The Philippines is bigger than any president

all-souls-day philstar

All Souls Day [Photo credit: Philstar]

There are many ways to weigh the whole of a nation. Global rating indexes try to make this a scientific exercise, counting the pros and cons of characteristics such as anti-corruption, business competitiveness, freedom, technological prowess, and other qualities. Then they assign a comparative ranking to the Philippines as a guidepost.

We also have various analysts and pundits describing the Philippines, its economy, its conflicts with China, its defense, its tourist spots, its culture . . . notoriously described by James Fallows as “damaged” a few years back . . . and other attributes. The economy is sliced and diced everywhichway as we rue the poverty but claim our debt ratings and GDP growth with some measure of pleasure.

Yet the whole of the Philippines is bigger than any of these descriptions, or ALL of them combined. After all, there is no way to measure the nation’s soul.  It is a construct of the time-space continuum that, like the end of the universe, is outside our mere mortal grasp.

You know soul, don’t you? You know what it means? It’s that aspect of our being that goes to heaven . . . or does not. It is the very essence, the very fiber of who we are, what we stand for, where we have been, what we have learned, and everything we’ve ever felt in the whole of our lives. Wikipedia puts it this way:

  • The soul in many religions, philosophical and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal and immortal essence of a living being.

Well, that is so big-worded as to confuse and confound. One is inclined to respond with a huge “huh?!!”. It’s hard to define the indescribable.

How do you measure a nation’s soul, see it, confirm that it exists? We are looking for a quality that transcends the physical features that everyone is measuring or talking about.

Well, you are invited to help me out here. What is the immortal character of the Philippines? I tend to see . . . or sense . . . the soul of the Philippines to be more emotional than reasoned, more spontaneous or reactive than planned, short sighted and forgiving, spiritual without being inquisitive, warm and friendly with strains of violence, growing in awareness and knowledge but dragging along a lot of history and superstition, and it is infinitely durable . . . not fragile.

We can see this quality, this essence in the history of occupations, wars, coups, uprisings and forgiveness of the bastards who gave us so much pain, and are now in office or our best allies. EDSA was the Nation’s soul revealed, demonstrating its core strength, temperament and stubborn insistence that we may not be able to do “right” very well, but by God, we know WRONG when it is done to us.

Therein, my friends, is why the nation is bigger than any President.

We worry, I know we do. Some worry that Roxas is a sheep and will not lead the nation with firmness to overcome some of the barriers to prosperity. Some worry that Duterte will turn the nation into the Killing Fields of the New Millineum. Some worry that school-teacher Poe has no idea about running a nation infinitely more complex than the largest corporation. Some worry that Binay will take our money, paid in taxes, and build glorious haciendas for his family around the world. Some worry that Santiago will drop dead or go nuts, her physical and mental health being a mystery to most.

Perhaps we worry too much, eh?

Perhaps we have too little confidence in the Philippines, its soul, its durability, its watchful way of cleansing its system now and then. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the Philippines is bigger than any president.

Democracy is only a vehicle to organize leadership, deeds and expenditures. It is not the nation.

Nor are elections the nation. They are a small part of the democratic process.

Presidential candidates talk big, for sure. Filipinos like their presidents big. Decisive. Dramatic.

But in office, presidents are little people in relation to the soul of the nation they are granted the right to lead for six years.

Woe to any president who mistakenly thinks he is in charge of the soul of the nation he represents.

He is but a speck, a mote in the eye of the Philippines, here but briefly.

The nation barely blinks.


210 Responses to “The Philippines is bigger than any president”
  1. josephivo says:

    Soul or souls? There is the soul of the masters and the soul of the servants. The soul of the OFW living half his live -or more- submerged in a foreign culture. The soul of the little agrarian reform farmer, with no financial means, fighting nature and climate change. The soul of the new employees, the BPO agents… The soul of the Mega City dwellers and the soul of the Provincials. The Catholic soul and the Muslim soul…

    Do all these souls overlap somewhere and is this the Filipino soul or is the Filipino soul the average of all the above? The comfortable average of fire and ice?

    PS: todays Wikipedia “Did you know…”: “…that the ancient Sanskrit text Dhyanabindu Upanishad states there is a soul in every living being just as there is fragrance in flowers and butter in milk?”

    • Joe America says:

      Hey, I’m a disciple of Carlos Castaneda and I’ve walked through the forest observing the visible aura surrounding trees. Or is it auras? The souls of the individuals you cite intertwine through history and the present and maybe even the future to create what I have called the soul of the nation. Drink milk, and you have the soul of the cow within your own.

  2. NHerrera says:

    The opposite: The President is our superman; superprovider; superpresent and grieving with us in all events which need grieving for; superfast but superkind and superconsiderate, in solving ALL of the Philippine problems — in short, the Philippines super-superman. Anything less of out President just will not do.

    • Joe America says:

      Oh, no question, for the moment, because you are Filipino and a short-term kinda guy, a president has huge influence on the way people interact or even get around town. But what is Marcos today? A cadaver that people insult or argue over where to bury. Who is FVR? A shell of the guy who roared into office, trying in pitiful fashion to pretend he is still important. Rather like Enrile, who never even got to the presidency, no matter what a huge figure he was at different points on the timeline. Where is President Arroyo? Next year at this time, President Aquino will be with a really bright babe at some luxury resort in Switzerland, and we will be here doing the pragmatics.

      They are here, stir us about in the national broth, then move on. The Philippines remains, vibrant and peculiar.

      But I appreciate the forthright objection. 🙂

    • Madlanglupa says:

      This common view of the presidency is something that left me wondered why some of us tend to see it as hoping another Messiah to be sworn into office and perform miracles; how, when and where this mentality came from.

      • In the movie “Amigo” by John Sayles – the American counterpart to “Heneral Luna” as it tells the story of the Philippine-American war from the “Idaho farmboy” perspective – there is a scene where a Katipunero is hopeful about eventual victory, his commander and friend is sarcastic and answers “yeah what do you think, that President Aguinaldo will come to save us all in a golden carriage?” – Heneral Luna the movie shows how Aguinaldo leaves the funeral of Luna in a carriage, not golden, but nonetheless in ornate uniform.

        Aguinaldo as a Simon Bolivar wannabe, some older NPA commanders wanting to be like Che Guevara, forget the new generation they are just stupid bandits not idealists. The answer is I guess datu mentality plus Spanish Quixotism. Karl is more like Sancho Panza.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    “Well, you are invited to help me out here. What is the immortal character of the Philippines? I tend to see . . . or sense . . . the soul of the Philippines to be more emotional than reasoned, more spontaneous or reactive than planned, short sighted and forgiving, spiritual without being inquisitive, warm and friendly with strains of violence, growing in awareness and knowledge but dragging along a lot of history and superstition, and it is infinitely durable . . . not fragile.”

    Bill asked me to blog about Philippine forgiveness,I begged off and deferred to Irineo.
    Anyways ,the Filipno character is summarized above.

    Emotional than reasoned, we may base on our decisions on anger,which often goes awry.
    As a nation,we are so forgiving that we keep on electing a Marcos,Enrile,Estrada,Binay etc. in office,yet we still complain and that it is the bobotantes that put them in office,because they were bought.
    Due to the short six years in office,most presidents can only do as much in the interim,and leave the rest to the succeeding presidents.Does that make us short sighted,reactive or spontaneous?
    About violence, we gear and see it in the news,but still we have no suicide bombers,because I don’t believe it is in the character of our Muslim brothers.
    Our traditions cause us to be superstitious and spiritual.
    Are we not inquisitive,or are we submissive and subservient? My answer is: It depends?
    We have proven to the world that we can be durable,but we can akso be vulnerable.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, love that last line, in particular. Wish I’d have thought of it . . . or, more correctly, felt it . . . because there is that quality of vulnerability.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Karl I think there is an interesting relationship between the capacity on occasions for Filippinos to be angry and the capacity to forgive….They seem related..The over throw of the Marcos regime was an outburst of anger & frustration on a mass scale….They Marcos family fled to Hawaii..

      But within 5-6 years Marcos members were back and accepted as part of the Filippino ‘family’….Allowed to keep their wealth; allowed to keep the sources of their original hold on power…Forgiven by the nation at large… Later on Estrada went through the same sequence…

      I wonder if deep in the soul of the Filippino nation there is a feeling of ‘shame’ at becoming ‘truly angry’ at Marcos or Estrada and thus a need to purge the shame by forgiving..This is a thought..I am wondering about…

      • karlgarcia says:

        We still demand a public apology from the Japanese regarding the comfort women.
        We elect and re-elect Marcos,Estrada,Enrile to office does that mean,what is important is the now,and we can get back at our gripes later.
        That is what I think,we keep on bringing up the past,at the same time not doing anything about it.

        • karlgarcia says:

          During the time of Preident Arroyo;supporters were called,”Let’s move on,movement.”,the antis were against moving on.
          President Noy was to be a vindictive president by those who are against him.
          I guess,we are still in a kaleiscope world,We can not label an entire nation as a forgiving nation,or anything for that matter.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. Ah, the Big Picture of the National Soul.

    2. The underlying conceit is Lincolnesque: the Nation is a living organism born with a Soul.

    3. If we take the opening line of the Gettysburg Address, the conceit is apparent in the word “conceived.”

    ”Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”.

    3.1. This line is a restatement of the vision of the Declaration of Independence:

    ”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    4. In transposing the values of the American Founding Fathers and of Lincoln, the fathers of the Filipino nation seemingly adopted the American vision. In reality, they only took what they wanted.

    4.1. The Filipino nation was not conceived in Liberty.

    o The First Republic of Aguinaldo (1899) was conceived in revolution.
    o The Second Republic of Laurel (1943) was conceived in war.
    o The Third Republic of Roxas (1946) was conceived in hope.
    o The Fourth Republic of Marcos (1981) was conceived in deception.
    o The Fifth Republic of Cory (1986) was conceived in hope reborn.

    4.2. And while the American nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal,” the Filipino nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all Filipinos are created for themselves.”

    4.2.1. What we took from the self-evident truths were Life and the pursuit of Happiness. We forgot Liberty and Equality, and the consequent duties and responsibilities to keep these self-evident truths alive.

    4.2.2. This was the perversion of the American ideal and the essence of the original political Aguinaldo Doctrine that dominates our culture to this day. Our “self-evident” doctrine can be restated thus: “We have Life to pursue our own Happiness and damn everything else.”

    4.2.3. And because we have forgotten Equality, the “We” in the doctrine pertains to the constructs of Self, Family and Clan — and not to the construct of Nation.

    4.2.4. The legal Aguinaldo condonation doctrine – that the elite can be forgiven for looking after their own interests — is but a corollary of the original political doctrine.

    5. In PNoy’s regime we see an attempt to refute the Aguinaldo Doctrine, to alter the course of our history to a new path… to save the Filipino Soul.

    5.1. There is a need to define and restate the proposition the nation is dedicated to. The narrative cannot just be anti-corruption. Or anti-poverty. Or peace and order. Or this nation can be great again. The narrative has to be positive and specific.

    5.2. Is the Filipino Soul sufficiently aware of the choices before it? And is it mature enough to make the right decision?

    5.3. I wonder.

    • 6. So many Filipinos speak of the nation but mean only there own group, exclusively. There are even people like that among the “yellows”, even if we presume Cory meant well and her son does. This is the main sickness of the Filipino soul, exclusion not inclusion.

      6.1. America in the beginning also implicitly excluded black people from freedom. It took Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Obama to bridge this gap between theory and practice.

      6.2. Edgar, you mocked Binay but never his color. Yesterday somebody here did, sorry.

      6.3. Excluding someone because his father worked for Marcos – like Escudero’s father did – is not conducive to building a real nation. My father also worked for Marcos, but he had his reasons. Do some people want a yellow-only nation, exclusivist and morally “superior”?

      6.4. Mar Roxas was instrumental in pushing for Estrada’s pardon. I highly respect that. Erap was and is always a good man for all his faults – in that YY who posted here is right.

      6.5. Excluding Poe from candidacy is a flaw in the construction of the nation. Even if she may theoretically not have had Filipino parents, she grew up only among Filipinos and is in my eyes as good as natural-born. Do only pedigreed people count, not the street people? Enrile grew up being called bastardo – much of the evil about him is vindictive bitterness. The culture of the Philippines is still way more Deep South than most want to acknowledge.

    • Joe America says:

      Very nice. These are intellectual constructs pointing to moral behavior aimed at humanist goals. If one just looks at the nation over time, and even today, one is inclined to think that Philippine moral values are inside out and humanist values are directed inward, not outward – as you say in 4.2ff – and the only thing assured is a great deal of turmoil. Good people seem make a whole lot of Filipinos angry and bad ones impress. I mean, I can’t get political, but look at all the intelligent people lined up supporting really horridly behaving people . . . horrid when they are held up against those moral standards and humanist goals you cite. When the soul of a nation is so convoluted as to find this worth repeating time and time again, one is inclined to think it is punishing itself for all the pains felt, as if it were the nation’s fault. Rather the way an orphan would blame himself for having not been wanted.

      I’m not sure I wanted to take the conversation that direction, but that’s what emerged from free thinking on a lazy Sunday evening.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Edgar,,well said; well conceived…..But I wonder … Surely the Commonwealth of Quezon in 1936 was yet another Filippino republic..In waht was it conceived ?

      • edgar lores says:

        I excluded the Commonwealth of Quezon because the Philippines as a nation had not been born yet. It was still a colony of America. I don’t know how to put this. The First Republic under Aguinaldo (1899 – 1901) was ostensibly an independent nation; but it did not control the entire archipelago. And it was sort of stillborn.

        Between 1901 and 1935, as a colony of America, the country was ruled by Governor-Generals. In the Commonwealth under Quezon (1935 – 1944), the country had not been granted its independence. The Second Republic under Laurel was a rebirth under the Japanese occupation.

        One might say the Third Republic under Roxas was the true birth, the final delivery of the nation free from any colonizer.

        From such a checkered and agonizing series of stillbirths and rebirths, and with adopted political processes and institutions — the ideals of which are not truly understood by the people — that have been layered over a non-sacrificial culture and nationalism, we have the stunted juvenile delinquent of today.

        • Joe America says:

          Haha, harsh, Edgar. If you twist your head a little to the left and squint, you can also see a teen trying to figure things out for himself without much good parental guidance, and it is possible he will figure it out. He is not stunted, really. Just confused.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Having just gone through researching the period of the Commonwealth for my MacArthur writings, I think I disagree with you Edgar..Quezon & his cabinet with the legislature & senate had a lot of independent authority from 1935..It was no longer a ‘colony’. The word ‘Dominion was used at the time taken from the 5 dominions of the British empire….

          The Commonwealth was also destroyed by the Japanese; It was not still born..While Laurel 1943-45 was a powerless puppet of Japan

          • My point of view of Philippine history is as usual different from all official versions – I see that the Philippines became Pilipinas in 1998. Erap was the first President who was not shaped by the American period including the Commonwealth. Cory and even more Ramos (Westpoint graduate!) were somewhat American-shaped. The teenage nation Pilipinas left with playboy Erap, fled to evil Ate Gloria, and then decided for a nerdy bachelor – Aquino.

            That is why the Erap/Arroyo period of my planned Philippine history Part IV – Pilipinas will be titled “Disappointment” and the Aquino period shall be titled “Recovery” – which it is.

            Part V shall be called Ngayon (the undefined now of Filipino language) and will write itself.

            • karlgarcia says:

              @Irineo,please explain why you think ERAP was not influenced by the Americans.
              He had Mark Jimenez who was said to have contririrebuted in some US presidential campaigns.He would not dare have an all out war with the MiLF without US go signal.
              His Hollywood attitude of womanizing,gambling,etc.

              • karlgarcia says:

                damnn chinese key pad touch screen.

              • He was the first President shaped exclusively by the postwar period. Of course he had American influences. But this womanizing and gambling thing is more of the Mexican strain in Filipino popular culture if you ask me. Both Sotto and Erap look and act very Mexican. Even Sotto trying to be dignified and super-Catholic is somehow Mexican. Prof. Jaime Veneracion (a natural-born Bulakeno) has written books on the Mexican influence.

                One can find on the Internet how many words in Tagalog come from Nahuatl, the Aztec language. I suspect palengke is one of them, sounds Mexican, it’s mercado in Castilian.

                I “laughed and laughed” when watching “El Mariachi”, the original movie in Mexican by Robert Rodriguez that precedes “Desperado” by Banderas in the trilogy. The bad people all looked like contrabidas in Filipino action movies, the mestizo Mafia boss was really bad like a stereotypical “bad rich person” in Filipino classic movies. In the end the chief berdugo of the mestizo boss spits on his dead boss after he is killed by the Mariachi. The Mariachi himself (pre-Banderas) looks and acts like a 1960s probinsyano guitar player. Don’t think “chicas” is still used in Tagalog street slang, but it still was in the 1970s. I doubt it comes from “chicks”, maybe chicks comes from chicas like “vamoose” in cowboy slang.

                Now why don’t we ask Erap, he knows about both chicks and chicas – and has “finesse unlike Duterte” like he once said. Mas suwabe talaga – now is that an American influence?

                US support for all-out war – but that hatred of Muslims is so very Catholic mestizo legacy.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks Irineo.
                Cory was born 1933 and Erap is only younger by four years,Formative,is called formative because….anyways you made your point.

                Although there is a pre-Columbian Mayan Palenque….

                “The word palengke is a local variant of the Spanish word palenque, literally meaning “(wooden) palisade or stockade” and by extension the area enclosed by such a structure for defense, public festivals or some other purpose.[1] The Spanish word is also used to describe a pathway or cluster of tables set up at some place of gathering such as a theatre, tournament or market,[1] and it is from this latter sense that palengke likely derives its usage in the Filipino context.

                In the former Spanish colonies of New Spain in the Americas palenque also described a gathering-place of indios.[1] One false etymology for palengke/palenque appearing in some popular sources mistakenly presumes that palenque is instead a word from the indigenous Mayan languages of Central America meaning “gathering place”,[2][3] and that in colonial times the Spanish adopted it to describe a gathering of indigenous groups.[2] While its use in Latin America to describe such a gathering is attested, the word itself originates from Spanish and not any of the indigenous languages; the mistaken belief of the word’s indigenous origin is probably reinforced by Palenque—the famous Maya archaeological site in Chiapas, Mexico—which was named after the nearby Spanish village when the site was rediscovered in the mid-18th century.”

          • edgar lores says:

            I used the Republics as my criterion. True, it is a bit arbitrary in that the First and Second Republics were short of being independent in reality.

            In truth, I consider the Commonwealth of Quezon as the zenith of our political history. This was a time when the ideals of a constitutional democracy were foremost in our minds as embodied in the 1935 Constitution. This was a time when the best of noble Filipino politicians were in power. There were giants then; now we only have pygmies… with certain exceptions. I only know of this principled era from my father and his generation.

            • The exceptional character of Quezon was one reason for the Commonwealth being what is was. I am still putting together the forgotten pieces of his biography:

              1. His father was a Spanish colonial soldier in what is now Quezon (of course)

              2. aide-de-camp of Aguinaldo as a young Teniente, later promoted to Major

              3. surrendered to the United States before Aguinaldo was captured

              4. Instrumental together with Osmena in founding the Nacionalista Party (NP).From what I gather Osmena played a bigger role in the 1908 NP campaign for the first Philippine National Assembly which was the predecessor of the Congress.

              5. Quezon was a Resident Commissioner to Washington for quite a while, learned the ropes of the American system. Back home he played a role in deflecting the influence of the Ricartistas who were much like today’s Dutertistas in aggressivity. Ricarte was the Supreme Commander of Revolutionary Forces before Luna and was in exile in HK, he refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the USA and moved to Japan much later.

              6. With the Jones Law of 1916 (a McKinley thing) the Philippine Senate was founded (they have their 100 year anniversary this year) and the Ricartistas lost a lot of steam. Quezon was President of the Senate from 1916-1935 – 19 years of having a major major role.

              7. Quezon was again instrumental in having the Tydings-McDuffie Act negotiated and the Commonwealth founded. Of course the 1935 Constitution is very much in his spirit.

              8. The 1935 Constitution – I remember this from the Agoncillo textbook – the President had enormous powers, larger than those of the American president or even the French one. Quezon had the first Cha-Cha done to be able to run for a second term in 1939.

              9. While the BIR was a 1920s American-era institution like the Department of the Interior, with Americans running things in the beginning in both but turning things over to Filipinos, THE institution founded by Quezon was the COMELEC. The predecessor of NEDA already existed in the early Commonwealth, so I am not so sure whether it is a Quezon thing or was founded by the Americans – or even an iniative of the Philippine Senate who knows.

              One must also remember that major aspects of the Spanish legal system were never touched by the American period. The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines is based on the Spanish Penal Code of 1884. From what I know the Civil Code is also Spanish, but I am not too worried about that because it is basically the excellent “Code Napoleon” which is still in use in most of Latin America, Spain, France and Italy – I think even in Romania.

              American-style land titling – Torrens titles I think come from that period – and the sale of friar lands which were confiscated – was an American colonial legacy. Spanish land titles had no geographical coordinates at all. Just the neighbors in all four directions that’s it. But during that time it seems the spoils were re-divided, some of the old ilustrado families lost against new groups that managed to profit from the new rules. Among those who rose and were able to acquire a lot of land were the Cojuangcos, Aquinos and Roxas families.

              But let us not over-lionize Quezon. Another legacy of Quezon is Highway 54 or EDSA, as well as the two roads that later were extended to become SLEX and NLEX. Two families that secured a lot of land – or already had it – along that road were Ayala and Ortigas.

              They still, I heard own a lot of the land it the business districts of Makati/Mandaluyong. Who knows, who knows if they were Quezon’s Limlingan and Baloloy equivalents? Quezon died in 1944 at Lake Saranac, in exile. His legacy was great anyhow. Much of it still there.

              Of course Camp Murphy, which was later to become Camp Aguinaldo – who renamed it? – was along what became EDSA. In my blog I have an old photo of Field Marshall McArthur inaugurating what became the AFP later on. When Camp Crame was built I don’t know. But what is true is that Rafael Crame was a Guardia Civil Officer – a Spaniard. When the United States built up the Philippine Constabulary, they relied on Guardia Civil veterans. Via PC-INP the Constabulary (Marcos/Ramos’ enforcers) became today’s/Roxas’ PNP…

              • P.S. Quezon City was also planned and part of it executed in Quezon’s times. UP only moved to Diliman (the “dark place” in Tagalog) after the war, into American quonset huts. The entire QC area was for the most part talahib grasslands or woodland in the 1920s.

                The layout of the core of QC – I wonder if it was already named that way in his lifetime – is still visible today. Quezon Avenue, North, West, East and Timog (formerly South) Avenues, the Quezon memorial circle with the government buildings around it like Quezon City Hall, Commision on Audit, of course the stuff along West Avenue which Marcos later had built when he made QC the capital for a short time – Heart Center, Central Bank including mint, now both seem to have been important to him personally. SSS is also there, is it older?

              • edgar lores says:

                Splendid historical details.

              • Bert says:

                Irineo, East Ave. (not West Ave.), you typed too fast your fingers jumped from East to West, hehehe.

              • Thanks Bert… my mind jumped a little bit. Agham Road is from North Avenue parallel to EDSA until Quezon Avenue, Philippine Science High School is there, I don’t know if it is still called Agham Road after it crosses Quezon Avenue (formerly Quezon Blvd. Extension) to proceed to EAST Avenue. West Avenue starts from Quezon Avenue where Delta Cinema and the PNB branch used to be where we went to get our monthly stipends – and go to Shakey’s pizza parlor to eat – or to play arcade games. There was one Space Invaders or Galaxians terminal which we hacked by throwing in singkos (five centavos) instead of one peso, one waiter suspected us and was mad at us every time he collected the money…

                The other side of Quezon Avenue you had the start of Timog, the Circle Theatre which was really old even then, somewhere near that the famous Maalikaya Sauna right there on Quezon Avenue, bit further towards EDSA was Tropical Hut Hamburger… hmmm…

                DILG I have seen is now EDSA Corner Quezon Avenue, there was an Aristocrat restaurant there once, the Macho Steam Bath and Massage parlor, a carinderia where workers drank their “cuatro cantos” and “lapad” – the Ginebra San Miguel bottle sizes – and a rotonda which has now I see been replaced by a flyover. No malls yet over there, SM North was built in the mid-80s, the area of the other big mall was just talahib, the squatter colonies along Agham Road which I heard were cleared just starting early 80s.

              • Caliphman says:

                Quezon City was built on land originally owned by the Tuason family. This included the land where UP Diliman is situated on right now. If it was talahib land in the 1920’s it was because the Tuasons possessed huge tracts of land encompassing this small tract now called QC and most if not all of Marikina. The story of how the Tuason family originally acquired this land is a ‘rich’ and colorful one. In the 1760’s the Chinese merchant Son Tua organized 3,000 Chinoys to help the Spanish defend against the British who had occupied Manila from expanding control beyond the city. In gratitude, he was awarded honorary knighthood by a grateful monarchy. As his further reward, he was told land would be given to him as far as he could cover in a day’s ride on horseback. Shrewd as he was, he had a string of the fastest and strongest horses laid out along the offered land and acquired an area far beyond what would otherwise have been possible. He became the richest and most noble among the Indio principalia in his and for many generations.

              • sonny says:

                @ Irineo, I can’t forget the corner of Timog & Highway 54. That was the location of the Aquino residence. Dona Aurora hosted our HS class for merienda.

                @ Caliphman, thanks for supplying the details of the Tuason estate story. I heard only bits before. I wonder if land parcels in New Manila were part of this estate.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Big Mike arroyo described the vastness of the Tuazon property to Joker Arroyo,during the jueteng gate senate investigations.

              • UP used to be just UP Manila, Ateneo not Loyola but Ateneo de Manila. Both moved out after the war. What became UP used to be somehow used by American forces who lived in “quonset huts” after the war, which became the first professorial houses – this I remember. It is very likely true because near the old UP swimming pool – just across from the UP Chapel (now Church, UP is a real parish since quite a while) there was an old tree with “US” very deep and large in its bark – must have had that etched into it while still young.

                Somehow both Diliman (“the dark place”, now MRP could use this against UP even more) and Montalban figure in accounts of the Katipunan as hiding places, that I also remember.

                I wonder when Aurora Boulevard was built, going all the way practically to Marikina.

              • karlgarcia says:

                “A road from Katipunan Avenue to EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), called Calle Quezon, was built in 1900. The section from EDSA to Gilmore Avenue had been renamed San Juan Road or Highway 55. In 1910 the Boulevard was extended to Infanta, Quezon as the Marikina Infanta Highway. The portion from Gilmore to Dewey Boulevard, named Marikina-Ermita Avenue in 1955, was later reclaimed as Legarda Street, Recto Avenue and Magsaysay Boulevard. The western terminus was extended to Gregorio Araneta Avenue and the highway was renamed Aurora Boulevard in 1963 to honor Aurora Quezon, the wife of President Manuel Quezon. The First ice cream parlor in the Philippines (Magnolia Ice Cream House)[1] was located at the corner of Aurora boulevard and Hemady street (now occupied by Robinsons Magnolia).[2]”


            • sonny says:

              “… I consider the Commonwealth of Quezon as the zenith of our political history.”

              Totally agree with this observation, edgar. Considering how the Commonwealth period can now be seen as book-ended by the abortive revolution and the dark uncertainty of what was to become WWII and the massacre of Manila, the ideals and vision of the Commonwealth Executive personage and legislative Assembly body remain a beacon that will not be erased.

    • josephivo says:

      3. The US conceived in liberty but build on slavery. A better statement would be, “the product of hypocrisy.”

      The more homogenous a society is the easier one can determine a common soul, income inequality in the Philippines is extreme. But usually the soul of a nation is defined as the soul of the ruling class. And yes lower classes tend to imitate their masters.

      In times of overwhelming emigration and immigration, “soul” gets less relevant.

      Just as for the national cuisine. The monotonous, soya sauce drenched over-cooked stuff an average calendaria or an industrial food court stall serves is very distant from the real Spanish based or Chinese bases and real delicious Philippine cuisine.

      If there is a common Filipino characteristic, it might be the layered and thus lost identity of an Asian soul, a Spanish or Catholic core and an American superficial coating.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        A bit unfair Joesephivo ! I do not think the declaration of Independence was not made by hypocrits. In 1775 some of the 13 British colonies that came together as the United States allowed slavery and there were some plantations as well. . But the real growth in the southern states slave economy came later when Britain wanted cheap cotton for it’s ‘satanic’ mills in Lancashire : from 1790’s onwards as Britain’s industrial revolution hit full speed.

        If that demand had not been there there would have been a far low need for slaves in the South and no real slave plantation economy..

      • Joe America says:

        “layered and thus lost identity of an Asian soul, a Spanish or Catholic core and an American superficial coating” Nice description. I might insert the word “tribal” between Asian and soul.

        As for hypocrisy of the founding fathers of the US, I think there are the pragmatics of tea in the harbor and slavery, and there is the yearning to be apart from an overbearing parent nation, the latter not being hypocrisy but being a core value of Christianity and self-determination that has dominated since the pilgrims trekked ashore in their funny hats and robes. So the underlying theme of Christian goodness is there as an anchor, and the slavery or today’s Trump populism are wobbles around the core, which is not hypocrisy.

        • josephivo says:

          It all depends what glasses you are wearing. With today’s glasses declaring freedom for all and keeping slavery, freedom for all and only gave voting rights to only privileged whites sounds hypocritical. The “rebellious” founding fathers with strong masonic convictions of free thoughts and equality were overshadowed by the Christian conservatives partnering with the powerful.

          Today SuperPACs, super marketing and super rich prevail, not the wellbeing of the 99% people. The science of designing electoral districts, framing, spinning, stirring up fears and base feelings, the managerial skills of running a campaign are decisive, not the search for the common good, not the pursuit of happiness of the masses.

          (Same as professing Christian goodness while living in a gold plated palace with poor beggars dying on the doorsteps. Christian goodness became just a fable, Jesus the rebellious Nazarene high jacked by Paulus and others with wealth and power to become their tool of suppression… and yes there are exceptions, I’m talking about the average Pope, the average Bishop of the last 2000 years)

          • Joe America says:

            Your glasses are those which take the exceptions or aberrations in the American ways and means and project them as mainline. We’ve had this discussion before. “Poor beggars dying on the doorsteps” is fine literature, for sure, but that is like saying the tick on the elephant’s behind is the elephant itself. The argument does not reflect the more mundane and fundamental issues outlined in the Democratic debates as to HOW to reallocate wealth: raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting loopholes (offshore bank accounts); also important issues like assuring more Americans get a college education and clean energy. A huge part of the US is as outraged as you are about the wealth concentration . . . because their Christian morality says “this is not right”. To deny that this force exists is rather an oversight, and I’d suggest you switch glasses.

            • Joe America says:

              The subject of the blog is the essential quality of the nation (Philippines) that will endure past any presidential administration, good or bad, that gives the nation its character. Raising the US up as an example is instructive because I’d say the nature of the soul is different. In its most rudimentary sense, the Philippines is tribal (family oriented, warlike and laid back) and the US is Christian (good deeds and work oriented). Surrounding the cores are whatever the cycles of history bring. Matters like “hypocrisy” depend on what moral framework you use (the matter of glasses), which is why many Americans in the late 1800’s considered Filipinos to be deficient humans and why you today consider Americans to be deficient humans. If you take a particular feature of the American human community . . . say commerce . . . we can argue that “greed” underpins the American soul, or we can call it “ingenuity and productivity” arising from the work ethic. Either fits depending on how you view utopia that we are moving toward.

              But however you argue the morality, very clearly, there are differences between the Filipino essence and the American. I’d say ascribing labels of “bad” or “good” or “hypocrisy” to either Filipino or American ways is rather useless at getting us anywhere toward solving problems and taking care of people well.

            • josephivo says:

              Before blaming D and E that they can’t think straight, I was looking at myself. Some time ago when I came back from the Vatican after seeing unbelievable opulence, I went back to our nice hotel, nothing special, but days later on the way home from the airport we took a shortcut through a resettlement area, the few empty spaces garbage dumps, the banks of a creek occupied by squatters too poor to dress their hordes of little kids properly and suddenly all the memories of Carrara marble, silver, gold and precious stones, the artworks, the whole Vatican thing exploded in my head. (so “beggars on the doorstep” was just an abbreviation of that feeling.)

              “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) And still so many popes are Saints, thus in heaven. So who’s lying, the Bible or the infallible Church proclaiming Saints?

              As a would-be intellectual it is easy for me to rationalize or to ask Edgar for logic. But most Filipinos see this hypocrisy or whatever you want to call it too even with their eyes closed. And if you look around, the Church is not the only institution lacking some consistency. American politics, the American soul of equality and primacy of the individual is not always proven by facts and factual behavior… and I know “Why should I look at the speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in my own eye?” (based on Matthew 7:3)

  5. Jessica Zafra wrote in her blog that Russian novels remind her of the Philippines… the mixture of superstition and spirituality, the rash violence and unexplained kindness… I just paraphrase and am too lazy to look for the article, now I do wonder what Mar Roxas feels reading Dostoevsky?

    Joe has understood the Filipino soul as well and similarly… or the “loob” in Filipino, the living soul… the kaluluwa is the soul after death, and not the one we are talking about here.

    This article here has less likes than others on the surface, but more real reads, so many people just click and like but don’t read… – it is about where the Philippines is going, written in Filipino, one of the languages of the Filipino soul.

    Today’s article is about many things: – while the Saan Patungo article shows Filipino food, this one starts with Pia Wurtzbach…it is about the Philippines having beauty but lacking confidence, not yet confidently beautiful like Pia is…

    Much of the ills of the Philippines stem from lack of confidence and self-love at all levels…

  6. Bill in Oz says:

    Joe I am perplexed about a “national” soul…There are so many resonances that come to mid when I hear the word soul..I feel a soul is unique and lasts beyond death and an aspect of an individual’s being..rather than being a collective transcendent thing… If you had said ‘ Filippino character’ I would be more comfortable

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, character works fine for examining social behavior, but I wanted to convey the deeper and almost indescribable chemistry that exists and will persist, a power that is religious and superstitious and unpredictable. I wanted to posture the presidency as small and mundane in relation to that power. We ought not make the election a life and death thing, I think.

      Well, some Filipinos might, as that is their character. But if my pick does not win, I can assure you I won’t spend six years in bitter complaint like the people at GRP. I suspect a lot of Filipinos will, and I’m suggesting they need not.

      • Joe America says:

        I would add that if I make you uncomfortable, then the article is working just fine. I’m not here to sell a bill of goods, but to inspire the reflections already made by several commenters.

        • NHerrera says:

          About the discomfort that is brought up by a well-written piece, the item below may give some parallelism:

          From BBC on the Biting Wit of Antonin Scalia — the US Supreme Court Conservative Justice who has placed the Court in some sort of turmoil, after his death at 79 — a quote from Scalia,

          On being a judge

          “If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.” – in a speech at Chapman Law School in 2005

          • Joe America says:

            Scalia. Interesting character. I’ve been holding my remarks out of respect for a man just passed. I note the Republicans, even, are not willing to let this great man go to rest before fighting over his legal estate, the chair on the Supreme Court.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I agree with you about not making elections a life and death thing..I used to here but do not anymore…Your comment about ” the presidency as small and mundane in relation to that power”.. I am still thinking about…I have no ready formed opinion..So I shall think about this more.

  7. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    The Filipino soul. Good one, Joe. I think we are getting nearer some kind of understanding why Filipinos are this way, that we can flirt with the idea of bringing Marcos back, for example, or having a shady character like Binay to be president, and so on. It’s because of our soul! Our souls are completely separate from our bodies, and if you view the Juan for All segment of Eat Bulaga, you wonder why the Filipino who lacks front teeth, does not have a job, obviously malnourished, is actually happy. We are not in denial, rather we are in acceptance of the fact that our souls are saved already, and all the misery we see around us (in some areas) will end and we will join the Heavenly Father in one of the mansions he has in store for us for eternity. So that’s why we make bizarre political choices, because this is not our home, it’s in heaven, hence, we can elect the one we believe to be the best for the time being—P500 buys three days worth of food—without regard for the future, or the long-term consequences of such a decision. The puzzle is being solved. Presidential elections do not matter to the 10 or 15 per cent we wish would convert from Binay, Poe or Duterte to Mar Roxas. A scary prospect, yes. but a liberating thought. We must not blame the so-called bobotante (dumb voter). He is actually using his wit to survive just one more day.

    • Joe America says:

      Most interesting take. There is that acceptance of the fates in the remote hinterlands. I don’t know that it is so religious as resignation to a set of circumstances, the main one being no power, due to poverty. I wonder what becomes of that acceptance when the nation is wealthier and there are jobs and people are in the “rat race” climbing up.

    • butod says:

      Neat explanation, but doesn’t wholly align with the latest poll numbers. Laylo’s January poll results show that while Mar does trail behind Poe across all classes, he’s actually doing a lot worse with classes ABC (fourth!) than with classes D and E (tied at second with Binay). Last I checked, di naman kilala sa fatalism ang ABC classes…at buo din naman ang ipin ng karamihan sa kanila. Di din naman ata sila nag-aantay ng pakimkim ni Binay. Could there be a less convenient explanation here?

  8. James de Valera says:

    The population is mass produce with no quality upbringing, & I could see the next generation will be the same with millions of OFW parents leaving behind their children to their relatives back home.
    If we don’t think of a quality upbringing to this young generation believe me the future will pretty much the same. You can’t just keep killing the criminals but we have to address the problem of WHY they became the lost souls of the society.
    Thanks Joe, Great article.

    • Joe America says:

      Glad you found it meaningful, James. I tend to see a brighter upside that can be accelerated if the economy keeps growing a the pace it is going, with poverty substantially erased in 15 or 20 years.

  9. cha says:

    Maybe because the fundamental institutions of Philippine society are so weak, so easily swayed in the direction of vested interests; and the President, based on past and recent experience of the Filipino people, can to some or a large extent, control the tap from which flows the fuel which can make all 3 branches of government work for the good of the country or at the mercy of thieves and hoodlums in robes, in uniform, in designer barong tagalog. Maybe that is why who gets to sit as the President has become the big deal that it is in the Philippines. The opposing forces of good and bad are battling it out come election time to take on the reigns and steer the giant monster towards a better Philippines for its people or for the agents of and maggots that feed on corruption.

    Maybe when each institution finds its own soul anchored on a fundamental belief of and the greatest respect for justice, freedom, and equality, maybe then the President can be seen and expected to be less a superhero and more like a contractual employee that the people hire to oversee the running of a machinery that is running well on its own in the first place. Question is, are we there yet?

    • Joe America says:

      Executive is the power branch, that’s true. The Senate exerts its power through investigations and public statements, not through accountability to a common vision of a rational, productive, fair nation, and achievement under those principles. The judiciary is a congested mess and exerts its powers by disrupting achievement (delays on the Poe hearing; no quick punishment to better connect crime to result). Power is the currency and I suppose that is the character of “soul” that tends to dominate everything. Not rational good thinking or community.

      I don’t think the nation is anywhere close to changing its core principle from power to community.

  10. Jean says:

    Off topic. I didn’t know how to respond to the notes from the editor section, so I hope you don;t mind me doing it from here. I like your sentiments over the weekends bball event. also, I agree with who should have won the dunk contest but then again. they were both winners for the show that they put on. I love how you ended the piece as well. Yeah, lets! Whoever wins, congratulate them, show them some love and hope that it inspires them to perform better than they ever thought they were capable of doing ( by better, I mean for the country, not themselves)

    • Joe America says:

      Here is a good place to respond, jean. It was a spectacular show for sure. We in the audience won. 🙂 Yes, the electorate’s will ought to be respected. Agree.

      • VSB says:

        Tsk tsk- I really feel for your optimistic inclinations but going back to Fallon and his “damaged culture” diagnosis- it is not without basis and time and again this raises its ugly head- Vox Populi Vox Dei is a pinoy favorite- except they forget Hitler and the North Koreans..Bong bong is already tied with an even sleazier Chiz Escudero while Jejomar appears un movable from his top stop- In the meantime – I personally saw Chavit attend a wedding of a very highly placed family- sit at the head table and fight back nausea as people continually go over to where this hardened gambling lord to fawn al lover him- This guy belongs in jail not in wedding receptions!!! So How can a country be larger than its President when its soul is wanting and its culture damaged??

        • Joe America says:

          I didn’t argue that the Philippine soul is good and productive by Christian or capitalistic values. Indeed, you make the case that it does persist no matter what. You and I may not like the result, but that’s what you get when you dump an Asian tribal culture into a box made in America.

          • It was already inside two other boxes before the third, American XMas box came over it.

            The Mexican box (New Spain’s province called the Spanish East Indies – Philippines, Marianas, Carolines) with a Spanish box over it from the mid-1800s onwards. Titling of land began at that time, before that land was basically either friar-owned or terra incognita. I have old papers that show how “ownership” was proven in the times the Spanish started legalizing the Philippines in the 1860s/1870s – by affidavits from neighbors who testified that the land had been tilled by the persons concerned for at least 30 years, probably the old tribal customary law. Later Spanish documents already had the area of land indicated in them – the older ones did not – in solares. American titles had coordinates. In every period of legal systematization there were profiteers of all colors. There was a poor man who claimed to have owned most of Quezon City’s former wildlands in the 1970s, and interesting newspaper articles about how he went to court but lost…

            NCSO I already mentioned computerized in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Register of Deeds and TCTs was later I think. All the weird stuff related to Grace Poe’s papers in the 1960s were, I can assure you from what I know, the norm in the Philippine provinces then.

            City halls regularly went up in flames, birth certificates were irretrievably lost – or faked.

            And the Three Constitutions – 1935, 1973, 1987 – all have one major flaw – the lack of general consensus on their spirit. They were all projects of the respective rulers then.

        • I would say a part of it is damaged, another part confused.

          Tribal groups that were pressed into a nation, lowland Christian leaders or principalia whose rights as datus were confirmed by King Philipp himself by royal decree were the true Philippines from the beginning, not their “sacopes” as the Americans wrote in the 1903 census or their “sakops” (Tagalog for subjects) they only started having a voice when media started to give their descendants one. There is an ongoing dynamic there.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            Are we effectively talking about a Filipino ‘aristocracy’ which cannot call itself such because the USA form of democracy prohibited lords & ladies & knighthood etc…But still persists from generation to generation ?

            In Malaya in the 1800’s the British recognised, used & even protected the Malay aristocracy.. They were the allies of the British colonial regime.. The present governmnet of Malaysia is dominated by UMNO..The United Malys National Organisation..And UMNO is dominated by the old Malay aristocracy….

            • The Spanish did the same thing the British did for Filipino datus as long as they pledged allegiance to the King of Spain and became Catholic. There is an old decree by King Philipp II which upholds the privileges of the principalia – who also became the local agents of the regime in extracing forced labor, known as polo from the natives. The members of the prinicipalia, and they alone, had the right to call themselves DONS.

              Now a Don was still an Indio. My great-great-grandfather, Don Marcelino Saenz, has Indio behind his name on old papers signed by the then mayor of Tiwi, Don Higino Templado. In the colonial regime only a Senor Don was a true Spanish Don, who could tuck in his shirt. The barong is tucked out because the Indios had to wear it that way as a sign of slavery. In a way there is some kind of aristocracy, now called political dynasties – the present mayor of Tiwi is a Templado once again but he does his work well so no problems with him.

              Don Marcelino’s daughter, Dona Josefa, married a poor man, my great-grandfather who did NOT have Don behind his name. His son Irineo got to have Atty. in front of his name. But you have exposed a very important point – the Philippines IS a Malay country just like Malaysia and Indonesia. BTW the conflict in early 20th century Bikol was between the Nationalists – mostly principalia – and Americanists – those looking for new opportunities.

        • sonny says:

          A quibble: The original piece was written by James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly:

          • Two important passages out of the article which are very true:

            When reading Philippine novels or history books, I would come across a passage that resembled what I’d seen in the Manila slums or on a farm. Then I would read on and discover that the description was by an American soldier in the 1890s, or a Filipino nationalist in the 1930s, or a foreign economist in the 1950s, or a young politician like Ferdinand Marcos or Benigno Aquino in the 1960s…

            In a sociological sense the elevation of Corazon Aquino through the EDSA revolution should probably be seen not as a revolution but as the restoration of the old order. Marcos’s rise represented the triumph of the nouveau riche. He was, of course, an Ilocano, from the tough, frugal Ilocos region, in the northwest corner of Luzon. Many of those whom he enriched were also outsiders to the old-money, old-family elite that had long dominated the country’s politics.

            Both things I have written oh so often – the deja vus and EDSA as a restoration. Marcos was much like Napoleon, the old oligarchy like the Bourbons… and because the Bourbons did not learn enough when they came back, Napoleon III got elected.

            Now if we look at the story of how “old” the old money really was, it is for the most part a fiction… the boom from the Suez canal was the first wave, the ilustrados, then those who profited from the sale of church lands… no really old hacienderos like in Latin America. Every group that manages to move up repeats the same pattern, Binay is the latest in a 150+ year old pattern, Duterte probably will also do the same or has started already.

            • The core passages are these… they are awesomely similar to Joe’s Binding Glue article:

              It may seem perverse to wish for more nationalism in any part of the Third World. Americans have come to identify the term with the tiny-country excesses of the United Nations. Nationalism can of course be divisive, when it sets people of one country against another. But its absence can be even worse, if that leaves people in the grip of loyalties that are even narrower and more fragmented. When a country with extreme geographic, tribal, and social-class differences, like the Philippines, has only a weak offsetting sense of national unity, its public life does become the war of every man against every man.

              Nationalism is valuable when it gives people a reason not to live in the world of Hobbes–when it allows them to look beyond themselves rather than pursuing their own interests to the ruination of everyone else. I assume that most people in the world have the same mixture of selfish and generous motives; their cultures tell them when to indulge each impulse. Japan is strong in large part because its nationalist-racial ethic teaches each Japanese that all other Japanese deserve decent treatment. Non-Japanese fall into a different category. Individual Filipinos are at least as brave, kind, and noble-spirited as individual Japanese, but their culture draws the boundaries of decent treatment much more narrowly. Filipinos pride themselves on their lifelong loyalty to family, schoolmates, compadres, members of the same tribe, residents of the same barangay. The mutual tenderness among the people of Smoky Mountain is enough to break your heart. But when observing Filipino friendships I thought often of the Mafia families portrayed in The Godfather: total devotion to those within the circle, total war on those outside. Because the boundaries of decedent treatment are limited to the family or tribe, they exclude at least 90 percent of the people in the country. And because of this fragmentation–this lack of nationalism–people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen.

              Every Filipino has, in addition to his familial/clannish/tribal loyalties, his own KKKs. A lot of the delicadeza has to do with not wanting to accidentally hit the wrong people. Years after I was mean – truly mean – to a Bikolana candidate in the Pisay student council elections, my late aunt scolded me about it in Legazpi City when I came to visit, scolded in her nice, Catholic aunty way, but I knew what she meant. You never know when you might need favors from somebody in a country where the system barely works and is harsh to those without connections – and social isolation can mean sinking into poverty. Even among migrants to Germany – my father did a study about them – there were the networks of ka-eroplano, ka-ospital, kamag-anakan with patterns of hiving in – getting your folks into a land of opportunities, and hiving out, meaning spreading into different areas. Now I was deeper into migrant society than my father was, so I know it was often about disputes… and I saw the same pattern among the Filipinas who married Germans who came around 15 years after the nurses… women from the same village in the Visayas or Mindanao coming and getting married to men from the same bowling club as the husband of one, relatives first and friends later.. among the Ilocanos and Igorots in US forces, similar…

              The state and the nation for most Filipinos is an abstraction… the government which is like Bill noted more imperial than anything else is a reality which is seen as hostile if one is not part of it or as an apparatus to be used for one’s own interests if one has a part in it… I am not surprised as the Spanish and their principalia allies did things that way for centuries… even the position of village scribe was SOLD in those days under the assumption that the holder would be able to find a way to make money out of it… nobody should be surprised at the legends about what happened to the Revolutionary gold that allegedly existed. Some people – even educated ones – firmly believe Aguinaldo stole it, others spread the weird story of Heneral Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco. Now Isabel of the movie – the only bedroom scene was Heneral Luna and her – is a recognizable mixture of Ysidra and another Kapampangan woman (from the Red Cross) with a rumored affair. Magical realism is native to countries that were shaped by Spanish banditry and religion.

  11. VSB says:

    Wishful thinking. A corrupt politician who knows how to play the system can wreck havoc. even if we claim that the 100M Filipinos is “bigger ” than it President – unfortunately, only 10% has the minimum discernment required to determine what a true President should be doing- The rest are blank staring lumpen waiting for a patron to help them get a job, get a free hospital card not to mention education for their kids- They are still pretty much ruled by archaic instincts in this aldub nation”. s cordon sanitaire who will capture whatever rents are left that are controlled by the government as they try to exploit and dominate the “working elite’ while consolidating the “stealing elite” to complete their state capture- So in short- the country is not yet a state where it is “bigger” than its President. I really wish I am wrong but a look at the latest surveys confirm it..

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, VSB. Thanks for the (depressing) viewpoint.

      • VSB says:

        I know– the surveys want me to slit my wrists- Fallon is becoming a sage with his damaged culture diagnosis.. There is really no other explanation for this KAKISTOCRACY

        • karlgarcia says:

          I really thought that this Kakistocracy are Aristocrats in Khakis.If it is the ten percent of the population or the elite,are the one’s putting them in power,then why are afraid of the way the masa votes?

  12. Bill in Oz says:

    Ahhhhh !! Is the Filippines an empire to be captured or bought ? Or is it rather than a nation to be lead ?

    • Joe America says:

      I presume this is the result of your further reflections? The US paid $20 million for the Philippines, and got her, then tried to put in place a leadership of the American tradition, then set her on her own course, and, like the echoes we see in Iraq and Afghanistan, that has produced little in the way of wealth, fair play or even decent legal and ethical behavior. That’s why I say a nation’s soul is greater than crass purchase or mandated reformation. Whether it drives toward hell or high water or heaven, we can only speculate.

      I do think the first step toward any kind of real change has to come with introspection.

    • It is a nation struggling with a government that is the legacy of an empire. Spanish rule up to 1821 was indirect, the Philippines was but a Mexican province, not even that it was just a part of the Spanish East Indies which were run from Manila. Modernizing Spain in the late 19th century started introducing public schooling (Queen Isabel, 1860-something) and rule of law – Civil Code and Penal Code, I wonder what rights “Indios” had before, animal rights?

      Before the mid-19th century, there were the principalia (the native elite, descended from the first datus who collaborated with the Spaniards and were given privileges by King Philipp II) and the Spanish friars in the barangays and parishes. The principalia also ran the cities which were Spanish in layout, the layout was the same everywhere in that empire.

      At the level of the provinces (Ambos Camarines or “both Camarines” i.e. Sur and Norte already existed in Spanish times, how often the two were together and apart I don’t know, Albay also existed it just means “The Bay” look at the map and you’ll see why) there were Spaniards who ruled. What the governor-general and his folks in Manila cared the most about was the galleon trade – silver from Potosi in Bolivia for Chinese goods. They were in Intramuros (inside the walls), the Chinese in the Parian (Binondo, still Chinatown) just across the Pasig within the reach of Spanish cannons just in case. This is how it started.

      The 19th century (opening of Manila to international trade, Suez Canal, it’s all in my blog) brought a new class of wealth “Indios” from the principalia into play who studied – the ilustrados. They wanted a nation, but that idea came from a Spaniard first who had been born in the Philippines. Filipino or Insular was what they were called, “real” Spaniards were Peninsulares, then you had mestizos (half-castes), mestizo Sangleys (half-Chinese), Sangleys (Chinese), “Indios” and “Negritos” – the latter being the pre-Malay population.

      Then you had some Mexican and mestizo officers who made coup attempts in the 19th century and used the ideas of Count Varela. The ilustrados decided to call themselves Filipinos and extend the name to all islanders. They first wanted representation in the Cortes, in the Spanish parliament. The enactment of Spanish laws also – this is something my father told me – opened the profession of LAWYER as one of the first “Indios” were allowed to practice. Lawyers have spread like an algal bloom since then. The rest of the history is better known I think, but the fact is that the “nation” was always an elite nation.

      Probably EDSA was a defining moment for the mass nation that is still growing now. One must remember that the Aquino assasination, or parts of it, were captured by hidden VHS or Betamax camera, I don’t remember what. It was one of the first “social media” revolutions.

      EDSA II (against Erap) was organized with text messages if I am not mistaken. The Filipino spirit or soul is basically rural and verbal, and evolving social media allowed this spirit or soul to find its expression. It is basically NOT literate, or only becoming so with some time.

      There was also “EDSA III” which was a violent attempted mass uprising against Arroyo by Erap supporters, many of them obviously high on shabu / meth. The non-wired classes which are the ones Binay has a hold on, still highly personalistic in their world views.

    • edgar lores says:


      Is the “Ahhhhh!!” a moment of falling down or a moment of epiphany? Or is it a moment of catching someone committing an offense against the country in flagrante delicto?

      For politicians, I believe the nation is an empire to be captured for spoils.

  13. sonny says:

    Whenever I search for the Filipino soul, I NEED to “wallow” in the words, sounds and images of these 4:

    LAND OF THE MORNING (national anthem)
    LUPANG HINIRANG (national anthem)
    BAYAN KO (popular anthem)

    and this picto-monograph published by the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) to commemorate the Philippine Centennial in 1998 –


    • The original version of Lupang Hinirang aka Bayang Magiliw was Spanish if I am not mistaken, Land of the Morning was the American-period version on the same melody.

      Bayan Ko was originally written in Spanish by Heneral (and later Senator) Alejandrino.

    • sonny says:

      1998 was a turning point for me and many Filipinos in the Chicago area. the Field Museum was the main driver for the Philippine centennial celebration (e.g. the museum has 42,000 sqft worth of Philippine artifacts and other Filipiniana).

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        How dare these Filipinos celebrate Philippine centennial in my country the country they fought against for their liberation in 1898. I just wonder what they are doing in my country and celebrating liberation from Americans. Do not get it at all.

        If they wanted to be liberated from Americans they should leave and celebrate it in the Philippines.

        • Before Macapagal, the 4th of July was celebrated as Independence Day because the Independence of the Philippines happened on the 4th of July, 1946. The Philippine flag was raised and the American flag was pulled down, this is what a teacher told me…

          Aguinaldo’s Republic was called Filipinas, the official language was Spanish – old documents prove this, even if generals like Mascardo and Luna quarreled in Tagalog. Originally the sun had a face, the blue was Cuban blue, later Navy blue, now azul oscuro.

          Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nuevo Ecija, Pampanga were the eight rays of the Philippine sun. Visayans had their own revolution and founded a federal state for a short while. Today’s Philippines was formed by Quezon under the United States.

        • chempo says:

          Hi MRP

          2014 Independence Day OFWs in Singapore wanted to celebrate in a grand way with parades etc. There was a hullabaloo over it as locals protested. It led to some friction with locals. National fervours should be expressed low key when in foreign lands, such as within the embassy grounds, or in some restaurants or private residences, not in public.

          How wonderful if such national pride is also expressed responsibly in election time.

  14. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Filipinos are top ten happiest people on earth
    Global competitiveness improved by two points
    The most foreign-looking beauty contestants in Asia
    The number of world-class boxers
    The most citizens trolling for job outside the Philippines per capita
    The densest city in the world
    Fastest growing population in Asia
    The most stable economy in Asia
    The most English speaking country in Asia
    The Friendliest (?) country in Asia
    The Land of Smiles (?)
    The Gridlocked city in the world … EDSA is the gridlockiest in the universe
    The most literate country in Asia
    The only Roman Catholic country in Asia
    Transparency has improved by 5 points
    Makati Stock Index improved by whopping 200%
    Most Condominiums uprising in Asia.
    Most Condominium vacancies in Asia … meaning, Filipinos bought it and nobody lives in it.
    The most Sari-Sari small-time neighborhood banks in Asia.
    The most street ethnic dancing in the world … every town… every city now promotes dancing in the street …. Cebu province have dancing inmates …
    Filipinos are always shooting for the Guiness book of records.
    University of the Philippines graduates has garnered the most “cerebral” journlaist in the Philipines.
    Preen, fashion magazine of INquirer, promotes “traditional Filipino looks are ugly”. “Half-bred half-white spanish and english speaking mestizo class” are REAL FILIPINOS.
    Lifestyle section of Inquirer drool over Spanish Paella con Bobo, imported oysters from France, creme’ briole, aperitif before meals …. local brew, adobo, papaitan, pinakbet are soooooo not classy … not worth a lifestyle article … they are for the colored Filipinos … peasant food for minimum wage, working class commoners not worth a spread in Lifetyle.
    The least visited country in Asia … China is the darling of tourists per capita. Laos has more visitors than Philippines per square kilometers.

    Any leading Global Indexes Philippines has improved. Others have not. You name it Philippines got it. Philippines is bigger than the sum of its parts than any president can handle.

    So, please vote intelligently. We are now down to Binay and Roxas. Duterte and Meriam have cancers. Poe will be disqualified. Mind what you read. Philippine Media cannot be trusted. Always remember, Philippine Media are run by U.P. graduates that has not improved Philippines since their inception in early 20th century.

    The people that improved this country are not graduates from U.P. but the colored discriminated english-challenged adobo-eating minimum wage, working class commoners working abroad to keep the country afloat.

    • “local brew, adobo, papaitan, pinakbet are soooooo not classy” Lambanog is now high-class in Germany… more than Bacardi.. now served in high-class Sylt beach resort.

      “The least visited country in Asia ” – it is on the map of German tour operators again.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Foreigners loves the exotics Inquirer-Lifestyles U.P. journalist do not. They prefer Highland whiskies, cognac anything non-Filipino. They are now into Apple Cider Vinegar over coco vinegar … WoW!

        • True… there is a Filipino restaurant in Berlin which is humming, and a Filipino streetfood restaurant there as well which sells the stuff nobody in Makati would be caught eating…

          But these are run by second- or (even third?)-generation migrants with another attitude.

          • Some Filipino brands I can buy at a Vietnamese store in Munich, just a sample:

            – Chippy
            – UFC Banana Sauce (not Ketchup!)
            – Datu Puti Vinegar
            – Silver Swan Soy Sauce
            – Patis but I don’t know the brand

            hardly any Filipinos here so guess who buys that stuff? And who are the importers, not Filipino groups always the same Dutch importers with their Asian bases in Indonesia.

            • karlgarcia says:

              It is still UFC banana ketchup here.I tried to see if it is already banana sauce,so I went to my suking tindahan just to find out,when I read about it from MRP and you a few months ago.
              Lorin’s patis was famous before you left.
              Now silver swan also has patis.

              I remember joining a tour with the owners of Amihan Vinegar,and they say Datu Puti is just a repacker or something or it imports.Oh well.

        • sonny says:

          Not to forget America’s First Chef, Cristeta Pasia Comerford, from Sampaloc.

          True story:

          The Clintons were entertaining at Martha’s Vineyard. First Lady HIllary requested a snack for Hillary’s retinue from first chef. Cristeta obliges by preparing “arroz caldo a la Pilipino.”

          Hillary’s comment: “Cristeta, you’ve been holding out on us. This is my first time to taste this. It is delicious!”

          The rest is history. Cristeta has served as White House chief chef under Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas. Bon appetit!

      • sonny says:

        I have not tried it yet. But I suspect lambanog + orange juice would make the best screwdriver drink!

    • “the colored discriminated english-challenged adobo-eating minimum wage, working class commoners working abroad to keep the country afloat.” OFW statistics start with 1975.

      POEA was founded then by Marcos, he started the policy of sending Filipinos abroad. In fact they had to remit money via the Embassies which had a fixed exchange rate for the peso – on the black market it was higher. They also still had to pay overseas taxes then but could not even vote like they are able to today. Everything the Philippines became started with Marcos – but the governments after him did not stop the momentum of those forces.

      • chempo says:

        Irineo, there is no govt policy nor active effort of sending Filipinos abroad to work. That would be tantamount to forced labour, modern day slavery to an extent. The decision to go abroad to work are personal choices, driven by economic push factors.

        Marcos did initiate something. He improved the processes for OFWs to get out of the country, and he improved the remittance mechanisms. BUT IT’S NOT FOR LOVE OF THE COMMON FOLKS. His thinking was you stupid massa, go forth and make more money in other countries and make sure to remit as much home as possible.- we the ruling class need your dole to prop up the country.

        • The Vietnamese had the official government policy of sending workers to “Socialist Brother Countries” like East Germany – where they used to live in compounds similar to some of those Middle Eastern countries have for foreign workers from all kinds of places.

          Some of these ex-“socialist OFWs” have gone back home and are contributing to the rise of Vietnam, others are integrated migrants who are economically (restaurants, stores) and academically (highest grades) successful especially in East Berlin – that is a story by itself.

          There are similar success stories among former boat people who came to West Germany, there was even one adopted Vietnamese war orphan – Dr. Philipp Rösler – who was Federal economics minister and head of the German Liberal Party. That is another story.

          Funny that some Marcos loyalists blame the post 1986 governments for living from OFWs. At least Roxas did something by promoting BPO – jobs stay at home and families together.

          Just like slums – many loyalists think they grew only after 1986, they truly grew with Makoy.

    • NHerrera says:

      MRP, you have quite a list there. Thanks.

      I will just add some words to your list from

      @Wilfredo G. Villanueva (February 14, 2016 at 10:06 pm) and @bauwow (February 15, 2016 at 10:52 pm):

      … the abused Filipino who lacks front teeth, does not have a job, obviously malnourished, is actually happy; one of the qualities of the Filipino soul is its resilience.

      I just inserted the word “abused” in my round up of WGV’s and bauwow’s thoughts. I did it to harmonize with the tone of your list which has a lot of truth in it (with apologies to WGV and bauwow).

      • chempo says:

        Every time I read these “Filipinos are wretchedly poor, but they are happy” survey results, I often wonder — who wrote these lines?

        “we are happy” quotes are defense mechanisms that poor people use. It’s a sub-conscious reaction to their status that allows them to salvage some pride and consolation to their being. I understand this — I was wretchedly poor in my younger days. But thank God, I had my teetch intact.

        The reality is far from that. The poor that lives wretched lives — they are angry. This is the anger that you see exploding in the American ghettoes. In Philippines, the anger is still contained, it finds release in thievery at almost every level, in non-respect for other people’s properties, in anti-social behaviours, in illogical election patterns.

        • chempo says:

          teetch — I mean teeth, all 32 of them.

        • “The poor that lives wretched lives — they are angry.” Of course. This is something many in the privileged classes, even some middle class Filipinos, do not see.

          There was enormous anger at the Filipino government when it used the term “resilient” to describe the Filipino poor, almost to the extent of wanting to kick in some teeth.

          “In Philippines, the anger is still contained” Binay is one release for that anger. Nobody cared for the poor especially not the rich, so why should they care for the country?

          Duterte is also a form of release – but these are those who moved up out of poverty a little bit and don’t care for the rich, nor for the poor whom they would have shot like animals.

          Poe is a form of false hope – I think many OFW families who have made a better life for themselves but are still excluded on a day-to-day basis by the “better people” like her.

          Those who speak of resilience and happiness among the poor are like those who told the poor to eat cake – Filipino resentment builds silently, but can explode all of a sudden.

  15. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Whom the Filipino people vote is what they read from the Philippine newspapers. Please do not blame the Filipino people for voting an incompetent corrupt President because whom they vote is the reflection of the current state of Philippine Press. Who run the Philippine Press? You guessed it right! Graduates from U.P.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      ENRILE will not be vindicated. ENRILE will make a huge comeback. ENRILE in cahoots with PHILIPPINE PRESS will refresh the Filipinos that it was ENRILE who liberated them from Marcos 20-year conjugal corruption. It is EDSA fake “REVOLUTION” once again. ENRILE, HONSAN and RAMOS will hold a grand reunion, all supporters of Marcos, who had a englorious falling out.

      WILL BONGBONG BE THERE? Of course, the son of political dynasty, Benigno Aquino will be there to honor his accidental hero/president mother’s Statue of Liberty, Cory Aquino.

      Wittingly unwittingly the Philippine Press will cover ENRILE! The Hero! There will be photospread of ENRILE with HK slung around his chest with magazine belt.

      Abangan !

  16. manuelbuencamino says:


    The president may be nothing but a speck, a mote in the eye of the Philippines, here but briefly. But that mote can do more harm than we can imagine. So let’s not get complacent.

  17. bauwow says:

    One of the reason why we have trouble pinning down the Filipino Soul is that we have so may languages and dialects that pretty much separates us from other”Filipinos”. We have Ilonggo, Panggalatok, Bisaya, Tagalog and a host of other dialects that divides us. That is why, a lot of people feel isolated and feel that they are left behind.
    But, I have observed that Filipinos especially those living abroad, despite the hardships and difficulties, still can manage to smile. He may even give you his last meal of you asked for it.
    One of the qualities of the Filipino Soul is its resilience. Pope Francis saw a glimpse of it when he said mass at Tacloban, that he was near tears and had to compose himself before delivering his homily.

    • … not dialects. are the linguistic categories:

      – Northern Philippines – Ilokano and Kapampangan belong to this group. The Ilokano spirit is very distinct, their values are known to be thrift and orderliness – I was partly raised by Manangs and the word “dugyot” for anything dirty or messy is etched into my memory… 🙂

      – Greater Central Philippine languages, most importantly:
      —> Central Philippine languages including Tagalog, Bikol and the Visayan languages. They are like a spectrum of languages… in Camarines Norte the language has more Tagalog while in Sorsogon they speak what is called Bisakol.. Visayan includes Tausug
      —> Mindanao languages which include Maranao and Maguindanao

      It is not that hard to learn another Central Philippine language if you know one, some exposure and you get it, even if Tagalog has the most complex grammar noted even by German geographer, naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt while Bikol and Bisayan grammar is way simpler – the Tagalogs HAD the Kingdom of Tondo for centuries and the old Tagalog of poetry or of Mabini shows its sophistication. Ilokano is hard to learn I never really got it except for simple words and phrases. But then again, there is an old joke about a Bikolano who got beaten up in Manila for pointing at fish in a market and asking for “sira” – the Bikol word for fish which in Tagalog means rotten or spoiled. What is also interesting is how much Spanish each language absorbed – if I am not mistaken in Bikol you only count up to ten in native words then it goes on in Spanish. The languages of the Philippines are related, but the distance between is like between German and Dutch. Batangueno is a dialect of Tagalog, so is Bulakeno. Bikol alone is a group of 5+ languages, there is Central Bikol which nearly everybody understands with its own Naga dialect, there is the strange language of Buhi, Camarines Sur, there are the different Agta Bikol tongues.

      • bauwow says:

        Thanks for the info Irineo! I sit corrected.😊

        • No problem… the languages of the Philippines were called dialects because of ideology… Quezon redefined Tagalog as Filipino and was of course a child of the Revolution and the First Republic which was Tagalog in its roots.. Bonifacio never mentioned the Philippines he called his nation Katagalugan, Macario Sakay who was hanged as a bandit by the USA had his own Tagalog Republic in the mountains of Rizal… the Visayans considered the method by which Quezon decided on Tagalog unfair because their languages were counted separately even if they are what linguists call a “dialect continuum” similar to the dialects along the German-Dutch border… that conflict prevented full “Filipinization”…

          The Ilocanos and Igorots took to English like fish to water… it also could have had to do with not wanting Tagalog dominance… they both are America’s closest friends because many Ilocanos worked on Hawaii plantations and many Igorots became Anglicans… in addition the Tagalistas got lost in typical Filipino factionalism… Lope K. Santos who made the official Tagalog grammar has been described by many as “Spanish in mind” and his form of Tagalog is close to incomprehensible especially nowadays.. Patricio Mariano’s translations of the Noli and Fili are just as gruesome.. street Tagalog is the real Filipino, but it lacks the sophistication of Mabini’s expression… so the middle is lacking – again.

          • sonny says:

            Natural geographic boundaries are significant among Filipino language groups. The Cagayan River marks the Ibanag-Ilocano divide, the lower Cordilleras mark the Tingguian-Ilocano divide, Kalinga-Apayao-Ilocano is another divide. I suspect ridges mark the differences among Cordillera language mountain-folk (Ifugaos, Bontocs)

            The term leeward and windward also make for certain boundaries. The early Ilocanos took the leeward coasts and lowland regions from Laoag, along the flatlands up to the Amburayan River and later to the estuaries reaching San Fernando. Later on, by Spanish decree, parts of northern Pangasinan (up to San Fabian) and the foothills at what is now Rosario, Sto Tomas, Agoo, Caba, Bauang and western Cordillera (Naguilian and San Gabriel) of the Mountain Province were all fused to form a “union” hence the province of La Union.

            From what I can make out, the original Ilocanos come from the pleasant topography of Ilocos Norte. My sojourn in the towns of Ilocos Norte made me feel like a denizen of the Greek Isles. 🙂 Hence the tonal and abstractive quality of the Ilocano language. (solely my thoughts).

        • Bert says:

          Good decision, bauwow. Sitting is more comfortable than standing, I think.

      • Bert says:

        As far as I know the Bicol Region has the most diverse dialects of all the places I have been. The province of Masbate has a mixture of Visayan and a unique version of Bicol, Catanduanes pronounce the letter L with an R sound so very confusing to understand. I am from Tabaco in Albay and our dialect is somewhat the same of that in Naga City. Naga is Camarines Sur, so is the City Of Iriga but the dialect in Iriga sounds alien to me. The province of Albay alone has so many distinct dialects; for example I cannot understand the language spoken in the towns of Ligao, Oas and Polangui. a very different dialect from that of Tabaco, Malinao, Tiwi, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo and Legaspi City. There are lots of places there that people living on one side of a river has a different dialect than that in the other side of the same river.

      • chempo says:

        I have no appreciation of the many dialects in Philippines. I am wondering if it’s akin to the Chinese who has probably more dialects than Phils. Emperor Shi Huang Ti of the Chin Dynasty about 200 years bc brought the Chinese together by using Mandarin (Putong hua) as the national language, much like Tagalog is to Phils. But whilst I find almost all Filipinos know nothing outside of their own dialects, most Chinese are versed in several dialects, or like me, a smattering of other dialects.

        • Joe America says:

          Officially, they are languages (114 of them, including those recently expired), although I think there are dialects of these languages . . . like on the other side of the river. Some of them have fewer than 20 people who still speak the language. I always get a huge sense of sad if I think too much about it.

          • It’s just the way things go – modernity. The few people I knew who still spoke classic Manila Tagalog dialect – not the street talk which is something modern – came from Malabon.

            Mary will still understand and speak the Batangas dialect of her old folks but I can imagine that it no longer is as prevalent as before. I remember how a TV moderator had to ask about the meaning of the Cavite phrase Aguinaldo’s mother used in Heneral Luna – Cavite and Batangas dialects have some similarities and would seem the same to an outsider but Mary will for sure vigorously defend the difference. Quezon province dialect – Karl’s father may speak it but I doubt that Karl does. Bikol I heard is disappearing in Camarines Norte.

            The Ilocano language… I once heard a story about two young students who got admonished by a Manong for still speaking Tagalog after crossing the bridge over the Cagayan river in an overland bus – who do you think you are just for studying in Manila?

            Visayan languages are considered a “dialect continuum” by some linguists. That means you have this gradual fading via dialects to another language similar to what you find on the German-Dutch border. Bikol might also be part of this continuum if you ask me.

            Like Bert wrote there are Bikol dialects which are a mixture of Bikol and Visayan – the scientific term for these dialects is Bisakol and the Sorsogon dialect of my grandmother is said to gradually approach Waray. What Bert wrote about the immense variation of dialects in Bikol may have to do with the geography and independent mindedness of Bikolanos. Now if Bert really lives in a cave on a Camarines Sur island in case Duterte wins – I “laughed and laughed” when I read that – he will not only be following the old Bikol “remontado” (up the hills to hide) and “Cimarron” (wild cattle, a Spanish term for escaped black slaves in Cuba and Haiti also used for remontados in Bikol) tradition – he might be speaking something nobody except he himself understands when he comes out 2022. 🙂

            • sonny says:

              Irineo, I am familiar with the first time Manila experience being brought to the province. My dad used to regale us with such stories. We could see the the humor being pointed at. We also understood that it is all in jest and not to be carried against the subjects of the humor – the people from the less “genteel” side, so to speak, and the more substantial values are maintained.

              • Aren’t there so many variations of this – all caused by the essentially humiliating nature of the many interactions among Filipinos? Many who are made small want to feel big when they can. As for this bagong salta thing, Karl told us about benign0 showing off his Aussie frankness just a few months after moving to Australia. Isn’t that something very similar? With true confidence, many of our countrymen would not need to be wannabes anymore.

       is about this topic.

    • sonny says:

      Doc, the Filipinos from Pangasinan do not appreciate the term Panggalatok, I found out. I use Pangasinan or Pangasinense instead.

    • Joe America says:

      It is the soul of a jelly fish, as Edgar recognized, a bunch of separate parts that are somehow connected, drifting slowly slowly on the tectonic plates. When the planet heats to boiling, the Philippines will be the last nation standing.

  18. John D says:

    This I believe to be the soul Filipino

    Show me and I will follow
    Follow me and I will lead
    Adore me and I will be your older brother
    Hurt me and I will be your silent adversary

    The world is as I see it
    The vision of others is their own
    Unless it crosses my domain

    The path of least resistance is first choice
    But I am learning


  19. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I mourn the death of Justice Scalia. Lawyers who argue their cases before him tremble, quake on their knees and turn it to jelly. If Scalia sense their argument is hogwash he will tell them “hogwash”. Meriam Defensor Santiago is like that. But in the Philippines hogwash is what politicians, senators and congressmen swims in.

    In the Philippines, justices announce their bias towards presidential candidates. There is one so-called Justice graduate from U.P. who publicly ally with Duterte. As we all know, Duterte imply he violated International Human Rights and justice and never ever got investigated. There is Sereno, another graduate from U.P., who pre-judged the case of Binay and wanted to change the rule of the game in the midst of argument before the Supreme Court. There also Justices who talked to the irresponsible Philippine Press that Grace Poe is cut-and-clean DQ.

    Supreme Court Justices in the U.S. never ever talk their mouth off to the American Press.

    May Scalia Rest-in-Peace a vehement Social Conservative.

    • sonny says:

      I hope the example of Justice Scalia will not be lost on our own Judiciary.

    • Micha says:

      Yeah right Mariano, you swoon over a divisive arch conservative supreme funk judge who liked to hang out with millionaire friends while their cases/petitions (money is free speech, for one) are being litigated in his court.


    • Micha says:

      The unethical judge died while vacationing in a sprawling ranch on invitation from a Texas millionaire John B. Poindexter.

      • Joe America says:

        (1) Do you believe Justice Ginsburg found Justice Scalia to be unethical?

        (2) What were his unethical acts in your view?

        • Bush vs Gore comes to mind without having to exercise much brain cells.

          • Joe America says:

            But I don’t understand the unethical part. I agree, Scalia’s decisions are the epitome of right wing extremism, and I personally don’t like them, but how is that any different than Roberts switching sides and going liberal on gay rights? . . . okay, let me read your link now.

          • Joe America says:

            “. . . probably unethical tirade.”

            Tomasky doesn’t like Scalia wearing his extremism on his robe sleeves, promoting his views outside the legal rulings. It’s interesting. Who holds the Supreme Court to ethical standards, anyway? I wonder if there are impeachment powers. The chance of any SC justice getting impeached are about zero, I’d think, especially a conservative one. So there is no certified way to say Scalia is unethical. It’s in the eyes of the beholder, and a lot of conservatives think he is the most ethical guy on the planet.

            • Joe America says:

              I would add that the Philippine SC justices are arguing their case (re Poe) in the orals, for public consumption. They are hardly fact-finding. They are promoting their agenda as grossly as Scalia, I think.

        • Micha says:

          In 2001, he went on a pheasant hunting trip with the dean of a Kansas law school who was the lead attorney in two cases that were about to come before the Supreme Court.

          And in 2004, he went on a hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney — flying with him on a plane that served as Air Force 2 — while the high court was considering a case that challenged the secrecy of an energy task force led by Cheney.

          When the conservative financier Charles Koch sent out invitations for a political retreat in Palm Springs, he highlighted past appearances at the gathering of “notable leaders” like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court.

          Common Cause once filed a petition with the Justice Department asking it to investigate whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves in the case involving Citizens United, because of their attendance at past retreats organized by the conservative financier Charles Koch, whose company operates a foundation that is a major contributor to political advocacy groups.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Never go hunting.

            • Franz-Josef Strauss, Prime Minister of Bavaria – a bit of a Binay, FVR and Erap combined, son of a butcher who was bar topnotcher, Dr. of Laws – went hunting with Apo Lakay and even gave him a pistol. Green MP Fischer shouted at him in Parliament for that KKK…

              I met some SAF people in a Munich restaurant 10+ years ago – in Bavaria for some training. The Bavarian-Philippine relationship dates back to the friendship of FJS and FM. Now the PNP has benefitted from that – Hanns-Seidel Foundation is close to the ruling CSU party which Strauss came from, DOJ has benefitted as well, even the NCAF or Ninoy and Cory Aquino foundation has benefited from the Seidel foundation programs to support microfinancing which is very good for Bam Aquino’s SME initiatives. So it is very important not to see things black and white like some of the extreme yellows are doing. Lambat-Sibat is Bavarian State Police style – go after high value targets like a Doberman.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is another German entity that deals with Ding Deles directly.They handled Security Secor Reform initiatives,helped in the peace process,etc.

              • Social Democrats… Ebert was a tragic figure, one of the greatest Social Democratic Presidents during the Weimar Republic. Adenauer foundation supports DEPADEV which is the development of true political parties in Bangsamoro – maunahan pa tayo ng mga Moro!

                Grace Poe was sometimes at Adenauer Foundation (Christian Democratic) gatherings, but I guess she was more like a dog sniffing out possible new patrons and masters. Well many Filipino politicians were tutas – I have seen an old picture of Osmena and Romulo eating after the Leyte landing. Osmena has an honorable posture, Romulo that of a lapdog who has just been given food. Some Americans fell for subservient Filipino flattery – Reagan in the beginning, all the more he hated Marcos and dropped him in the end.

              • karlgarcia says:

                PDSP (social democrats)is chaired by Norbert Gonzales,they must have dealt with him first during the time of GMA.

              • The idea for Christian-Muslim Democrats was something I also heard in the corridors during Cory’s Germany state visit in 1989 – to visit Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl.

                Manglapus did not know what to call the multilateral aid initiative, that was my idea the old man was talking to everybody in the corridors. He didn’t like my comment on his Filipino car program – I said why don’t you start with motorcycles and move up the food chain?

              • The Filipino car program became public… now Bilibid or not I had similar ideas then to those I have now… you can’t jump up to the fifth floor you must take the stairs…

                Epal ulit: – Rome was not built in a day, neither was Manila, or Tokyo/Edo. Fotos of Singapore in the 1960s and Manila show Manila much richer – maybe the Filipino problem is lack of modesty and patience?

              • Joe America says:

                Ahhhh ” . . . lack of modesty . . .” A new flash of light. Thanks.

              • Manila 1960s:

                Singapore 1960s:

                I am sometimes worried that the present boom will end like so many others before.

              • Saigon before:

                Saigon today:

                Ang palagay ko sa Pilipinas ngayon, hinihila lang siguro ng ASEAN para hindi mapahamak lahat – it is neither Arroyo’s economic policies or those of Aquino even if they are good but external factors pulling the Philippines up with the rest not own initiative we never had any.

      • Wrote this after reading what Ginsberg wrote of Scalia:
        I once wrote that although I would never wish anyone dead Justice Scalia is on that short list of maybe not such a bad thing. Fuck reverence for the dead. You were scum. A legal genius with Fucked Up Value system. The world is a better place because you are no longer in it.

  20. caliphman says:

    Let me advise caution to those who would throw it to the winds and dismiss the gravity of picking wisely and safely in the coming presidential elections. In the sixties, this nation elected an indicted assassin as the head of the republic and suffered the yoke of tyranny, oppression and the plunder of its national wealth until the mid-eighties. It is far too easy for those who have not personally suffered this terrible experience to dismiss the consequences of taking the choice of president and vice president lightly. For four centuries, our people have been too complacent in suffering in tyranny under a master who ruled in the name of monarchy and the cross. More than a national soul or spirit to soldier on under the boot of another tyrant or dictator, this country and its teeming masses needs a national awareness and conscience to spare this and future generations from another Marcos or not much better Binay era. Are we waiting for a Jewish holicaust before we awaken to the reality that we desperately need to stop choosing leaders who can abuse and oppress us beforehand and not hoping a miracle to happen after to eject them from power??

    • caliphman says:

      For those who also suffer from national amnesia and would put another Marcos within reach of the throne, Raissa and Alan Robles has a book that may offer a cure in their book on the Marcos year’s available this March and to be excerpted in Raissa’s website.

  21. Thank you for.writing this article. It inspires me to work even more.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, well thank you for the kind words, Jose. I inspired me, too, with this one, and the result will be coming down the pike soon, an article entitled “High on the Philippines”. Hope you catch it.

      • Harry Tan says:

        You keep on punching those articles, Joe. And, I’ll (we) keep on sharing them. Methinks that dear Filipinas’ soul is smiling because of your kind and honest words about her.

        Your blogs opened my eyes a lot about the Philippines, the Filipino, cultures and even life in general. Your works are indeed inspiring to a Filipino like me. Even more so inspiring is the person behind the nom de plume. Because of his honesty, open-mindedness and genuine character.

        Thank you, Joe. And, God bless you!

        • Joe America says:

          Ay ay ay, Harry, I’m glad you have learned right along side me, as this blog is essentially the task of educating myself out loud. It’s good that so many are willing to share their own insights and information in these discussion threads. Thanks for making my day.

  22. Nori Santos says:

    Thanks, as always, for this brief but concise item this time, JoeAm.
    In the end, the Filipino Vote settles all discussions, even those as great as these ones, on who gets to be in the forefront. Do we take two steps backward after that one big step forward or shall we crawl our way ever so slowly toward that global leadership, always within our grasp but never quite reachable? With so little time left to V-day, we need to take this forum to the level of the majority who have all the time and are simply waiting to be included in such or else they make do with crap that TV personalities inject them subliminally everyday.

    • Joe America says:

      Yep. Well said. “Waiting to be included . . .”

    • Micha says:

      Global leadership? I find that a funny concept. For one, do we aspire to be a leader and others are consigned to following?

      Is the goal then to dominate and subjugate others?

      Both the US and the USSR then were global leaders. Their reign was not exactly the prettiest chapter in human history.

  23. Micha says:

    A huge collection of jewelry that once belonged to the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, is to be sold at auction.

    It was seized by the government when her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was overthrown in 1986.
    The jewellery has been valued at more than $21m (£14.5m).

    The authorities are rushing to sell the jewels in case the couple’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, becomes vice-president in elections in May.

    Officials fear he would then stop the auction.

    Mrs Marcos had tried to prevent the sale.

  24. “The discussion thread accompanying “The Philippines is bigger than any president” is one of the richest imaginable. It is one part magazine, with photos, one part encyclopedia, and one part social study. It even has a poem from John that knocked my socks off.

    Thanks to all who contribute to make this a very intelligent forum.”

    Thank you too Joe, for inspiring the Filipino soul to find it’s diverse expression, it’s poetry. For it is only through the arts and the sciences that a soul of a nation finds its expression and maturity. Martin Luther was the somewhat archaic anger of the German soul fighting against the power of Latin dominance. Schiller was Sturm und Drang, the wild “storm and passion” – he even had an affair with two sisters at once – expressing itself. Goethe was the mellowed version of the German soul which had found more peace – his famous saying “a country that does not protect strangers shall go under” downright prophetic a hundred years before the “Zero Hour” of Summer 1945.

    A country that does not express its soul does not find balance, that soul instead finds its remedy for vulnerability and pain in the anger of Duterte supporters, or in the violence of Hitler’s Nazis.

    And to say it the way Will would say it – there is a lot of LOVE in all of the postings in this thread. Will who I have NOT been particularly nice to recently. I have not openly attacked him, but have indeed given him some elbowing like in Filipino street basketball, something he did not deserve.

    • EDSA in the 1950s… from the 1970s I remember it had 5 lanes but three lanes plus two lanes for the “service road” part… in some parts only 3 lanes.

      The major bottleneck was the Guadalupe bridge which was renovated and widened.

      • sonny says:

        There was a time when the Highway 54 stretch to Guadalupe was new. Car aficionados would ‘drag race’ from Ortigas to somewhere beyond the bridge. Hindi pa assigned ang mga hagad noon. A&W Root Beer kiosk was the sole establishment where the Farmers Market now sprawls and Rizal Theater was the whole of Makati commerce.

    • Joe America says:

      He can handle it, I am confident. Thanks for documenting my side-bar comment. There is a poetry to the Philippine soul, a passion, I agree. It is consistently there among all who comment here sincerely. Only the peddlers don’t exhibit it. I would also say that the Philippine soul is crying out for honesty. More than anything, I think that is why this blog and its discussion thread are so well regarded. Minimum game-playing.

  25. chempo says:

    If the soul of a country be relegated to one defining core value, what would that be for Philippines?

    For Americans, it is FREEDOM. It is a value that Americans will fight and die for.
    For the French, it is LIBERTE. The French way of life was attacked in the Paris bombings, and for them, that’s Liberte. The French gift of friendship to the Americans, the colossal statue stands on Liberty Island in New York city.
    For the British, it’s MAGNA CARTA. The rule of law is the foundation of their culture.
    For the Chinese, it’s WALL KWOR, WALL MIN, WALL CHEIA — our country, our people, our family.
    For Singaporeans, it could be MAJULAH. It comes from the Malay root word “maju”, the “lah” is akin to the Filipino “na” as in “kain na”. Our national anthem is called Majulah Singapura. Maju means onward, progress or development.
    For Filipinos? I can’t sense or feel any entrenched core value. Perhaps GAEITy? Thus explains the popularity of celebrities, love for dancing and music, colourful festivities. Much like the Brazilian SAMBAL.

    • edgar lores says:

      Filipinos will kill for three things: profit, power and their sense of rightness. All are personal values.

      For profit, they will kill themselves or kill others to acquire it. Examples: tandem motorcycle assassins; bandits who behead hostages; and NPA extortionists.

      For power, they will kill others. Examples: election violence; NPA rebels; Muslim insurgents; and Duterte death squads.

      For their sense of rightness, they will kill others who insult them in anyway: Examples: people who are killed for looking at someone the wrong way; people who are killed for insulting a family member; people who are killed for a measly sum; Duterte death squads; and people who sing “My Way” their way and not my way.

      The main core value seems to be either Ego Imposition and/or Survival?

      • chempo says:

        So much “inflict unto others” mentality. So sad all these “pulling down” gut reactive values. In a land so barren of positiveness, Joe’s promotion of a “building up” culture, which is the noble essence of this blog, deserves all the help it can get to reach out.

    • chempo,

      That “LIBERTE” from France, comes directly from American “FREEDOM”— with Thomas Paine right smack in the middle of the connective membrane.

      Indonesia has “MERDEKA”, the Philippines has “MAHARLIKA” and the Moros have “MARADEKA”. All mean “FREEDOM”, but different from the American iteration which closer fits Schopenhauer’s sentiment above.

      Freed-slave. Which I think closer echoes Aristotle’s sentiments, than Schopenhauer’s.

      “But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.” — Aristotle, Politics, Book 1,

      Of course, with Aristotle’s definition, that American “FREEDOM” automatically becomes a choice between beast or god 😉

      • chempo says:

        Thanks Lance, for that beautiful quote of Schopenhauer. That choice of beast or God … so as to Democrats and Republicans, who is what? Why can’t there ever be a third party Independent? Why Freedom must be unfettered?

        On individualism and society, John Donne’s “no man is an island” and “for whom the bell tolls” quote :

        “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

        • Mind and Body has to be FREE. Maharlika is more on the Body, not so much Mind– that, I think is a big difference.

          I think if Aristotle lived long enough to meet folks like Spinoza and Schopenhauer, he’d agree with them and re-think his “beast or god” to go closer towards “god”— which would be closer to Buddha’s and Jesus’ “FREEDOM” than simply being a freed-slave.

          as to Democrats and Republicans… Joe I’m sure thinks Trump’s a beast, where I’m thinking he’s closer to a god– “who has no need because he is sufficient for himself”, other side of the same coin is “austerity” 😉

        • “Why can’t there ever be a third party Independent?”

          Answer: Ralph Nader

          Un-intended Result: George W.

    • Joe America says:

      Very interesting. You are right, the typical values are missing. Indeed, they are turned inside out, to those of us with western values. It’s like ambition is negative and tearing people down is a reason for being. Laughing at successful people who fail, the whole crab-envy thing. Maybe the core value is revenge or anger, rather than gaeity. To get even for centuries of being used. The abandoned child mix of show-off and anger. Just typing out loud here . . .

      • Joe,

        In the Middle East, Arabs (both Muslims & Christians, even non-Christians/non-Muslims) were more prone to follow their leaders— Malaysia and Indonesia were also similar, which I’ve always attributed to Islam.

        The Philippines however Filipinos were less interested with the notion of being indians, hence too many chiefs not enough indians. Which I guess goes back to chempo’s point about MAJULAH and edgar’s “My Way”.

        How do you teach Loyalty— maybe that should be the core value. 😉

        • Joe America says:

          That actually is a regular theme in my writings. Personal accountability and sacrifice for the nation. I think people generally can’t relate to the idea.

        • chempo says:

          Loyalty is a virtue and yet a vice.
          Being mere humans, most people adhere to blind loyalties. Makati residents who received cakes from Binay have “B” etched in their hearts, it does’nt matter even if “B” stands for “beast”. (Lance, a throw back to your beast and God comment).

          Should we then teach loyalty to nation? But the “ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country” sermon seems meaningless to folks living in make-shift cardbox homes.

          Then again, for Muslims, loyalty is first to fellow muslims, then family, last but not least country.

          The Chinese got their mentality right. Their loyalty is country, countrymen, family.

          • – it was not like that among the Chinese more than a hundred years ago – Sun Yat-sen’s famous quote comes to mind:

            The Chinese people have only family and clan solidarity; they do not have national spirit…they are just a heap of loose sand…Other men are the carving knife and serving dish; we are the fish and the meat.

            Filipinos today are a jellyfish like Edgar said… not a heap of loose sand.

            • chempo says:

              The good doctor was wrong on this. He was fighting Mao Tse Tung and a few hundred million communists, thus his anger at the majority Chinese who abandoned the corrupt Nationalist party of Sun Yat Sen

              Chinese loyalty to country is epitomised in the legend of Yue Fei, the 12th century Chinese General on whose back his frail and dying mother tatooed the 4 Chinese character “serve your country loyally”. She forced him to serve the country first over his filial piety, thus forcing him to go into battle and leave his dying mother.

              This is the Chinese mentality. In fact, I read them so well that just before the first Chinese astronauts landed on the moon, I was discussing with my brother just what would the astronaut say. It will be none of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. True to form, the Chinese astronaut said as he planted the flag — for our country, for our countrymen….

              • I’ve always wondered how much of all this is biologically pre-determined, chemp.

       may well take credit for capitalism’s rise in NW Europe— giving rise to Adam Smith’s, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

                And with that the abandonment of parallel/cross cousin mating,

                I know the Chinese were also into parallel/cross cousin mating, which they preferred though I have no idea, but I do know in the Arab world, Father’s Brother’s Daughter, is the prime choice for men looking to wed.

                So the success of societies that favor collectiveness to individuality, tend to forecast empire building, and both Arabs and Chinese have done so for longer periods, centuries, only intermittently disrupted by Mongols, etc.

                Base on our understanding of FREEDOM, I don’t think Americans can ever sustain an empire– tepid to lukewarm when it comes to projecting power, much less expanding.

                I know cousins don’t marry in the Philippines, but the flipside are the mind-blowing numbers of children from incest mating, ie. father-daughter, etc. (I’ve not found actual studies on this phenomenon, though visit any orphanage or ask house-servants over there, and you can confirm the severity of this problem).

                So the Philippines is probably closer to NW Europeans (and Americans) when it comes to individuality, but family cohesion may not be as strong as the concept of nuclear family units found from NW European-based societies?

                That last question is probably more suited for Ireneo, our resident historian/anthropologist.

              • Villages are already way too close-knit to allow more cross-breeding. Usually in those places everybody knows who is the illegitimate son or daughter of whom, but nobody talks.

                In “good families” a brother or a cousin with a normal family sometimes covered up for a sister or cousin who got pregnant out of wedlock, the birth certificate fixed with the help of a “friendly” town clerk. There was something similar I heard of among illegal Filipinos in Germany – an illegal gave birth but used the medical insurance of her sister, pretended to be her and registered the kid as the sister’s son. Lot of secrets among “Catholic” people.

          • “Loyalty is a virtue and yet a vice.”

            “The Chinese got their mentality right. Their loyalty is country, countrymen, family.”


            The Arabs call this loyalty, … more like Solidarity. I can totally see it as a vice.

            But they also have the notion of “iltihaam” or coalescence, which was the whole point of “Hero”— very good movie.

            Maybe continue the General Luna 3 part series, with movies like “Hero” in the Philippines? Problem and solution–loyalty, the bigger kind, not the less.

            • – Bayanihan is a nearly forgotten term, almost as nostalgic as the English of Manong Sonny which reminds me of the English in my father’s high school yearbook… the Americans abolished the barangay which the Spanish had continued from pre-colonial times and replaced it with the barrio which was less authoritarian and more civic in spirit = bayanihan, Marcos brought it back…

              Now bayanihan is coming back via unofficial communities abroad, I have identified two blogs that are local one by a former OFW. This article: is about the reasons for the rifts and possible solutions to them. Also it occured to me in the discussion that Indonesia and Malaysia had more real states than the Philippines had before colonization, and a culture of leadership that colonialism did not pervert, while that of the Philippines was perverted by the principalia system.

        • sonny says:

          Being chief was not enough. You must show you are. The ranking among the Moros during the Mindanao of Leonard Wood, Pershing, et al was displayed by how many parasol bearers followed the chief. In colorful display, no less. The colorful vintas were not on display for nothing: here comes in your face dominion.

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