Poe Part II: Do Filipinos Grasp Freedom?


Is she a free woman, or a termite? [Photo source: Inquirer]

 This is a brief follow-up on the prior blog.

Four things fell into place as an aftermath of the discussion about Grace Poe’s parentage and I was hit upside the head with a startling discovery. Many Filipinos do not grasp the essence of freedom. They cannot conceptualize what freedom means.

The four things that came together:

  1. Edgar Lores observed that the Philippines demonstrates a “hive mentality”. That is, there is a tendency for people to gather in groups that provide comfort rather than stand apart as individuals.
  2. Dynasties occupy realms of power from the cities to the provinces to positions in the legislature and executive branches. It is a problem because the dynasties have funding, popularity and epal or vote-buying advantages. They are hard to beat, even by more accomplished candidates.
  3. Many people have spoken out against Senator Grace Poe as a candidate for higher office because of rumors that her natural father is Ferdinand Marcos, and the knowledge that her real father, Fernando Poe, was a Marcos supporter.
  4. President Aquino is judged a failure overall based on one decision that a person does not like. That person shades all other decisions in the same light. Negative. They lose objectivity.

Those items seem unconnected, right?

That’s why I’m going to ask you to do what may not come naturally based on your heritage. No insult intended. I’d ask you to look at the concept of togetherness versus that of freedom.

Togetherness is represented in Point 1, Edgar’s observation of the hive culture. Freedom is focused on breaking that bond. Freedom is based on granting people the right to think their own unrestrained thoughts, live their own lifestyle so long as it does not harm others, and stand respectfully equal with every other person. Freedom does not exist in totalitarian states because totalitarians force thought and behavior into set channels. Enforced togetherness.

I have argued that condemning Senator Poe based the acts of Ferdinand Marcos – whether he is her rumored or actual father – is shortchanging Senator Poe’s right to stand respected as an individual of her own skills, ideas and accomplishment. My “opponents” insist mightily that she is tied inextricably to Ferdinand Marcos. By bloodline, she is a potential danger if she is elected president.

Point 2. What are dynasties, really? Dynasties are the powerful and purposeful application of togetherness within families to gain and hold onto power. If Manny Villar is a senator, his wife, by exension, is qualified to be senator. If Vice President Binay, by being elected Vice President, is qualified to lead, so is his daughter and so she is granted leadership status within the hive. She is elected senator.

Filipinos are innately like termites, dividing each other up into leaders and workers, with workers assigned specific jobs, construction or defense. No individual termite has the freedom to stand alone, to chose his skill or lifestyle.

Filipinos innately say that the Villars and the Binays are leaders, of the power class. They are not individuals. And thus the dynasty – the force of togetherness – is sealed into Filipino culture and political power.

Point 3 is the application of a critic’s presumption of togetherness to overlay the bad traits of relatives onto Grace Poe.

Point 4 is the application of a critic’s presumption of togetherness to lay the bad results of one individual decision onto the whole of the decision-maker. It is more natural to argue the deficiencies of all his deeds – the togetherness principle – than to sort them out into good and bad deeds based on the complexities and merits of each act.

As I type this, I recognize that it is also the force of togetherness that leaves many debating Filipinos unable to separate the person making the argument from the argument itself. So I suppose I could have added a fifth point.

The conceptual ability to break the bond of dynasties, or the racial bias of judging blacks as deficient, or Grace Poe as flawed, or to give President Aquino the latitude to make mistakes, is to grasp that it is RIGHT to grant individuals respect as individuals. The ability to say NO to enforced togetherness.

Judging a group of people as good or bad based on what one person does is wrong.

Judging one person as good or bad based on what others do is wrong.

Judging the whole of a person based on one thing we don’t like is wrong.

We are humans because we can think, because we can conceptualize. And one of the most precious concepts we have is the one written into our laws that says we – as individuals – are free to determine what we achieve and how we live, as long as we also respect and help protect the community.

If you agree that forced togetherness is wrong, that freedom is good, then it is right to complain about the damages done by dynasties that lodge themselves into power. But it is inconsistent to condemn Grace Poe based on what dictator Marcos did.

So how do you want it? Do you want to break dynasties and emphasize individuality and respect the for the freedom of people to stand alone? Or do you want to endorse, and subject your thinking to, the forces of dynasties – the limitations of termites – and force Grace Poe into a box built by a long-dead dictator?

You can’t have it both ways, be against dynasties (pro individual capability) and also be against allowing Grace Poe to stand for herself, as an individual, apart from her natural father, real father, or anyone else.

I argue the Philippines will be a much healthier place if it cuts through and ends the dynastic biases that convey power, or condemnation, on the basis of family connections, and looks at an individual as an individual. And it will be a better place when its members are able to distinguish between one deed and the whole of the leader, or the issue being argued and the person of the debater.

So that’s the decision that the Poe matter raises: Do you see and prize separateness, or concede, subscribe to and mandate togetherness.

The maternal umbilical cord is cut at birth. The social umbilical cord is cut at the time a young person reaches age of majority and graduates from the home.

To say there is a cord between Grace Poe and Ferdinand Marcos is extraordinarily AGAINST the principle of individuality. Of freedom.

It is simple if you look at yourself and Grace Poe in the same light.

Should you be judged based on what all Filipinos do?

On what your father did, or your sister?

Or do you prize your right to make your own way in the world.

I think it is essential that Grace Poe be judged as an individual, on what she does and says APART from any other person. She should not be judged on this horrid force of termite togetherness that is the antithesis of freedom and RESPECT for the individual.

51 Responses to “Poe Part II: Do Filipinos Grasp Freedom?”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Grace Poe is guilty because her or her alleged original parent was a sinner has its Biblical roots: Original Sin. Since Filipinos are fanatically religious, therefore, they believe in Original Sin. The Filipinos are unconsciously practicing this like second nature. They are fully aware of the Original Sin but when applied to real life drama they scratch their head and attack the messenger for bringing it to political arena.

    The Filipinos do not realize the 1stWorld countries are saving children from Original Sins in Africa and in Asia by redeeming them from bondage from their parents’ or grandparents’ victims because developed world do not believe in Original Sin and they are mostly secular where religious Filipinos wanted to go to.

    Poor Grace Poe is victim of Original Sin, victim of circumstance and victim of her rise to popularity. She’s a victim of religion and the last two of two-legged crabs.

    I have the feeling Grace Poe knows who her father is and not telling. She is a graduate from University of the Philippines and Boston College. She knows her parentage is the gossip of Manila. She zips in and out of the country like flying to Baguio. She definitely knows about DNA. And the cost is $500.00 for 24-hour swab test result. Absolutely she will not have DNA test in the Philippines. If she had not I wouldn’t recommend it done in the Philippines because of FOI-blabber mouths. Nothing is sacredly secret in the Philippines. That is why I was wondering what FOI is for? It is redundant. The Philippines leaks like a sieve.

    With the brilliance of Grace Poe she knows what the Original Sin can do to her political career like atheism not good politics. If she knew her father was not Ferdie she would wave the DNA test with gusto. But she is not telling. Even if her father is not Ferdie I wouldn’t advise it because once Filipinos have pre-conceived idea no matter what scientific evidence is presented The Filipinos would never believe it.

    So what? What really matters is her dedication to the rule-of-law and public service to make the Philippines a fun and entertaining place to live.

    Somebody, an individual or an organization has an axe to grind because 2016 is not far away. Filipinos lean toward women President. Aling Cory, Aling Glo, most Philippine bureaucrats are women and they are afraid because women in the Philippines are known to be competent and honest.

  2. sonny says:

    Joe, i’m not trying to nit-pick. i think what is being labeled as “dynasty” should properly be called “nepotism.” Dynasty as understood by many connotes “a long time.” In my estimation those to whom we attach dynasty, do not qualify. (I can move on in the topic, even if only a few agree with me on this point)

    The form of this type of power succession that I have witnessed: 3rd class municipality mayor plays out legal re-elected term, props up a surrogate for one term, then comes back for a new term; wife and son in the meantime establish residence in two contiguous municipalities and get elected in those municipalitiies. It seems this family is content to acquire the power, prestige and influence in this scale. This paradigm is done in different variations in the 1,490 municipalities nationwide. I guess cynically we can consider the Philippines a very “dynamic” country.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, nepotism as I see it is keeping the power slots within the family, but the concept of “togetherness” is what the voters see when they elect a spouse or relative. I take your point that dynasty has an enduring time dimension to it. Nepotism is more here and now. “Togetherness” as I use it can be both. It is the general force that links individuals in their own eyes, or in other people’s eyes. Some elements of the borg community have been in place for generations, others are forming today.

      I appreciate the perspective, and the “dynamic” tag made me laugh.

      • sonny says:

        A new development: A pretender in the same town has gotten hold of one barangay, testing the waters either as a successor or consolidator. He does not need the money as he has a medical practice in MManila. He is no longer young as aspiring politicos go. He has “other” irons in the municipal fire, viz a night club/hotel. Where will this go? Maybe nowhere. The town has always been a 3rd class municipality.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Not to quibble, but the perception of dynasty depends on whether we see it as the (a) continuous (uninterrupted) rule of one person; (b) continuous rule of a family; (c) continual rule (interrupted) of one person; or (d) continual rule of a family.

      2. I would personally take (d) as a valid definition because of the weight of undue power exerted over a period of years even though interrupted.

      3. Nepotism is the giving of jobs or favors to relatives or favorites over qualified outsiders. It is usually associated with the act of appointment, and not with elections.

      4. From Wiki, the shortest Chinese dynasty, the Qin Dynasty, ruled for 19 years.

      5. Some Filipino families have been in the political “business” since the turn of the last century (First Philippine Rebublic) or from the Commonwealth era. The Estrada family started with Erap as mayor in 1969 and will arguably continue up to 2016. That’s 48 years. The political “dynasty” consists of Erap, siblings, wife, mistresses, sons, nieces and nephews.

      • sonny says:

        I will take all the locus of points of dynasty as Edgar pointed out. I will suggest that we are also subsuming the implication of concentration of power which in turn brings in the question of badness or goodness of dynasty. There is also the question of our social behavior as bees in the comb and termites in divisions, as Joe mentioned. In the context of dynasty we can sort all this and come out winners in many a way. We are also a democracy by colonial baptism. The creativity, individualism and freedom still is operative in this mosaic we call Filipinos. I grew up in the 50s, developed in the 60s and matured in the succeeding decades. I visited from abroad and saw the different manifestations of the barangay system (Luzon versions). I was struck by how well the system was subscribed to by both the city and the municipality. Here at last, I thought, was a praticable conduit for the political and social will of the people at street level. If every one learns and practices the system, then there is no other way but up. I am reservedly optimistic that this is the right system for us.

        • edgar lores says:


          I find the comment on barangays interesting. I have only heard/read negatives about that LGU, and I myself thought that it was just a too low level a government construct created by the failed dictator to micromanage the people. Within the context of this essay, it consolidates and perpetuates “togetherness”, the hive culture.

          On the positive side, I can imagine it would be reflective of the bayanihan spirit. I can also imagine that it would be an effective medium for conducting grassroots civic campaigns, such as those mentioned by Joseph-Ivo on this blog. However, the reports on the following have turned me into an advocate of their dismantling:

          – the petty exercise of power by barangay officials, such as insisting on being called honorable this and honorable that
          – the nepotism
          – the favoritism exhibited in quasi-judicial disputes
          – their role in serving as conduits for vote buying and political patronage
          – their involvement and possible leadership in criminality
          – their control and perpetuation of squatting in urban areas
          – the budgeting necessary to support another level of government

          I have never been “on the ground” as you have, so perhaps I am biased. After your comment, I shall remain open to being convinced that it is a good thing. Thanks.

          • Joe America says:

            The barangay on the ground where I have lived is great on potential and poor on performance. The captain is unskilled at mediating disputes, which is a primary role of the job, and poor at organizing civic projects like water distribution. His wife is prominent in creating disputes in the community. He plays favorites and allows vote buying to occur on his property. On the other hand, he took the lead in making sure people were preparing for Yolanda by trimming trees and securing loose items. But did nothing within the community afterwards to clear roads and vacant properties. The potential is that the job could be used to promote good disaster response or other community endeavors. The reality is that the people are selected because they are friends, not because they have skills.

          • sonny says:

            Edgar, i might turn out to be the naive one. I had chances to see its operation in Quezon City, Baguio, my town in La Union and another in Ilocos Sur. My impression is that the chance to participate in government from basic civic instruction to first contact with community and on to municipal/city services is quite palpable and real enough. How this participation in governance & public service plays out on a larger scale or longer timeline I can only gather from my network of Filipinos who live here in the Philippines. To them I must defer. At an earlier time in the distant past, I gave up on our country as one big case of social and political trichinosis. The fact that now a grid exists where problems and solutions can be located and addressed in a bottom-to-top manner, I hope the top-down initiatives of our national government and economy will be complemented.

            I am much enlightened by your comments. I will keep your points in mind. Thank you.

          • Yes my barangay serves the grassroots of the community– the informal settlers. In fact, I bet the barangay officials endorsed a resolution granting a parcel of land to the informal settlers to a city councilor.

            Nepotism at the barangay is very evident in the appointment of barangay treasurer, secretary, tanods and other officials. The captain post usually goes to a member of the most powerful and influential clan in the village.

  3. A. “The maternal umbilical cord is cut at birth. The social umbilical cord is cut at the time a young person reaches age of majority and graduates from the home.”

    I’m all in agreement with you on severing the dynastic ties, but outside politics, the “social umbilical cord” or collectivism will never fade and isn’t that harmful. South Korea and Japan are all family-oriented in the sense that a working and single son or daughter can stay at parents’ home before marriage. Those two Asian countries are prosperous compared to this country. Economic-wise, it helps young pros stay away from debt, and socially, the living arrangement protects them from the vices of independent living– drugs and promiscuity.

    B. Regarding judging an individual’s deeds based on lineage, that’s so wrong on many levels. And I have to agree with your link between individuality and freedom.

    All I’m saying is not all tightly-knit -family habits are against freedom and individual achievement. For the most part, family acts as a springboard to an individual’s success in the Philippines.

    C. In this regard, some might say I’m condoning the family-based nepotism in the Philippines. I’m not… I’m just recognizing the important role of family in shaping people for success. Instead of destroying the whole family-centrism which is a cornerstone of Philippine culture, I suggest just removing one part– pressure to follow in the parents’ footsteps in particular the father’s footsteps.

    D. If your parents are successful lawyers, you’re expected to be one as well. Same logic applies to other professions and even in business. BOTTOMLINE: I think that’s where the close family ties curtail individuality and freedom. In short, parents should learn to give financial and emotional support to sons and daughters without expecting the latter to be their second coming.

    P.S. I can’t believe a showbiz rumor would lead me to a rant such as this. And also, I hope Edgar Lores won’t file a plagiarism case against me. I borrowed his trademark style in posting, or I did a bad imitation….. Hahahah

    • Joe America says:

      A. Yes, I agree. The trick is having the awareness to know when togetherness is positive and when it limits or punishes.

      B through D. Yes, those are nice elaborations on the theme of family, the pros and cons.

      Don’t worry about Edgar. Buddha does not file lawsuits.

    • edgar lores says:


      *Enunciated royally and magnanimously*

      1. Let not thoughts run amuck!

      2. Let enumeration and alphabetization be allowed to all and sundry!

      3. Let order and peace reign!

  4. cha says:

    Simply put, here’s what I think :

    1. It’s all based on rumour of a supposed relationship between Marcos and the sister of the adoptive mother. The sister is very much alive and is entitled to her privacy. Whether the affair happened or not, it’s none of our god-damned business.

    2. The lady senator, likewise, should also be entitled to the same, Whoever her real parents are, it is none of our god-damned business either.

    3. How the lady senator performs and conducts herself as a public servant, that’s our only business.

    4. If she runs for President, yes, every voter would have a right and in fact obligation, to conduct his or her own thorough evaluation of her character and credentials for the job. But the right doesn’t extend to making demands that intrude on her private affairs.

    5. I can understand the strong aversion to having another Marcos as President of this country. I understand the list to include those whose names are Imelda, Bongbong, Imee and Irene.

    6. I can also understand how that aversion can extend to other relatives and associates who have been or still have ties or are known to be supporters of the Marcoses.

    7. How did/do we know which ones are Marcos supporters? We base it on their actions, political and business connections. In other words, based on observed, verified or verifiable information.

    8. If there are concerns about the lady senator’s possible connection to the Marcoses, then by all means let’s have a look. Let us look at campaign contributions, business connections, even the people she employs. Let us assess her stand on issues past and present, her legislative agenda and other causes. Let us observe her conduct during senate hearings and other public functions. And so on. In other words, let us please talk about what we can actually observe and verify. It’s a better use of our time.

  5. edgar lores says:

    This is my belated response, not to the Poe issue as such, but to the entire epiphany of togetherness.

    1. Aha, a revelatory gestalt!

    2. If you value your weekend leisure, stop reading at this point. “Omnes relinquite spes, o vos intrantes.”

    3. In Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, a child moves from a sensory-motor stage (birth – 2 years); pre-operational stage (2 – 7 years); concrete operation stage (7 – 11 years); and to formal operations stage (11 – 16 years).

    4. The significance of the development is that a child’s thought process moves from concreteness to abstraction. Bear with me (or skip to item 5).

    4.1. In the first stage, a baby can perceive concrete objects. Initially, if we move the object away from the baby’s sight, the object ceases to exist for baby. By the middle of the first stage, baby can hold a mental picture of the concrete object and can begin to look for the object if it is hidden. This is called “Object Permanence.” At this stage, they are the center of the world, and the mother is the “Matrix”.

    4.1.1. It is really at the end of this first stage, that the umbilical cord is cut figuratively speaking.

    4.1.2. Matrix definition: “The cultural, social, or political environment in which something develops.”

    4.2. In the second stage, the thought processes start to develop as the child acquires language and the ability to link sound with object. The child is still unable to think “logically” but he goes through a stage of asking “Why” questions. At this stage, the child can see others as the center of attention, and the family, in particular the parents with their “Because” answers, forms the Matrix.

    4.3. In the third stage, the thought processes become operational, and the child develops the ability of logical thought about an object. He is capable of a level of abstraction as he manipulates a concrete object. He begins to understand that objects are not always as they appear to be (conservation) and that objects can change (reversibility). At this stage, the child sees himself as one of many peers, and the culture and the earth form the Matrix.

    4.4. In the fourth and final stage, the thought processes become logically rational, and the capacity for abstraction does not need to rely on objects and events in the real world. In looking at a problem, the adolescent can form a theory, hypothesize solutions, and deduce possible outcomes. He can evaluate propositional assertions, and can conclude whether they are logically valid purely by reason. At this stage, the adolescent sees himself as a separate entity, and as he gains independence and moves into self-sufficiency the world becomes his Matrix (and oyster).

    5. The object of all that discussion is to assert that the Filipino – both in terms of psychology and thought processes – is stuck in the early phase of the fourth stage.

    5.1. The matrices that sustain him is firstly the family and secondly the culture.

    5.2. He is able to move to another culture and seamlessly assimilate, although he retains his native culture to large degree.

    5.3. His thought processes are not fully developed and fully logical – at most he can come up with one solution, if any at all, and he is unable to fully foresee possible outcomes and their implications – and he retains the biases of his native culture also to a very large degree.

    5.4. And it is very rare that a Filipino is able to complete the process of individuation in the Jungian sense. This is the complete development of an individual to his full potential as a separate person, distinct from the “general, collective psychology” of his native/adopted cultures.

    5.5. From my view, the social umbilical cord is cut, if at all, during the latter part of the process of individuation.

    6. The evidence for this lack of individuation can be seen in the “attachments” that supports the Filipino and his psyche. He is attached to the current paradigms of thought, to his many identities (of race, gender, and sexual orientation), to his family, to his cultural traditions, to his religion, to his politics, and to his many statuses (civil, job, Facebook).

    6.1. I would like to comment on the points that David has made about the family as the springboard to success and the close family ties in Korea and Japan.

    6.1.1. Like these two Asian countries, the Philippines is a collective society unlike Western countries where individual self-reliance is prized. The Filipino son and daughter are encouraged to stay in the nest past the majority age of 21, like the South Korean at age 19 and the Japanese at age 20. In the West, the age of majority is 18 and most children leave the nest between ages 18 to 22, either temporarily to study or permanently to make their own lives. (I have no statistical evidence for this assertion.) In countries like Australia and UK, governments offer youth allowances for this early separation to occur.

    6.1.2. Whether there is a correlation between a country’s economic success and a family-centric orientation has not been established. In all the G8 industrialized countries, except Japan, the age of majority is 18.

    6.1.3. There is a significant difference between the Philippines and Japan and Korea taken together. In these two latter countries the social contract – which is the cooperation among the members of society among themselves and with the government – is very strong. In the Philippines, the social contract is weak. Contrast the difference in victim behavior between the Japanese after the tsunami of 2011 and the Filipino after Haiyun. Self-sacrifice on one hand; looting and apathy on the other. Contrast the difference in government elected official behavior in taking responsibility for malfeasance. Resignation, seppuku on one hand; and intransigent denial on the other.

    6.1.4. This is an interesting question is: Why is the social contract in the Philippines weak? This issue has not been examined closely. I would hazard the following guesses: The Philippines is an archipelago of many tribes and dialects. The Filipino, such as he is, is not a statal person; he is a tribal entity. (This harks back to Joseph’s insight: “The Filipino does not exist.”) In the language of the Hierarchy of Man’s Loyalties, the Filipino identifies with the Family construct instead of the Country construct. The colonizing powers, Spain and the US, united the country to a certain degree but failed to do so completely. The religious paradigm of ecclesiastical authority and interference has blurred the divide between state and church, and at times shunted loyalty to the Church construct away from loyalty to the Country construct. Successive national governments have failed to rally the people together by acts of commissions (such as mandating the teaching of Spanish and using the local dialect as a language of instruction) and omissions (such as totally replacing local dialects with Tagalog and/or English). Singapore has attempted to restrict the number of official languages with some success. (Google “singapore language policy”.) I am ambivalent about this, whether it is better to preserve and celebrate tribal diversity or to breakdown that diversity in the interest of national unification so that a statal Filipino can emerge.

    7. I think the Matrix of the individuated person is the world of his insights and his realized intelligence as validated by the real world. It is the personal world of enlightenment within the external world of unenlightened souls.
    (7.1. I have Joseph-Ivo in mind here.)

    • Joe America says:

      And you know, you are grossly handsome when you take a core idea and layer such practical wisdoms and insights onto it.

      I am inclined to think that if I were royalty hereabouts, I’d implement a “social development” program, public awareness in partnership with the schools and universities, aimed at developing a deeper, richer Filipino emergence into stage four. Unquestionably, the Philippines is abundantly endowed with arts and artists and creativity and the kind of richness for life that would move the country from substantially empty to overabundant with deep thought and innovation. You know, a bunch of Edgar Loreses.

      This epistle of yours deserves formal publication and widespread reading.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, I’m so glad you mention the implementation of “social development” program…

        Visiting here at a time where PDAF and pork whistle-blowing occupies the media, and the president is subjected to much evaluation and second-guessing, the questioning or suggestions of Constitutional amendments are rumbling, I, in my omniscience have come up with: whereas it is now blatantly obvious that there is indeed an abundance of monies in the national coffers, it is imperative that any presidential pretender should include targetting and implementing immediately educational programs that will ease access to tertiary education, food programs that will allow secondary students in public schools to have essential daily nutrition and funding all public schools with paper products to maintain health & sanitary training from primary grades and upwards.(This will be accompanied by tax breaks for commercial establishments to keep CRs in the same operating order as CRs at NAIA Terminal 1). All this for starters. They’re also all in my dreams.

        • Joe America says:

          You have excellent dreams, sonny, and good ideas, too. Indeed, it does seem like there is money around in government and it ought to be leveraged to put in a job infrastructure. I think I will do a profile on South Korean President Park Guen-hye who seems to be thinking far ahead of the rest of the Asian leaders. Social re-work and education are high on her agenda. She is the first woman President in South Korea and people thought she would be intimidated. She’s not. It is interesting because she has also been on Japan’s case regarding WW II deeds lingering over to today.

    • sonny says:

      Edgar, I do love the analysis you have outlined. It is very helpful to any student of the Fiilipino. Allow me some observations which are also tangent to parts of your outline.

      Philippines is a democracy, multlingual and colonial. India is also democratic, multilingual and colonial. Both are intraculturally diverse. India much more so, of course. Then there is the United Kingdom whose history the Philippines, I feel, can relate to: an archipelago the size of the Philippnes, the tribal populating from the north and east from Europe, and then the internecine wars from Arthurian legends to the final consolidation of what we now know as the British people. Consider the similarities and contrasts among these three countries.

      The Philippines is part of the Malay archipelago. The initial flow of cultural influence is from India to the 100 Kingdoms in Malay peninsula and the Straits, evolving to the Sri-Vijaya and Madjapahit empires and informed by Islamc traders impinged on by Europe via Ternate and Tidore. During this timeline, the rest of the archipelago that was to be the Philippines was a mere backdoor to the greater archipelago. The anthropologic flow that includes the Philippines was from the Asian coastal mainland via Taiwan to points south (northern tip of Luzon) and southwest thru the whole Malay archipelago. I mention this to point that our cultural DNA has roots more related to the rest of the Malay archipelago and less to Korea and Japan.

      Note to A global event, WWII, rendered this abortive. The war obliterated the physical and economical superstructures that should have been the propitious beginning of an independent Philippines.

      Note to King Philip II of Spain did decree that Spanish be the lingua franca of the empire. This was more easily implementable in the Americas than in the Philippines. That English is now the lingua franca of the Philippines was due more to the egalitarian policies of Charles Barrows the first American Superintendent of Public Schools in the Philippines. And yes, the Filipino “colonists” failed to leverage our Spanish heritage.

      • sonny says:

        Note to the Piagetian paradigm: There is I believe neoteny that occurs for any one going through the stages. (In my opnion)

      • sonny says:

        Note to 2.0: Edgar, that Latin is nostalgic.

      • edgar lores says:


        Thanks for your elaborations.

        1. Neoteny is the very word I was looking for.

        2. On, it seems that the Spanish friars in the Philippines had a different policy than those in the Americas. Here, the policy was NOT to allow the Indios to learn the mother tongue to keep them in ignorance. And the policy was successful, too successful.

        • Joe America says:

          Neoteny (/niːˈɒtɨni/ /niːˈɒtni/, or /niːˈɒtəni/ also called juvenilization, is one of the three ways by which paedomorphism can arise. Paedomorphism or paedomorphosis is the retention by adults of traits previously seen only in the young, and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology.

        • sonny says:

          Still on Regarding the implementation of Philip II’s decree, it fell on the Spanish missionaries to make do. Within 50 years of issuance of encomiendas, almost all the encomenderos had abandoned their haciendas. Cause, nowhere were gold and other mercantile goods to be found. Coupled with the 98% rainforest cover to be cleared and oppressive tropical heat to contend with, only the indomitable friars and few handfuls of Spaniards were left to do the King’s bidding. The ratio of missionary to native was 1:4000 (at best). Thus the teaching of Spanish under these conditions begged for the opposite plan – native teaches colonist their regional language. So it was. Again, exactly the opposite was true in the Americas.

          • sonny says:

            P.S. For the most part with the exception of the Galleon Trade, the Philippines was on the COST side of the royal ledger.,

        • Jake says:

          Actually, it was only during the post Spanish years when the Americas became widely spoken. Most secessionists were Criollos

          As opposed to the Philippines, where by one decision of a mestizo, the language policy changed the setting.

          MLQ intended to have a national language based on an indigenous language — and with it, ALONGSIDE Spanish and English. Meanwhile, countries is the Americas hardly gave native languages a thought until recently.

          Spanish in the Philippines declined in the post war era. I’ve read some accounts of American investors in the Philippines and they said that Spanish was the language of business (which makes sense since Tagalog was not even widespread that time). it didn’t help that Marcos killed it off, aided by Cory’s decision to remove Spanish as an official language.

          • Joe America says:

            Language here is indeed bizarre. I worked hard to learn some Visayan but my kid’s school teaches Tagalog, and now I am back to ground zero. But English is for sure a working language in the Philippines. So it’s cool.

    • cha says:

      3. Piaget was not one of my best suits in college. I thought he was a tiresome nerd compared to the eccentirc rockstar of Freud over at Abnormal Psychology. I did come to appreciate his theory of cognitive development eventually when I had children of my own. Even then, he still couldn’t compete with the young handsome actors playing lawyers on tv last night.

      4. You’re on point tracking back the state of the Filipino adult mind to his development as a child particularly at that stage where he should be expected to progress towards independence and self-sufficiency. It is tempting to put this all on the educational system, the failure to unleash and fully develop the capabilities of the Filipino brain. But maybe we need to look further back and consider the child-rearing practices of the Filipino parent.

      Child-rearing in the Filipino family is all about protecting the child and attending to his needs. The child learns he can depend on his parents, older siblings, the yaya and all other significant adults in his life. He grows up believing he is the responsibility of someone else.

      In contrast, the object of Australian parenting, I have observed, is to prepare the child to be able to take care of himsellf. Independence is not simply an option but the end goal. He grows up believing he is responsible for himself.

      The education system in both countries then simply do a great job reinforcing the same self-concepts.

      We need not only a new approach to educating Filipino children but also a new paradigm for parenting.

      5. My son was just telling us the other day about how Japanese children’s stories are so different thematically and structurally from what we would expect of children’s stories. Apparently devoid of any romantic notions, they are all about honor and self-sacrifice. Death of the seppuku (harakiri) type is a common feature and might as well be their version of the happily ever after ending.

      We didn’t have many Filipino children’s stories growing up ourselves. We grew up on Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty and all the other princes and princesses that lived in places foreign to us and whose looks bore no resemblance to us at all. How is that for developing a Filipino identity eh?

      The good news is that in recent times, there has been a growing number of children’s stories being written by Filipino writers for Filipino children, written in Tagalog (often with English translations), illustrated by Filipino artists who actually depict scenes and images easily recognizable to the Filipino child and usually attempt to impart good moral and social values. (I know these because my children got a lot of them sent over by my family in the Philippines while they were growing up.)

      6. Aah yes, our attachments. Reminded me of the Zen joke, What did the Zen master say to his Filipino student when the latter sought his permission to send an email? “No attachments, please.”

      • Joe America says:

        🙂 4. Someone please put this blog on DepEd’s required reading list. I think the educators missed a few lessons themselves and are not grasping some of these concepts. Like how to build responsible independence rather than responsible obedience.

        • sonny says:

          Joe, here in the States, the coddling at home stops markedly because of an economy outside the home that does utilize and pay for the skills upon completion of high school (K-12). This is why I agreed with your social development program. My family luckily landed initially in the Twin Cities. It was a metropolis that had the combination of a powerhouse of a university system that fed into industries of foodprocessing, agriculture, science & technology, education, in both heavy and medium scales.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, you are characterizing what I might call the “infrastructure of opportunity”, a powerful engine that drives capitalistic wealth-building, something that seems to escape the vision of leaders here. Build the opportunity framework, a core of good jobs and laws that end nepotism in the workplace and promote hiring on the basis of capability and production, and the values hereabouts would change markedly. So would education.

            I would add that Minneapolis/St. Paul has that wholesome-city foundation that makes it work well. It also has icy rain that drives sideways and freezes on the car door so you can’t get it open.

            • sonny says:

              I do have fond memories of wnters in the Twin Cities. My most memorable: my first and coldest winter, -34 deg F (actual temp), -52 deg F (wind-chill) and driving with studded tires. Brrrrr!

              • Joe America says:

                Fond!!! ahahahahaha I grew up in Colorado, and it was memories like that that drove me to Los Angeles and then to the Philippines. I find some affinity to Sam McGee in Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”

        • edgar lores says:

          “We have failed to create a safe, harmonious society for past, current, and future generations. History is made in the cradle and in the classroom, and how a child grows, how his or her Self develops, determines the future of our world. We lack a fundamental understanding of the human soul and how it develops. This lack of understanding affects every aspect of our lives, whether it is in politics, economics, education, the penal system, or relations between the nations of the world. In our approach to children and ourselves, we need a view that includes the Self and the universal reality of physical and spiritual interdependence.” – Annamarie Roeper in “The ‘I’ of the Beholder”, subtitled “A Guided Journey to the Essence of a Child”

  6. Dee says:

    Ah. Close family ties, the ties that bind. It is hard to advocate for personal freedom and respect for individuals because Filipinos are programmed from birth to be clannish. Dysfunctional group dynamics are learned at home and reinforced by the society. Groupthink is prevalent in the Philippines.

    I doubt that we can change the Filipino group dynamics by 2016. To get Grace Poe elected for presidency, I suggest that we use Poe’s “weakness” as a strategy. That is, let the
    pro-Marcos crowd vote her into the office. I read in the article below that there are 5M INC members, 4.5M Ilocanos, 1.5M Marcos loyalists scattered in Luzon, and another 15M from Visayas and Mindanao who will vote for someone who is affiliated with Marcos. I do not think they counted the neo-Marcos followers in those figures. Let the muckrakers have a field day about Poe’s genealogy and for reverse psychology to work its magic.


    If I remember right, President Aquino garnered 15M votes to win in 2010. Poe will probably have more than if her opponents stir the pro-Marcos crowd into frenzy. Let the judgmental groups’ pronouncements backfire. Poe will have the last laugh.

    • Geng says:

      You beat me to the punch. I was thinking of almost the same idea and was only a bit late in opening my laptop.
      Let those who think that Grace Poe is the daughter of Marcos be deluded by their belief that genetic predisposition applies to all people because I know that a person becomes the individual that he/she is by the way she was brought up by the adoptive parent and the environment where he she grew up.
      She could be Ferdinand Marcos’ daughter but the genealogy stops there. She did not inherit his supposed brightness and/or stupidity by the way he ruled and robbed the country blind. She will not commit the same mistake.
      Or maybe she will right the wrongs done by her progenitor, if indeed he is the father. She exhibits a demeanor that exudes an upbringing of good moral values and freedom of mind.
      But let us also think about Cha’s suggestions to look into her connections and supporters in the last election.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, reflections of America’s most eccentric advertising executive, Jerry Della Femina, who penned the book “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor”. He believed that any publicity was good publicity. Exposure is valuable, wherever you find it, if you are selling a product.

  7. ella says:

    Thanks Joe for pointing out that every Filipino has his or her own individuality and should be looked at in those terms. Unfortunately, that is what we as Filipinos has to deal with.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Poe Part II: Do Filipinos Grasp Freedom?, March 8, 2014. Elaborates on the previous blog to address the importance of respect for the individual. Argues that Grace Poe should be judged according to her own character and deeds. […]

  2. […] Senator Grace Poe’s parentage is irrelevant. She was born a Filipino. Imposing a DNA test (Marcos baby?) is ridiculous, as if a child cannot be allowed to stand apart from mommy and daddy. That would say we don’t have the intellectual grasp, the strength of character, to let people DEMONSTRATE who they are. It is a form of bigotry, of bias, of judgment not unlike racism. What is important are Ms. Poe’s deeds, as an adult. The same is true for Senator Marcos, I might add. However, that’s a different blog. [Refer to: “The Poe files: a little matter of parentage“, and to: “Poe Part II: Do Filipinos grasp freedom?“] […]

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