Enter the New Year, on hope, superstition and maybe a prayer


Hmm, maybe in 2018 emphasis should be on the Chinese New Year, not Jan 1. [Photo source: chinesenewyearblog.com]

By Joe America

Best wishes to all for the New Year. Resolutions are important, I think. I hope that you will strive for high values based on knowledge, and will have the discipline to align your acts with your values. If you do that, it will be hard for anyone to expect any more from you, and at the end of 2017, you will be able to reflect back with great satisfaction on how well you lived during the year.

Let’s look at the Philippines to see where we stand.

We have a majority of Filipinos who anchor their acts on what I would call emotional superstition, which supplants knowledge with rumor and fear and needs and finds satisfaction in exacting revenge against those believed to be responsible for their struggles. They see tearing down convention as a form of building, and they see a new set of entitled as change if their chosen idols say it is so. They are satisfied with the way things are going in the Philippines, and believe the killings are proper to rid the nation of crime and drugs. They don’t relate to the dead as being their brothers and sisters, but as lesser beings. Bugs, I suppose. If most of this majority are Christians, understand that their Christianity is just another form of superstition, to be applied when necessary; it is not a life’s commitment.

We have a small section of the population who anchor their acts on Western values, or democratic ideals of freedom and earnest work, and who live by real Christian values of compassion and honesty. They are highly upset at the direction, decisions, and deeds of their National Government. They pray a lot, but understand God works in mysterious ways.

We have another small section of the population, many of whom control the nation, who believe in traditional Philippine values of power and favor. To Western eyes, they are immoral and unethical, and corrupt for being so. But to others in their class, they are admired because they succeed in rising above the rest. So they are not immoral or unethical. The ideals of human rights, which grant all individuals equality, do not apply, because they genuinely believe they are better people than those with less power and/or wealth. The lowest of the low, by declaration, are the Filipino vermin who do drugs. These powerful leaders are institutionalized bigots, and that is why things have not changed much in 125 years. We learned this from wise and well-read Society contributor Irineo B. R. Salazar when he brought us slice of Dr. Jose Rizal’s view of things. Irineo said:

I wrote this in July, and I often hate being right (What is destroyed?)

[What is destroyed?] says Simoun to Basilio in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo – “Evil, suffering, miserable weeds that will be replaced by healthy grain. I would call it creation, production, giving life” to justify killing those against his revolution. When Simoun later has taken poison to not fall into the hands of the Spanish alive, Filipino priest Padre Florentino tells him: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”. . .

but the interesting part is: “. . . as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?”. . .”if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow”.

Rizal’s El Filibusterismo was originally published in 1891.

And in 2017, Filipinos remain slaves to the culture of power and favor. This is no democracy, in its ideal sense. There is no freedom. No equality. No prosperity.

President Duterte is the “Great Appeaser”, who has ceded Filipino sea resources to the Chinese and certain privileges and authority to former rebels, now welcomed into government. He has extracted the Philippines from the overbearing presence of America, and if the nation is militarily and economically weaker for it, at least there is peace, and new opportunities looking toward China. Although we have peace, hooray, we also have lots of bombings and killings and animosity and are endlessly on the cusp of martial law. If you find this strange, you are not unlike me. Fortunately, Filipino emotional superstition grants us wide latitude to make up our own truths so we are always right, no matter what we think.

The economy is still chugging along well, rather like the Titanic. We have the sense that there is an iceberg in the fog up ahead, but no matter how carefully we peer, we can’t see what is going to happen. It could be nothing, and the economy will swallow back the political and social burps and thrive, or it could be a humongous berg, in which case, the Philippines will crash into angry conflict. Those with the flexibility to exit are out buying their tickets or life-boats or investing in the US. Hahaha. Like me.

Education is what it has always been, a regimented, authoritarian method of teaching children how to obey and recite what they are told, and to cheat to get ahead. If you find this strange, that there is little focus on inspiring individual creative thought or critical analysis . . . at least it fits with the culture of emotional superstition. Discipline means doing what you are told, not adhering to principles. Unity means doing what you are told, not finding your mind, heart, and soul committed to the well-being of the nation.

The local governments are the same amalgamation of murderous, corrupt (in Western terms), incompetent power mongers as always, with a smattering of honest, earnest, capable leaders. Locals worship the leaders and grant them great respect.

The national government is a jumble of braggadocio hidden behind an enormous mask of bluster, and a machine of propaganda, and all the FOIs in the world will not reveal the truth about what is happening. I suspect that management of the peoples’ affairs is crumbling into the kind of incompetence associated with the methods of power and favor, which do not really focus on achievement in anything but individual terms. If the entitled thrive while the rest suffer, hey, that’s the way it is . . . in 2017, as it was in 1891.

Have a great year, roll with the tide, understand that talking is sometimes a form of silence; real work may be needed. Be kind, and be well . . .


80 Responses to “Enter the New Year, on hope, superstition and maybe a prayer”
  1. josephivo says:

    There are three different worlds, one populated by people whose income comes largely from salaries earned by smart or hard work, one of people with most income from capital wealth and one with people struggling to survive another day. In each of these worlds different values, rules and cultures exist, just as there are totally different physical laws for liquid water, steam and ice. Even as they are made up of the same water molecules. If you are a liquid molecule close to zero degree Celsius, your fear is freezing up, if you are closer to hundred degree Celsius, your hope is to find a little more energy and evaporate.

    A large fraction of the Philippine population lives in extreme poverty. An even larger fraction has income but fears to slide back, they certainly do not believe that they might live on day without real work, living from their capital income. The one percent of wealthy Filipinos are the only ones with enough kinetic energy to move the pistons of the political engine.

    Most of the member of the society have enough income to dream of making it one day and many are retired, living of capital build up in a life time. We have the energy to think of what would be possible but not enough to shape the future by buying a politician, a judge or a high ranking bureaucrat.

    The current president is courting both ends of the spectrum at the same time. He (mis)-uses the more simple laws of the unsophisticated jungle and at the same time he believes that aligning with the huge surpluses of a ruthless China will be more profitable than betting on the old-world, (just look at what the Chinoys achieved here the last fifty years).

    • karlgarcia says:

      Two organizations that gives me hope to dream that in the near future poverty will be lessened and the quality of life of the poor would be much improved, no matter who is or who will be the president of the Philippines.

      Gawad Kalinga and partners. Republic Cement and partners.



    • Nice parsing. I do find the bold ways of President Duterte endlessly fascinating, and wonder if he projects outcomes (or Bong Go does), or they just play the bold cards, and, depending on the result, re-calibrate the bold moves or inject some new ones. If it weren’t for the killings, I might admire the Administration for these qualities. Even the Marcos burial reflects the bold will to trade favors among the wealthy, or to use that currency as it has always been used. That the cemetery is no longer freely open to the public is a pity only to those of us who are pollyanna do-gooders, or have relatives there. I’ve never even visited the cemetery, nor have I visited Arlington in the US. I spent some time looking up names on the Viet Nam Memorial wall, as that was relevant. But these values we try to adhere to in order to put order and meaning into our lives are mere useless fictions . . . irritants . . . in the world of the Dutertes.

      • josephivo says:

        I think the president is too lazy to recalibrate, he has his favorite solutions and will stick to them. Other cabinet members might take over all of the real governing work based on a different melody but the president will keep singing the same tune. Nobody bold enough yet, but different fractions are testing the waters I guess.

        Why lazy? Violence (on average) is a lazy solution and all happens in the direct environment of the drug hunters. Just as thieves, another lazy vice, steal (on average) within one km of their home. All we see of the war on drugs is impulsive, no vision, no analysis, no follow-up. Shooting from the hip and not too far away from where I have to report for work. The boss (still) sets the tune. He simplifies everything in black or white, grey needs further analysis, so it is ignored. Zero sum thinking is the easy way too, win-win requires more creativity, more work. Jump to conclusions, don’t waste time learning what others did… And he is in his seventies, the “I know it by experience” age and no more the diligence of a middle aged person.

  2. Zen says:

    I’d better include in my New Year’s resolution, re reading really slow, Jose Rizal’s 2 novels and by the time I would have finished them, some real changes would have happened in the Philippines like fiction turning into real life, or Jose Rizal’s dream have all turned into reality by some sheer luck or hard work of the chosen few.

  3. Spot on…how I wish that you are wrong…I hate to bring God to the table…but I will make an exemption; many of us says that God is allowing these things to happen so that Filipinos can learn from the lesson.

    Looking back, the Filipinos are either so stupid or passive, waited for 333 years to oust the Spanish. Yes, we fought the Japanese and the Americans as well, and eventually, the colonial master gave us independence. Then Marcos came along, once again subdued the Filipinos, after twenty years, we say enough, thus Edsa people power in 1986 was born.

    For a while, we thought we have our democracy, then came Duterte who apparently is a personification or a sum of what we have fought in the past; a dictator in the making. The question now that comes to mind, how long should we wait again before many would finally say enough?

    Rodrico Sy

    • That is the key question, isn’t it, Rodrico? I am astounded that there is so little sense of civility in the broader population, when I think of the blessings shared, young people to old. And so little understanding that the poor will never be allowed to rise when the main method of governance is suppression. If God is allowing these things, He must believe Filipinos are slow learners, because the lesson plan is certainly repetitive.

      • josephivo says:

        Not slow learners but the victims of “you keep them stupid (with a simplified religion), so we can keep them poor (by stealing their money)” and vice-versa “you keep them poor, so we can keep them stupid”.

        • Istambay sa Kanto says:

          Is it ” simplified religion” or is it “feudalism” which resulted to political dynasty?

        • Kamote Procopio says:

          Have a prosperous and safe year everyone!

          I think the poor are not merely stupid but would prioritize food for their daily survival rather than minding what’s happening. The middle-class which has also been instrumental in ousting Marcos came into the picture only when food became scarce.
          Most Filipinos are selfish and would only react if their personal lives would be threatened. Only a few really have a sense of nationalism.

          • parengtony says:

            Pinoys are not stupid. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, stupid means not intelligent. Pinoys are extra-ordinarily intelligent. When provided with basic resources, we see Filipinos excel domestically as well as globally.

            With regards to the “low” level of Juan de la Cruz’s “sense of civility”, I relate this to my personal assessment that very close to 100% of Filipinos are “uninformed” (myself included). It is of great irony that the ongoing Information Technology revolution has been exacerbating this sad state of affairs. In IT, the “institutionalized bigots” have again found an effective and a more efficient means of keeping Juan de la Cruz uninformed.

            How many Dr. Jose Rizals will it take to right the ship? Over how many generations?

            • Bill In Oz says:

              I think that there is a misplaced assumption in this conversation. That the Philippines is a ‘westernised’ unitary country. And that the Philippines can therefore be compared with other westernised countries like the USA, or Germany or Japan.

              I suggest that the Philippines as a nation is culturally till far more like nations in the SEA region such as Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia. The Philippines like these other nations has a ‘patina’ of westernisation due to colonialisation from 4 different colonial powers.. But underneath there is an indigenous social & cultural similarity. And in that traditional society western democratic values are an alien imposition.

              I would prefer that the Philippines be democratic in temper & culture. But I am just a foreign guest.

            • Bill In Oz says:

              Hi Irineo, Rizal wrote in Spanish and thought of himself as a citizen in the global hispanic cultural world.

              Interesting that just before his arrest, Rizal was on his way to Cuba to assist as a medical doctor in the conflicts then happening in Cuba.

              Unfortunately he was arrested at Guam and shipped back to Manila to be tried and executed on trumped up charges by the Spanish military authorities.

  4. First of all, Happy New Year to everybody here… Joe these passages have struck me…

    “These powerful leaders are institutionalized bigots.. Filipino emotional superstition grants us wide latitude to make up our own truths so we are always right”

    If the powerful leaders are bigots, then it is quite normal that people try to seem always right. It isn’t a culture were you admit being wrong – and learn from it. It is a culture that values cover-ups and scapegoating, it is a culture that produces witch hunts like the one against De Lima.

    Of course it values parroting memorized or at best received knowledge, instead of a spirit of inquiry that leads to new knowledge via discovery – which includes, God forbid, errors! The maximum it can produce is good call center workers and some outsourcing – not a real software industry!

    Back to the emotional superstition. There is always some kind of scapegoat. Very useful in seeming completely blameless. But not admitting any mistake means no learning. Seems we are getting close to the roots of certain vicious cycles. Not that a solution is anywhere in sight.

    • That is an interesting extension of institutionalized bigotry, that people are so hunkered down in defending themselves after years of oppression and poverty, that they have lost the ability to go to the offensive tools of problem solving and building. It is also enlightening to me . . . I have generally considered oppression to be a tool of impunity, for the well-to-do, but it obviously is not. If the poor are okay with the rampant killing of the poor, they, too, have a well-developed sense of entitlement, and the impunity that goes along with it. The discriminating factor is drug usage, not poverty. Poor people who don’t do drugs or crime are perfectly happy with the killing of those who do. Middle class people, too, with needs of their own, institutionalize killing as an acceptible part of their righteousness.

    • i7sharp says:


      Whose translation of the “Fili” do you quote from?
      Can you kindly provide a link to it?



      • karlgarcia says:

        I missed you! Happy New Year!

      • karlgarcia says:


        The reign of Greed by Charles E. Derbyshire.

        • i7sharp says:

          Thank you, Karl. Happy New Year to you, too!

          I had actually checked the Derbyshire translation before deciding to ask for Irineo’s source.

          Irineo, as quoted:
          When Simoun later has taken poison to not fall into the hands of the Spanish alive, Filipino priest Padre Florentino tells him: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”. . .

          Derbyshire translation: Chapter 39 [Conclusion]:
          “I do not mean to say that our liberty will be secured at the sword’s
          point, for the sword plays but little part in modern affairs, but that
          we must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it, by exalting the
          intelligence and the dignity of the individual …


          • karlgarcia says:

            Irineo usually retranslates stuff to be easily understood.My guess is Rizal gave Blumentrit a copy which is in German, and Irineo has a copy,and he translated it from German, but that is a very wild guess.

            • Aside from the Derbyshire translation into English, there is the Leon Ma. Guerrero translation which was the one I used.

              Actually I read the recent and only German translation of El Fili this summer, which sent me scurrying back to check the Guerrero translation and look for the passages that I quoted in my article. I didn’t want to retranslate something already widely known.

              • karlgarcia says:

                OK Irineo,sorry for the conjectures. But your Art of war translation to tagalog was superb.
                I7sharp, you got your answer.

              • No problem… Art of War I had to translate from English, as I have no knowledge of the ancient Chinese original… normally the right way IS to translate from the original, in Rizal’s case the recent German translation was by a professor of Spanish language. In fact the son of the translator (who died before the work was published) added a lot of footnotes explaining the Philippines of then. Some minor exceptions like not knowing the joke Rizal built into the first chapter by calling the steamship going down the Pasig “Tabo” are fine…

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks, good to know.

              • i7sharp says:

                Aside from the Derbyshire translation into English, there is the Leon Ma. Guerrero translation which was the one I used.

                Thank you, Irineo.

                The part you quoted [from Guerrero] seems to be better than Derbyshire’s.
                Do you know of a link to Guerrero’s translation?

                by the way, [I hope this is fine with JoeAm], in your blog site, I tried to send a reply to your
                What 2017 holds

                For the USA, Donald Trump. For Germany, elections. For the Philippines – hopefully not Marcos.

                The world – seems crazy nowadays. Questions are many, for the moment good answers are few.

                My reply, in essence, was:
                “For the Philippines, the good answers can be found in Dr. Rizal and his writings.”

                However, my reply did not go through … due to technical problems, it seems.


              • The Word Press system has had no technical problems in the several years I have been using it. Human problems are abundant.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sharp was referring to Irineo’s blogsport site.
                All comments go to moderation, and Irineo can’t do anything about it.
                No error message,just a blank screen.

              • Ah, thanks for the clarification.

              • i7sharp says:

                Thanks for the clarification, Karl.

                Actually, I had thought I might have pressed the wrong buttons or something.

                by the way, …
                I chose to start using the handle or ID “i7sharp” a few years ago.
                It’s lower-case “i”; the upper-case “I” does not have a point.
                It stands for “i (love/aim/want/dream/like to be) sharp.” Think of the 7 as the “heart” icon as in the “I(heart)NY.”

                “sharp” because, although I am actually often “dull,” the “rp” ending helps me think of
                “Republic of the Philippines” or
                “Rizal’s Place.”


              • karlgarcia says:

                thanks for reintroducing yourself i7sharp.
                if i call you just sharp, would you be offended?

              • i7sharp says:

                Thanks, Karl.
                That’s shud be fine.
                “Basta ikaw,” sabi nga ni Totoy Bato.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. A New Year is a powerful, pivotal time in our lives. It is a time for reflection, assessment, and renewal. We look back at what has been — the struggles, the failures and the successes of the past year – and we look forward to a better year.

    2. We are filled with new hope, new strength, and new resolutions.

    3. Why is it then, why is it that I am filled, not with excitement for new possibilities, but with dread that the old realities will continue to persevere. Is it because of creeping age? Is it because of an unseasonably hot summer? Or is it because “we are here on a darkling plain / Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night?”

    4. Do you see light on the horizon?

    4.1. On the international scene, we have trolls presiding over the USA and USSR; an undistinguished May in the United Kingdom; an unpopular Hollande in France; and a frazzled Merkel in Germany. On balance, we have an unknown but promising Gentiloni in Italy, a sober Abe in Japan, and a reliable Trudeau in Canada. And a militant, if tottering, China.

    4.2. On the local scene, we have the biggest troll presiding over a landscape littered with corpses. A lackadaisical and compliant Congress. A judiciary that encourages impunity and that may yet execute a vice-presidential coup. A servile population.

    5. Please tell me I am wrong and that 2017 will be a good year. Please.

    • NHerrera says:

      On 4.1 — nice enumeration of the major game-changers in the international scene, including the Philippines’ own.

      On 5.0 — sorry, I have been rubbing that crystal ball several times, but it is cloudier than it’s ever been.

      Wishing you a Happy New Year, nevertheless.

      • NHerrera says:

        The new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has hard work ahead of him but with cloudy chance of success. Here is Guterres on a Paradox:

        “Today’s paradox is that despite greater connectivity, societies are becoming more fragmented. More and more people live within their own bubbles, unable to appreciate their links with the whole human family,”


        • Bill In Oz says:

          It’s an interesting statement by Guterres, isn’t it
          “despite greater connectivity, societies are becoming more fragmented. More and more people live within their own bubbles, unable to appreciate their links with the whole human family,””

          Perhaps it is a myth that all humans want greater connectivity. Perhaps they want to live in their own bubbles because it is less threatening…Certainly we would all be so much safer if Islamic terrorists and their supporters could be sent back in time to when Mohammad was alive.. But mind you it would probably be a lot less safer for the rest of humanity living at that time..

    • josephivo says:

      On 5. -There is my dog greeting me every morning with the same trusting eyes. The morning sun rays brilliantly shining through the blinds. My first cup of coffee. Important things one can be assured off also in 2017.

      • edgar lores says:

        Josephivo, Thanks very much. That is reassuring.

        So there is light in the little things, the micro, but perhaps not in the macro.

  6. Do we have a prayer when the government itself spreads misinformation and fake news? It looks like the plot is due to thicken this month with the government launching a PRD app, a radio and a TV program in addition to comics already circulating since October, a hotline, a tabloid, the Executive website undergoing a “facelift” and the various social media weapons of destruction crafted by PRD supporters. The wool over Filipinos’ eyes is so thick and it is about to be layered further.


    “Andanar thinks that the policies of Duterte need further explanation abroad. “The local people, the domestic market understands the war on drugs, but unfortunately the international community, the international media, needs more education when it comes to the war against illegal drugs. They need more explanation,” says the secretary of the Presidential Communications Office.”

    Yes. Someone need to explain PRD’s policies to the world because they are out of this world. Cayetano as DFA Secretary has his work cut out for him.

  7. Pablo says:

    While I think your assessment is spot-on, I am amazed at your conclusion
    Quote: “Those with the flexibility to exit are out buying their tickets or life-boats or investing in the US. Hahaha. Like me. ” Unquote.
    Let’s not forget who will come into power in the US in a few days. Although there are more of checks-and-balances in the US, they have very similar problems and attitudes you describe. Why else would a bully have been elected, one who has not ever been consistent nor considerate? And let’s not forget how easy the US has been sucked into wars in history (and who profiteered from them).
    I think an analysis of the reasons for electing both presidents could be interesting and show remarkable similarities.
    Let’s wait for a few years and see what evolves.
    And until that time, maybe Philippines is drifting into a difficult direction, but the US is much more exposed,
    Time to batten down the hatches, keep our options open and act responsibly.

  8. NHerrera says:

    My personal opinion:

    AN ASSERTION: there is not going back to the charming or comfortable life of a previous time. A lot of ideas — reinforced by fast-paced scientific and technological developments but with depleting physical resources — from a lot of bright people driven by a diversity of values — aiding leaders, sane or not, guarantees that this is so.

    An exciting 2017, not necessarily a happy one, to all!

  9. Thea says:

    Happy New Year every one specially to Joe and family and the liberal thinking TSH. My pervent prayers that those who reach 2017 will learn its lessons from 2016.

  10. cha says:

    It should be a happy new year in terms of economic growth prospects, if the World Bank and the Australian owned financial services firm ANZ Research’s projections materialise. Both place their projections of the Philippines’ 2017 GDP growth at 6.9%.

    But not quite so if the European UBS proves to be right predicting a slowdown which it sees leading to a 5.6 growth rate instead.

    Budget Secretary Diokno is placing his bet on the Philippines becoming the fastest growing economy in Asia. 2017 according to him will be a “milestone in Philippine economic growth”.

    The economist Cielito Habito, however, worries that whatever gains have been achieved previously may be “compromised by the President’s needless verbal hostility against the US, EU and UN”. This, alongside the specter of growing authoritarianism makes growth prospects “highly uncertain at this point” according to the former NEDA Director General.

    Who would the Filipino people believe?

    As for me, I’ll go with the great Abraham Lincoln – “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”. So here’s to a happy 2017 to you all fellow happy fools at TSH. Cheers!

    • karlgarcia says:

      Here is to making 2017 a year of what ever we wish it to become!

      • i7sharp says:

        In 2017, I hope to share more (for what they are worth)
        such as, for a start, this shortcut

        … and learn more
        about Dr. Rizal P. Rizal.

        I would like to correct what I wrote yesterday … to this:
        “For the Philippines, I believe, many [not “the”] good answers can be found in Dr. Rizal and his writings.”


        • karlgarcia says:

          Just give a description of your shortcut, and there would not be any problem with Joe and the rest.

          • i7sharp says:


            It is a Google search for articles (published within the month, the latest listed first) that mention “Jose Rizal.”
            (When one clicks on the shortcut, one would normally see the indications, I presume, in the first three lines from the top. I use Chrome but I think other browsers would show almost similar, if different, displays.)

            It is the same shortcut I posted the other day to a forum that is devoted to discussions on Dr. Rizal and has “1,305 members.”
            (I, who unsubscribed a few years ago, on my own volition, became the 1305th member three days ago.)

            There had been as many as 1,010 postings there in one month (Dec 2006)
            … but not a single one last month, Dec 2016 – despite the 30th being Dr. Rizal’s death anniversary.

            Any thoughts?

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Hi Cha re the remarks “The economist Cielito Habito, however, worries that whatever gains have been achieved previously may be “compromised by the President’s needless verbal hostility against the US, EU and UN”. This, alongside the specter of growing authoritarianism makes growth prospects “highly uncertain at this point” according to the former NEDA Director General.”

      I wonder about this ‘doubt’.. Duterte may be a source of uncertainty & worry especially for some sections of Filipino society.. But will this also impact on economic growth. ? I have my doubts about the linkage.

      Think about some other countries for a moment :
      China : a corrupt and authoritarian one party ( communist ? ) regime has had bugger all adverse impact on China’s economic growth over the past 30 years.
      India : Again a corrupt & very bureaucratic government has had very little impact on Indian economic growth in the past 15 years.
      Mexico : elected governments that quickly become corrupt and authoritarian but zip impact on economic growth

      However consider Argentina from 2008-2015. President Kristiner Kirchener was extremely unpredictable in this period..Investment dropped a bucket load & inflation began to roll (30% in 2014)

      So…..I suggest that the big folks making investment decisions in these economies just factor in these aspects and if it is predictable and still profitable, they go for it. If it is not then they stay away.

      Those two words ‘predictable and profitable” are the key. Unpredictability and unprofitable drive away investment from a national economy.

      So what about the Philippines in the light of these aspects : Duterte so far has been very predictable in economic matters and investment largely remains profitable.

      If he was to, for example, nationalize companies or industries this would rapidly change. But so far that has not happened and he has not even raised it as a possibility.

      So I suspect that growth will continue. And 6.7% is pretty good

      • cha says:

        Hi Bill. You make a good point about China and other authoritarian regimes performing well on the economic front , in spite of.

        Mismanagement leading to more broken promises of the better life promised to the 16 million and more hunger and poverty for all would more likely be the downfall of this administration, if it does go down.

        But back to the Cielito Habito quote, I probably should have just quoted in full, as the reference to the verbal hostility against the US, EU and UN actually had to do with how these may impact on this administration’s intent of further opening up the economy.
        Whether the effect will be significant or otherwise does seem uncertain at this point to me as well. Mainly because it’s really too early to tell. It’s just been 6 months. Duterte may decide to heed advice to tone down the rhetoric and start conducting himself like a sensible competent leader of his people, thus inspiring more trust and confidence from the international community. Or he may keep up and even escalate to the cheers of those from his left and much consternation of those from the other side as it leads to a growing perception of his mental instability. In the end, perhaps it will be the internal conflict in what is essentially a leadership suffering from multiple personality disorder (both literally and figuratively speaking) and the ensuing confusion, possibly paralysis that might just do him in. Now it can possibly take more than a year for this implosion to occur. So maybe yes, in 2017 growth may still continue as you, the World Bank, ANZ Research etc have said. And that is good actually. But I still can’t shake off the feeling that this will not end well for the land of my birth further down the track. I can only hope to be wrong.

        But anyway, here’s the extended Habito quote:

        “Now comes “Digonomics” (the President’s nickname is an easier basis than his last name for a corresponding term), professed at the outset to be built on sustaining Aquino’s successful macroeconomic, fiscal and trade policy directions. But it is poised to be even more aggressive on fiscal policy, prepared to push the budget deficit to its sustainable limits (about 3 percent of GDP) to permit more infrastructure investment.

        Digonomics also promises to be even more aggressive on opening up to greater competition, a distinct departure from Aquino’s unwillingness to amend the Constitution that has remained untouched for nearly 30 years. It is also marked by a dramatic turnaround in diplomatic posture toward China, an expected further boon on the economic front. But all these could be compromised by the President’s needless verbal hostility against the US, EU and UN. One hopes that it all remains verbal, but it is beginning to take a toll on our economic prospects. This aspect of Digonomics, along with the specter of growing authoritarianism, makes its prospects highly uncertain at this point.”

        Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/100522/from-aquinomics-to-digonomics#ixzz4UjmQOCuO
        Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Hi Cha, thanks for the clarification re Habito’s remarks.

          Let’s set aside for a moment the ugly reality of Duterte’s war on drugs and his grumpy old man language.

          There are many nations on the Earth who do not recognise or give credence to diplomatic niceties.. Some examples : China North Korea, Burma, Thailand in recent years, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, nearly all the “stan’ republics of the former Soviet Union..etc etc.
          The economic success or failure of these nations is not affected by these diplomatic niceties.

          And I don’t think it will be an issue for the Philippines either.

          What is the significance of Duterte’s undiplomatic ( foul) language ? Well he is directing it against the leaders of countries that are trying impose their standards on him.. And he is replying by saying the Philippines is an INDEPENDENT nation now. Don’t even think of trying to tell us what to do. And that is what he telling the UN.

          Theoretically the Philippines became independent in 1947. But always it has been a ‘dependent’ ally of the USA. And I suggest the Philippines ruling elite has been ” Co-dependent” in it’s attitude to the USA. Always wanting approval and support – even in the Marcos years.

          Until Duterte. Not that has stopped. It’s a real pity that he is doing this psychological realignment of the Philippines to the rest of the world while simultaneously doing his murderous war on drugs.

          • Pablo says:

            Let’s face reality: Whatever Duterte says, Philippines is very dependent on the US. 2 million Filipino immigrants live in the US, probably more kids from these people, remittances reported at $9,679,000,000 and much more if we take into account what people use for themselves once back (e.g. investments). Kids getting schooled in the US and trained personnel returning. Exports totaled $10.6 billion; Imports totaled $13.3 billion (2012), a significant trading partner therefore..
            So, let’s not fool ourselves with undiplomatic, foul language.

            • Bill In Oz says:

              Hi Pablo, I do not deny the facts you mention, but your response is an example of the ‘Codependent ‘ attitude I mentioned above.

              You seems to imply that because the Philippines benefits from these migration flows, money flows and the exports and imports, it should also be ‘craven’ towards the USA.

              And that is nonsense !

              Australia benefits greatly from our exports to China and imports from China. But there is no way that Australia will ever be bossed around by China or the USA or the UN for that matter.

              An example : Let’s look at those facts from the other way around : The USA is very ‘dependent’ on Filipinos to provide low cost work in the BPO industries. And the USA relies on the Philippines for 13.3 Billion worth of exports each year. But should the USA be beholden to the Philippines ?

              Come on !

              All that trade and money flows happens because Filipino & IS citizens are doing it.Not because the USA government is doing it.

              • Pablo says:

                Maybe you notice that I very carefully avoided exactly these issues you mentioned? All the money flows are doing it because the Filipino’s are doing it? Certainly. And the US is lovin’it. THey love Filipino’s because they work hard, study hard and do things the US citizens are to lazy/stupid to do. Filipino’s are over represented in medicine and engineering. Perfect for the US, hard working, no complaints and not actively participating in politics. Perfect slaves (sorry for this word, but it comes closest).

                Ofcourse, we should change direction towards a more Asian economy and stop being a slave of the US. But why would you do that by insulting and damaging the current hand that feeds so many Filipino’s? If we are so impressed by the Chinese, why not copy their songbook for a part and just take the advantages when they are given but in the mean time have our own agenda? Without obvious insults which can create problems for almost 4 million Filipino’s (immigrants and their children) in the US?
                On the other hand, as a mindgame: What would happen if we indeed cutoff completely from the remittances and all? That would mean that a lot of people suddenly would be forced to support themselves. It would create mayhem initially, but eventually, maybe Philippines could finally learn to stand on its own legs? Or run over completely by the “Asian Investors”. As I said: A mindgame..
                But the current insults sound like a 10 year old boy insulting the big boys instead of a wise man telling his big brother to mind his own business. Have a look at nearby Asian countries, they are making their own policies while maximizing (or at least trying) the advantages from all sides (be it Russia, China, Australia, US, Europe). Tough talking is great, it sets a way ahead. But there are many ways to be tough. Insulting is proof of weakness.

              • cha says:

                I’ll have to agree with a couple of Pablo’s points.

                If Duterte’s assertions of independence from the US, EU and UN are based on principles instead of spite, I would be one of the first to applaud and support his pronouncements. I have much respect for people who are able to stand up to others, be they American, European or what have you. But one needs to be consistent to be believable. And Duterte fuming mad at Obama for expressing concerns about EJKs one moment and then fawning over Trump and getting all worked up about the Donald’s supposed approval of his war on drugs indicate that the septuagenarian’s motivations are less nationalistic and more a personal seeking of approval. As Pablo puts it, more a sign of weakness than strength.

                So how will this all impact on economic prospects for the country? It is not the foul and vicious attacks that are actually the problem but what they indicate. The Philippines is being ruled by someone who cannot be relied upon to act consistently whether in the interest of his country or on matters of policy in general. The president needs to be a good manager of his own affairs and of the government in general among other things, And consistency and reliability doth make a good manager. Much as money doesn’t grow on trees, neither can an economy be expected to prosper on the huffing and puffing of a red riding hoody pretending to be a wolf.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Pablo & Cha, I think that if you look back in history you will find that there have been other national leaders who took a similar approach : Sukarno in Indonesia, De Gaule in France, Nkrumah in Ghana, Peron in Argentina, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Frank Bainimarama in Fiji, Mahatir in Malaysia, Eamon De Valera in Ireland, Tito in Yugoslavia etc etc…

                Each emerged as a national leader at a time when their counties decided to chart a separate course to that followed previously under the previous governing post colonial elites. Each leader followed a strategy of ‘blowing off’ about those trying to prevent or stop them… And at times foul language was part of the process..

                Cha you may not think this polite and in fact embaresing as a Filipina. But it certainly musters mass popular support for his new direction. Duterte has hit an emotional chord with a huge number of less well off people by ‘daring’ to say what he said about Obama or the UN Human Rights special Rapporteurs or even the Australian embassador back in 2015.

              • cha says:

                But Bill, I already said that it’s not the foul language erase that I find problematic.

                And I accept that Duterte’s inflammatory speech appeals to a certain or even significant demographic. But we’re talking about the economic future of the country aren’t we? or at least that’s what I thought this whole thread was about. 🙂

                Anyway, happy new year Bill and happy Australia Day in advance. Cheers mate!

  11. Interesting article from Walden Bello labeling PRD as a fascist. What is more interesting are the comments and how the author interactively engaged with the commenters:


    • Waldon Bello is smart and direct. I found most interesting his characterization of Leni Robredo (a concoction of LP not capable of leading an opposition), and his conclusion that there will be no (elitist) EDSA.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        Leni Robredo is capable of leading an opposition if she wishes to. The lady is not chopped liver. Never underestimate a woman of good and moral character. She will step on the plate and score a home run when it is time to swing that bat.

        I understand that the Liberal Party is perceived as an elitist faction. Robredo could change that. She lived a simple life and served on the grassroots level before her national stints.

    • madlanglupa says:

      The communists are put in a quandary; on one hand they support PRD as a defender of their long-standing goals of removing Western/American influence, but on the other they’re worried about his increasing involvement with the other political elites that put him into power.

      The thing is, the communists are lacking a palatable new plan, they’re stuck with dogma, and a visible face (and it’s not Casiño); they could have provided an alternative to the traditional power elite and the mobocracy that PRD leads, but I am always reminded of those two words: *useful fools*.

  12. madlanglupa says:

    Here comes the death of the freedom of expression in traditional media.


    • chemrock says:

      Great to have a stripper dancer male groper setting moral guidelines for the children. Superb.

      Just wondering where will the drivers and manicurists be appointed to next.

      • madlanglupa says:

        We wouldn’t be surprised if Mommy Dionisia suddenly gets a plum job. Yes, the Prez is calling up his political IOUs so that he’ll pack government with his hangers-on.

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