Way too many Filipinos are looking for culprits; grief is personal

the fallenI got into a twitter argument with popular columnist Boo Chanco over President Aquino’s decision to welcome Japanese investors to the Philippines rather than welcome war casualties for burial. Boo was livid about it.

I like Boo. He did a story about one of my blogs long ago. He thinks earnestly.

Blogger Cocoy Dayao explained that this is a cultural thing, the expectation of hand-holding over grief such as loss of a loved one (“malasakit” he called it). Well, I accept that. My cultural founding is very different, having been shaped by a warmongering nation that often brought bodies back in bags, and the President rarely went to say “sorry about that” (Have U.S. Presidents in the Past Attended the Funerals of Dead Soldiers?).

My war experience was Viet Nam. There were 50,008 killed and the Presidents couldn’t greet very many of them. A lot of those bodies are still in Viet Nam, actually, in the dirt somewhere. But their names are all on a memorial wall in Washington DC.

The impact of that war on me was profound. For one thing, I stopped going to Los Angeles Dodger baseball games. It was too hard to stand for the National Anthem from the blue deck high up (the cheap seats) and look out over a stadium filled with about 50,008 fans. The first time, I sat down and cried. The second time, down in my company’s expensive field side seats, it was no easier.

So I stopped going.

I also don’t watch war movies, except for “Apocalypse Now” because it was based on literature (“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad), and it was more surreal than bloody. Except for the carabao scene at the end. That was red.

Marlon Brando said some very important lines at the end. His dying lines. Directly from the book.

“The horror! The horror!”

That’s what war is about.

I think Filipinos believe war is supposed to be like the drama televisions shows they watch, intense and emotional, but not REAL. That’s why so many are running around now freaked out, trying to find culprits, and laying a lot of really harsh blame on President Aquino for what . . . for working on bringing Japanese money to the Philippines instead of standing with weeping hordes looking to exorcise their grief by laying it on someone else?

Well, you know, I don’t watch those drama shows, either. They are too painful. I ask my wife, “why do you watch that, all those tears and screaming people? Don’t you think we have enough of that in real life?”

She keeps watching.

So, now, today, all the anguished are looking for a culprit.

When there is none.

There was a wartime decision made by a commander who would be a hero if the operation had not been so disastrous. But it was disastrous. And now Filipinos far and wide want to make it go away by dumping their pain on someone else.

Look, grief is a personal thing. You have to deal with it yourself. It never goes away.

Dumping it on others only adds to the pain.

The SAF commanding officer who concocted the raid actually did something very unusual in the Philippines. He said, in effect, “Put it on me. I decided to tell no one about the operation because I didn’t want any leaks.”

Well, people far and wide seem not to have that same military character. That sense of accountability. That honor.

They want to dump their grief on some one, any one, every one. “Fire Roxas, impeach the President, kill Muslims, get Purisima . . . ”

Here is a tip from a warmonger. Grief is something you have to deal with personally. Grief is hard. That’s why it is not called joy. (Who said that?) You really ought not spread it around. It’s not nice.

Here are your choices: keep fighting this war on extremists, give up, or strike peace.

If you keep fighting, remember it is not television. You don’t eat popcorn while the raid is on.

It is real.

People use deadly weapons.

They work.


159 Responses to “Way too many Filipinos are looking for culprits; grief is personal”
  1. chit navarro says:

    I have been actually flipping between your blog and that of Raissa’s, looking for someone of my own thinking that the absence of the President at the arrival area of the slain soldiers does not equate disrespect or lack of sympathy to the families. He already assigned the DILG Secretary and other Cabinet members to be there. He has other events to attend to; not that these dead soldiers are less important but there is already a day allotted for them, which is today.

    Thank you that I have heard from you and that I feel I am not “heartless and cold” for thinking this way. Like anyone else, it pains us to see all these young men dying in battle – but it’s the way of life! They had a mission in life, and their ideology brought them to this end. Like everyone of us, we will also go that way…

    Let us all GO FOR PEACE!!!!… not for wipe out or WAR…
    WAR can not just be contained in a single area… it will spread like fire.

    And President Aquino is FAR BETTER at the presidential seat than the one who would take over if he is impeached or he resigns, etc.

    • Joe America says:

      Very, very well said, Chit. I agree entirely.

    • pancit palabok says:


    • Filipina says:

      I’d like to quote some lines from you on my facebook page, i have to share this post from Joe Am. I’m so glad there are people who are open minded about this event!

    • Art says:

      Far better president? GMA has more balls than him for arresting all her political allies/friends after the Maguindanao massacre of reporters and civilians. In comparison, regarding the Fallen 44, what did he do?

      Don’t get me wrong, I do want peace also but let me quote the late Dwight Eisenhower, “We are going to have peace, even if we have to fight for it.”

      And excuse me, I don’t believe that Pnoy is the only good person left in the government or in the Philippines. That’s a lame excuse.

    • Bernadetta Anzale-Tejada says:

      Agree. Move on Philippines… and God bless our President, the Filipino people and the Philippines. Salute to the 44 soldiers, including Espina for faithfully fulfilling your mission. Thank you and congratulations to their bereaved families… I know it’s painful because I also grew up without a father since age 4, but the sacrifice is worth it. We would never know how many thousands of families could have been victims of terrorism had the mission not been accomplished… We did not anticipate the mission would cost 44 lives to save many thousands. But I really believe the sacrifice will not be in vain. If Filipinos would only unite in prayers like we did during the Pope’s visit where many thousands bravely face the storm just to welcome him, and rally behind the good cause of our government for Mindanao… I believe it won’t be difficult for peace to prevail in Mindanao and the rest of our country.

      Let’s not call the 44 soldiers “fallen”. For me, their deaths would mark “victory” over terrorism. Christ did the same for me and you. He died just to give me life. The 44 soldiers offered their lives in order to bring peace not only in Mindanao but the entire world. If we continue to be divided for their loss, then what have the 44 soldiers died for?

      • Joe America says:

        Very well said, Bernadetta. I detest the Inquirer’s insistence of referring within news articles to the “botched” operation. What an insult to the troops who did the best they could under unrelenting “enemy” firepower. I now call that incident the Battle of Mamasapano. It was a win within a loss.

        I have also taken to observe that throughout history, if you count up all the battlefield wins, you will find there are an absolutely equal number of battlefield losses. Fighting is chaotic, powerful, risky, unpredictable. The only unreasonable people are those who think the Philippines should win them all.

  2. andrewlim8 says:

    Joe, you beat me to it. I was drafting a piece related to this “lack of empathy” but I couldn’t finish it. So many emotions and ideas to process last night. But here’s the gist:


    The President’s refusal to be our mourner-in-chief could be borne by his life experiences: having his dad murdered and the burden of being the only male left to look after his family. The near-fatal ambush during that coup. This, framed in a nation’s suffering under Marcos and its eventual redemption was just too much for him to engage in his emotional side.

    You see, this may have even resulted in him unable to hold long term relationships.

    Many people react to stress and life changing experiences in this way: subdue your emotions but keep your principles and integrity intact. At least take comfort in the fact that he tries to do the right thing even if your emotions do not agree with him. The terrorist was neutralized, but the operation did not finish cleanly.

    Now if only screaming banshees like Ellen Tordesillas and other netizens can understand this. You will have plenty of opportunities to wring your hands with the next President who, like Pope Francis can make us feel good, but unlike Francis will be so lacking in integrity you will be screaming your heads off in no time at all.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, nicely put, Andrew: “Subdue your emotions but keep your principles and integrity intact.” Ellen T. will never understand it because her hatred is deep rooted and nothing positive grows there. I’ve tried to be a balancing voice there, but it is a lot of work when one is arguing against irrational.

    • Pallacertus says:

      I am still pissed that Noynoy did not move heaven, earth, and time to go to Villamor Air Base yesterday and make his presence felt, and I am not going out of my way to buy into this alternative interpretation of the President’s actions, nor do I believe that his inner hurt can justify the need (his need) to be elsewhere — but it is one way of looking at him, and the one thing I can do is to understand him this way. Because really, I cannot let myself spit fire and drop f-bombs at him when nothing about this is yet certain.

      • Joe America says:

        Who knows, maybe he recognizes he could have handled it better. He has spent 8 hours at the memorial event, the last several meeting with individual families. How long, I wonder, will people remain so bitter. The Pope just left and I fear his message of compassion was missed entirely, or translated into meaning attacking someone if they did not do compassion the way I wanted.

        • Pallacertus says:

          He has advisers, he has his staff, he’s got the whole executive. Even if he’s so clouded by his past experience with death and mourning that he himself can’t see the possible implications of his going elsewhere, surely those around him can?

          I don’t know — perhaps I’m still all bitter all over this. It’s not a nice experience, this bitterness.

          • Joe America says:

            Try trusting that the mission was honorable, all involved did not want this to happen, and that they are coping the best that they can.

          • andrewlim8 says:


            I remember Pnoy’s interview during the Robredo funeral; he said that seeing all his Cabinet crying made him steel himself even more because who else will keep things going?

            I was shaking my head when Pnoy failed to do all the things you mentioned. And then I remembered his past, then remembered others I have met who behaved like him – friendly enough, but wooden when it came to exhibiting empathy. Only to find out sad tales in their past which made them a bit less engaging. It may be self-defense/self preservation for some, I’m not sure. Or less faith in humanity.

            Remember the soldier in that war movie “Hurt Locker”? He couldn’t reconnect anymore with normal life – his wife and child, having to shop for groceries, cleaning the house, etc so he just re-enlists again for the adrenaline from defusing bombs. That was the only remaining feeling he could maintain.

            Now Pnoy is not that extreme, but my point is that those experiences may have caused him to rewire himself and be less emotional just to be able to cope and move on.

    • manangbok says:

      Okay, so I was one of the screaming banshees that posted emotional status updates on facebook. I said that I wish we have a president who is not so autistic with his emotions. But, I agree with your analysis Andrew Lim. And I still prefer Pnoy over Binay or GMA or Erap.

      For Filipinos, grief is a social thing. I mean, just look at our funerals. parang fiesta. I am not criticizing our culture … it’s a statement of fact that we huddle together in our grief. There is no such thing as “personal sorrows” among Filipinos.

      Having said that, I hope we can utilize our sorrows to work for peace in Mindanao. I was reading Ms. Raissa Robles’s blog and even in my FB page, a lot of people are advocating “all out war”. However, “all out war” is like a been-there-done-that solution and I think we should see beyond that.

      I do not agree with scrapping the peace process or suspending talks about the BBL. But I think we should ask hard questions of the MILF and our own govt.

      Winnie Monsod in her Inquirer column today asked this: “Why did not the MILF authorities stop the carnage? Surely, they must have surmised that it wasn’t an attack on them, but rather an extraction operation (if it were an attack, many more of them would have been killed and more government forces involved). The SAF commander is quoted as saying that in the early morning of the fighting, the joint monitoring team of the government and the MILF called for a ceasefire but that the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters continued firing.”

      I would also like to know the answer to that.

    • Art says:

      Are you a psychologist? What is your basis? Do you have proof that that is whats really going inside Pnoy’s mind? Can you read minds At all? Don’t justify or give lame excuse on his behalf. I believe Abigail Valte did that for him already. If he can not overcome the ghosts inside him, I dont think he is fit for the position. The only consolation I have right now is the fact that I did not vote for him.

  3. Hi Joe, as always enjoyed reading this. However, here we have an example of Pres Obama the right thing. Canceling his schedule to pay honor to those who died serving at his pleasure.


    • Oh, and by the way, I do agree with you. I’m not very fond of the EPAL politicians that show up at highly covered events to gain our trust and sympathy, only to rob us blind after the lights go out. We can all be grateful PNoy isn’t one of them.

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, David. Both President Obama and President Aquino are excellent leaders, ideologies a little different from some, but earnest and honest and doing good things, and dealing in an environment of intensely harsh criticism. I choose with some sense of purpose not to add my voice to those of the critics-with-an-agenda who are on President Aquino’s back no matter what he does. I’ll take a little bad with a lot of good and accept it as within tolerance.

  4. hopefulcitizen says:

    I feel for the president, even though I grew up here in the Philippines , I understand where Pnoy is coming from, Chit Navarro, Andrew Lim, and Joe, I completely agree with you. We each have our own way of expressing our grief. I do it in private. While the rest of the nation weep and look for the culprit who easily for them is the President, it is uplifting to know that there are a few who mourn and still try to do the right thing. May we not rush to making decisions and judgement, Attending the arrival of honors for the fallen heroes and showing grief publicly do not make you a real sympathizer and do not mean one genuinely empathizes with the grieving family. Let us not be carried away by our emotions here, we need to come up with the concrete solutions that will be lasting. this may not happen in this administration, but it can still happen for the future generation..

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, hopeful. I’m starting to see more voices of reason popping into the news. A lot of the criticism comes from “the usual characters”, vested interests (crooks, political opponents, leftists), and a lot from people who really ache for the deaths but don’t know how to get rid of it in a way other than anger.

  5. Lilit Trinidad says:

    Hello, Joe. Virgin commenter here.

    For the most part, I have no issue with the President going to the Mitsubishi inauguration. In the past, I had no issue with him being “absent” during storms and such. After all, he can’t clear roads or bring power back. As long as Joe Zaldarriaga of Meralco gave updates, I was fine not seeing Pnoy. He’d just be a distraction and we Filipinos should really disabuse ourselves of the need to have our hands held like small children by the highest official in the land during such times. Of course, Yolanda is an exception. And so is this, I think.

    Especially since there are questions about his responsibility or accountability in the whole mess. At least it would show he wasn’t shirking responsibility. While welcoming foreign investors is part of his job, I think welcoming those 44 dead is his duty as Commander-in-Chief. (It’s just one blow. He doesn’t have to keep coming back to greet thousands like in Vietnam. And could it be your standing President then greeted some of the first?)

    To the idea that he already appointed someone to be at Villamor, couldn’t he have done it instead for Laguna? Or the least he could have done is give his inaugural address then excuse himself to rush to Villamor, which is only some kilometers away, or disappear back to Malacanang. Watching him on the news looking at vintage cars as if nothing else was happening just reminded me too much of George W.’s reaction on 9/11. That was much, much worse, true, but you get my point.

    • Joe America says:

      Welcome to our friendly Society, Lilit. Yes, it does smack of a GW Bush PR gaff, doesn’t it? Very apt characterization. The problem I have in adding my voice to the criticism here is that here people take an easy leap from “he was insensitive” to “he is a bad president”. And I simply will not add my fuel to that fire on an incident that we have poor information on. Plus, I have advocated that the Philippines try to get Japan to shift its production from China to the Philippines, as a strategic initiative, and I am HAPPY to see the president giving that initiative some support. He will be at the memorial service today. He need not spend full time weeping and commiserating as he has a big job. The nation should not stop for this tragedy.

      • Joe America says:

        I would add that, although GW Bush is among my least favorite presidents, I did not add my voice to criticism on his reaction to 9/11. He was in a school, he was a deer in the headlights; I might have fainted. It is too easy to criticize an impromptu moment from afar. I do criticize the lack of rational judgment from him, Cheney and Rumsfeld in their rationalization of Iraq II. They wanted to remake the Middle East, and, boy, howdy, look at the results.

      • Lilit Trinidad says:

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to call for his resignation or impeachment as we all know what happens next. Apart from frustration from his seemingly blind loyalty to some people, I don’t think he’s a bad president at all…as long as things stay on schedule. But, man, can he be rigid! Makes me think of all that talk about how he’s one of those who can be laser-focused on what he wants but not much else. What’s that word? Starts with an a, ends with a tic? Oh, that’s right…altruistic.

        • Joe America says:

          See my note to butod.

          I believe people are entitled to a personality different than our own. They are entitled to be erratic like Duterte, a lying thief like Binay, a legalist jokester like Santiago, a dark scowling rebel like Trillanes, or even stubborn, loyal and vindictive like Aquino. But what are their values? What are they working for? Themselves or us? The Philippines has many capable leaders. My list of presidential prospects who I think could do the job is about six or seven, because their character is fundamentally stable and intentions are good. But in the Philippines, the number of prospects is 100 million, because each person believes only he has it right and can do the job better than whoever is in office right now.

          Hey, the Philippines is rising, and we ought not forget who is leading as this great rejuvenation takes place. You know, keep things in perspective.

          I’m glad to see you are working on that.

  6. Steve says:

    This time less a rant than a reflection…

    I first went to Mindanao in 1979, as a volunteer with the US Peace Corps, at the tender age of 21. I was not especially starry eyed and had no illusions about saving the world, just looking for a National Geographic experience and an escape from the impending world of work. Restless young men are like that.

    I landed, purely by accident, in Agusan del Sur, back when it was still at peace, though the war drums were already on the horizon and it was well known to everyone but the Peace Corps that NPA from Davao Norte were using the area for R&R. Also by accident, I ended up in a community composed largely of Ilonggos who had migrated from Cotabato to escape the fighting in the 70s, and some who had migrated to escape possible reprisals. It was a tight community, connected to other such communities. I met people with reputations, and histories. I met Carlos Lademora, and the Manero Brothers. I met Feliciano Luces, “Kumander Toothpick”, several months after his death. He seemed pretty spry, for a dead guy, and seemed well entrenched at the cockpit in Manggagoy, a bizarre and somewhat infernal (at that time at least) logging/paper factory town at the southern tip of Surigao del Sur.

    I heard stories. I heard about Muslim raiders who killed women and children. I learned that Muslims were inherently vicious and murderous, and that if you turned your back on one he would be possessed with an uncontrollable desire to kill you. The stories were… extreme enough that I had to wonder if there was another side.

    Once, just outside San Francisco (not in CA), I got drunk with some men, and a couple of them hauled out trophies. Necklaces of human body parts, mostly ears. Some were small. It was explained that killing Muslim children was entirely legitimate, as the boys would otherwise grow up to kill Christians and the girls would have boy babies who would grow up to kill Christians. This was stated as self-evident truth, too obvious to question.

    The thing was… these guys didn’t have horns and tails. They seemed ordinary folks. They had families, loved their kids, went to church on Sundays. They planted crops and lived quite ordinary lives… and not so long ago they had killed children and hung their ears on necklaces.

    These men had done evil things. Were they evil men? Who among us can say what we’d have done in their shoes? Maybe this is just what war does to people, especially this kind of war… disordered war, war without clarity, civil war that pits us against them on such an immediate and local scale, war driven by rumor and superstition, terror and rage.

    This is just one reason why I think seeking war when any other way is possible is absolute insanity.

    Later I went back, on my own, and went to places Peace Corps would never let us go, and heard the stories and the narratives on the other side. They were pretty much mirror images. One thing that gradually became clear was that the militias, for all their stories of prowess in combat, preferred on both sides to raid villages and kill the innocent.

    There were atrocities, too, on both sides among the organized armed forces. They seemed a kind of terrorism, an attempt to intimidate and frighten the enemy by indulging in the unspeakable… hence torture, mutilation, cannibalism, etc. Men who established themselves as outrageously cruel even among the outrageously cruel enjoyed a strange mixture of respect, fear, admiration.
    The men who did these things on the Muslim side became outlaws, sometimes terrorists (if they weren’t already… the distinction between placing bombs and raiding villages seems rather marginal to me). Those on the government side went on to careers, often as security chiefs or bodyguards. Some went east to fight the NPA in the 80s, when the east descended into war and the Muslim provinces were relatively quiet. Their methods shocked and horrified human rights advocates when they were used against the left, though not much was ever said when they were killing Muslims.

    I’m sometimes accused online of being pro-Muslim, though if I were in a place where everyone around me was telling the Muslim side I’d probably be telling the Christian side. I’m just trying to provide balance, to point out that there are two sides, and that this is not about good vs evil.

    And yes, the Muslims have suffered almost as much from their own miserable leadership as they have from the attentions of their nominal enemies. They have that in common with the Palestinians, I fear. The leadership on the other side has been less than stellar as well, and “big man” politics are as much a curse on Mindanao as sectarian conflict, though of course they are inextricably linked.

    It’s a mess, a deep mess that’s been brewing a long time. I don’t know if there is an answer; for sure there is no simple or quick answer.

    I do not believe that more war will help.

    • Joe America says:

      When you do that book, please put me down for a first printing, signed copy. Those of us in our easy chairs have no idea. We ought to reflect on our ignorance rather than condemn others so easily with that ignorance as our foundation. I’ve decided for myself that the BBL ought to proceed. Both “sides” see gains, and if the gains are put together, and the extremists moderated, Mindanao might become a more human-kind place. Kind meaning kindness, not type.

      • Steve says:

        I don’t know if that will ever happen.

        When I went back to Mindanao after Peace Corps, after a kind of surreal 9 months back in the US, the intention was to write The Book, which would makes sense of Mindanao, reveal all to the world, make me famous, and attract lots of women (I was very young and not very realistic).

        I spent close to a year running all over the island, asking questions, looking into stuff, being where I wasn’t supposed to be… I actually wonder, in retrospect, why I survived. It was mostly dumb luck I suspect, and in one case a combination of poor marksmanship and running very fast. By the end of that time I had a huge amount of information and no clue about what to do with it, and was getting pretty strung out and pretty unstable. A few things happened, and some of the places just got too weird. Dinagat under Ecleo Sr, for one, put the weird-o-meter on 11, not sure I’ve ever been in such a strange place before or since.

        I ended up in Ermita, drinking way too much and making excuses not to go back to Mindanao, an interlude which, through a series of improbable events, led to a period of writing film scripts (life is strange). I did go back from time to time, after a few years, and read a great deal of history, and followed events, and much later pieces started to fall into place and make sense, though there’s a lot I don’t know and many other interpretations are at least as valid as mine.

        To write the book now… it would be a lot of work. It would mean going back, getting up to date, recalling a lot, organizing it all, finding a publisher, and writing a good deal. Probably a year or more of effort, and these things don’t make money. With kids in college and a family to feed… back burner doesn’t describe it. More like the back of the drawer marked “things I might have done”.

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahahaha, you don’t need a book to attract lots of women, Steve. I also wondered how in the world you survived, and if you were really as smart then as you seem to be now. If writing the book means you have to go back, I have an idea. Skip the book. Enjoy the kayaking. Women like kayakers, too, and even wives like them. That drawer marked “things I might have done” . . . we all have one. It’s the one we take with us to ever never land . . .

          • Steve says:

            I did figure that out, finally… about the same time as I figured out that “lots of women” is not necessarily the most sensible of aspirations. Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young.

            I was intelligent then, but not smart. A friend, now deceased, once described a mutual acquaintance as “a smart guy who does dumb things”. That description would have fit me quite well in my early 20s.

            It was actually less dangerous then than it would be now. The Muslim conflict in Central Mindanao was relatively quiet in the early 80s, and the NPA conflict in the east was just beginning to heat up. A few years earlier or later and things might have come out differently. Introducing yourself as a journalist and being able to fake it credibly also had some pull then that it doesn’t now. Everybody out there wanted publicity for their cause and their name in the news, and back then you couldn’t get that without cultivating a journalist. Now any fool with a phone can put their ugly face on You Tube and the best way to use a journalist to get publicity is to cut his head off on camera. The times they have a’changed.

            If I were going back there to do research now I would do it very differently, and with much more regard for my own skin. It’s a rather ragged skin, but I’ve grown attached to it. Still, it seems unlikely. Going boating is a lot easier, and a lot more fun.

      • amernh79 says:

        Hi Joe. I have been following your blog for some time now and have been learning a lot. However my English vocabulary is not as polish as I would like to so I couldn’t write down my own comments and opinions on the subjects being discussed in here. Choice of better words always comes up short :-). But reading Steve’s narration, I felt compelled to share my opinion. I couldn’t agree more with you and with him. I couldn’t say it any better.

        Being a born and raised Christian in North Luzon, I never had a chance to mingle or speak to any Muslim and my opinion of them are based solely on what I hear from stories and from television which are mostly biased and one sided. But having been in UAE for many years, my understanding of the Christian-Muslim stories have totally changed. And just like Steve I am often looked at as a pro-Muslim lad even by my own family. On few occasions, my Filipino colleagues have to asked me if I am a Muslim. I am not, I am a Christian but with a deeper understanding of the Muslim/Islam thing. To quote some commenters in this article, there is always the other side of the story. What happened in Maguindanao is a real tragedy and we hope that it never happened. But being harsh with our words to the Muslims in general is totally unfair and uncalled for. We don’t know them to generalize that all of them are killers and evil. Instead of cursing them, why not seek deeper wisdom for better understanding? First and foremost they are not just Muslims, they are Filipinos too.

        P.S. There are more than 40 nationalities in our organization but the moment news broke out about the demise of the SAF44, it was my Arabic (Muslim) colleague who first asked me about it and gave his heartfelt condolences.

        • Joe America says:

          Welcome to the blog amernh79. Your English vocabulary is perfect and your point is thoughtful, clear and full of compassion. Filipinos are a diverse lot, and we ought to strive to understand and respect ever tribe or group. I hope you continue commenting. You’ll fit in here just fine.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Thank you very much for your writings, Steve! As a lifelong Manileno, my understanding of the Mindanao conflict is very limited. Nothing like a first person account of one who has lived there and knows all sides well.

    • Pallacertus says:

      Write. That. Book. You don’t even need to be updated — inasmuch as the troubles we have today are borne out of the murky past, getting a hold of that past will be crucial in getting a hold of the present.

      (And I want a free copy. Please, I beg you — I’m strapped for cash and a good book or two. I could use one of them. Preferably the book, for work is cheap and cash not as much.)

    • wow. thank you very much for that insight. Please write that book.

  7. Bing Garcia says:

    Ging Deles; But she said government has to think of the future. “There is no choice. We will go back to this. If we stop it now, I am sure a few years later we will say we cannot live with this, we cannot live with this perpetual terror. We cannot live that our children cannot go to school, that no hospitals can be put up there.”

  8. Hi Joe, I tend to agree with Boo Chanco. This incident shook the nation. He himself was involved and responsible as a president. He calls himself the father of the nation. I just had two funerals during the weekend. Everybody drops (the business) what he is doing. It is far more important to share the pain, the agony, the shared failures and to meet and talk to the family. Hold each others hands. That is Philippine culture. He is the president of this nation and should understand his family of citizens. If I were the Japanese business men I would understand. I think they understand if the schedule would be adjusted for this reason. Sometimes the economy is a little less important.

    A suspended chief was apparently involved. Mar Roxas was not informed about the operation. Dozens of people got killed for the arrest or assassination of a few terrorists in an area that was under control of a peace partner. It seems only logic that people are asking questions and looking for those responsable.

    • butod says:

      While Pnoy can be a tad emotionally detached in some instances, and a tad too sensitive in others, I don’t remember electing him for his emotional intelligence. We elect our leaders for what we think they represent on matters purely concerning public policy.

      Unless we seriously think his absence in Villamor reflects his policy views on public security and conflict management — which I doubt, given the speech he had given two nights back — I’d let him be on this one.

      • Joe America says:

        Today’s service was more personal than yesterdays formal welcoming ceremony. The president was there, doing very very hard work, meeting each family, even those so grieved that they turned their back on him. He took the slap, and went to the next family. I wonder how many of the critics have ever been in that circumstance. We should respect his work. All of it, yesterday’s, too. He is not working for greed or fame, he is working for a principle that the nation can be a better, wealthier, healthier place. You know, like for you and me.

        I’m glad you will leave him be.

      • Steve says:

        The use and abuse of the incident for political ends is almost as sad and infuriating as the incident, and less understandable.

      • Pallacertus says:

        The president has to be all things to all people, and even if his past is something that is too searing for him to see twice (as it probably was at Villamor, if Andrew Lim’s interpretation holds some water), he had to be there when we needed him the most. Reading Lim’s post and reflecting on the speeches he gave have mollified a lot of my invective (can’t use Twitter for the life of me, but believe me when I say that I was one with the crowd who spewed forth their volleys of curses yesterday), but he is still the fucking President, and as the fucking President he has a job to do.

        • Joe America says:


          Note the timing of his message. Right after the killings. He was doing his job then. The exercise to get two top terrorists was his job. It is his job to bring jobs to the Philippines from Japan. It is his job to sit with families and talk to each individually. He is just not doing it the way others want, others who do not have the information or the responsibilities and who want him to attend to their pains. We must change that old say about “hell knows no fury like a woman scorned”. It should read “hell hath no fury like a grieving Filipino”. You are an atheist, you believe in reason. Maybe apply some, eh? Compassion is not just for the dead, it is for the living who have big responsibilities and hard decisions.

          You only have to type “fucking” . . .

          • Pallacertus says:

            I’ve clicked the link, read the article, and I must say that that is as good a move as we’re going to get regarding all this for some time yet. We’re not at war against Noynoy, and the Aquino administration is trying as hard as it can to resolve our differences with the MILF (just that group?) — so, yes, I think you’re right.

            (I also think I should say something else, but eh, self-control’s a thing too.)

      • Jake says:

        He was elected because his mother died. He was not known for anything other than being a son of political figures when he was elected.

        Even a lot of supporters of Aquino criticized him for his lack of empathy.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I know that many share your view. The SAF commander said he was responsible. Mr. Aquino attended the memorial service today, a much more personal expression of condolence. In my view, we can’t make this go away by looking for culprits who don’t exist or trying to make it whole by blaming someone. It can’t be made whole.

      In a wartime setting, this would be a modest event, a passing asterisk, and yet people are crying for blood, asking for more caskets. I am afraid I don’t get it. It is a peaceful setting . . . kind of. So I guess they think peace comes easy.

      I hold great respect for fighting men and women. You can read of that in pertinent blogs here. They have a courage we can only guess at, and there is a reality to what they do that is dangerous and unpredictable, and sometimes it goes wrong. Learn, grieve, and stop blaming. That’s the healing process. Well, it’s mine. For many here, it seems to be to find someone to whip. Go ahead. But I won’t join you.

  9. pinoyputi says:

    I am a bit puzzled by your reply. As far as i can read i am the only one to disagree with you yet you write “For many here, it seems to be to find someone to whip. Where are the comments then?
    I am not looking for a whip. I only want to evaluate this action. What went right or wrong. What is there to learn for a next action. And yes, that means evaluating people too. If we keep this person in place will that guarantee success or another failure. Why was Mar not informed? If you want to improve next time you have to learn.
    Nobody is telling that Aquino is a bad president because of this unfortunate action, but he, this is blog where we exchange the difference of opinions.
    I hold great respect as well for fighting men and woman but only if they fight for a just and decent cause. There is no respect for the fighting men that hide terorists, place bombs, kidnap people and keep freedom from the people of Mindanao.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, PP, I was cranky, and ought not have been. By “here” I meant the Philippines. The whips are elsewhere, mainly, not in this discussion thread. People here have been above board, as were you. I’ll go take a nap and chill. Your questions are good and proper, and need to be asked.

      • pinoyputi says:

        Ok. Take a nap, chill and have a beer on me. While having the beer read the BBL and imagine the BBL implemented in the state of Texas. Then write an article on it.

        • Joe America says:

          🙂 I’ll have that beer tomorrow, thanks. I limit my intake these days. That is a rather interesting thought, Texas always did want to be independent, and for the life of me, I don’t understand their thinking sometimes, especially the Texan-in-Chief, GW. Alaska is also in a spitting rage about Obama’s restrictions on drilling in the wildlife preserves. Maybe we need one for there, too. And for lala land . . .

  10. Dear Joe:
    Thank you for pointing out this other angle. Will post this article on my FB so that others may consider it as well. (Controlled grief is not something that most Filipinos can understand.)

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you for posting the “other angle”. I think grief is hard to deal with. America’s rage after 9/11 led to some regrettable acts.

    • Pallacertus says:

      Controlled grief is not something most anyone can understand — but in our case, we have to control it and think our actions through, for if we decide wrongly —

    • Jake says:

      This is not an uncontrolled grief. A lot of aspect played to this. Heck even his known supporters are not happy with his lack of empathy

      Let us see what he was saying and doing the past days

      Did not give an immediate statement on the incident
      Did not hold himself accountable given that he knew of this as a commander in chief
      Told the congress to pass the BBL to “honor” the massacred police. Wants to fast track the constitutionally questionable BBL
      Never bothered to at least condemn the barbarity of the execution of the policemen
      Not there in the arrival honors
      Late for the necrological service
      Eulogy that is centered in himself and his family.
      Told the people that the arrival honors were not in his schedule(I guess the policemen should have scheduled their deaths too noh? )

      The people have the right to be angry

      I would not be surprised that if his term ends next year, he’ll face lots of lawsuits. This incident is probably what he’ll be remembered for if the rumors about him assigning this to Purisima is true.

      • Steve says:

        Grief is natural. Anger is natural. Making decisions when you’re angry is probably natural too, but it’s not smart.

  11. manuel buencamino says:

    On the president’s address to the nation re the tragedy I have this to say:

    The SAF had a capture and extraction plan. The President, after weighing the risks involved, gave his go signal because he won’t be paralyzed by fear of failure.

    But like Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

    Yun na lang sana ang explanation na binigay niya, matatanggap ko na yun kasi alam ko naman na the best laid plans can go awry e ang kaso nag denial mode pa sa executive decision niya, kung anu-ano pa ang pinagsasabi. Extremely disappointed.

    On the President’s speech at the necrological services for the slain SAF men, I have this to say:

    It’s difficult to be a leader at this time. The people are drowning in sorrow, seething with anger and filled with rage. Does a leader make a speech that will add more tears? Should he fan the fury? Or does he act like a leader and remind us that we have to pick ourselves up and do what needs doing?

    Maybe he could have written a better speech so that in speaking of his personal tragedy, his initial negative reactions to it and pointing to the positive way out, his message would have been clearer and not gotten negative reactions like lack of sincerity, campaign speech etc.

    I reread the speech. Granted, he could have said it better but his message is important:

    We need sobriety, and yes, to distance ourselves a little, if we are going to do what needs to be done for peace. The alternative of reacting in blind rage, unstated but implied in his speech, is unending war and a policy of genocide.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, that rather makes my point. Grief is personal, we all have to deal with it. Maybe we ought not tell others how to feel it, express it, or get that aching beast to lie down. That was my point to Boo Chanco. Being president is a tough job. He and others have pointed out that President Obama cancelled plans for a military funeral, and I reminded them that Obama also got roasted for failing to attend the Hebdo memorial in France. It is a tough, tough job. I hope sobriety returns soon because my reaction to the almost violent anger is: “no hope”.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        But the President made some mistakes/missteps which I posted elsewhere.


        Missteps undermined the message of the President’s speech at the Necrological Service for the fallen SAF personnel.

        Misstep 1 :
        He failed to take responsibility for the tragedy. It was his responsibility as Commander in Chief. Period. So take responsibility and then order a Board of Inquiry to look at the incident from start to finish, find where lapses, if any, occurred, and learn from mistakes.

        Misstep 2 :
        He failed to emphatize. A national tragedy overrides any previous commitments, even a scheduled State Visit. Drop everything. Period. Meet your fallen soldiers at the airport and spend a few hours with each and every grieving family. Nothing is more important for those families and the nation at that point.

        Had he taken responsibility and shared in the grief of the families, the nation would have been more receptive to his crucial message: that we must not allow grief to overwhelm us and anger to blind us in our quest for peace.

        Well, nobody’s perfect.

        • Jake says:

          Misstep 3: His eulogy was about him and his family, not the fallen policemen

          Yes, people make mistakes. But this is the nth time he showed lack of empathy…and justifies the lack of empathy

          Manila hostage crisis
          Al Barqa

        • Joe America says:

          Excellent assessment. I think the president will fall in the polls, and the likelihood of a Binay presidency has gone up in a major way. The same level of venom is what any opposing candidate will face come 2016. The dark force is organized and has no conscience. The good has no organization and is penalized by being decent people.

  12. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Cayetano and Trillanes should investigate:
    1. To determine who stole the body of Marwan
    2. Who stole 20 dead bodies
    3. Who are telling the truth, MILF or AFP
    4. Why there are contradicting news
    5. Why Praise Release do not match
    6. Ask the remaining SAF survivors if they knew what DNA is
    7. Ask them timeline the day/hour of extraction to DNA testing and confirmation (which was less than a day)
    8. When did Malaysian authorities knew of the encounter to request of DNA profile from relatives to sending it to Philippines and to testing of DNA matching (THIS ONE SURE IS MADE UP BY UP+PMA FILIPNOS FOR SURE TIMELINE IS SURE IS MIND-BOOGLING THAT MAKES IT TO GUINESS BOOK OF RECORDS)
    9. SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, so very little answers.

    That is why the Chinese sent their Crime Investigators to Philippines to conduct forensic investigation themselves BECAUSE FILIPINOS JUST CANNOT DO THINGS RIGHT.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      SO, RIGHT NOW, let us calm down. Because in the end we would only be debating on looney unreliable news whose veracity and facts can never ever be vetted unless done by Chinese.

      • Pallacertus says:

        In all likelihood a stupid question, but why specifically Chinese? (I’ll just keep my silly cartoonish notions that I have in speculation to myself — weird corny humor being weird corny and all –)

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      As usual, The Filipinos have come down to he-said she-said, witness accounts and Affidavits. NO PROOF. When can the Filipinos get over this. Why can’t they do it the American way where they have a SPOKESMAN to gather all the mismatched witness accounts and make it into one coherent whole of lies. If there is one uniform lies, people would believe it rather than everyone making their own lies.

      THE FACT IS THERE ARE 44 FLAG-DRAPED COFFINS. Dead that never were autopsied of the cause of death. They are just hurriedly embalmed, dressed and draped.

      Time to outsource the government. They cannot even make one good lie. Beyond reproach and beyond my scrutiny.

      • Joe America says:

        On a quieter day, we’ll have to get back to the Snowden debate. Should lies told in the best interest of the nation be permissible? The main reason President Aquino has not supported FOI is because he believes some secrets are necessary. For sure, the US is skilled at secrets, and, by necessity, the lies they entail. I personally agree that secrecy is needed, but it does make some explanations a little tricky. I have no idea who is telling the truth on this incident, but I know making accusations on the basis of my ignorance will only add to the problem, not create any kind of solution. If the commanding officer says “It’s on me”, who am I to put it somewhere else?

        • Pallacertus says:

          What happened in Mamasapano demands a more thorough explanation, not the SAF chief acting as a fall guy in lieu of said explanation. Secrecy in certain matters might be needed, but why keep mum when the object of said secrecy is said to be dead?

          • Joe America says:

            I’m puzzled. You seem certain that the SAF chief was a fall guy. According to what I read, he said he decided not to coordinate with other units to preserve secrecy, and he only advised Espina as he was going in. You don’t believe him? He was operating under a standing order to get the two highly sought terrorists.

            I don’t know the answers to your question on Marwan. I’m not second guessing and will wait developments. I believe the mission was earnest and honest and in the best interest of the Philippines, except that no back-up forces were available and more enemy forces were there in quick order than they anticipated. As I said in the article, I don’t think there were any culprits and I don’t comprehend the need to appoint them.

            An investigation will be conducted. I trust that will occur. You and others want answers now, outside that investigation. And until you have them, you want to blame. It is just all so negative and discouraging to me. The 44 died in honor, why must we find someone to dishonor?

            • Joe America says:

              It seems to me that Filipinos don’t honor the fallen by making enemies of other Filipinos. The bitterness is not condolence or appreciation, it is some kind of warped need to find someone to pin the grief on. What is this crazy need to blame other people, fundamentally good people? Truly, the Pope accomplished nothing here.

              • Grief is very personal to a lot of Filipinos. I remember being told that the loudest wailer during a funeral is the one who loves the departed most. The more emotions the grieving showed, the better he/she is perceived.

                There are five universally accepted stages of loss and grief. A number of Filipinos go through all of them with high emotions.

              • edgar lores says:

                Good grief!

              • Joe America says:

                That would account for all the wailing and tears flowing from my wife’s television shows in the evening, I guess. I keep telling her to turn down the volume. I do recall a scene, however, in the movie “Six Days and Seven Nights” when Harrison Ford went into the bush and lost it, doing a royal rant that the island they were on was deserted, not “Macatea”. Anne Heche asked him not to do that again, she needed strength from “her captain”.

                I appreciate Captain Aquino’s stalwart strength, which has to be extraordinary considering all the wailing going on around him. How must it feel to have the wife of a slain soldier turn her back on you, knowing you had authorized the hunt that got him killed? I’d have gone, as my son would say, “wimpy doodle”, long, long before that.

            • Pallacertus says:

              Given that Noynoy reportedly went over the heads of the SAF chief’s superiors (that would be Roxas and Espina) in order to arrange the operation in question, I find it hard to believe that the SAF chief wasn’t acting the fall guy — but the point you made in your last thread about the Manila Standard Today’s source being anti-BBL does give me pause. I apologize for failing to see this as objectively as I can; I’ll point to cultural differences between you and me; but that seems a lame excuse. But believe me when I say that I am not doing this out of spite — I am doing what I can, coping with what I have, as a Filipino unused to war and its consequences If the decrepit state of our military tells us anything about our attitudes on war, it’s that we’re not a warlike people, not without great provocation.

              Do I make sense? As much sense as I hope to make? Pope Francis said something about learning to see through tears, and I do not believe in God but I do believe in the Pope and his core decency — but what the heck, I can’t see much over these tears. (Might be mine and mine only, and these tears certainly are figures of speech to a great extent — but… but perhaps you know what I’m getting at.)

  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I prefer peace over war knowing the other party always takes advantage of peace to make war.

  14. Sal says:

    JoeAm, like you I am bewildered by all the negative emotion in Facebook about Pres. Aquino not altering his previous commitments to go to Villamor to meet the 44 coffins and equating that decision to a lack of empathy or sorrow over the tragedy. But then again, it shouldn’t surprise me because the “official complainers” also moaned and groaned about his not going to the wake of the transgender who was killed in Olongapo which also had my eyes rolling. This practice of mourning is not a cultural thing… it is a personal thing. Everyone grieves differently and just because the President and others grieve differently does not make them any less compassionate. The President will best serve the country by bringing to justice those responsible for this massacre and putting in place terms of engagement that would prevent similar “misencounters” in the future. I agree with you that the war on terror is nasty and good people are going to die so that others may live.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you, Sal. We see it exactly the same. I think tragedy tends to heighten people’s sense that “you owe me something” because I am hurting. It is rather the child in all of us. Well, “you owe us 100% of your time and perfection in your speeches” is a tough, tough standard.

  15. edgar lores says:

    1. Here’s Matthew Arnold’s pessimism from “Dover Beach”:

    Ah, love, let us be true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help from pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.

    2. And here’s William Butler Yeats optimism from “The Nineteenth Century and After” in reply:

    Though the great song return no more
    There’s keen delight in what we have:
    The rattle of pebbles on the shore
    Under the receding wave.

    3. Is the glass half full or half empty?

    If it’s water, half full.
    If it’s whiskey, half empty.

    4. I choose delight (the light).

    • Joe America says:

      What a perfect, perfect description of the twitter intellectual battlefield.

      Yes, I choose delight (the light). Been with ignorant armies clashing, done with that.

  16. ana says:

    Yes. It is a cultural thing. Which is why the president should have attended to the PNP SAF. He is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. War rarely goes according to plan, but this was a massacre. He could have handled this situation better. He could have handled a lot of situations better. His repeated faux pas are getting old.

  17. mami_noodles says:

    I agree with the points you raised. I am shocked and saddened by the Mamasapano debacle, but I am more enraged by those who are using this incident to fan the flames of hatred against the President. Just like what these people did during the Manila hostage crisis, during the Zamboanga siege, during the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, with the cases of Jennifer Laude and the UP student who committed suicide due to her unpaid tuition fee, and now, with this, using the dead as an excuse to pin blame on the President.

    Using the caskets of the SAF 44 as soapboxes to forward a political agenda is beyond insensitive, it is an act of disrespect.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I share your disgust at the players, these Harry Roque types who stand on the dead to advance a political agenda, and use the grief of the those hurting to turn their message into an angry, “I am righteous because I am hurting”, attack dog.

      That said, I think there are a lot of people who don’t grasp the President’s wooden behavior at key times. Andrew Lim has touched on the likely reasons for the wooden behavior elsewhere in this thread. For one thing, he has tremendous responsibilities to hold a steady course, an unemotional course if you will. For another, he has his own pains that he has to deal with, and, frankly, it is my observation that many Filipinos are not skilled at putting themselves in other people’s shoes, but are skilled at relating to pain and death. In the former, they have not had much of what I might call “executive experience”, in the latter, they have had to deal with a lot of pain. So there is an audience that is totally disconnected from the President and highly attuned to their own pain at the loss of the 44.

      For the political manipulators, nothing we can say will change them. For those disconnected from others, I suspect some will be lost to President Aquino forever, and their voice of complaint, like several in this discussion thread, will be added to the complaints of the crooks, political opponents, leftists and malcontents to generate a very negative Philippines. I don’t like it, but that is the way of things here.

      • edgar lores says:


        1. Was the President wooden? Does he lack empathy? I question that.

        2. The President is the father of the entire nation. He is not just president of the non-Muslim nation.

        3. If the President had “honored” the SAF 44 at Villamor Air Base, would that not be to dishonor the Muslim dead? Would that not be to take sides?


        4. The provocation for this “misencounter” is on both sides.
        4.1. The Muslims for harboring terrorists.
        4.2. And the government for a military adventure in the face of an agreement in force for the cessation of hostilities pending finalization of the Bangsamoro agreement.


        5. Some people argue that the President was not sensitive to Filipino culture. But isn’t culture our main problem? The culture of patronage, impunity, criticism, etecetera, etcetera.

        6. People will counter that there is good and bad culture. I would ask what are the criteria?

        6.1. I would contend that any act that challenges culture — the status quo — is worthy of consideration and reflection.


        7. The Mindanao conflict is like the Middle East conflict, one of hatred and distrust between peoples of different cultural and religious heritages, perhaps not as ancient but certainly as protracted, as endless and as intractable of resolution.

        8. The roots of the conflict go back 400 years. The conflict is one of ethnicity and religion.

        9. The Muslims of Mindanao from an external point of view comprise a seemingly homogeneous indigenous ethnic group. From an internal point of view, they are a heterogeneous group of disparate tribes.

        9.1. Nevertheless, they are recognized by the United Nations as an autonomous people deserving of an autonomous region.

        9.2. This fact has enormous consequences. It rejects the possibility of a multicultural nation. It leads to the recognition that (a) Mindanao Muslims will never fully assimilate nor integrate with the main; (b) that they are entitled to have their own territory; and (c) that they must be self-governing. Hostilities will never cease without the granting of these realizations.

        9.3. Seen in this light, it must be acknowledged that Mindanao Muslims see themselves as a separate people, as they always have. And, I might add, as some non-Muslims do.

        10. Currently, among the main issues are (a) the unity of the Mindanao Muslims and (b) the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro agreement.

        10.1. As to the first, the Bangsamoro agreement seems to be between the government and one dominant faction. What guarantee is there that the factions will unite post-agreement? What guarantee is there that the dominant faction will not oppress the other internal minorities post-agreement?

        10.1.1. Perhaps a pre-condition of autonomy should be unity? This seems to be as likely as the dream of autonomy.

        10.2. As to the second, the term “asymmetric” has been tossed around.

        10.2.1. If 9.1 is granted, I think the concept of asymmetry should extend beyond the confines of the Constitution. The Executive has made the concept a key pillar of the proposed agreement. The Legislature and the Judiciary, each in their own domain, must somehow step beyond the periphery of the Constitution and find a way to reconcile themselves to these asymmetries.

        10.2.2. Do the Legislature, Judiciary and non-Muslims have the requisite wisdom to accept these asymmetries?

        10.2.3. Do the Mindanao Muslims have the requisite wisdom to unite and govern themselves?

        11. Much wisdom is needed for the sake of peace. But peace has not descended in 400 years. I don’t think it will come anytime soon.

        12. Peace may come when all non-inclusive religions wither away.

        • Joe America says:

          Your thoughtful examination of the whole of this is so refreshing. Thank you for anchoring the discussion on reason rather than emotion. Frankly, it was getting away from me.

          Re asymmetric, 10.2. It is a word used early in the BBL. I’ve just started going through it and will use it as the basis for one or more forthcoming blogs. I’m into Article V right now. My early appraisal is that it is well constructed and earnest in reaching to appeal its many audiences, to include central government, Supreme Court, Bangsamoro, and people. Still, there are a few points to question, and a few to praise, and so I’ll do that.

          The Philippines is considered by most to be a peaceful nation, with an asterisk above Mindanao. I think the goal is to have Mindanao become a peaceful place, with asterisks on Sulu and maybe some mountain in the northeast. Define the peaceful, areas, invest, expand, marginalize the malcontents. About a 20 year job.

          Okay, 50.

        • Pallacertus says:

          Thanks, sir. Appreciate this post. System and structure being the soul of things and all. Well, emotion too — but we’ve had far too much of that recently.

  18. Have you read this? :


    The nerves…

    I was deeply shaken by what happened too. My first reaction was to check on those I know serving in the PNP. A sigh of some relief came, but my heart is still heavy for all the families of the casualties.

    The men in my family (immediate and extended) have penchant for defending and protecting the country so the women have to keep the fort and go through agony of waiting and uncertainty. I deeply feel for the families of the 44 heroes. I can’t even get myself to watch videos about the carnage.

    I believe that the men did what they love and cherish. They died defending and protecting Philippines from terrorists. Their leader made a decision and honorably took the responsibility for the outcome.

    Please stop the blame game. It will not bring back the dead and will only complicate life for the living.

    • Pallacertus says:

      So far as Purisima is reportedly involved, way beyond his hamstrung authority now that he’s suspended — a press statement from him telling the facts of his involvement, unequivocally denying the Manila Standard Today’s insinuations while foisting his version of events leading to the bloodbath at Mamasapano, can only help to clear the air pending an official investigation by the board of inquiry.

      • Joe America says:

        That’s a good point. It would be an interesting read. But I wonder how many people would trust what he said if it were different from what they thought.

        • Pallacertus says:

          I’m only posting because the inevitable has happened — Purisima has tendered his resignation, then minutes after Noynoy gave his press conference that went into said resignation at some length, he goes on air to air his thoughts on the goings-on leading to that blood-soaked cornfield at Mamasapano, during which he categorically denies the rampant speculations regarding his role that day.

          Abangan ang susunod na kabanata, as they say.

          • Joe America says:

            Well, if he is protecting government secrets, “plausibility deniability” is accepted practice. It is his job to diffuse the issue. If he is telling the truth, well, people would think he is lying. So I figure he can do whatever he wants and its okay by me.

  19. Juana Pilipinas says:

    I recall that last year the President made a pronouncement condemning the Filipinos’ KBL (kasal (wedding), binyag (baptism), libing (funeral)) culture as gateway to favor and patronage:


    Could he be more rigid and stubborn than perceived? Did he see the situation as compromising to his principles? Could he have made an exception for the 44 cops? Do we have a principled man who is true to his words or an apathetic one?

  20. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    To honor the brave men who died by following blindly the incompetent unintelligent commanders, I plead to Philippine Press to get their stories right before it goes to print.

    I implore the Philippine Press to read all their stories that they put out to print then go back to their news sources and straighten out the kinks. The news stories do not make sense at all.

    Please give respect to the fallen. Do not give the next of kin the run around the rosie so the Filipinos can grieve with them.

    Since the convolution has already been done, please stand before the kin of slain men and rip off your Diplomas in unison.

    Thank you.

  21. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    To Honor The Fallen, let us search for the culpable culprits. We, the people of the Republic of the Philippines, deserve the truth.

    We wanted to know minute-by-minute what happened. We need re-enactment in full view of the Republic so we can know what went wrong from our eyes before it get smothered by sensationalized Press. This has got to be done today not tomorrow before they can spin their yarn so tight.

    Mar Roxas has to take the rein of investigation. Korina get out of the way.

  22. Jake says:

    The office of the president is ridiculous. It is about showing genuine empathy.

    One of the presidential speakers reasoned that it was not on his schedule, what do they think of the 44 policemen, they scheduled their deaths?

    To add to the insult, it took him thee days to give a speech and not one word of CONDEMNATION of the brutality by the MILF. And as a Commander in Chief, he did not hold himself accountable. He himself admitted he knew of it. He sent them to harms way. It seems that is has been a habit of him that when things so bad, someone ELSE is to blame.

    That is so irresponsible and disrespectful and insensitive.

    He acted like a father who lost 44 children who went partying instead of being there for the grieving family.

    Not to forget he was late for the Necrological services.

    In his eulogy, it was about him, his family…hardly the men.

    He is like an egocentric child. I wonder if he has high functioning Asperger’s


    • Jake says:

      When his father was assasinated, the nation empathized with them and had their backs.

      When is mother died, people empathized with him.

      When the SAF were brutalized, the same unit that protected Zamboanga and the SAF were loyal to his mother during the coups, how does his thank them? Not condemning the MILF for the brutal way, execution style of killing, not being there on their arrival honors, late for the necrological services, a eulogy that centered on him and his family.

      If the reports are true that he assigned this case to Purisima, he has to answer for it. He should be held accountable more so.

      This is the same Commander In Chief who said “all out justice” to the beheaded marines in Al Barqa, what was his justice? The constitutionally questionable Bangsamoro deal. That’s not even a slap in the wrist…that is like giving a TOKEN of thanks to those who beheaded the marines.

  23. pancit palbok says:

    To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.
    Hubert H. Humphrey

    • Jake says:

      Sounds like the commander-in-chief who knew about this operation, is blaming someone else in the chain-of-command.

      • Joe America says:

        Don’t turn into a troll, Jake, trying to win every subordinate argument in this blog thread. Listen to what people are saying, respect what they have to say. I’m the only guy who dominates my blog discussions.

  24. Jake says:


    I think you are framing the feelings of many Filipinos towards the president too much in your Western perspective.

    As I mentioned earlier, even staunch supporters of Aquino has voiced their disappointment in him preferring to attend the inauguration than the arrival honors.

    I am not faulting you for not being able to see it the way Filipinos (or those who grew up in the Philippines like the Korean Grace Lee). The US culture fall into low power distance and low context culture. It is totally the opposite when it comes to the Philippines — high power distance and high context culture.

    In the US, being a president is merely someone “doing his job”. In the context of the Philippines, especially in times of crisis, the President is not merely a man/woman who should do presidential jobs — he or she comes a fatherly or motherly figure — someone whom we look to for guidance, an ear to lend and that MERE presence is already enough to be comforted, the glue that binds the family. This is where the power distance (the “meaning” awarded to being President) and high context culture (small gestures mean a lot).

    But you have to understand that this is a NATIONAL grief. And the criticism of Obama for the absence in Paris is not even comparable. What happened in Paris was not an American tragedy. If we frame this incident in an American experience, the closest that I could think of would be 9/11.

    What if this what Bush did:

    Never heard from him for three days after the incident?
    Never mentioned about asking a thorough investigation?
    Tells the people that if peace were to be achieve, we should give in to the demands of the terrorists?
    He attended a “party” or an “inauguration” over arrival honors?
    Was late in the necrological service?

    Yes, there are elements that are doing this for politics but the huge disappointment many Filipinos feel is not invalid simply because of their presence.

    If you think that the disappointment of Filipinos towards the President is “blind anger”, I guess we could say excusing him is “blind following”?

    The President violated many Filipino values here. With how he acts and what he says in public, we feel abandoned. It’s like we do not even have a president. And with the Palace statement that to pass the BBL is to give honor to the fallen troops comes off as treason. Does he really want the MILF who cuddles terrorists to run ARMM provinces?

    One of the brother of the Tausug Muslim commando who was killed hopes that the President would think twice about passing the Bangsamoro Law. Do their voice matter to him or just the voice of the MILF leaders (who probably could not even control and reprimand their troops for atrocities)?

    • Joe America says:

      I agree, I have a different perspective than many. It is partly western and partly personal. It was shaped by experience in the military. It is what it is. It is also framed by an understanding of the negativity that defines the Philippines, and a conscious decision to reach for the positive, to see the Philippines as a positive place, and the president as a well-intended man.

      I simply will not take one presidential instance, one “mistake”, and ride it to the detriment of the Philippines, or to assuage my own pains at the loss of life in a military exercise. I will view the whole of the President’s accomplishments, his earnest efforts and character, his lack of the normal greed as a driving force, his stability in the face of irrationality, and back it. Call me a yellow tard, call me an apologist, call me a fucking idiot. That’s fine. If I were in the military here, in the room yesterday when the President was there, I would stand at a coffin, say my few silent words, salute the fallen soldier, turn in a formal military turn, and salute the President of the Philippines, my Commander in Chief.

      You are entitled to do it your way. I’ll do it mine.

      • Jake says:

        The thing is Joe, it was not “one” Presidential mistake. This kind of treatment when national tragedy occurs have been quite, uhm, consistent.

        It took a long time for him to “surface” during the Manila hostage crisis. When Al Barqa happened, he said he’ll give it an “all out justice” for the beheaded troops. What happened was he controversial MOA-AD was “repackaged” as the BBL.

        It is either he is insensitive to the public or that he is surrounded with very bad advisors or speechwriter)

        I don’t always criticize Aquino. In fact, I commend him for not kissing China’s ass as regards to Philippine territorial rights, not giving in to the bullying of Taiwan and Hong Kong. But not being there (as in he just have to be present) is unacceptable. This is especially even more striking given that his father was assassinated and that his mother was a well-loved figure.

        With one year left in office, it seems that this will be the incident that he will be remembered for. Even young people who usually do not comment on national issues are even commenting. Even people who strongly supports him did not let this pass.

        • Steve says:

          I do not see how seeking peace discredits or dishonors those who die in war; it seems to me the other way around. Anyone can keep on killing. It takes courage to try to stop.

          I agree that Aquino does not manage highly emotional situations well. If he were a better politician he would have done things differently. I am not entirely convinced that being a better politician would make him a better President.

          • Jake says:

            It is not “peace” itself, but the people whom he is making “peace” with.

            Seriously, does he really want the core Bangsamoro to be ruled by people who desecrate the dead? An armed people with no control of their troops

            What happens with the MNLF, who have been strongly opposed to the Bangsamoro deal, since the CAB? Heck, they even staged a Zamboanga seige.

            And when I refer to “all out justice”, I am NOT referring to an all out war. Why oh why, did Aquino not bargain for those who participated on the beheading of the Marines when he signed the CAB?

            With this fiasco, he is in a critical situation: risk agitating the PNP and perhaps the military if he does not seek justice (punishment on those who desecrated the dead) or risk agitating the MILF (if the BBL is stalled).

            He comes off more of like his grandfather, the head of the pro-KALIBAPI, than his parents (who fought the dictatorship)

            Also, why is he trying to shift the blame to someone else when he is the commander in chief? Was he aware that the DILG and the legitimate PNP brass were kept out of the loop. It is a different story if he was kept out of the loop, too. But he wasn’t

            The chain of command was broken. The protocol was broken. The Palace should stop finding someone else to blame and accept accountability.

            I’m surprised, he’s not blaming the previous administration.

            When the news broke out, the moral was low. He even lowered it by callous statement and actions.

            When people was asking why was he in the car plant instead of Villamor Airbase, his speaker said “It was not in the schedule”. Right, like the SAF scheduled their deaths. The 44 SAF schedules their deaths wrongly, they didn’t sync their deaths with the Presidential schedule.

            He deserves all the mockery, just like Erap did deserve the mockery when he was president (I remember jokes about him getting “stuck” in an escalator)

            Economic growth has been there since the recovery from the time nations were recovering from the Asian crisis — the statistics is there. Anti-corruption? Mostly related to those linked with the previous administration but he is hesitant to really go after controversial projects under his term (DAP, PDAF) or those associated with him (same thing happened under Arroyo), his “durable calm face” which is also translated to “not taking accountability” when he needed to.

            If he thinks his prized BBL will bring peace to Mindanao, he should brace himself for an angry MNLF. His BBL is also negotiated on weakness of the government. So, the government is making a deal with the MILF to decommission 70 arms. Sounds good, right? Not really especially with military and police reporting that the MILF do have their gun factory.

            This debauchery will be his legacy especially if he does not bring the MILF-BIFF commanders and foot soldiers who massacred the police and if he does not get to the root of why was there a very abnormal chain of command in this operation.

            I guess it just hurts for people whose “favorite politician” is in the hot seat.

        • Joe America says:

          You’ll remember it as big. I’ll remember it as little compared to the whole of the achievements made by the Philippines during his term. Growth, stability, rising international reputation, improved economy, major work on infrastructure, law-based approach on China, law-based approach to Mindanao, management by metrics (results) rather than politics. His durable calm in the face of criticism, much of it based on agenda rather than assessment (crooks, leftists, political opponents).

  25. Bert says:

    I am a supporter of President Noynoy. I think he should have met the fallen cops at Villamor. The fact that he did not I would consider that his right to his own discretion. As president of this country. and knowing his personal inclination and avowal on how he is going to administer the government as president I think he knows best what is good for the country and what is good for his people, the Filipino people.

    The detractors are just that…detractors.

    • Joe America says:

      Nicely put, bro. I had not considered it, until Edgar mentioned it, that President Aquino is also president of the Muslim community, and their sons were also killed. He represents Muslims as well as everyone else. He can be for law and order, but he can’t be against the Muslim community. Some of the critics can take that position. The President can’t.

      I appreciate your clear judgment.

      • hopefulcitizen says:

        Good point here, most of us forget that Muslims in Mindanao are Filipinos too. They deserve to be treated the same way we want to be treated by our government. They are not what others want to picture them to be. If they have outlaws, we on the other side have our own share of outlaws and warmongers too.

  26. Wake up people whenever the Manila Standard and Tribune are saying practically the same things this spells that the GMA camp,the Binay camp, the Estrada camp, the Enrile camp have all but visibly united. I’ll still take the heartless president and the minimal transactional politics of his party over the other side.

    That said, I feel more alienated now more than ever with most of my countrymen. I for one would like to be left alone to mourn something. I have no use for other peoples word however kind they may be for my emotions are within. It seems in my country I’m an aberration.

    Also, I process emotions very slowly. If you sent some people to their deaths wouldn’t that tear you apart. Wouldn’t you try your best to just go on for awhile blocking something this tragic out by keeping to your schedule?

    I think we are being too easily manipulated by the corrupt media outlets.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you, giancarlo. You pegged what I have been struggling to identify. I feel alienated from the angry grievers. It’s like they have divided the nation into people who grieve as they do . . . the right way . . . and those who grieve otherwise. Even the President of this fine nation, a fine man himself, is cast as an outcast to the righteous. I understand grieving is a community gig, but the President carries a heavy load, and the idea that he is the enemy, almost as if he had shot the 44 himself, is way beyond rational. If he made a mistake, say so, but this deep-rooted anger, or the idea of starting a war that brings back bodies by the hundreds, strikes me as downright . . . well . . . surreal.

      Edgar Lores points out that President Aquino is also the President of the Muslim community. He CAN’T be a warmaker on his own people.

      I agree there are manipulators, the opponents of President Aquino (crooks, political opponents, leftists) and their on-line troops, the tabloids seeking circulation, and the purchased media. It’s a shocking display of irrationality to this outsider.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Filipinos are a highly emotional group of people and that is where Noynoy has a problem. He – and Mar Roxas for that matter even more – come across as if they just don’t care. Those who pretended to care – for example Imelda Marcos – were always far more popular.

        As a consultant, I know that it does not make any sense to come with explanations of any sort for what I cannot do or don’t want to do, just say what I will do, because any explanation can be seen as a possible excuse. For example I do not say that I cannot come next week because I have another customer, I say that I can come the week after next and will be there at 8 in the morning just for you guys. OK Noynoy is not a natural communicator like his old man was, but his presidential spokesman saying that “it was not scheduled” is not just insensitive but extremely unprofessional public relations.

        As for Noynoy being the President of all Filipinos – that is true, but the MILF and BIFF are separatists who do not see themselves as Filipinos. And let us not forget that the Philippines remains very tribal and clannish in thinking – a large part of the 44 dead policemen where from the northern area – Ilocanos or Igorots – and both Fidel Ramos and Bongbong Marcos where at Villamor Airforce Base when the caskets came by plane. Maybe Noynoy sees these boys as the boys of Marcos, the former PC, the “enemy”.

        Filipino are not just very tribal and clannish but also very personal. Even Noynoy himself. Remember Tacloban where Mar Roxas told the mayor “you are Romualdez, the president is an Aquino, so we cannot help you” – something like that. Also Noynoy always wears a yellow ribbon which is a personal thing instead for example the flag of the Philippines. Let us also remember that Noynoy himself came to power carried by the grief for his mother, and his mother came to power carried by the grief for his very popular father.

        Rituals surrounding death are closely related to the ancestor cult in the entire Pacific. Imagine tribal warfare somewhere in “Rapa-Nui” and the chief fails to be there when boats come back with the corpses of his dead warriors. Imagine that the chief is the son of a man highly revered by the tribe, whose funeral was attended by nearly everyone, same thing with his mother, and the chief became chief because the tribe believe he carries the same spirit as his parents whom the tribe highly revere. Joe, don’t be fooled by all the trappings of modernity. Read up a bit on the tribal politics of American Samoa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century – it will remind you of the Philippines.

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks for the excellent brief on the complexities of grief in a tribal community. It is hard for me to relate to, truly. I imagine even President Aquino today would agree his choice to visit the Japanese manufacturing plant was a mistake. I also agree the whole communications package, from speeches that did not accept accountability to lame excuses like “it was scheduled”, was weak. But the level of hostility . . . incredible. As if President Aquino had shot the 44 men himself. And it is clear that political players were using the grief to stoke anger toward the President. The people, as emotionally gullible as they are to nightly television dramas, bought in.

          The one thing that I don’t agree with, in reading through the Bangsamoro Basic Law, is that MILF are separatists. I think they are realists, and the reality right now is that they would be nothing but an impoverished mess of murderous gangs if left to their own ways. They want a good measure of self governance, which is perhaps understandable considering the neglect and hostility that is the norm from the people up north. But they’d also like a share of the Nation’s investments. In the BBL, they concede they are Filipino by nationality.

            • butod says:

              “MILF: We lost lives too” (PDI)

              Must be just heartbreaking for them — seeing as how there’s so much hand-wringing for the 44 and not one word of consolation for their 12 — that even in death, as in life, they are invisible.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, sometimes compassion seems to wear blinders. The angry masses consider President Aquino insensitive. Maybe they should look within.

                But I rather think they would have some rationalizations as to why the pains of mothers, wives and kids there is not the same.

                Ach. We need Pope Francis to come back and talk again about what compassion really means.

              • Pallacertus says:

                Well, the excuse for the one-sided sentiment (and the consequent media coverage) is that, whether we who mourn for the Fallen 44 admit it or not, we think of the arrayed forces who fought against the SAF in Mamasapano as something more than mere enemies — granted, enemies harboring two hunted terrorists — but as something vile. Something evil.

                Which is why I’m thankful to edgar lores for helping clear the air for me (and ultimately to steve for helping me understand a bit of Mindanao through his 30-year-old-plus goggles) — as much as we must mourn for the SAF men, we must also learn to mourn for the MILF dead. They’re not merely Muslims; they’re also Filipinos, and their loved ones are grieving as well.

                That’s as good a first step to reconciliation as I can think of at the moment — but really, if the BBL musters enough support and passes through Congress, I think extending our sympathy beyond the Christian sphere that most of us inhabit (even those of us who have lapsed into unbelief like me are not totally immune to it), telling ourselves “Why the heck are we having a pissing match for? Just because of Marwan and Usman? Come on!” — the prospects of peace can then hope to spread beyond legalities and diplomacy and into the social fabric for all to see and feel and talk about.

          • PinoyinEurope says:

            Instead of giving just the MILF autonomy, why not go straight for federalism? It would be more suited to the tribal structure of Philippine society. It works very well for Malaysia.

            The first level at which the Filipino thinks/feels is family/clan, then barangay. The next level is tribal: Cebuano, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Igorot, Tagalog, whatever. A federal system fetches the Filipinos from where they are now and gives them a chance to develop.

            The centralized form of government is a post-colonial relic, something people do not really identify with as being their own. One of the main reasons why the country does not work. Federalism would be the first step toward changing that, BBL definitely a precedent.

            • Joe America says:

              I don’t think people here think in those kinds of bold terms. MILF self-governance is not really autonomy, but a huge helping of self rule on certain functions granted within a framework of national responsibility (defense) or oversight (customs). Indeed, I think the agreement brings the designated area INTO the nation, whereas in the past it operated autonomously. Or with impunity Ampatuan style.

    • Jake says:

      A president, commander in chief that does not know how to honor and seek justice for the men he put to the front line? Who makes a eulogy that is centered on him and his families rather than the fallen men? A president who does not seem to be that concerned about the unusual chain of command and irregular protocol in such a highly covert operation? A commander in chief that does not even know how to take accountability.

      A heartless president? Well, add Macoy to your list — taking a “heartless president” list.

      What happened is a national tragedy. It’s not like their relatives where ran after a drunk driver. This incident involves the commander in chief. Remember that the men who was sent were merely following orders, doing their duty. It is a national tragedy because someone from the top brass sent them there. That the incident was related to a “peace deal” and in processing a “substate”.

  27. bauwow says:

    It really is disconcerting if Pnoy did not attend the arrival honors for the fallen 44. To hear the wails of the relatives who were crying in despair is really heart wrenching. BUT, Pnoy is our president. I think he must be given a lot of leeway for his actions and decisions, because he is THE President of this country. He can do whatever he wants, and at what time he deems it necessary to do his actions. He has more than made up for it, for he spent a lot of hours comforting each and every family. So grief is really personal, Pnoy chose to commiserate with the unfortunate families of the fallen 44, on his own terms and on his own time.

    Lastly, imho, the BBL should just be scrapped.
    Because the MNLF, MILF and the BIFF, are just one and the same. If the SriLankans can do it, then why can’t we do it? The framers of the BBL are dreamers, thinking that MILF is sincere in their quest for peace. They dream that they can achieve lasting peace if we trust MILF.
    It is like trusting the Lakers will win the NBA championship this year even without Kobe.( sorry for the poor analogy, Uncle Joe).
    The MILF just denied they are coddling Marwan.
    The next thing we know, we are negotiating another peace treaty, this time with the BIFF.

    • Pallacertus says:

      If the Sri Lankans did it through concentration-camp tactics to deprive the LTTE of their support base (or so TIME reports at the time the Tamil Tigers had their backs to the wall), that doesn’t mean that we should do the same. For better and for worse, what we have in Mindanao is a popular one among those affected, and as Steve pointed out, the acronym stew is deceptive, concealing loyalties that transcend organizational lines. Unless you are willing to exterminate every last Muslim and risk world ire — well, don’t cross the line.

    • Joe America says:

      Keep an open mind for a little while about the BBL, eh, bauwow? I’ll be looking at it and doing some blogs to see what’s there. The problem with tearing up the BBL is that it will mean an enduring flow of caskets coming back to Manila, and being dug into the ground in Mindanao, where loved ones also died. It is not any easier for them. Mistrust is something we have to deal with, for sure. But that isn’t much different than dealing with our normal politicians, I think. Let’s get to know the BBL.

    • Jake says:

      Roxas and Espina not knowing about the incident when they are actually part of the chain of command but the President knowing about it

      The commander in chief, has a lot of questions to answer.

      Why was the chain of command broken. He must answer the Purisima question: was he involved or was he not. Apparently, the Palace is mum about it.

      Enough of the administration’s “Moro moro” (fake show) of this incident.

    • Jake says:

      The problem here is that they are too optimistic about the BBL, forgetting the fact that Nur Misuari and the Tausug MNLF are not happy with this deal. This BBL is NOT inclusive. The government is only talking to the Maguindanaoan-majority MILF.

      What would the pro BBL do if the MNLF decides to take arms up again, break away from being incorporated in the military should the BBL pass? The BBL has just been a “show” since day 1.

  28. anibongpalm says:

    Reblogged this on Development templates for Guinarona and commented:
    This is THE context. Those who are agitating for war ought to have their heads examined.

  29. ella says:

    Mr. Joe, thank you for this very well written article. I love also reading all the discussions below it is very informative.

    Edgar Lorres, wow your enumeration as usual covers the whole spectrum … unfortunate for most of us Filipinos, evolution has not reached us yet to so we could always think of the whole. Most of us Filipinos are stuck to the side that serves us most or to the idea or feelings where we are most comfortable with.

    Good luck everyone! I just hope and pray that this unfortunate incident will not make the candidacy of the corrupt binay, Estrada and etc. stronger.

    • Pallacertus says:

      Evolution, schmevolution. Not everyone can see clearly, and some can’t see at all, but that is no reason to pour piss upon them, or tell them they’re somehow not human for arriving at the same conclusions as you do. This isn’t the 19th century, and we’re not living in a hierarchical world.

      • Joe America says:

        I thought you were an atheist and appreciated rational thinking?! All she is saying is that people have not learned to deal in context and are dealing in incidents or emotions. You disagree with that? And therefore define it as “piss”? I call it a fairly accurate assessment, and yours a rather unkind response to a comment meant to be kind. Methinks you have been hanging out in that confrontational Get Real Post for too long.

        • Joe America says:

          Kindly don’t bring that style of debate to my blog.

        • Pallacertus says:

          “Pour piss”? Rhetorical device. Alliteration, literary allusions, twisting metaphors, wordplay plied upon wordplay — that’s my forte; I’m a Joycean that way. And “evolution” being mentioned here and in the context you mention does strike a sour note with me personally, reason below. Doesn’t excuse my behavior towards ella, I know.

          I am an atheist. It does not mean that I think arrogantly, think myself superior to others just because I can see things other people do not or cannot — for it might be that, notwithstanding my pretenses to rationality, I am wrongly looking at things. Sometimes rationality itself is not proper tool to go see things.

          As for that GRP snipe: I’m confrontational by nature (among many things, of course). That said, being on GRP and the bloodbath in Mamasapano has not encouraged my better tendencies, to put it mildly.

          • Joe America says:

            I’ve read your remarks both here and at Get Real and you bring a lot of insight and direct speak to the table, and even heart from time to time. If confrontational is to the point of the idea, that is good, if it is to the person, it is bad, and to suggest a person is “pouring piss” is – to me – just short of calling a person a moron. I strive to keep this blog from descending to the style of personal argument and it is by far one of the most thoughtful and respectful forums in the Philippines. The blog has become more popular and so I find that I have to be confrontational myself, now and then, to deal with people who have been dealing in the street language of discussion threads that are more centered on defending views and egos than teaching and learning. I’d rather be unpopular and have a quality discussion of ideas than popular with discussion threads laden with interpersonal trash. People here, I know, have to temper themselves sometimes. It requires effort. But they do it, out of respect for the ideal behind a quality discussion.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for your kind words, ella. I agree with you about the comments. The discussion thread ought to go into the high schools as lesson material. I’m thinking of changing the name of the blog to “Society of Honor and Some Really Smart, Good People”.

    • edgar lores says:


      We will get there. Evolution is the path from simple to complex… to complicated. 🙂

  30. Mary Anne Alarcon Olan says:

    I, too, am a mourner of this tragedy. Though I do not know anyone of the Fallen 44, the news about their brutal deaths crushed my heart. And since I am a typical Filipino, I too felt the surge of anger,,, the rage inside me seemed to be on the verge of exploding that I felt like punching someone in the face. I literally cried when I learned about the Fallen 44. Then came Jan. 30, 2015, the National Day of Mourning. I watched the event from the internet. For some reason, I did not feel so much affected by the President’s absence. Was it maybe because I am not related to any of the Fallen 44? Was it because I understood enough that the President, or anyone, cannot be at two places at the same time? Or was it because at the back of my head something is making me realize that life has to go on and that is what the President was doing by attending the inauguration in Mitsubishi? Or was it because… maybe the sympathy I felt was not genuine? That last thought bothered me… Am I cold-hearted??? While everyone is airing their anger with all their might, posting comments here and there about how incompetent and insensitive PNoy is, declaring their hopelessness for the Land of the Morning, etc., etc., etc.,,, here I am,,, from a mourner, I have become a by-stander, an observer, a spectator. The shameful truth is,,,I am hesitant (or even afraid) to speak and give my views about these issues. I am afraid that I might touch other people’s (specially those close to me) sensitivity. I am afraid that I might be caught in the middle of an argument where I am out-numbered. I am afraid to go against the tide. So, I kept my mouth shut. But I kept my eyes and ears open. Until I came across this blog. You said, “….grief is a personal thing. You have to deal with it yourself. It never goes away. Dumping it on others only adds to the pain.” For me, these statements are the most striking in this article. I also read through some sensible comments here, which I find very enlightening. And the replies you gave to those comments really augmented the essence of your message.

    This is actually my first time to post a comment/reply to a blog. I do not usually do this. Like what I’ve said, I have become more of a by-stander. But now I am breaking that habit. Now, I wish to say to all of us, Filipinos, that we cannot go on like this forever. We cannot always be overly absorbed by our misfortunes and griefs. Yes, it is just and proper that authorities figure out what really happened and let everyone know. We deserve to know that truth. The real culprits must be apprehended — we all agree to this aim. But please, my fellowmen, enough with the senseless bashing, spreading of hate, finger-pointing, and below-the-belt criticisms. During this time of pain and sorrow, we should gather all our strength and faith, and really try to stand as one nation, instead of rip each other apart.

    I am still a mourner, and I am not cold-hearted — now I am convinced. My heart is still crushed by what happened to the Fallen 44. I choose to grieve; that is my personal option, so I am not dumping it on anyone. And I am no longer afraid to speak my thoughts even if I am out-numbered. I will just remain steadfast while I wait for the pain to subside.

    To Mr. Joe America, thank you for sharing your wonderful brain, and thank you for creating an avenue for commenters like myself to air our views.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, Mary Anne. You return the favor. Thank you for leading us through your reaction, the pain, the dealing with it, the acceptance, the lessons, and the moving on. It is a very healthy way to go. In time, the grief will find its proper place,to honor the dead and to motivate us to find a better way. I agree that using grief to divide and punish others is not intellectually healthy, and I suspect not emotionally healthy either. It only helps the crooks and malcontents who want to do the same thing, and in doing so, dishonor the fallen.

  31. ubertraumer says:

    thank you for a reasoned piece about the whole maguindanao incident.

    Filipinos have a very heightened sense of empathy. We are a very empathic people. But the problem with empathy is that we feel more with people we can closely relate to. Like in this case, much grief has been expressed for the 44 SAF personnel who died but nothing about the death of the MILF fighters nor of the civilians who also suffered from the clash.

    often empathy is viewed as a positive thing (and in moderation, it is). however, in conflicts such as in mindanao our tendency to empathize heavily favors those who we can better relate to. As such, we fail to see the flip side of the coin in a light free of bias.

    a big risk with being empathic is that we let these emotional moments direct our actions. decisions made from a position of grief or anger are oftentimes lacking in rationality. now, a lot of people are calling for justice (just as we all should). however, i am afraid to ask what they mean when they say justice. i fear that those shouting angry rhetorics at our muslim brothers and demanding justice are out for retribution instead.

    when we decide based on heightened emotions, we oftentimes fail to see the bigger picture- the consequences that are far-reaching. in the maguindanao case, the issue goes beyond just an incident of gunfight between groups of hundreds. the underlying implications of actions taken by both the government and the MILF in the next few days could spell hundreds of thousands of lives saved or lost in the future.

    here’s a interesting piece on the risks of being driven by empathy in crafting policies. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/05/20/the-baby-in-the-well?currentPage=all

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for visiting the blog, ubertraumer. It is true, isn’t it? That empathy and the emotion is what makes the Philippines such a rich and fun place, but when it goes Pinitubo, reason seems to get lost in favor of finding someone to blame. I think things are starting to settle down. I hope so.

  32. Art says:

    Are you a Filipino or American? If you are a Filipino, are you really filipino by heart, in language and in culture? If you are not, then we have no argument coz you have no idea and you don’t know what you are talking about.

    If you are a Filipino, you can not compare the americans to us because we are not americans. Filipinos are close family and the culture in the US is not. We grieve for our dead in weeks sometimes the others even months, and the americans doesn’t.

    And don’t lecture us about being too sympathetic and always seeking for someone to blame. What did the americans do after 911? What is happening right now in other states on the issue of islamization of america? Look around you. Read! Don’t single us out. People will be people regardless of race. You sounds like a racist to me.

    I hope you’re not a Filipino or your parents coz if you are, you’re a disgrace to your own race. So don’t even try writing about us coz you’re not one of us.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the comment, Art. As it says in the tab up above, I am American. The purpose of the blog is a cross-cultural discussion where I learn, Filipinos learn if they find something new to think about, and we all grow a little smarter. I am wondering why you are against growing a little smarter and slap so hard at the PEOPLE who offer up the ideas, rather than debate the ideas themselves.

  33. inquirercet says:

    this debacle reminds me of a poem by rudyard kipling, i hope people don’t mind me sharing it:

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, Rudyard Kipling. He knows of honor and bravery, for sure. I particularly liked this stanza:

      If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
      And treat those two impostors just the same;
      If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
      Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
      Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
      And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

  34. madolldoll says:

    I know I’m several days late to this but I’d like to throw my two cents into this as I have not seen any of my arguments raised in this discussion.

    I consider myself a moderate. Aquino is my president even if I did not vote for him. I won’t rave about his achievements but I’m not going to rally for his impeachment either. I still prefer him over any other alternative out there.

    I reacted to his absence at Villamor Airbase not because I have this dramatic notion of war or because I felt like dumping my grief on him. Sure, I feel grief over the death of our fallen heroes but more than grief, I feel gratitude for the sacrifices that these soldiers (whether dead, injured or alive) made for us. I wanted him to be there to show that. I wanted him to give them that importance.

    For the first time in this president’s term, I ranted about this incident because I didn’t think he has been representing the Filipinos well the past month.

    I first raised my eyebrow when he tried to kiss a pope’s ring while he was standing as head of our state. As a Catholic myself, I didn’t mind that he did this after the Luneta mass because he was there as one of the faithful. But when he was welcoming him as a head of state, a handshake would’ve been enough. In those other instances, he has effectively forgotten that he represents ALL Filipinos (non-Catholics, non-Christians, Muslims, atheists, etc. alike). But I did not rant about that.

    I only ranted after seeing that he has ignored the value of neutralizing an international terrorist – something his men has accomplished (or did he forget he is commander-in-chief, too?). Ms. Valte argued that his presence was not necessary as there was a necrological service the following day. But didn’t he welcome a pope on the same venue just a few weeks earlier even when it wasn’t necessary as there was a scheduled welcome ceremony at Malacanang the next day? He even had his cabinet members line up after him (effectively holding up the motorcade schedule for the poor Filipinos waiting on the streets). Why not accord our heroes (one of our own) the same respect?

    I understand that the PhpX billion Japanese investment is nothing to scoff at. But if you look at the bigger picture here, who stands to gain from this? Just the X number of employees this motor company will hire? Who stands to gain from the death of a terrorist? Won’t the Japanese benefit from that, too? If explained in these terms, don’t you think these investors would understand the president’s absence from the inauguration?

    In addition, hearing/reading all the speeches he delivered the whole month made me realize that he may not be greedy but his propensity to turn all his speeches into tiresome story-telling sessions about his childhood reeks of self-obsession (Somebody should advise him to get a better speech writer because he’s only making matters worse every time he opens his mouth!)

    That said, I hope that the president will represent us – his so-called “bosses” – better in the remaining months of his term. After all, his success or failure in doing his job (whether we like it or not/whether he reailizes this or not) will inevitably affect our lives. I’d rather he succeed.

    • Joe America says:

      I really appreciate your view on this madolldoll. I agree anger at the President’s lack of respect granted the fallen troops is justified. You put it in a way that makes sense. They fell for a cause. Not that they botched the raid and therefore the president needs to apologize for botching it and show up and grovel before the caskets so we know he really feels bad. The latter is a kind of motive, the crab motive, that seems very pronounced here, the personalizing of other people’s deeds, and the expectation that others should behave the way we want to make us feel good. In this instance, to get rid of our grief, rather than honor the dead for their sacrifice. So your anger is righteous, to me. Whereas I think a lot of it is needy.

      One small point. I think the Japanese car plant is not just a factory, it is a part of a very important strategy to get Japanese firms to move from China to the Philippines. So the President was not attending to one plant and a couple of hundred jobs. It is a program, very important, to the building of some strength in the Philippine economy and aimed at providing tens of thousands of jobs. It was a showcase plant for that program and I believe he felt he needed to grant honor to the Japanese for their investment. He would grant honor to the troops the next day.

      I think if people could see that plant it its bigger context, the anger would not have been so severe.

      A president has many, many important responsibilities.

      • madolldoll says:

        On your first point, I don’t feel anger so much than frustration that he is not representing us well and at his apparent lack of understanding of his function as “head of state”… I am not one to pass judgment on how sorry or sad he is about the incident. I have no interest in being the boss of his feelings.

        On your second point, I get that the plan is for this just to be the first of many investments. But do note that they’re not exactly giving dole outs here. While we appreciate the risk they are taking, don’t forget that there is a profit motive for these Japanese investors. It is still by and large a private business matter and not of national interest (if not of international importance).

        I understand that the president has many responsibilities but I still maintain that his absence during this event is an act of irresponsibility — one that is indefensible. We’ll probably still disagree on this and I will be fine with that.

        For all the poor judgment that the president has displayed (and being uncovered), I will still respect the democratic process that elected him into office. He is still my president. And for the sake of our country, I hope his presidency is uninterrupted until the end of his term.

        • Joe America says:

          A gracious summary, madolldoll. Indeed, the Japanese are in it for the money. It seem to me that if their profits are 5% of expenses, and Philippine labor is 25% of expenses, the Philippines gets 25% of their flow of cash in the form of jobs the nation desperately needs.

          We see the president differently as how he represents the Philippines as head of state. The Philippine rise in international esteem has been largely because of the stable, law-based, pragmatic approach of the President. He runs the cabinet as a CEO would run his executive committee, by the numbers, pushing always for more achievement. But we need not quibble over that, because he is unlikely to listen to either one of us. 🙂

          Yes, the judgment is clear. He made a mistake in not greeting the caskets.

          Which is best, beat up on him, or move on to other business? Good that you are prepared to move on.

          • madolldoll says:

            I’m not sure about the percentages but yes, there will be an increased exchange of Japanese money for Filipino labor. I just hope that the high-paying jobs in those plants would also go to Filipinos.

            I think I get your point on the possible difference of opinion about my head of state argument. I may have been over-reaching in articulating that point.

            I don’t know if the improved international esteem of our country is a direct result of his approach (because I don’t personally know that his approach is what you say it is). But I am satisfied with the state of our economy and yes, some credit should go to the president for that.
            No quibbling here. =)

            I don’t think the noise over this mistake was meant to “beat up on him” than it was an effort to make up for the seeming act of disregard for the fallen heroes. Some of us just felt the need to let the SAF and the family of our heroes that the president’s action (absence) was not a reflection of how we valued their sacrifices. The criticisms only turned harsh as a reaction to his annoying speeches. Of course, the opposition took advantage of this to advance their own political agenda so it turned into a beating. But this is just my take on it. I could be wrong… I really hope I am right, though, because I don’t like the rumors I am hearing about a coup plot.

            Yes, I am moving on. =)

            • Joe America says:

              Excellent close to the discussion. I would agree that most did not intend to beat up on the president, and were genuinely pained by his mistake. I also think leftists, crooks, political opponents are using that, plus the SAF 44 to undermine the President and nation, for their own gain, as you mention.

              Thanks for the good, earnest discussion.

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  1. […] Way too many Filipinos are looking for culprits; grief is personal. […]

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