One Nation, Under God, Absurd and Infinitely Divisible

Author’s Note: You may have read some of this before. What I’d ask that you keep in mind is how straightforward it can be to do what is good for the Philippines if the goal is simple yet profound.
Philippine society has a split personality, one wholesome, fun-loving and family oriented, the other a pyramid of dysfunctions built on a base of personal insecurity and greed.
The good one is most of the people on most days.
The bad one SEEMS to be most of the government on most days. I know there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work in government, but the ineffective seems to bubble to the top where we can see them.
Quick digression. Kudos to the Aquino government for holding 31 DENR officials to account for the killer flash floods that ripped through Cagayan de Oro last year. The 31 lost their jobs and some are likely to be prosecuted. It is good that the President got angry that his Executive Order on illegal logging was ignored. A law without enforcement is not a law.
For the good Philippines, the main currency is the peso, and there are far too few to go around. For the bad one, the main currency is power which lubricates the trade of favors from which so many pesos derive.
Let’s deal mainly with the bad one since our aspiration is to emulate the sensationalist Philippine media. Joltin’ Joe Muckraker at his best, offering up unproved deductions in the guise of knowledge.
The horribly broken down Philippine institutions are: the courts and the legal structure that feeds them, the education system, the framework for taxation, Manila’s infrastructure, local zoning departments, justice and NBI, Customs, and DENR. The health system exists (hospitals exist), but nobody can afford care, so the infrastructure is dilapidated and weak, especially in the provinces.
Tourism and business work pretty well. They are getting better, deeper, more competitive. Agribusiness does its thing, a tad under-mechanized, but not wholly broken down. The military is stable and improving. The police do what they do, sometimes half-assed, sometimes well. Utilities need a lot of work but they aren’t the cause of the State’s dilapidated state. Transportation is a hodgepodge but generally moves better than Los Angeles Freeways, and a lot more cheaply; the variety fits the economy where only a few people own cars.
Moral values are frozen leftovers imported by the Catholic Church from centuries ago when the earth was huge and the population was but a fraction of what it is today. Now the seas are rising, the storms are raging and the resources are shrinking. Babies and kids swarm everywhere; where are their jobs? Overseas?
This is the last nation on the planet with no divorce outlet for a failed marriage. Scroll the title . . .”Of women’s bondage . . .”
It seems like the nation simply cannot get unstuck from its massive absurdities.
  • Manila is 10 separate cities, each with its own agenda. You can drive from Makati to Kaloocan and see the patchwork of good and bad, mostly bad, and rich and poor, mostly poor. This is Europe on a minor scale, each civic entity arguing for its own right to run things, thus consigning the whole to divisive spats and herky-jerky progress. No one can muster the consensus to change this, to make Manila once again the pride of Asia. It rots, sewers plugged, traffic jammed, broken pavement and buildings everywhere, and those slums, the worst of the worst, here and there. It is the pit of Asia, no longer the pearl, and no one has a master plan. That’s absurd.
  • The Catholic Doctrine is driving the nation to out-of-control over-birthing and poverty-stricken ruination but accepts no responsibility for this. The Church evidently cannot multiply 8 (sets of parents) times 8 (kids) and come up with 64 young, hungry mouths with nowhere to go and little to eat. They see birthing as addition, 2 + 1 = 3. Nothing scary about that, eh? Women are considered subordinate to men. And the nation’s leaders continue to bow before priests. That’s absurd.
  • Education should teach creativity and achievement, but the Department of Education can’t DO creativity and achievement. They do autocratic, and they do whining for budget. That’s absurd.
  • Never has so much intelligence gone to waste as in the Judiciary and the inept lawyering that is the legal foundation of the Philippines. Inefficient, illogical, political. Wasting effort on annulment hearings whilst murderers go free. No sense that speed is important for justice to be just. It is the biggest mess in the world. They are paper-pushers, that’s all. “Stalling for cash”. It oughta be a TV game show hosted by Kris Aquino. Lawyers pass the bar and then seem to go zero on us, demonstrating no passion for RIGHT over WRONG. That’s absurd.
  • No one sees that the difference between American productivity and Philippine ineptitude has to do with motivating individual workers to perform, to grow, to gain rewards of wallet and esteem, to climb careers built on opportunity. The U.S. is a firestorm of well motivated, hard driving workers. Here? Hire Uncle Manualo for that plum supervisory job and watch him flop about. Appoint the wife there and watch her arrive late and leave early. Bring Junior up the ladder and watch him party with the stars. Ignore the lower class workers. Never mind that all this squashes the ambition and opportunity for Jose Genius and chases his brain and talent overseas. It isn’t a brain DRAIN, actually. It is a CATTLE DRIVE, a stampede, a social system that assures talent must go elsewhere to succeed. That’s absurd.
Kafka would love it.
He wouldn’t have to write books about absurdity, like “The Castle”. He’d just invite people to the Philippines.
And the root of the power pushing is self interest, too often founded on insecurity. That is not a healthy mix. It assures lots of angry power struggles. It seems like there are win/lose tussles at every turn. Enemies at every corner. Saving face. Punishing those who offend face. Biting and bitter, the mood of most moments.
Few people seem to have the tools to generate harmony under pressure; to debate; to problem solve. They tear others down.
Harmony is built on trust. It requires that people accept responsibility for the good and the bad that flow from their decisions, not dump on innocents. It requires the graciousness to concede arguments and authority to others who may do things just a little differently.
People are trying so hard to be winners here that they trample on others. And we all lose
Maybe the solution is to help people understand that winning is not the goal. Because you are only defeating other Filipinos, thereby defeating the Philippines. Building is what is important.
I hope the huge mass of good Filipinos can master the techniques of power pushing, maybe under the direction of social-media opinion leaders, to claim back the nation that is rightfully theirs. I do hope so.
The good people could do this . . . take RESPONSIBILITY for doing this . . . by voting well in 2013 and 2016. Toss out the old, ineffectual barriers to progressive thinking. Bring in new, fresh thinking that is not automatic for re-election. Make ’em EARN re-election!
Here’s to the rise of the responsible Filipino! The good Filipino!

14 Responses to “One Nation, Under God, Absurd and Infinitely Divisible”
  1. chohalili says:

    Very good write Mr. Joe! you are absolutely right. But let me first comment on the last paragraph of the article. As long as there are Eraps, Villars and the likes to run for office, there will always be the other side of the Philippine society (the dysfunction.) almost 90% of voters trade their votes for a can of sardine & kilo of rice…they live across the condominiums the "Squatters" the good voters live outside the country & the uglies & the foringer lives in the condominiums.

  2. Thanks, chohalili. Yes, there is something rather unkind about vote-buying when you put it that way. Seems generous, but it essentially locks people in place. Both the person elected, who gets the goodies, and the person with the kilo of rice, who gets a couple of meals.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Not sure if this is an 'Only In Da Philippines' bit (has this phrase been replaced with 'It's More Fun'?), but due to the increase in vehicular accidents in Manila's main thoroughfare EDSA, the Catholic Church is planning to hold an 'exorcism' on Saturday. Because boogeymen are responsible for that bus driver texting while driving. Or that Jeepney from cutting through the road to beat the other jeepneys from picking up passengers.Or what about the 'informal settlers' that were killed after living under an unsafe structure, and then blaming the mayor for not telling them to leave because said location was 'unsafe'?*ahem*Still think this country has got what it takes, Joe?-patrioticflip

  4. Anonymous says:

    Patrioticflip,I dont know where that idea came from to exorcize EDSA. You know, that is one of most ABSURD crap I ever heard after I read the "One Nation, Under God, Absurd and Infinitely Divisible."Filipinos have the knack of overly relying to supreme being rather than focusing and implementing traffic rules and safety regulations. There is no doubt that our faith in God is unquestionable, but we have to do our part and duties to make that faith relevant to our life. What if the mishaps worsen? Is the Church going to stage a Novena in every city? AbsurdIts Jack

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joe,Loves the title dude! It sounds like a mighty gongs (not cymbals) reververating over the spines of the nation's leader who bow to the priest. But wait, I think I want to take that back. There is bill or proposition from a rare and brave leader to remove religious related objects, in government buildings including chapels. I think that is a good start to fight the church's political influence to our spineless leaders. While to potato is still hot, I proposed to ban Catholic mass in all government institution as unconstitutional.Its Jack

  6. Anonymous says:

    Joe,Are you familiar with the two novels Noli Me Tangere published 1887 and El Filibusterismo published 1891 written by Dr. Jose (Joe) Rizal our national hero?My favorite during my hi-school days. They dont teach it anymore; a disgrace. I think the Church has something to do with the termination of the curriculum. You see, they have that kind of power as illustrated in the two books he had written whom he paid for his dear life.Over a hundred years later, the church still weld that power and influence in the Govenment. The Corrupt Spanish General who was then (Governadocillo) governor of the Philippines was forced by the Friars (priests) to kill Dr. Jose Rizal by way of firing squad in Luneta Park presently known as Rizal Park.What is wrong with picture? We have not learned anything. My friend Joe, be careful, I dont want to see you lined up before the firing squad eh?Its Jack

  7. Patrioticflip, that is wonderful witchcraft coming from the Church, eh? No wonder the population is both religious and superstitious. Still, my answer would be yes, Filipinos have what it takes, surrounding the core of mostly young, well educated people who populate the internet. And the government of President Aquino which is trying mighty hard to break down the culture of corruption. Investment ratings up another notch. This is good stuff . . .

  8. Ha, thanks, Jack. I rather smiled when that title came off the keyboard, too. You know, if I were Muslim, I would be incensed that the government that will not let me be independent practices a faith that is different than mine. Livid. A non-denominational prayer would not be so bad. No worship at all would be best. Render unto God that which is His, in His various Churches, and keep Caesar's realm for people of all faiths and no faiths.

  9. I've read bios of Rizal, but not his books. That is a definite TO DO, and I'll get one during my August trip to National Bookstore. Yes, I suppose thinking and speaking the wrong words can be dangerous in these parts, eh? Still, I can't imagine shutting up. That would be like concession to evil, and cowardly. I'll be honest and honorable in my writings and if this here God y'all are talking about objects to that, I guess I'll find out . . .

  10. Anonymous says:

    huh? Investment ratings is up? When did that happen Joe?If that is the latest and the greatest I am extremely delighted. Something is working.Yeah, I also noticed some young blood in Congress, but the second generation of the old guard. We shall see.A new and fresh mind shall refresh the buttons.Its Jack

  11. Anonymous says:

    No Joe, I didnt mean to scare you, I just wanted to mess with you. You cant shut up, I know that and your writings are fairly civilized. However, you cant be too careful. Be observant around you eh?Its Jack

  12. Whew! I'll put the 44 magnum back in the shoe box again.S&P raised Philippine debt to one notch below investment grade earlier this week. It was two notches down.I like the amount of youth in the legislature, and the next two elections will be fascinating to watch, to see (1) if the transparency kick follows through, and (2) if the internet force will play out strong to influence both the candidates and the public's choices.

  13. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e1. From my rocking chair I am getting confused as tothe issue of numbers….97 million penoys and growing by1.5 million (+/_) each year….2007 islands in the nationis now being advertised for a reality of 1007 islands…and now 10 cities in Metro Manila….vs. the 16 citieswhich I am aware of…soooo much confusion….I thinkI need to go find a blanket and suck on my thumb some more!2. Notice that Manila traffic is a disaster and justgetting worse…by the minute! The MMDA and related departments have just announced that for the most partthey have given up on "old Manila" and are not promotingthe idea of building a "NEW Manila" elswhere…but stillinviting the casino builders and grand developers toput up mini-worlds in downtown Manila! Besides a newset of casinos the govenrment plans on expanding the"old Man-ila" by a new land fill entertainment, shoppingand residential development extending into the bay areaaround the Manila Yatch club….wow…what a country….and they expect to grow…grow…grow…!So what is a sane person to do? I suggest we need to run ….run…run very, very fast…otherwise learn howto grow wings!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Whoa Joe!Can you imagine when the Philippines gets to investment grade level?Is this one of the reason why you and I are getting poorer lately while the peso is becoming stronger against the dollar? Oh boy…..Well, my best guess is that with the power of the Internet and other sources, how I wish that the Filipinos are getting smarter and vote for the best public servants. I will go for the young blood, best educated perhaps.Careful with that Magnum; I prefer the Magnum Ice Cream. Its Jack

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