The two “me classes” that undermine the Philippine nation

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When does “me” undermine “us”? [Photo credit:]

Fine print: The audience for this piece is foreigners. However, if you are a Filipino citizen, you are free to read as long as you accept full responsibility for any ideas that arise from within your own cranium. In other words, don’t blame me if you think thoughts that affect your decision-making with regard to the forthcoming election.

It is perplexing to me as a “foreign” observer that the Philippines seems to be its own worst enemy. I look at the irrational judgments being made by Filipino voters regarding the forthcoming election and just sit back amazed.

This is the first of several articles that will seek to explain to other foreigners how it is that a nation that is among the fastest growing in Asia and recognized around the world for her achievements is seen as a failure by her own people. Filipinos are not satisfied. Voters want “change” and “discipline”. They will  vote – if I may be allowed to speak harshly – for a scurrilous crook or dirt-mouthed womanizer or shallow opportunist and feel absolutely no embarrassment for themselves, their friends, families and neighbors, or the nation.

Frankly, I wonder why Philippine leaders worry so much about sovereignty under attack from abroad when there is so little dedication to the nation from within.

Nationhood of the Western model . . . that is, democratic and capitalist . . . requires the sacrifice of individual convenience and comfort for the well-being of all. It requires give, not just take. It requires a vision of wholesome values, of fairness and candor and integrity. It also requires information, not emotional guesswork.

But the Philippines is dominated by two “me classes”. People who are largely interested in their own well-being ahead of that of their nation. And . . . tragically . . . they may end up punishing a whole lot of good people in the forthcoming national election.

Before discussing the two “me classes”, perhaps it would be useful if I provided the briefest of historical perspectives:

History of occupations. The Philippines marches to it’s own beat. That is the first and most basic thing to understand. The nation is tribal by origin and has worked through an idiosyncratic history dominated by three abusive outside occupations, first by Spain, then by America, and lastly by Japan. Now and then during this history, the people have also been led by their own abusive, self-serving leaders, most prominently by a guy named Marcos who drove the nation into wretched poverty, depravity and debt. Very recently, the nation was led by a pair of plundering presidents, in succession. So if you expect Filipinos to think and feel as you do about trust in public servants, disabuse yourself of that notion. You’ve likely not been there, you’ve likely not done that. Filipinos far and wide don’t trust their leaders. They don’t trust their nation.

The two “me classes”

The largest of the two “me classes” is made up of the unemployed and the laboring poor, or subsistence workers. In Manila, they are the squatters, market vendors, transportation drivers and the service workers in retail stores. Most policemen fall into this class, and a lot of teachers, too. Outside of Manila, they are the fisherfolk and tree climbers, the tricycle peddlers and shop workers, and a whole lot of other ordinary working stiffs with no place to go but their measly job with its measly wage and bossy boss. For these millions of citizens, the focus on “me” comes from a drive to survive or subsist in a society that gives them little in the way of opportunity to prosper and grow.

The smaller of the two “me classes” is made up of people of power, those with money, those entitled to special rights that are granted only to those who are “in” with the other power brokers. Their “me force” is greed, ambition and accumulation of more power. The class includes oligarchs, politicians, mayors and governors, judges, a lot of attorneys, and wealthy businessmen. These are people of means and some measure of power who use their means and power to self-advantage.

Irrational voting . . . or voting that is not in the best interest of national well-being . . . comes from both of the “me classes”.

Those who are poor or subsisting day to day will sell their vote or just do what someone of authority tells them to do. Or react angrily to lash out and unload a lifetime of being taken for granted. Hell hath no fury like a worker who cannot get to his job because the stupid trains are broken again. Those in the subsistence class lose nothing by voting for an un-presidential president. Indeed, it feels good to lash out.

Those who are entitled and powerful will back a crook, womanizer or inexperienced opportunist if they think they will gain from it. There is no guilt to this. “Everyone does it”, or so they tell themselves. The biggest threat to the powerful “me class” is an honest government that enforces rules of fair play. Members of this class of entitlement and privilege are the main sources of criticism or hostility toward the Aquino Administration which, for the most part, is honest, earnest and productive. And a threat to many for being so.

There is no “national principle”, no set of national ethical rules, that either of the two “me classes” recognize. There is expedience. There is “me”.


Ethics represent the voluntary standards we live by that protect the group. Honesty is generally first and foremost among the principles. Professional ethics protect the profession, and the clients of the profession. Senatorial ethics protect the Senate, and the citizens of the nation. National ethics protect all of us, even foreigners.

A national ethical principle might be: Make sure the Philippines has a president who can stand as an equal to the most powerful leaders in the world. Equal means a certain level of competence and diplomacy, being neither subservient nor arrogant. Nor an embarrassment.

We ought not be ashamed of our President. We ought to be able to trust our President.


That circles us back to the fact that most Filipinos do not trust their leaders or nation.

Three institutions that undermine Philippine ethics and nationhood

To me, there are three institutions in the Philippines whose main players contribute hugely to the nation’s lack of ethical foundation . . . and the public’s mistrust of government:

  • Mass media owners
  • The Senate
  • The Catholic Church

Mass media owners

Mass media owners in the Philippines do not represent a “fourth estate” that protects democracy and informs citizens. Rather, it is a part of the entertainment industry. The gaming industry, actually, where headlines and articles are gamed to manufacture conflict and hype circulation or audience. Today, whether by tacit or explicit agreement, mass media owners are allowing their outlets to favor one candidate and bury another. They are burying a threat, the candidate who will continue to weed out corruption and unfairness. They are favoring one of their own, someone who is opportunistic enough to do their bidding.

Mass media owners are a part of the powerful “me class” that protects its own. If you don’t know exactly what I am talking about, search around for who sponsored Senator Escudero’s wedding, follow the deductions, and you will soon figure out what is happening and why. If you are analytical, check the coverage level for candidates Poe vs. Roxas on first tier media outlets.

Mass media are an Enemy of the State, in my book. They have unlimited freedom . . . and choose to abuse it. If the Philippines elects a bizarre bunch of candidates by your global standards, look no further than the Philippine mass media for the reason. There is no fourth estate in the Philippines calling events factually and forthrightly. There are only gameplayers, favoring the favored, and their own well-being.

The Senate

The Senate is stocked with crooks and malcontents and won’t even chair its Ethic’s Committee. It’s members don’t work for national good, but for special interests.

One of its members, an ardent women’s rights advocate, stands silent as one of the presidential candidates represents all that is threatening to women’s well-being: objectifying women, discriminating against women, and fondling or forcing himself onto women in front of our children. The senator’s brother is a vice presidential candidate for that man.

Another pair of senators undermined a key piece of legislation by secretly yanking over a billion pesos out of the Reproductive Health budget, money that did nothing but give poor women a choice: contraceptives or not. The two senators believe that they, personally, should determine the choices available to women, on behalf of their faith. Not for the nation, which demanded and passed the law. Not for the women, whose health and livelihood depend on the law..

Another senator took it upon himself to kill two major pieces of legislation – the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the National Land Use Law – for personal political gain. For the special interests that back him. It’s in his bloodline to be autocratic, for he is the son of a dictator, and he is running for Vice President.

The Senator who chairs the Agriculture Committee has declared that she will not act on a bill releasing P85 billion in Coco Levy funds to farmers while she is chairwoman. Her husband is a real estate developer building housing tracts on cheap agricultural land.

A senator out on bail for plunder was allowed to hijack the Senate agenda for a bitter, vengeful attack on the President of the Philippines. The committee chair who agreed to the attack agenda is herself a presidential candidate.

National well-being and integrity are set aside time and time again in the Senate in favor of personal advantage. It is a “me Senate”.

I’m honest with my young son. When he asks who Senator X is, I level with him. “She’s a jerk, son, out for herself rather than you.” I don’t want him to subscribe to the idea that authority commands respect no matter what . . .

The Catholic Church

Most bishops and priests in the Philippines are good people and do good work. But there is a set of political bishops and priests that bring the entire Church to shame.

Like others in the powerful “me class”, the political bishops and priests of the Catholic Church play games. One group called for the resignation of the duly elected president, the guy who is possibly doing more for the poor and for Philippine national morality than any President, ever. The President is a quietly faithful Catholic. Rather than helping him swim upriver against the tide of the crooks, liars, abusers and “me critics”, these political bishops and priests ignored the idea of separation of church and state, and threw rocks at him.

Beyond that,  the political bishops and priests are so busy forgiving malcontents that they are the nation’s chief “me enablers”. They allowed a known high-profile crook to kiss the Pope’s ring rather than standing up for honesty. I’m not Catholic, but I shrank in shame.

No leadership by example. No disciplined morality. No voice FOR good  . . . and AGAINST sin among the entitled. I fear this is the same Church that shot Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero. A political Church in cahoots with the privileged and powerful. It represents a voice that could do so much to raise the nation up, but its political leaders choose instead to pursue a miserly little path of favors and favoritism. Dr. Rizal was a martyr, a brilliant and kind man sacrificed to power and privilege, and a whole Church, a whole nation, has learned nothing from it.

The middle class: compassionate, rational good people

There is an ethical Philippines. There is a small core of Filipinos who are interested in national well-being ahead of personal gain. Or, more correctly, who understand that their personal well-being depends on a nation that works honestly and forthrightly for the well-being of all.

This group includes career-track workers, small business owners, or professional people. Generally they belong to the educated middle class or are reasonably prosperous people for whom ambition exists, but it is tempered by compassion for others and a sense of fairness for all.

Nationhood emerges from such values.

This is the core of the new, modern, aspiring Philippines. It is whom the current Aquino Administration set out to serve, while working to reduce poverty broadly. This group of people is the hope of the nation for prosperity and the kind of freedom than can only be found in fairness.

Unfortunately, it is this compassionate core of the Philippines that is under attack from the two “me classes”.

So the outcomes of the Philippine national election may seem dysfunctional to those who are used to integrity and earnest good works. But the facts are the facts. The two “me classes” are dominant. The heart of ethical principles, fairness and genuine nationhood is small.

Social media: a third “me class”?

“But Joe, social media are certainly creating a new class of ‘me centered’ people. I mean, look at that guy in the photo above preening vainly before the camera!”

Well, there is a lot of self-centeredness on social media, I agree. But I think the media are the media and the message is a reflection of where the users are coming from.

If they are from the working “me class” and don’t see much opportunity in their lives, then they will use the media to complain, share ignorance, or vent.

If they are from the power and entitlement “me class”, then they will hire trolls and social media specialists to spin their tweets and push agenda.

If they are from the ethical, earnest, patriotic, compassionate class, then that is what you will see on line: a focus on knowledge and information and doing the right thing.

Hopefully, more people from the two “me classes” will brush up against these earnest, honest, information-seeking media users and find their message refreshing and fulfilling. Hopefully, social media will be a vehicle that will allow the Philippines to find a more substantial, true, giving nationhood, and a more ethical, productive, compassionate, educated and inclusive way forward.

But don’t bet on it just yet . . .

You’ll know more after the election.


147 Responses to “The two “me classes” that undermine the Philippine nation”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Filipinos are irrationally irresponsble religious people. These people cannot know the function of religion. Nor can they know the function of evidences, investigation and law and how they are all interconnected that may also affect their lives.

    These reckless voters have very little information. Too busy to make ends meet and posting selfies on Facebook reading tweetering tweety birds.

    Mindanao people vote for Duterte because he is from Mindanao
    Visayas vote Poe and Roxas because they came from Visayas
    Luzon vote Binay. Of course, Binay came from there.

    They do not vote for Miriam becuae Filipinos hate intelligent people like they hate me because Miriam and I say it like it is like Donald Trump. They’d rather like sugar-coated diplomatese as if these people are diplomatic in their conversation which they are not at all. They just wanted to make believe that they are.

    What about Mar? Mar is a cool guy. When he campaigns he doesn’t pop his veins to make his point across. He doesn’t scream and shout. He doesn’t have that charesmatic Donald Trump strong commanding voice. He is too bland. No color exxcept that blase yellow shirt.

    Can’t Mar knows EDSA is over? Filipinos do not believe there was a revolution in EDSA. EDSA was 30 years ago. Nobody knew who Jim Paredes was. Nor Juan de la Cruz. Or Florante. Tjese people lost their cool factor. They are goner. EDSA is to be avoided. It is a mess. Bumper-to-Bumper.

    These irrational voters vote for Binay. Because all day every day they splash Binay as thief. The billions of money Binay stole is too impossible to digest to current breed of irrational Filipios. The anti-Binays think Filipinos are not FLIPS ! Filipinos are FLIPS! Filipinos are anti Goebels! FLIPS believe:


    “BINAYS PLAY VICTIMS” and it works !


    • Joe America says:

      I’d rather this not go down the path of discussing the election and candidates, but rather focus on the social conditions leading to the self-involvement I’ve written about. More valuable, if there is anything to be done about it, what? For sure, Korina and her husband’s shirts have nothing to do with this and have earned you a 30 day suspension, during which time I hope you will reflect on the problems people have with your postings, and if there is anything you wish to do about it.

      • Archie Hyde says:

        Your observations are generally correct except you forgot to declare one very important thing! You are very obviously an ardent Roxas/Aquino supporter and failed to include a list of their sins and membership in the political elite “Me” class. You also described Duterte’s womanising but failed to mention that he was completely honest and up front about it. It appears You have described yourself perfectly in this article under the section about Social Media: “If they are from the power and entitlement “me class”, then they will hire trolls and social media specialists to spin their tweets and push agenda.” Your neglect to present all key election players deems you most likely to be a supporter of the Liberal Party as your artical is biased in favour of them by not mentioning the transgressions in leadership by Roxas or Aquino but painted Aquino as being only good!

        • Joe America says:

          Hi, Archie. I can see that you have not followed the blog for any length of time. I don’t gloss over the “sins” of the Aquino government, but I also don’t conform to the general thinking here that if you see a perceived mistake, it means the whole of the person is flawed. No, he is human. I also look at things like DAP differently, as something any good executive would have done when coming into office and finding a lot of corrupt and wasteful projects on the agenda.

          I don’t think being honest about bad behavior turns that bad behavior into good. Bad behavior, repeated over and over again, IS indicative of character.

          I invite you to follow the blog regularly. Take things easy until you grasp that my only bias is for a wholesome, productive Philippines. I can be wrong at things, but readers know they can call me on it.

    • Jean says:

      I too was hoping Miriam would poll better. She is far behind and a non-threat, she isn’t even a target on an article such as this.

      Take heart. I haven’t heard the fat lady sing yet, so perhaps things may yet take a turn. she needs to up her game though. I’m hoping more debate, that’s where she will shine

      • Joe America says:

        As I mentioned, I’d rather this not get into a discussion of the candidates or election. I’d like to take a break from that.

      • Miriam is intelligent, I will grant you that but her judgement is wanting. To choose the son of the deposed dictator as her VP? Duh!

        She looks down on those who are not on her intellectual level, prone to hysterics and shaming the target of his fury. She, Duterte and Trump – what’s the difference?

        Stage 4 lung cancer, she says she suffered from, but she claims she is healed. Well meaning doctors doubt this and to erase the doubt, requested her to make public her medical records. Nah, she says, that is my constitutional right, I am entitled to my own privacy. What is she afraid of, if she really is healed? Well, she has at most 4% of the 2,000 survey respondents who believe her, not that I recommend voters to be swayed by survey results. But her health issues should be a big, big factor and woe unto us if her VP tandem makes it and she succumbs to cancer, the way my father did from the same stage 4 lung cancer. Her tantrums too, and the way she ignored the lessons of history – the authoritarian/dictatorial kind with plunder (number 2 on world record) and human rights abuses. She will be the instrument of a quick march of BBM to the palace. NEVER AGAIN!

  2. Jean says:

    I disagree. Coming from the middle class myself… I think we are the most “ME” out the bunch.

    • Joe America says:

      Oh, interesting. I think everyone is interested in improving themselves, and the middle class are in that “sweet spot” where they can reasonably do that. So they for sure are working for themselves. But I think they prefer a stronger field to play in, where they have a fair chance. That is, an honest one, not one full of favors and cheating.

      How do you see it?

      • Jean says:

        I agree, The middle class have access to good education. The middle class have access to opportunity to outside exposure and experience. The middle class have street cred with the masses because they are still somewhat identifiable with the masses. They also significant influence with the upper echelons because the middle class are their basically their enablers.

        The middle class is definitely a force to be reckoned with, stronger still if we were of one mind, which we are unfortunately not.

        The original EDSA revolution I have always believed was not the sentiment of the entire nation at that time but the middle class flexing its muscles.

        • eag97a says:

          The problem is the middle class is too small to influence the outcome of the elections and really without great effort coalesce behind a candidate or party to take control. As for the Edsa revolution it was military backed middle class uprising joined by the leftist rural and urban poor. That is quite a bit more than the middle class alone. Unfortunately our situation now just shows the we really deserve the leaders we have since we are ultimately the ones voting for them and despite the heroic efforts to educate the vast majority we are still short in disseminating and educating. I really hope we reform our Senate to a regional office to be more representative of our populace and not just a jumping off point for higher office/grandstanding on a national stage or worse a place to peddle and coddle influence for nefarious purposes.

  3. I would like to believe that I belong to the middle class (at least, the lower middle class) who earnestly wish our country to continue to grow economically so more of those in the largest of the two “me classes” made up of the unemployed and the laboring poor, or subsistence workers can level up to the middle class. Expansion of the middle class is what I hope for – to reverse the numbers. The middle class to be the largest of the class, sans the “me”, there, Joe.

    To do that, continuity. The current constitution precludes another term for the current president who performed excellently, so the next best thing is for his endorsed candidate to continue, improve and expand what he did right, to correct or stop what he did wrong, all up to the endorsed candidate when by God’s miracle, he wins.

  4. “They don’t trust their nation.” True… MRP assuming AMLC is crooked is a “shining” example. Sometimes I admit I still have to suspend disbelief, and look for evidence, not witness accounts that the present administration is earnest. The Importance of being Earnest – and not Enrile.

    Manong Sonny mentioned subsidiarity, solidarity and humanity as the three conditions that must be met in any balanced human order in a comment within my blog. I answered that every mandate given carries a certain trust that this mandate will not be abused – and abuse damages that trust.

    The triad of subsidiarity/solidarity/humanity is growing back in some communities that overcome the damaged culture of subservience/self-serving/impunity which centuries of oppression created. Trust if ever can only be rebuilt by mandates at the most basic level not being abused anymore.

    Leni is important for this rebuilding trust because of the massive support she has from grassroots organizations, and the Roxas supporter should stop ignoring her and fight for both in order to win.

    This blog is also grassroots – spears, bolos, arrows for us all.

    • Joe America says:

      One of the peculiarities of democracy is that it is political, with favors granted and received. The Philippines has developed this into a class of impunity (the rich and powerful me class), fueled largely by the money the oligarchs make and funnel to their candidates and people in office. The US started moving to this same model when the SC there allowed unlimited donations to Political Action Committees (PACs) that are not directly associated with candidates, but work in their best interests. The rebellion against this model is what we see playing out with Trump/Sanders there, and to an extent, Clinton.

      Here, we can judge just how significant is the influence of the wealthy by looking at how much money each candidate is pumping into advertising and campaigning. Debts are for sure being created, and we have no idea to whom. That is true for all the presidential candidates except Santiago, I think. One of the recommendations that might be put forth is a mandate to announce who contributors are BEFORE the election, not after. So that we know who we are REALLY voting for. (Which oligarch.) I have no idea how to get that very self-involved legislature to do anything about that. Or maybe it is within the purview of COMELEC, I’m not sure.

      • In I make the case that it always is about interests in any democracy – and about money. But that developed nations like the USA and Germany have these interests “corporatized” – the main means of achieving that:

        1. stockholdership instead of oligarchs, with strict rules
        1a. on insider trading
        1b. and anti-trust
        1c. with corporate careers

        2. real political parties instead of families, with strict rules
        2a. on party and campaign financing
        2b. with internal mechanisms for careers

        I did name the Philippines, Dubai and Saudi Arabia in one breathe, an MRP-like “dagger” because Syjuco’s article I linked there shows how few people control wealth and power.

        The more you distribute/dilute money+power the more democratic the country becomes.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, I was amused in reading your article earlier today at how our minds are drifting toward the same observations. I definitely like the German approach because it translates the evident influential power-brokers into a system that manages the power. In the Philippines, the question is, who will ever bring that kind of master plan to the table, when it is against their interests to do so?

          • Sup says:

            When all the OFW come back and keep the strict rules and regulations they did obey when abroad……maybe the ”happy go lucky attitude” will change….:-)

            • Joe America says:

              OFW’s indeed can be a force within the middle class force, one of the sectors to pay attention to. I’m noodling on a blog now that I title “functional federalism” which envisions the OFW “region” having its own government structure and representatives in the legislature.

              • sup says:

                Please do write ..

                Most OFW don’t realize that if the government becomes unstable or will be ”runned”(ruined) by persons with other idea’s about what is people’s money and theirs the credit ratings will plunge and the OFW is the person with lower exchange rates and higher cost to send money back home…

  5. karlgarcia says:

    A Christian song but it this part of the lyrics applies to all.

    Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang
    Walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang
    Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t-isa

    translated to

    no one lives for himself alone
    no one dies for himself alone
    We are accountable to each other

  6. cwl says:

    Marxists, obsolete as they are now, long held the view that the lowest and the highest of the economic strata are the worsts class and most resistant to change. The two classes are natural enemies of change that is why most revolutionary leaders do not come from those classes.
    This is not to infer ideological perspectives in your article but it seems it found common thread to those obsolete Marxists dictum.

    • Joe America says:

      That is amusing, cwl. But their solution is to use the lowest to diminish the power of the other classes, where I think the solution is to enlarge and empower the middle where significant economic wealth is generated and fairness is important. That is, ethics are important.

      Maybe the Philippines needs a good tort-based law firm that starts attacking the unfairness (and damages) of the existing system, taking it apart brick by brick. Are class action lawsuits allowed here? (I remember this coming up before, but don’t recall the answer.)

        by Emmanuel Goldstein

        “The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim — for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives — is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.”


        Do Filipinos read 1984 and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, over there… I remember reading these books in junior high, and I’ve always thought of both Orwellian and Huxleyean worlds.

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahaha, how brilliant that Goldstein is, although I don’t much appreciate him ripping off my ideas. 🙂 Reading of novels is not big in the Philippines. Rarely do I see anyone carrying a book. There are a few in the middle and privileged class who have undoubtedly read those authors. But most have not.

          • arlene says:

            I love that book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. 1984 is in my bucket list. We still have a book club in my group Joe. I joined Goodreads 2016 reading challenge – a hundred books this year, I am on my 29th.

            • hi arlene,

              Those two books have always been related in my mind, ie. a world ruled by pain OR a world ruled by pleasure– and pettiness.

              If you’ve not seen Logan’s Run, watch it. I heard Hollywood’s gonna update this movie (I hope they don’t screw it up).

            • what a challenge, arlene…I might join in but commenting in blogs is getting to be more exciting than books lately, both a strain in the eyes, though some nights I take a break to re-read a really good one……how I wish there are 48 hours in a day instead of just 24…Goodreads 2016 reading challenge, how do I join?

              • arlene says:

                Thanks Mary Grace! Just go to and create an account. I read book reviews there before I buy and read them.

          • “Reading of novels is not big in the Philippines. Rarely do I see anyone carrying a book.”

            Comics were big though (both anime and local comics). So maybe the Philippines is more on graphic novels?

  7. NHerrera says:


    Using Joe’s description let me define me class 1, me class 2, and the others or non-me class:

    – me class 1 = the unemployed and laboring poor or subsistence workers (squatters, market vendors, transportation drivers, service workers in retail stores, most policemen, a lot of teachers, fisherfolk and tree climbers, the tricycle peddlers and shop workers)

    – me class 2 = people of power, those with money, those entitled to special rights that are granted only to those who are “in” with the other power brokers (the class includes oligarchs, politicians, mayors and governors, judges, a lot of attorneys, and wealthy businessmen.)

    – others, non-me class

    So we have a feel for their numbers, we have using a nominal 100 million population the following approximate numbers:

    me class 1 = 50 million
    me class 2 = 5 million or less
    non-me class = 45 million

    We thus have a sizeable non-me class who think like us, and those who are either silent or are swayed by the noise of the me class 1 or the me class 2.

    • Joe America says:

      Most interesting. I was operating more along the premise that it might be 80, 5, 15. I suppose the question is, how much of the working population believes they have an opportunity to improve their lot. That is, with fair principles, they can get a promotion or raise. For me, the cutting line was teachers and policemen. The former don’t have much opportunity to cheat, the latter are known to receive small payments for favors. Are they stuck or moving up?

      I don’t know.

      Who do you include in the 45 million? Your version is a lot more optimistic than mine.

      Side note, government employees got raises this year. That means they ought to be at least a little bit in favor of an economy that continues to grow without getting jerked around. But do they FEEL it, or is it squashed because of traffic problems? (Rhetorical; I don’t expect an answer).

      • NHerrera says:

        I worked on the numbers in the link

        and consolidated the data.

        To add to my note above:

        Rather than increasing the fraction of the non-me class, an immediate objective of the group, as already touched above by Irineo/ Joe above, is a mechanism to have this sizeable group realize its size and therefore its FORCE; and then work for a common understanding and solidarity. This is key. As against a solidified non-me class, me class 2 cannot but change. By its nature me class 1 will follow. And of course, not far behind real education such as touched by James Valera below.

        • Joe America says:

          Superb approach, to develop a “class consciousness” and a recognition that it is a force, if it doesn’t do irrational things like electing a crook. I think it might also be possible for a progressive president to peel of layers of the middle class onion and give them hope and a career path. Like teachers, to have a merit plus performance pay scheme.

  8. Start from the question ” Why we are Poor? Aside from the physical poverty but also poor in moral & ethical. We as a nation could not build a strong institution of government if our people are not morally correct. Why countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Germany etc., have the strongest institution in the world the answer is simple they are very precise, discipline & morally correct people. Strong institution is the most important thing for building a wealthy country.
    I repeatedly stated in all my previous comments that I am more banking on the issue of human capital. Philippines human resources became so weak because we produce too much to handle, like an ordinary organisation if you produce too much of your capacity the quality of the products deteriorates.
    Recognising the importance of family foundation – it begins from birth, proper nutrients, healthier kids, hungry kids doesn’t learn enough at school because they are so many in the family.
    It’s great that we have now law for responsible parenthood, accelerate the implementation of Family Planning as soon as possible, mobilised the rural clinic throughout the country to give easy accessibility to the birth contraceptives. Give incentives to families that can reduce the amount of children they have.
    Education – it’s not all about solving the lack of classroom but the question of what are we teaching to our kids, isn’t about time to review the DepEd curriculum & change subject that are not working, I’ve been there I know the history books in the Philippines is very boring, it’s not engaging, I thought it’s very theoretical with no practical connection. I always sleep in my history class.
    I am a strong believer that as we advance our math & science we can not neglect the investment for science of humanity. We have to produce not only great scientist but philosopher too. Someone can aspire to be scientist by deep thinking, a kind of thinking that will question the existence of god. Philippines should aim higher than normally is.
    I am strong believer that if you mess up the basic you will not get it right the rest, you can’t neglect that the ultimately success of the nation start from the foundation of it, it’s people.
    Politician hate to invest for something they don’t see, that’s why tangible projects is popular in the Philippines because they can put their names on it.
    Thanks! Joe great article, if you became president of the Philippines I will apply in the Education department, hard to make kickback he he!

    • Joe America says:

      Excellent ideas. The problem is when government is the block to progress rather than the architect. I cite the senators who removed funding for contraceptives from the RH Act, which rather flies in the face of your constructive suggestion to focus on the quality of the family rather than the quantity. They obviously are oblivious how to get from A to B. I’m not sure they even know there is a B.

      I’m glad you found the article of interest. You’ve added some great ideas. Thanks for those. I’ve made note of your application for Sec, Dept of Ed, which I am inclined to look favorably upon. 🙂

      • Sup says:

        That guy who removed the billion was in the senate and during his turn to talk he only repeated the already given answers by the lawyer of the bank…for ”uneducated” persons listening to the hearing it sounds ”impressive”…bah…..

    I couldn’t find the article 2013 that warned about an this same traffic armageddon because of the infrastructure projects of the current administration, but I read it and I know it existed.

    What I am trying to get at is:

    This is the price of progress. I am honored to be one among those paying for this.

    Our grand parents had WW2 and we have Traffic Armageddon, I never heard my grandfather complain, it was always it had to be done, who else would have fought.

    Even as early as 2013 and even before the huge car sales we are seeing now Traffic Armageddon has been seen, we have all been warned.

    The question really is would you have suspended the projects causing these hellish traffic.
    (Rockwell to Trinoma 2 hours 15 minutes for a 22km trip) Would you have given in to the one sided contracts of the MRTH? And we blame the government for doing the hard but right thing?

  10. OT but important: “The European Union was invited to deliver opening remarks at the 3rd National Summit on Cybercrime of the Philippines held at Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters, in Quezon City on March 15, 2016. Mr. Mattias Lentz, Minister Counsellor at the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, took this opportunity to give an overview of EU actions to fight cybercrime and to contribute to cybersecurity. In the Philippines, the EU is supporting the Department of Justice and the PNP in the fight against cybercrime, providing training courses, workshops, training of trainers and study visits.”

    From the FB page of the European Union in the Philippines.

      “The hackers managed to transfer $81 million between February 4-5, over the Bangladeshi weekend, which falls on a Friday, when Bangladesh Bank is closed – from its account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, transferring the cash electronically to accounts in the Philippines.

      According to reports, the hackers breached Bangladesh Bank’s systems and stole its credentials for payment transfers. They then bombarded the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with nearly three dozen requests to move money from the Bangladesh Bank’s account there to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

      Four requests to transfer a total of about $81 million to the Philippines went through, but a fifth, for $20 million, to a Sri Lankan non-profit organisation was held up because the hackers misspelled the name of the NGO, Shalika Foundation.

      Hackers misspelled “foundation” in the NGO’s name as “fandation”, prompting a routing bank, Deutsche Bank, to seek clarification from the Bangladesh central bank, which stopped the transaction.”

      I don’t think these were Filipino hackers, but how the Philippine end of this heist played out is interesting.

      • Joe America says:

        This is the lead story here, with Senate hearings the past two days. Chempo has done a blog which I’ll publish later this morning (Phil time) on it. Given the timeliness of the subject, I’ll drop it into the schedule.

      • DAgimas says:

        there are also corrupt bankers. I still remember when I worked at a bank and we received a court order to garnish an account.

        the manager calls the account holder and inform him of the order, then they will withdraw the money and only after the account is withdrawn that the order is entered in the system.

        very neat..very corrupt

        • maru0907 says:

          As is expected.. Every big bank client expect this sort of thing from their bankers. How else are the Bank managers get their quotas if they can’t be “trusted”.

  11. There is no “national principle”, no set of national ethical rules, that either of the two “me classes” recognize. There is expedience. There is “me”.


    This is my take as well. As I read the last comment thread re Mary Grace, et al. on loyalty to the nation… What they were talking about and what I experienced when there, just didn’t jibe with what I saw.

    There is no national principle, whether or not the Paredes guy is a national hero, the point is he brought his family out first, before returning—- same with everyone else over there, whether kin or wealth.

    My experience over there was more in-line with James Cameron’s epic 1997 film Titanic (the part after scraping the iceberg, onward).

    Zero national principle, since everyone’s scurrying to off load… some stealing stuff, others killing each other, still others throwing their kids into those lifeboats, some in embrace as they go down…

    As to the concept of the middle class, here’s a video that’s gotten a lot of mileage over here, Joe— both from Bernie supporters, as well as Trump supporters (hmmmmmmmmmmmm…):

    Unlike the Philippines though, there is a (n American) national principle.

    Whether or not Trump becomes president, the states still make up these United States.

    The executive branch may dissolve (I’m of the opinion that Trump will make America great again 😉 ) but Congress and the SC (with or without the 9th justice) will still function, and so too the rest of the federal gov’t… largely due to the states.

    But that’s institutions…

    Joe, I agree with all the extraneous stuff to blame things on (per this article), but in the end it’s upbringing— and the principles taught since childhood. I hope you write an article on upbringing.

    • This is basically the way Marines view the Philippines, Joe…

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the suggestion on upbringing. I agree it is important and I may just do such a blog, but perhaps of a different style . . . hmmm . . .

    • Edgar Lores says:

      I take exception to the slander against Jim Paredes.

      I think the principle of parental protection prevails over “national principle.”

      Children are noncombatants and placing them out of harms’ way is ethical.

      That Jim chose to return to the Philippines to fight his battle against corruption in government is praiseworthy… and accords with the national principle. Whether the battle is his primary, secondary or tertiary motive is immaterial.

      Rightly, Jim allowed his children to choose whether to retain Filipino citizenship or not… in recognition that his battle may not be theirs.

      • I think the principle of parental protection prevails over “national principle.”

        That’s my point, edgar, those two should be congruent.

        If 5 generations of my family were so lackadaisical about the two, there wouldn’t be a U.S.A. nor a spread west on the continent.

        The only people I know who took a similar route were Mormons, many went down to Mexico… but at some point, they decided to “become” Americans, hence now making up a strong presence in Federal institutions, not to mention private enterprise.

        I’m just focusing on Paredes as an example of a wider problem, one which everyone here seems in agreement with, that Filipinos don’t look at the Philippines as something to be sacrificed over (you and yours being the greatest sacrifice), but

        rather the Philippines is treated more like a sinking ship.

        So with upbringing, I hope Joe ties this notion of sacrifice, in his coming article. The most committed wins.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          You are equating love of family to love of country. The two are NOT congruent, and nor should they be. Love of family is higher than love of country.

          One can choose one’s spouse, but one cannot choose one’s natural children.

          The country one chooses to reside in is a matter of choice, all things being equal.

          Your example of the USA is laughable. America is largely a nation of immigrants, of families fleeing their homeland, starting from European colonizers. These immigrants are people who loved their families above their native country.

          Therefore, you should NOT use Jim Paredes as an example of lack of the national principle. This is a man who fights for just causes in the Philippines.

          I repeat: Children are noncombatants and placing them out of harms’ way is ethical.

          One chooses to fight one’s battles, and one commits one’s life to these battles. One may obligate oneself to shed one’s blood for cause; but the sacrificial shedding of the blood of one’s entire family is NOT obligatory. After all, one does not own one’s children… but one owes them the best that life can offer.

          • @ edgar,

            Last time I checked the Philippines wasn’t an active war zone. Hence, folks like Wil, et al. were able to raise their kids just fine over there. And Joe’s not gonna jump ship anytime soon.

            The mindset of throwing your kids into a lifeboat is what’s at issue here. The boat is only sinking in the Filipino’s mind. Fix that mental image, and you have the beginnings of nationhood.

            “These immigrants are people who loved their families above their native country.” That’s my point, they coalesced into a nation, they didn’t leave simply because the going was rough, they fought on, and stayed—- with their families.

            • Joe America says:

              The Philippines was and is a dangerous place. I’ve been threatened with live fire twice. Imagine that attitude amplified under an autocratic, thuggish president like Marcos or Duterte where the PNP and local officials become storm troopers and have death squads. You better believe I have an escape plan for my family.

              • I understand dangerous, Joe, but war zone it is not, hence a bunch of Filipinos who can leave have chosen to stay (no doubt they too have escape plans), but the whole principle of staying and owning the land, sacrificing & participating, is the whole point of national principle, no? Unless you have a different definition of national principle, I’ve missed.

              • Joe America says:

                It’s a tough argument. A lot of Americans went to Canada because they did not believe Viet Nam was a just war. How much more unjust a dictator who destroys the ideals that a country should stand for, and controls all social forces from media to police. Each individual must make those decisions for himself, I think. If the cause is great and right, people will fight for it. But if there is a way to protect the family, leaving is a legitimate option. Why is it even necessary to supplant someone else’s judgment with your own, when you weren’t there?

            • edgar lores says:


              I am now shaking my head at your level of comprehension.

              “These immigrants are people who loved their families above their native country.”

              That is why they — the immigrants — left their country for America… before coalescing. This statement is to prove that love of family supersedes love of country. Got that?

              The analogy of a war zone is applicable. And I used it because you are a military man. In terms of survival, life is a war zone.

              • … before coalescing.

                I’m talking about after coalescing, edgar. Maybe, these 1st generation immigrants, will want to return home, and indeed, Trump’s grandfather attempted to return to Germany having made his fortune, but once the next generations coalesce around this notion of national principle, they stay.

                The war zone analogy is short precisely because things aren’t that bad. Since I’ve been here (this blog), I’ve offered the pessimist view of the Philippines, with Joe retorting the opposite— now all of the sudden you two are saying, it sucks in the Philippines (to merit leaving en masse)? c’mon, guys.

              • edgar lores says:


                I understood your point about coalescing. You continue not to understand mine.

                Certainly, the situation in the Philippines is not perfect. The hundreds of posts in this blog attest to that.

                But do not deflect the discussion we are having about Jim Paredes.

                My point is that what Jim has done as a father is perfectly ethical.

                Try to rebut this point specifically: in your mind, is love of country above love of family?

              • edgar,

                I don’t know who Jim Paredes is, for all I know he returned to the Philippines w/out his kids because he missed the chicks and the night life.

                I’m simply stating that what he did, can be categorized in Joe’s 2nd “me class”, ie. abandoning ship. When Superman’s parents sent him off to Earth, that was survival. But going to Australia is more luxury than survival.

                Love of country and love of kin, this is Ireneo’s realm now. I’m of the mind that if you separate the two, you’ll never achieve this national principle, thus nationhood— in the Arab world, their views of country and kin are separate, cannot be joined, hence the mess.

                The Philippines is somewhere in the middle. Sacrifice is key here, IMHO, that payload best delivered by upbringing— schools and institutions (like the Marines) can add, but it should come from family.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                If you do not know who Jim Paredes is, then why slander him?

                One can separate love of family from love of country. The volume of migrants attest to this.

                The national principle is subservient to love of family.

                The love of family and love of family may coincide although they are not congruent.

                They do not necessarily oppose each other, as you seem to assume.

                This assumption, this premise, is where your logic fails.

                Jojo Binay is an example of a man who illustrates your logic.

                Jim Paredes is an example of a man who destroys your logic.

              • edgar,

                I’m not slandering him, I simply brought up the example of him leaving the country, delivering his family and returning (his act, vis a vis the article, not him). Where you guys celebrated that, I’m saying that’s basically a form of abandoning ship– consistent with 2nd “me class”, opposite of national principle.

                Make no mistake, simply staying isn’t the “good”, because people can stay to rob, pillage, etc. or stay because they lack options. Paredes’ acts seem commendable, but it’s kinda like Al Gore talking about Climate Change, and urging people to change— when he drives Hummers, etc.

                “They do not necessarily oppose each other, as you seem to assume.” But they can, as Arabs know all too well, and as you’re attempting to rationalize. The point here isn’t what makes a good father, it’s how to arrive at this national principle, which Joe’s written about.

                “The national principle is subservient to love of family.” The Arab’s have a word for this concept, edgar, I ‘m sure I don’t have to tell you that nepotism and cronyism use that very point to justify.

              • edgar lores says:

                1. Slander:

                1.1. the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.
                1.2. make false and damaging statements about (someone).

                2. Jim Paredes did not abandon ship. He is out there fighting.

                3. The Al Gore analogy is imprecise. Read Will’s article again and the comments. Jim is one who walks his talk.

                4. By citing Binay, I have indeed conceded that love of family and love of country can be in opposition. Are you reading my responses?

                4.1. You are arguing by exception to the stated rule when you reference nepotism and cronyism. It does not change the truthfulness of the rule.

              • My impression here is that Jim moved out of the country after Edsa 1 long after the fight against the dictator is over. Now it’s a NEVER AGAIN kind of fight that he is involved in, he is talking and walkinh his talk.

                Leaving the country to seek better opportunities for the family at that time is not because you love the country less, I have so many cousins and aunts who did just that, they send financial assistance to those relatives still here, thereby helping the economy. OFWs, green card holders, migrants…you name it…It’s not easy to be uprooted from your family and relatives…..we have an extended family system here, and family means grandies, cousins from first to 4th level, aunts and great aunts and even friends who were recipients of financial gifts for weddings, reunions they could not attend personally or help on health care issues, funeral issues, even.

              • 4. By citing Binay, I have indeed conceded that love of family and love of country can be in opposition. Are you reading my responses?

                That you inferred opposition, that one I missed. Sorry.

                4.1. You are arguing by exception to the stated rule when you reference nepotism and cronyism. It does not change the truthfulness of the rule.

                Remember the point here is increasing “national principle”. Nepotism/cronyism happens here too, but not to the same degree detrimental to the nation as over there, and the Arab world.

                As for Paredes, it’s fine that he’s risking himself and fighting the good fight, but what of the other Filipinos whose children aren’t in Australia, or in EU or Canada (isn’t that a luxury?), hence the Al Gore analogy, ie. sure he too was fighting the good fight, but not 100%,

                same with delivering your kids to a safe zone— I guess the best test would be where Paredes kids are now, if they’ve chosen to live in Australia and become Australian (not speaking Filipino, etc.) then Paredes lost whatever fight he’s fighting, no? (I’m curious if the kids stayed or returned).

                As for slander, there’s no false claim, only a simple value judgement related to the article.

                “Leaving the country to seek better opportunities for the family at that time is not because you love the country less,”

                Mary, it can’t be because you love the country more, ie. “We’re moving to Australia, because we love the Philippines”.

              • edgar lores says:

                If you read the article, Jim has said his children have opted for Oz citizenship.

                But your argument is irrelevant… because Jim is still carrying on the fight. Leave the noncombatants out of this. It is their choice whether to join their father or not.

              • edgar lores says:

                In effect, you charged Jim with hypocrisy. Isn’t that damaging to his reputation?

              • Joe America says:

                Re last point, it seems to me the argument is, “I can’t be fulfilled in the Philippines because there are no opportunities for that, so I will go to some other land, realize my potential, and contribute fully my new land, humanity, and the Philippines.” You seem to be arguing that people should aspire to nationhood even if it means there is no way to fulfill their human potential. That is rather an extreme view, I think. Austerity on steroids. Austerity of spirit.

              • edgar,

                Hypocrisy isn’t slander here if it fits the definition, no?
                the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform

                As for Jim Paredes kids, if they’ve abandoned the Philippines, how exactly did Jim succeed? That’s like a General ordering his troops to attack the hill, while his kids are all safe at home, playing rugby or the didgeridoo— see the dissonance?

              • edgar lores says:

                Ok, my last word on this as well.

                It is not hypocrisy because Jim has not given up the fight.

              • “You seem to be arguing that people should aspire to nationhood even if it means there is no way to fulfill their human potential.”

                Joe, is there “no way to fulfill [you and yours] human potential” over there? I think not, otherwise you’d be long gone.

              • Joe America says:

                I’m not aspiring to build a career. The Philippines, until the explosion of the BPO industry, has not really been a place to build a career because of a lot of economic and social roadblocks. The presidency in 2016 may bring in a whole new set of facts, in which case one’s assessment of opportunities ought rightfully be rethought.

              • sonny says:

                Time/reality check
                The US immigrant visa quota for the PH has been 35,000 per annum since the ’70s. The wait-time for a visa number is now over 10 yrs. Very few are giving up their queue position, I gather.

              • “I’m not aspiring to build a career. “

                I’m not saying you per se, Joe, but your son. What’s the difference between Jim delivering his kids to safety, and you (with kid) staying in the Philippines? Why don’t you feel the need to evacuate? Commitment, no?

                My point is both sacrifice and commitment (sacrifice may be too Biblical), but all boils back down to upbringing. If one truly loves the Philippines then they’d stay. Again, w/out commitment you have the Titanic.

                “the PH has been 35,000 per annum since the ’70s. “

                EXACTLY, sonny! (that’s waaay too many people wanting to leave!)

                From “Happy Feet”:

                “Yes, yes, call upon the wisdoms! Let the world tremble! For when all others leave … WE REMAIN!” And there’s virtue in that. Stand your ground.

              • Joe America says:

                No, not commitment, entirely. Opportunity plays a big role. We are scouting colleges in the Philippines, not US, although he can go where he wishes when he reaches age 18. That’s because I think the Philippines is about to emerge into a golden age. The one that did not exist under Marcos, and is not quite here yet.

              • “That’s because I think the Philippines is about to emerge into a golden age.”

                That’s exactly my point, Joe!!! Why can’t Filipinos share in this optimism? I’m sure you’re sharing this optimism to your kid, hence the importance of upbringing. I’ll rest my case for now and await your article on ‘upbringing’ (vis-a-vis national principle). 😉

              • Joe America says:

                The lower “me class” can’t share it because they don’t see it. The entitled want to be the main beneficiaries and do that best by keeping control. They undermine the standing government and paint it as incompetent. The media add to the negativity. Many in the middle class grasp it, and the debate rages on as to how many this represents. Not enough to make it a “national mood”.

              • My experience is a bit different. I met young Filipinos in the middle of the sea, fishing and diving; young Filipinos hanging out in the countryside, with all the coconuts and chicken and veggies to eat… and yet they yearned to be in the cities. That yearning for the cities, whilst in the middle of paradise, is I think the similar push to go outside the country.

                Now war-zones, weren’t exactly like war-zones in the desert, it was more like skirmishes there. But there was plentitude in nature in the waters and in the forests, unlike say Iraq where you can’t eat the sand, or drink the sun— now that’s harsh.

                So it’s more than just those problems you’ve outlined, it goes back to the whole ‘grass is greener on the other side’ principle— you squelched that, and you’ll have national principle, Joe.

              • Joe America says:

                Not if jobs pay P2,000 a month and there is no food on the table. People want to go to Manila because that’s where the hope is. The green grass is called jobs. Surveys show that the Philippines is on the edge of changing this. Poverty down slightly, lives better this year than last, people growing in optimism. But it has not yet reached Irineo’s tipping point, where people broadly see and feel the upside.

              • Joe,

                I think the poverty is largely in the mind. As I’ve illustrated (the ones I’m describing), they were’nt technically poor, they just wanted cell-phones and the illusion of progress. Now granted there were a bunch of folks in squalor living near docks. But I’m talking about those further in the boondocks, who could’ve stayed, but chose not to, chasing an illusion instead—that’s the green grass I’m alluding to.

                True poverty there, I’m not equating with the above. True poverty is when parents die, kids become slaves to their own kin. Hurricane hits, Violence, Or money is unreasonably siphoned off to the church. Or someone spends years in the hospital (or getting medical care) depleting resources. etc. etc. Mary has examples.

                But here I’m talking about mindset, when they have resources at hand, why choose to think poor? It’s a failure of imagination (trapped in escapism) that’s a big part of this, IMHO, Joe, that all goes back to upbringing.

                Can you imagine if you told your son, implied or implicit thru acts or deeds, that there was nothing in the Philippines, that to fulfill his human potential, he’d have to leave, etc. etc. or even if you say the Philippines was worth fighting for, but then send him off to say Exeter in New England (good school, but the furthest), what does that actually say?

                This is the realm of psychology now, but that’s what I’m hammering at here—- that a lot of this “me-ness” is in the mind, often the resources are actually there (remember austerity), but since the grass is always greener in the other side, everyone leaves or has already left in their heart of hearts (national principle that does not make 😦 ).

              • Going back to sonny‘s point re immigrant visas. That’s a lot of people in the departure area (mental) of the Philippines. Add to that over-staying tourist, student, teaching, working visas & visas given by other countries which opens up visits to the US (ie. Canada & EU), that’s a lot of Filipinos, Joe.

                Would it be fair to say that way more than half of Filipinos want to leave the Philippines?

              • sonny says:

                The Jews have had their diaspora for centuries and all over the world. So do the Chinese and now the Filipinos, who are now reputed to be in almost all countries of the world. There certainly in almost all cases push-out and pull-in forces at work. That’s a lot of cases to cleanly ascribe to any one categories of causes, including nationalism or not, familial or not, etc. To migrate is a natural instinct considering the centrifugal or centripetal forces at work in an individual.

              • sonny,

                I get that this migration thing is very nuanced, with lots of moving parts. The Jews for instance since the 1st temple fell (since that’s when diaspora actually began, St. Paul was diaspora Jew, pre-2nd temple fall), ended their meetings with “Next year in Jerusalem”, post WWII that finally happened and Israel has kicked assed ever since (within a generation), I’m not saying the Filipinos can match that feat— but the ability to come together and kick-ass is “national principle”. Nowadays, there’s Yerida (leaving Israel), 2nd generation Israelis leaving for greener pastures.

                The Chinese diaspora is similar, they are converging mostly in Hong-Kong, but also Beijeng and Shan-hei. But different from the Jews, since nationhood and religion are closely intwined. The PRC, under the communists, are actively inviting diaspora Chinese to return, ie. academics are enticed with their own research, young Chinese-Americans (EU, Canada & Australia) are encouraged to be entrepreneurs back in China. In Israel, back in the 40s, the Aaliyah (return to Israel) the enticement were more religious— China is offering “freedom”.

                Maybe the Philippines can use both strategy, appeal to both tradition and freedom— to innovate, etc. Both Israel and China enticed, are enticing their people back. If this can’t happen at the national level, then virtue should be leveled on families that teach their progeny to stay or return— that’s why asked if Paredes’ kids returned.

  12. Caliphman says:

    Joe, I agree with the focus and approach taken on your blog. It is as I just posted on the Paredes blog, one must focus on the social, political and demographic dynamics of why the great bulk of Filipino voters march to a different drummer in choosing leaders in election after election from president to the barangay level. It is not enough to deal with current spate of choices in this election and as you pointed out correctly, we are dealing with about 85, 15, and 5% voter population distribution with consistently different electoral behavior dynamics. I do do not necessarily agree with your specific analysis of what drives these segments but it is a great start in trying to understand and fix this perennial problem.

    • Joe America says:

      What do you think drives the educated workers of Manila to vote for candidates who would be hooted off the stage in places like Europe or the US?

      • Caliphman says:

        Not sure those comparisons are valid because of the huge gulf in income, cultural, and institutional differences between the two sets of populations. What made the residents of Washington DC want to reelect a convicted felon like Marion Berry back in the city’ s driver seat? Thats the capital of the city right there and sure its a very isolated instance as it should be because of the aforesaid differences. But still, it happens in many third world countries and education as well as retained feudal and tribal tradions are only part of the answer. More specifically, if you are referring to Estrada in Manila or Binay in Makati being able to muster enthusiastic crowds, only part of them rented, its not that these people are acting irrationally or perversely. Just as in DC, understanding the context and environment and how it affects the priorities and preferences of those who are poorer and feel more powerless in their societal segment is part of the answer. Certainly the fact that corruption and cheating is more widely accepted and tolerated by Filipinos and most countries that rank higher in global corruption indices is a very obvious factor. Its a very complex, widespread and very deep rooted problem and demonizing or dismissing the parts or the bulk of society that subscribes to it may discourage serious and sustained efforts to really understand whats going on and how to improve the situation. Certainly, one part of the answer is the example set by Aquino and his administration in lessening corruption and showing how this and good government practices can result in economic progress, albeit the benefits have not trickled down to the masses.

        But as I said, if one does not raise these questions, maybe nobody will bother finding answers once elections are over.And the cycle continues…

  13. arlene says:

    Another piece that made me wonder “do we ever learn?” I smiled while identifying all those personalities you wrote here.

  14. cha says:

    “For these millions of citizens, the focus on “me” comes from a drive to survive or subsist in a society that gives them little in the way of opportunity to prosper and grow.”

    “These are people of means and some measure of power who use their means and power to self-advantage.”

    Excellent characterisation of the main motivations of the two subject classes. And I am in 100% agreement that there are those in that elite privileged class (or the 1 percenters) who very often work against the national interest through underhanded, unlawful means. But I am not sure if the description as also “undermining the Philippine nation” applies as well to the other “me class” or those living at subsistence level. Mainly because the word undermine somehow suggests some level of insidiousness, stealth and trickery which I think is quite often not part of the poor person’s intentions and frame of mind when making choices that go against the national interest.

    So maybe the powerful “me class” undermines the nation but the larger but powerless one is incapacitated and prevented from concerning themselves with the nation’s well-being as they are focused on their own and so may inadvertently behave against the national interest?

    (Sorry, it’s semantics I know. That’s probably what you actually meant anyway.)

    • A very deep appreciation and analysis of the problem, a worthwhile read as always, cha. Your expertise in your chosen profession shows and your sharing it to us is truly appreciated.

    • Joe America says:

      Important distinction. I accept the clarification as important, and agree to it. It is beyond semantics. (My electricity was out and I missed this comment yesterday; sorry; thanks to Mary for drawing my attention to it.)

  15. DAgimas says:

    seems the manager and others who are involved in that money laundering is also a ME class. she didn’t think of the repercussion of her involvement. she just calculated the risk and benefit and when she determined that she will come out ahead, boom, 20MM agad

  16. edgar lores says:

    1. A savage critique. Telling it like it is.

    2. I am still sorting the implications of the analysis, but I would add:

    o The Judiciary as one of the institutional pillars that undermine nationhood.
    o INC and Islam — and not just the Catholic Church — that contribute to the ethical morass.

    3. I share Caliphman’s concern of how to mitigate the problems posed by the two “me classes” apart from growing the middle class.

    3.1. In a way, the higher “me class” does contribute to the growth of the middle class.
    3.2. So it may be that the lower “me class” is the bigger problem.

    4. If the problem of the lower class is HOW they choose, then perhaps part of the solution is to restrict WHO they can choose.

    4.1. I observe that characterizing the lower class as “selfish voters” instead of “stupid voters” is not just political correctness but accurate. I note nobody has objected to the term. But it makes me wonder why the connotation of emotional deficiency is more acceptable than one of mental deficiency? “You can call me crazy, just don’t call me stoopid!”

    4.1.1. Yet for Filipinos, I believe the accusation of mental instability (e.g. baliw, abnoy) is a greater insult than the accusation of ignorance (e.g. mangmang). I probably am wrong. Somebody correct me here. In any case, one deficiency is curable, the other isn’t.

    • karlgarcia says:

      4.1 and 4.1.1
      Another excellent observation Edgar.
      Nowadays, in pinas to counter the tanga tanga naman – you just say sensya na po tao lang.
      But Baliw and abnoy makes you defensive or makes you want to cry.
      Mental illness should be acceptable soon enough,but according to my therapist there are only 400 licensed psychiatrists around.Maybe there should be more.
      Me I do not deny that When I need help,I ask for help.
      Both are treatable, as to if both are curable,no one is exempted from doing stupid things.

      • Edgar Lores says:

        Thanks, Karl.

        I actually debated with myself whether I should put in that last sentence. I also considered qualifying the term “curable” into “self-curable.” However, it didn’t sound right. The word “treat” did not come into mind. You will note there is a difference between “cure” and “treat”.

        There is a social stigma attached to mental illness that is not there for ignorance. What is not realized is that we are all mentally deficient in many respects, as we are emotionally. I think the dividing line is whether one’s condition is “clinical” or not. But I would posit that Binay and Marcos are as mad — if not madder — as any inmate in an asylum.

        On the other hand, brilliance and genius are often correlated with insanity. There’s Nietzsche, Newton and Godel, to name three. Are we lucky or unlucky not to belong to such an august company?

        Don forget to take your meds, okay?

        • NHerrera says:

          I will say lucky. A dream is for most of us to be in the middle but rational and hardworking. I say too that the Philippines and the world need the type of geniuses in their fields like Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. Einstein mind sadly produced a theory leading to the “bomb.” Steve Jobs — the marketer par excellence — I understand is a charming, persuasive but quirky and very hard taskmaster. Bill Gates I especially like in working hard in his elderly years with his wife Melinda to optimize the fruits of his philanthropy, with him reputedly saying that he will leave only a few million dollars to each of his children out of some 60 billion dollars of his wealth. I think the very wealthy Buffet, the investor, is doing much the same.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Many thanks Edgar and for the last note,I will thanks.

    • Joe America says:

      The judiciary is surely a weak pillar. I wanted to focus the light on the government agency that I believes could do the most constructive work if it grew an ethical spine, because they craft the laws that the judiciary interprets (or mis-interprets).

      I didn’t intend to portray the lower class as selfish, but as trapped. The entitled are selfish. I also don’t think they are at all stupid, but are grossly uninformed, as the whole system is not set up to inform.

  17. karlgarcia says:

    I forgot the name of the commenter who was really irked by those taking selfies with Binay in a cinema in Makati.

  18. Bill in Oz says:

    An interesting and accurate analysis of the Philippines at this time. Good work Joe.
    I wonder what the impact of emigration is on the Philippines. I don’t mean OFW visa folks, but actual emigrants leaving permanently. I suggest they are mainly middle class, skilled worker, professional people.And maybe such folks have given up on real change here and so decided to seek better lives elsewhere. But the world is much closer connected now and so it is far easier for Filippino emigrants to still be opinion leaders in their home country…

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks. The blog has good readership from citizens of other lands, such as the US and Australia, who recognize the Philippines as their original home, and are deeply interested in the well-being of that homeland.

  19. Madlanglupa says:

    The article reinforces my insistence that because of this “me” mentality it would be naught and impossible to attain the brand of discipline of the Singaporeans or Japanese as some Filipinos are seeking for; it is the “me”, the self that is more important in this country’s citizens than creating a national cause, aim, goal, something to become united for, that prevents from attaining that ideal (I’m sure it took Singapore very long to attain what they wanted in decades, but that’s because it’s a different system, the late LKY was at the very beginning until the late 80s and that city-state was, being smaller, easier to manage and helpful to create that idealized “discipline”).

    Religion, per se, is supposed to teach about respect, unity, value of hard work, values that are suppose to unite people, but instead, some religions and sects have degenerated to the point where they vie for supremacy, endorse candidates, miseducate people by teaching them to spite the other faiths, and put their feet down on secular government policies that would have improved living conditions for all people.

    Of the powers that seem to manipulate public opinion more than anything, yes, I am also cynical towards the corporate TABLOID media powers where it’s more focused on ratings and the raciness, exaggerating problems plaguing our country (the blood-curdling kind, that makes one to vote an “action star” to kill them all), instill unrealistic ideals to children, and that some of their captains often secretly lean toward certain candidates that they favor in exchange of another favor. Yeah, the media powers think more of themselves now, of what sells, and they have the freedom to create what they think is exploitable, but their greatest *weakness* is if and when a despot decides to step in and control them and what content they produce; anything against the state will be removed, censored, sanitized.

    • @Chempo you lived through this so please comment.

      On one interview of LKY he said he knew of the weaknesses the lack of national pride of the Malays. He said that this is one reason why they have laws on flushing the toilet, chewing gum, anti littering and other discipline laws. The enforcement was secondary according to him it is the creation of societal expectations, even then he was trying to use psychological techniques to create the national pride and discipline that wasn’t originally there. @Madlanglupa What I am trying to say is we still do not have that kind of forward thinking leader who can make our people true Filipinos in the mold of Jose Rizal or a Quezon/Magsaysay.

      • chempo says:

        @ Gian

        On Malays, LKY was blunt but factual. We handle racial issues with kids’ gloves, especially touching on Malays and Islam. But today we are more open, credit to LKY’s policies. It’s not national pride he was rrefering to, but personal. Because Malays were on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. The held low jobs, like guards, messengers and drivers. It’s not persecution, simply education. Generally they fared the worst compared to other races. Traditionally, Malays are not into education. They are simple folks who likes swayoing cocnut trees. They got left behind as the world progressed. But LKY’s solution was not handouts. Encouragement was it, prod them, motivate them, help them where the govt can. So we encouraged Malay leaders to rise. Govt help created Mendaki Funds, contributions from every Malay worker. Mendaki is a Malay social organisation to help themselves. Govt chips into the funds, give them opportunities. And Mendaki did a great job. By now, Malays have joined the mainstream Singaporeans. Their kids are like other kids fighting for top spots in schools, Families are like other races worried like hell about schooling and tuition and extra schooling for kids, etc. And we see more and more Malays rising in the economic sector…. After a while Indians also want in. So we had a similar scheme for Indians, called Sinda I think. So basically it’s self-help with govt support. How far they have come now, the Malays can be proud of their achievement. Today, you can see a Singapore Malay is different from a Malaysia Malay.Our Malay has embraced the modern world.

        Regarding toilet flushing, anti-littering, queeing, and other social ethical initiatives — LKY had a long term objective. Spore to Swiss standards by 2010 (not sure if I got the year correct). So it was not just economic living standards, but social behaviours as well. Hence all such intiatives. And you are right. The approach was not enforcement, but pyshcological. We usually start with education, then various events for raising awareness, TV skits, etc…then D-day where we have policing and fines. When people get attuned, the policing was gradually relaxed.

        Re chewing gum — that’s a different story. It’s just a pragmatic tough solution to a pesky problem. But mind you, chewing gum is not ban, just the sales is banned. When we go over the causeway to Malaysia for diner, we always come back with chewing gums.

        You are a great observer of stuff Gian. I think the Spore social experiment worked as far as discipline is concerned.

      • Madlanglupa says:

        LKY had a plan, and he planned for the long term. He was quite the chessmaster, he got everyone to agree to his plan to unite, to build a prosperous city-state. Of course they were able to produce a regional power populated by intelligent and responsible people, but only after a long time.

        Which is why everytime someone posts something on Facebook about why we should aspire to the level of Singapore, I shake my head in pessimism and tell these people “not in a million years we will be like them, lest you suicidally accept the hemlock cup of authoritarianism”, knowing all too well that the Filipino mind is entirely different, molded by a culture more Latin than Confucian.

        We, unfortunately, have still yet to find anyone worthy, who can actually unite and build a nation without having to wear a mailed fist; if there was this intelligent person in our population, it is he or she doesn’t want to try or chose not to step forward because our local politics is scary, a viper’s nest and a Byzantine game; it takes balls of steel to keep one’s integrity in this nest.

    • Joe America says:

      Religions are indeed divisive, and I am absolutely convinced that is not God’s instruction. Somehow, man and sin are working within the religious institutions, I figure.

      I think in this election, we are witness to the entitled and powerful gaming the election, through the media.

  20. Roberto Cruz Niverba says:

    Last 2010 elections I voted for President Aquino. I was originally rooting and an avid supporter of Mr. Manny Villar because I believe that if he can run a conglomerate, he can run our country. Last minute I voted Mr. Aquino. I was so happy, not much on Aquino as a person, but for the first time in recent history, I felt that there were more decent Filipinos as they voted for Mr. Aquino. Mr. Joe many Filipinos are known to vote for the “wais” (wise). In your language, probably the equivalent is a “hustler”. I wonder where this group of voters are right now? Were they disillusioned? were they bullied into silence by the hustlers and their supporters? Or they are the silent majority waiting for their voices to be heard this coming elections. As for me, I am thankful to President Aquino’s administration. I can see the achievements and improvements as well as shortcomings. And I wish the gains be continued by his chosen candidate, or be continued by whoever succeeds him.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the definition. I think there are for sure a lot of hustlers about, and they are noisy. The good people are quiet, probably knowing the discomforts of being confronted. Be sure to catch this coming Sunday’s blog. I continue this discussion.

  21. Bill in Oz says:

    Much as I like your analysis Joe, I keep looking for news & views on this subject.Here is an excellent bu Carmel Abao Rappler presenting a Progressive” view of the current state of the Philippines.

    There is much that you agree on. She then follows up with some recommendations on voting in the senate which i know you see as a key part of the problem..
    No ideology but good clear informed thinking from a lefwing perspective.I am glad that I found it.

    • Joe America says:

      I think the author’s definition of progressive is different than mine, and hers is a soft way to spin “revolutionary”. Mine would be “forward looking”. Waldon Bello does command considerable respect, and I often read his views. He did “lose it” over the Mamasapano incident, though, which eventually led to his resigning from his House seat. That suggests an “old age temperament” that I am wary of . . . because I have it. The left needs to stop demanding the whole pie of government approach and solution, and start working on select initiatives that would attract other reasoning people to the cause . . . rather than the revolutionists.

      By the way, Bellow argued a couple of years ago that the Philippines does not need US military support, and can defeat China on her own, because China is 800 miles away. The Philippines would wage a war of cost and attrition on China. I wonder if he calculated a body count . . .

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I know not Bello. But I think here reasons for voting for him as a senator are reasonable..But if he thinks that the Phiippines can hold off China by itself he is naieve in international affairs..Reputedly he is intelligent so perhaps he will change his view in the light of the curent situation in the West Philippines sea.

        I read the whole of Abao’s article.She does not feel like a revolutionary to me or committed to violence as a way to change in the Philippines.But yes she is probably more left leaning than yourself…

        What strikes me about is it’s informed intelligence and analysis,,That is really good to see.

  22. cory luarca says:

    Errr, Mr. Foreign Observer… Americans seem to love that Nazi Trump!!!! Explain that to me!!!! Can anything be worse than that???? I don’t think we’re alone in making stupid choices!!!! Just saying…..

    • caliphman says:

      There has been much discussion here about a philippine version of LKY or perhaps of his approaches can get us of this seemingly intractible cultural and societal morass that traps the nation in almost always picking very poor choices for its political leaders. I would be very careful going that route as it was tried once before under the disastrous Marcos regime. Changing embedded social mores, customs and behavior is an extremely undertaking particularly when the public at large and those who are entrenched in the halls of power and wealth are indifferent or would rather preserve the status quo. I used to think that a major factor contributing to this morass was how clans and dynasties dominate the fabric of Philippine political leadership. But I have since concluded that is not necessarily the case, and hopefully it is not the exception but Singapore and to some extent Taiwan have passed the torch from premier fathers to sons without calamitous consequences. I would shudder to risk experimenting with a Binay or Marcos dynasty in this election however.

    • cory,

      These are the Koch brothers, below is their Dad.

      The Koch brothers are now focused on (nay, scrambling) to oust Trump from his impending nomination.

      There are two candidates right now that the Koch brothers are dreading, that’s Bernie & Trump. As much as I love Bernie, he doesn’t give the Koch brothers nightmares… Trump does. I’m voting for Trump.

      If Trump proves an imbecile, then he’ll downgrade the powers of the Executive branch, 2020 we can vote him out. Either way, he’ll be the safest President ever, since both the Republicans & the Democrats will keep a very close eye on him.

      Checks and balances affords us the luxury of shaking things up. Americans are simply shaking things up. If Trump proves to be a better President, then that’ll be icing on the cake. That’s the calculus here.

      • I tried Hope & Change, and that got me, fracking all over the place (California’s the 3rd most fracked state) & still a high price at the pumps (since the bulk of the oil/gas is being shipped to China where they’re paying more). So it’s like being screwed from behind, without even a kiss— that’s thanks to Obama with folks like the Koch brothers.

        The question is, how bad can Trump be? Hillary’s not only a liar, but exported this whole fracking stuff abroad, via Dept of State (making the Koch brothers doubly happy).

        Trump represents the BIG American middle finger to the Koch brothers (and their ilk).

        • Joe America says:

          Kindly don’t get too graphic. This is not the marine barracks. Women, children, priests and nice people often visit. I’ll have an article on Trump and Clinton later this next week, as it pertains to the perspective of who is best for the Philippines. You might want to reserve comment until then.

    • Joe America says:

      Sure. If you wish to write a blog about the American condition that allows a candidate such as Trump to rise and shake up the entire world, I’d be happy to publish it, presuming it is well presented. That’s not the subject of this blog, though . . . so no need to get comparative to defend the status quo and essentially say no change is needed in the Philippines.

  23. Grace Lim Reyes says:

    Let me share with you my experiences with the first type of “me” class. Nearly three decades ago after I completed my architecture course in UP, I decided to split my time between corporate work and working with the poor. Being in the housing field, my colleagues and I worked to educate the homeless, the illegal occupants of private/public lands, and the like about improving their homes, fighting for their rights, and knowing what was legal and illegal in housing with the hope that they would develop their communities into livable spaces and improve their economic well-being. We spent years interacting with them and helped organized a self-help housing model to veer them away from the syndicates, politicians, and opportunist low-cost housing developers and move away from the “dole-out” attitude. It worked well for a while and the community members began to see the logic of having a strong and organized housing community. Then, an international NGO came in offering dole-out. Meaning, the community was offered a considerable amount of money to buy themselves out of their illegal settlement. What we taught them went out of the window in seconds. The community took the offer of the wealthy NGO to purchase land in the outskirts of Manila and also wanted to keep the land they occupied illegally. Now, they have thrown out the years of work and decided to be greedy. I eventually gave up the idealism and went to work full-time in the corporate world. That incident roused me from my dream for this type of “me” class to have a better future. Fast-track to 2016, the problem remains the same, if not far worse. Nevertheless, the experience taught me much about helping others and about the quirky nature of the Filipino poor.

    • You can’t fault human nature though, Grace.

      “Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
      Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
      Walk beside me… just be my friend”

      ― Albert Camus

    • edgar lores says:

      Grace, that is sad.

      As I have said before, there are the poor who are so by cruel fate. And there are poor who are so by lack of spirit.

      Just yesterday, a news item came out that one-fourth (26M) of the population live in poverty, and that more than one-tenth (12M) live in dire poverty.

      And yet the item is optimistic because there have been “slight improvements” under PNoy’s term.

      On the aggregate, your efforts might seem futile to you… but you may have lit a spark of spirit in those you personally helped.

  24. maru0907 says:

    Excellent article. I can relate to this outlook closely.

  25. chempo says:

    Joe, I did’nt read your full complement of 1,000 blogs here, but I’ll vote this as your personal best. Your class config is the best that relates to Philippines. The usual socio-economic class categorisations cannot help one understand the Philppines political arena. In the whole of the Philippines media, social sites, TV programmes etc, that I have ever come across over the last few years, your article is the most meaningful. I say this not in a condescending way, but it is a clarity that has missed a lot of people.

    When a problem or a situation can be described properly, then solutions are easier to promulgate.

    I also share your view the middle class here is 15%, nothing empirical, just intuition. A Ro-Ro win will suggest the NHerrera is right that there is afterall a higher middle class %.

  26. Burbles says:

    I’m a Filipino, and I agree entirely with this. The worst thing is that I don’t even know if it can be fixed. The best solution would be to up the average literacy and education rates. And that requires two things: better standards of living and good teachers.

    But even that is unlikely, given that the educated middle class have long given up and started leaving the country. The “Rizals” are already Americans, Australians, and Canadians. And I can’t blame them.

    Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the barely educated. I can still remember senior year in high school where there was a gulf of difference in the English proficiency of my soon-to-retire English teacher and the newly hired replacement. The former read books for fun and taught us the classics from a personal POV, the latter had the stereotypical V/B and P/F confusion and the entirety of her reading experience probably consisted of facebook chain comments. The kind about angels and Jesus and 7 years of bad luck if you don’t forward it to twenty friends.

    • Joe America says:

      Hello, Burbles. Welcome to the blog. You have hit the nail on the head, with several good whacks. Education is wide and very shallow, except for the elite and well-to do who can even get an overseas education. The values taught in public schools seem to miss a few things, like how bad civic choices give bad results. The Philippines has suffered a brain drain over recent decades. I would imagine that this will accelerate if there is a bad choice of president in May. It will reverse if there is a good choice.

  27. murps says:

    You would be surprised there are a number of those in the middle class who support killings.

    • Joe America says:

      My guess is they are middle class but they have little opportunity to grow on a career path, and are frustrated with the traffic. They are reacting emotionally rather than thinking through matters, like that it is hard to cure traffic problems without construction, and the construction (“ta daaaaa!”) causes traffic problems. They’d just throw everything up in the air and calculate it will come down right.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Source: The two “me classes” that undermine the Philippine nation […]

  2. […] Second in a series. The first article: “The two ‘me classes’ that undermine the Philippine nation“ […]

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