Unity and the tribal Philippines

crusades cx dot aos dot ask dot com

The crusades. Tribal, not inclusive.

By Joe America

The Philippines has never been a whole nation because of its deep-rooted tribal ways. In its simplest terms, a tribe exists when a group of people welcome those who are the same and reject those who are different. The differences may be found in race, geographic location, religious belief, cultural style (warlike, peaceful, law abiding, corrupt/entitled), occupation (farmers, fishermen, unions, OFWs), income, education, gender, and other ways.

Philippine tribes are hard-nosed about things, refusing to accept or grant respect to those who have just one thing different about them. If you back Duterte, a Yellow cannot respect you. If you are a Yellow, Marcos supporters can’t respect you. If you support VP Robredo, you are Yellow. If you are Muslim, you endorse terrorism. If you are Catholic, you never hold yourself accountable. Tribalism leads to discrimination. It is the cause of many insults and much anger.

These rules of exclusivity affect our daily decisions. If you are Leftist, you don’t join the Yellow protest against the Marcos burial. If you are Yellow, you don’t join the Leftist protest against the Marcos burial.

With enough of that, it is hard to have one, united nation, or one effective protest against the Marcos burial. The tribal pushes and pulls are too intense to foster unity, even if one large unified protest with both Leftists and Yellows would more likely achieve the goal than two smaller ones. So our tribal tendencies mean we are forever divided, argumentative, and weak.

This is a fertile field for the rise of autocrats.

I often write about diversity and inclusion as ideals to strive for. They are exactly the opposite of tribalism. We strive to see differences as enriching. Diversity grants respect to all races, religions, genders, and political stands. We are somehow bigger people when we reach for respect rather than bow to fear, mistrust, or dislike.

Well, inclusion also has its limits, I suppose. It is hard for law abiding people to accept criminals as people who earn their respect. But the wisdom and compassion that attaches to inclusion at least allows us to look for causes of crime and solutions that address the root problem. Shooting druggies is tribal. Ending poverty and lack of hope that forms the bed for drug use is inclusion. We join with those who use drugs by properly caring for (respecting) them. After all, they are caught in the trap of OUR (not just THEIR) social circumstance. Inclusion makes other people’s problems our problems and from that we can find ways to help. Yes, we have to guard against the tribal character of elitist thinking. It can be done if we listen hard enough.

To break down the divisions promoted by tribal behavior, we need to develop special skills. One is to be able to place ourselves in the shoes of others to recognize that individuals got to where they are through a unique path, and one that is not entirely of their making. A poor Muslim black inner city child is not the maker of his bed. A rich white man’s son, gifted with education and material well-being, is not a superior being for having those blessings.

Another important skill is the ability to negotiate. In it’s simplest sense, Leftist and Yellow leaders could easily say, “Look, let’s put aside our political differences and historical enmity to achieve something we both want. Blocking the Marcos burial. Who knows, maybe this one step of unification for a specific purpose will open our eyes to other ways we can help one another.” That’s hard because there is a lot of poisoned history between the two groups.

I think it is within our disciplined ability as inclusive people to be able to put those incidents aside, or recognize they had their own context, and it is not our context right now. Compartmentalize them, as Japan’s Prime Minister is doing by visiting Pearl Harbor. His visit is a first. It is a huge step to build unity between the US and Japan.

Such strength this is, the ability to free ourselves from the traps of the past. To free ourselves from automatic tribal judgments that are weak, often wrong, and damaging.

Unity is found in such strength.

Strength is found in unity.

The Philippines will never be strong until the nation finds a way to master its tribal divisions with a compelling reason to unify. War often does the trick. I’d like to think there are other ways, too. Better ways.

Perhaps we should put forward a great effort to find them.


103 Responses to “Unity and the tribal Philippines”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    About putting one self into other’s shoes……

    ….or not. 😜

  2. LCPL_X got started on persuasion in another thread. Now that is hard to do in a tribal setting. Since he has seen tribal settings in the Middle East he will know what I mean.

    My personal exposure has been to Southeastern Europeans, very tribal too. Serbs have told me about how it took a decade for stuff to normalize at the borders after the wars over there. Mixed heritage people don’t go home anymore, talk about how the Bosnian Muslim girl who they played with when she was a child can’t go out to meet her anymore as her husband keeps her inside – and even worse stories of graves of teens lining the streets as cemeteries were full in the 90s.

    Others persist in tribal obstinacy, years later – including twisting the truth to be ‘right’ always. The hills of the Balkans over here, an archipelago there – geography is key in creating tribes.

    • there were quite a few ‘friendly’ and ‘jovial’ types over there too..

      took long to hunt them down and try them for what they did.

    • sonny says:

      I used to wonder how the only separation of Pampangos from the Tagalogs in the north was the Calumpit River. I noticed this when going to and from the Ilocos via Philippine National Railway. (1949-1950s).

      • it used to be the Pasig river. According to some historical accounts Maynila (later Intramuros) was Tagalog while Tondo was Kapampangan – I wonder what factors played a role in pushing that border northward?

        In Southeastern Europe you have the rivers that divide, or rivers of tolerance and diversity like the Danube, which of course is huge and traverses so many places.

        • I was told through oral history that the Kapampangan tribes left the area due to prevalence of snakes. I think they are talking about literal snakes. My ancestors were supposed to be part of a group of Kapampangan families who travelled as far as Tarlac province to resettle.

        • sonny says:

          “I wonder what factors played a role in pushing that border northward?”

          The Chinese of Binondo were not allowed into Intramuros when a micro-population explosion thereabouts was the push-out factor for them to migrate into the rice-producing Central Plains via the Camino Real originating from Manila and the western littoral travel to settled Pampango/Tagalog frontiers of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga itself. I think. (I must sort out timelines, loci, and ‘dramatis personae’) (To be cont’d) 🙂

    • LCPL_X got started on persuasion in another thread. Now that is hard to do in a tribal setting.”

      Actually , Ireneo, it’s pretty simple, but it’ll be a whole a lot of broken bones and EJKs (which for them is just killings, EJ would be foreign, hence nothing extra about it). The threat of violence is constant.

      Take Afghan Nation Police (and Border Police), which are recruited locally; ANA (Army) is nation wide recruitment, and ANA sent all over the country. The ANP/ABP are still connected to the tribal system, whilst (comparatively) ANA personnel get pulled out of their tribal system so they’re forced to understand a much wider system (it’s still pre-school level understanding, of course).

      Iraq is the same with their clans.

      The threat of violence has to be there, hence my urge to use the violence aspect of the Martial Law years, instead of all this crap about courts and banking and economic issues.

      Think about it, Mohammed and Islam are still seen in the ME and Afghanistan as a modern concept—- and I’d agree, comparatively speaking re tribal and clan systems of justice, Islamic jurisprudence is light years ahead.

      For them the stuff in Islam is already pretty tame and compassionate, if you come in with all this notion of Buddhism and turn the other cheek crap, they’ll cut your balls off. They are so far from the truth, man.

      At least in the Philippines there is some understanding of forgiveness, hell if Marcos had been some dictator in some Muslim country, he and his family would all have died like Qaddafi, Sadat, Saddam, etc. But he was forgiven.

      So the Filipino tribal system is tame compared to the ME and Afghanistan, which tells me persuasion would be easier to accomplish , both with stick and carrot, but that stick has to be in play, has to be realistically portrayed (balanced), because if you swing too far either way, too violent, not violent, you’ll

      lose all credence.

      So within this context of violence, people understand two things, excessive and necessary… ie. if it’s excessive but necessary, people will think it fair (they’ll not judge it from morals, but the utility of it all) ; BUT if it’s excessive and unnecessary , then the power wielder will be seen as weak, since he does not know or understand the concept of proportionality, this

      is the reason, why criminals always gather info to ascertain that the violence they’ll be applying will not be excessive and unnecessary , it will reflect weakness on their part.

      This concept can also be posthumously applied to Marcos’ use of violence, but thus far history has been very kind to his legacy regarding his use of violence… hence, the anti-Marcos sentiment never really gained any traction. At least that’s my view.

      That’s why personal stories of Marcos losing control are very important .

      • karlgarcia says:

        google youtube martial law torture and see for your self.

        • karlgarcia says:

          To downplay the accounts of torture victims as not enough to garner critical mass is quite (what’s the word ?)of you. There was enough torture the divide between the left and the elite after people power revolutions is always where the problem lies. After people power one and two ,the temporary alliance always end upon ouster of the leader they wanted to oust.
          There is always a military factor. The military would have to be appeased,they would not want want leftists around.

          • karl,

            I’m not downplaying torture. I’m familiar with these torture cases during Martial Law, they’ve been mentioned here before here. If Martial Law was enacted because of these leftist and communists and agitators, etc. then it only makes sense that they were the recipient of Martial Law, no?

            Torture was on par during the 70s, Americans in Vietnam were also directly and indirectly (ie. South Vietnamese) performing torture to get info and defeat communist advance. It was the Cold War. Marcos no doubt was encouraged to quell the rise of Communist, this was American policy across the globe at that time.

            Communist was an existential threat.

            I’m not saying torture is good, karl. I’m saying torture seemed to have been contained to those who were the very reason of Martial Law, hence why I’m looking for examples, ie. people you may know, neighbors, family, etc.

            personal stories, wherein you can definitively say, my aunt or neighbor wasn’t involved with the Communists and she/he still was torture, those types of stories will garner sympathy, it all goes back to excessive and necessary, karl.

            The more of these you guys can uncover, the better your case against Marcos, IMHO.

            Uday and Qusay, Saddam’s two sons, now those guys were excessive and applied violence unnecessarily , raping girls left and right, killing guys for simply looking at them, they they were hated uniformly,

            Basel Assad, the eldest son, had the same rep. Does the younger Marcos (or even Marcos himself) rape women and killed the fathers of those raped in front of them? That type of aberration, karl.

            Remember excessive and necessary , that’s your litmus test.

            • Also, I’d wanna add if there is evidence of Marcos unhinged re violence , you’d probably see it at the beginning, spiking up or at the end, when oust is imminent, to hold on to power by any means. If no spike is noticed then the assumption would be that Marcos kept his cool all thru out.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I am done, let others discuss this matter with you.

              • karl, your father would probably know if any sort of spiking in terms of violence happened during the Martial Law.

                I think this guy would’ve been the last American victim of that era: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_N._Rowe

                These guys were no joke, the 70s Communists were cross training with Irish folks, with Palestinians, German Reds, Italians, etc.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHOi9sbATSk (like I said torture would’ve been on par with the times then, it was just that kind of decade)

              • LCPL_X, the “spike” that was the last straw was Ninoy’s killing. Marcos was already very sick then. To answer some of your questions – Marcos was known for being calibrated in his use of violence, and also keeping the appearance of legality at least outwardly.

                Just killing Ninoy was so untypical of Marcos, who had let both Ninoy and the Lopezes leave (Lopez family were the owners of ABS-CBN, it was returned to them after 1986) that many did not believe it was him. Some theories: Imelda and General Ver, or Danding Cojuangco himself in order to put Cory into power on the basis of Ninoy’s martyrdom. Thing is we will never know who really gave the order, killers got jailed but never talked (?).

                I still think the main motivation for all the stuff against Marcos was not the torture, because nobody really cared about that before Ninoy – even if everyone in Manila knew the rumors. The economy went down early 1980s, so the middle class IMHO deserted their former idol.

              • “The economy went down early 1980s, so the middle class IMHO deserted their former idol.”

                Ireneo, but global economy went down in the late 70s and early 80s (what essentially put Reagan in the White House), so this wasn’t Philippine specific.

                But if Ninoy was the only ‘spike’ ie. aberration in all this, then it would make sense why less people care about all this Marcos stuff now.

                The markers I was looking for were stuff like the Stasi or bread lines, that result in far reaching revolutions.

                No one seems to have personal stories re Marcos violence , which means he was under control, but karl’s NPA uncle would probably shed more light on this, since he was still detained in the 90s, karl?

                So after most Communists were pardoned by Cory, your Uncle was still shooting it up? that’s hardcore, but if he was jailed also under Cory, he’d be the perfect resource for all this compare and contrast we’re attempting to do here,

                70s vs. 80s, vs. 90s , what was detention like in all three decades?

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                I just want to add that there was a “blackout” of information during the ML era. Almost everything was government controlled. Information dissemination was either “propaganda” through government allied institutions or underground “communist” oral or illegal publication. The “spike” of violence you are looking for are non-existent, they were not documented by the propagandists and the dead victims were voiceless. In truth, there were very few people who were real communists at that time. During the ML era, it was just a blanket category for those opposing the oppressive and authoritarian government.

              • Juana,

                Do you have personal stories of the Martial Law years , or were you also absent? If you didn’t live thru it, did you know friends or family members, even neighbors, who were adversely (ie. directly affected) by all this ?

                “The “spike” of violence you are looking for are non-existent,” Propaganda or no propaganda personal stories would still be transmitted, Juana, w/in family, friends and neighborhoods , like karl’s NPA uncle (ie. if karl’s uncle died at the hands of the gov’t, karl would still know, NPA uncle’s direct family would know, his friends and colleagues would know… right? 😉 )

              • Juana Pilipinas says:


                All you need to do is cruise the Internet to find personal testimony by surviving ML era victims. You can also buy Raissa Robles’ book or peruse Raissa’s blog for articles about ML. Also read Mijares’ “Conjugal Dictatorship” for historical snap shots.

                I heard Ninoy Aquino’s speeches and marched in protest during ML. My brother who was a cop then, pulled me out of a lot of demonstrations to keep me from dying, being detained and/or being pummeled by the military. I have seen fellow protesters go through all of the above.

                Don’t you understand why people who are still there are hesitant to talk? You have not been a citizen of a country under a dictatorship. Your insistence to make people talk while an administration sympathetic to Marcos is in office can get them in trouble. Are you so arrogant that when you want something, it does not matter if people get hurt?

              • “Are you so arrogant that when you want something, it does not matter if people get hurt?”

                Who’s getting hurt, Juana? Ireneo’s probably the one directly affected by Marcos here, and he understand the point I’m making—- I’m pretty sure he’s not ‘hurt’. 😉

                re hesitance to talk, the Leftist supported DU30, why would they be hesitant? As Joe’s lamented they are now in cahoots with pro-Marcos, the irony , right? so no excuse for silence, though as Ireneo has pointed out if you snitched on another you’d probably not be proud of that 😉 ,

                I’m familiar with those stories online, Juana, my point in asking you guys is to gauge the level of affect of the Martial Law,

                if you notice, not one here was affected personally, except for Ireneo, but he admits going against the grain, hence arrest and detention followed,

                we are gauging Marcos’ use of violence, whether he went too far or not. And then compare and contrast to other Martial Laws internationally,

                as edgar’s pointed out, there is a loud lack of volume.

              • edgar lores says:


                Correction: the volume I am speaking about is the volume of physical violence. Not that it is insignificant, as Karl has pointed out, but that it does not measure up to whatever level you expect.

              • “to keep me from dying, being detained and/or being pummeled by the military. I have seen fellow protesters go through all of the above.”

                C’mon, Juana, protests are protests , the same can happen to you over here today, mob mentality plus impetus to control clash and results in violence (I’m sure you’re familiar with sports championships, in which riots occur over here) ,

                how many protests which resulted in violence happened during PNoy’s reign, these things aren’t necessarily connected to policy, crowd control is a totally different animal. Stasi-type operations is the best marker to look at, Juana (so stories from your brother would be more valuable here).

              • @LCX, I detect some very intelligent people here have stopped discussing the matter of Marcos violence because you are asking for them to testify that they know of no violence when they are well aware of the documented violence. So you seek the impossible and your obstinacy becomes the kind of trolling and denigration of others that got you banned previously. Listen. Respect. Or leave the discussion.

              • chemrock says:


                You said it’s the middle class that turned against Marcos when economy went bad. Your implication being ? — human rights issues isn’t the major cause, it’s bread and butter issues. You further indicated world economy went down in 80s, it wasn’t Philippines specific.

                You are wrong on the economics. 70s/80s were decades of economic growth for many East and SE Asian countries. That was time of the emergence of the Asian Tigers. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were also moving up. Philippines was the laggard and that’s when it got it’s sick man name. Every other country in our part of the world were moving up.

                I share your sense that it’s bread and butter issues that drove the NCR people to coalesce at Edsa. It had got to a point that food scarcity had gone critical and life had become unbearable. Of course people hated the killings, torture, jailing, disappearances, curfews and curtailment of personal freedoms. Now under Duterte, majority still do not mind the killings and curfews, as I’m sure it was too under MT. It’s the apathy disease. Many in the provinces don’t feel affected. I know of a whole swathe of Cavite people still adore Marcos. But when there is no food, it’s a different story because everyone is affected. It is no exaggeration that many people were scrapping from trees for food. That’s why I concentrated on the economics in my articles on revisionism.

                Of course the human rights violations were revulsive, it was then under MT just as it is now in the drug war.

                I have no first hand account of the killings and tortures. Back then, on Singapore TV, we had almost daily dosage of what was going on in Philippines. It was very very depressing. In my work back then, I read at least 10 economic magazines and Intl papers daily, and Philippines was important as we had huge loan exposures in the country. In addition to that, our regional office was in Manila from which we received internal economic intelligence reports. So I understood a fair amount of what was going on. The faces of Marcos, Sin, Ninoy and Ver are still vivid to me.

              • “…because you are asking for them to testify that they know of no violence when they are well aware of the documented violence.”

                Joe, I’m actually asking the opposite, ie. who here experienced the brunt of the Martial Law for themselves, and karl volunteered Ireneo’s detention (I remember his talking about this also, and why his dad took him to Germany)…

                since no one else here did, we expanded the scope to friends and family. Nothing really.

                I do take Ireneo’s point: “I even think most of those affected by then are just starting to process it now – especially simple folks.” but for me, knowing Jewish survivors and recently during South Africa’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_Reconciliation_Commission_(South_Africa) , victims are the loudest bunch, so what’s the Philippines’ excuse not to talk? Juana said they were in fear, well that ‘s their president, no? the Leftist voted for him.

                Maybe the SoH is too small a sample, maybe those guys in Raissa’s blog would have more personal stories, but you get the point that if most of these stories are “I read somewhere…” or “I saw on youtube…” how that’s less convincing right? So I’m totally asking for the opposite, Joe, by all means tell this story of violence (but personally).

                Personalize this… that’s hard to do if less and less people actually know 1st hand stories. I agree with edgar there are other ways to skin this cat, but it’s gonna be difficult if people cannot cite personal stories to make their case.

              • edgar lores says:

                Simply google: “human rights violations under marcos”

                Here’s one:


              • They can search for ways other than your opinion, which is causing them to refrain from conversation with you. You persist in not listening and trying to ram your opinion through as some greater truth, like our friend jp. Kindly move on to a different topic. Second request.

              • ” I read at least 10 economic magazines and Intl papers daily, and Philippines was important as we had huge loan exposures in the country.”

                Maybe I’m just looking thru his through the lens of American history, chemp. But there was the Vietnam war going on, which also affected Laos and Cambodia, American military were doing their RR in Thailand, Philippines and in Australia.

                So yeah, I concede that there’d be a big blind spot re SE Asia history on my part. But I always thought this Asian Tigers term was recent in the 90s which included Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan & S. Korea only. And the “Sick Man of Asia” was something PNoy stated only recently. (verify this for me, chemp re Asian Tigers and “Sick Man of Asia”, your use seem anachronistic here).

                But I’ll defer to your economic readings, chemp.

                Not sure what was going on in Malaysia, but Suharto is Marcos’ contemporary, and they had similar problems re communism, also American complicity in fighting communism, and his use of violence was less calibrated than Marcos’ , how was Indonesia’s economy comparatively?

                And what was the difference with the Philippines? If you have more info re Suharto’s Indonesia in comparison that would add greatly.

                “You said it’s the middle class that turned against Marcos when economy went bad. Your implication being ?”

                chemp, this was Ireneo and edgar’s point in the other thread , implication being the stuff I was looking for markers of violence, left with them in diaspora (and according to Ireneo, they’ve kept quiet in diaspora). As for the lower class, mostly those associated with Communists were affected, most of them not, hence even the lower class today don’t really much care about this Marcos stuff.

                My only original contribution in this discussion, chemp, is personalize these stories and evaluate Marcos’ use of violence, ie. excessive/necessary. Much of the history came from you guys, not me. Also South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation proceedings as comparison to the notion that victims of Martial Law don’t talk.

              • There is no “you guys” here. There are people interested in the well-being of the Philippines. We all are, or don’t belong here. I dislike the notion that there are two camps, one with more validity than another. The ideas bridge borders.

              • “Kindly move on to a different topic. Second request.”

                Yeah, consider it dropped , Joe, since no one has personal stories, then maybe we’ll have more success comparing Marcos’ Philippines to Suharto’s Indonesia.

              • They have personal stories. They may not personally know people who experienced violence. They have compassion for those who did, an element of the conversation that seems to have escaped your steel mind.

              • Consider it dropped, Joe, but I just wanna point out that I’m not being steel headed, it just doesn’t work, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_emotion it’s a logical fallacy… I’m sure edgar can appreciate the logic in that.

                But let’s move on…

              • chemrock says:


                Firstly sorry to one and sundry. My comment above “I read a lot” — didn’t mean to say it made me an expert. Just to explain why I was immersed in all this politico -economics.

                Asian Tigers period of prosperity would roughly be about early 1070s to early 1990s.

                A few countries have been labelled “sick man” before. I think people started labelling Philippines in 80s whenboth the economy and Marcos were sick.

                The 60s to 90s Malaysia was under Tun Abdul Razak (father of current PM), Tun Hussein Ion and Mahathir. Razak had corruption issues, and we suspected him of fermenting the racial riots of 69. Razak had to battle the communists, with no need for martial law. Hussein was an upright guy much like LKY. Country did well under him. Mahathir started out well although he was known as an ultra nationalist. He did not come from royalty like his predecessors. But he stayed too long to become despotic in his last few years. Malaysia had their unique problems – racial divide, economic power in the hands of Chinese, political power in Malay hands. But I think they were not as fragmented as Philippines.

                Suharto had complete military backing without which he could not have control over the country. He stabilised the country after routing the communists. He is reputedly the leader who stole more than Marcos. However, I think it’s his children and wife who stole. I also have some personal experience in my work at a bank where I had direct knowledge of some skulldredgery by the first family. To your point on communists. During Soeharto’s last few years, the communists had infiltrated into the admin. It was a situation far worse than what Marcos was facing. When Suharto took over, I think there was a short period of emergency before the communists were routed. There was no martial law.

                Marcos ML victims were not just the reds. Majority were innocents due to poor Intel, and many were student activists.

            • Juana Pilipinas says:


              “Are you so arrogant that when you want something, it does not matter if people get hurt?”

              I correct myself:

              You are so arrogant that when you want something, it does not matter if people get hurt.

              I already explained why so we are done talking.

              • The only reason I speak easily of the Martial Law period is that I have ‘moved on’ after 34 years being away. Many others, even abroad, have not. It isn’t for anyone to judge that, because moving on is purely personal – and even harder für those in the country.

                I even think most of those affected by then are just starting to process it now – especially simple folks. They hid the pain back in 1986 to keep living, and in order not to show vulnerability in a culture that can be very mean-spirited in its bullying and one-upmanship.

              • “You are so arrogant that when you want something, it does not matter if people get hurt.”

                I’m familiar with appeals to emotion, but this is a new one, Juana… Who exactly am I hurting? And how? By asking for personal experiences re Martial Law?

              • Yes, that is how. You are speaking down to people with real lives and their own pains in search of some intellectual point about how to use personal experience as a way to communicate better. I’m putting you into moderation. I don’t like the discussion.

              • @ Ireneo

                Reading news about PH these days give a lot of Filipinos overseas, especially those who survived the ML era, the sense of deja vu. Many of them have moved on too, but news like the ones below make them fearful for the people they left behind and for all Filipinos in general. What is portrayed in the news lately is eerily similar to the “purges” of “communists” during ML.


              • It IS exactly like the start of Martial Law, for sure. May God help the Philippines.

          • edgar lores says:

            What’s the word?

            Cold, heartless, inhumane, insensitive, offensive, unsympathetic, unfeeling.

            • edgar, Do you have personal stories re Martial Law, could be of family and friends, since you left, but it has to be 1st hand knowledge? So far we have karl’s Uncle, Ireneo was detained and sonny’s family we beneficiaries of the Martial Law.

              • * were beneficiaries

              • edgar lores says:

                I have — family and friend.

                But you won’t get the volume you are looking for. As Irineo says, Marcos’s use of violence was calibrated, and as Juana says, there was control of the media. Most stories surfaced after martial law.

                The economic mismanagement is NOT “crap” as you say.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I call him uncle because he is a cousin of my dad. He is still alive, He is a so-called rebel returnee. He was already out in the 80s,but went missingin the 90s,but he lived to tell that it was not his former colleagues who abducted him,but it was the AFP.

                Not all of Sonny’s relativees were pro-Marcos. Sonny’s cousin was an activist was detained in Crame.

                Propaganda was a huge factor why Marcos was not hated, or feared to be hated.
                He controlled the news,and all the media.

                Even Duterte’s mother fought Marcos. I wonder where this debt of gratitude to the Marcoses is coming from? Is it just the campaign contributions?

              • As you well know the point of all this is to increase the volume for the anti-Marcos crowd, w/out volume, people won’t care.

                As for economic crap, my point is that if this was a global phenomenon , with Marcos servant to int’l forces , it won’t be much of a point since it’s so abstract with macro- as well as micro- stuff, hence crap—- though Ireneo stands by it.

                But without breadlines and stories of fear, ie. Stasi-type operations, there’s just no critical mass, and the way I see it, it’ll forever be a push & pull between anti-Marcos, and pro-Marcos, with many appeals to emotions, and morality,

                but nothing really convincing, hence what you have here is essentially a stalemate, with Marcos’ body in place , possibly other Marcoses gaining legitimacy.

                There’s just no critical mass forming, edgar, then and now. Sorry.

              • edgar lores says:


                The intention is admirable, but the single-shot proposed method is not.

                Therefore, try to achieve critical mass through other methods — by telling the truth about the thievery and the violence, by highlighting the First Quarter Storm, by highlighting the killing of students, by highlighting Imelda’s shoes, jewelry, paintings and her extravagant shopping forays, by highlighting the Swiss accounts and the offshore accounts, by highlighting Bongbong’s efforts to steal the vice-presidency, by highlighting the arrogance of the sneaky burial, by reading Raissa Robles’s book, by joining mass protests, etcetera.

              • sonny says:

                To be clear, LC, Martial Law Philippines declared on 23 Sep 1972; by that time ALL my family have been domiciled Stateside, youngest male Selective Service Status = 1A. I was 1Y; no PH interests left behind.

              • some recent demonstrators have posted about 50something taxi drivers telling them their experience of Martial Law – with enormous relief. In a culture that is at once an Oriental ‘shame culture’ and a ‘thug culture’ were you don’t show weakness – a major opening they just dared to do because they knew where their passengers were headed to. Imagine the jeers of contempt GRP-style thugs would give them, practically unmanning them.

              • The daily story of the urban working class harrassed by cops, of Nutribun = bread lines.. yes that is a story only partly told. At least the rural story is more told, stories like the video ‘why Samar’ or Pelang’s stories of young men killed for nearly nothing by cops..

              • Peter Penduke says:

                The people who were affected by martial law who can personally “testify” (20 years old and above at that time) are now about 55 years old and over. Out of the 100M Filipinos today, LESS than 10% are in that age bracket. If you apply that age demographic to the readers of this blog, you will get your answer why there is not much personal anecdote of martial law atrocity.

                Here’s my contribution to your quest. I am 56 years old. In my small town of about 5,000 population, a neighbor disappeared and never returned home after attending one of the rallies against marcos. A cousin (activist) has to transfer school (from UP) to continue schooling – my aunt had him do it. My brother’s classmate was killed by soldiers. Same with my sister’s. Ironically, those two killed were brothers. Me personally, just simple denial of the right to assemble – violently implemented.

                The spike or crescendo you are looking for is being drowned out nowadays by deliberate efforts (see wiki page of marcos – and the tug of war on the edits). I am not sure if decades of historical accounts can be revised by this. (there are volumes from neutral sources – if you care to base your conclusion from that). What you are doing is how THEY (not you) start the revisionism.

              • just a few minutes ago, candles have been lit at the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, after a lecture by Prof. Xiao Chua.

                and a few days ago, some stuff went around about the Japanese Invasion on Dec. 8, 1941 – including a sarcastic pro-Japanese troll post by Lourd de Veyra.

                Every Filipino generation went through its share of horrors, told their kids way too little – my father sometimes said ‘we just don’t complain’ – keeping a tough facade too much?

                In Filipino culture, thugs are often admired too much, victims treated disdainfully.

                Add to that the mentality of ‘not our folks, not our business’ – tribalism, clannishness.

        • tortyur by Prof. Xiao Chua, to be precise.

  3. chemrock says:

    The yellows could cooperative with the leftist against a common ‘ enemy’ the Marcos —

    Ninoy attempted that. He is branded a communist today. History is unfair.

    • jp says:

      I dont see the left leaving RD.

      Common enemy is crime. United towards development

      • chemrock says:

        So Ninoy leaning on the reds, He was a communist.
        Rody leans on the reds, he is a hero?

      • parengtony says:

        I would characterize the “Filipino Left” as believers of egalitarianism ( upholding the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political, social, and economic equality). In that sense the political leftists now in bed with RD are, IMO, nothing but opportunist or even anti-poor.

        The poor are the real victims of the so called anti-crime/shabu drive. Who are the unspoken beneficiaries of EJK?

        How does the pro-China/anti-USA pivot attain better economic standing for Juan de la Cruz and his family? When the Philippines lost Sabah, who won and who lost? So how different is the South China Sea dispute?

        Does the fact that RD has made the PNP much more powerful means more, better, and faster service and protection for the public?

        From the perspective of the poor, is the Philippine social justice system (SC-Judiciary, DOJ-Prosecution Service, PNP-NBI-PDEA-Brgy Officials) on the up and up?

        Does Federalism = development?

        What is the true agenda? Who are the real beneficiaries?

  4. An important aspect of tribal societies is also – truth is relative. Witness accounts (c) MRP are spun to favor allies and smear enemies. Forget due process, unless it is by forensic evidence (c) MRP. And even that can be planted. Guilt or innocence is more a matter of belief or disbelief.

    Courts decide based on influence, on paying back favors to those who appointed them. Political allegiance is for sale, like datus of old formed alliances by sharing the loot from raids and trade.

    Meaning all modernity was a farce, except in the more modern parts of the country, in pockets.

  5. Adrian says:

    It looks like Filipinos are born to belong to small groups whenever possible, instead of building kingdoms. Assuming that human race diversified from somewhere in the Middle East, people with stronger sense of community grabbed the nearest land available and fought to death for those lands. People who doesn’t want/can’t to/fight, explored the vast available lands. Early Filipinos are extreme (Polynesians are more extreme), they went to as far as an appendage land.

    Before the Spaniards came, there are 2 (AFAIK) mini kingdoms in the Manila area. It looks like it never occurred to them to just form a bigger one. During the Spanish time, revolutions can’t succeed as opposing tribes are recruited to fight it off.

    The times that we have shown unity is when we are fighting a perceived common enemy. Duterte propaganda machine, as well as Marcos, is very effective in exploiting this trait.

    • edgar lores says:

      Basically, then, Filipinos think small.

      They buy cigarettes by sticks instead of packs.

      Perhaps, “think” is not the right word.

      • Adrian says:

        Lol! What I was trying to express in 3 paragraphs, you expressed in 3 words (Filipinos think small).

      • karlgarcia says:

        then tinge is the word.

        • edgar lores says:

          Karl, thanks, that’s the right term.

          Even as a child, I was flabbergasted by the practice of buying “tinge” (or tingi). If you cannot afford to buy a pack, then it should be obvious you cannot afford to smoke.

          And you can see this illogic, this non-cognizance of incapacity everywhere in all walks of life:

          o If you cannot afford to support one child, you should not have more than one.

          o If you cannot afford to buy, build or rent a house, you should not trespass and squat.

          o If you cannot walk the spiritual talk, you should not be a priest, much less an archbishop.

          o If you have no concrete idea of helping a constituency, you should not run for office.

          o If your main skill is beating people to a pulp, you should not be a congressman or senator.

          o If your main skill is showing your tits or putting your hand down men’s pants, you should not be a columnist.

          o If your main platform is to kill 3M people, you should not run for the presidency.

          My apologies to truly multi-skilled people and polymaths.

          • Adrian says:

            My favorite, an Emerson poem:

            The mountain and the squirrel
            Had a quarrel,
            And the former called the latter
            “Little prig.”
            Bun replied,
            “You are doubtless very big;
            But all sorts of things and weather
            Must be taken in together
            To make up a year
            And a sphere.
            And I think it no disgrace
            To occupy my place.
            If I’m not so large as you,
            You are not so small as I,
            And not half so spry:
            I’ll not deny you make
            A very pretty squirrel track.
            Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
            If I cannot carry forests on my back,
            Neither can you crack a nut.”

            • edgar lores says:

              Adrian, thank you for that charming verse.

              The conclusion seems to be that one size does not fit all.

              Small can be beautiful — as in bonsai (and some body parts) but not in bound feet.

              Big can be awesome — as in pyramids (and some body parts) but not in egos.

        • Heritage of Smallness, by Nick Joaquin.

          • edgar lores says:

            Irineo, thanks. Very good read. Joaquin extends the idea of smallness to federation:

            “Philippine society, as though fearing bigness, ever tends to revert the condition of the barangay of the small enclosed society. We don’t grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba. The moment a town grows big it becomes two towns. The moment a province becomes populous it disintegrates into two or three smaller provinces. The excuse offered for divisions is always the alleged difficulty of administering so huge an entity….”


            • edgar lores says:

              Sorry, I just meant to post the link.

              • I would interject that “Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered” is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher argues that small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better”. As Manila demonstrates “bigger is often not better.”

                Living in a rural community in a nest of families, tribally if you will, can be and is for me, an extremely pleasant experience.

                I further question joeAm’s assertions about the tribal nature of violence here. For instance I find that there is more tolerance of a wide variety of sexual lifestyles than is commonly found in America. Violence here seems often to be devoted to business purposes with politics being simply another business.

                I tend to see three layers of Philippine culture historically derived: A mother, matriarchal culture that came before the arrival of the Spanish and of Islam in the south. This was followed by the “macho” cultures of Spain and Islam. The period as a American colony? Well I am not sure how I would characterize it. Perhaps as extreme mix of of democracy and corruption, politics as business.

                I do believe that the mother culture is alive in the barkadas and small communities and far more important than is generally realized.

              • Local elections are certainly violent.

              • @joeAm, because local elections are about business. Who gets the pork barrel. I have relatives father-in-law, brother-in-law who are bgy chairmen. It is about the money, mostly.

                I know there are exceptions. I believe them rare.

              • The point is, deadly violence is a solution used often. Everything is business in a way. The Philippines is also a warm and friendly culture. The warmth is real. So is violence.

              • “A mother, matriarchal culture that came before the arrival of the Spanish and of Islam in the south. This was followed by the “macho” cultures of Spain and Islam. The period as a American colony? Well I am not sure how I would characterize it. Perhaps as extreme mix of of democracy and corruption, politics as business.”

                There’s no such thing as pure matriarchal culture, boblq. There’s always a brother or son involved throughout —- unless you include Wonder Woman and the Amazons 😉

                But what the Philippines is is bilineal, hence you guys don’t really specify maternal side or paternal side , they do in the Middle East, they have different words for maternal uncles and paternal aunts, etc.

                Though I do agree w/ you that the essence is tolerance, especially in small towns.

                “Living in a rural community in a nest of families, tribally if you will, can be and is for me, an extremely pleasant experience.” This I totally agree with, hence the best places to visit over here is Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon,

                where the Pioneer spirit still exists and people tend to be accepting, all you have to do is prove your worth.

              • @LT_Cpl_X

                I would like to elaborate on
                “A mother, matriarchal culture that came before the arrival of the Spanish and of Islam in the south.”
                and perhaps with your help develop this idea.

                You wrote
                “There’s no such thing as pure matriarchal culture, boblq. There’s always a brother or son involved throughout —- unless you include Wonder Woman and the Amazons.”

                I do not intend to suggest that men were unimportant or powerless, but that a lot of political power was based in women. I will explain and you can critique, elaborate or disagree.

                Perhaps my best friend here in the Philippines lives in a beautiful valley a few hundred meters from my home, which is also a few hundred meters from the bay. He is essentially a hunter gatherer with a small garden, and a small barkada of like minded friends. I built small boats here for several years and Gilbert supplemented his income by working with me. He is intelligent with a wide range of skills. He and his wife Edna have 9 children so he has plenty of problems to deal with.

                IMHO Gilbert’s lifestyle is fairly close to what many Filipinos may have lived like throughout the archipelago before the coming of Islam and the Spanish.

                The men hunted and fished, wandered in their bankas as barkadas, while the women stayed home and tended to the children, pigs, chickens and gardens. Thus the women formed stable power bases rooted in service. The men showed up from time to time with fish and other cash equivalents for his asawa. His power was generally less than that of the woman because everyone knew he would only be around for a short while then he would be off again. The asawa was happy to see him come but equally happy to see him go. My own belief is that this state of affairs gets close to a naturally compatible fit between many men and women.

                I could go on and on, but see

                The stable nurturing role of the woman in a village where the men form barkadas and wander leads to them becoming quite powerful. That opinion, not naming conventions, is my basis for suggesting the mother culture is matriarchal and still operating at a deep level beneath “macho” and “politics as business” cultures.

                What think you?

              • “I do not intend to suggest that men were unimportant or powerless, but that a lot of political power was based in women.”

                I totally agree with that, boblq. Are you familiar with this Greek play? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysistrata

                Most matriarchal societies are found in the South Pacific. The connotation of this word usually implies an Amazon type setting, where women control everything. Well in all documented matriarchal societies, women do rule, but it’s their sons and brothers that do the heavy lifting.

                “The stable nurturing role of the woman in a village where the men form barkadas and wander leads to them becoming quite powerful. “

                I agree with you re women’s power in general, but would point out that when the threat is physical, nurturing goes out the window, and men will usually assume this power. Hence no real matriarchal societies.

            • chemrock says:

              Thanks Irineo and Edgar, the Heritage of Smallness is a good read

              I just couldn’t help thinking the idea of federalism is another extension of this proclivity for smallness.

              I say this without any intention of disrespect, but amongst other races in Singapore, we have long observed that the Malay race seems to be very easily contented. It’s perhaps a culture born of an easier lifestyle close to nature that does not relish the extra effort required in pursuit of materialism. We have unfairly labelled it as lazy. It’s perhaps this low threshold for satisfaction that stops then from wanting to move forward. A wooden carving is good enought why bother with hard stones. The jeepnys served us well, why phase them out. I think this ease of contentment is perhaps the causal factor for the smallness in thinking. Which is the chicken, which is the egg?

              • “proclivity for smallness” That popped me awake. Like an alarm bell ringing.

              • edgar lores says:


                Perhaps not chicken and egg but hand-in-hand?

                Small desires, easy satisfaction. This is true for JoeAm’s third major component, the needful masses.

                But there is the corollary thinking for the first major component, the entitled.

                For them, it’s big desires, easy satisfaction.

                Go into politics with only saliva as capital — as the local saying “laway lang ang puhunan” goes — and you don’t have to work that hard. And the rewards are lucre, mistresses, recognition, and respect.

                The common factor in both components is still small thinking in terms of the satisfaction of selfish desires. And, as we know, there is a symbiosis between the two components.

                For the educated elite, the thinking is: big desires but not-so-easy satisfaction. Or must-work-hard-for-it satisfaction.

              • For working-class OFWs and migrants, it often is: small desires, not-so-easy satisfaction.

                Probably the most frustrated of all crowds – their folks back home often parasites who guzzle what they send at the mall or for shabu(!?), the government callous (tanim-bala) and parasitic (balikbayan box and travel taxes) and their employers exploitative.

                This is the crowd that voted Duterte overwhelmingly, based on hope and frustration. I wonder how their outlook will change when they see the realities 2-3 years from now.

          • Adrian says:

            Oh.. I remember! I’ve read this book but lost my copy to Ondoy.

        • karlgarcia says:

          tinj and tingi would be apropos

    • “People who doesn’t want/can’t to/fight, explored the vast available lands. “

      If your Negritos in the Philippines are related to the Australian aborigenes and Papua New Guinea natives, and those natives have been found to closely match the genes of Sans Bushmen of southern Africa,

      it would mean that they simply by-passed the Mid-East and went straight towards the western Pacific.

      And if you also take into account Chinese -Filipinos , well their migration pattern also by-passed the Mid-East shooting straight to the Causus, thru Central Asia and down towards Souther China then on to Taiwan.

      the people that would’ve been more related to the folks who settled the Middle East, Garden of Eden stuff, but decided to move-on would’ve probably have been the same folks who either got rid of the Neanderthals or cross bred with them in EU.

      But all three branching out migrations to Australia, to Central Asia and to Europe , would all have been tiny tribal folks (ie. Europe was only partly consolidated because of the Roman Empire, and it was this same tribalism in part which destroyed Rome), and the Qin Empire consolidation would’ve been way after the Fall of Rome,

      the Negritos and Aborigenes never consolidated.

      • Adrian says:

        @LCpl_X, bottom line is, there’s a group of people who decided to settle in ph and left the land where there may be some competition. It seems that their main criteria is convenience.

        One thing to also check is the chain of languages. If we are to trace back Asian languages, we’d be stopped in the middle east.

        • “left the land where there may be some competition. It seems that their main criteria is convenience.”

          If we’re talking about pre-farming peoples, then yeah, there’s always a lot of competition.

          Then people (in the Middle East) had a bright idea and figured out subsistence farming to augment hunting/gathering, at least there was some semblance of control in this practice, that you weren’t dependent on Mother Nature too much. So even then there’d still be competition, since hunting was still the main way you got meat.

          The only point where this whole notion of convenience would come into play is when subsistence farming evolved into full-on agriculture and sedentism became the norm, with people settling in one area,

          this also led to forced sedentism wherein weaker cultures were enslaved to serve the dominant culture, this reality would encourage further migration just to get away from a bad situation, Abraham’s story hinted of this.

          But the Negritos, would ‘ve traveled chasing after game, nothing convenient about that, then the Filipinos from mainland Asia, both by way of Taiwan or up Indonesia/Malaysia would’ve also been subsistence farmers / hunters and gatherers, again nothing convenient about that at all, they would’ve also been fishermen.

          So if your point was that early Filipinos were the weaker or more tamed strain, it just doesn’t add up, man. Maybe once these groups got to the Philippines, and were essentially pampered with resources, especially from the sea, the day to day survival wasn’t as demanding, hence convenient,

          but that would have nothing to do with the Middle East competition, early Filipinos just stumbled upon their own Eden. But I wouldn’t consider all of the Philippines as teeming with bounty, if you look at Visayas and Mindanao and compare say the food sources in Northern Luzon, where they have funkier food options in order to squeeze as much out of a limited resource situation,

          hence you have decomposed food as delicacy and eating goat shit essentially… which you don’t find in the Visayas and Mindanao at all, so I guess you can say it’s more convenient down south 😉 than up north back in history.

          I’m just a PhD in Google, Ireneo would be the go-to guy on this.

          “If we are to trace back Asian languages, we’d be stopped in the middle east.”

          If you’re talking about Indo-European languages maybe, I know all the way towards China, in Tajikistan they speak a form of Persian (but that’s recent , from the Persian Empire, pre-Alexander the Great).

          I’m curious which Asian languages you’d be able to trace back to the Mid-East,

          if the bulk of the migration sans the Negrito migration, came from the north, ie. mainland Asia. The only Middle East and India interaction would’ve been when Hindus by way of Indonesia came up and Muslims by way of both Arabia and India spread to the Philippines, around the same time, but that’s all very recent. And the language absorption would’ve been only a spattering of words here and there,

          all linguistic routes in the Philippines still lead up to northern mainland Asia, not west to the Middle East.

          Negritos have no native term for boats, or anything seafaring since they arrived by land, their linguistic strain would probably come closest to that which youre proposing here, but I think their language would’ve pre-dated agriculture sedentism in the Middle East.

          I just don’t see the connection to the Middle East, Adrian.

          • Adrian says:


            It’s a generalization. By convenience, I just meant that instead of establishing kingdoms, building pyramids, etc., early Filipinos (Negritos) chased game. Running around naked to survive is way more convenient than say, building monuments.


            I was specifically thinking of Indo-European languages. There are proponents of language family (Austric) that includes languages from India to maritime Asia.

    • “Before the Spaniards came, there are 2 (AFAIK) mini kingdoms in the Manila area.” Three is what I have read: Maynila, the native name for the Malay fortress of Kota Selurong; Namayan, present-day Sta. Ana and Malate (roughly) which was Tagalog and Tondo which was the oldest kingdom or fiefdom of all and was ruled by Kapampangans. Real kingdoms only stayed and lasted in the areas that had been Islamic for a while – the Sultanates, since a Sultan has not only secular power but also certain religious roles within Islam.

      Books like “Raiding, Trading and Feasting” show that the datus were a bit like trapos – they formed alliances to raid and trade, pork-barrel style, and feasted their followers like Binay. In an archipelago with just half a million inhabitants then, I guess everybody lived pretty well.

  6. Juana Pilipinas says:

    I am heartened by the recent developments regarding VP Leni Robredo. Her answers to the interview in a Rappler article made me respect the lady even more. I hope Filipinos will support her efforts to provide checks and balances to PH’s governance.


    • edgar lores says:

      Who said she’s weak?

      “Pag hindi siya nakinig ibang usapan yun. (If he doesn’t listen, that’s another matter.) If he doesn’t listen then the fight will be against him already.)

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        I think she is exactly what PH needed. If she prevails, she will be a good role model for the PH youth who will one day govern PH. It will be the birth of honorable, patriotic, and fair-minded citizenry which will propel PH to greatness.

  7. madlanglupa says:

    Tribalism and regionalism remains one of the stumbling blocks to true national unity. To identify oneself to a certain region or dialect, rather than to see oneself as part of an integral whole rich with diversity… it only manages to advance regional supremacism which is why we have federalism fanatics seeking to slice up this Republic into supposedly self-governing states, claiming that federalism will bring prosperity, when these same fanatics also subscribe to regional supremacism and detest other regions. This is why we have some Ilocanos identifying with Marcos, and then Davaoeños staunchly allied with The Big Daddy in the Palace, and so on.

    Down to a certain level, it’s not unusual that in the case of large groupings, whether construction workers, prisoners, college students, etc. they would form themselves into region-oriented cliques as though they’re a nation-state bound by dialect than common cultural identity.

    It will take a long time of proper education to the young that we realize that we have commonality in terms of cruel circumstance — we were conquered by an empire, united briefly in the 1898 Revolution, World War II, and then 1986 and 2001 to throw out a autocratic despot and then a bum refusing to reveal his bank accounts.

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