Psychotherapeutic Counseling for the Democratically Inclined

“Democracy is for the intelligent, because the leadership of State is placed in the hands of the People. It also works best if the People are not nuts.” JoeAm

Going by the Rappler mood meter, a good many Filipinos seem to be in a rather Maude-like snit about the harsh treatment being given by Malaysia to the uninvited visitors. It’s like Malaysia deems the intruders to be a potential risk to security or even sovereignty in Sabah. Go figure.

This occasions several thoughts.


  • First of all, it demonstrates that Sultan Kiram gave no consideration to others before striking out on his self-enhancing misadventure.  I suspect he and Pete Seeger would not get along very well.  Read on.




  • Second, it confirms that Malaysia is not as advanced as the Philippines at introducing the modern democratic values of a pluralistic society; authoritarianism in Malaysia is heavier on the scale of government motivations than respect for human rights.




  • I’m reminded of America jailing her own Japanese citizens during World War II because their race was given more weight in judging their motivations than their citizenship was. That has proved to be among the most embarrassing of American acts because it so conflicts with the idea of equality for all. Malaysia is insecure about her democratic institutions. And perhaps for good reason if the Sultan’s attitude is common among residents of Sabah.




  • Finally, when Filipinos get frustrated, many blame their President, as if he had the dictatorial or wizardly capability to stop bad things from happening. Next they will want manna from heaven.



Here’s Lesson 5, today’s session of Psychotherapeutic Counseling for the Democratically Inclined (“PCDI”).
5.1 Remember that other people and you are not attached by any strings whatsoever. You do not control them and they do not control you. What they do is not a reflection on you and what you do is not a reflection on them. Each operates in a separate sphere of motives and reasons.
5.2 To internationalize this and make it relevant to recent events on Sabah, please recognize that both Malaysia and the Philippines are sovereign states. The operative word is “sovereign”. It  puts legal and ethical exclamation points on the separateness.
  • The Philippines does not control Malaysia. Malaysia does not control the Philippines.
5.3 Hopes, wishes, dreams, hallucinations and prayers are fictions. We fall to the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary suitable for the custom definitions that are appropriate under PCDI instruction.
  • Hope (noun): The heart’s desire for good things.
  • Wish (noun): The brain’s desire for good things.
  • Dream (noun): A subconscious hallucination.
  • Hallucination (noun): A conscious dream.
  • Prayer (noun): Hope that God will attend to our insignificant little lives.
5.4 “Ownership” in the PCDI context is the process where one accepts that a decision has results, and any outcomes arising from a decision go back to that decision. They do not go elsewhere.


  • Example. When a Sultan chooses to intrude with guns into a society that bans such guns, President Aquino did not make that decision. Nor did any other Filipino, unless he or she was a controller and the Sultan agreed to do what that controller decided. Then accountability flows upstream to the controller. President Aquino was not the controller, either.




5.5 Pipedreams are when hopes, wishes, dreams, hallucinations and prayers come together in the form of a solution that sounds good, but is wholly irrational. Like the statement:


  • Sabah belongs to the Philippines because of (cite agreement or historical reference that represents a “decision” on the matter).




  • President Aquino humiliated us by not (cite the decisions he did not make, that you, in his predicament, would have made).




  • President Aquino needs to fix this by (cite the steps you would take to right the Sabah ship, which is listing strongly to port and starboard at the same time . That’s really bad.)




Then go back and determine what percentage of the people in Sabah agree with you.
5.6 There is a difference between land, which can be titled, and personal allegiance, which is a conscious decision by people to be governed as they see fit. Allegiance cannot be titled and transferred as if it were a box of socks inherited from grandpa.
5.7 The healthy, democratic Filipino conveys to his/her duly elected President full right and authority to act on his/her behalf. He does not deny responsibility for his vote. When the “other guy” wins, he is big enough to recognize that others are entitled to a voice, and he backs the process result. For his nation.
5.8 The takeaways from today’s session that you should meditate on at least once a day for a year are:


  • Accept responsibility for what you can control, and accept what you cannot. Learn to distinguish between the two.




  • Don’t give others the power to define your well-being. Take charge yourself. Don’t whine, beg, apologize or make excuses, as that transfers power to others.




  • Don’t assign responsibility to others for your hopes, wishes, dreams, hallucinations and prayers. They are operating in the real world. Don’t expect them to take up your fictions.



  • It is lunatic to expect others, like Presidents for example, to exercise bad decisions to take care of your hallucinations. Like the Philippines taking Sabah “because it is ours”. It is simply not going to happen.


  • Chill. Let go of it. Get yourself free of irrational wishes, of unfulfillable hopes. It is simply not worth the energy.




  • You can control who you vote for and what music to play.



words and music by Pete Seeger
performed by Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

©1961 (Renewed) Fall River Music Inc
All Rights Reserved.

18 Responses to “Psychotherapeutic Counseling for the Democratically Inclined”
  1. Edgar Lores says:

    1. The need for a PCDI means that democracy is an equality of lunacy. I’ll drink to that.1.1 Not nuts but slightly nutty. I like that. Democracy is a celebration of nuttiness, but not nuts.1.2 Democracy is an acknowledgement and acceptance of diversity and plurality.1.3 I learned that acceptance, not tolerance, is the virtue. Acceptance is equality; tolerance is uppity. It is putting up with something unpleasant. It cloaks superiority and shows a disdainful demeanor.2. Malaysia is a police state. Filipinos should not envy its economic progress because it comes at a price – the price of personal freedom.2.1 Yes, Filipinos are chaotic and, as I said, there is beauty in that chaos. It is the chaos of freedom.2.2 But freedom is a burden and a responsibility, and Filipinos are not fully individuated. Like Malaysians and people everywhere, they also long to surrender their freedom and hand it over in exchange for security, order and peace.2.3 Little do they realize that that security and order comes at a high price. The price of a knock on the door in the wee hours of the morning, or of salvaged corpses at the local dump, or of political foes and journalists indiscriminately massacred. 3. The takeaways for meditation are brilliant. May they be internalized.4. There is circularity to the song. It begins and ends with flowers. Flowers -> girls -> husbands -> young men -> soldiers -> graveyards –> flowers.4.1 Eventually everything will be “gone”. The Law of Conservation of Energy will bow down to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. All isolated systems evolve towards the state of maximum entropy (chaos). And hopefully out of Chaos – there will be Light.

  2. The Comelec resolution states that “it is unlawful for any foreigner, … or influence in any manner, any election, … "LOOKS LIKE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT WANTED TO BE THE SAME AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING AND FOREVER WILL BE !!!I SO LOVE THE PHILIPPPINES. They go to America to study and come back become Filipinos again because they do not want influence in any manner from foreigners … Jeeeez …. they'd rather go to the foreigners and learn their ways but not from foreigners living in their midst. Wheeeew !!!!! when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? Where have all the Filipinos gone? Gone to America for long time… Where have all the Filipinos Gone? … take bachelors degree in America …. Will they ever learn? Will they ever learn?

  3. Democracy is an elegant chaos, and to control it, like Malaysia, is to rob it of its vitality. The Philippines has twitches of authoritarianism, rather like an involuntary tic of the facial muscles when something new is going down, but is much more vibrant for the release of good deeds and good will that is occuring now. The distinction you draw between acceptance and tolerance is very fine, a fine fine line.I was pointing out the ecology of our garden to my wife during breakfast on the terrace, overlooking the garden, and beyond that, the sea. "You see, Dear, the plants grow, the bugs come and eat the plants, the birds eat the bugs, the birds poop, the plants grow better, and the cycle continues."She twinked her mischievious twinkle and observed that when I am buried in the garden, I'll be a part of the ecology.

  4. Yes, let us go back again and again to the same controlling mindset that demanded the execution Dr. Jose Rizal because he had passion and he had ideas.

  5. Edgar Lores says:

    Ahahaha! But currently our burial practices do not take into account ecology. This is another area that requires further study. I will refrain from suggesting anything as I may have offended many already.

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    Guilty: I castigated Romney and praised Obama.

  7. Fortunately, the US government holds that her citizens are mature enough to receive and digest information and opinions from all kinds of perspectives.

  8. Cha says:

    I see your leanings are towards cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),i.e. solving the problem by changing the way a person thinks and feels about certain situations or triggers in his external environment and thus resulting to a change in behavior. Well, ain't that just typical of Joe America, once again asserting his intellectual superiority over us Filipinos and telling us how to think. JUST KIDDING!!! (Was channeling one of your recent critics on that one.)I don't know that CBT could work effectively with most Filipinos. I think most of us grew up being taught what to think (by the schools, their parents, priests etc) instead of how to think. Such that when someone comes along and tells us to change the way we think, we somehow lose our bearings and are not able to respond rationally to the challenge. Some, as you may have observed, go on the defensive and attack the proponent of the new idea or way of thinking being put forward. Others will probably just clam up, will not say a word, maybe even smile at you (if he doesn't smirk,that is) and then go about his merry old way.And then there are those who will take the time to investigate. They want to know more, find out what they don't know that you seem to know and then some more. Eventually they form their own opinion. It may not necessarily coincide with what has been proposed (it may be better!) but arrived at through a thinking process and not an outright dismissal.Thankfully enough, quite a few of the latter type can now be regularly sighted in social media. I believe they are the great teachers who can help change the way a lot of Filipinos think. Not by telling them what to think but showing them how to think things through. They are baycas, saxnviolins, Edgar Lores -es of cyberspace . I believe they have already made their mark and is already an influence on quite a few netizens out there.I reckon Filipinos learn best through what is called observational learning or learning by observing the behavior of other people. That's how we thrive in other countries, other cultures. We adapt by adopting the ways of those around us. So there you go, you keep cloning those three I've mentioned and pretty soon we get a good harvest of democratically inclined Filipinos. Fingers crossed.

  9. "I don't know that CBT could work effectively with most Filipinos. I think most of us grew up being taught what to think (by the schools, their parents, priests etc) instead of how to think. Such that when someone comes along and tells us to change the way we think, we somehow lose our bearings and are not able to respond rationally to the challenge."Ah, that makes perfect sense, even in this forum. The teledrama beat-em-ups of Get Real sell better than this psychothink stuff, or literature. It is too far out of the box. But that's all right, because I'm really mainly preaching to a superb choir (you are the always in-tune soprano) and working the edges a little. And learning along the way. There are some quiet and bold adventurers peeking in, and I suspect taking a little enlightment away. I hope so. I have great confidence when I read from the examples you have chosen that there is a core of democratic refinement growing within the Philippines.Fingers crossed.

  10. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha,"Observational learning!" Monkey see, monkey do!Unless the learning is reinforced by a realization of the reasons behind the behavior, then the OFW monkey will revert back – re-adapt – to his old self when he returns home. He will feel relieved and free to be a Filipino once more.On an optimistic note, he will have internalized the new behavior and, on coming home, spread it around.

  11. manilatop10 says:

    Your article deserves better than the comment I offer yet don't you consider the internment of Japanese citizens in the USA as more of a crime from the national actions of Japan, at that time, and perhaps a 'motherly' act of protection for those that were American-Japanese. Hope you see my point with the reversal of the hyphenation whether you agree with their being some room for debate on that point made early in your share here, Eric.

  12. Cha says:

    Well there's always that possibility (that people will go back to the old ways when they come back) ; if like you say they did not really internalise the reasoning behind a certain way of doing things. Though I'd like to give ourselves (us Filipinos) more credit. I like to believe that we do realise the benefits of adopting new ways and that is why we see a lot of OFWs and expats participating in social media discussions of late clamoring for change. That was what I was trying to point out in my previous comment, that the likes of you and baycas and saxnviolins and many more out there are showing a different way of thinking things through, rationally and Objectively instead of emotionality and subjectivity. Based on facts and analysis instead of hearsay and conjecture. People are seeing, observing that and finding it a worthwhile endeavor and therefore follow suit. Just look at the current discussions on the Sabah issue in Raissa's blog, many more people are now researching, digging up facts, historical materials to make sense of the issues involved and then sharing with each other what they have learned. There's something going on out there, probably this little thing called change.

  13. I appreciate the comment as you've offered up an important one. During the time of the war, your view was the one that was adopted to support the internment policy. Afterward, America looked back and realized that the people she had uprooted from their lives were as loyal to America as any European white guy. It was a ground breaking realization that set the scene for the breakdown of racial stereotyping that was to follow.

  14. And it is enriching to be a part of the discussion, a part of the change.

  15. Cha says:

    Hah! One of these days, I might write a piece about how JoeAm has played/plays a significant role in this change. But for now, let me just say that whilst you may have a fair share of critics out there, many more actually appreciate your avid interest and passion for our country. Not many Filipinos are used to having the kinds of conversations they've been having with you with other "foreigners" they would normally come across. I think you are opening up a lot of minds out there. Showing them a different perspective and take on things. You do more than you (or your critics) might want to give yourself credit for.

  16. Why thank you Cha. It has certainly been a trip . . . and actually, I keep and hold dear the kind and welcoming comments that pop up now and then, sometimes in the most surprising places from the most surprising people (like the Aquino residence). As for the criticisms, I just give them to Maude. She uses them for energy. Clink. Kiss.

  17. manilatop10 says:

    Yeah, I agree that this could very well have been the impetus for change in regards to "official" stereotyping of race, yet given the circumstances at the time and the hatred towards the enemy, that was seen in the color of one's skin, eyes, etc. by some who were keen to carry out 'revenge' wasn't it the lesser of two evils, since it saved lives via 'hate crimes' and perhaps for the government to even to do again unless the populous is generally now more enlightened. One visit or stay in a maximum security prison gives one an appreciation for survival on the basis of ethnicity no matter how American inclusive one feels and those same basic instincts come alive when an National Enemy is 'made' in any manner, since it is a shared reality for some who would take action. Thanks for allowing me to comment again here and since a similar situation would unfold in a different time, the reaction would be different, as you have stated, protection without internment. Just rambling outloud … I should read more of your postings and comment less perhaps. Sincerely, Eric

  18. Anonymous says:

    "2. Malaysia is a police state. Filipinos should not envy its economic progress because it comes at a price – the price of personal freedom…"Sadly, the antis, as well as some from my generation, look at Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and others with envy to the point that they are wishing for an authoritarian system of government to take root again in the Philippines. mami_noodles

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