa labas sosyal! Lalo na pag nagpaplano sila nila Loida Nicolas-Lewis. Daig pa si Imelda sa luho! Buti pa tayo, tunay na tao. Nakikita kung saan napupunta ang pera!

At ano iyong puro ngiti-ngiti ni Leni na akala mo ang bait-bait? Walang tao na ganyang kabait! Magbait-baitan ka lang ng ganyan kung waitress ka na sumisilbi sa mayaman at mataas. Kung may class ka, dapat mataray ka. Tulad ni Mocha. Tulad na Isabelle Duterte na nagtweet ng “some dumbfucks think I am 15”. O kaya iyong sumampal sa taxi driver noong isang araw. Iyon ang tama. Dapat alam ng mabababang tao kung nasa lugar sila o hindi. Wala naman talagang pantay-pantay. At iyong mga adik at pusher? Alam naman nila ang mangyayari, bakit di sila nagbago? Mga tanga!

Petmalu ang uso talaga ngayon. Malupet! Kung mataas ka at puwedeng makipag-junket ka Tatay Digong, gud! Kung hindi, at least naman meron ka sanang wang-wang! Kung hindi pa rin, astig ka dapat kung mag-counterflow. Buti pa sa ganoon kung medyo may dugo kang Intsik at mukha kang siga, masisindak sila sa iyo, akalain nilang anak ka ng tulad nila Peter Lim, na hindi magagalaw! Kung madiskarte ka, gradweyt ka sa level nila Polong. Ganda ng kinabukasan. Iiyot ka ng maganda. Sa Solaire Casino ka tataya. Condo sa BGC. Tangina nila. Masagasaan man sila. Basta tayo asenso!

Irineo B. R. Salazar wishes all readers a Merry Christmas
from München this 20th of December, two-thousand seventeen.

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European Union assistance

Global European Unioncan have conditions – with audit, policy or business reasons. Much comes from public debate over here. Audit has to do with not wanting EU money to disappear without helping anyone except a few third-world politicians. I am pretty confident that modern audit practices in the EU keep things from happening like what some pro-Duterte trolls insinuated during the election: that EU money for Yolanda help went to Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party. If the Philippines were an important counterpart of the EU like Russia or Turkey, such allegations would have had serious diplomatic repercussions.

Policy reasons such as human rights are very important. There was a major change in thinking towards more progressive ideas in the late 1960s and early 1970s within the Western world. This was noticed even by President Marcos when the USA was under President Jimmy Carter. Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauss got criticized in the German Parliament for giving his friend Marcos a pistol. “We shouldn’t help dictators” said many socially conscious groups in the West. There is a bit of a backlash now with Trump, but the EU will still hopefully remain different.

Business reasons nonetheless still co-exist with policy reasons. One might call the EU hypocritical, but in a pluralistic society, multiple interests shape policy. So some development aid does indeed promote products and services from the donor country. If it is given, no problem, but spare parts can become a cost factor. Imagine getting an inkjet printer free, the kind that needs expensive ink. Expect that aside from the socially conscious groups in EU countries, there are the business groups that will argue: “we shouldn’t be just giving them money, we should earn something out of it also”.

There are NO dictates against sovereignty in any of these deals, as nobody is forced to enter into them. The EU likes to work with different kinds of treaties – starting with its internal treaties which indeed force the member states to give up some sovereignty in order to be part of a stronger whole. The Euro and the Schengen agreement are important aspects of the EU which not all member countries have joined. There are non-EU countries which have some degree of association with the EU: Switzerland, Norway and Turkey for example. Finally, most EU countries are NATO members.

GSP+ privileges for fruits and other imports of the Philippines was a measure to help, the strings attached merely adherence to human rights – freely agreed upon by the Philippines in 2014. No one will care too much if these privileges are cut in January 2018, except the Philippines. Some fruit companies in warmer parts of the EU, including Caribbean provinces of France, might rejoice. Most of what the EU public has seen so far is headlines about Duterte threatening the European Union. Does he really expect anyone to be scared? Annoyed maybe. Possibly into choosing other options.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 21 October 2017

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Congratulations, Iloilo City

Iloilo River towards the Iloilo Strait– not only have you defended your Mayor and your reputation (link), you got a real drug lord (link). You did have to kill him, which is unavoidable at times, but the entire story of month-long leads and tips from Ilonggos sounds more plausible to me than all the off-the-cuff declarations of Duterte. That includes the malicious hints that Mayor Jed Mabilog of Iloilo was a drug lord protector or more, that Iloilo was alleged “most shabulized” (not borne out by PDEA numbers) and the planned but retracted assignment to Iloilo of someone already involved in the killing of two mayors (link).

Iloilo also happens to have one of the cleanest rivers of all larger Philippine cities. This alone tells me that they know how to take care of themselves, just like a clean bathroom is a sign of a good household. A clean kitchen may be for show only, the dirty kitchen at the back, but the bathroom? How about Davao, the famous showcase of Duterte? Safe it probably was and is in a relative sense. Maybe more like the Thunderdome was the safest place in the Mad Max movie. On a violent island, Davao was/is a place where a Burgherr (Lord of the Castle) ruled and imposed his personal order.

Cities like Iloilo and Naga, on the other hand, seem to represent a nascent urban middle class model of governance from all I have gathered – as opposed to the old, warlord-dominated cities of the fringes or the upper-class dominated cities of the center the Philippines used to be known for. Classic political dynasties in the Philippines have ruled by a mixture of money and intimidation – more intimidation in less developed areas, more money in more developed areas. Middle-class political structures characteristic of more developed Asian countries therefore remained elusive.

Even the middle-class uprising of 1986 had a patron in Cory Aquino. The new middle classes whose money comes from working abroad or in call centers have President Duterte as their patron. Citizens gathering to protect their mayor like in Iloilo (and not looking down upon him for being just a human being like everybody else) is new at least to me. But cultures develop. Consensus replaces intimidation. More complex  and advanced economies flourish better under free conditions. Sweatshops can work well under repressive conditions, but don’t expect Silicon Valley.

Korean companies are already moving to Vietnam nowadays from the Philippines. Did anyone seriously think that they would have forgotten what happened to their countryman who was killed? There are nationalities that say little, yet act after a while – like Germans, Japanese and Koreans. The Filipino street/thug/warlord subculture does not think that far, mistaking bluster for strength and silence for weakness. Little strategic sense or long-term planning. Flourishing cities like Iloilo or Naga may be gone completely if that subculture comes to dominate the future Philippines. Pity.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3. Sept. 2017

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Smart and Strong

Bongbong Marcoshave a different meaning for some Filipinos. Sandra Cam might be seen as smart and Antonio Contreras as strong. Devious and thick-faced Bongbong Marcos as both. Ethics of people who I think don’t believe in fairness, civility or honesty – possibly because they have never seen much of it in their lives. “Those who have known hunger have a scar, and may behave as if they are hungry all their lives” is wisdom I have heard from someone who knows the school of hard knocks. Makes me think of how Imelda wore just hand-me-downs in her youth, being from the poor branch of a mestizo clan. One wonders to what extent the attitudes from a scar can be passed to children. I don’t see the Binay kids behaving as desperately, eternally hungry as their boodle-fighting father. “Take what you can, give nothing back” is what they say to each other in Pirates of the Carribean. Wonder how much of the attitudes of some Filipinos date back to times of galleon trade and forced labor in the barangays.

A different Philippines already had been taking shape. Modern jobs and opportunities had come, showing that you just have to perform at work to get somewhere. Whether it was in BPO outfits or in factories run by foreigners. The old Philippines of ass-kissing towards higher ups and pushing down those below was disappearing. Seems those left behind, or those who simply wanted a bigger piece of the cake more quickly, have won this time. They may yet kill the goose that lays their golden eggs. There was always a conflict between the old, rent-seeking Philippines and the modern, liberal Philippines – I think from the moment the first ports opened for free trade in the 19th century, European migrants came in with the first modern factories, and even America started to trade with the newly opened colony – long before colonial ambitions were even in its mind.

In the rent-seeking, old Philippines, you earn your place by loyalty to certain powers that be. Whether you are Mocha Uson or Thinking Pinoy. Others in turn will have the chance to earn a place at your table and benefit from your largesse. Or even ride in your helicopter, like the one Mocha Uson recently took from Manila to Clark. Nobody really questions that. You may even hear things like – why are you so envious? People get their luck in life! Those who share their “luck” like Binay did are seen as “good”. Only those who don’t are considered “bad”. But why are people so mad at hard-working professionals or successful businessmen, and not at corrupt politicians or crooks? Well, it seems to me that those who build their affluence by design are considered greedy! Makes sense if you think all businesses are rent-seeking and all good jobs are gotten by ass-kissing. And that even good education is just a designer label that you can buy because you have money. That what you learn there is just empty words.

Oh well, maybe they are right. Possibly we are just slaves over here in the West, condemned to learn things properly and then work long hours and not even have maids or houseboys at home. Maybe the Philippines will take off, with a hierarchy that is even more pyramidal than in the Gulf States, as soon as Bongbong Marcos is Vice President. Even if it is 99.99% likely that he isn’t, who cares about the truth in the Philippines today? Perhaps we are fools over here in the West, telling the truth even to those minions that don’t deserve to be told the truth. 30 days of vacation even for ordinary workers. Who do they think they are? Fast public transport. Who needs that? Mochau Uson can take the helicopter, those two rungs below her can wang-wang, I have heard it is back. Sure, there will be a lot of people that protest in case Vice President Robredo is removed, which I think is nearly certain. But will it have an effect? Possibly some provoked violence, then nationwide Martial Law and arrests.

And the quiet rest of Filipinos? To them, what Rizal said in El Filibusterismo via the character of the native priest Padre Florentino will most probably continue to be true: “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”. To spare their families, they will acquiesce – or even collaborate so that their families are just one rung higher on Jacob’s ladder. This is a principle that rulers of Filipinos have exploited for so very long. Even a relatively simple-minded man without his father’s intelligence – yes I mean Bongbong Marcos – knows that. And this time, he might make sure things stay that way.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 13 July 2017

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Hanggang Pier Lang

Sopot molo 2004ang mararating sa pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko – sabay paninira sa iba. Dahil walang magbabago sa ganyan. Walang tren o riles o elektrisidad ng MRT na maaayos. Walang mahihirap na mabibigyan ng hanapbuhay at pag-asa sa buhay. At hindi rin aasenso ang isang administrasyon na umaasa sa proyektong nasimulan ng iba. Buti pa si Presidente Marcos – kahit na marami akong ayaw sa kanya – na marunong mamili ng mga magagaling na technocrat para iplano at isatupad ang kanyang mga proyekto.

Kulang sa pansin ang dating ng mga nagpadami ng boto sa Time Magazine online poll para mauna si Presidente Duterte. Siguro kung padamihan ng tao, matatalo ng Tsina o kaya India ang Pilipinas kung gugustuhin – pero bakit nila ito kakailanganin? Kahit Indonesia mas maraming tao, pero wala din silang panahon sa papogi na ganyan.

Ang Tsina, kayang-kaya ang Pilipinas. Ang India, may sariling space program, hindi kaya ng Tsinang hamunin sa sariling teritoryo. Indonesia matatag din na bansa.

Ang Pilipinas naman ano? Iilang nakabarko na Abu Sayyaf hirap na. Magaling pumatay ng mga pusher at adik sa kalye na payat na payat na. Opo lang ng opo sa Tsina. Minura ang Presidente ng Amerika, ngayon naman tuwang-tuwa na baka bumisita ang bagong Presidente sa susunod. EU de puta, ang EU minumura ng minumura daw. Pero hindi naman pinapansin ng EU. Baka ako lang ang manghinayang kapag nagmahal ang dried mangoes galing Pilipinas, kung sakaling tataas ang import duties.

Ano ang Pilipinas na nakikita ng mundo ngayon? NAKAKAHIYA. Parang mga siga sa kanto na nasobrahan ng Ginebra at pasigaw-sigaw. Baka nakashabu na rin sila kaya akala nila sila na ang hari ng mundo. Matitinong tao nakatago sa loob ng bahay. Baka bumaba lang ang krimen dahil maaga ang uwi ng mga tao ngayon. Takot matokhang.

Anong maipapakita ng Pilipino sa mundo ngayon? Wala. Alila pa rin ng mundo. OFW at BPO, pera sa labas. Sa panloloko sa sarili, walang mararating. Sana magising na.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 21 ng Abril 2017


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