Posts Tagged Thinking

Halloween is coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27 October 2018

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Set in Stone

Volcanic stonesis what many a Filipino thought or sentiment seems to be. A certain stubbornness in sticking to one’s opinions is even seen as a virtue. In certain circles even arguing against all common sense. Whether one is PAO Persida Acosta insisting that as a lawyer, she knows that Dengvaxia kills, or whether one is Solicitor General Calida maintaining that not being able to find Trillanes’ amnesty application means it never existed. Inspite of footage, testimonies and other indications that it did. Probably a Filipino trickster will have respect for Calida’s grin while defending the obvious untruth.

Truth versus Power

Because that could be seen as higher intelligence than Acosta’s believing the nonsense she states. But that would mean that truth matters little, only power and winning – not learning anything. Because learning means having doubts, making mistakes, verifying assumptions and a lot more. That seems to be seen as a weakness in the Philippines. Or why are unverified drug lists published? That is dangerous in a country were even criticizing the government is now seen as destabilizing. But the chickens have come home to roost. The culture always saw words as instruments of power.

In a passive-aggressive culture (link), criticism can be two-faced as innuendo is used for “attack”. Like the part of an iceberg above the water is smaller than what is below, the facts being discussed are sometimes not what is really meant. Criticism of policies CAN indeed mean “destabilization”. Why? Because whether Filipinos cooperate with someone or not can depend a lot on petty moods. Whether the person is liked or not. Dislike for whatever reason can lead to howling condemnation like the one experienced by President Benigno Aquino III for far less mistakes than Duterte made.

Confrontation with certain types of Filipinos are of course to be avoided, as there are not only the passive-aggressive but also the vindictive types. President Duterte towards De Lima, Sereno and Trillanes. Hinting he would destroy “a female official” just after he started (link) – but for what? Simply for pointing out the obvious about him, for investigating extrajudicial killings? That is a culture were face is far more important than the truth, very obviously. Were being wrong is not the issue, even if everybody knows it somehow – being told one is wrong is what destroys ones esteem.

Truth to Power

Black Box Thinking (link) is a book about learning from mistakes. There are a few examples in the book which show when incapability to speak truth to power leads to fatal mistakes. Co-pilots who are too diplomatic in telling the pilot something critical. Nurses not assertive enough to doctors. Due to inborn “respect” for rank – misplaced in situations were seconds can mean life or death. There can of course be power that refuses to accept any version of reality except their own. That can be dangerous to them, as they can execute or fire those “against” them but not escape from reality.

This is especially true in modern situations where reality is complex and hard to intuitively “see”. That is why seat of the pants leaders like Philippine mayors have difficulty in national settings.  Someone who lives in a city can get a “feel” for it without even being mayor: I can “feel” Munich. Mayors will talk to different people and compare what they see with what they are told and then they can balance their picture, decide and immediately see the results. No need for anyone to tell. Better if, but if the culture is one of face and power (link) better not be “shaimed” (sic) too much.

Well, I did think that Duterte was a good leader originally, because of his “listening tours” (link) at a time when President Aquino was criticized heavily for being insensitive to the common people. But was he? Possibly he also had a hard time, as Filipino culture sees criticism as form of attack. Probably even his statement that the people are his boss was the worst thing he could have done. Filipino bosses can be demanding to the point of unfairness, many Filipinos prefer foreign bosses. Some people probably thought they could nitpick on practically anything, thus abusing democracy.

Powerful Truth

A recent article by Dr. Gideon Lasco on The Scholar as a Rebel (link) does stress the importance of challenging received wisdom as an essential aspect of learning: the best thinkers of their day were called “revolutionary” precisely because they helped build their societies upon ideas — ideas that were nurtured in universities, and viewed as rebellious at the time of their inception. Of course not every trollish social media commenter who says “ugok ka” and “mali iyan” is a useful “rebel”. Dissent must be based on proper reasoning – even if it may come from a new and fresh angle.

Criticism of the policies of a leader does not have to mean disrespecting the authority of a leader.  Protests are a necessary corrective to smugness that can weaken a ruling group after some time. Unfortunately the Philippines is still built on face and power, not on ideas, so sophistry rules. Dengvaxia might be OK, but that can’t be, it is yellow as eggyolk, just like the new MRT wagons! The mentality still “be like”: “look at Panot! Poe lectured that WEAKLING about Mamasapano! Our Digong deals with critics quickly!” Actually, mistakes that happened in every administration could have been used as opportunities to learn how to improve the system as a whole – not in finding a culprit. Even the question “why EJKs” could have been an opportunity to learn, as the reason might have been “police investigations too inefficient, courts too slow, customs too porous”. Yet the culture loves finding a culprit or culprits and punishing them in whatever way possible. Those perceived as weak often become the culprits and those perceived as strong assign blame. Truth would make everyone more powerful. But the perspective of many is so short-sighted.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12 October 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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