Sunset Borocay White Beachholds the Miss Universe finals tomorrow, and may think it has won back the world’s good graces. Yet one of the suspects in the slaying of a Korean businessman simply slipped away and is at large now (link).

More than ever before, the Philippines exudes an air of untrustworthiness, and a lot of things come across as sleazy. It feels more like a tawdry mix of Macau and Vegas now, rather than like a respectable Southeast Asian country.

A country with a unique history, difficult as it may be. A country where, most unfortunately, the principled seem to be weak and the strong are simply ruthless. A country that works well at the level of families and villages, sometimes even cities, but never really learned to deal with larger units in a way that benefits the majority. Larger units that conquerors imposed.

A country that effectively has two systems of justice: well-paid lawyers for the rich, cramped cells and years without even a trial that gets finished for the poor. A country that has hypermodern malls and offices – and wretched drug-ridden slums.

A country that is Christian on paper, yet more often than not polygamous, and a sense of vengeance that is un-Christian. Democratic on paper, yet run mostly by a few families. With a mainly rent-seeking economy based on exploiting human and natural resources – hardly adding value to them. What a waste. Yet the world, with all its bigger issues, hardly blinks.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 29 January 2017