A secular moral code to take the place of The Philippine Golden Rule

Ten commandments heston

Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments”

It is a mind-bender for those of us who subscribe to The Golden Rule to recognize that self-dealing in the Philippines is an accepted moral value.

The Golden Rule says:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is a fundamental value statement that advocates for kindness and consideration among any group of people: family, friends, strangers, city, state, nation, planet.

The Philippine moral code does not recognize The Golden Rule other than as a show, a façade masking a very different code.

The Philippine Golden Rule was formulated and formalized by President Aguinaldo who took cows from the poor and gave them to powerful people to gain their support. Ever since  –  and perhaps before, as I have not gone back earlier than Aguinaldo  –  the Philippines has been engaged in a peculiar set of approved social acts which I refer to as the trade of favors. It involves favors done and debts acquired as a form of currency, a means to obtain and exchange goods, services or money.

Underpinning the trade of favors is the fundamental moral value that what I can take for myself, by any means possible, is wholly acceptable.

And so corruption is rampant. It is in the Senate, the House, the Executive, the Judiciary, the LGUs, the military, the government agencies – most notably DENR, LTO, Customs and PNP. It is likely within your neighbors’ homes, within your family, and at the taxi station at the airport . . . it is a natural and accepted way of conducting affairs.

This is not an errant value adopted by a few malcontents, an exception to “The Philippine Golden Rule”. It IS The Philippine Golden Rule:

“Take for thyself quick before someone else gets to it first.”

Well, what we have brewing in the Philippines is an uprising against that fundamental value. It is nothing less than a revolution, except it is not being fought in bloody streets but in homes and internet cafes and on the road with a cell phone. The rebels are the prey, the victims, of The Philippine Golden Rule. They are the people whose honest work and sincerity is being scammed and stolen by the entitled, the powerful, or a simple taxi driver who intentionally meanders down long and winding streets.


That is the battle cry.

Voters are rebelling. Taxpayers are rebelling. Earnest good people are rebelling.

We are observing a slo-motion, modern-day storming of the Bastille, only the Bastille is represented in the smug faces of powerful people who until now had unfettered access to favors and debts and the ability to escape from what most people would call justice.

Justice in the Philippines has, unfortunately, been guided by The Philippine Golden Rule.

But the rebellion is reaching into the courts, too. It is reaching into the Catholic Church, into the Legislature and into the City Hall of Makati. Filipinos are storming previously unreachable places, the mansions, the government halls, and the offices of a devious press whose editors and writers also bow to The Philippine Golden Rule.

The storming has just begun.

There is no way to shut it down.

I’m optimistic about the Philippines, frankly, and the power being wielded by good people who are fed up with being pawns of the entitled.

But that minor rant is just backdrop to the actual subject of this blog:

“What should The NEW Philippine Golden Rule be?”

Can we synthesize the Ten Commandments into something secular, something simple, something profound? Here are those commandments:

  • I am the Lord thy God
  • Thou shalt have no other gods, no graven images or likenesses
  • Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain
  • Thou shall remember the Sabbath day
  • Thou shall honour thy father and thy mother
  • Thou shalt not kill
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery
  • Thou shalt not steal
  • Thou shalt not bear false withness
  • Thou shalt not covet

We also have other popular moral values adopted universally around the world: Peace, freedom, equal rights, human dignity, social progress.

Various ethical guidelines also emerge for us to ponder.

  • Accept personal responsibility for acts
  • Be honest
  • Honor agreements
  • Grant others the right to self-determination

What do we want from ourselves and others around us? What are the values we want to live by? Those profound few moral guideposts? They should be simple because we want a set of values that we can easily remember, and ponder from time to time as we make difficult choices. They should be secular because we are a religiously and rationally diverse nation.

Simple is better than complex, short better than long. Secular is a necessity.

It should not be necessary to write “do not kill” and “honor thy father and thy mother” if we have a single value that says “be kind to others”. Nor should adultery require a separate statement, for cheating on one’s mate is a very gross unkindness to one with whom one has formalized a bond of fidelity.

We need not have theft and greed as separate sins if we have a single value that says “give more than you take”, which inculcates a sense of responsibility for balancing what one consumes by contributing to the well-being of others. It would be foolish to eat huge amounts when the poor are starving, or to accumulate huge piles of money while people are sleeping in cardboard boxes.

Thou shalt not bear false witness, or lie, is a bit complicated. How do we rationalize the “white lie” or secret that is entertained to be kind to others? Does being kind to others cover that? Well, I put telling protective lies under being kind, odd though that may seem to those who follow the Ten Commandments.

What about faith? How are we to handle that when there is so much mystery around us, and people gain so much by being spiritual animals? I merge faith – religion, spiritual beliefs – into umbrella values that are secular and universal.

Here are the five moral rules I like best:

  1. Be kind to others.
  2. Give more than you take.
  3. Take good care of our earth.
  4. Know your limits and strive to grow past them.
  5. Be true to yourself and respect difference

The first is The Golden Rule, the second tempers our natural greed and tendency to do evil, the third recognizes our planet is under severe strain, the fourth impels us to grow, and the fifth grants us the freedom to be ourselves, even if that is different from what others prefer. The fifth embraces faith, free-thinking and diversity.

I think most temptations to bad deeds can be wrapped up within these value statements, and adopting them would lead to a lot of good acts. What would you add, delete or change, trying to keep to the essential standard of “short and sweet and secualr” so that the values can be easily remembered?

What would you propose be in a set of modern “Philippine Rules to Live By”?


102 Responses to “A secular moral code to take the place of The Philippine Golden Rule”
  1. sonny says:

    I am sorting your ideas for my version, Joe. Right now, I would add: THINK MILITARY: intel, objective, alternatives, strat/logist, etc. 🙂

    • sonny says:

      I like your code of 5, Joe. There is an elegance to it. The 5 map well to the 613 Mitzvot, the 10 commandments of the Mosaic Law and the Two Greatest commandments of Christianity. The Qur’an of course can be reduced to one.

      • Joe America says:

        Ah, thanks for the certification, Sonny. A goal is to be harmonious with all . . .

      • sonny says:

        Joe, I always appreciate fresh and contemporary refraction of principles that are far-removed by culture and language into our words and times and culture.

      • i7sharp says:


        I have browsed through practically all the 89 (as of this writing)ncomments/responses.

        Seeing that Sonny’s 2nd post is a good jumping point, I decided to dive in … here.

        I remember seeing for many months in the early ’60s the long queues for “The Ten Commandments” at the Galaxy Theater near the corner of Rizal Avenue and Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto) Street, I believe.

        Joe, your comment about Charlton Heston’s “Christ-on-the-cross”) pose is interesting. It made me wonder if he was a Christian. (IMO, only God really knows for sure.)

        Sonny’s mention of “613 Mitzvot” and the Qur’an prompted me to look into the provenance of “Do unto others …”.
        But I must say I am predisposed to the belief *it* is the “scriptures” – which I believe is now preserved in the English language (from the original, mainly, Hebrew and Greek) in the King James.
        I did just now a google on “charlton heston king james” and found interesting results.

        I am not sure if Google is “gaming” searches but I found it interesting to get, as the 2nd result of my search, this link:

        (I had wanted to go up to 7 items but something came up … and I gotta run!
        I hope to be able to continue this (fwiw) later today.)



        • Joe America says:

          Charlton Heston, interesting guy. One biography says he was an atheist, and at first turned down the religious roles he ended up playing. Another says he was an ardent christian. A third says his faith was unknown, but his moral values were firm and good. He was married to his wife for 64 years. He marched with Martin Luther King and organized boycotts of Hollywood restaurants that refused to serve blacks. He was the butt of many jokes from people because he was so straight-laced. He had Alzheimer’s disease in his later years.

          I think Google does “game” searches by overlaying personal choices (recent searches and web site visits) with its search to make the searches more personally attuned. That brings up gems like the article in your link, a wonderful testimony to the literary value of the KJV of the bible. But it loses value for someone wanting an objective search. I don’t know if there is a switch. There should be. I can’t do a search without it bringing up one of my own 750 or so blogs (ahahahaha).

    • sonny says:

      “Take for thyself quick before someone else gets to it first.”

      This also translates to: I will first him first before he firsts me! (the Philippine First Law of Chao-dynamics)

    • Joe America says:

      “Think military” is good for the discipline it suggests, and can be added to the self-improvement platform (know thyself, exceeding limits), but in different words I’d think. “Military” conveys a fighting mentality and I think we should avoid that, for the sake of kindness. Perhaps “Know your limits and employ discipline to grow past them”, something like that. That one was the toughest ideas for me to express because it means so much. It should also mean “solve problems rather than complain about them”.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, right on the nose. Think military connotes discipline, stick-to-it-iveness, resolve to succeed, and a heuristic attitude to learn and adapt as the dynamic conditions unfold. These were the values that the American empire-builders brought to the Islands. The Philippines were put under civil & military tutelage and I believe the same challenges today remain for both would-be leaders and the Filipino citizenry. Define the prize and keep the eyes on the prize. We are not wanting for understanding nor exemplars.

        My micro-model for this is American football. (The Minnesota Vikings are just spoilers, this season. I followed them when they had superior defense, passable offense and golden special teams). 🙂

  2. Tough question. The Philippines is like a guy who is left-brained with nothing right and right-brained with nothing left.

  3. Good in theory but what mechanism do you suggest to make this Philippine Golden Rule enforceable?

  4. Pinoyputi says:

    I join Daisy , how are we going to get the rules in the head and hearts. When I see the moms and dad’s struggle with their 3 year old sons in the restaurants it doesn’t make me optimistic about their pedagogic skills.

    • Joe America says:

      It could be added to the school lessons, as a course, probably for early high school. Parenting is a whole different subject. My wife and I have two different styles. She screams at the kid and tells him what to do, and I say “look me in the eyes, son!”, and give him person to person counsel. It’s interesting. The kid does exactly what we do. Screams orders and if we object, gives person to person counsel. He’ll be a leader for sure. ahahaha

      • Pinoyputi says:

        Funny, my wife and I used the same parenting style. Mind you, they are 37 and and 33 by now and doing well. Anyway we had a plan and act on it. What I see nowadays is dad/mom tells him not do it, he does it anyway, and dad/mom are silent and don’t act. I wonder if this is the root of the problem.

  5. manuel buencamino says:


    You are characterizing Filipinos unfairly. Self-dealing is an accepted moral value to some but not to many.

    If self-dealing were an accepted moral value, then there would be no outrage and indignation over exposés of corruption. If self-dealing were an accepted moral value then campaigning on a platform like Daan Matuwid would be absurd.

    If self-dealing were an accepted moral value then that means people are happy with it and won’t have it any other way. In that case, it would be futile to change their ways.

    It then becomes a matter of either adopting to the ways of the Romans or moving to France because happy Romans are not going to give up their happy ways just to make you happy. So you can say self-dealing is tolerated to a certain tolerable extent but you can’t say it is an accepted moral value. That way the argument will be over how high or low the tolerance level is. Also, the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, is not the sort of rule that will appeal to hired killers. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, I will concede the description of the “problem” was unfairly all-encompassing, but so was the description of the solution, a revolution of the internet-folk. Which means nothing changes, because the two forces exist, and we just accept them.

      • manuel buencamino says:


        Before the internet, everything went through mainstream media. Filtered would be a better word. Today, there are a lot more voices and they are speaking directly to everybody else, no filters. The revolution is the medium. It allowed more people to express what they have always have believed in.

        • Joe America says:

          The revolution is the medium. The medium is the message.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            Actually I think it’s more accurate in this case to say the medium is the revolution or the message is the medium because the medium (the internet) allowed us to see the truth that very few people actually consider self-dealing as an accepted moral value. Now we know we are not alone, now we know we have the numbers. Thanks to the internet.

            • edgar lores says:


              I prefer the original: The revolution is the medium. As with JoeAm, it immediately put me in mind of Mcluhan’s adage. It has an air of profundity that is implicit in Mcluhan’s reversal of subject and object. And people will pause and ask, what does it mean? And go, ahhhh!

              • Joe America says:

                Or, more likely, “HUH???”

              • edgar lores says:

                That’s right. They will go “Huh???” first. And if they bother to learn what it means, they will then go “Ahhhh!”

              • manuel buencamino says:


                McLuhan’s thesis was: the shift from non-linear to linear thinking can be attributed to Guttenberg hence the medium is the message or the explanation.

              • edgar lores says:

                The “medium” is “any extension of ourselves.”*

                The “message” is “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that a new invention or innovation “introduces into human affairs.”*

                The “medium is the message” means: “We know the nature and characteristics of anything we conceive or create (medium) by virtue of the changes that they effect (message).”*

                The medium, in this case, is the Internet. The change of scale that it effects, in this case, is revolution.

                Substituting: [The medium is the message.] = [The Internet is the revolution.]

                Therefore it is correct to say “The medium is the revolution.”

                * Paraphrased from: http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm

              • manuel buencamino says:

                And Mcluhan prophesied that television will take us back to non-linear thinking. Because on TV, unlike print where we proceed from word to word, many things happen simultaneously. Our sense of hearing, which is non-linear is involved, unlike print where only our eyes are involved. The medium of TV brings us back to the non-linear or pre-Gutenberg state. Hence the medium is the message.

              • edgar lores says:

                If television is nonlinear, how much more so is the Internet!

                TV is passive, non-interactive, one-dimensional or single-thread, and limited in fare. It is mainly a non-textual medium.

                The Internet is active, interactive and multi-dimensional or multi-thread, and limitless in fare. It can be text and non-text. And there are so many forms of text and non-text.

              • edgar lores says:

                One last thing: Mcluhan died in December 1980. The Internet came into being in “early to mid-1980s. The commercialization of the Internet occurred in the 1990s.

                Mcluhan, who theorized about the global village, never saw when “the medium became a revolution” in the widest sense of the term – in the penetration of the medium into cyberspace and in its adoption by 39% of the world’s population.

                He wrote:

                The telephone: speech without walls. The phonograph: music hall without walls. The photograph: museum without walls. The electric light: space without walls. The movie, radio and TV: classroom without walls. Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information- gatherer. In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his Paleolithic ancestors.

                He stopped at TV but that phrase – “electronic man is no less a nomad” – can be taken to be prophetic although not in the concrete way represented by the personal computer.

            • Joe America says:

              Very good. I never really understood Marshall McLuhan anyway. It is true, that with the internet we are not so alone in our values. The medium is the revolution. I like that.

  6. ***Just want to share the excerpt below:

    “All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

    These are the things I learned:

    1. Share everything.
    2. Play fair.
    3. Don’t hit people.
    4. Put things back where you found them.
    5. Clean up your own mess.
    5. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    6. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
    7. Wash your hands before you eat.
    8. Flush.
    9. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
    10. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
    11. Take a nap every afternoon.
    12. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
    13. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
    14. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
    15. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

    Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

    Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

    And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

    ~ Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. http://www.robertfulghum.com/

    • Joe America says:

      What a wonderful set of rules. That should be in the high school course that teaches good living. The five are just a quick-form for easy remembering. I’d add a number 16, if you put people in a styrofoam cup, they die quicker, so let them out.

  7. Cornball says:

    Maybe something in the vein of James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar meets Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal slash Survivor dash Big Brother slash Veronica Roth’s Divergent?

    First we have to teach every living Pilipino soul that everything is interconnected; if someone farts in Mandaluyong, a delicate flower withers in Tacloban. If someone throws a candy wrapper in a street of Metro Cebu, an iPhone 6 will bend in someone’s pocket in Tagayatay.

    All of the corrupt public officials and employees including those in the private sector will be banished to a large island (take your pick), not to be processed as food ala “Soylent green is made out of people”, which by the way was a Charlton Heston movie plagiarized from Swift’s A Modest Proposal. All the prisoners will be left in the island to fend for themselves and everyone who tries to escape will be executed. The island will be peppered with CCTV’s and the guards will have GoPro Hero 4’s in their helmets. It will be broadcast live 24 hours to the land of the innocents for educational and entertainment purposes ruled like in Veronica Roth’s Divergent without the divergents so there will be no more Insurgent and Allegiant.

    A quote from Avatar:
    Jake Sully: I see you.
    Neytiri: I see you… Capeesh?

    • Joe America says:

      Ahhh, what a wonderful reading. When are you going to do us a guest blog? You pick the subject. For readers who did not get past the popularized version of Gulliver’s Travels (the original was rather thick historical satire), I would explain that Jonathan Swift was dismayed that his government (Ireland) was doing so little about poverty. So he wrote “A Modest Proposal”, suggesting that the nation take all the babies from the poor and use them for food to solve the problem that so many people were starving. The shock roared through the Irish community, and the government got busy dealing seriously with poverty.

      As for Soylent Green, I thought it was . . . no offense . . . the most cornball movie I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s main saving grace was that I came to understand that Charlton Heston, in most of his movies, whether The Ten Commandments or Soylent Green or Planet of the Apes, usually ends up in a Christ-on-the-cross pose. I recommend the book (Swift’s) over the movie.

    • sonny says:

      @ Cornball

      Maybe creative juices can be cranked up to help ideate/design an appropriate penal system using an existing facility: the Iwahig Penal Colony from American times. (45,000 hectares)

    • Why not send all the corrupt to an island to “salvage” each other ala Hunger Games? The sole winner will get a Presidential pardon if he/she is willing to go to a Clockwork Orange style irreversible aversion therapy or be banished for life to a remote island with electrified perimeter and inhabited by Dr Moreau’s creatures. 🙂 Just the active imagination of another movie buff…

      • Cornball says:

        Whoah!… that’ll be awesome Joe, thanks… I’ll start torturing my liver and see if I can squeeze something interesting… cornball fashion?… Kampai!

        Sonny, maybe put all corrupt public officials and employees in Binay’s 350 hectare farm?

        If we can only know the consequences of our actions in advance maybe we can act in the best interest of the majority. Imagine a phone app that we can download for free (although for Android users only) that can tell the consequences of our actions in advance, say, “What will happen if sleep with my boss’s wife?” or “What will happen if a buy this brand of polo shirt for my grandfather that is made in a sweatshop? If you type something that will have grave consequences in your phone a group of heavily armed men in Minority Report fashion will swoop in and arrest you and banish you in the island or Binay’s farm.

        Juana that’ll be too harsh, let’s treat them as if we can reform them. How about after serving a minimum of 2 years in the penal colony or again in Binay’s farm, they will be eligible to be nominated by their fellow prisoners to be a contestant in “This Prisoner’s Got Talent”… or rather “This Prisoner’s Got Secular Moral”? If he or she will win the contest, he or she will be slowly integrated in the land of the innocents.

        • sonny says:

          “Sonny, maybe put all corrupt public officials and employees in Binay’s 350 hectare farm?”

          I am very open to suggestion regarding the Hades-bred guardians of the moat. 🙂

          • Cornball says:

            Cramming all of them in Binay’s mere 350 hectare farm like sardines will be punishment enough as oppose to the 45,000 hectares of Iwahig. Some of them will be forced to live in the air-conditioned piggery which I suppose have piped in classical music, Bach’s Cello Suites anyone? And some of them will be forced to be maze runners and perish finding a way out… still not good enough?

            Maybe we can imagine that Jejomar has a sister with a weird uncontrollable power to turn everything in ice and snow. We will all desperately try to find someone that truly loves Jejomar to avoid freezing our collective butts… of course with the help of a snowman named Olaf, a reindeer named Sven and a group of trolls. Together we will all sing “Let It Go” to Jejomar.

  8. chit navarro says:

    What should the new Golden Rule for the Philippines be?

    “I AM THE ________________ (fill in your position)…OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES.


    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Is this a variation of, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.” (Therefore, I can do whatever I want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Have that for a golden rule and be happy you even got that.)? 🙂

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Is this a variation of, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.” (Therefore, I can do whatever I want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Have that for a golden rule!)? 🙂

  9. cha says:

    1. I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt not have other God’s before me.

    If you believe in God, there’s only one of Him. Your parish priest and the bishop, they’re not God. They too can sin, do sin, just like the rest of us. Use your own judgement.

    2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

    Insult Him not, show contempt never. But when it comes to rotten politicians playing god, it’s a free country. Insult away.

    3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

    Come to think of it, every day actually belongs to the Lord if you are a true believer. So please, no unholy thoughts or deeds on any day of the week. And especially not if you’re CBCP.

    4. Honor your father and your mother.

    That is, if they are honorable themselves, but if they’re lying conniving thieves that’s built the family fortune from overpriced buildings et. al. , forget it.

    5. Thou shalt not kill.

    Nor pay anyone else to do the dirty deed for you.

    6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    Or pedophilia, sexual assault, rape…

    7. Thou shalt not steal.

    From your family, from your friends, from your own business, from your customers, from your employer/ employees, and from your government. In other words, from just about everyone! Duh.

    7.1Thou shalt not sit idly by while others steal, either. No one feels sorry for an enabler. Say no to fixers, no to kotong cops, no to bid rigging, no to price fixing, no to tax evasion. ‘The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.’ (Albert Einstein)

    8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    Neither should you tolerate those that do and pretend it’s got anything to do with journalism. No to media corruption.

    9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

    Or thy parishioner’s for that matter. Ehem.

    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

    Nor label them with your family name when you do give them away as relief goods after another natural disaster strikes.

    • Joe America says:

      A very good cultural application. I enjoyed them all, for they ring so accurate in interpreting how people so willingly abuse God’s instructions. But I laughed at 9’s “Ehem” and shall wear the coffee stain on my shirt for the rest of the day.

    • chit navarro says:

      hahahahahha…. thank you Cha for making my day!!!!

      you hit the jackpot, you hit it bulls-eye….

      But then, I am the Lord of Makati and I can make the entire country look like Makati
      if you allow me to!

      • cha says:

        Chit and Juana,

        I wish I had thought about and included those points (Lord of Makati and Huwag Magnakaw campaign) as well. Maybe next time we all should collaborate. 🙂

    • hahaha!

      7. Huwag magnakaw. Buy the shirt at a church near you. 🙂

  10. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    JoeAm’s moral code will be defeated the Filipino way, thru:
    1. Pasalubongs
    2. Christmas Gifts
    3. Birthday Gifts
    4. Ninong / Ninang
    5. Godfather to all

    Once the target person has all of the above, a Filipino will do to his biddings like a puppet on a string. Unless if they were Serenos who has a brave word for Aquino: “I Do Not Serve Presidents, Excuse me!” That is Sereno’s word not mine.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      One thing about Filipinos is THEY DO NOT KNOW THEY HAVE THIEVED.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        … THEY DO NOT KNOW THEY HAVE ENCOURAGED AND ABETTED THIEVERY. That is the problem. They can recite the Ten Commandments but do not know they have transgressed teh Ten Commandments.

    • Joe America says:

      Sereno does have backbone, doesn’t she? I hope she also has wisdom.

      • chit navarro says:

        She should read again the Constitution. The Constitution states that the President is the head of both the state and the government.

        The government has three branches – the executive, legislative and judiciary – which are independent of each other.

        The judiciary is simply a branch of the government that the President heads.

        It is really time to amend the constitution and put a term limit on the SC justices and define the meaning of INDEPENDENT OF EACH OTHER. Put boundaries on the limitations of their independence.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          Might as well make SC Justices as elected officials. As elected justices they’d reflect the wisdom of the people whatever left of it.

        • Joe America says:

          I think that matter is a bit unclear, Chit. Article VII:

          Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.

          So it depends on what is meant by “executive power”, and I don’t know if that has been defined further or not. Article II says:

          Section 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

          But that is all moot if the different branches would simply respect the obligations of the other. On that, I don’t believe Sereno does. The DAP ruling does does not respect Executive, denying it good faith, and so do statements in her speech where she says, in effect, “The Judiciary can’t take steps to help the poor.”

          Ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh, but good lady, the Supreme Court HAS taken steps to PREVENT the Executive from helping the poor. The DAP ruling did that when it caused the termination of a program to relocate residents off of dangerous river banks. The Court also has interfered in care for women (RH), cybercrime and many other legislative and executive prerogatives done in good faith and for good ends. What the court lacks, I believe, is WISDOM.

  11. chit navarro says:

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Government of the Philippines, also known as the Philippine Government is the national government of the unitary state of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a presidential, representative, and democratic republic where the President of the Philippines is both the head of state and the head of government within a pluriform multi-party system.

    The government has three interdependent branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The powers of the branches are vested by the Constitution of the Philippines in the following: Legislative power is vested in the two-chamber Congress of the Philippines—the Senate is the upper chamber and the House of Representatives is the lower chamber.

    Executive power is exercised by the government under the leadership of the President. Judicial power is vested in the courts with the Supreme Court of the Philippines as the highest judicial body.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, thanks for that source document. Thomas Jefferson wanted the courts to report directly to Executive because he foresaw these kinds of problems developing. He was overruled, but Congress does hold the power to reconfigure the courts. So does Philippine Congress, as I read it. They just can’t prevent the SC from dealing with any case the Court declares is within its auspices. The SC here has considerable power, and is evidently unaware of it.

      All the weepiness about independence is ridiculous. The court defines its independence through the sense and sensitivity of its rulings, and its management of subordinate courts (to end corruption). If the courts want other units of government off their case, they should do a better job of cleaning up the Judiciary, and rendering speedy and fair justice. Whiners of little wisdom or competence or accountability, it seems to me.

      Thanks for getting me worked up, chit. 🙂

  12. gerverg1885 says:

    Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

  13. Dear Joe:
    Good day. Here is my suggested synthesis of the 10 Commandments (so that others of different religions won’t feel like outsiders): “Love one another as I love you.” Well, yes, it is from the Christians’ Jesus, as it is the one I am familiar with. However, from what I’ve read, a form of it exists in non-Christian religions…..If we care for someone, we’ll usually think many times before hurting them. We learn to be considerate, patient, conscientious, etc.

    A professor asked me once what is the best political and economic advice I could suggest. I said “Love one another.” She was stunned, thought I was joking or mocking her Christianity, until I explained to her what I meant. I’m not sure I convinced her of its soundness, though.

    I’m glad you clarified later on in the article that there are good Filipinos who are trying not to follow the Bad PH Golden Rule. That would have been the first topic I’d have tackled. One point, though: from what I’ve seen, the Bad PH Golden Rule may be rampant, but it is not a pandemic (is that the right term to use as opposed to “rampant”? Endemic?) Anyway, we are trying to resist, even if it sometimes meant being bypassed for a promotion or a benefit.

    And: YES, we are rebelling. Slowly–probably because we do not want the bloodshed or the excesses of a Revolution.

    • Joe America says:

      Fedelynn, ah, a very profound and rational response. Uplifting, actually. I appreciate the confidence you inspire.

      • Dear Joe:
        Thank you, too, for your writings, even though, at times, it hurts to read them. (I often end up wondering why you haven’t washed your hands of us.) With regard to this nasty, twisty part of our culture, there are some of us who are “digging” into our myths and legends for traces of what might have gone wrong. No luck yet…

        In 1995, when the world celebrated WW2’s 50th anniversary, a civilian wrote in the Phil. Inquirer that this “cancer” begun because of our people’s experiences during said War. Because of the betrayal, the pain, horrors inflicted on our collective consciousness by the War, we lost our trust in God and in our fellows. I guess this may be one reason why some of us could face the Great Creator on holy days, yet commit wrongdoings on other days. “What God are you talking about?!” is probably a scornful question we are trying to keep hidden in our minds and hearts….

        When things go bad at times, I cling to this anecdote I read in the Philippine Panorama in the 1980s: The Philippines was once known as Ma-i. Its people were so trustworthy that the Chinese traders confidently left their goods on the shores and expect to find adequate payment the next day. No goods were ever stolen. (I got the idea that some did not steal because it is a dishonor to the self and community; in others, those who did steal can expect to find their toes or fingers chopped off by the leaders–even though the thief is a relative.)

        Have a nice weekend.

        • Joe America says:

          The fascination is found in trying to figure things out. There are still a lot of mysteries to unwind, and myths that I hold that indeed should be dispensed with.

          I like that principle of Ma-i a lot. And the cutting off of toes that goes with it. 🙂

          Enjoy your weekend, too, and welcome to the Society of Honor as a fellow member of our collection of happy fools.

        • sonny says:

          “…With regard to this nasty, twisty part of our culture, there are some of us who are “digging” into our myths and legends for traces of what might have gone wrong. No luck yet…

          (pardon the caps. just my way to separate my words from Ms Fedelynn’s)


          … this “cancer” begun because of our people’s experiences during said War. Because of the betrayal, the pain, horrors inflicted on our collective consciousness by the War, we lost our trust in God and in our fellows.


          … I guess this may be one reason why some of us could face the Great Creator on holy days, yet commit wrongdoings on other days. “What God are you talking about?!” is probably a scornful question we are trying to keep hidden in our minds and hearts…”

  14. edgar lores says:


    1. I was going to confine my comments on the selected five commandments, and perhaps I will do that in a separate post. But I would like to remark on the rules for the formulation of commandments.

    1. As a general rule, commandments are phrased in the negative. Why?

    2. The first reason is that the field of human actions is unlimited. It is impossible to make a list of all positive actions. The list of impermissible actions is shorter, and indeed, as noted, short is better than long.

    3. The second reason is that the commandment must be as specific as possible.
    3.1. For example, the commandment of “Be kind to others” is too general. There are countless ways of being kind. It begs the question: How does one know how to be kind?

    3.2. Without being specific, people will not know how to be kind. The commandment requires not only proactiveness but also creative thinking.

    3.3. On the other hand, if we take the negative form of the commandment, which is “Do no harm”, the thinking required is not creative thinking but analytical thinking. Since the analysis is usually focused on a single specific action, analytical thinking is arguably easier to do. And if the commandment is stated in the negative and is specific, thinking is not required at all.

    3.4. Another way of putting it is that generally speaking the positive form requires commission of an act whereas the negative form requires omission of an act. Again, as a default action, it is easier to do nothing than to do something.

    4. A corollary of the second reason, and which may be considered a third reason, is that a non-specific commandment can be interpreted in many ways. Indeed it can be misconstrued to the point that that the commandment becomes the reverse of what is intended.

    3.2.1. For example, kindness can take the form of the idiomatic phrase, “You have to be cruel to be kind.” Cruelty and kindness are polar opposites. Although the idiomatic phrase is usually prefixed with the adverbial qualifier “sometimes”, the phrase is often used as a justification for cruelties that are in fact unkind.

    3.2.2. Another example: For the commandment “Give more than you take” becomes untenable in negative emotions such as anger, in negative speech such as bullshitting, and in negative physical acts such as sadism.

    4. In short, where commandments are concerned, it is better to be brief, to use the negative form and to be specific.
    4.1. Note that 8 of the 10 commandments are in negative form. And the first is not a commandment but a positive declaration.

    • Joe America says:

      You are undoubtedly right that negative expressions are “better” because they define behaviors clearly. But I find they are limiting because they do confine one to hard lines, but life is built of behaviors which don’t follow those lines. In the negative, a white lie is determined to be unkind. “Don’t lie.” When it is possibly very kind. I’m thinking of the husband of the Ebola patient in Spain, both of them in separate isolation wards, who could just not answer his very ill wife truthfully, “dear, your dog is dead”.

      I would rather the expressions be positive and we be forced to REACH, or think about, what it is we are doing. And have room for exceptions without being marched off to hell.

    • Joe America says:

      You are undoubtedly right that negative expressions are “better” because they define behaviors clearly. But I find they are limiting because they do confine one to hard lines, while life is built of behaviors which don’t follow those lines. In the negative, a white lie is determined to be unkind. “Don’t lie.” When it is possibly very kind. I’m thinking of the husband of the Ebola patient in Spain, both of them in separate isolation wards, who could just not bring himself to answer his very ill wife truthfully, “dear, your dog is dead”.

      I would rather the expressions be positive and we be forced to REACH, or think about, what it is we are doing. And have room for exceptions without being marched off to hell.

  15. edgar lores says:


    1. In the rule of being kind, let us consider the queuing behaviour of Filipinos. Queuing behaviour is usually taken to be representative of a culture and offers clues to the morality of a people.

    1.1. When I was young, Filipinos did not queue. They would just push and shove, until they were nearest to the service target. Now Filipinos do queue which is a great improvement.
    1.2. Looking at the orderly queue in the post, “Is Grace Poe just an ordinary trapo?”, one can congratulate queuers for keeping an Ebola-safe distance from one another. There is no body contact and, therefore, no possible exchange of body fluids.

    1.3. However, in some respects, Filipinos still push and shove in the forming of the queue and in their wish to be the first on the queue. They will pretend not to see you, rush to get ahead and cut you off at the last pass…
    1.4. Filipinos continue to be queue jumpers. Fortunately, we are lucky enough not to be like the downtrodden of Africa and Asia who risk life and limb – including those of spouses and children – on overloaded rickety boats to reach foreign shores that have cities paved with gold.

    1.4.1. In government offices, there continue to be fixers to expedite transactions for you.
    1.4.2. In America, there are lots of Filipinos who enter under false pretences and resort to TNT, marriages of convenience and other methods to extend and legitimize their stay.
    1.4.3. In Europe and the rich Middle East countries, there are many OFWs without valid work permits and contracts and, consequently, suffer slave wages.

    1.5. In other countries, there is the random act of kindness of paying for one or several customers in the queue behind you at a road toll or a coffee counter. I wonder if this act of kindness has ever occurred in the country.
    1.5.1. I imagine if that happened at Starbucks, the next in line will order the biggest cup size, not just one but several, and include yummy pastries to boot.

    1.6. If we apply queuing behaviour to the nation as a whole, I think Filipinos have improved but still put themselves and their families far before a consideration of others.
    1.6.1. Binay is the prime example. He has put himself and his family ahead of the queue. To be fair, he has addressed queues in (a) health care with the Ospital ng Makati; and (b) in education with the Makati Science High School. But it is a selective kindness, with perhaps ulterior motives, and therefore suspect.

    • Joe America says:

      I agree, the Philippines has improved its queuing behavior markedly, and that young people in particular are sensitive to those around them. That is clearly a sign of optimism. I wrote about my experience in Tacloban a while back. I think people are growing in awareness that they live in a community and, as such, define the integrity of that community through their own acts.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Let us thank OFWs who stood in line before yellow lines even not told in foreign airports. These 12,000,000 OFWs and their 36,000,000 dependents bring forth a semblance of civilization to medieval Philippines.

        The rest of 52,000,000 left behind Filipinos still believe Trillanes: Binay asked Aquino to stop de Lima probe in their “one-on-one” “secret” meeting. How Trillanes can now and 52,000,000 Filipinos believe Trillanes and Philippine Media published Trillanes hallucination is a dark cloud over the horizon of 12,000,000 OFWs to not make them come home.

        Philippine media publication of Trillanes’s unsubstantiated uncorroborated innuendoes of his tsismis on ONE-ON-ONE-two-hour-SECRET-meeting between Binay and Aquino trumps Edgar’s queuing.

        JoeAm’s Golden Rule is still choked by Filipinos penchant of sensationalized poisoned reporting.

          • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

            Before I clicked on your link, Cha, I had a sinking pre-existing feeling that the news would not be a fact but just another tsismis, unsubstantiated innuendoes from unnamed sources. TUMPAK! I WAS RIGHT !!! I did not finish the whole article. The first two paragraphs wwere dead give-away that Rappler’s tsismis journalism is abetting … tsismis journalism. That cannot happen in the 1stWorld countries premier newspapers.

            • cha says:

              Lol, Mariano. You might have also noticed that Trillanes’ tsismis is somewhat different from Rappler’s tsismis. In Trillanes’ version, Binay wants Aquino to stop DOJ investigation, whereas with Rappler’s, subject is the Senate inquiry. Either the Malacanang tsismoso who leaked the info to both Trillanes and Rappler was confused or there might actually be more than one tsismoso in the President’s inner circle. I go wiith theory no. 2. Maybe, someone from Inquirer can do a news analysis or investigative piece on how many tsismosos actually populate Malacanang? Niw that should be a matter of national interest. 🙂

          • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

            Cha, if there were tsismis leaks in the White House, Secret Service, NSA, FBI would be investigating. They would not tell us if they are investigating leaks, the Americans would know about it after the investigation when the culprits will do their perp-walk.

            But in the Philippines, I AM SURE THERE WILL NEVER BE INVESTIGATIONS OF THE LEAK ON BINAY-AQUINO TETE-A-TETE SECRET MEETING. If ever there will be investigations, they make so much noise that the tsismosos and tsismosas would have prepared their alibis and stories so tight that even University of the Philippines-Harvard Graduate brilliant Filipinos cannot untangle it.

          • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

            … oooops !!!, Cha, I forgot that Filipinos rely on inquriies, witness accounts and affidavits … so, Malacanang can always plant evidences, crank out affidavits and scapegoats because this country is still agricultural country.

    • josephivo says:

      QUEUING in situation where it counts? As in touching the Black Nazare while in procession? Getting the best spot for a selfy?

      • edgar lores says:


        You call the Black Nazarene, er, phenomenon queuing? That is queuing to end all queues!

        On second thought, perhaps the Black Nazarene procession is the meme that best represents our behavior. A mass of people, steeped in irrational beliefs, equipped with native intelligence but preferring to wallow in willful ignorance, pushing each other aside and around, frantically trying to pursue goals that are unworthy of pursuit, and making a living hell of the time and place.

        • sonny says:

          Trying to understand this Black Nazarene phenom, too. My latest & closest read on this comes from the travelogue/history IBERIA by James Michener, chapter on Holy Week in Sevilla. The short version to understand why: if one can understand the deep involvement/religiosity of Oberammergau Passion Play participants (a whole town), then one can understand why Christian Filipinos do the Black Nazarene each January. There is deep need to express forgiveness/penitence in this palpable manner. The Church does not presume to question but rather understands that need. I think metanoia is the grace one prays for. This, I can relate to.

        • sonny says:

          The devotion to the Black Nazarene has a long provenance. Incidentally the modern plays and cinema draw from the same provenance.


  16. josephivo says:

    Ako, ako, ako. This is my overreaching value. But to love yourself is not always easy. But ature implanted a lot of behavior, instincts in our brains to produce feel-good hormones. To care for yourself in the best way implies that you know what makes you happy, what the values are you want to honor or easier what produces the feel-good hormones. As you are a human being it might be a good idea to look at other human beings and see what makes them really happy, often looking at others is easier as looking at yourself. (Don’t get mistaken with what commercials try to sell us as happiness) So my new golden rule is: “Look what other like to know what you like yourself”.

    I do what my neighbors like because he will return my favor and more importantly it triggers a lot of feel-good hormones in my brain. This seems to me easier to sell than the opposite motivation as they thought me in school, to sacrifice and earn a better seat in heaven, the outcome is the same though. It is my feeling too that most Filipinos understand this and act accordingly. The “utang na loob” and “pakikisama” values align very well. Filipinos understand that ako is very important and most know that helping others is crucial to feel happy. Altruism as the core of self-gratification.

    In every population with variation there are outliers, people that do not share “normality”. Outliers that have a deformed happiness mechanism, e.g. the size of a bank account triggers their feel-good hormones and they can easily take advantage of all others. Therefor we have rules and regulations. But the biggest challenge in the Philippines is applying this rules and regulations to keep the outliers in check. CJ Sereno wake up.

  17. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe,

    Hmm, how about the Rotary Four-way test? Might as well apply those.

    There’s also a short commandment that could apply to everyone: Thou shalt not be an a**hole.

    Want something else? There’s Buddhism.

    Anyway, cheers!


  18. edgar lores says:


    1. The two greatest commandments of Jesus are:

    o Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.
    o Love your neighbor as yourself.

    2. The five moral rules liked best by JoeAm can be subsumed under the two greatest commandments.

    2.1. The first, “Be kind to others”, clearly belongs to the second greatest.

    2.2. The second, “Give more than you take”, also belongs to the second. Give more to the neighbors than what you take from them.

    2.3. The third, “Take good care of our earth”, belongs to the first. The earth is our home, and we should exercise stewardship for generations unborn.

    2.4. The fourth, “Know your limits and strive to grow past them,” I would classify under the first greatest. This is the striving of heart and mind to achieve our potential in the gift of life.

    2.5. The fifth, “Be true to yourself and respect difference” is an amalgamation of the first and the second greatest.
    2.5.1. The first part of being true to one’s self belongs to the first greatest. This is again the striving of heart and mind to achieve integrity.
    2.5.2. The second part of respecting difference belongs to the second greatest. It is consistent with loving your neighbor.

    3. Here we see the genius of the two greatest commandments.
    3.1. They encapsulate the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. The first 4 commandments can be subsumed under the first greatest, and the last six under the second greatest.

    4. It is entirely possible to teach these rules clearly in a secular setting. (Note that I have used the word “God” only in quoting the first commandment.) And perhaps if Filipinos observed them scrupulously, our “wilderness would be paradise enow.”

    • Joe America says:

      Very interesting parsing. The second great commandment is actually the golden rule, and I agree it is powerful and can wrap itself around my first and second rules and part of the fifth. Now the first great commandment, to love God with all your heart, soul and mind . . . God in this context is the whole of our known (tangible) and unknown (spiritual) surroundings. If that is the correct, then, yes, my third, fourth and part of the fifth can be wrapped within that. The trick will be to get normal agnostics and atheists to buy into the use of God in a secular meaning.

      Love your life with all your heart, soul and mind?

      Love your being with . . .?

      Love the gift of life with . . .?

      Perhaps I need some help with this.

      I agree they are very profound statements.

      • edgar lores says:

        I agree with the third suggestion: Love the gift of life with all your heart, soul and mind.

        This would be better than the straightforward translation: Love life with all your heart, soul and mind.

        The use of the word “gift” connotes a mysterious blessing, and it keeps us in the frame of mind that we should be thankful for that blessing. I find that an attitude of gratitude is life-affirming.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, we can thank Jesus for His profound wisdom, and you for cutting to the chase.

          – Love the gift of life with all your heart, soul and mind.
          – Love your neighbor as yourself.

          Our work here is done.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, we can thank Jesus for His profound wisdom, and you for cutting to the chase.

          – Love the gift of life with all your heart, soul and mind.
          – Love your neighbor as yourself.

          Our work here is done.

    • Cornball says:

      Hi Edgar, … it’s okay Joe, I’m sober now… I guess… Isn’t it that The Golden Rule is what all the religions in the world have in common? It’s easy enough for everybody to comprehend yet we still fail to truly put it into practice. We just hide behind it’s mask to be pleasant.

      From awareness to understanding, by understanding it we learn. When we learn, we change… let’s hope for the better.

      • edgar lores says:


        I think I prefer the stoned you. Ahaha! You have the soul of a poet and the touch of divinity – be it divine madness – when you are in your cups. In vino veritas. Skoal!

      • edgar lores says:


        Sorry, I was excited to state my preference of your different aspects that I forgot to answer your question.

        Yes, the Golden Rule is universal. Sometimes it is expressed in the negative and is known as the Silver Rule.

        • Cornball says:

          If you can only feel my massive headache, I’m already Googling the nearest AA… there’s one in Malate Church this Sunday 12:30 PM. Maybe it’s time to change, for my liver’s sake.

          • edgar lores says:


            Ah, so sorry. I didn’t know it was that bad. I believe there was a TV series about steps 8 and 9 of the Twelve Steps program. I try to do 4, 10 and 11, although I do not suffer from the attachment. I hope you will be fine.

  19. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    How can there ever be a moral code and golden rule in the Philippines that Filipinos and even the President of the REPUBLIC of the Philippines cannot know that Trillanes has got to be investigated for his sources of information one-on-one-secret-talk of Binay-and-Aquino. Malacanang is the seat of Power where decisions are made and 1stWorld consulting with Aquino.

    To this day there is no probe. Philippines has gone to the dogs indeed.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Ramon Tulfo has joined the fray in tsismis journalism. Malacanang is not concerned. American White House is concerned. That is why Obama did not talk too much when arrived in Malacanang because there are spies, tsismosos and tsismosas, eavesdroppers irresponsible-people despite non-disclosure and non-tsismis agreement.

      Malas talaga ang Philippines.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Could this be calculated leak by Malacanang? We do not know. Maybe. Should there be a probe, of course, DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY. BUT THIS IS PHILIPPINES. Not my American White House.

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