Audiences . . . and building middle class clout. . .

audienceEvery newspaper, every television or radio show, every blog has its audience. All publishers and producers want that audience to be bigger, generally for commercial profit. But most accept that their audience will have certain characteristics and write or broadcast to that audience.

In the U.S., Fox reaches conservative whites, CNBC MSNBC reaches liberals, Brietbart News reaches extremist tea-party reactionaries, the Wall Street Journal reaches business executives. In the Philippines, there are similar slants and one big one, that of the mainstream press that reaches a broad public that enjoys drama, conflict, scandal, salacious rumor, death and destruction. And sports and entertainment.

What about this blog? What is the actual audience and what is the target audience?

Actual Audience

We haven’t done surveys of readers, but can get some general ideas. The one statistic that is available is where readers do their reading, by country.

For the past 90 days, reads have originated from:

  1. Philippines 59.5%
  2. United States 20.2%
  3. Canada 4.5%
  4. Australia 2.9%
  5. Singapore 1.8%

So clearly, the blog reaches English speaking countries with sizable Filipino populations.

Readership can be categorized into two main groups:

  1. Educated Filipinos
  2. Educated OFW’s

It appears that there is a tilt toward older readers, but that is not exclusive. We also have mid-age and young followers.

Commenters represent a very small set of all readers, in the low single digits.. That means there are a lot of readers who do not comment. They likely fall into one of the following classes:

  1. People uncomfortable writing in English (as I would be reluctant to compose in Visayan; my 208 words doesn’t get me far).
  2. People who are just extracting ideas or words and moving on. Maybe Senator Sotto visits, eh?
  3. People in official or public positions who cannot comment for propriety sake (we have a good number of followers who are attorneys, media people, entertainers and people who work in government, some in substantial positions).
  4. People who disagree with what has been said but don’t want to take up a fight.

The audience would appear to be educated and open to non-traditional views and writing styles. Perhaps they don’t themselves like being fit into other peoples’ boxes. That is consistent with the form and content of both this site and the commentary.

The blog has some influence, in its tightly focused way. Undeniably, it does.

The cycle of readership

If those who comment are a guide, most readers are generally just passing through. Now some pass through in a day while others may take a few months or even a year, but eventually the novelty wears out. Maybe they find the blogs repetitive in content or wearing in style. Perhaps their online activities shift, or they have other personal priorities to take up. Or a particular blog really irritates them, and who needs that kind of grief? They move on.

Occasionally they pop back in for a visit.

Others take their place.

Readership edges up with each article that strikes a favorable chord. What used to be 50 followers in now over 600. What used to be 100 reads a day with spikes of 300 has become 800 reads a day with spikes of 2,500. The most popular article, “Why Mayor Estrada is wrong about Hong Kong“, has received 113,026 reads . . . and is still being read actively.  The recently published blog “The Binay road to power” has received 6,776 reads and is still racking them up several hundred a day. Many readers are opinion-makers in the Philippines. Some work in the higher reaches of government.

And we might ask, what if the blog had a daily readership of 20,000, might we move from “occasionally influential” to “a blogging force”?

Who the audience is not

The audience does not include:

  1. The huge laboring class and poor
  2. Those who don’t understand or are uncomfortable with English
  3. Nationalists who take umbrage that an American is intruding in Filipino affairs.
  4. Domestic enemies – extremists from the left, crooks and their friends, political opponents of President Aquino – those who peg JoeAm as a yellowtard,
  5. Those who find JoeAms writing style to be too dramatic, opinionated or  . . . as one critic called it . . . “stark”.

I was set upon by one of the nationalists the other day. That formed the impetus for this blog. He essentially said I was unqualified to comment because I don’t understand the complex nuances of the Asian way of thinking. Nor could I ever be qualified.

My response was that we all carry our own ignorances.

The incident was instructional because it made the point that at the edges of the article are people who have great dislike for my being here. Well, that is more than balanced by the many expressions of appreciation I have received over the years. So I am very thankful for those of you who believe inclusion is valuable and exclusion is limiting.

The target audience

The target audience is more of the same. More open-minded, out-of-the-box thinkers and problem solvers who don’t attach labels to people and who are interested in a positive, harmonious, healthy, growing Philippines.

You might be inclined to ask, “Why are you blogging, Joe?” Are you trying to become a media “star”? Will you eventually try to monetize the blog? What are you after?

I’ll let you in on a secret.

Some four years ago, I got angry that a hypocrite at Get Real Post banned me there because I would not toe the Get Real abusive line. So I set out to express myself in my own blog. Lo and behold, the writing became invigorating, and it helped me understand why cultural differences exist. Some lessons were self-taught by reading, researching and thinking, and a lot of them were taught by people who dropped off comments. Over time, the comments became deeper and richer. Edgar Lores set a special tone when he arrived – always cerebral, always peaceful, always straightforward – and others have, too. I shall not try to list them. The last time I tried that, I missed one person and lost a valuable contributor.

I consider my main mentor here to be journalist and occasional blogger Manuel Buencamino who pops in now and then to comment. He kept me from descending into the trap of comparing Filipinos to Americans and doing what Get Real Post does, adopt an arrogant platform of condescending superiority. It took him some effort to pound the ideas into my head that America is a pretty poor standard in many respects, and that the differences are often more myth than reality. So – most of the time – I am able to stay off that negative platform and strive to find the positive, the uplift. Frankly, I’ve become better at it than a lot of people.

And I generally end a blog looking for things that can be done. There is nothing more irritating than a critic with no constructive alternative to propose.

Ignorance as the flip side of interest

It is true that we all pack our own ignorances. We generally find comfort in our zone of knowledge or repetitive daily acts, and most of us don’t work too hard to get outside these comforts.

I note with some amusement that we (including myself) condemn poor people who sell their votes for being ignorant and not grasping why that is dangerous. Yet we, ourselves, stay wedded to our own ignorances. If I do a book report or literary blog (an article of Ambrose Bierce quotes comes to mind), my readership drops dead. If I do a personality story, like on Mayor Estrada or Gigi Reyes or Kris Aquino . . . or President Aquino . . . readership soars. Similarly, I don’t read ellen tordesila’s pieces on opera but I do read her political diatribes.

We can criticize a sensationalist press, but all they are doing is reading their audience correctly. It is not just political parties that are personality based. It is an entire population. And for sure, it makes no sense for the Inquirer to put an opera review on the front page if Senators Trillanes and Cayetano are in a knock-down drag-out battle with the Vice President, or Jessica Sanchez is coming to town.

Moving from interesting to influential

The great hope of the Philippines is its middle class. That is the wholesome middle ground between the elite and the impoverished. But it is also a middle thinking class, or engaged class, too. It is people with careers and homes and families deeply invested in Philippine well-being. It is natural for the middle class to drive toward stability and opportunity. They are going places. They are going toward education and health and travel and good service. Their time is valuable, their efforts earnest. Busted trains and incompetence and political corruption drive them nuts.

If I were to recast a goal for this blog, it would be to help make that thinking and engaged class a very strong, positive force, a force for decency and progress.

To get there, the blog needs more variety than JoeAm with his wild words and bent perspectives. It also needs more “Filipino” in the mix of perspectives. And some youth, some working class, some new ideas. Every time we run a new writer’s perspective, people are interested. Readership rises, new comments come in.

Frankly, I don’t like going around asking for guest articles, but I wish we had more. Maybe the influence of a given article is small. Maybe it amounts to nothing but practice writing. Or maybe it is the one article that reaches the President’s desk. Or a senator’s desk. Or gets to a newspaper editor who takes the idea, re-frames it, and writes to the same point. These things can’t happen if ideas remain confined within peoples’ heads.

I’d like to see the blog become a Society of Honorable Writers, casual writers, yes, but people deeply committed to the well-being of the Philippines. If it becomes that, I can drop the “Joe America from the title”, and off we go . . .

Contributing to the development of a thinking, engaged, forceful middle class . . .


63 Responses to “Audiences . . . and building middle class clout. . .”
  1. Dick S. O'Rosary says:

    I’ll tell you what your writing style is like Mr. America, its too, “grandpa”. I take it cause you’re an older chap. Lets just say that a lot of your idiomatic expressions I only encountered coming from you. Examples from your more recent posts: “cracker jack smart”, “whoah nellie”, “herky jerky”, “methinks”, “sneaking suspicion”. I also suspect that these are little known dialect words that speakers of Philippine english aren’t too familiar with.

    • BFD says:

      Hey, the avatar says it all…. 🙂 Peace!

    • Joe America says:

      Like the avatar, the words are a filter I suppose. Those with a need to be young or associate with youth or are confused by new words will trip on past, and I’d guess that thousands do. I don’t see any reason to deny my background (cowboys and indians) or age, or appreciation for Huckleberry Finn. If popular readership were the goal, then very clearly I’d get a different avatar, get rid of the colloquialisms, and write like a normal writer. But then it would be no fun, and what’s the point of THAT?

      • Dick S. O'Rosary says:

        Its ok, sometimes even a “whippersnapper” would still find it worthwhile to listen or read the writings of those older and wiser. Its not like the dialect barrier is insurmountable.

        • Joe America says:

          I reckon yer right, pardner. We have some youngsters who read and comment regularly. They are very bright people. I learn from them, which means the old adage about not being able to teach old dogs new tricks is worthless in this neck of the woods.

  2. I was reading about your tiff with the GRP folks from your past posts the other night. I’d say that the misunderstanding is more of a culture clash than anything else. As you stay longer in PI, you will find that most Filipinos have competitive nature much like Americans. They love to debate and win arguments. Sometimes, they can be resolute and very resistant to paradigm shift. It takes a lot for some Filipinos to change their minds once it is made up. The best way to do in PI is to build a good rapport with them first before touching very controversial subjects because once they get to know you as a decent and well-meaning person, you will have their trust and loyalty for a long time. Americans can be hardheaded too but the longer I live here, the more I observe that once the flares are over, Americans are more apt to look at their opponent’s argument closely and proceed objectively from there. In fairness, Arche (I am assuming he is Filipino) did that (that is the impression I got from his comments).

    I appreciate you, Joe. I think you make a lot of sense and you are a decent, well-meaning person and writer.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, Juana. Decent is good. And your point about culture clash is right. It is absolutely the hardest part for me because I really don’t understand where people are coming from, and back in those days, I was rather thin of skin myself. I’ve worked hard to extract emotion from idea so as not to go overboard, in a personal way, on arguments. Interestingly enough, it is easier to make wise-ass comments on someone else’s blog than my own, because I have a vested interest in this one. There is a lesson to that point, I think, and when I figure it out, I’ll let you know. 🙂

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      There is no place for “culture” in Intelligent Debate.
      There is even no place for “culture” in religion.
      It is about hard-headedness and pure and unadulterated “intelligence” the Filipino-way. That is why U.P. graduates, despite their textbooks are authored by Americans, do not ever get it and never have made Philippines to the 19th century. The Philippines is still in the medieval era of the dark ages.

  3. Sal says:

    JoeAm, thanks for the invitation to contribute personal perspectives… I will take you up on it in the near future and spread the word to other friends who enjoy writing down their ideas and opinions. Just wondering where you are getting your readership numbers from because I expected higher numbers. If it is from web page hits that would not include those who receive your articles in email format and do not read it on the web (like me).

    • Joe America says:

      The readership numbers come from Word Press, and you are right, they would exclude the e-mail delivery. But that is not a large number. The small readership is what I would call a quality readership. People who are a little bit cerebral, who are totally open minded (able to deal with an American, an old one, and one who writes in a style that could be gibberish or poetry depending on where the reader is coming from), and are looking for concept instead of sensationalism or “popularism”. There are some important people reading, I know for a fact. So its a nice audience to have.

  4. Red Snapper says:

    Well Joe – I always forward your posts to people in my email directory and some of these people also forward my forwards and so and so forth. Keep on writing Joe. We need you.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, it points out the importance of his network of sister cities. And his basic theme is quite good:

      “Iniisip pa lang ng iba, ginawa na at ginagawa na niya.” (What other candidates are still thinking about, he has already done or is already doing.)

      The problem is it gets turned inside out when the opposition says, “even gross corruption”.

      • baycas says:

        Please include the seniors too. They who most Filipinos love, protect, and most of all obey…

      • baycas says:

        It’s kind of hard to undo what has already been done. It’s now up to the OMB, COA, and maybe, BIR.

        But with his track record of turning ‘prosecution’ to ‘persecution’ it might win him votes again in the future. Exposing his ‘darkness’ may also backfire on the one who exposes him.

        • Joe America says:

          That’s true. I was thinking as I watched the hearing yesterday that this is serious business. Lives are being made . . . and broken. Right there on the TV.

          • BFD says:

            Well, if they vote Binay as president, then Filipinos have never learned the lessons of the past.

            Which brings me to this question, why are those being accused or convicted but pardoned still being voted on by the masses?

            One thing they all have in common is their bailiwick’s support.

            Erap with his masa

            Marcos with his Ilocano vote

            Binay with his sister cities

            It’s like Filipinos are still steeped or into this cult mentality thing where they idolize whom they see as macho, cunning or a Robin Hood…

            If in 2016, if one of those 3 wins, Filipinos deserve it because they never learned…

            But here we are still, crying out loud that, “Hey, there is still someone better to lead the Philippines. Not them.”

            • Joe America says:

              I think there is an enlightenment going on among the connected (via internet) middle class. The question is, will anyone take the initiative to push out from that to reach the laboring masses via texting or personal word of mouth. The problem is, I think money is also out in the local areas for gifts and other enticements that mean so much to poor people. So it is a bad situation, it seems to me.

              • chit navarro says:

                Definitely, there are enticements going around now: money, t-shirts, a pack of groceries or any gift in the rural areas for the masses to beef up the “broken image” of the VP. In Isabela and Cagayan where he had been for 2 consecutive weekends, he distributed money, t-shirts and food pack… and it is only 2014. A long way to go till 2016… How much more next uear? Next year, all sister cities I am sure will have upgraded computer systems in their barangay halls and town halls; we will see plenty of medical missions, etc. Binay has these all lined up already…. unless there is a plunder case filed before then.

  5. Micha says:

    CNBC a liberal platform? The one where Rick Santelli blares his strident hedge fund adoring horns?

    Maybe you meant MSNBC?

  6. manuel buencamino says:

    Thanks for the mention, Joe. We learn from each other all the time. Many of your posts send me off on hours of research so that if I do criticize it based on something more than just an emotional reaction. In a word, many of your posts are stimulating.

  7. gerverg1885 says:

    I remembered this quote from an unknown author which I think has very much to do with the shift of the conversation on Binay again. He/she wrote that “To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved but at what he aspires to do.”

    Why could some people do not come to understand that there is a point in anyone’s life when enough means the time to stop? Was greed, once it becomes a habit, just too overpowering that no force can make the greedy individual reckon about the troubles that will hound him till the day he dies?

  8. edgar lores says:

    1. It is good to know that audience of the blog has reached into the four corners of the world.

    2. It is also good that you have taken time out to assess the composition of the audience.
    2.1. I am quite surprised that Canada is ranked number 3 on the list of visiting countries. I am not aware of any contributor from that Far North country. (Please excuse my ignorance if I have missed anyone.) From my forays into social media, I know of at least three active and vocal Canadian commenters.
    2.2. From their incisive comments, Fil-Canadians evince a clarity of perspective and insight that is typical of people who straddle two cultures. Very much like you, JoeAm, I would say. And very much like Fil-Aussies.
    2.3. In social media, Canadians have earned the reputation of being soft-spoken and courteous. It would be nice to hear a gentle Canadian voice here.

    3. In the spirit of self-analysis, I have been trying to come up with some criticisms of the blog. I can hardly find any.
    3.1. Nah, kidding!
    3.2. I note that Google provides some links on blog criticism, but the field is new and is not extensive as, say literary criticism. Also blog criticism seems to dwell on presentation and form and not content.
    3.3. I am not surprised that the posts that garner the widest audience are topical. The busy world moves so fast that the things that draw our attention are the daily eruptions of political scandal and notorious celebrity.
    3.4. This situation is to be lamented. We often react from our ignorance, as noted, and we do not take time out to reflect on deeper meanings or to connect with wisdoms from the past. We are unhinged, unmoored, tossed hither and thither by passing storms.

    4. Going back to blog criticism, one can approach this blog from aspects of form such as style, language, imagery, organization (flow) and point of view.
    4.1. But I don’t think readers pay much attention to form as to content. And content is basically the observations and ideas espoused. If there is consistency in content, one might describe it as the ideology of the blog.

    4.2. Some of the ideologies of this blog, which are right of center, are evident:
    4.2.1. China is a marauder.
    4.2.2. The Left are more about gaining power than contributing to development.
    4.2.3. Pnoy is imperfect but the best we have had so far.
    4.2.4. Congress is a do-nothing.
    4.2.5. The Judiciary is not doing its part.
    4.2.6. The Church is too meddlesome.
    4.2.7. Binay, Erap and Enrile are not to be trusted.
    4.2.8. National security is justified to invade privacy in the fight against terrorism.

    5. By and large, I do agree with most of the above except, with reservations, on the last one.
    5.1. That the blog has attracted a wider readership validates the popularity, if not the soundness (?), of the ideologies. There is sufficient dissenting opinion not to make the blog a virtual circle jerk.
    5.2. Personally, what I like about the blog are the width of its coverage, the intelligent discussion and the depth of insight that is sometimes achieved. Most of all perhaps its positivity and balance.

    For a better Philippines and a better world.

    • Joe America says:

      Man, you nailed that 4.2. Interesting, though, I think I am socially liberal but the left here is a bunch of nutters and I for sure don’t want to be associated with them.

      Canadians are perhaps the most wholesome people in the Americas. They think rationally and keep their noses for the most part out of other peoples’ business. Still, they have their little cultural nuances, like a bunch wanting to speak French and Vancouver being mostly Chinese. Plus it’s really cold there.

      • edgar lores says:

        Canada cold? That’s It! That’s the reason why they frequent this blog. They need something to rile them up, keep the blood flowing. Nothing like a bit of the “Society of Honor” and the shenanigans back home to go with the morning coffee!

    • letlet says:

      @ edgar

      For a better Philippines and a better world – we have the same aspirations, My heart is bleeding for the plight of the poor, but somehow, I do something about it, charity wise.

      My heart is joyful for Joe’s success on his blog. His readership / commenter circulation is indeed far and wide, an attestation of his balanced, meaningful and substantial / meaty presentation of coherent posts.

      Reading your posts and joe’s make me feel like I belong to inteliigentsia.

      • edgar lores says:


        Intelligentsia? i struggle as anyone else. And if proof of intelligence is found in the personal circumstances of one’s life, then surely I am sorely wanting. Not that I suffer much, but I do suffer. More importantly, I am filled with gratitude for the little blessings that come my way.

        It does not take much to please me. A bright sunny day, a cool breeze, the burst of flowers in spring.

        I envy you your heart. It is not enough to say the word “love” but to act it out. In the deed is the utterance of the heart made manifest.

        I am proud to be in your company.

  9. chit navarro says:

    Hey Joe…. you are giving Raissa stiff competition in blogging. Between the two of you, reading the comments would already give me an idea what is the top news of the day… NO need to browse through the mainstream newspapers except on days that the columns / opinions of Winnie Monsod, CJ Pangilinan, Sylvia Claudio. And I could see your blogs posted in FB, especially on that of VP Binay. Keep enlightening the Filipinos and probably we will soon have a better Pilippines!

    • Joe America says:

      For sure, this blog has become more prominent, but I don’t see myself competing with Raissa because she has access to people and a readership base that gives her particular power to influence. If anything, this blog becomes a second punch in a one-two combination. The inside view from Raissa, the outside view from here. The history and real world from her, the concepts and brain-stretching from here. It is a part of the middle-class force that I think is emerging. More power to Raissa . . . and to us . . .

  10. cha says:

    Among your current crop of ‘regular’ commenters, I’d probably be one of those who’ve been around longest. I think it’s only MB and Mariano who have been around longer than I have. (Edgar Lores came a few months after I did.)

    Maybe because there were fewer of us then, there was, it seems, more bantering, more friendly and sometimes not so friendly, exchanges among us happy fools. I do miss Doc B, Jim E, Attila and before them Jack. This is not to say, though, that I have any reason to complain about the current crop of regulars. Far from it. The discussions have, in fact become richer, with more depth, and just as earnest and impassioned, if not more so.

    The issues covered and nature of commentary may have changed but as I see it, the one thing that has remained through the years is the great writing; very literary, oftentimes engrossing and compelling, and every now and then simply charming (hah!). I don’t know about the others but it’s why I have stuck it through with the Society all this time, even if I have occasionally been at odds with JoeAm over a thing or two. What can I say, I’ve never ‘metaphor’ I didn’t like. Haha.

    I feel a certain pride and sense of accomplishment seeing the growing readership (even if I have had little to do with it anyway.). There is a sense of satisfaction derived from having recognised a winner early on in the race, I suppose.

    I share your hopes and dreams of seeing the audience growing even more, of the blog’s influence and reach continually expanding. If we write it, they will read it eh?

    Note the ‘we’.

    • Joe America says:

      You possibly don’t know how instrumental you were, Cha, in elevating the tenor of discussion at this blog. Your views contain a calm, intelligent maturity that affected my own tendency to be smart-aleck, to tone it down, and to recruit Angry Maude to do the heavy angry hitting. 🙂 So you are for sure a part of the foundation that has grown since those early days. Andrew Lim is also an old-timer here. I agree that the level of discussion is superb. Nothing is finer than reading Sonny and Edgar discuss faith, or you and Juana and, recently, Dolly, bringing feminine power of expression to today’s issues. The comments here have personality . . . but they are seldom ABOUT personality. It’s great.

      If we write, they will read . . . without question, for we belong to a very substantial right honorable society . . .

    • edgar lores says:


      Those were happy times. (I can hardly believe the blog has lasted so long as to be able to invoke nostalgia. More power to JoeAm.)

  11. edgar lores says:

    I accidentally found this photo while searching for the Ombudsman who failed to pursue the graft charges against Binay in 1995. It’s description is ” Office of the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, En Banc” and it shows the marriage of faith and justice. I know a lot of Filipinos will see nothing wrong with the photo… but it makes the hairs on my arms stand up. And I’m not talking about the red cushion in the foreground or the “Happy Birthday” sign.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahh, such displays are common in government offices across the land.

      • edgar lores says:

        When the absurd has become commonplace, when insanity has become normal, then prophets are fools, and the wise are mad. I cannot imagine a time that any government will prohibit religious paraphernalia in government offices. The Supreme Court itself by allowing these displays is in violation of the Constitution.

        This means, sadly, that the Filipino mind will forever be held in thrall.

        I offer these quotes from the Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace released by the White House on August 14, 1997 (all bolding mine):

        Section 1. Executive departments and agencies shall permit personal religious expression by Federal employees to the greatest extent possible, consistent with requirements of law and interests in workplace efficiency as described in this set of Guidelines. Agencies shall not discriminate against employees on the basis of religion, require religious participation or non-participation as a condition of employment, or permit religious harassment. And agencies shall accommodate employees’ exercise of their religion in the circumstances specified in these Guidelines. These requirements are but applications of the general principle that agencies shall treat all employees with the same respect and consideration, regardless of their religion (or lack thereof).

        A. Religious Expression. As a matter of law, agencies shall not restrict personal religious expression by employees in the Federal workplace except where the employee’s interest in the expression is outweighed by the government’s interest in the efficient provision of public services or where the expression intrudes upon the legitimate rights of other employees or creates the appearance, to a reasonable observer, of an official endorsement of religion. The examples cited in these Guidelines as permissible forms of religious expression will rarely, if ever, fall within these exceptions.

        The last portion of Section 2. Guiding Legal Principles concludes:

        F. Establishment of Religion. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the Government — including its employees — from acting in a manner that would lead a reasonable observer to conclude that the Government is sponsoring, endorsing or inhibiting religion generally or favoring or disfavoring a particular religion. For example, where the public has access to the Federal workplace, employee religious expression should be prohibited where the public reasonably would perceive that the employee is acting in an official, rather than a private, capacity, or under circumstances that would lead a reasonable observer to conclude that the Government is endorsing or disparaging religion. The Establishment Clause also forbids Federal employees from using Government funds or resources (other than those facilities generally available to government employees) for private religious uses.


        • Joe America says:

          I don’t believe the broad Philippine population is “socially aware” in the sense that the U.S. went through a period of intense social introspection beginning in the 1960’s over the matter of race, and then extending that to age, religion, handicap, and gender. It is ongoing still with regard to same-sex marriages. An aspect of the gender introspection is abortion. So the Philippines remains naive as to the significance of various religious displays under laws (such as the Constitution) and how they are offensive or oppressive to some. The heavy cultural weight of Catholicism overrides sensitivity. Malls here commonly open with a loudspeaker prayer (Christian) and then the National Anthem. Divorce is not available. I don’t find the presence of Catholic symbols as much oppressive as naive and a tad quirky. I say that as I glance at the bullet casing my Catholic wife insists I wear as an amulet when I am not feeling 100% healthy.

          • edgar lores says:

            Ah hah! The acculturation process is at work and in progress.

            I can understand as an outsider that feelings of tolerance are a necessary ingredient for feelings of empathy. But I don’t think that I, if I were a secularist and an employee of the Supreme Court at the same time, could ever banish the feeling of being affronted by these religious displays. I would feel like I was employed in a hostile work environment. I would feel like a feminist working in an office where the decorations consisted of Playboy centerfolds.

            The Filipino Freethinkers society should raise a test case challenging these displays.

            Alternatively, if the Church was sincere about Francis’ renewal drive and Tagle’s’ “humility and searching”, she should unilaterally request the faithful to dismantle these displays. This would be a magnanimous gesture of humility and a show of respect for the Constitution and for all faiths and non-faiths.

            • Joe America says:

              The good fight would have to be waged by the offended, and perhaps, indeed, there are too few of them. That is the naive aspect I cite, namely the mushiness of commitment to secular values, just as commitment to religion is somewhat mushy, living side by side with superstition. This whole mushiness aspect here is what led me to wonder about fighting in the same foxhole with Filipinos in a blog a while back. What is the commitment TO, exactly, that would cause massive social protests. Well, a dictator’s excesses perhaps. But most of the protests here are not of the common man, although the leaders pretend they are. They are of social cults. No one really gets worked up. So, yes, I suppose I’m fitting in just fine on some matters.

              • edgar lores says:

                Mushiness, that’s a good point. But while mushiness denotes softness it also denotes sentimentality, which is the province of the heart and not of the mind. And the rabidity of the Filipino also locates in the same province.

                I think that the commitment from the heart is far stronger than the commitment from the mind alone. The current crisis of terrorism – all heart, no mind – is proof of this. Again another paradox: being all of heart can be heartless.

              • edgar lores says:

                The foregoing discussion illustrates the point I was driving at three days ago that Filipinos have great practical wisdom (phronesis). When it comes to survival, we have outstanding skills (techne), which has enabled us to find work in almost every country on earth. We also have good judgment in relation to our skills (techne). I am loath to use Binay as a good example of this, but show me any politician in the world who “gives” cakes to the most influential segment of his constituency to win the hearts of the whole constituency. This is a masterstroke.

                We have no lack of practical reasoning. What we lack is reasoning and good judgment of the sophia kind that embraces the four cardinal virtues. (Note that these virtues play a pivotal role in Catholic theology – in theory but not so much in collective or individual practice… except perhaps of the virtue of Justice in charity work.)

                I would nominate the virtue of Prudence as being supreme. To me it connotes recognition of our ignorance and therefore encompasses humility, searching, tolerance, open-mindedness, and the acceptance of pluralism.


                Side note on acculturation: There’s no great harm in “going native”. Just watch out that you practice and hit the right notes in karaoke sessions. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Not to mention get in regular visits to the shooting range.

                As this is an introspective article, I would note that blogging has led me decidedly down the path of Prudence, or at least the recognition of ignorance, searching, tolerance, open-mindedness and acceptance of pluralism. Humility? A work in process . . . ahahahaha

    • I can’t see it, Edgar. Maybe I need an upgrade. Can others see Edgar’s photo?

  12. R.Hiro says:

    One of the toughest thing to do is regime change…The economic and political institutions we inherited from both Spain and the more dominantly the U.S. continues to plague the country..

    So far very small attempts have been made but the stranglehold still hold sway. Political institutions are still bound by the colonial economic institutions left by the former colonizer.

    • Joe America says:

      You almost make it sound like the U.S. is still responsible for what the Philippines does today. If you can figure out the problems, I presume others can too, and they can figure out the solutions. Filipinos. The republic was reborn in 1987, and one of the first steps was to give the U.S. the boot. What were the next steps?

      • RHiro says:





  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Commenters from abroad have more sense than commenters from the Philippines. Local commenters show just how corrupt their culture is and despite their knowledge of it they still defend their toxic corrosive culture. Hmppppf !

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