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an even bigger shame game… :-))

I was not able to react to the flurry of Philippine news coming on the first days of 2010. C’mon – what’s to be pointed out further? The Ampatuan massacre was politically motivated. Now that the Ampatuans are tried in court, the Fortun guy remarks that his client (Mr. Ampatuan Jr.) does not understand Tagalog, or “Filipino”. False, GMA Network proclaims: Ampatuan has, in previous interviews, spoken to reporters in that tongue. And there are the other bits of news: Lorelei (or Lore-lie) Fajardo getting the ax (as the deputy spokesperson for the Little Bad Boss) for saying that the President and the Ampatuans remain ‘personal friends’. Ha, ha, ha. And, as I joke I read in Bisaya magazine goes, those three ha’s are for free. Kay ikaw man, Iya Lorelei, libre gyod!

Anyway, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun. So I want to present to you what I would do if I were president of the Philippines. Not that I am running – I publish this precisely because I am not running. If I did, I may be labeled as a ‘nuisance candidate’, in a country where corruption, election-related violence, and plunder, not to mention the seven capital sins ad their fruits, are not nuisances.

There are many things which the new president will have to deal with. But the most urgent of these things is the system of government. By this I do not mean the change to federalism and the abandonment of centralization. I mean the way the government is managing its business. I would like to dispense with patronage politics and the thick bureaucracy. Our current laws to prevent these from occurring must be strengthened and there should be no loopholes. And I would like to reduce drastically the function of lawyers in the government. Lawyers such as what we have in the administration today only look for loopholes in law. There must be more civil-service staff – people who are really willing to help the nation – than lawyers or businessmen in office.

Then, we must strive for efficiency. Instead of employing too many deputies for this and that commission or this and that agency, we must have a decentralization of responsibility. That’s where federal government can help, but just simply invoking the buzzword ‘federal government’ will not provide a solution to the management problem. The point is, our agencies must be smaller, employing fewer people to file papers, sign forms, and attend meetings and take down notes. I had a problem with the Department of Science and Technology’s Science and Education Institute because they could not process requests fast. That’s because there are so many people working the papers – and then they are also so busy because they take care of the entire nation. If we limited their scope to that of, say, Metro Manila, they could process the requirements faster. And they don’t need so many people.

Then, we must also strive for compassion, meaning that the agencies put the people they serve (and their needs) first before anything else. Our bureaucracy has resulted in the civil-service people being so demoralized that they can no longer afford to empathize with their clients. “Grin and bear it”, they just say, instead of finding ways to improve the service. Filipinos are known for being resilient, yes, but that doesn’t mean that we always have to ‘grin and bear it’ when it comes to government services that must be delivered efficiently. We are a failing-welfare state: we have benefits from the government (via the GSIS) if we work for it and even if we do not (via the SSS), but then we have to grin and bear it when these welfare institutions break down. It becomes ‘each man for himself’, instead of government being the guarantor and protector of the people’s welfare – which is the very definition of a welfare state.

The striving for efficiency and compassion boils down to three statements:

Cut red tape.

Simplify all work processes in government to absolute necessities only.

Decentralize responsibilities.

The third statement leads us to the form of government we must choose for ourselves as a nation. I have made no secret of my favoring the federal form of government. But let me expound on my vision of that in the next entry.

(To Be Continued)


I had another surf on Wikipedia, and came across this article on the Germanic “Christian” movement called “Positive Christianity” ( which, as William Shirer relates, is the name the Nazis gave to National Socialism, that ‘ideology’ , or should I say mere rambling, of hate and superiority complexes. Maybe you are thinking this is not a very apt topic for Christmas, but allow me to argue first.

According to the encyclopedia article, “Positive Christianity” emphasizes the more “active” deeds of Jesus, because the traditionalist view emphasizes the passive deeds of Jesus (such as dying on the cross). And these “active” deeds purportedly include the denunciation of the hypocrisy of the Jewish priests and scribes (lawyers) of this day (in so many ways), and his organizing power.

Hmmm…I’m actually wondering WHY we need to ’emphasize’ the passive nad active deeds of Jesus, as if Christology were any different in form than the study of the life of each one of us. Do we bother to segregate our moment into “This is the Quiet Me” and “This is the Loud Me”? Isn’t it just one and the same you you’re looking into? You are quiet in some situations and loud in others. I don’t believe you’re “naturally loud”, or “naturally quiet”. No one is. Everyone clams up or speaks up depending on the situation and the need for clamming up or speaking up. Ergo, there is no such thing as the ‘quiet type’.

Returning to the matter at hand: Christianity in its “positive” form is the active emulation of Jesus. Actually, that’s the only operational definition of Christianity – of course you have to believe he’s God, but you do no Christianity if you don’t actively seek to behave as Jesus did. That’s the point of studying the Good Book, my friends, not to pour down on hapless souls a shower of an arrogant cauldron of fire and brimstone. Hell, fire-and-brimstone was what the Nazis used on the poor Jews in Europe during the Holocaust. This is a direct effect of their embracing of what they called “Positive Christianity”. And “Positive Christianity” as they define it, is much the same thing I see in certain Christian movements in America, in the Philippines, and most everywhere else.     

Those who embrace this false and devious belief are no different from the Islamist terrorists. They will give any religious excuse for their deeds. And they will do anything they think is good, even raping women and children and dehumanizing everyone. It is THEIR will that is followed, not the promptings of God. Pride becomes their religion, not Christianity.

Someone in the Roman world remarked that Christianity is a religion of weaklings. The Christian world has an answer. Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on Christmas Midnight quoted Origen as saying something like this: The pagans who worship graven images of stone depicting mythical creatures and ‘gods’ slowly but surely lose their feeling and humanity, and are turned to stone like their idols. But Christians believe that their God has come to earth, in the form of flesh, to give us hearts of flesh, and we regain feeling and humanity through our God, making us living and feeling beings, like our God who lives forever.

The only ‘positive’, if true, Christianity preaches dependence on God, being active or passive as the need may be, and balancing reason and faith. These are things which the devil could not comprehend, but which humans can if they set themselves to it. After all, we all were made in God’s image. We on the edge of Christmas do bear this message because our God became flesh. And he denounces, he gets furious, and he also waits, and he gets tired, and he knows when to simply absorb the abuse of the people around him.

He is God. And he is a human.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And yes, it’s really in the here and now.

People will be celebrating again. They will (in fact they already have) party like there’s no tomorrow, with all that booze, and singing, and family togetherness. The third aspect I mentioned is what actually draws me to Christmas celebrations with my family. I am not condemning booze and singing – far be it from me to shun a reasonable dose of brandy or a whole night of song (and dance, maybe)!  Booze and singing are reserved for certain celebrations with friends, yes, and at times, co-workers. Just to let them know that you’re not what they thought you are. You may be goody-two-shoes-ish but you never resist a drink-off. And your friends will either think you’re cool or they’d explain it all away (“Maybe he/she was just forced”, or “Maybe he/she just let loose”) and still think that you are an angel sent directly from heaven and without admitted “imperfections” in doctrine or practice. A drinking angel. That’s new.

Christmas is drawing near. And I am amazed how clear the skies have become here in the Philippines, this lovely little archipelago where Koreans, Americans, and others come in droves to screw us all while enriching us. There’s lovely Magayon waiting to blow her top on the hapless inhabitants of Albay. Maybe she’ll consummate her anger on Christmas Day. No worries – the refugees are enjoying the night away because the police are holding a concert. Wow! Such heroism from the band that brought us titles like: Coddling Criminals, Private Armies, Macho Suppression of Dissent, and other 80s and 90s hits. At least we can trust them to protect us now. And the military too, who co-wrote the track Macho Suppression of Dissent with the PNP. It became a hit, and with Che and Chavit in the short-term memory of the nation, it really made a comeback this year.   

Christmas is drawing near… and the elections too… but why bother the Pinoy with such big tasks? But no… here come the Sexbomb girls, with their “Ang Bilog” track. I commend them, and GMA Network, for coming up with such an ingenious plan to educate voters, especially those who like to fuck and touch certain spherical objects the whole year long. There’s just and itsy-bitsy problem with that – maybe this type of people are the very ones who will not vote this year. Well, because they like to lay in bed and touch those spherical objects the whole year long. Elections? Bah, humbug! When you’ve a choice among someone with mind but not with heart, and someone with heart but not with mind, and someone without heart and mind but with money, you’d rather touch those spherical objects than shade circles in a booth. You want something more compelling than these three choices, and they’re there, but you know that most people will vote based on money or popularity, so you go ahead and touch those spherical objects. And not bother to “waste time” voting.

Christmas…viewed as a respite from everything we’ve done bad, as the one thing that’s right in the year. When even your Easter days are peppered with stories of rape and murder, when even the victories of Manny Pacquiao and Efren Penaflorida are marred by some new genocide or some new money scam, or some new sex scandal, you think that Christmas cheer will remove all that and help you to start over. But then you hear – gadzooks! – girls being raped in Bulacan as they headed out toward Night Mass in preparation for Christmas, you wag your head and say “Oh, no, this Christmas is also going to be one like the past bad events.” But no worries, because when you eat and drink and party this Christmas night, you know that the first thing you’ll do after Christmas is to get out and try to set things aright. And that, my friends, is what pleases God most. For my part, I’ll get out of this country and make my life more meaningful than any of these fuckeroos around me, then I’ll get my family to make use of my money to improve their own lives.

A blessed Christmas to you all. And may you find the opportunities to try and set all things aright. God bless.

She is always paraded on the streets and celebrated in innumerable festivals, but few in her Pueblo Amante really know Mary as she is.

“I am the Immaculate Conception,” revealed the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in France. She is, in this title and (should we say) “cover”, the principal patroness of the Philippines, which is, after all, El Pueblo Amante de Maria. According to Catholic teachings (which, in her beloved Philippines, are lampooned by macho men calling themselves “Catholic”, from the President down to the lowest slave), this meant that Mary was conceived free of sin, all sin. She had had no desire to sin. Which meant she was always open and available to God’s will, never contradicting it or disobeying it. This feast is a rather big one for the Church because the occasion actually celebrates what may be called God’s benevolent predestination – the idea that God created all of us solely to be able to be happy with Him for all eternity.

That is in stark contrast to Calvinistic predestination, which condemns certain people to hell and blesses certain others with heaven. The Calvinist belief in predestination is somehow self-sustaining, because the same doctrine also states that there are signs that a person is ‘chosen’ for heaven: success in worldly endeavors and prosperity. Both these things have actually been proven to be more human than divine way far back in the Bible, although we may consider these as blessings from God who enables. Anyway, this is a matter entirely different from what I would like to say.

Funny, because the Philippines is a nation that could only boast of its almost genocidal Ampatuan massacre, its Fertilizer Fund Scams and Garcillano-mediated cheating in elections, its twin inanities (the Senate and the House of Representatives), its inefficient bureaucracy, its foundering resolve to combat poverty, its poor schools, and, chief of the attractions, its macho men who do not have jobs because of laziness and whose only real talent is to fuck – usually serially – whether forced or consensual. Dan Humphrey of Gossip Girl may have had a threesome with his girl and his best friend (by the way, he’s pretty stupid to do that), but Filipinos put him to shame with lots of gang rapes. The Tagalog word pinilahan (lined up for) already has this smarmy meaning. What’s more, these gang rapes are usually a ‘male-bonding’ thing. These guys don’t even get high on drugs or alcohol. They just do it. And we’re close to numbed because things like this are commonplace in the only Catholic nation in Asia.

Not only that. We are also locked in the birth-control battle. The Catholic Church has never condoned the use of artificial contraceptives, claiming that if contraceptives were used, a contraceptive society would develop. Which is right, but totally ignores the fact that (in these Isles) the contraceptive society was born with Imelda’s showing of the pornographic films in 1974. Or way back, when men treated women as if they were sex dolls and had illegitimate unions and even incestuous ones. Dear bishops: your assertion is correct; it just came too late in the day, when sex had already become the national addiction, and films with titles such as “Tikim”, “Pinya”, “Boatman” and “Kangkong” became the blockbuster films among those who neither had money nor education (ergo, about half of the populace). Too late.

On the other hand, you have the pro-contraceptionists, Rina Jimenez-David among them, who argue that women have the right to safe contraceptive methods. They are worrying about the myriad women who die of pregnancies in very difficult conditions, who are forced by their husbands into sex because frequent sex is a “wifely duty” and end up being pregnant and therefore (for nine months literally) carrying the burden. About the women who cannot choose not to get pregnant but whose husbands can choose to have sex anytime with them – of course if they resist they either face beatings or concubines. This is, I must say, their main beef against the Catholic Church policy. But contraception, despite (or because of) being the easy way out, is very much suspect. It is a palliative for wounds only the grace of God could heal (and which the Church is not even ready to address without its more vocal members in the government and bureaucracy turning belly-up in their own immoral lives) and we might just end up like the Western nations, which place more emphasis on work and less on caring for children, old people, the homeless, and such like.

But (and this is weird) Catholics in the Philippines find it so easy to care more for their own work and money than for needy people. Chiefly because they want to take care of their family first. Family life is obligatory for a society to thrive, but the excessive emphasis on family leads to serious crimes: Exhibit A presents the Ampatuans, Exhibit B presents the Arroyos. Enough said.

The Lady Crowned with the Stars is possibly struggling with her thesis project, the Philippines: I wish her all the graces of God in this. When testosterone has become a drug, when sex has become an addiction, when even simple questions like “Should I bear a child?” get trapped in the sex-addiction, the contraceptive mindset, and the economic costs of the addicition, we need nothing less than divine intervention.

The story of the Philippines is a story of a simple people led astray everyday.

I had almost nothing more to say on the Ampatuan massacre, aside from declaring that it is a clear warning to us federalists if we push for federalism too prematurely. But I watched a clip of a press conference of Malacanang Palace in which Cerge Remonde declared that the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao province is a sign that the government of the Philippines is – get this – ‘resolved’ and ‘will not be cowed’ and dispenses of its duty ‘without fear or favor’.

I don’t know whether to laugh or to get even more angry and just decide to migrate to New Zealand, or whatever else. Truly, the Philippine government is deceitful, and doing a very bad job at being deceitful, such that only the most naive people would believe such lies. Problem is, the Filipino people are the most naive people on earth. There you have it: a populace famous for EDSA and all that people-power jazz, being turned around by a ruler whose power is not even absolute. Gosh, Philippines.

Of course, people may be amazed that the President declared martial law at all, that it did anything at all. The Ampatuans are known political allies of the president, and they wear their ‘faith’ on their sleeves – they have always prided themselves to be Muslim Philippine officials, ‘representative’ of the Muslim community and the Muslim regions. Andal Ampatuan Jr. even wore a Moro putong (headband) when he was arrested, as if to remind the entire nation that he is a scion of a Moro warring family, and he’ll war against justice if need be. Heck, these Ampatuans may just be playing the Muslim card – they’ll cry out persecution if they had any chance later, and the Arroyo government would set them free later, citing ‘pressure’ from ‘Moro groups’ and due to the present government’s policy of ‘de-Imperializing’ Manila and ’empowering’ the regions, which in reality they do in a most distasteful way by letting the ruling families of those regions carve out estates for themselves and ruling by dato-ic decree.

{By the way, this is probably Gilberto Teodoro’s stand on federalism – he actually said when once he was in Cebu that the regions must develop their own sources of funding, or something like that, an assertion which made our ears clap because it was tantamount to supporting federalism. But I realized that what Gibo wants is just to let the ruling classes get their own funding, which is tantamount to 1) letting them reject audit by Manila (or by anyone else) in case the funds get pocketed, 2) rendering them unaccountable to any central government. The second item is not much of a problem were we not talking about the Philippines, a nation where ruling families believe they are preordained to take the thrones of government and where the people are used to being lorded over by their ruling classes.}

We may be surprised at the decision of the Philippine government, but not in a pleasant way. As a CNN anchor asked Major Randolph Cabangbang,  “Why only after 12 days?” The good Cabangbang did answer the question by saying the government ‘built a case’ before declaring martial law. He was in no position to answer in unfavorable terms, because then he would be insubordinating against his Commander-in-Chief. In any case, however, the declaration of martial law and its spinning by Malacanang as the right thing it set out to do is, to put it mildly, bullshit, of course considering that nothing has substantially changed in Maguindanao, the people do not feel any safer and some have even fled to neighboring Sultan Kudarat province.

To swinish Remonde and his equally swinish boss:

Firstly, you do not declare martial law when there are suspects and all that is needed is to arrest them. You declare martial law if there is widespread carnage without any suspects, and if it looks as if war has been unleashed upon the population in that area.

Secondly, you cannot boast of doing the right thing when it’s done very late in the day (i.e. when it’s done a long time after the need for you to do the right thing was greatest). You may applaud Vladimir Putin’s declaration to immediately charge the bar owners in the Perm bar fire (which happened only last week) because it was done only three days after the fire. But doing something for the victims of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao 12 days after the incident? In this case, it’s not even the right thing, dude, so all this posturing by the government is bullshit on so many levels.

I really couldn’t say anything good the past weeks. I was busy with a lot of stuff. I couldn’t even comment on the Ampatuan ‘incident’, or massacre, given that it is the news that the Philippines is newly renowned for. Coming on the heels of Efren Penaflorida’s awarding by CNN as its top Hero for 2009, the Ampatuan incident doth remind us that we need people power even more. You know, when private armies terrorize the population, the whole country has to mobilize to bring the datos to justice.

I am an ardent federalist, but the Ampatuan massacre ought to drive home the brutal truth about our government and society: a federalist government may cause this sort of massacre again IF we are not careful enough. How so?

The underlying principle of a federalist system is that there are many national governments which are brought together, or ‘federated’, in an alliance of sorts. That ‘alliance’ is the geopolitical entity that deals with the international community. State governments cannot interfere with each other’s government styles, choices, et al. except when such styles and choices affect the other state governments. For example, just recently in the United States, the government of Washington state is blaming the government of Arkansas state for giving a cop killer parole. It is doing that just because the cop killer has transferred to Washington state and killed four cops there.

Now, consider this: Let’s say we now divide the Philippines into state-like regions which are governed by their own governments. The real problem here is that the state governments will fall into the hands of a few families – sometimes, only one – and not become a democratic government. The problem is made even deeper by ethnicities – if we criticize the Garcia-controlled government of Kabisayaan, for instance, they would say that we are anti-Cebuano. If we criticize the Ampatuan-controlled government of Maguindanao, the Ampatuans would say that we are anti-Maguindanao, or worse, anti-Muslim – never mind the fact that the Tausugs, Maranaos and Mapuns are more commended for their government than the Maguindanaos are. They will say anything they want to say, just to identify something dispensable (them) with something indispensable (culture and ethnicity) and therefore gain ‘immunity’. This is a real problem for the Philippines, a nation where 100 or so tribes jockey for autonomy and self-determination AND are fond of entrusting their sociopolitical fate to one or two, or perhaps three, dato families. We might as well have declared ourselves independent states in 1898! We are now still in the exact same position Czechoslovakia was in 1918 – after 100 years of inane Tagalog-dominant rule.

Of course I would not advocate going our own separate ways; the burden of that will be too heavy to bear per capita. But before we go and create a federal government, we must develop our democratic culture. The success rate of going federal for the Philippines now is near nil, because if journalists are getting killed under the government’s watch, we may see  more of that in the future if we push on prematurely. We might as well have declared martial law.

Let us also watch and test these government officials who ‘support’ and ‘actively pursue’ federalism as a platform of government. Do these people really want the Philippines to benefit, or do they just want themselves and their families to benefit? From the almost trustworthy Pimentel to the downright vile Arroyo, we must not believe everything they say. We must forge opinions for ourselves regarding federalism, because it is inevitably our future, like it or not, Rio Alma.

Federalism in the Philippine setting requires three conditions.

1) While still unitary, the government must be free of political dynasties. The government must have policies regarding people who have relatives in the service. The whole point is that the government bureaucracy must be strictly meritocratic – meaning that absolutely no one can get in or be barred because of ‘connections’, but because of real and specific criteria. And this should apply to elected officials and career employees – practically the entire bureaucracy.

2) Political parties should be strengthened while the government is unitary. This means that there must be a party platform which is not “to badmouth Ms Arroyo, and to put her away in chains” which is, although a laudable thing to do, something quite apart from an ideology or platform that the people can rally around. Remember EDSA 2; after Erap had been deposed, they went back to their own ideologies, whether leftist, rightist, or money-ist. So we are forced to bear with a ‘president’ who plundered so much, via family or via friends and acquaintances. Now we risk doing the same thing when we rally only to ‘put GMA in chains’. How about an ideology, which traditionally was the strength of the Liberal and Nacionalista parties?

{By the way, I told you to vote Liberal back then not because of their resolve to make GMA accountable, but because their ideology is just what the country needs: change, right now. Of course, their actions after I wrote that article made me think twice. Oh well, the elections are so far away, and so many other things can still happen. My leaning now are toward Nick Perlas and JC delos Reyes, and, despite the fact that we need a president who is more pragmatic than idealistic, more active than pensive, will never vote for Manny Villar. The two candidates and Noynoy have much to prove to us before they earn our vote – that they can initiate change. Heck, the President is not called the most powerful person in the Philippines for nothing. If they can’t change the system, like Cory, something must be not working with them. What Cory did not do – give the old order a veritable run for their money – they must do, while being, like Cory, an inspiration of Yes We Can levels for the youth and the middle-aged, who constitute the workforce and have the power to turn the ship of state back from its course of doom.}   

3.) Goals must be set, funding for these goals must be allotted, and the implementation overseen – all this while the government is still unitary. I mean, fund the important things: education, healthcare, science and technology, industry, energy, the military – in that very order. And the implementation must be rapid and seen by the people so that they would be inspired to work in the government in these fields, stopping the brain drain and the OFW explosion. Agrarian reform must be completed in three years – it can be done if the government really wants to do it and wants to do away with all feudal ties to the land. By the way, no amount of ads will convince the people that there is progress – we will just feel it if it’s there. It’s just like the wind – you feel it blowing. No one needs to tell you that it is indeed blowing.

But, of course, the Arroyo government and their supporters, including the Garcias of Cebu and the Ampatuans of Maguindanao, want a federal government so that they can exercise their feudal power even when elections are held. They won’t heed this advice, however unsolicited it may be.

To the Filipino people – good luck!

It always amazes me that Filipinos always find reasons to celebrate. No, this is not precolonial in nature. Yes, we did have precolonial festivals, like for the harvest, as in all agricultural societies. But not like the revelries we have in this time. We may have invented tuba and tapay, but so far no records of the precolonial era which were made public have described people killing each other under the influence of alcohol. Or, people doing their jobs poorly because they have succumbed to indulgence. Or worse, people doing their jobs poorly even if they haven’t.

Filipinos have made the festival a comfort thing. We disguise all our miseries in a festival that, we hope, will last a long time. This is why Christmas in the Philippines starts in September and lasts all the way up to February. It’s practically a six-month period, half of the year. The other half we spend in weddings, birthdays, even wakes and burials. And the weekly (or daily, in some fanatic circles) inuman, which, as several reports show, usually leads to casualties. This is why the Philippines is SO happy.

The good Pope John Paul II was reported to be rendered sleepless thinking about why the Filipinos are so happy. Dear Holy Father, I am sorry to inform you that it is, in part, a deception. But yes, there are Filipinos who are genuinely happy despite their poverty, knowing that they did their best providing for their families and staying clean before God, and no efforts of theirs were wasted. I hope, Papa Juan Pablo II, you pray hard for these people whom you meditated on with regard to their happiness. And also pray for those Filipinos who deceive themselves and pretend they are really happy.

Basically, the latter kind of Filipinos are those who gather and get drunk while disturbing everyone in the vicinity. Those who have nothing to talk about except their sexual prowess, real or imagined, and sexual exploits, and (usually the men are guilty of this) their inferior treatment of the opposite sex. Motherhood statements fly around when they talk about morality, God etc., and you wonder if they still have any meaning, hearing these from them. They claim to trust in God, but then they advocate extramarital sex, threesomes, prostitution, pornography and the like. They also pretend to be upright, decent people in public but they are bestial in private. They are fond of rationalizing their actions using the religious terms (remember the case of good ol’ Chavit and Che? Military men have applauded Chavit for beating up his wife!) but then they really have no heart for religion. They label celibates and goody-two-shoeses as ‘priest’ material, if not ‘gay’.

Now, hear this: I’m not a moralist: I’m just saying that no one has the right to hypocrisy. All of us have faults and sins, but you can’t advocate trusting in God and illicit sex at the same time. You advocate trusting in God, you stop upholding the sexual double standard. You don’t publicly condemn masturbation et al. and then in private, in the company of close friends or ‘kumpares’ , you praise them. You condemn them in public and in the company of your ‘kumpares’.

Filipinos, as a group, are most likely to pre-judge you. And their present double standards and their double lives don’t help the situation. Men value sexual prowess BUT frown on gays as if all gays live perverted ‘from-man-to-man’ lives, even if homosexuality and fornication are equally perverted and the difference lies only in the aspect of sex that’s perverted. This is found in American culture as well, but not so much now. And women usually like to busy themselves with the lives of other people, while maintaining ‘chastity’ and ‘kahinhinan’ which actually means: being real hard to get and will give all and will even endure being a concubine, all for ‘love’.

Gosh. As an exalted race, we have to have a complete value overhaul! Or else we’ll decimate ourselves in the next 200 years. Eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow…we die.

Let those who have eyes and sight see and understand. 


It was Tuesday, November 3 when I saw in the Philippine Daily Inquirer a full-page ad for a petition for the government, and “us” to, in the ad’s words, “take advantage of the proposed Metro Manila make-over…to reform our cities once and for all”.

This I read as a sober call for the government to rethink its World Bank-recommended urban development program. Remember when it was reported that the World Bank recommended centralization? So the government felt encouraged in its mission to swamp Metro Manila with citizens. As a result, a huge number of residents in Metro Manila live in informal settlements. Large swaths of land are “devoted” to informal settlement, and people are forced to live in unsanitary and close quarters, leading to greater incidences of pregnancy and death by disease – a grisly consequence of the belief that Manila is paradise on earth. Ondoy and Pepeng and company have supposedly shaken that paradigm to its foundations by now: the government is announcing it will “decongest” Metro Manila because among the hundred-thousands, if not millions, of informal settlers, are those who made the mistake of living in Pasig and Taguig, near Laguna de Bay. The land there is wet and prone to flooding come heavy rains. But no: they settled in the land and their settlements became the cause of flooding not only for Pasig and Taguig, but also for Marikina, a little farther from the lake.

Of course, the people are not to blame. Some would say they should have settled in the North, in Quezon City, in other places. But the objective of these settlers is to get as close to Manila as possible: you can’t expect them, then, to settle in Bulacan, etc. Why? Because the government centralized all growth in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City. The latest of these mentioned is not even a commercial center, except maybe for Cubao in the south, where much of the commerce is concentrated. Quezon City was designed to hold government offices at the time Manila itself was rebuilt after the Second World War, not be the commercial center.

So Manila improved and grew, and attracted many immigrants. Too much, apparently. Did the government improve Cebu? Naga? Davao? Baguio? Legaspi? Zamboanga? All these cities and others were cities, all right, but only in name. At most, they were only “cultural nodes”, and people in the capital treated these cities as if they were buzzwords, sometimes of a negative kind, their lives all connected to Manila by virtue of Manila being the capital. For example, one would define Cebu as “where they have this old Magellan’s cross”, Naga as “where they have this giant river procession”, Davao as “where they get durian”, Baguio as “where we go every summer because it’s cool there”, Legaspi as “where they sell pili nuts and spicy food”, Zamboanga as “where they speak a sort of weird Filipino Spanish”, or “where Dakak is”, or, worse, “where the Abu Sayyaf are”. The ones speaking, the “we”, are Manilans. They can go to Cebu to see Magellan’s cross, to Naga to see the Penafrancia Festival, to Davao to get durian, to Baguio to while away their Holy Week in cold splendor, to Legazpi to buy pili nuts and pili candy, and to Zamboanga for Dakak. It’s as if the entire Philippines is one whole museum in Manila and the cities mentioned above are mere exhibits.

This, my friends, is how “nationalism” is construed in the 7107 Isles. This is exactly what “Imperial Manila” means. And this is why the immigrants from the “provinces” are flocking to Manila: the government has centralized not only its administration, but education, social services, and commerce.

But no, I’m not saying that GMA has turned this trend, or has even tried to, as she said in her 2006 SONA, or that she is the champion of this belief, as some people in DILA (the anti-homogenization, anti-assimilation society) and certain congressmen, one of whose surnames sound like a vegetable, enunciate and believe. GMA has been the only head of government to promise this and yet not carry it out. Now a slew of officials and luminaries are petitioning her to do so, in this ad that I’ve told you about. Among them: Naga’s Jesse Robredo, Cebu’s Tomas Osmena, Congw. Risa Hontiveros of AKBAYAN, Leila de Lima of the CHR (yes, the same person who fought for prosecution of the Melissa Roxas torture case), former Chief Justice Hilario Davide (who, it is set down here, is the coordinator of Liberal Party’s Cebu branch), former Education and Agriculture Secretary Butch Abad,  the bishops of Malolos and Infanta, an auxillary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, Religious superiors, Fr. Robert Reyes (yes, the running priest), and others. Even foreign nationals who have been studying the Philippines are in the petition. This must be a rather serious petition, but, for the very reason that it is rather serious, it will be unheeded by government, which is busy thinking about elections. I mean, you have a very hypocritical government telling all of us that they’re focused on work. In fact they will do everything in a rash manner, though not necessarily rushing, and concentrate on plans for re-election or re-corruption.

But this I would like to say, not to the government but to the petitioners in this ad, and by faint extension to Noynoy Aquino, who seemingly has the popularity today: Make this concern on the top of your to-do list when you take over. Decongest Manila by improving Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zambaonga, Naga, etc. so that they are of the same economic viability as Manila, if not greater. So people will flock to more cities and growth will be distributed all over the country. And pollution and overcrowding will not be a great problem in the cities because the growth is not crammed in one city and therefore easy to sustain. The Philippines has so much to offer us by way of strategically economic growth bases. Only in this way could we move to greater economic growth, and then to improving political and military power.

A thought just entered my mind: isn’t the prevailing corruption of the government partly due to its being centralized? Or is corruption centralized as well, leading to its dominance in government transactions? Will talk about that in another column, I think.

This post is about what has been put down in this analysis by Gill H. Boehringer, entitled “Class and Ondoy: The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Ideological Distortions”.

The article discusses the failure of the Inquirer to describe the disaster following the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy in a class-unbiased way. True, the Inquirer did call the disaster a great equalizer, and we know that the daily is actually the mouthpiece of the EDSA forces, one of two voices of “the other ruling class”, the other voice being the collective voice of Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino (because the former adds credibility to areas where the latter might have left us with doubts about her sincerity). Boehringer apparently indicts the daily for having participated in a cover-up of the social dimensions of the Ondoy disaster. And apparently at the risk of sounding too class-conscious. The trouble (or problem) for proponents and believers of this more erudite analysis is that most Filipinos will say ‘pare-pareho lang tayo pagdating ng kalamidad’ and actually believe it. They will also say that this proposition is aiming toward class conflict, and hence communistic and by extension subversive. Filipinos will not dare embrace this proposition publicly, saying ‘Makibagay na lang tayo sa gobyerno, makibagay na lang tayo sa sistema.’ And with good reason.
Socialism as an ideology or body of ideologies has been proven to not work in countries like Russia, East Germany, Cuba, and North Korea. China, where the largest and longest-surviving Communist party still reigns, has eschewed socialism while continuing to call itself Communist – but oh, the money trail will tell you what it really is.
Moreover, Filipinos do not have the time or resources to initiate class struggle and sustain class conflict. Or the inclination, because any conflict destabilizes the pretty little lives Filipinos fashion around themselves.

While I agree with some points that Boehringer laid down, I don’t see the utter need to describe the role of class in the Ondoy disaster. The role of class in disasters is well-documented, anyway: in the Philippines, it is usually taken for granted that the poor suffer much more than the rich. But the poor rarely take up arms against the government because of such suffering. The rich do, and constantly. Look at Kris Aquino.
It may be said that the poor are seemingly quiet, because they have no voice in government and are often bypassed or, much more cruelly, used to bolster a bid by a member of the ruling class. Look at Hermogenes Ebdane’s ads to see what I mean.
Actually, the poor have a loud voice, if diffused: The Marcosine cabal (see later).
This article by Boehringer does not state the fact that illegal settlement of the Laguna Lake shore is the reason for the disaster. But we may also ask why the government turns a blind eye while immigrants in search for a better life flood Metro Manila and settle in every possible nook and cranny of the metropolis, rather than go to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao and other cities in order to find work. The centralization of the Philippines around Manila is a significant part of the problem, and the poor are not to blame.
But as the topic of ideological distortions and differences has been touched, I will talk about the ideological swirls in the Philippines since 1986. I say that the conflict among these ideologies in society and politics are per se the reason for the continued destitution of the Philippines.

Philippine society and politics, I will say forthrightly, has had four major movers ever since 1948.
The first is the political and social Establishment, or “Estab”. Estab is the combined might of the rich political clans in the Philippines in Katagalugan, Pampanga, Kabisay-an and Kabikolan, as well as some clans in Ilocos. Therein are the familiar figures of Manuel Quezon (and descendants), Elpidio Quirino, Manuel Roxas (and descendants), Diosdado Macapagal (and descendants), Luis Villafuerte (and descendants), and others. You get the picture. They love to dabble in law. They live to dabble in law. And they are the leading politicians of the ruling class. Estab is self-righteous and ruthless, and will not brook any opposition, whether from Corazon Aquino or from Joma Sison. It has tried to destroy the latter, and has planted seeds all around the domicile of the former to undermine her. Joey de Venecia is the best example of those seeds.

The second force, which came into vogue with Martial Law, is the Marcosine cabal, or “Markies”. Markies are directly ideologically descended from Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, Sr., the architect of the New Society. Some people have looked up to him as some Indonesians have looked up to a Sukarno. This profiling of Marcos in this way is important for us to perceive because the Markies, the spawn he left, are populist politicians of the ruling class. They go to barrios and shake people’s hands, and they pose for pictures which will be shown on their election ads. They also love to dabble in law, like their Apo Macoy does, but they like to behave most ‘populistically’ (if ever there was such a word). The KBL (which includes Imelda’s hanky-waving worshippers) is the most obvious, if weirdest and most fringe, Markie faction, but others which can be pointed out easily are the Erap group, Jamby Madrigal, Manny Villar (who, interestingly, is the head of the Nacionalista Party that Marcos took part in before the New Society), and Mike Velarde, who although he is more a charismatic figure than a political one is very much populist. Velarde has not, it must be pointed out for fairness, openly expressed support for Marcos or his family.
The above description of Markies is important to identify certain of them in our midst. Francis Escudero, for one, although he has been pushing for ‘new governance’, is actually the latest in a long line of Markies. He is populist. He loves to cajole the people with his use of Tagalog (a foolish move) and talk about change. And we found out he is the son of one of Macoy’s ministers during Macoy’s rule. The best part of the Chiz offensive is that he can actually convince us that he is The One.

The third force is the EDSA Force, or “Edsa”. This consists of people who are so tired with what the two previously described groups are planning and doing, that they actually think of ways to move the system. But they are timid, uncoordinated, and usually sticking to conventional methods. Corazon Aquino is one of these people, and her family and every branch of the Aquino and Cojuangco families (even Danding, but not Tessie Oreta, who is decidedly irrelevant now, and Gibo, who is not very Cojuangco ideologically). So is Manoling Morato, who is a ‘morality’ guardian. They usually also belong to certain other rich families, like the Prietos (who own the Inquirer and, like their flamboyant relative Tessa, are patrons of the arts and everything more noble than making more money and having more sex), the Guidote-Alvarezes, the Lumberas and the Almarios (and other arts-and-literature families), and such like. Edsa people boast of having finished college in UP or in other old if not erudite universities, and are the cream of the cream of the cream of the crop. They write or teach for a living. The hardest part is, they have the loudest voice of all but they are the most lampa, or ineffective. While groups like Edsa are very influential in the US and Europe, in the Philippines everybody looks down on them as ‘the conyo class’. In fact, they’re the only thinkers in this country, in two senses: they ‘alone’ think, and they ‘only’ think. Hence they are fond of theories and projections, and, to expand and correct Boehringer’s assertion, the notion that rich and poor did equally suffer is more a projection than a cover-up. Maybe these are honest mistakes, or they can be calculated propaganda. It’s hard to tell. But like with Kris Aquino, the truth is this class is fundamentally self-absorbed.
Tessa Prieto, however, is a phenomenon that could only be discussed in a separate column, along with Chin-Chin Gutierrez.

The last force, but certainly not to be left out, is the Communist Party and its myriad fronts, collectively called NDF. It purports to be the voice of the poor all over the Philippines, but has always failed in its attempts to subvert governments which the first three forces head, despite the majority of Filipinos being poor. It has a very small following in a country that is very religious and also very un-cerebral. They advocate class struggle: they’re the only ones who do so in the Philippines. They are whipping boys of the governments, whichever among the governments that sat from 1946 onward. They purport to investigate human rights violations, which does not give them underdog status even today. Alas, the Filipino people are tired of such movements. The NDF is at risk of being more Markie-like, because of the tendency to populism, just to save their cause from falling apart. Of course, Satur Ocampo and friends are in that class. We are sympathetic toward them because of the military, but we don’t exactly like the idea of collectivization and, yes, class struggle.

These four forces struggle amongst themselves even now, as they have done so during the past 63 years. The Philippines has remained poor and virtually clueless about what it’s meant to be as a nation. The cruel thing is, the Philippines doesn’t know it’s virtually clueless and thinks it’s finding its real identity as a nation.

No doubt, the typhoons that swept the country were natural events. I beg to differ with Boehringer in that I regard the entire socio-political system of the Philippines as having been calamitous long before Ondoy, and that all the ideological wars between those forces, instead of only ideological ‘cover-ups’ or projections by the Inquirer in particular and Edsa in general, are the real culprits for making the Filipino/a’s political thoughts as lame, ineffective, and pathetic as they are today.

I am back after some time being away. That’s because the recent storms leave me having no comment. What can you comment about? Blame Ondoy and Pepeng for the destruction of Luzon? Last I checked, they had already disappeared, without a trace. They were so a month ago. Now, there’s Typhoon Ramil, and it looks as if the trend of the Western Pacific storms is to tarry over the Philippines and rain over it as much as possible. People had been talking of the past seven-week period (till today) as one of the punishments God brought to us. And Mike Tan says (in his column today) that talking of malevolent events as if they were God’s punishment brings us back to the evidently primal concept of gaba.
On Mike Tan’s assessment, I will have to say that gaba is a sort of primal (and today, kinda anachronistic) check-and-balance, like karma. Only that, unlike karma, the supernatural world is included in the check-and-balance, with its characters (for monotheists, God)inscrutable to the human mind. The concept assumes that God can be dealt with in mathematical terms. The people imagine that God/the gods want/s them to do something. If they do it, blessings will come. If they don’t do it, curses will come. And the concept is self-closed. They can come up with reasons for all happenings.
The only pitfall of this concept is that it is closed, and it becomes tiring and very tedious to keep after a long time, so people try to get out of the rut. They do this by converting to another faith or changing the tenets of the faith they’re in. Some, however, get by contenting themselves with the smallness of their world view. And then there are some who find the right door, an inner freedom that goes beyond the tenets of their faith and extends to everything they do.
I myself believe in consequences, and the importance of owning up to them. But adjudging ourselves as outside the sphere of consequences is dangerous. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel did not bring down terrible prophecies against Israel without knowing they would also be in the midst of the mayhem, that they would see it. But because they were faithful, God promised their safety.
In the end, it all comes down to divine justice. Good deeds merit good things; bad deeds merit bad things. And no good fruit comes out of bad trees, just as no bad fruit comes out of good trees. Whether such and such a thing is ‘bad’ or ‘good’ may be taught us by authority, but definitely our conscience must learn to separate ‘good’ from ‘bad’; it’s the conscience’s job.
But be forewarned that the gaba formalism is not a good way to describe our relationships with God or the gods. In Christian terms, for instance, God is not like a person who can be factored into the mathematical scheme of things. God, by definition, is outside of it all. Gaba is like trying to do calculations treating infinity as a finite number.

Anyway, I would like to volunteer a thought on the San Roque dam issue.
The release of water from the reservoir following a storm is the real issue, not the presence of the dam itself. There have been protests against the construction of the dam, which not only curbs the flooding of the Agno River but also provides hydroelectric power. But the floods that Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan (who, it must be said, was against the dam) referred to only happened now.
It’s not like eastern Pangasinan is inundated every so often by floods ever since the dam was built. We could have worried about the upper Agno River banks. And the Ibalois up in Benguet have fiercely protested the construction of this dam, says the World Rainforest Movement. But the dam was built anyway.
A release of water from a dam should be preceded by warnings and advisories from the dam operators. The people should have been allowed to get ready for this release, which is not inevitable since the dam would most likely burst if the water exceeds critical levels. There must be monitoring of river levels as well. And the water must be released very slowly.
All told, the San Roque dam-related flooding is an event where human mismanagement and logistics failure take center stage. It is not a malevolent effect of the presence of the San Roque dam. To say that that is, is to commit the post-hoc fallacy. We’re not saying here that the San Roque dam has no malevolent effects, or that it should not be decommissioned. But there has to be some other way of supplying the energy that San Roque somehow affords Luzon.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, in its editorial today, suggests that the move to decommission San Roque may be part of a movement pushing for nuclear energy instead. It’s like the dam’s detractors would say, “Let’s push for nuclear energy instead: it’s safer and won’t cause floods.”
Yeah, totally, if you don’t mind food containing radioactive isotopes.
We Filipinos are fond of the grand gesture, and everything grand. We always aim for the big-time and the highest, even if our plans are not thought through. And so our OFWs get to brag to their neighbors about their wealth, and people who have American/European spouses get to brag about these to their neighbors. And nothing has happened after that: deep down, we’re still the same old small-town ambitious person whose insatiety is infinity.
That’s insecurity, which almost always leads to poor judgement. Trust me, I should know, I’ve been struggling with insecurities, and making wrong decisions is always a part of that. Not even God will want to save you, however, if you continue to think of yourself as high, flying, adored.