The Pope brought love. It lasted two weeks.

aquino alone rappler

A president abandoned by his nation. [Photo by Rappler]

I am ignorant in my ways, of that I am convinced. People here and elsewhere have told me so. I agree, because my emotional and intellectual capacities do not comprehend.

The topic today is grief and compassion.

  • grief, ɡrēf/, noun, deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. Synonyms: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak,agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, despair.

I am also an apologist for President Aquino. I’ve been threatened with that description, as if it made me a villain, but I frankly don’t see the shame of supporting one’s nation, or the president of one’s nation. Even if it is controversial. Just because people are loud doesn’t make them right.

    • a·pol·o·gist, əˈpäləjəst/, noun, a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial. Synonyms: defender, supporter, upholder, advocate, proponent, exponent, propagandist, champion, campaigner.

It does not say jerk, half-wit, idiot, or twit. It says defender. Advocate. Propagandist.

Propagandist. Well, I suppose that’s how someone disagreeing would categorize this particular blog.

So consider yourself warned. I am about to unleash the mighty power of ideas, of propaganda, aimed to make you think. Walk in fear.

I don’t know how it is that the good will of Pope Francis so quickly dissolved into such a chaotic and angry mass of acrimony and blame, of threat and bad will. To me, the ignorant outsider, the nation came unglued, irrational, emotionally unhinged about 44 of 61 deaths from a mission gone bad. President Aquino threw salt into the wound by not attending the delivery of caskets in Manila.

There is grief. There is politics. And like Harry Roque on a mission to destroy the VFA, a dead body is just what he needs. And he’s not afraid to use it to turn grief into a righteous attack dog of little remorse and little real compassion for the grieving. The public’s intense reaction to the killing of 44 policemen among the 61 who died that day was a perfect setting for political use of grief. The usual culprits went to work: media with a bias or willing to leverage pain to increase sales; political opponents, leftists and crooks opposed to President Aquino. They were happy to step on the dead to make their message work, feeding it into the Filipino penchant for deep, deep sorrow and it’s expressive partner, rage.

Anger itself is not grief. It is an outlet for expression of grief, as 9/11 was to America, driving the nation to kill way too many innocents, establish torture chambers and dungeons, and take up spying on friends and neighbors. Anger may help release the pain by dumping it on someone else, but it is not the most constructive of fuels. As Society of Honor contributor Steve said:

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

the screamAnd so the citizens of this fine nation, in a howl not unlike “The Scream”, made decisions about the character and motives of their fine president. They made wild assumptions, gave no quarter, listened to no appeal for compassion, disregarded any good works done by the President, and let him have a full dose of their anger. That Presidential “insensitivity” became Mr. Aquino’s legacy for many.

Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15 through the 19th. His message was mercy and compassion, with the poor being the people on his mind.

      • com·pas·sion, kəmˈpaSHən/, noun, sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude,sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance,kindness, humanity, charity.

The nation displayed precious little compassion for their President because of his failure to attend to the arrival of caskets, and every other flaw they could pick at. I found the hostility downright shocking. The radical left even said he was responsible for the deaths, not the MILF.

The nation displayed great compassion for the loved ones of the 44 dead sons among the 61 dead sons collected that day. That is as it should  be.

The nation displayed precious little compassion for the loved ones of the dead sons of the enemy of who died that day. Filipinos all, except for one murderous Malaysian. As if mothers don’t grieve if their sons are on the wrong list.

Cries for revenge rang loud and violent. Total war. Kill!

Hey, you like fighting to the death? You take point position on patrol, okay? Or put your son or kid brother out there. And you be at the air base in person when the caskets roll off.

Okay, well, time out. Enough.

Stop it. Just stop it!

The President is for the Philippines. He lives and works on our behalf. Not for greed or glory. If he wanted greed, he’d have a lot of flashy cars and be flying off to resorts for dates with tropical bimbos. If he wanted glory, he’d play the political games better, EPAL his way about the nation like Binay, buy off media outlets like Binay, tell us what we WANT to hear instead of what we NEED to hear.

Instead, he is working on getting jobs into the Philippines, using laws rather than guns to defend against China and restless Muslims, investing in infrastructure like it’s never been done before, getting growth unmatched since the 1950’s, building a respectful international platform for a nation that used to be known as a corrupt banana republic. Managing like an executive rather than a movie star.

Y’all can’t find compassion for that kind of person?

You make him carry the grief of a nation, alone?

Y’all can’t see that Muslims in Mindanao are Filipinos, too? Poor ones? Like the Pope was talking about?

You make them cry, alone?

What was the Pope, anyway?

Just another Showtime flash?


112 Responses to “The Pope brought love. It lasted two weeks.”
  1. Found this more nuanced overview a breath of fresh air. What a proper newsman in the vein of a cronkite or murrow would have tried to impress upon it’s audience/reader: .

  2. Christine says:

    I don’t understand why there is no talk about Marwan and Usman and about how dangerous these people were/are. Marwan is not just a bomb maker. He trains bomb makers. His bombs powered the activities of the group Abu Sayaff, one of the region’s busiest when it comes to bombings, kidnappings, and extortion activities. This is the context in which we should operate. Those 44 brave men were sent to Mamansapano to address the threat of terrorism. Not for anything else.

    Now Usman is still out there and we should be busy getting him.
    Yet no one is interested it seems.

    Everyone’s so caught up with the President’s missing the Villamor arrival. People are flooding Twitter and Facebook with comments about this Villamor incident. We’re wasting our time because nothing can be done there anymore. Just consider that the President was at the wake the day after and spent the entire time talking to each of the families affected. He didn’t leave until he’s spoken to each and every one of them. That was genuine care.

    I think we should give the President some support here. His job is not very easy. Besides, if we don’t support him and if he will fail, will we not fail too?

    • Jake says:

      How could you support a commander in chief that is overly INsensitive and hardly takes any accountability? How could you even support a president who, rather than uplifting the moral by not delaying a speech after an incident that is traumatic to a nation, pushes down its moral further by saying and doing callous things?

      His lack of empathy and lack of condemnation for the brutality of the MILF and BIFF is dangerous to the moral of the PNP and AFP. If he at least had taken accountability, empathized with the public, he would be getting the support he needed. What did he do after Al Barqa, what happened to his promise that he will seek out an “all out justice”. Apprarently, his “all out justice” only encompasses sacking commanders and NOT going beyond that by demanding that those who beheaded the marines be turned over to face trial. Something that encourages the MILF to do these over and over again.

      This is not the first time he has been insensitive and “missing”. It took a long time for him to be “found” during the Manila hostage crisis. People from Tacloban were wondering where the hell is he to at least just show some moral support?

      He will fail if he chooses to fail. People, by large, are spectators. People watch what he is doing.

      People should remember that he applied for this job. It is not a “throne” passed to him.

      • Steve says:

        This President is bad at posturing, of that there is no doubt. That is both asset and liability. Many Filipino politicians love posturing and do it incessantly, often preferring it to the actual business of state.

        At the same time, sometimes a President is expected to do a little posturing; it doesn’t accomplish anything but it makes people feel better. At such times this President comes off looking bad, though in objective terms it has little real impact on the outcome of events.

  3. phoebus101 says:

    Filipinos are always emotional Joe. You have to take that into account. We love soap operas. We often are easily swayed with events that evokes their emotions. The only reason Pnoy is president now is the well-timed death of Cory (May she rest in peace.) and I can only pray that Erap lives until before the elections or else . . . (I guess you got my point.)

    The Pope’s message lasted for two weeks. It could have been longer if not for the Mamasapano ‘misencounter.’ No worries, people will not forget thisthis had happened but they will forget what they have felt during this event. Give it two months. I believe Pnoy is a level-headed guy and he can take the criticisms. The time now until May 2016 is enough for people to forget.

  4. RHiro says:

    Joe, Joe the Presidents role as Commander in Chief gives him the power to commit men and women into harm’s way. This power has awesome responsibilities and accountabilities.

    It broke Pres. Johnson. Approving and ordering an armed incursion into a hot zone (full of insurgents and brigands) and doing it off the book (w/o the knowledge of the civilian /military/police chain of command) was daring for the movies. But this type of incursion requires a quick insertion and extraction to fullfill the missions goals, kill or capture two really bad guys taking refuge in these hot zones.

    Close to 400 men were committed to this incursion. Now we know the initial attackers did their thing and were able to extricate themselves. However their blocking force took the brunt of the response of insurgents/brigands alerted to the incursion…

    This is where the preparation and planing of the off the book mission fell apart. For over six hours these men were surrounded and engaged. They called for help but the mission being an off the book mission caught the military by surprise. We do not know what happened to the other members of the SAF in the area. No relief came.

    The commander in chief has a lot of explaining to do…Properly planned, additional assets could have been brought in when these men found themselves in difficulty.

    The State has a right to defend itself and take all measures to do so…The peace process need not be a hindrance.

    The Presidents hand off policy when it comes to managing this type of operation wherein he commits men into harm’s way is made more glaring when it is done off the book.

    It is a very expensive lesson for a seemingly disinterested President in managing the affairs of State.

    “Leave No Man Behind”

    • Jake says:


      In addition, it seems that the chain of command was so abnormal — that even the current PNP chief (in which the SAF is under) was clueless about this operation. It would be a different case if the C-i-C was also clueless, but the thing is, he knew of it.

      And now he is playing “scold the generals/ chiefs” when he obscures the fact that even the DILG was kept out of the loop.

      I’m afraid that the “investigation” we’re gonna see here would be a “puppet show” as the one who should be answering our questions is dodging the question and trying to put the blame to someone else.

      The only hope to know the truth here is the independent body of the IMT..which is even quite unusual since they usually just investigate human rights violations against government troops.

      I guess, the idiocy of the MILF-BIFF is a blessing in disguise. It may be disrespectful to the slained but the evidence was put up in the internet by the perpetrators. I guess this is why the IMT is conducting its own investigation

    • Steve says:

      I personally do not think direct Presidential control of a military operation is a good idea, unless the President has the appropriate military training and experience. You might ask a President to inaugurate a bridge, but unless he’s an engineer, you wouldn’t ask him to build one.

      In this case, the President was guilty of trusting people who failed to deliver in their supposed area of expertise. I still can’t figure out why the army and air force were excluded from the planning. Security concerns, sure, but don’t they trust any of them?

    • Micha says:


      The SAF is a police agency. It was a police operation that the SAF commander admitted was uncoordinated with other agencies of the military because he wanted to preserve the element of surprise. Was he under the delusion that he could replicate the SEAL mission in neutralizing OBL? Did he had enough credible intelligence on that Malaysian guy?

      Technically, the President, as commander in chief, has got nothing to do with this operation. It was the SAF commander who committed his men – a routine police mission, if you will – and suffered substantial casualties as a result.

      • R. Hiro says:

        You are absolutely right off course. It was a routine police operation to kill or capture two very dangerous international bad men.

        Apparently these two guys had discovered this wonderful tourist hot spot to do a little R & R instead of the areas under ISIS control in Syria and Iraq. This wonderful unknown tourist hot spot in Mindanao is a well kept military secret. The Philippine military being in charge of the internal security in Mindanao and most especially in this new unknown tourist hot spot. It is so unknown that the attacking policeman lost their way and did not have the grid coordinates of where they where.

        Hence these poor devils were set upon and surrounded by hostiles in the same area as the tourist hot spot. The hostiles I am sure had set up to ambush any responding relief columns as they kept these poor devils surrounded for over 6 hours.

        I strongly suggest that you inform your friends to get their Brazilian done and pack as many thong bikinis as they can and yourself included contact the Tourism Board of the MILF command for directions to this brand new tourist hot spot. They say it is more fun in Moroland…

    • Bert says:

      I think that SAF has accurate intelligence on Marwan’s exact location. The platoon tasked to extricate (or neutralize) him got to his hut at around 3:30 am while the Malaysian was still asleep. True to his reputation, he was alerted in his sleep. If they had only been able to neutralized him quick enough, they could have left the place without much incidents, with Marwan in tow.

      As in any other operations, certainly there’s bound to be miscalculation as unforeseen events cannot be controlled.

      This is not to put any blame, but the SAF commander was overconfident, and miscalculated. The reason why he was TEMPORARILY relieved.

      Is the President looking for someone to blame, a scapegoat if you will, in this incident?

      I don’t think so.

      • Joe America says:

        I’m just letting comments roll today without commenting myself, but yours raises an interesting point. Why does the Philippines celebrate the dead as heroes and then go on the hunt among the living for failures? It was an operational mission, done on the thread of risk assessment that is very thin. I think heroes are those among the dead and living who are willing to do the life and death work needed to accomplish the mission. Including the Commander in Chief, if he is willing to give a mission the “go”.

        The Bin Laden raid had two troop carrier helicopters. One crashed outside the compound. They ad-libbed and completed the mission as best they could. They had a limited time period to strip the house of all computers and useful stuff, including Bin Laden’s body. They blew up the bad helicopter, crammed into the remaining carrier, and headed out. The overloaded helicopter ran out of gas in Pakistan and had to be refueled there, another dicey mission. They got out. A thin thread between success and failure.

        And here, people want to find failures among the people . . . the living . . . who took the same risk as the dead.

        I don’t get it. The field commander made a decision not to trust the AFP because of incidents of surprise ambushes. Rats in the ranks. The people among the living who should be hunted down are those rats, and generals who peddle guns to the enemy for money.

        • Sal says:

          In US military slang it was a SNAFU.

          • Steve says:

            Useful to remember what SNAFU stands for: Situation Normal, All F#cked Up. It is normal and expected for things to go wrong. That’s why you have to cover your ass and have backup plans in place.

      • Micha says:


        “…the SAF commander was overconfident, and miscalculated. The reason why he was TEMPORARILY relieved.”

        Correct. And that’s it. It was the SAF commander’s call. Alone. We should stop blaming the President for any of this, even his so-called non appearance at Villamor.

        That’s just stupid emotional political bullsh*t that the hysterical media want to play out.

        • Steve says:

          Not just the media. If you were a VP who desperately wanted to be President but was seeing his chances of winning an election fade by the day, wouldn’t you have an incentive to pin everything on the President, and to call for a resignation or coup?

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Marwan is FBI most wanted terrorist. The U.S. offered $6,000,000.00 USD for capture or death of Marwan also known as Zulkifi Abdhir.

    Why is the Obama not celebrating and congratulating Benigno Aquino in the “death” of Marwan? Why are American news outlet mum of the “mis-encounter”? When Trillanes took cover in Peninsula Hotel no news wire took the bait from the Philippine Press that it was a coup-de-t’at? Realizing they were ignored by international media outlet they downgrade the coup as misunderstanding over bar bills to this day Trillanes have not paid. Peninsula Hotel did not push the issue. Why?

    • Steve says:

      The death of Marwan is not yet confirmed, and nobody wants to celebrate before it is. He has resurrected before.

  6. edgar lores says:

    1. A good take away from the papal visit is the insight that “Reality is superior to ideas.”

    2. PDI columnist Jose Ma. Montelibano, in his latest column of the same title as the insight, interprets it as “how thoughts and feelings have to be translated to deeds.”

    3. I have disagreed with the columnist in my printed comment to his column. I believe the insight should be interpreted as a caution not to think too much, not to overthink, that ideas, misconceptions, can get in the way of “what is”, and “what can be” according to our hearts’ desires.

    4. If we apply Francis’ insight to the current situation, it is clear that we have many ideas about what happened in the towns of Mamasapano and Tukanalipao.

    4.1. One of the many ideas is the view that Muslims are different from Christians, and that the differences between the two are irreconcilable.

    4.2. Many commentators in social media, and I have no doubt many are Catholic, have vented their anger and grief against Mindanao Muslims and some have raised Erap’s idea of an all-out war.

    4.3. Fortunately, some – like PDI columnist Artemio V. Panganiban in today’s column of “How much do we love peace?” — have renewed the commitment and adherence to the path of peace.

    5. Another prevalent idea is that while Christians attempt to bridge the gulf between the two Abrahamic faiths — like Francis in his attempts to foster pluralism– Muslims are thought to be totally against any idea of interreligious harmony.

    5.1. As proof, naysayers point to the endless Middle East conflict, the Islamic rejection of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Islamic dream to establish a worldwide caliphate, the prohibition to exercise other religions in Islamic theocracies, and the absolute insistence on implementing Sharia law in predominantly Islamic nations, territories and wherever a sufficient number of Muslims dwell.

    6. Let me raise one exception, a reality, to the idea that interfaith harmony is impossible. This reality is of an interfaith marriage, a most unnatural thing, a most impossible thing.

    6.1. This impossible romantic reality is described in an essay by Mrs. Rebekah Alawi entitled “The Road to Aras-asan”. Mrs. Alawi is a professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies at the Mindanao State University. The essay is one of many in the anthology “Peace Mindanao”, edited by Jaime An Lim and printed by the UST Publishing House in 2013.

    6.2. In this essay, a personal memoir, Mrs. Alawi recounts her family’s trip to Aras-asan barangay in Surigao del Sur to observe the tradition of “pamanhikan”. As you know, in the Philippines the prospective groom does not ask for the daughter’s hand from the father. No, the family of the suitor must do the job. In this case, the twist is that the suitor is Muslim and the girlfriend Catholic.

    6.3. Mrs. Alawi details her personal pilgrimage and the hardships of going against cultural conditioning, of her doubts and misgivings, of the struggle in convincing herself that she is doing the right thing, of the strength needed to stand by her son, and of the courage of having to persuade her husband and friends that love conquers all. She asks, is this interfaith marriage a bridge too far?

    7. I know this is just one exception. But an exception points to a possibility… and a possibility to a possible reality.

    7.1. The reality is that there is a gulf. The reality is that there is a bridge. The reality is that love sometimes does not see bridges or, rather, sees across bridges. And the reality is that, contrary to preconceived ideas, the bridge, if seen, can be crossed. And crossed from this side… or that side.


    Disclosure: I am an incurable romantic.


    • Bert says:

      Alas, as too often happened, the bridge is not strong enough. And if crossed with the burden of ingrained religious intolerance is much more fragile, if not impossible. Woe to the incurable romantics of the world. So sad…because I too am one of them.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I commented a while back in Joe’s first article about Pope Francis that after his visit something bad is going to happen …. AND IT DID ….

  7. mercedes santos says:

    That’s a very confederate Y’all ☺

  8. Jose Guevarra says:

    Aquino’s recent failure to attend the arrival honors of the SAF 44 reeks of the same insensitivity he has time and time again displayed when it comes to the emotions of his people. True, we should not let our emotions dictate our actions, but sometimes, it does us some good to attend to our sensitivities. When his father, Ninoy, was killed at the tarmac, THE WHOLE COUNTRY CONDOLED WITH HIS FAMILY! Not even the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, could stop the people from attending Ninoy’s funeral. Noynoy’s election to the presidency is, arguably, the people’s way of thanking Corazon when the latter died just the year before.

    Obama has cancelled entire schedules on days he has had to pay final respects to fallen American troops. Why couldn’t have Aquino done the same for the SAF 44?

    To be fair to Aquino, he has shown some level of compassion to the bereaved families of our cops when he spent more than half a day talking with them after the necrological services at Camp Bagong Diwa. He has promised them justice. He has offered them all kinds of support the government can legally provide those who were left behind by the SAF 44. And for all these, I give him credit. But it was all a day too late.

    On the issue of peace in Mindanao, one has to wonder about the MILF’s sincerity. Why were they coddling international terrorists even in the middle of getting a peace agreement worked out? How do we know that the so-called breakaway group is truly such, or just another means for the MILF to have their cake and eat it too?

    I apologize to my fellow Filipinos, particularly our brothers in Mindanao. But I, for one, am strongly against any kind of peace negotiation with the MILF until justice is served to the families of the fallen. The current president said during his inauguration, “There can be no reconciliation without justice!” Let those words ring true. NOW!

    • Steve says:

      A bit of detailed study on the history of the MILF and the evolution and past steps and missteps of the peace process would answer many of those questions.

    • pussyfooter says:

      Insensitivity per se is irrelevant to good governance. So is reciprocation of past emotional expression (which was, presumably, voluntary–or was it really driven by ulterior motives? We mourn your dead now, you mourn our dead later?). I’m not at all saying that PNoy is the greatest President in the universe ever. I’m saying only that your comment exemplifies the distinctly nondemocratic–not to say unmodern–perspective of many Filipinos on a distinctly modern, democratic institution: a republic’s presidency. This of course just corroborates JoeAm’s point that a lot of Pinoys seem to be rather overdoing this grief thing and in all the wrong, if not post-Papally ironic, ways.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        No, being sensitive to the emotions of one’s people does not make a good president. But Aquino’s lack of sensitivity greatly characterizes HIS presidency. Saying he does not attend the wake of murdered people he does not know? Crassly pointing out to supertyphoon survivors that they were not killed when asked how they are supposed to live now? Attending the inauguration of a car manufacturing plant instead of honoring those who have died for the country? You see a pattern here?

        • Joe America says:

          I’m not sure, Jose, but I’m thinking the pattern is that you look little picture in stead of big. His not attending Laude’s wake kept the Office of the President out of a court matter made political by the escapades of Harry Roque; it is viewed as a stately decision by many, but not those close to Laude, a loud and boisterous bunch. I’d have to see the exact context and words to know if his remarks were as you portray them on Yolanda. I’d guess they have interpretations other than what you say. If you can link me to the specific remarks, I’ll examine them. He did not just attend a “plant opening”. He took an important step in advocating for further Japanese investments in the Philippines, and the jobs they will provide, by granting the Japanese the honor of his attendance. That honor is a big deal for them. But, more than anything, it seems that you do not grant the President the right to have a personality other than your ideal, in every circumstance, or to take decisions different than your own. He’s bound to fail you with that standard.

          • Jose Guevarra says:

            It isn’t so much what he says but how he says what he says. This is what I personally have issues with, as far as Aquino’s insensitivity is concerned.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, I agree he expresses himself awkwardly at times. Maybe we should just suggest he hire a speech writer who can schmooze us in the style we would like to see. Binay is training a bunch up.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Insensitivity is irrelevant to good governance, as you say.

        But good governance in the presidents case is a tenuous argument at best. We’ve seen in the last 4 years a tendency to coddle both the corrupt and the incompetent among his inner circle.

        The quirino grandstand incident, the deportation of Taiwanese citizens to China, the killing of the fisherman, the Kiram sabah crisis, typhoon Yolanda, the MRT fiasco, sec abaya, sec alcala, sec ona are all cases of mishandling.

        His judgment is suspect. You can throw out everything else that you don’t like about the president – his inexperience, his arrogance, his hair and even his lack of empathy, But one thing you shouldn’t ignore is his poor judgment, precisely because he is president.

        I did not vote for him. But let’s talk about support for our president anyway. Some zealots call for a coup, others for impeachment. I say what for?

        Let him serve out his term and let us all face the consequences of having voted him into office – the same way we should’ve let things be during Eraps ouster.

        Sorry but I don’t have to support any president to be filipino. I just have to support democracy in our country, along with all its failings.

        • bendiskurso says:

          But even you all have to admit that this president likes to pass blame around. So if joe is wondering why people are so angry with him, joe wouldn’t need to look too far for answers.

  9. Micha says:

    “The Pope Brought Love, It Lasted Two Weeks”

    Hahahaha…that says it all about the kind of love that the Pope brings – as fleeting as Imelda Papin’s ditty.

  10. Sal says:

    We really need to not get sucked in to the form over substance. I get it — the President will not win an award for Mr. Congeniality. I also do not expect the conductor of the philharmonic to stop conducting in order to look into why the string of a violin broke. Give me a break! The President’s job is much bigger than what he is being nit-picked about here. We need to take a few steps back and see the forest for the trees.

    • Bert says:

      Why, Sal, the President went to the inauguration of a Japanese manufacturing plant instead of meeting the caskets, and by trusting his trusted men, he miscalculated. And the most abhorring thing he did was to be late for three minutes during the necrological service for the fallen. Certainly those are not nitpicking. This president is gross.

      • Sal says:

        Bert, here’s the definition(s) of nit-picking — To be concerned with or find fault with insignificant details / To criticize or find fault with (someone or something) in a petty way / Minute and usually unjustified criticism.

        Out of curiosity, have you never been late for anything in your life? Have you never been delayed for an appointment because of traffic? Have you never had to choose between attending two or more functions? Have all the people you have trusted never proven to be untrustworthy?

        • Bert says:

          :), Sal, I’m sure your friend Joe will have a different answer to my comment because, as you know, Joe can be quite serious in times of seriousness and can be also as hilarious as Edgar at times of hilarity. My bad.

        • Jose Guevarra says:

          And would you choose to attend the inauguration of a foreign car manufacturing plant instead of honoring those who have died for your country?

          • Sal says:

            Yes, not knowing all the givens, I most probably would have stuck to honoring my prior commitments given other opportunities the next few days to pay respect to those who died vs pre-scheduled events. I honestly do not see why meeting coffins at the airport constitutes an emergency on the President’s part? It has nothing to do with snobbery or lack of importance… it has to do with keeping many balls up in the air.

            I am not privy to his calendar but I would bet it is packed with back-to-back appointments many of which cannot be easily rescheduled and resynched with other people’s calendars and events with non-movable dates. That he showed up and stayed for hours the following day tells me they had to reshuffle his calendar (and many, many others) and had to drop or push to a later date some pretty important stuff… I can only guess the resulting far-reaching rippling effects it had. As in any decision we make, it invariably limits future choices.

            As I suggested in an earlier post, we need to take a step back and see the forest for the trees… that is look at the bigger picture on the radar screen and not be so stuck-up on a blip. It’s all about perspective.

            • Jose Guevarra says:

              You need to know all the givens to be sure that the dead cops deserved to be honored? The car manufacturing plant inauguration can easily be rescheduled. The corpses of the dead troops can only arrive ONCE.

              • Sal says:

                Jose, were the dead cops not honored in their wake? Why do you think honor can only be accorded at the airport? You seem to have more info than I have to assume the plant inauguration could easily be rescheduled… care to share that with us so I can better understand where you are coming from?

      • Micha says:

        Why be too emotional on this Bert? Sure, those brave fallen men deserved to be honored. The President will have plenty of opportunities to do just that. He could give them posthumous medals or etch their names in rolls of heroes or craft policies for long time permanent peace in Mindanao.

        But, he missed meeting the dead bodies at the airport because he’s busy attending to the affairs of the living. Callous? Maybe. But not really something to be splitting our hairs about.

        • Bert says:

          Micha, I’m not the emotional type when it comes to political discussions though I admit, like Edgar, I am also an incurable romantic, :).

          It’s just that that response to Sal’s comment was an attempt, no, an experiment, on my part to do a piece of what you educated and articulate people called ‘satire?’.

          With yours and Sal’s responses I think that my experiment has failed.

          By the way, I am a supporter of President Noynoy. Like Joe, I’m glad we are on the same page on this.

          • Joe America says:

            The failure, Bert, is that they don’t know you as I do, and (the ridiculous stuff) you wrote is very common in discussion threads. Unfortunately, you sounded too real. Satire can’t work if it is too real. But keep trying ahahahahaha. Jonathan Swift probably bombed on his first effort, too.

            • Bert says:

              Thank you, Joe. Lesson well learned.

            • Bert says:

              Maybe, Joe, if I had added a few sentences at the end instead of the “This president is gross.”, sentence like: “This president must be hung, to pave the way for a Binay presidency that will save the country from the kleptocrats.”

              Maybe that will equate me with that famous Irish satirist, do you think?

              • Joe America says:

                Hahahaha, that would have done the trick, for sure. Subtlety is not always an advantage for slick satirists. Keep up the good work. Satire rather works like a scalpel. Or switch blade. Or those three foot knives everyone here carries, what ever you call them. 🙂

              • Sal says:

                Hahaha you got me there Bert! You had all the right elements of a satire but it was I who did not get it… duh. I should have gotten it with your “three minutes”… maybe “three minutes and 45 seconds” might have tricked the neurotransmitters in my brain. In hindsight I think it was more because of the placement… it was part of several posts along the same lines starting with Jake’s and yours tipped me over the top. I’ll definitely watch out for you the next time. 😉

  11. pussyfooter says:

    I applaud your courage in “coming out” as an “apologist” (in those terms too). I trust that fear of the white man will keep you safe from a lynching at least. 😉

    As you yourself no doubt have realized, Filipinos can gloss over, overlook, excuse, forget, and maybe even forgive just about any misdemeanor or downright act of evil: Thou shalt steal. Thou shalt kill. Thou shalt kill by stealing (hello Napoleses and conniving officials who made money off substandard army equipment). Thou shalt covet your neighbor’s wives, pets, cars, and other forms of property. But heaven forfend that thou should seem in the slightest way insensitive *gasp!!* of Filipino sentiment, or otherwise fail to go the way the wind blows. This is why Erap ran a strong No. 2 in 2010, why Panday was the top Senator in 2013, and why all those other politicians keep coming back round after round. (Aside from outright election fraud and violence of course.)

    As long as you make yourself “one of them”, Filipinos will love and be loyal to you to the bitter end and beyond. In fact, the more culturally appropriate vices and features you demonstrate–womanizing, boozing, cheating, mangling English, being cruelly funny, being obnoxious, being imperviously obtuse, being drolly self-deprecating, but at all costs NOT insensitive or unempathetic–the more you endear yourself to us. Just another way we show that we have not, in fact–contrary to what our umpteen Constitutions and our giant shopping malls might suggest–evolved very far out of feudalism and parochialism toward the modern concepts of meritocracy and equality.

    • Pallacertus says:

      The way I see it, upon actually reaching the presidency (at least in this country — I don’t know about other countries with presidents as heads of state), a person forfeits his right to not think of anything but his duties and obligations to the state.

      I stated it before on the previous article (or maybe the one before that, though upon further reflection I no longer stand so resolutely by it, for reasons I’ll try my best to illustrate below): the President has to be all things to all people. But given that not all presidents are made of the same fiber, and since a number of those duties and obligations are window dressing to make public policy as palatable as possible — if not window-dressing-in-lieu-of-actual-policy — I wonder if in our emphasis of the president-as-symbol (father of the nation, commander-in-chief, whatever epithet you’ve heard or read after his no-show at Villamor), we’re repressing the president-as-man, as a personality complex enough to be elected to the presidency by a majority of the people in the first place. Hence this backlash when the man behind the symbol inevitably comes out — in Noynoy’s case, in highly awkward, emotionally-charged moments all the polish of his speech can scarcely conceal.

      I’m not sure if I’m making myself clear here. Punch holes at this view if you will — convoluted speculation has its downsides.

    • Joe America says:

      It is honorable people applauding that has me continuing to insist upon doing culturally stupid stuff. 🙂 Thanks for the fine picture of the environment into which I occasionally wade.

      • sonny says:

        Joe speaking of environment & culturally stupid stuff, of the multitude of beaches in the islands two standout in my mind – Boracay’s almost powdery sand and the beach in lowly Luna, La Union. Both are monetary successes but for different reasons. Boracay – tourism (because of the beautiful fine-sand beach, Luna on the other hand, is a beach of pebbles of all sizes and shapes. To the cognoscenti, they are the Luna Stones that decorate lawns and gardens that have gone as far as Italy and other countries. For many years the pebbles have given income to itinerant pebble sorters (by hand). Nature has gifted (maybe not) these two beaches with the wave action of the South China Sea working and pounding on the reefs of Boracay and the delta-deposited stones of Luna beach, one yields the fine sand, the other yields the polished stones (stone rubbing against stone). To me, this is a wonderment and a metaphor for the Filipino temperament: nature the impeller and the reef and the stones making beautiful products. You can imagine the diversity of beauty in the other beaches of the islands.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, the distant poet polishes his metaphors and paints his word pictures and taps the beauty of both the people and the land. I can tell that you are both there and here, and that is most amazing.

        • sonny says:

          The back and forths of the evils happening in our affairs of state are many times painful to bear. I listen to the many insights of the commenters in the Society and just bow my head in disappointment. It is no accident that we have two anthems to the country, one triumphal (Land of the Morning) and the other, victim in shackles in imagery (Bayan Ko). Both ring true, I feel.

          • Joe America says:

            It depends on how you define shackles, it seems to me. If you mean bound by preconception and emotion and inability to listen or hear, then I’d agree. Or if you mean the shackles of poverty, I’d agree. But most people are bound by a need to develop stories that their brain accepts as true regardless of any information available to them. Ignorance, I guess. Self imposed.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      We Americans admit when we are wrong. Filipinos do not. They stick to their looney loosey story. No matter what.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      The Philippines is very feudal in many ways, that is true. Especially in the preference for strong leaders, even if they may be corrupt and ruthless as long as they give their followers a piece of the action – both financially and in terms of respect. And by respect I mean gangsta-style respect. There is an urbanized, Westernized elite but their way of doing things is not really understood by the people. Only two presidents in the past managed to be strong and respected AND modern at the same time – Magsaysay and Ramos. Cory was respected in a religious way, another aspect of the feudal mentality, not much to do with the Western understanding of religion, more a feudal, Dalai-Lama type of admiration that also went to Pope Francis.

      The Spanish were in the Philippines long enough to influence the Christian Filipinos – and for them to adapt the Spanish and Mexican influence to their own way of doing things. The Americans were not there long enough for their influence to really grow roots. Globalization may be changing that slowly with even normal Filipinos assimilating the results-oriented, capitalistic global culture that is at its core American and Protestant.

      Their are enough examples though of feudal cultures that work and progress: Japan and Malaysia are examples. This is because these cultures managed to learn from others. The Filipino problem is unique: it is because of colonialism that very early confronted an under-developed, tribal culture. The effect being that Filipinos try very hard to LOOK modern on the surface without actually learning what modernity is really about. A people with an inferiority complex trying very hard either to please the perceived masters, or to oppose them with injured narcissism. The first moment all smiling hey Joe listen I speak English very well, the next moment hey Joe I hate all Kanos like you, send your Marines home they rape all our baklas.

      This makes it easy for those who want to manipulate the people with their immature attitude: for example Erap who actually came from a rich family acting like a street tough, hey here’s a MESTIZO who could act “superior” but doesn’t, he acts like one of us. Not “talking white” but “one of us niggers” so to speak. Joe, this is why Rene Cayetano for all his possible competence will never be President: too white-skinned AND too well-mannered to be liked by the masses. Aquino may actually mean well, he had a lot of credit because of the semi-religious devotion his family once commanded, but in the end his elitist touch has caught up with him. Telling people at the wake how he heard in BOSTON that his father died – people from poor families, because it is rare that rich families send their children to be police in the Philippines – was definitely the wrong thing to say. Come on talking about Boston would probably even be irritating if a guy from New England with the corresponding accent were talking to people in the Deep South.

      Probably the best way for the Philippines to progress would be: stop trying to be “modern”. Accept the way things are for now and develop things from there. What is developed starting from that base will have a more solid foundation than “modernity” that comes from desperately trying to copy stuff from abroad people are not ready for because they have not understood it. The other countries in Asia did not modernize overnight, but their modernity is a lot more solid.

      • Joe America says:

        I appreciate that skin tone here and heritage mean a lot. Your last paragraph though . . . I don’t think there is a choice to control the pace of modernization. It is here already, in cool high rise units and cell phones galore, free facebook minutes. Filipinos are consumers. They excel at it and there is no going back. Roads are being widened. Expressways are growing. Cars are new and there are a whole lot of them, even in the boondocks like Biliran island. And it seems to me that Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan went modern very fast, in terms of technology and infrastructure. Filipinos manufacture parts of the hardware for other nation’s companies but not for their own citizens. I think it is more a function of how one establishes a core -self contained – manufacturing base to get away from agriculture as the heart of the Nation’s industrial production.

        It has its own momentum – demand from consumers or drive for profits from businesses – and can only be modestly slowed or accelerated by poor or good government leadership.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          You are right, economic momentum nowadays is much stronger than any state can handle. Even powerful countries like the US or strong confederations like the European Union have noticed this. To channel things better, it might be useful though to have more subsidiarity in the Philippines. Manila centralism chokes a lot of things. Might also be useful to recognize that the Philippines is in terms of its society not a nation but multiple ethnic groups under one roof, and adapt the government to that reality. Ok there is a risk of everything going apart, but a federal system might be a better way to represent regional interests and still keep working together in a more pragmatic way than today.

          • Joe America says:

            You’ve been reading the BBL, eh. That word “subsidiarity” is in the Preamble. It’s the first time I’ve ever read it, and you give the second. 🙂 Federalism needs a good study, for sure. There need to be anti-dynasty provisions, though. Strong anti-corruption provisions and penalties.

  12. Gee Ibanez says:

    Thanks a lot Joe! Your words strayed a bullet straight into my heart. I share your perspective. The President is not alone in this. He is a decent human being & he’s doing his best but sad to say he’s always under appreciated by a nation with short memory. Rest assured, there are many of us carrying the nation’s grief with him. He is not alone.

  13. Karl garcia says:

    Decisions made while angry is really wrong as i am still learning myself. My initial reaction to non attendance was wth wtf. Until i decide to wait for further details. I hope this issue would not just be a forgotten issue once a new story shows up.maybe not that we let it consume us but not one like the two week glory of popes visit then no more after that.

  14. anibongpalm says:

    Reblogged this on Development templates for Guinarona and commented:
    Joe America is just a Philippine transplant, yet he is more patriotic, more insightful and more knowledgeable on issues than most Filipinos.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you for the kind words and re-blog, anibongpalm. I’m actually still a student and I very much appreciate all the real Filipinos who have patience with my lack of understanding and occasionally dogmatic opinions. I don’t actually think I am more patriotic than most, and still lack a lot of knowledge, but I can spin a word or two now and then to connect them in a way people seem to relate to. So that helps.

      • hopefulcitizen says:

        True, we always hear stories about Filipinos in USA who are more patriotic than Americans, at least we have someone we can say in the person of Joe, an American who is more nationalistic than many Filipinos who find nothing good about this beautiful country. Thank you Joe for your insights which are fair, practical and truthful.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Hard enough to be citizens of a country whose government is run by people with a bloated sense of entitlement. Much more so to be patriotic.

        We all have a long way to go before we even begin to scratch the surface of understanding what patriotism really means.

        And I have a feeling that to do that would mean we would have to truly imbibe the concept of citizenship first.

  15. bendiskurso says:

    I will grant that Pnoy is the most honest president we’ve ever had IF his apologists could also concede that he also has the worst set of people skills of all our presidents.

    Once we are past these 2 important details, we can move on to actual will probably take us 6years to sort those all out.

  16. bendiskurso says:

    I imagine you would not be a fan of Alex magno. But I am having a bit of modest discussion on a related subject in today’s philippine star, on his column. Your views would add quality and depth for sure.

    Sometimes we need that to keep the trolls out.

    • Joe America says:

      I’ll pop over for a look, but if the trolls are out in force, I usually don’t waste time on a discussion thread.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Some engaging discussions there. But inevitably the trolls come. Your forum is a breath of fresh air. If only you weren’t for Pnoy, it’d be absolutely perfect. Hehehe

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahahaha, well, I’m considering switching to Binay because with the ruckus now, he is likely to become President, and I want to look good . . . you know, kind of like half the House will do . . .

          • bendiskurso says:

            Hahaha you know what they say about counting chickens?

            Well binay has a very strong grassroots support base, so his chances are very good.

            Over dinner one time at my in laws’ house I had suggested that the way to stop binay from ever becoming president was not the way the 3 blue ribbon stooges we’re going about it. I suggested that the way to stop binay was to amend election laws to allow only taxpayers , of at least one of the last three years , to vote. That way you take away his voter base.

            I got a shocked response and a rebuke of sorts for suggesting an oppressive measure. Hehehe

            • bendiskurso says:

              I am not really a hit the person kind of guy. I am one who believes that to bring down the culture of corruption, you don’t attack personalities. You attack the structure that props it up.

              In some countries that might actually constitute sedition, but I’m too pro business to be a communist.

              • bendiskurso says:

                And maybe that’s why I do not like Pnoy that much. I just feel that he squandered his political capital on corona and gma. I felt that he should’ve attacked the structures that perpetuate corruption before his capital ran out.

                Cause over symptom, you know? But that’s me.

              • Joe America says:

                In retrospect, I can see that point, but Judiciary was (is) one of the structural problems. What would you consider a structural solution? I’d see it as passing FOI, anti-trust, anti-dynasty, and regulating media. The tabloid media is a real problem here, devoid of much meaningful information, attacking the good and bad indiscriminately, undermining even good works. What would you go after?

            • Joe America says:

              Quite ingenious . . . wouldn’t get much grass roots support though . . . but keep up the good work aggravating those relatives. haha

              • bendiskurso says:

                I should thank you for commending me on my good work. But truth be told I don’t really even have to try. Hahaha

              • bendiskurso says:

                FOI is a good place to start. Tax reform is another. I mean it’s one thing to step up tax collection, it’s another to simplify the whole tax system. Corrupt people aren’t going to change by threatening them with imprisonment. Justice here is flimsy. I believe the simpler the tax laws the easier to follow and the less likely it is to be arbitrarily enforced. Consumption tax over income taxes. The list is long. But so many areas in which to start.

              • Joe America says:

                You should do our friendly Society a guest blog about taxes. That would be interesting, for sure.

  17. bendiskurso says:

    Oh and I’d pare down congress to a unicameral one. The senate is a more trouble than it’s really worth.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Not sure how to deal with the media. But media rabble rousing does have its uses from time to time. Just have to be able to sift through the garbage.

      It’s not a given skill though. It takes a lot of reading and thinking after reading. Sad that not many people actually do it anymore. Most would rather spend their time with selfies.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, I think the House is laden with boxers, shoe collectors and crooks and ought to be pared by about 300. Use the saved salaries to pay the three Furies more.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Hmmm a blog on taxes. Sounds like pure pleasure. It’d be almost like a break from work. Hahaha

      • bendiskurso says:

        The House is another animal altogether. But in theory, it is easier to make congressmen accountable than it is to make senators accountable.

        It assumes of course that one constituencies could be well defined. Two voters could be more judicious of their choices. Three we actually make good on our oft expressed proposals to shift from a presidential system to a unicameral parliamentary one. Not perfect but perhaps better suited to filipino attitudes towards government.

        All three point to charter change, and that’s been talked to death since the Ramos years. If I had to go back to change things it would be to 1986.

        Maybe just maybe, the drafters of the 1987 constitution would’ve benefited from an exposure trip or two to a few of our parliamentary neighbors. I just feel that the character of the 1987 constitution was all in reaction to martial law and the Marcos years, and that it talked more about what should not be, instead of a more positive tone of what could be in spite of martial law.

        An example would be the single 6 year term of a president. Too short for a great one and too long for a bad one. Continuity of programs always an issue. The way around it would be something similar to Taiwan’s seven year plans.

        Hindsight is always clearer.

        • Joe America says:

          “In theory, it is easier to make congressmen accountable . . .” In practice, that is hard to do, I think. It is easier to make mayors and governors accountable, and steps are being taken along that line. Baby steps, but in the right direction (e.g., Competitive Council index of performance; also tightening up on rules for financial management). One of the structural deficiencies is that way too many local residents don’t see the difference between electing a boxer and a skilled lawmaker. So they elect lousy House members. I don’t know how a parliamentary government changes that deficiency any.

          • bendiskurso says:

            I agree about your assessment re making congressmen accountable. Easier I would qualify is a relative term. Easier than senators may also mean harder than governors/mayors. So in the context of electing local officials to represent their areas in the national law-making process, virtually giving congressmen/women the license to gallivant while in Manila away from the prying eyes of their constituents, your point is well taken.

            On baby steps, I just have to wonder if both senators and congressmen will simultaneously agree to make themselves obsolete.

            The way I see it, it is addition by subtraction. You take senators out of the picture, concentrating legislative power in the hands of congressmen, but at the same time taking away the excuse that normally goes “hey we passed this bill in the lower house, now it’s up to the upper house to see it through”.

            The addition by addition part is where we strengthen the capability of voters to initiate an electoral recall, where any constituency can recall an erring representative and replace him/her with one who is more likely to perform.

            • bendiskurso says:

              We could flirt with federalism and even eventually adopt it. But there has to be a remaining link between national and local at the legislative level, for the concept of an archipelago-nation to stay relevant.

              We’ve elected baboons for the most part because the pork barrel is so lucrative and accountability is hard to exact. But a strong electoral recall option exercise-able by a relatively smaller group of voters over their erring congressman should at least improve Congress.

              I know that some Cebuanos, for instance, are itching to extricate themselves from Manila’s grasp. At least that is what some old jokes would have us think. But having lived among them years ago, I know they are a very hardy and resourceful people, and it is not hard for Manila to outlive its usefulness to Cebu.

              Having Congress enables all cities and provinces to remain to be stakeholders on the national scene, so it should balance things out.

              Besides, a parliamentary unicameral system means we eventually have a say on who becomes Prime Minister. I put very little faith in presidents, and history seems to support this

              • Joe America says:

                If I were to federalize the Philippines, I would have only three sub-states, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. An urban anchor in both, well-developed and modern with forward-looking infrastructure. Start with land use designations and build. Here on Biliran, we look to Cebu as much as to Manila for things like quality health care and malls (the former for me, the latter for the wife).

            • Joe America says:

              Wow, two really excellent ideas. Forget taxes, forget women. Expand on “the mathematics of effective governance”. I’ve already written the blog title for you.

  18. Charles Ng says:

    Lots of rare common sense in your articles. As a follower of Fox News vis-a-vis Colbert Robert guest interviews, it’s only in your blog that i can find enough level-headed intellectual discussion to rise above the sensationalism and short memory of Philippines daily news. Everyday I hear people with booming businesses and salaries and portfolios bitching about taxes and a stupid president.

  19. bendiskurso says:

    I never really figured out how to upload blogs on my own wp account. It’s embarrassing I know. Lol Now I have to figure out how I can upload my blog to your WP account. It’s almost done actually.

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