Angry Maude Rants: The Surreal Philippines

Guest Article

By Maude Garrison

I must confess, dear readers, that this relentless study of Philippine ways and means from the vantage point of Western norms is becoming surreal. Jojo and I spend way too many meals discussing the cultural nuances of plunder. But I can’t get enough of it. Y’all do it different, and you do it fine in my book. Well, except for the part I’m going to tell you about today.
We girls are sensory. We like to touch things, like fabrics, and sniff things, like perfumes, and see things like hunka hunka naked Filipino laborers all sweaty and muscled  and . . .
Oops, sorry.
We girls are sensory.
Have you ever been snorkeling or scuba diving where you were totally immersed in the underwater world? The water becomes your new surroundings, rather than air. And the creatures are fish instead of birds. The light may be shaded grey by the reflections of the deep, or bright white as sunshine refracts from above. The temperature is mellow and the fluidity of your motions is like a slow dance, a slow motion waltz.
Photo Credit:

Everything is clear, but everything is also not quite right.

That’s what it is like to swim in Philippine culture, where my readings and study of people and events and the dialogue on this blog have uncovered extraordinary treasures, rather like those found in a coral reef, discoveries never expected or imagined. Some beautiful, some hideous, many just interesting, and occasionally something dangerous. Like those black and white striped killer sea snakes that slither across the sandy bottom like Get Real‘s benigno doing another “get Aquino” blog.

What has happened, I think, is that I have learned to swim in this ocean of Philippine culture better than most, better than my neighbors, for sure. I can almost keep up with Jojo, and he is among the most advanced seers of the Philippine condition on the planet. I’d wager I’ve become more of an expert on things than even the top leaders of the land.
  • What does Sotto know about Philippine culture, anyway, to live it so grandly, this excuse-making and failure to accept responsibility, this mandate that face be more important than public well-being and winning more important than doing the right thing.
  • What does Enrile know about Philippine culture, to so perfectly fit the character of the uncaring elite waving millions of pesos of personal power in the faces of the poor, and re-writing history to suit his incredibly inflated and vengeful ego.
  • What does Binay know about Philippine culture to introduce his daughter, coddled as his personal assistant, to be custodian of Philippine laws, to make or break the Constitution and make or break the people who depend on the government for their health and opportunity. This is a man who would ignore the Constitutional imperative against dynasties to pursue dynasty and excuse the transgression because no laws have been codified to declare what he is doing as dangerous to the State. He would ignore the principle of the law, the value of right over wrong, on a technicality, for benefit of self.
Photo Credit: Quierosaber

Nothing shouts Philippine culture louder than these three artifacts in action.
Unfortunately, it is the dysfunctional part of things, not the wholesome, rich side of things.
There is nothing glorious about their representation of Philippine culture. My advice to you loyal and right thinking Filipinos is to keep the fiestas, keep the wicked driving, the superstitions that overlay religion. Keep the OFWs and the tight-knit families strewn across the planet. Keep the karaoke and the air force with no jets and the rule to leave only a few coins for tips.
But kindly recognize those aspects of Philippine culture you need to pass back into history as quaint recollections. Recognize those wolves in sheepskin because they punish the Philippines every time they rear up. They are unfair. They damage the innocent. They stand on the backs of the poor to reach for greater wealth. They don’t have the graciousness to give thanks because they believe they are ENTITLED to all that they can grab.
No no, these leaders continue the tried and true cultural imperative of top dawg politicians to butter their own interests and ignore the well-being of the Philippines.
You worry about US colonialism? About Spanish colonialism? About Chinese invasion of Philippine territory?
I hate to let you in on a secret. You are occupied now. And you’ve been occupied for centuries. You are occupied by people who are smart enough to know what is in the best interest of the Philippines and relentlessly insist on doing something else. You want to know why the Philippines is 50 years behind the rest of the modern world?
Look at the pillars of the UNA party, put together as a reflection of the values of their leader.
Photo Credit: The Inquirer

Look at the VALUES, the VALUES! 

Imperious righteousness. Overbearing, down the nose sneering at the lessers who surround them. Private benefit over public well-being.
What opportunity, really, do these leaders give to the poor, the unhealthy, the able but unemployed?
Look, here’s the deal.
You can’t remain the same and change.
You can’t.
You have to let go of something.
If you swim in the waters of Philippine culture, you have to be able to discern a shark from a tuna, a sea snake from a sea urchin, a sunken mine from a treasure chest.
You have to see clearly.
Out with that part of culture that is dysfunctional. In with the fresh, the fair, the honorable.
I think you know how to vote, eh? Vote the values, not the name.

13 Responses to “Angry Maude Rants: The Surreal Philippines”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Joe, Edgar, Maude,I promised to think up slogans over the weekend, for use in the campaign against UNA. Critique them, spread them around. Tagalog works best for impact.1. Paano tayo aasenso kung ibabalik ang mga trapo?2. Daang matuwid (LP) vs Daang madilim (UNA)3. Di baleng corrupt, basta kakampi ng bishop! – UNA 4. Ibalik ang Korapsyon, ang aming Tradisyon! – UNAVariants:Corruption is our Tradition!-UNAUNA: A tradition of Corruption

  2. I can't grasp the Tagalog. I do like "UNA: A tradition of Corruption" Get Secretary Jimenez on that one! He'll put it into elegant, eloquent visuals.

  3. Andrew, babycakes, those are good slogans. Zingers. I think you need one for us girls, too. You know, something that appeals to our finer senses. Like:"LP, a girl's best friend"or"UNA, like your mother's worst dress"

  4. Edgar Lores says:

    1. Andrew, I like all, in particular #3 and #4. Number 1 is a question, I would be curious how that works. Most slogans are ejaculatory statements, and that is innovative.2. It’s several months before the elections, but I have had a surfeit, a bellyful, of politics of all kinds – Filipino, Chinese, even American.3. Reading the essay, Maude, which I must say is in top form, I find myself most attracted to the 5th paragraph. As a boy, I used to dive and spear-hunt in the waters of the San Esteban cove. Oh, to gyre and gimble in the waves!3.1 That idea that we are still occupied is new and, like all cognitions of heretofore unrealized obvious truths, startling. Historically, the Philippine Occupation usually refers to the US or Japanese occupations.3.2 As long as we can say we are not possessed.4. The last call to “Vote the values, not the name” is a gem. Can that be translated into Tagalog, Andrew?

  5. Oh, Eddie, you spin words as smooth as Rapunzel's golden silk, or was it Cinderella's, I forget, the gyre and gimble coming across to me as slightly sexual, and the spear, well enough of that . . .The elite are a world unto themselves, and have been since Aguinaldo scooped up piles of Mexican dollars and called himself king by a different name. There is a wall around the ruling classes. They peer over it from time to time to make sure the natives of the land are behaving properly. They then go back to their mansions and call for their fiddlers to play for them. I like being outside the wall. It is fun popping a hoity toity in the behind with a word-pea now and then. Enough word-peas and the walls will crumble. Like that Bible city, Jerico. Cheerio, and a skotch for you.

  6. Ella Tovara says:

    Mr. Andrew Lim, wow very good. I really hope all your slogans work. 10 years ago I thought the voters education is one of the keys to improving how Filipinos vote. Now, I think I was disillusioned because I have yet to see an improvement.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello JoeAm,Why the sudden change of the banner image? I like the image of the senators.. 🙂 Also, why there's no Gravatar link?

  8. Gravatar is out of my hands. Google Blogger does its thing and I do not comprehend. I do know how to change a photo, though, and your wish is my pleasure to fulfill. (I rotate through a plateful of images as the mood strikes. Rather random. But the Senate one can rest awhile, as it is wonderful visual satire.)

  9. Philippines is surreal indeed !!!Philippines has just fined United States of America for illegal entry when their minesweeper got tangled with coral reef and dismembering it.On top of others, they are to be fined, quote: "“The Notice of Violation basically includes the standard penalties,” including the P25,000 fine for each square meter of affected coral provided for under the law, Tan said."Here is the link:, therefore, Spratleys and Scarborough cannot be mined. Coral is precious to Filipinos. Filipinos would rather die of hunger to save the Corals, environment, ecology and indegenous habitat of bottled nose dolphins SO THE WEALTHY TISOYS AND TISAYS can explore THESE in its full glory.Filipinos will go to war with China on these islands so the very few Tisoy, mostly Spanish in origin, Slave Traders can have fun !!!

  10. … in Spratleys and Scarborough. I wonder how much the Philippine government collects from the Tisoys and Tisays and if their fees collected is enough to recoup the Hamiltons and fly-swatting helicopters.

  11. The Filipinos should not publicly embarass THEIR ONLY POWERFUL ALLY, The Americans. Secretary Tan (I bet ya he is Chinese) should be deported to China. This guy is a Chinese mole. Sec Tan has not fined the Chinese yet. I WONDER WHY.

  12. Attila says:

    Would it be refreshing to see Filipinos having the same standards for the Chinese as they have for whites? Do you think white Caucasian men would be able to be elected as a high officials {senator, congressman, president) in the Philippines as Chinese are?

  13. Attila, I love your proposition. I have been haranguing blogosphere to OUTSOURCE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT because running government is definitely not in Filipino genes. I prefer white caucasian should be allowed to run for Philippine elected office instead of outsourcing it.This is a goot idea. I wish it germinates into fruitation.

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