The Tipping Point to Philippine Prosperity

Source: The Inquirer

I read a strange article in the Inquirer last week. The headline read: “Widespread Philippine indifference towards overseas Filipinos“. The point of view was from those who attended the “2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora” in late February in Makati. Neglect was the main mien of the party as President Aquino did not show up for their gathering. He was busy campaigning and dealing with a certain misbehaving Sultan.

The article was strange because it richly praised the benefits of the new Overseas Voting Act (“OVA”) that got rid of some onerous provisions of the prior law and made OFW voting available via the internet. It explained how the group commended Senators Pimentel and Legarda for their work to lead the push for the legislation.

Then the article went on to criticize Senatorial Candidate Cynthia Villar for some indiscriminate remarks she made off-the-cuff about nurses (which she apologized for), then went into a castigation of senatorial candidates after this remarkable sentence: “Unpalatable as some of Aquino’s Senate candidates may be, the alternatives offered by the opposition UNA slate are even more dismal.”
This is a news report?
Finally it took COMELEC to task for delisting over 200,000 registered overseas voters because they had not voted for three years. COMELEC subsequently recanted the order and kept them on the voter rolls after the flare-up of complaints from overseas. But this group took them to task just for good measure.
The article was written by Rodel Rodis.
I rather think this is a group with a negative mindset, evidencing a high measure of insecurity and need for attention. Or else the author of the piece is that way. It (he?) was hurt by Aquino, hurt by Villar, hurt by COMELEC. And in the hurting they could not get it straight that the OVA is exactly the OPPOSITE of what the headline is claiming.  OVA is attending to the best interests of OFW’s. There is no “widespread disinterest.”
They couldn’t celebrate the achievements for all the hurt.
So it seems to me to be an out-of-step, strained, grousing group, or a strange bit of reporting. Or maybe JoeAm is lost in the wilds about this. And HE is the grouser.
By my eyes and ears, OFW’s are roundly cheered in the Philippines for under-writing the Philippine economic boom. I’ve heard nothing but praise for their support of the Philippines. And I’ve read a lot of articles dealing with OFW issues and incidents; a HIGH DEGREE of interest. A lot of concern. It also seems to me the Philippines has the best supporting infrastructure on the planet for overseas workers.
The wail and weep headline, and the group’s attitude (or the author’s attitude), seem to me indicative of a significant problem in the Philippines: the tendency for Filipinos to look at any negative as huge and any positive as not enough.

Negatives, inflated. Positives, under-appreciated.

How do you get inspired when wallowing in self-pity? How do you build unity and excitement and prosperity when every pothole is viewed as a Pinatubo?
My own attitude toward OFW’s has shifted this past year, thanks to views offered by the commenters on this blog. I no longer feel sorry for them, being torn from their families. Oh, yes, some warrant such heartfelt compassion. But the majority of OFW’s end up stronger, smarter, wiser and richer  –  and not just with money. For many, it is a bold choice, not a suffering requirement.  Indeed, I’d guess that the majority of the commenters on this blog have had overseas experience and can relate better to the American cross-cultural perspective than can homebound Filipinos who have not experienced more modern rule-bound, courtesy-bound, accountability-bound, community-bound societies.
Yes, I know there are many OFW’s who work in intimidating or even dangerous situations. I wish it were possible to will them well and healthy. But until the Philippine economic house is in order, lower income, lower skilled people will undoubtedly bear risks for a shot at better opportunity.So I’d suggest that Filipino citizens ask what THEY can do to help OFW’s.

Read on.

Last week I did a blog that said it is important to accept responsibility for decisions. To “own” them.  It is also important to distinguish between what we can control and what we cannot. It is important not to judge OURSELVES based on other people’s actions. These are common principles taught by psycho-therapists.
Contributor Cha made a striking observation about this just last week:
  • [Group A] I don’t know that CBT [Cognitive Behavior Therapy] 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. 
Then she pointed out the promise:
  • [Group B] 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.
To me, the first group (“Group A”) is destined for ignorance and weakness. They will express a lot of blames and excuses, stay pretty much in one place, and offer up simplistic, poor critical analyses . They will make shallow, top-of-head voting choices. And the other (“Group B”) will grasp what is happening, take responsibility, behave maturely, learn and adapt, and offer up more complex and better critical analyses. They will vote thoughtfully.
Now here’s my perspective on what is happening in the Philippines. And I fear those in group A are missing it completely.
I think President Aquino is a great leader, not necessarily for his mastery of the trees, but for his mastery of the forest. The trees are the individual incidents or cases that go either good or bad: bus massacre, Mindanao agreement, jailing of Arroyo, RH Bill, Cybercrime debate, China, U.S., Sabah, court appointments, and so forth. Lots of trees. Those who don’t like the President can find plenty to criticize. And there’s plenty to hail, as well. Good tourism campaign, government contracts cleaned up to avoid corruption, RH passed, and so forth.
But the measure of Mr. Aquino’s greatness is to be found in the shape of the forest. The seating of modern notions of earnest, honest work  being what government does. Of democratic institutions serving the people and building a stronger, richer, safer Philippines. Of a nation more confident both inside and outside, as reflected in a roaring stock market, booming real estate market, and more foreign investment and tourism. It is profound. It brings the Philippines onto the cusp of a respectable global presence.
Then we see a complex event occur, the Sabah incursion, and all the simplistic Group A arguments come out and a very negative, almost bitter dialogue roars to life. And one can see the Philippines slipping from that respectable position. We hear cries of “weak president” and calls for war (presumably with others at the front than “me”). We see anyone who has an axe to grind speaking out critically against the President: the Catholic Church, the corrupt, politicians looking for personal gain. Anyone with a grudge leaps on the President’s case. And the Philippines falls back into the divisions and the contests that have always been here. A kind of rabid dialogue that requires winners, always winners. Never concessions. Never considerations. Never sacrifices for the good of the community of all Filipinos.
Everyone it the debate insists on winning.
And when they do that, the Philippines loses.
But wait. Wait.
There are three forces emerging in the dialogue. These forces represent and empower Group B, or at least have the POTENTIAL to empower Group B if they are not overwhelmed by Group A’s divisive negativity:
  • A growing core of  people with internationalized values living and working within the Philippines: government officials and businessmen schooled overseas, global travelers, and an infestation of foreigners living in the Philippines. This is a core of globally aware, sophisticated, broadminded people.
  • The OFW millions. Many live in modern nations and live an orderly lifestyle of the honest and law-abiding host nation. Not the wild and wooly, law ignoring style of the Philippines. They comprehend how nations can be complex and internally argumentative, yet move in harmony because the purpose of the argument is to look for a better way forward. Not to tear down others. Or win arguments for the sake of esteem. They often demand a better Philippines.
  • The internet. Many people in Group A infest the blog dialogue boxes or maintain social network presences that are simplistic and inane. But there are also those who browse widely and read and debate. They inject a richer, deeper perspective into their values and arguments. Their analyses are better and they can solve problems.
A comment has been made in discussions here that those who travel, school or work overseas seem to forget their experience when they return to the Philippines. They once again take up the weak disciplines, favors and self-involvement that characterize so much behavior here.
That is where President Aquino’s re-structuring of the values of government can make a huge difference. It can give honor to those who engage in the ordered and productive thinking of the modern world. And, with enough momentum and mass behind the values of honorable, honest progress, the Philippines can tip toward prosperity.


We are at the tipping point now.
The Philippines needs a bigger middle class, not economically, but in values. A bigger Group B. The small upper class of empowered rich people are rooted in power and wealth-building, and are not open to change. And at the other end of the scale, the masses are out of touch with what is happening broadly in the Philippines.
The Philippines needs to get overwhelmed by right-thinking people who can speak and act in a more globally mature way. With intellectual flexibility and the ability to lose an argument now and then without losing face. With the ability to drive and welcome change. With an enduring loyalty to country, through thick and thin, not a fly-by-night pandering to popular heroes, or bailing out if Mr. Aquino decides to do something differently than they would do it.
If the three forces are empowered and congeal and build in size and strength, the Philippines is well on its way to greater sophistication and productivity and prosperity. That will help OFW’s more than just about anything.
HOWEVER, if the Group A negativists insist on winning their arguments, the Philippines could tip back to divisive acrimony and precious little modernization.
I would add that the mainstream press is fundamentally a part of Group A, leveraging bad news to gain higher circulation or revenue. That is an ominous readout. The article cited at the beginning of this post is a clear example. Just plain bad journalism.
Those Filipinos having a vision of a modern, productive Philippines – Group B – need to do their best to keep the conversation positive, uplifting and supportive of President Aquino’s forest. Whether they like all the trees or not. Whether they like him personally or not. They need to call the negative thinkers to task for weakening the Philippines.
The nation’s prosperity is very much in the people’s hands. The primary character of the Philippines: Group A or Group B?It’s a choice.

Own it.

31 Responses to “The Tipping Point to Philippine Prosperity”
  1. Thank you, Joe, for lobbying for OFWs. Seriously, I am embarrassed as an OFW. An OFW is a show that I did not make it in the Philippines. No powerful padrinos. No connection. No friends in high places. Low IQ. Non-U.P.-graduate. Non-englsichtzes-speaking. Worthless. Not enough "it" to be employed in meaningful fulfilled employment to show chow mein and pork chops. My son has exotic electronic gadgets than his peers could only dream of but the tisoys and tisays whose parents are presidents of this chairmens of that thought of it as "shallow happiness" gifts of OFW never-make-it parent.I can understand it. I feel it. Despite what my family have, they are still uncomfortable at T.G.I.F. There is that divide and segration feeling. It is like Manny Pacquiao "playing golf" at Wak-Wak Golf Clubs. He has the money but still do not belong.Lookit the picture of OFWs above crowding around the carousel. Those are beautiful traditional looking Filipinos which I have come to like and adore, disdaine for those snotty pale-face born with golden spoon that will eventually have goot job placements waiting for them because of their connection, "looks" and englischtzes.I am Group B. I ask questions. I am curious. I want answers. That is why I am atheist because answers are more like from Group A.Group B change the world. They are leaders. They do not follow order. They question order to make sense if it needed improvement before they follow goot.Group As are Aristotleean "Goot follower will remain a goot follower forever". They are bunch of Simoneses. ROBOTS. Robots are machines that follow orders. They do not question. They are only goot followers.Filipinos are like that. They graduate Ateneo, la Salle and U.P. when they graduate they do not know how to apply what they learn. They have to be Group B before they can apply it.

  2. I am an "OAS", otherwise known as an Overseas American Sloth, but I deal with the similar clash of cultures that all the OFW's must deal with. They cause anxieties and frustrations and occasionally smiles. But we deal with it and come out richer for the dealing.You are definitely a "B" thinker, with a superb grasp of the strengths and failings of your fellow Filipinos. Now whether you are a diplomat or not . . . . ahahahaha

  3. Cha says:

    "The Philippines needs a bigger middle class, not economically, but in values."Spot on! There's so many more ways to expound on that idea but for now, I'd just like to set the record straight on Rodis' key issues first.I don't know if he listened to the President's recorded message or at least read the transcript (which I just did) and right there is just but one of any number of perfectly reasonable justifications for why the President couldn't have possibly come to deliver the speech in person:"And seriously… Thank you. I really had so much bad news today especially from the effects of typhoon Pablo. Your song really lifted us up. The numbers are not really—simply alarming. Hopefully, they were erroneous numbers, which would be corrected soon."Our country is beset with many problems requiring the President's attention. He can't be in all places all at the same time. Like the rest of us, he has to set his priorities right. Choosing between an opportunity to earn "pogi" points with a select few balikbayan Filipinos from other parts of the world or addressing real world problems of the country, your average OFW can figure that out.Which brings me to Rodis' attempt to bring in the OFWs in a situation that has nothing to do at all with them. He even quotes the former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban who wrote in a previous column:“Our OFWs toil diligently in foreign shores, braving loneliness, illness, family separation and extreme weather. In the process, they collectively remitted last year a total of $21.4 billion, up 6.3 percent from the $20.1 billion sent in 2011. They are the single biggest source of foreign currency for our country. Their relatives here used these remittances to buy homes, appliances, motor vehicles, food items, clothing and toys, thereby keeping our vibrant economy the envy of the world.”This summit has nothing at all to do with OFWs. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas, which holds the summit, "is an agency of the Philippine Government tasked to promote and uphold the interests of Filipino emigrants and permanent residents abroad, and to preserve and strengthen ties with Filipino communities overseas." I repeat, EMIGRANTS and PERMANENT RESIDENTS ABROAD. Not OFWs.Finally, Rodis ends his piece with a quote from Greg Macabenta from Business World:“the new organization has lined up a set of goals and programs that should have considerable impact on the country down the road. When that happens, perhaps the President of the Philippines will consider it fit to honor Global Filipinos with his personal presence.”Well, I am an overseas Filipino (if that is what Macabenta means by a Global Filipino), and I don't give a hoot if President Aquino doesn't show up in any these summits EVER. I believe the needs of Filipinos IN THE PHILIPPINES deserves his attention more than some attention seeking self absorbed ego tripping balikbayan's need to be honored by the President's presence.

  4. I stuffed a sock in my mouth not to do a Maude-rant on the point. As if any group of citizens can command the President to attend their meeting. What incredible lack of respect for the Presidency. And they conclude by trying to overlay their wailing, self-sorry mentality on the President.

  5. Cha says:

    In fairness to the other summit participants, Rodis has not produced even a single quote from any of them to prove his assertion that they were indeed "alarmed at the widespread Philippine indifference toward overseas Filipinos".

  6. Good point, and I hope that is the case, that it was one guy's upside down view of things.

  7. Edgar Lores says:

    1. The article by Rodel Rodis should have been published as an opinion piece not a news item. Still the headline was inaccurate and misleading. (Mr Rodis, if it is the same person, groused that he lost an election to a college board in the San Francisco bay area because Filipinos were more interested in gambling then supporting a fellow expatriate.)2. I dumped most of my original comments on this essay because they were too negative. 2.1 Example: “Do Filipinos think? We know Filipinos exist – and how! – but do they think? Even if one reverses the Descartian Cogito proposition, I have serious doubts.”3. To me a test of Filipino maturity will be revealed in the coming elections particularly in the Senate: That is whether the progeny of discredited politicians will gain office. 3.1 I still do not see any concerted effort to educate the voting public, although there are initiatives in Rappler and an anti-dynasty movement.4. There is possibly a fourth force that can do immediate and immense good: the much-maligned Church – if it can solve the internal and external problems that beset it:4.1 Such as the internal hierarchical structure or the prodigal bishops problem. Make bishops adhere to discipline and make them more accountable. A word from either Pope Francis or Cardinal Tagle should suffice to curb the excesses of the bishops. 4.2 Such as the external problems of sexual misconduct, the financial imbroglio, the relationship with other religions, and the extraordinary excursions into politics. Pope Francis is on a press offensive and has shown humility and a sense of humor. So far, so good. If he can clean house and install measures – like the turning over of the names and persons of abusive clerics to the law and, say, the discontinuation of doctrinal celibacy – then the clergy might regain respect and prospective members of Team Tatay do not have to hang their heads (and other parts of their body) in shame. 4.3 Currently the Church belongs to Group A. (Read your description of Group A and see how uncannily and accurately it describes the Church.) Does she have what it takes to jump to Group B?

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    As a sloth, do you 2 toes or 3 toes? We Overseas Australian Sloths have 2 toes on the front foot and 3 toes on the rear foot. 🙂

  9. JosephIvo says:

    A few comments, not to criticize but to voice my own uncertainties.Isn’t it dangerous to speak in this context of OFW’s. There are 3 types of OFW’s, 1/3 has a bachelor degree or higher, 1/3 are skilled labourers and 1/3 helpers and the like. On top there is a large group of Filipino immigrants: second and third generation Filipinos, new immigrants from wealthy families and spouses in mixed marriages but I don’t have numbers. All these groups have different political interests and commitments.I missed in your group B the managers, supervisors, even operators in factories with “international management styles” I met them in economic zones in Laguna and Batangas. Also a large group of really motivated (lower level)civil servants as I met in DAR, genuinely trying to help Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries. Manny attitudes you described are observed everywhere, read the blog sites in my native country, overwhelmed by group A people to a level I quit reading, stand alone participating, it became their safe anonymous universe of their Fox-like rightfulness. Also Fox-like TV programs seem to do well, simple as in we are right and they are stupid, similar to quit some newspaper comments here. Where are the values of our grandparents?

  10. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha & Joe,Impeccable research, as usual. Mr Rodis is an expatriate who, like us, is concerned about his native land. Unlike me, he is very active in the expatriate community and publishes opinion pieces in PDI. So many plus points for him. There are many expatriates – like you but unlike me – who sponsor scholarships, donate computers and books, and spread blessings on their annual pilgrimage to their native town fiesta. Mr Rodis is a good doer who sometimes oversteps the boundaries and becomes a do gooder. (BTW, a good doer is a “an animal that with normal care produces or develops especially well’ – but you know what I mean!) I think he tends to throw his weight around and he is a proven grouser. So some minus points for him. Overall, I would put him on the side of the angels who haven’t earned their baby wings, much less their full wings. (As for me, there are growing knobs on my forehead.)

  11. Startling observation, that the Church belongs to Group A. It makes clear that ignorance can come from lack of education or a narrowness of view that holds important information and perspectives out. Rather like US conservative Republicans. A failure to comprehend that not everyone "thinks as I do". From that failure to consider others, a failure to respect different views, and a failure to adapt.1. Agree.2. You should give them to a wayward cousin to publish. Hostility is one of the righteous checks and balances when coming across Group A ignorance of the walled variety.3.1 Yes, the in-depth reports are letting us know how many are showing up at rallys. But I also do see some platform style messages coming out from a few of the candidates. I can't say which in the interest of neutrality. So maybe we are getting a peek into something more.

  12. Yes, a little too much generalization on the OFW's, but that was not really the purpose of the article, to assess the OFW condition. It was to report on negative journalism and draw the distiction between people who act without thinking, or emotionally, versus those who think thigs through.You are right as well, managers are a part of B, and an important, growing part (e.g., call centers are international in style).And, of course you are correct, you find A everywhere. And indeed, the US is in a rush to become a Group A nation, it would seem. But for the Philippines to get past its coup-mongering past it needs to develop broader ways at looking at things. More positive ways.My grandparents and parents had "applied Christian values", study hard, work hard, and be nice. "Study hard" allowed their kids to become Group B.

  13. Well, it's good to know that Mr. Rodis is interested in improving OFW conditions. He'd be more successful with wings. You, on the other hand, can merely wear a hat, and you're good to go . . .

  14. Cha says:

    Re: voters education (3.1)Kaya Natin, the Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership co-founded by the late Jesse Robredo has a program targetting the younger voters, age 18-30. I know this because I subscribe to their Facebook page and get regular updates on their activities. They started their Voters' Education Caravans late last year. They first phase of the campaign was to get young people to register and take part in the elections. They held free Voter's Education Concerts, with performances from some youth bands to entice people to come and then talked to them about the importance of their vote in between.Together with the Friedrich Nauman Foundation, they have also developed and are distributing to schools and civic and non-government organizations a primer called GOV 101: A New Voters' Guide to the Philippine Government. Gov 101 is basically a manual that explains how the Philippine government works, the roles and responsibilities of government officials and agencies. The assumption is that "by knowing what to expect from our leaders, we can choose the right leaders." The primer is supposed to be made available online but have yet to get my hands on it.They are also involved with the Anti-Vote Buying Campaign (joint effort with the Ateneo School of Government and the TRansparency and Accountability Network). They've been, again, going around asking candidates this time to sign an anti-vote buying covenant. They are also partnering in this effort with various Catholic Parishes by holding Anti-vote Buying Masses and Covenant Signing. Just yesterday Mar 17, they would have been at St Peter's Parish in Commonwealth Ave, QCAnd just a couple of hours ago, they have posted an announcement that come Mar 20, they will be endorsing 4 Senatoriables "who exemplify the leadership qualities of the late Jesse Robredo". Am waiting to find out who those 4 might be.

  15. Ah, interesting point. Kaya Natin is an example of a group of "B leaders" getting together to formalize their work in the Public interest. It is an example of the "B rising" that would do wonders for the Philippines if it grows. I also appreciate seeing more public representation by certain attorneys in the courts, doing battle on Cybercrime and other issues where the public needs a voice outside the Legislature, which seems to have its mind in a bipartisan hole sometimes.

  16. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha, thanks.I know 2 candidates who will be endorsed (A and P) and 2 who will not be (two E's). I hope the other 2 who will be endorsed were once featured in a blog that had something something about respect in its title. A pretty lady and an aging gentlemen.

  17. Amy R says:

    I am from a small town in Benguet. I grew up here, went to school here, and got a job here. “Here” is everything I know. “Here” is so far removed from “out there” that it might as well have been a different planet. Things like “national elections” do not matter much to me. These people called “senatoriables” might as well be alien creatures. I haven’t voted since GMA won the presidential elections. An overwhelming number of people here are like me. We are group A.It was an outsider – someone who lived in Manila and came to work in the province – who told me later on that I was ‘sayang’, that I was wasting my degree, my expertise, and my brain cells by not being more involved with what is happening around me. This same outsider told me that the quality of people has declined. Once upon a happier time, the senate and the congress were filled with individuals who could competently engage in logical debate and a news program would actually contain news, not prejudiced opinions. People, she opined, are getting more stupid by the generation.I have come to agree with this person.It is both saddening and frustrating that most Filipinos belong in group A. But what frustrates me the most in this scenario are those young people from the provinces who are consigned to this group solely because they lacked the opportunity to get out and consequently break free of an outdated and apathetic mindset. I agree with your opinion of the media – they aren’t helping at all. (I still couldn’t believe that NDC was the former VP.) Schools aren’t of much use either. The internet ( in particular) makes things worse. That said, I found this blog extremely illuminating. I have just read a disgusting array of comments under an article in about Aquino’s address to the PMA graduates, and I’m insanely happy to have read a different point of view.

  18. Amy, and I am insanely happy that you stopped by and dropped off your eloquent comment. You may live in a Group A community, but you are decidedly Group B in conceptual process. "People are getting more stupid by the generation." Perhaps the Philippines is trying too hard to follow in America's footsteps.The internet bears watching, for sure. It can be like a horrid cancer spreading ill will across the landscape. It is heartening to me that "normal people" like you see what is going on. That's Group B, too. Awareness. Flexibility. Able to commit to principles that matter.

  19. Edgar Lores says:

    Amy, Joe,That’s touching. You know, Amy, I would love to read how life looks to you from within a Benguet village. How big is your village; how much schooling have you had; why do feel alienated from participating in elections; how does the government touch your lives, if at all. How has technology improved your lives? Or has it increased the sense of disconnectedness with what is “out there”? Why is there a need to “get out”? Doesn’t village life satisfy the potentials of human life? What are the possible solutions? Why say ‘sayang’? That is heart-breaking.If Amy can lend her voice, Joe, that would give us a perspective of how life is like in the countryside. That would give us a deeper understanding of the problems confronting the country.

  20. Yes, for sure. I would very much welcome any perspectives Amy would care to share. I've spent some time in small communities, but I don't think I have a good grasp of what the "real people" there think and feel about things.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Excellent piece, Joe. Very sober. Reachable goals based on well-grounded analysis. – mb

  22. Anonymous says:

    And posted it in my FB page – mb

  23. Yes, and I've gotten some Facebook looks on it. Thanks.

  24. Amy R says:

    I’m sorry. I laughed at the word “village.” It made me think of nipa huts and men in g-strings dancing around a campfire – which is practically how the mainstream media chose to portray our province. (There was even a movie about a Benguet girl who has a pig for a pet. I don’t know anyone here who keeps pigs for pets. I cannot speak for the people in the city, but as far as I know, pigs are raised for food.)So no, it isn’t like that. Benguet is no different from any other province or town in the lowlands. I guess people have a tendency to think of the highlands as less of an urbanized place – it is in the mountains after all. I think part of the blame goes to the media for perpetuating stereotypes, but then again, those who live here rarely speak up or venture out. There are very few who dare to do so.I know that I tend to speak in terms of “us” and “them” and “here” and “there”. But all things considered, there is a chasm between the city/capital and the provinces, which just goes to show how divided the Philippines really is. It’s easy to feel alienated, especially if you can’t relate to anything that’s happening “out there.” The standoff with China at Scarborough Shoals for instance, didn’t make much of an impact with the people around me. What was eventually known as the Sabah crisis was only “discovered” when Filipinos started evacuating from Sabah to the Philippines in droves. These things didn’t have anything to do with work or school or anybody’s daily life.

  25. Amy R says:

    Someone (I don’t remember who wrote it) proposed that the EDSA revolution of 1986 was predominantly an urban phenomenon, because the endeavor didn’t really involve the provinces. I don’t know anything about this; I couldn’t possibly know. I asked one old man what it was like “here” during those times, and he said that the Marcos era was peaceful. I guess it was different then, with the scope of the media restricted as it were. It seems worse now though, with the media running amok. One would think that the advent of technology would make national issues more accessible and relevant to the lives of people here, but it wouldn’t seem to be the case. There is still a sense of “it’s happening to them not us” and vice versa. When Manila was flooded during Ondoy, media coverage painted it as though it were the apocalypse. When landslides buried people and houses left, right, and center “here”, information about what was happening was scant. This is not to trivialize the sufferings of the people in the capital. The point, I guess, is that Manila is not the entire Philippines – a fact that politicians remember very well come election period. It is during this time that the gods descend to earth, so to speak. Or maybe I should say aliens for the sake of consistency. So why the need to get out? I know a lot of people who – like me – grew up with life revolving around the same place, the same people, and the same outlook. It’s dangerous in many ways. You tend to be more detached from issues of national importance; you do not feel very confident voicing ideas or opinions; you do not aspire for anything other than to get a job or get married when you don’t have anything left to do. I can’t tell whether the adults are so far gone in what they think they know about the world. Perhaps most of them are. In any case, I’m more concerned about the youth. The younger ones I know seemed neither concerned nor aware of the state the country is in. Someone needs to push them out – something that would be unnecessary if the schools, media, and the government were functioning as they should be. Or maybe I should speak in terms of the people behind, and not of, the institutions themselves? We need teachers, journalists, and politicians who will function as teachers, journalists, and politicians should be. And priests too, if there are any. I’m trying hard not to come across as though I know everything, and I hope I did not, because I know close to nothing about most aspects of society. I am trying to learn, but it’s an arduous process. It’s difficult to start caring about a society and a country that seemed to have forsaken itself. It’s exhausting to listen to what people are saying; it’s frustrating to look at what people are doing. One finds more reasons not to care.I read blogs like this as a reminder why I should.

  26. I think you know a lot more than most."We need teachers, journalists, and politicians who will function as teachers, journalists, and politicians should be. And priests too, if there are any."And you point dead-on to the solutions, which are largely institutional and manageable.So I suppose that represents a small peek of optimism, too.There are homebodies, wanderers, and explorers. The first two rather go with the flow. The latter pursue a goal within a greater world that is not always predictable. Well, perhaps it is somewhat predictable if you stay close to the "village".

  27. Edgar Lores says:

    Amy,Did I sound like the "village" idiot? Ahahaha!Thanks. You cannot see my face, my reaction to what you wrote. But if you go to You Tube and see Simon Cowell's initial and subsequent reactions to Paul Pott's first audition, where he sang "Nessun Dorma", you will get a glimpse of it.

  28. Amy R says:

    Thank you for the link. Hahaha, I've always found Mr. Cowell fascinating.

  29. Yes, the characterization "brually honest" comes to mind. Or "refreshingly brutal". One or the other.

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