Have you adjusted your morality lately?


[Photo credit: azquotes.com]

By Joe America

“Have you adjusted your morality lately?”

I had to ask myself this question when a self-confessed amoral reader said there is nothing wrong with being moral, but imposing one’s values on others, especially with a scornful sneer at them, is wrong.

Well, sure, being disrespectful is wrong if one’s moral bearing emphasizes kindness. But why should one not criticize? Allowing bad behavior to persist would be wrong . . . and unkind . . . it seems to me.

Inquiring minds are also inclined to ask by what rules someone who is amoral can tell a moralist what to do? Isn’t that a moral judgment?

Anyway, all that got me thinking about morality and how the world is changing fast, and our moral foundations are under attack.

Morality represents the fundamental beliefs that anchor our behaviors, ethical standards, and laws. Respect for elders is one of the moral center posts of Philippine social rules. It is reflected in blessings the young give elders, and in laws that mandate that sons and daughters take care of their parents. There are a lot of other codified behaviors in the Philippines that are unique to the nation’s convoluted history. Deeply entrenched superior/subordinate roles is another example, typified by star worship, white idolatry, impunity, rote learning, and deferential obedience to those in power (thanks to blogger/contributor Irineo B. R. Salazar for his enlightenments on this subject).

Western nations typically are anchored on Judaeo-Christian values. US values for sure emerged from the Bible. Eastern nations are more cerebral, I think, and drift in some respects toward amoral rules not anchored on religious beliefs. The Philippines is a concoction of Western rules, Eastern ethics, and tribal/clan traditions.

Interestingly, it seems hard to find any anchor values in China’s behavior other than self advantage without regard for other nations and peoples, and even without regard for citizen well-being (national economic enrichment has a higher priority than clean air).

Well, commercialism has warped a lot of worldly values, even in the US. Political candidates sell their souls to campaign donors and corporations that fund their campaigns. Democratic ideals are under attack, and eroding.

Social media also contribute to warped values. People have set aside their religious faith, and a lot of other traditional values, in favor of online performances on Facebook, Twitter, Pininterest, Linked-In, or others. The entire world has been shrunk and put onto these social stages. We are oddly both the audience and the star as we relish all the emotions, addictions, and patterns that accompany our stardom there.

For many of us, the whole world has recently become morally chaotic, or confused, or lunatic in ways that we are just beginning to understand.

We have learned that change can be abrupt. Both the Philippines and US have willingly elected presidents who display grand amoral behaviors, stepping away from Christian-based diplomacy and toward crude, autocratic ways that seem anchored to little more than getting a rise from the popular following that put them into high office. Or getting a rise from vested interests.

Both Presidents Duterte and Trump feel affinity for Russia, and that is not an accident. Is there a more amoral leader around than Russia’s President Putin? All three larger-than life men have no trouble speaking in ways that depart from knowledge in favor of expedience. I would call them liars, but my Judaeo-Christian upbringing nags at me if I am unnecessarily disparaging toward a duly elected head of state. I would also call them mean of spirit.

My guess is that President Duterte is already finding Chinese leaders overbearing, and President Putin is somehow more respectful, as one Mafia boss bestows favors on another. China makes too much like the Godfather of all bosses, and that can crimp an autocrat’s style.

The great Filipino masses, mostly Christian and Muslim by faith, are evidently satisfied with an amoral, autocratic President who has thrown convention to the typhoons. We can conclude that their needs and angers outweigh whatever it is that their priests, ministers, and imams are busy preaching. It seems like the preaching has been reduced to platitudes easily ignored, as we can see in the profound lack of commitment to faith’s moral rules.

I mean, they are satisfied with State-sanctioned murder? The fact that over 6,000 innocent Filipinos are dead fails to get their moral knickers in a bunch? Lies and manipulations and mean-spirited attacks on people of integrity are now GOOD THINGS in the Philippine moral code?

Incredible. And packs of scurrilous, unprincipled amoralists claim we moralists are wrong to complain about these matters.

What SHOULD our moral anchors be today, given that the two giant moral institutions of democracy and the churches have proved themselves impotent?

A reader of the blog dropped off a simple and powerful message that does point us in what I think is a superb direction. Contributor “gerverg1885” wrote:

This army of trolls thinks it will eventually bring the needful to their level and win on their turf but anger and hatred and other such negative emotions do not last long because each individual’s main goal in life is joy and peace.

So I am telling friends and relatives that:

Angry people are sad people

Hateful people are sad people

Vengeful people are sad people

Unforgiving people are sad people

Impatient people are sad people

Ungrateful people are sad people

Lying people are sad people

Envious people are sad people

And nobody could be joyful and peaceful while in a constant state of anger, hatred, revenge, unforgiveness, impatience, ungratefulness, lies and envy.

That is a powerful statement, expressed in the negative as a wake-up call. It makes me realize how dark a place social media can be. Gerverg1885 also helps me grasp that human compassion is a wonderful thing to behold, and human hostility and crass showmanship are very tiresome.

So in answer to the question posed in the blog title, no, I have not adjusted my morality. But for sure, I am concerned about the deterioration of democracy and intrusions of social media into our behaviors and relationships. I think it is important to hold firm to basic values and use them to promote “best practices” in democracy and keep the social media dialogue forthright, honest, and compassionate. Life itself is a dialogue, and there need to be standards.

Whatever moral anchors we each decide to submit to, I’d suggest we include among them:

A great appreciation for knowledge because it leads to the best decisions.

A deep commitment to democracy for the equality, inclusion and fairness it represents.

Generous amounts of human compassion for the spiritual uplift and goodness that comes with caring.

Active advocacy to stop practices that are anti-knowledge, anti-democracy, and anti-compassion.

It seems to me that these anchors will allow us to cleanse our souls of dark passions, search for wholesome ways to move forward as a union, and sing with a joy sure to please God . . . or reason.

I also suggest we grant no quarter to manipulative amoralists who lecture us on right and wrong in order to keep us quiet. They are obviously game-players. A truly amoral person would welcome open discussion, not moralize it shut.


216 Responses to “Have you adjusted your morality lately?”
  1. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    If he said, “Diyos ang sira ulo,” it’s not only his mind that’s corrupted but his soul as well. This man has no fear of the Lord. I’m calling on my friends who are God-fearing. Make a stand already. What do you need to hear from him to make you finally understand that murder even of one person is an unforgivable sin? That it’s a sin to sympathize, support, side with such a man whose very soul is a victim of his own EJK?

  2. Joe,

    EXCELLENT article!!!

    I’d just wanna add that the Jefferson quote above is from two letters:

    letter to Charles Thomson 1816

    “I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. If I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin and French texts, in columns side by side. And I wish I could subjoin a translation of Gosindi’s Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics and caricatures of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagances of his rival sects.”

    that “wee-little book” is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

    letter to William Canby 1813 (his letters to William Canby in particular are of note)

    “I believe, with the Quaker preacher, that he who steadily observes those moral precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of heaven, as to the dogmas in which they all differ. That on entering there, all these are left behind us, and the Aristides and Catos, the Penns and Tillotsons, Presbyterians and Baptists, will find themselves united in all principles which are in concert with the reason of the supreme mind. Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus. He who follows this steadily need not, I think, be uneasy, although he cannot comprehend the subtleties and mysteries erected on his doctrines by those who, calling themselves his special followers and favorites, would make him come into the world to lay snares for all understandings but theirs. These metaphysical heads, usurping the judgment seat of God, denounce as his enemies all who cannot perceive the Geometrical logic of Euclid in the demonstrations of St. Athanasius, that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three nor the three one. In all essential points you and I are of the same religion; and I am too old to go into inquiries and changes as to the unessential.

    Can you imagine what Jefferson would have written about Jainism? 😉

    But in my defense, I’m simply pointing out that ascribing morality or immorality , say to a lion killing a zebra, or an Orca ripping apart a baby Gray Whale, from a logical point it is useless, moot, sure from a rhetorical point (ie. getting your peeps riled up) it may work, like Meryl Steep’s speech.

    There ‘s just no point ascribing to immorality (or for that matter, Evil!) that which can be explained by hubris, incompetence, and the Dunning-Kruger effect. If you wanna prosecute DU30 or your enemies, prosecute his hubris, incompetence and their dull minds,

    It’s very difficult to play the moral/immoral game, because it always, always, boils down to this …

    • karlgarcia says:

      You always find something wrong in finding something wrong. You are not amoral, afterall.

      • karl,

        If you track my points from the original thread,

        IMHO yes I am confident that it is the most moral opinion, the most moral of criticisms if you will—- from not speaking ill of others, to non-absolutism, to the strategic aspect of not ascribing immorality to your adversary, to empathy (ie. that quote below from Atticus Finch).

        So yes my criticisms here as they stand are for all intents and purposes are very moral. It’s meant to be inclusive and not exclusive, ie. she’s immoral, we’re not immoral (hence we’re moral).

        Life is amoral, it just keeps on proceeding, we humans ascribe values to it,

        • karlgarcia says:

          Zen master, We’ll see.

        • karlgarcia says:


          The more I think of it, the civilization today is different from that of the past, is exactly due to the self correcting stuff that you mentioned, and that includes those who question the norm or status quo like you.

          • Read cha‘s and josephivo‘s comments below re Darwinism and

            “This then brings me back to my point : that indifference toward morality or the lack of interest in what is morally right and wrong will remain the exception rather than the rule in this world we are in “

            and edgar‘s table:

            If you notice,

            morality has always been represented by priests ;

            while legality (more recent) represented by lawyers ;

            psychologist, as example above, I would lump in with social scientists (which I’ve worked with extensively, and

            what I found out is that psychologists tend to view things narrowly, sociologists have wider views but only according to their own norms, while anthropologists much larger view, seeing a variety of norms…. hence I would erase the psychologist and replace him with an anthropologist, karl )

            But who represents the amoral cause?

            I guess ethicists, a substrain of philosophy, or even hard science scientists , but they are very few, and if there are any they tend to fall back on morality and legality , wading only in shallow waters.

            So I agree, with cha amorality is still a baby.

            • edgar lores says:

              I think that is a gross misinterpretation of what Cha said.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Remember our suicide is selfish dialogue.
              I submit I was wrong to say that. But how do you judge based on Edgar’s diagram (amoral in this case from history, etc) ? But you said just not based on morality and legality,but through anthropology?
              Then we are back to civization. I mentioned selfish because being a rebel without a cause or a case is like that naked guy in the party with a strict dress code, or the guy that farts and shouts that it stinks!

              • karlgarcia says:

                Darwinian is added to the diagram.
                The darwinian survival of the fittest, the neanderthals existence overlapped with the early homo-sapiens, but they go extinct, but the homo sapiens survived.
                Follies or mistakes of civilization are attempted to be corrected by deextinction, but the deextinction debate will go on for years more.

                For the environment, ways to replace fossil fuels through use if algae, artificial photosynthesis, syn gass, etc . Over population solutions includes colonizing mars, going to the moon, etc,before all if that can happen, everything will be debated on, and on.

              • josephivo says:

                Is it selfish to give when you enjoy giving or to receive when you enjoy receiving? I it selfish to ask for euthanasia or is it selfish not to ask and remain a burden for society? So what? Does selfishness describe an intention or only a behavior? Luckily the genes of my parent were selfish as in to the extreme 😉

                Amoral, immoral, unmoral, intend, behavior… we are mixing up so many things, Edgar must be getting desperate.

              • edgar lores says:

                Joseph, not desperate but challenged.

                Morality largely focuses on negative acts, the donuts. I mean the Do Nots. You bring into consideration positive acts.

                My take is that there are three phases to each human action: the intention (or motivation) for the act, the nature of the act itself, and the consequences of the act.

                In general – that is to say, deontologically — morality judges an act to be good or bad according to its nature. Giving is good and stealing is bad.

                (Legality is also mainly concerned with the nature of the act, and it relies on a taxonomy established over centuries. However, in proving the illegality of a human act, the law does consider motive. In murder, for example, motive must be established as an element of proof.)

                Certain moral systems do consider the consequences of an act, mainly consequentialism. Here, there is talk of the ends justifying (or not) the means.

                Christian ethics is both deontological and consequential. If you believe and follow the commandments, you are likely to go to heaven. Otherwise… well you know.

                Is it selfish to give when you enjoy giving?

                Under Christian ethics, the answer is no. Giving to the poor, charity, is a Christ-like gesture.

                What if the poor get tummy aches from the food you gave? Well, that was just accidental and does not take away from the goodness of the act.

                What if the poor become conditioned to receiving and become totally reliant on charity? Well, that was not the intent and, again, does not take away from the goodness of the act.

                Interestingly in Buddhism, giving can be… unskillful. Buddhism does not talk about morality, about actions being good or bad. Buddhism is concerned with liberation and not salvation. And Buddhism is mostly concerned with intention, and not the nature of the act or its consequences.

                A core principle is: “Cause no harm.” And this is applied more to intention than to consequences. Which means that if, in giving, our motive is selfish — that is increasing our pride and ego-consciousness — then we are harming ourselves because our motive is tainted and impure. And we are that much farther from liberation and nirvana.

                I think Buddhism makes good sense… even without the promise of nirvana.

              • karlgarcia says:

                It (as in eveything) has always been a mix, we just attempt to isolate.In the attempt we mix things up further.

              • “But you said just not based on morality and legality,but through anthropology?”


                edgar used psychology as a sample , I suggested that maybe anthropology would’ve been a better sample field, than say psychology and sociology, since anthropology casts a wider net and would be better able to compare and contrast norms, mores and values, geographically and temporally .

                Anthropology doesn’t ask so much what’s normal and abnormal, but what normal is in the first place? ie. Taboos, etc.

                josephivo’s Darwinism would be the closest to amorality , but you see Darwinism tends to be confined to biology, zoology, and of course social Darwinism , so when I suggested hard science scientists, I was thinking more physicists, etc. pan out further (like that John Muir quote re forest & Universe).

                but IMHO Philosophers, though the field of Philosophy doesn’t produce so much Ethicists these days (no interests, i guess, they think priests & lawyers have this covered?), maybe Spinoza was the last? Like priests and lawyers, there should be folks to take up the mantle of amorality , I’m just a guy that has a PhD in Google 😉 .

                Anthropology, I’m sure Ireneo would be able to elaborate.

              • ” the neanderthals existence overlapped with the early homo-sapiens, but they go extinct, but the homo sapiens survived.”

                Not extinct, karl, subsumed. We tend to always think in terms of us vs. them, win or lose, your way or the highway, a zero sum game, etc.

                People, things, values, modes of thoughts, get absorbed. Pan out, all this of course is part of course correcting; pan in and it’s individuals fighting and dying for their self-interest or the the saddest thing, the interests of others, some like Spinoza and Paine write books, and their readers, instead of just simply enjoying their ideas,

                imagine how they lived as outcasts. Therein lies the empathy.

                Juana says Atticus Finch is mere fiction, but to me he represents folks like Spinoza and Paine, folks who went against the grain, karl. 😉

              • karlgarcia says:

                key word: ” to me”

  3. cha says:

    An amoral person complaining about other people’s morality is like a naked person complaining about the dress code for an event he wants to go to.

    That’s what a civilised society is all about, sharing common values for us all to survive, observing certain conventions or rules if you must so we can all live together in peace. If you don’t like the dress code, you got to find yourself another party. But good luck with that.

    • cha,

      per your analogy,

      Wouldn’t the anti-DU’s be the ones crashing said party? hmmmmmmmmmm…

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        Well I wasn’t thinking of such dichotomy there. For one thing, I think It’s not accurate to lump all Duterte supporters as being amoral. Neither is that helpful, in fact.

        My point is that civilised society being basically anchored on shared moral and ethical values will always be at odds with the amoral (and immoral for that matter). Their numbers may grow at any given time but eventually the system will either spit them out , or they adapt, or they opt out. For the day we all finally subscribe to the idea that we are all free to do as we want, that right and wrong does not matter at all is the day we can say goodbye to the civilised world as we know it,

        • The lions and gazelles of Africa, bisons and Americans indians in the Great Plains, Pres. DU30 vs. VP Robredo , it’s all same same…

          no not free to do as we want, since although the process is amoral, there are still rules, if the scales go too much one way, it’ll fix itself to go the other way. a sort of Homeostasis if you will, neither good nor bad.

          but something like this…

          “Baruch Spinoza was strongly opposed to anthropocentrism and had no commitment whatsoever to traditional theological views. His unique metaphysics motivated an intriguing moral philosophy. Spinoza was a moral anti-realist, in that he denied that anything is good or bad independently of human desires and beliefs. He also endorsed a version of ethical egoism, according to which everyone ought to seek their own advantage; and, just as it did for Thomas Hobbes, this in turn led him to develop a version of contractarianism.


          • cha says:

            “there are still rules, if the scales go too much one way, it’ll fix itself to go the other way.”

            Like how civilised society functions, right?

            • No , since the word “civilize” is not a constant (what would “civilization” look like in the Philippines 400 yrs ago, see? 😉 ). Prey and predator is closer to a constant, but neither is it really, ie. a deer buck can kill a mountain lion, etc.

              This homeostasis, that Baruch Spinoza happened upon (remember Einstein modeled his cosmology to align with Spinoza’s) and the Jains have cultivated for so long (other religions may have it in bits and pieces, sure),

              this homeostasis, is above the narrow concepts civilized vs. uncivilized , remember I’m the environmentalist guy here, this civilization you speak of I blame for all the pollution in this world, it’s an illusion that we’re somehow separate from the rest of the natural world 😉 So no ma’am it’s not about civilised society.

              Far from it,

              • karlgarcia says:

                You have a problem with civilization,?
                Not even a time machine back to the stone ages can solve that predicament.

              • cha says:

                Oh sorry, I wasn’t aware that you are the environmentalist guy around here (whatever that means), neither did I realise that that therefore means we had to frame our arguments around your chosen track for discussion. No sir, I did not know that.

              • My point, karl & cha…

                is that civilization is arbitrary,

                what you call civilization, ie. mining, logging, rape of environment, commercialism, consumerism, both in Manila, and say Richmond, CA (I’m from N. California), is in many ways an aberration of the natural order, ie. no homeostasis, no balance,

                granted from an amoral perspective, as Jesus said (I’m also atheist when it comes to organize religions dogmas 😉 ; and agnostic when it comes to their purported morals/doctrines as Tom Jefferson) “this too shall pass” ; or that Zen master’s “we’ll see”.

                If you equate this civilization to families and clans coming together to survive harsh environments and enemies and predators, sure I would totally agree that this ability to come together gave us a big leg-up on the competition, against nature and against those that mean to destroy us, as a species.

                Some animals have herds, some have prides/pods, we humans had “civilization” essentially to arbitrarily say something is moral or immoral, thus reject some and accept some in the process. I can see the utilitarian argument, cha, I’m not asking you to frame it in other ways,

                just also recognize that if you pan out, this very ability to render something moral and immoral, is what is at fault, ie. when collectively we decide commercialism is the way forward, that oil and industrialization is “moral”.

                All that is part an parcel of this civilization you speak of right? I’m simply questioning it 😉 . No framing, you’re free to frame away, but now it’s time for you to defend your points (if you’ve not gotten into debates with me, I’m very polite and professional, but I assure you we’ll both benefit, ask everyone here).

          • chemrock says:

            “..if the scales go too much one way, it’ll fix itself to go the other way.”

            Lance – it took millions of deaths and world wide suffering for years before the world fixed what went wrong in Germany in the ’40s. Why should we permit events like this when it could and should have been nibbed in the bud?

            The yin and yang is a passive state of balance, and if the elements are in disarray, they imbalance destabilises the space. There is no natural law that states the yin and yang has a causal hand in fixing things. If you experience paranormal activities in your house, you have too much yin or negative chi there, the feng shui master will recommend you place a wind chime at a specific corner of the house to attract positive chi in. The feng shui master is the “it” in your “it’ll fix itself to go the other way.

            • “Why should we permit events like this when it could and should have been nibbed in the bud?”

              Amorality isn’t passive, chemp. I’m NOT calling for looking the other way or turning the other cheek.

              When the NAZIs rose they were speaking in terms of morality and immorality, this is how they justified the Holocaust, by rendering Jews immoral. If you remember when Joe wrote his blog (i forget the title now) framing his anti-DU30 stance according to Christian morality thus also immorality, I made the same arguments. Sure Wil or i7sharp or even sonny, can write a similar article but when non-religious, secular guys like Joe and edgar play the morality card, and frame it according to Judeo-Christian precepts , i always jump on them… (because we’ve been this road before, when free-thinkers were deemed immoral).

              Both the Catholic and Protestant churches were complicit in the Holocaust, chemp. Amorality is probably the loudest, ie. Spinoza, Muir and Paine. Amorality is an irritant, precisely because it questions the norm.

              • I wasn’t ‘playing a card’, as an amoral manipulator would, but writing an article that discussed how old moral standards are under attack. They clearly are, and I don’t much appreciate your putting a manipulative twist to my work.

              • Joe,

                I’m not gonna apologize like I did to cha , because I know that you know that this manipulation can be interpreted in terms of progress and regress.

                Which segues perfectly with me and Juana’s discussion below re Atticus Finch. Harper Lee set up to “manipulate” her “people” to think one way , ie. that Atticus Finch quote below , that’s an example of progress type manipulation (or influencing, ie. ” How to Win Friends and Influence People”).

                You’ve said before that from the beginning of your blog writing career you’ve learned to write to a certain type of audience. I’ve learned from Wil and Ireneo lots about how to write to the Filipino audience, but you have 5 or so years head start from me, with completely different perspectives.

                But make no mistake you are trying (as is everyone here, though I am the Troll in Chief 😉 ) to entice , cajole , guilt-trip , teach, etc. whatever words, lead to manipulation. But what we all share here is that we , all, have our eyes on progress… mine though is less on people but more in line with the mission of the DENR there— its my Cascadian roots.

                Now for regress, Rupert Murdoch’s publishing of Lee’s racist version of Atticus Finch is yet another form of “manipulation”, because the agenda is regress, there’s even some fraud thrown in, to make folks question the Civil Rights movement, etc. now I’ve been on record here agreeing with Dr. Ben Carlson’s points about how welfare type solutions do more harm than good, but

                Rupert Murdoch’s twist on things , suggest it favors one group against another, which we all here agree is not progress. I’ve always called for inclusiveness, vs. exclusiveness.

                So in terms of progress and regress, your manipulation (call it whatever ), mine, karl’s, edgar’s, sonny’s , chemp’s , etc etc… are in line, maybe not quite a straight line, but at least we stand opposed from other lines, no?

              • Yes, I agree persuasion is a form of manipulation. Point taken. Arguments are cards, and I indeed played the morality card.

              • edgar lores says:

                I read this as sarcasm.

            • I read it as: “OK, you win. (Only because that is the only way I can get you off my back!)” 🙂

          • cha says:

            “it’s time for you to defend your points”

            Funny, that’s what I what I thought I’ve been doing throughout this thread.

            And so far all you’ve tried to do is lead the discussion elsewhere.

            First you tried to make it about pro- and anti-Duterte supporters which I said it was not.

            Then you insist on using that dichotomy as still the reference point. Same same, you say. It is if you say it is?

            Next, you bring up homeostasis and Baruch which while interesting subjects, are not a negation of my original point; which again is that amorality is a square peg in the round hole of a civilised society held together by codes of conduct be they moral, legal or ethical. Amorality can, may, and will be around but it can not prevail unless those cornerstones are moved and our paradigm of a civilised society shifts.

            In fact in your own words, that “there are still rules, if the scales go too much one way, it’ll fix itself to go the other way” I noted the similarity in what I was saying about civilised society in terms of a movement within an existing operating system to revert back to its original state of harmony or balance. But you shoot the comparison down and tell me, rather condescendingly and with accompanying claim of authority – being the “environmentalist guy around here”- that “it is not about civilised society”. So I am now in the wrong discussion thread which I myself started?

            So now you want to talk about all of civilisation and assert that that is what I and Karl are talking about. No, that is what you are talking about. You are saying that notions of what is moral and immoral have caused many problems for mankind throughout the course of civilisation. And I actually have no quarrel with that. In fact I agree wholeheartedly.

            But the reality still remains that civilised society is what it is at this point in time because our human race has been in a constant battle with itself on issues of right and wrong. And that we have survived to this point is a testament to how humanity has mostly gotten it right or at least eventually gets it right. This then brings me back to my point : that indifference toward morality or the lack of interest in what is morally right and wrong will remain the exception rather than the rule in this world we are in because far too many of us are trying to get it right, through (borrowing from Edgar here-) either any or all of the prisms of morality, ethics and legality.

            • But you shoot the comparison down and tell me, rather condescendingly and with accompanying claim of authority – being the “environmentalist guy around here”

              Sorry, cha, I read it again closely, and yeah we do agree.

              But I am the environmentalist guy here 😉 i said that not as a claim of authority (and sorry if I came off condescending 😉 ) but since amorality is somehow now equated to immorality in these past blogs, I felt I had to make this reminder:

    • sonny says:

      Very nice pick-up, Cha! No additional explanation needed.

  4. NHerrera says:

    Sorry for this almost defeatist comment. But we at the TSH may agree that at most there are probably about 5 to 10 percent of the Filipinos — I include Joe, our host among them for the sentiments he expresses — who has spoken out and who have not adjusted their morality in a significant way. And we continue to speak out among friends and relatives many of whom are Duterte supporters. As written and discussed in a previous blog, how do we speak out in a way that resonates with the rest of us. We are searching for that magic formula. It seems an illusive thing. But we have father TIME and the roll of events as our ally. We have to include those in the search for the magic formula.

  5. josephivo says:

    There is more. Just heard an interesting phrase on the French TV5: “People today are shouting: We want it simple, even if it costs a little more, simple things we understand.”

    And for me the key word is SIMPLE. This is very much linked to education. The opposite, NOT SIMPLE is for some the source of curiosity, for many the source of fear.

    With the debate open to all, this call for simplicity gets louder and louder. The Trumps and Dutertes of this world understood this very well. Their moral justification is simple, forget all checks and balances. “Safe the nation, We First”, full stop.

    – Knowledge, who cares, elitist.
    – An authoritarian regime is simpler than a democracy. Costs a little more, but who cares.
    – Compassion? “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself” got its emphasis on the starting principle “love yourself”, “neighbor” reduced to close neighbors, family, equals or country as the absolute outer limit.

    • Satan has won. Time to head to the nearest bar and get plastered.

      • josephivo says:

        Yes, but unfortunately one cannot stay in a bar forever, no need too. A much larger fraction of the younger generation is better educated and could be better mobilized. A better message can often be phrased more simple. “The end justifies the means” might justify a campaign based on one simplified message to achieve higher goals. Exposing the high cost of a simple message could sway votes…

        But the formula “Result = Quality x Acceptance” remains valid. Today the task is not so much to increase the “quality” but to improve the acceptance.

  6. LG says:

    The article is on the money. Trump, Duterte, n Putin have no morals to adjust. That is how they grab this reader based on what is consistently written about them, to date, not knowing anyone of them personally. They are born amoral, me thinks….that is…..devoid of morality.

    Trump already shows nepotism(son in law Kushner will will be his senior aide). . Duterte, cronyism, and Putin?, the poker-faced one… feel free to fill in the blank.

    Me thinks that Putin and Trump will likely clash in the long run. Duterte, plays meek to both Ttump and Putin. He has nothing, compared to them, but a killing mind and heart. I feel embarrassed, scared and sad for the Philippines, as his ratings, though going down, continue to embolden his amorality. His ratings are flashed worldwide, seemingly reflecting that Filipinos in the Philippines are quite like him. Nothing can be further from the truth.

    • “They are born amoral, me thinks….that is…..devoid of morality.”


      i’ve posted quotes from Lee Harper’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird” before, but I think this particular one is the most apt re moral/amoral/immoral :

      • Read Harper’s new TKAMB – “Go Set a Watchman?” Atticus Finch turned out to be a bigot and a racist…

        • That was the first draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, jp … not the same Atticus Finch. 😉

          “Harper Lee has said that she wanted to write a “race novel.” Though her first effort had some fine writing, like many first-time novelists she also made a lot of beginners’ mistakes: scenes that don’t always add up, speeches instead of dialogue, and so on. So she took a character who was a racist in the first draft and turned him into the saintly lawyer Atticus Finch who stands up to his town’s bigotry in defending a black man. He becomes the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Which is also why it’s silly to view the Atticus Finch of “Go Set a Watchman” as the same person as the Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as many commentators have done. Atticus is a fictional character, not a real person.) Lee still wound up with a race novel, which was her goal. But a different and much better one.”

          • Same Atticus Finch, 26 years later, regardless of the fact that GSAW is the first book she wrote, it is the logical continuation of TKAM. Have you read the book? Scout is 26 years old in GSAW and a child in TKAM. As for Nocera calling readers “silly,” they may be but his opinion is not the only RIGHT opinion.

            • I read it in Barnes & Noble, and decided it wasn’t a sequel. They are totally two different books (with the same characters),

              but after reading the whole fraud case, it made sense, others made it into a “logical” continuation to sell the book, which means publishers who wanted to publish were messing around with said book… But we do know for sure, that Harper did not intend to publish it. Why not?

              Of course, one’s free to read books how ever which way, jp. 😉

              Whatever your opinion, I think the best strategy is to read the two books as separate, neither a sequel nor prequel to each other. 😉

              • In absence of facts, all we have are assumptions. You assume it wasn’t a sequel. I assume it is. Who is right? No one. Nobody wins. Nobody loses. End of argument. 🙂

              • If you take into account all evidence considering the publishing of this book, jp… the evidence (granted, I know, nothing black & white ) points to the probability that Harper Lee only intended one book (hence not a sequel). Not all opinions are equal, which is the most probable is the question, jp. 😉

              • i7sharp says:

                @JP, @Lance

                The New Yorker (not the New York Times) has more insight?

                btw, I believe Lee Harper used the AKJB.


              • Ahhhh… The verdict remains: NO WINNER but you can still have the last word. 🙂

              • i7sharp, that’s a good link, but it doesn’t really cover the publishing, timing, etc. issues.

                jp, let’s play Oprah’s book club, forget all the publishing stuff, let’s judge simply based on the literature now,

                you know what a character arc is right? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_arc From a literary point Atticus Finch (if you follow that this is indeed a sequel of sorts) , doesn’t the character of Atticus Finch go backwards, instead of forward?

                it’s not consistent,

                like Joe talking about morality and civil rights, and all of the sudden writing about civil rights as wrong, morality as wrong, etc. It’s just not reasonable. Unless you have a different interpretation of Atticus’ character arc, which I’d genuinely wanna hear.

                but from a literary point, IMHO it just doesn’t make sense to regress a story’s hero (i’m sure with other characters, novels, artistically it might work, but not for Atticus Finch, like regressing Joe, or edgar 😉 )

              • Have Ireneo explain the Filipino dirty kitchen syndrome to you and you might have a change of heart (and/or mind). Words like two-faced, the novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among others explain duality possible in humans so why can’t Atticus have an alter ego? Ahhh… Because you said so! 🙂 TRUCE.

              • No, no truce here, jp. Atticus Finch is an American icon. What Rupert Murdoch and his boys did is wrong (not necessarily immoral 😉 , but from a propaganda angle, should be rebutted), they are essentially pushing an agenda one consistent with Roger Ailes’ FOX News, by making this novel the sequel to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and regressing Atticus Finch’s character they’ve effectively pushed their agenda.

                You already know this agenda, jp. 😉

              • Geeezzzz! Stop looking at everything as a possible conspiracy. I loved TKAM and I still do. Atticus Finch in TKAM is still an American Icon. Atticus Finch in GSAW despite his labels is a product of his environment and as real as one born in that era. The background that the story is set is bound to produce a character like him. The book is historically accurate as far as the behavior of its characters. Let us also not forget , Atticus is a fictional character, a product of a writer’s imagination so let us separate fact from fiction.

                “They” can push their agenda until the cows come home but if no one is buying it, no harm done. I surely didn’t. Did you?

                Be the amoral person that you are, do not judge a book. 🙂

            • “Be the amoral person that you are, do not judge a book.”

              Amoral doesn’t mean one doesn’t judge, Juana… you judge, just not in terms of morality and legality (more times than not your judgement coincides with both, or one, or never at all) but you judge. As well as take action.

              Here I’m judging literarily (ie. character arc of Atticus Finch) and propaganda-ly 😉 (i just made that word up, LOL!), ie. Rupert Murdoch in his big propaganda empire.

              Literature is literature, some good some bad. GSAW is bad literature; it only works because of TKAM (the friction, ie. character arc it produces, works the opposite of inspiration, which Lee set out to do).

              Focus on the propaganda side, jp. That’s the most important part, as you know TKAM is for the most part in the US , mandatory reading in middle school (that’s where I read it). I doubt GSAW will ever be, but

              as long tails go https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail , fans of Atticus (middle school kids) will get this notion that Atticus is a racist (different from the Atticus of TKAM). It’s not important if we both buy it or not,

              from a propaganda perspective, Rupert Murdoch wins, he gets to shove his agenda to middle school fans of Atticus Finch in TKAM, hence the regressive character arc is the propaganda, jp.

              Then add the fraud aspect into it, ie. pseudo-epigraphy, anachronistic additions, and the plot thickens.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                That is a play on the cliche, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” I guess my attempt to be funny bombed. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. 🙂

                Nope, not buying YOUR propaganda .

  7. meloyelo says:

    Natural law dictates the survival of the fittest. Thou shall not kill says the Lord. Perhaps it is the Divine Wisdom that someone has to die so many can be saved. When everything was simple there was minimal problem but then our system of systems became complicated and people became complicated too. Greed, lust for power and other things, envy are fuel for this complication. When one man wants to solve the complication not everyone will be in agreement, there will be yesmen and naymen. But who is to say that the yesmen are right and the naymen are not right. I, for me, can only say who is right and who is wrong. If one has decided similar to what I think after hearing arguments, it was that someone who has decided for himself and not me who decided for him. I would assume tha that someone and me have similar thinking. And if many people have similar thinking then they could be a force to deal with. If the yesmen live in their own world in peace and harmony…let it be. Likewise if the naymen live in their own world in chaos and contentment….let it be. It would be very problematic and challenging if the yesmen will impose on the naymen or viseversa. Such is our world of pairs…opposites exist. One has to experience sadness to know joy.
    Amoral, immoral, or moral, you be the jufge for your own benefit. Just dont get demoralized but be remoralized.

  8. NHerrera says:

    Sorry, for this early break from our important current topic.


    A stark contrast between the two on the speech content and events surrounding the persona.

  9. Juana Pilipinas says:

    Welcome to the Machiavellian world! Where people we are supposed to look up to, are behaving badly and their supporters are emulating them to the hilt. Bullying, especially online is now the norm. A voice of dissent to amoral words and acts are quashed by trolls and bots created or commissioned by the wily people who are supposed to know better.

    To the answer the question: Have you adjusted you morality lately? The answer is a resounding – NO! I will not compromise my core values and beliefs to appease false idols. I will try to stand my ground even when the temptation to give up or yield in is too strong. I will seek others so we can unite in effecting change.

    “…change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it …”

    – President Barack Obama, Farewell Address, January 10, 2017

    • NHerrera says:

      A lot of gems in that speech; you captured one of them, Juana. I am happy about your stand.

      • i7sharp says:

        I will not compromise my core values and beliefs to appease false idols.

        Juana, share with us your “core values and beliefs,” please.
        “false idols” … Can you name one or two?


          • i7sharp says:


            Lance, no one has yet asked why you stopped at 1.
            You feel deprived? (Of course, I did not mean “depraved.”)

            Morality or character of a past and a modern president:
            How Can We Miss a President Who Won’t Go Away?
            http://j.mp/i7-wsj11 (Wall Street Journal)
            George Washington put it this way in his 1796 Farewell Address: “Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications . . . every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.”

            Mr. Obama is different. …


      • i7sharp says:

        Cubans say Obama “screwed” them?

        See top bar, left panel.

        I was totally surprised to discover that the article was gathered from … (drum roll) …
        The Manila Times!
        (Not that I have a low regard of the MT. For one, I know Sen. Rene Saguisag has a weekly column there.)


  10. edgar lores says:


    I have said that Duterte might prove to be a transformational president, and the verdict is in: he is indeed transformational in the short period he has been at the helm of the ship of state.

    Duterte has upended several fictions, presumptions that underpin our understanding of our place in the world and with each other.

    1. International relations.

    1.1. The main fiction was that the Philippines was naturally allied with the US and the ASEAN countries against communist China and Russia. This is no longer true. We are now in alliance with China and Russia.

    1.2. A secondary fiction was that China was our main enemy as it tries to wrest what is ours in the West Philippine Sea. China is now a friend that builds rehabilitation centers and soon fast trains in Luzon and Mindanao.

    2. Politics

    2.1. The main fiction is that when the President speaks to the nation he speaks truth with candor and quotable prose to the source of power. Duterte has made numerous pronouncements that he or his spokesmen have recanted, and his language is laden with expletives.

    2.2. Another main fiction is that the President takes care of all of the people regardless of status. Duterte has declared that drug personalities are not human and, therefore, exterminable. I gather the death toll is close to 7,000.

    2.3.Another main fiction is that deaths under investigation are not extrajudicial killings. There is little doubt that these killings are inspired by Duterte’s blanket command to kill without mercy.

    2.4. Another main fiction is that imperial Manila and Malacanang Palace are the central loci of Philippine politics. The central locus is now in Duterte’s head, wherever he is — whether in Davao or Manila — and whenever he is — whether it’s evening or past the midnight hour.

    There are more fictions that Duterte has destroyed. He has created new fictions some of which have been partially accepted but many of which have not been fully accepted. Some of the new fictions involve the Left and the Muslims. The ramifications of the death of the old and the birth of the new will not be fully understood until much later.

    What is within our grasp to comprehend is that here is a monster who murders without compunction, and who desecrates the Constitution.

    Some of the fictions involve morality. In Part 2, I will try to shed some light on morality.

  11. Pabloinnasidman says:

    Morality Definition: Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.
    Hence Putin and Trump are clearly a-moral because their principles change by the moment, depending on the possible benefits.
    But clearly, morals change in time. What was considered a-moral can be beautifull today (e.g. gay love). Hence, it is very dangerous to play the morality card because our grandchildren might consider many things wrong which we now think are right.
    I am against death penalty, but killing Hitler in 1930’s would have been a great deed. So, I am very reluctant to preach on morality.
    That brings me to the third person in your list: Duterte. While I do not agree with the means he uses and think that there are other means to achieve the desired results, I have problems defining him a not moral person. We all knew what was going to happen, he stated it many times during the election. And in broad lines, he follows his principles more than other politicians. So, while we might have great concerns and wish things would run different, it is difficult to call it a-moral.
    Similar with your Chinese example. When we were young, air pollution in the big Western cities were disastrous, but only since the 70’s we started asking questions. The Chinese community is mostly still in the 1950’s, catching up at breakneck speed and already their citizrns start to complain about the pollution, their solar power installation rate (heating and electrical) could be an example to most Western communities, so I disagree to the enormous pollution, but have difficulties calling this a-moral.
    Probably much better to stay far away from the morality definition and convince people of the right (best?) way to do things. But one thing is for sure: a-moral people can never be trusted in government. Unluckily that takes care of 95% of the politicians and a similar figure in the finance world.
    Where the latter category maybe is even more threatening because the globalisation causes big business to be in even more control thereby pushing the politicians on a sideline whereby critical control is completely lost and their morality (or not) becomes a secundary issue.

  12. edgar lores says:


    There is much confusion in making judgments as to the morality of human actions. Some say there are norms and standards to live by. Others say there are no absolutes.

    1. I think there are three main prisms by which we may make judgments. These are:

    o Morality
    o Legality
    o Amorality

    1.1. One will observe that there is a certain overlap between the first two prisms, usually expressed in the negative: What is immoral may also be illegal.

    1.2. I will try to distinguish each on the bases of the question it asks, the contexts, the sources, and an application.

    2. Questions. The questions that each prism asks are:

    2.1. Morality: Is an act moral or immoral? Also: Is an act right or wrong? Is an act good or evil?
    2.2. Legality: Is an act legal or illegal? Also: Is an act constitutional or unconstitutional?
    2.3. Amorality: Is an act practicable and efficacious?

    2.4. The last prism is not concerned with right or wrong. So I have selected two norms by which amoral acts can be adjudged proper or improper. I have used “efficacious” as a better norm than “beneficial.”

    3. I think the main reason for the confusion and difficulty in making judgments is context. If the context is not defined, then there will be no agreement; discussion will be aimless and meaningless. But if a context is defined and agreed upon, then all things are possible. Truth is possible. Absolutes are possible. I would go as far to say as: truth and absolutes are contextual.

    3.1. Morality: The context is Judeo-Christian and Islamic.
    3.2. Legality: The context consists of the Laws of the Land, UDHR, and all accepted international laws and conventions.
    3.3. Amorality: The context is history and what can be rationally projected and accepted.

    3.4. Note again the difficulty with the last prism. One cannot rely on sectarian or secular codes. One can only go by what has happened in the past and what is likely to occur in the future based on the past.

    3.5. A further point about absolutes: scientific and mathematical truths are not considered to be absolutes. However, within the context, say, of daily life, “2 + 2 = 4” is an absolute truth. If it were not, we would not be able to wake on time, catch the 8:00 am bus, or shop with any degree of accuracy. Also, within the context of 1 atmosphere of pressure (sea level), we can expect water to boil at 100 Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit.

    4. The source of each prism are:

    4.1. Morality: The letter of the Torah/Bible/Koran plus all the additional interpretations (Mishnah, Gemara, Hadith)
    4.2. Legality: The texts of the Constitution and other Laws of the land, the UDHR, and all accepted international laws and conventions.
    4.3. Amorality: Written history and reasoned projections.

    4.4. Note again the difficulty with the last prism. There are different interpretations of history but I would go with what is the historical consensus. Consider the historical verdict on Dictator Marcos – hero or heel — and one can see the difficulty.

    5. What verdict can we arrive at about the anti-drug war using the above prisms?

    5.1. Morality: The principal norm is: “Thou shalt not kill.” There are exceptions to the rule.
    5.2. Legality: The principal norms can be found in the Bill of Rights, of which Section 1 states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
    5.3. Amorality. There are several countries that have conducted wars on drugs: Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Columbia. Have these wars been efficacious (successful)?

    6. If I have the time, I will draw a diagram of the above. In the meantime, use the above as a guide to clarify your thoughts and discussions.

    6.1. I cannot overemphasize the importance of – CONTEXT. Without putting things into context, we can, as Cha warns, “say goodbye to the civilized world as we know it.”

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks guru for Parts 1 and 2 — I say, a blog within a blog.

      On mathematical truths instead of absolutes, I say it is more defintional and rules within a facet of math;

      Two is defined as a one (“object”) and a one.
      Four = a one and a one and a one and a one.

      Two plus two = putting together two and a two

      which is

      A one and a one together with a one and a one = a one and a one and a one and a one = four by definition.

      Just playing a game here, edgar, for another break.

      • edgar lores says:

        NHerrera, Ahaha! Agreed.

        2+2 =4 is based on 1+1 = 2.

        So the bases of mathematical absolutes (or truths) are axioms. In this case, 1+1 = 2 is the axiom.

        But axioms cannot be proved to be true. They are presumed and granted to be true or self-evident.

        • NHerrera says:

          Agreed on all points. 🙂

          • “5.3. Amorality. There are several countries that have conducted wars on drugs: Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Columbia. Have these wars been efficacious (successful)?”


            Specifically on this, why’d you label this “amoral”, edgar… not so sure about Thailand, but Indonesia’s punishments are framed more along the lines of shari’a law, which is morality.

            Columbia & Mexico are essentially the same drug wars, ie. when they (both local nation & the US) routed away drug cartels in Columbia, new Mexican cartels took over in Mexico. But the drug war was successful in Columbia (it eliminated drug cartels, but in that vacuum came the FARC, etc. small batch micro manufacturing if you will 😉 )

            I’m sure there’s Catholicism used to frame the drug wars in both Columbia and Mexico, but the moralizing was more on the rule of law, crime/punishment. The whole act of rendering something dangerous, not-good-for-society , or the state imposing order on non-state actors is moral, not amoral, ie. somebody (groups) decided what’s good or bad.

            From a policing perspective, it is really simple before/during/after … prevention/interdiction/investigation , there are no more Colombian drug cartels, where before they controlled the country, so from that very specific metrics it was successful; re that Filipina that smuggled drugs into indonesia, whatever the discussion on that matter, I’m sure that has some preventive effects on drugs going into Indonesia from Philippines.

            So DU30’s war on drugs is a conscious moralizing of drugs and its effects on a country, similarly the opposing side can render it immoral. Yes there are a variety of strategies, from medieval punishments ala shari’a to EJKs, but central here is whether or not, we agree that drugs are good or bad as a whole, if folks agree up top, at least they’ll be less quibbling at the operational ground level.

            Amorality is the ability to see the Philippine’s, or Indonesia’s, or Colombia’s or Mexico’s war on drugs , objectively as both or neither moral and immoral (hence why I asked the label “Amorality”, edgar? ). Sure anyone’s free to take a stand, one way or the other, but recognize that pressure (ie. violence ) does reap results, ie. in Colombia (though there will be unintended consequences, ie. FARC) but the process

            always continues. In the case of Colombia, violence (with much funding from the US) did beget a stronger nation state, now whether or not that nation state will devolve or develop , beats me. 😉 So from an efficacy angle, yes Colombia was successful, but I’d also add that they targeted the bigger fish, not the small fish you fry (or eat raw, this was the best by the way!) and drink San Miguel beer with, LOL!

    • i7sharp says:

      “say goodbye to the civilized world as we know it.”

      Methinks, God is, at best, still just an afterthought.
      Despite a mention of Him here and there, now and then.

      Do you read of anyone (such as Pope Francis) being concerned at all about these warnings?:
      “For I testify unto every man
      that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,
      If any man shall add unto these things,
      God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”

      “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
      God shall take away his part out of the book of life,
      and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

      Do people even know (or care) where or which this “book” is?

      As for me, I look for the new heavens and the new earth. (Isaiah 66:22)

      Will the Benham Rise be in the new earth?
      Will there be underwater barangays there?
      (Just wondering.)


      • i7sharp says:

        While I’m at it ….
        Methinks, a “real Christian” is one who is/was saved by faith, the faith of Jesus Christ.
        Not “faith in Jesus Christ.”
        It is these “small” things, the subtleties, that can do us … in.


        • Perhaps Jefferson had a different view. I hope you are not asking us to choose between your beliefs and Jefferson’s. If so, kindly write a blog about it so we can give it its proper space.

          • i7sharp says:

            Earlier in the day, you wrote:
            We need preachers, I think, and teachers, to promote knowledge and wise thinking.

            I would feel like a preacher if I write a blog. I am not good at that (i.e., writing a blog).
            Perhaps I can be more effective by doing what I do now (or have done since I re-joined the discussions here).
            Sharing a bit here, a bit there, now and then.

            The other day I watched the movie, “Heaven is For Real”:

            I had heard about the movie years ago and did not have any urge to watch it. (I had already believed heaven is for real.)
            This time, though, I watched because it happened to be shown in one of the channels in our TV.

            One of the things I noticed (not to my surprise) was
            “thy will be done on earth”
            instead of
            “… done in earth.”

            “in earth” occurs 13 times in 13 verses;
            “on earth” 15 times in 13 verses.

            In the Book of Matthew,
            “in earth” 2 times;
            “on earth” 7 times.

            That’s the bit I would like to share this time.
            I obtained the info from the free software I mentioned, I think, a few days ago:
            King James Pure Bible Search

            As I have said a few days ago, I believe the AKJB is *the* word of God.
            So, I believe Matthew 6:10 (in the “Lord’s Prayer”)
            should read “in earth” (not “on earth”).

            I like to … “promote knowledge and wise thinking.”


      • edgar lores says:


        Within the context of the Bible and within the context of believers, the Holy Books should be taken as Truth.

        The verses you quote are, to me, intimidating. It is mainly about (a) “the prophecy of this book” and (b) about the penalty upon any who add or subtract from the prophecy.

        I am no biblical scholar but I take the reference to the “book” to be self-referential.

        But there are many who are not believers and the Bible is not their Holy Book.

        And, to me, the Divine appears to us in the form — glorious or terrible — that we, in our hearts, imagine IT to be.

    • “3.3. Amorality: The context is history and what can be rationally projected and accepted.

      3.4. Note again the difficulty with the last prism. One cannot rely on sectarian or secular codes. One can only go by what has happened in the past and what is likely to occur in the future based on the past.”


      I’d add personal ethics, same same with Baruch Spinoza, ousted from his Jewish community, not quite belonging to any Christian groups prevalent at that time, though he had a community of essentially secularists, they could not back their values by way of history.

      John Muir had the same experience, neither Christian nor industrialist, but he found a kindred spirit in Teddy Roosevelt, who also found it in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Temple_Hornaday ; Thomas Paine, was Tom Jefferson’s good friend, but when Paine started to put his sights on the Bible (the Age of Reason, book), criticizing both Old and New Testaments (Spinoza just chewed up his Jewish Torah, the Old Testament), Jefferson had to turn his back on his buddy… these types tend to go too far, whilst the wisest move is to go as a group (ie. civilization 😉 )

      I totally agree it is the most difficult prism from which to view stuff. Hence the value of Israel’s 10th Man Rule (essentially taking the mantle of all the Spinozas; Paines; Muirs around the world, even Socrates, ie. Question Everything! ) :

    • “4. The source of each prism are:

      4.1. Morality: The letter of the Torah/Bible/Koran plus all the additional interpretations (Mishnah, Gemara, Hadith)”


      This point specifically takes us back to my Us vs. Them point, I guess the one I take more seriously, because of how it translates on the ground (which I ‘ve seen first hand, not just from the Salafists, but Americans who’ve also framed all this as yet another Crusader war).

      Let’s say, Muslim Filipinos (like Communists, only their book is by Marx 😉 ) all came out in support of DU30’s drug war, do we then label them immoral since according to their shari’a (see Aceh specifically) these criminals must be dealt with medievally? ie. cutting off hands, decapitation, stoning, etc?

      Since Jesus didn’t really leave us with a lot of moral standards (though IMHO had he written more on it, it would come close to Paine’s, Muir’s , Spinoza’s) , can we really say mine ideation of morality is better than yours (you, Muslim Filipino) because Jesus essentially just said turn the other cheek, because I assure you Islam’s views is the opposite of turning the other cheek (of note though is a sense of balance, quid pro quo in Islam’s jurisprudence, which was consistent in the 7th century),

      Do we get to say, your morality is less than mine? edgar, you’ve just listed the Abrahamic religions, when you add Jainism, it blows further into smithereens, Paul (and anachronistic lines in Mark) has Jesus telling non-Jews they can eat pigs, where vegetarianism is central to the jain’s non-violence morality.

      How does one play compare and contrast, which morality is superior? Now add in the fact that the Amazon is further getting smaller, where before it was illegal logging constricting the forest (which there were able to stop), now it’s world demand for beef, necessitating more land, illegally carved out of the Amazon.

      See how arbitrary these moralities are when viewed in this light? We’re essentially panning out, high into the clouds, when we pan back in, into the nitty-gritty, of say DU30’s war on drugs and EJKs , how about the EJKs of those ancient trees in the Amazon; or if you’re a vegetarian, the EJKs of those cattle?

      I think to prove that this morality based on ancient books is indeed morality, you’d have to play more compare and contrast with more books, more traditions, and drill down the essence of all these books. Jefferson certainly attempted this, but only with the New Testament, like he said, had he more time,

      he’d have cut up more ancient scriptures, and set them side-by-side, but he was thinking of only Western / Mediterranean traditions (though later on he did get interested in Islam, when he had to deal with the Barbary pirates).

      My point is whose morality?

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Here is the diagram of the Methods of Assessing Human Behavior.

      2. For the most part, the diagram is a graphic representation of what has been discussed.

      2.1. I have added the prism of psychology. There may be other prisms. Humor is one prism of poking fun at the follies of mankind.

      2.2. I have added a norm column as an example of the prism’s assessment of the human act of killing another human.

      2.3. It strikes me that Morality and Legality are prescriptive in nature, while Amorality and Psychology are descriptive. Psychology, however, can also be prescriptive.

      • josephivo says:

        An interesting missing?

        Prism: Darwinian.
        Question: What is the consequence on the survival of genes?
        Context: Killing of kin, clan members or killing of faraway strangers.
        Source: History/evolution, scholarly studies.
        Norm: Killing of kin hinders, killing of competing strangers can help.

        In the morality line for source I would add current interpretation of holy books. When the Old Testament was written the morality reflected much more the Darwinian norm.

        • edgar lores says:


          Now, that is interesting.

          I am currently reading, per your recommendation, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. But I am still in the early chapters of the book, the Agricultural stage. Fascinating read.

          At the collective level, I would say that the different prisms are basically about the regulation of human behavior within the human species (intra-species) and vis-a-vis the non-human species (inter-species). Or, really, between Sapiens and nature as a whole.

          At the individual level, the prisms are about the regulation of personal conduct and interaction with others.

          I would conflate the Darwinian prism with Amorality. The difference between these two and the other two (Morality and Legality) rest on the permissibility of violence. In the former, there is hardly any compunction about the use of violence. In the latter, violence is seen as a last resort.

          With your permission, I would amend your initial suggestions:

          o Prism: Darwinian

          o Question:
          Original: What is the consequence on the survival of genes?
          o Does an act contribute or not to survival?
          o Survival / Non-survival (This is for the diagram.)

          o Context:
          Original: Killing of kin, clan members or killing of faraway strangers.
          o Survival of the clan
          o Survival of the species

          o Source:
          Original: History/evolution, scholarly studies.
          Amendment: As is.

          o Norm:
          Original: Killing of kin hinders, killing of competing strangers can help.
          Amendment: Killing is survival

          On Question, I tend to couch it in terms of binaries.

          On Context, the question of survival is at two levels — clan and species. In human history, there was a time when the destruction of the species was seen as a more acceptable alternative than the destruction of the clan. This was at the height of the Cold War when the MAD doctrine prevailed.

          On Norms, the killing of kin also “helps.” In the hunter/gatherer (or forager) stage of humankind, the killing of the weak, the aged and the disabled was seen as necessary in the struggle for existence.

          From his perspective and that of many others, Duterte’s anti-drug war is Darwinian.

          In this sense and from this perspective, the war is beyond the prisms of morality and legality.

          Many thanks for the insight. It does fill a gap.

          • sonny says:

            Seriously, I think this Gantt-like chart should be required in-service training for Ways & Means Committees for ALL civil servants working for the Executive, Judicial & Legislature branches. Very powerful stuff! The praxis of this chart is applying

        • edgar lores says:

          Here is the updated diagram.


          • Adding Darwinian there reminds me of eugenics and Malthus. Malthus’ ideas of checking population actually influenced Darwin’s study of evolution. Malthusian politics and eugenics policies used to be part of some governments. The PH War on drugs could be an example of bad Malthusian politics and negative eugenics policies.

            • edgar lores says:

              Juana, Indeed. in addition to those two, there are other philosophies/movements based on the Darwinian prism. With the advent of genome editing, the possibilities for eugenics are endless — enticing or frightening as the case may be.

              I can’t remember the book or movie about humans being produced within a caste system according to the role or function they play in society.

              For myself, I would like to see humans turned into jolly green ogres. Yes, Shrek!

              • “The Giver” is probably the book made into a movie (2014) you are talking about. In the movie, Taylor Swift is a “giver”, a living community database who committed suicide because of all the bad memories she needed to “download.” The story revolves around the new “giver,” Jonas. Here is the synopsis: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435651/synopsis?ref_=tt_ql_stry_3

                My favorite sci-fi eugenics/genomics movie is “GATTACA” (1997), no book though. If you have not seen it yet, here is the synopsis: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/synopsis?ref_=ttpl_pl_syn

                Much newer one is the “Divergent” book series (2011) by Veronica Roth. They made movies (2014) from the series too. The plot is a cross between “The Giver” and “Hunger Games.” Here is the synopsis of the first movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1840309/synopsis?ref_=tt_ql_stry_3

                Genetic engineering is a very exciting field because of all the beneficial results it can bring to healthcare but it can also be devastating if evil minds create evil products with the discovered knowledge.

              • edgar lores says:

                Juana, thanks. These items you mention are relatively new and I am referring to something more ancient. I’m probably thinking of “Logan’s Run” but it doesn’t quite fill the bill.

              • Ahhh… Ancient? Is it the 1932 book, “The Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley? It was made into a TV movie in 1980. It is about a non-genetically engineered man who went and lived in a society of genetically engineered humans (?). The book is a classic.

              • edgar lores says:

                Juana, Ahaha! Synchronicity! Last night I looked up “Brave New World” and it seems I have conflated it with “Logan’s Run.” Thanks.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Just watched a part if it. I am on the part where John Savage the non bio-engineered but a product of two engineered parents is immersed to the community (or a caste system)of more “civilized ” genetically engineered people.Here” engaging” with multiple partners is the more civilized way, and death was thought to be fun, and btw being pregnant is taboo.

              • @karl

                That is why it is one of the most banned and challenged book in history. It was judged as having an immoral content not fit to be read by moral people. Please keep on watching or pick up the book. The book’s satirical content challenges you to think and do an internal monologue about your stance in a lot of social ills.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Done, Juana.
                The Soma was quite like EJK,but ironically narcotics was used to control the population.
                But related to what we are talking about, there was such a thing as death conditioning, there may be some of that happening due to the debate ejk is fine as long as blank and ejk is never ok debate.

                Ironic, that the book was banned, it story showed what was wrong with banning(depending if you are pro or anti banning).

  13. Underratedgirl says:

    …the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO [TO RESTORE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST].

    (Pope St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique [“Our Apostolic Mandate”], 1910)

    • sonny says:

      For sure, your heart’s in the right place, UG! (The motto was already Thomas Jefferson’s mind during his time)

      • josephivo says:

        Do not confuse Jefferson in his time with the Jefferson in cleaned up history books.

        In his time, e.g. : “A professorship of theology should have no place in our constitution” or to his nephew “If it ends in a belief there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in this exercise, and the love of others it will procure you.”

        • sonny says:

          I do recognize the distinction, Joseph.

          The Jefferson that is being foisted today is not the Jefferson that I read about of those times. The Jefferson name is tacked on, IMO, nominally by today’s writers and interpreters in order to acquire the gravitas of the founding fathers. Hence my hesitation above is fittingly amplified by your observation. To my knowledge the Jefferson Bible precisely excluded references to the miracles of Jesus Christ, hence the Deist color attached to Jefferson. Yet even so, I take note of a vignette between the Ursuline Nuns and then Pres Jefferson.

          “On 21 March, 1804, the Ursulines addressed a letter to Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, in which they solicited the passage of an Act of Congress guaranteeing their property and rights. The president replied reassuring the Ursulines. “The principles of the Constitution of the United States” he wrote, “are a sure guaranty to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules without interference from the civil authority. Whatever diversity of shades may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your Institution cannot be of indifference to any; and its furtherance of the wholesome purpose by training up its young members in the way they should go cannot fail to insure the patronage of the government it is under. Be assured that it will meet with all the protection my office can give it.”

          I compare this to Obama’s sponsorship of HHS Mandate with then Health Sec Sibelius, a professed Catholic.

  14. Yelena says:

    Executing someone with out due process is being condoned by most Filipinos, that are 80 to 95 % Christians. They fear that the addicts will kill , rape, and steal from them someday. It’s like they have a Druid that foresees it.
    Good thing I’m not a good Christian. I am every which way stupid but I’m not a hypocrite when it comes to my spirituality. I even question if someone is really up there.
    It’s all fun and that is what they deserve mentality because it’s not their family. I’m hoping they will not become collateral damage and just be part of the statistics .
    My greatest fear as a mother, sister, aunt, and daughter is the safety of my family in these war on drugs. Bullets don’t have brakes.
    ” Democracy can buckle if we give in to fear.” – Mr Obama

  15. Joe, thanks again for the mention.. gerverg1885’s comment is BTW a perfect example of the native idea of “kagandahang-loob” or “goodness of spirit”: http://babaylanfiles.blogspot.de/2009/06/definitions-kagandahang-loob-shared.html

    I was discussing this with Prof. Xiao Chua once on FB, who had mentioned that kagandahang-loob was a core value of the Katipunan revolutionary movement… my comment was that it’s exact opposite, sama ng loob (resentment or mean-spiritedness) seemed to be today’s main “vibe”…

    I didn’t quite want to believe the stuff about the Katipunan until I read in a book by Prof. Vicente Rafael recently that people in Cavite and other parts were “talagang masaya” in the early phase of the revolution – “truly happy”, taking in their soldiers like in a huge fiesta of newfound freedom.

    LCPL_X also once mentioned the values and spirituality of the different Native American groups – now the entire ideas Philippine Psychology has looked at like “loob” (spirit) “ginhawa” (disposition) and “pagkatao” (humanity, i.e. morality in a broader sense) are the core of the original Filipino.

    There are of course the different layers I have mentioned caused by a complex history and the (often hapless) adaptations necessary for a more complex society than the original tribal one… what is lacking today is a broader sense of “kapwa” (fellow human being) beyond small groups?


    A tribal society has little idea of civility towards strangers – Filipino religious groups are quasi-familial in their metaphors. INCs call each other “kapatid”, the groups around the Black Nazarene are “cofradias”. Of course many of Duterte’s supporters see him as a father figure…

    I am not quite surprised BTW that THE major researcher on “Pasyon and Revolution” or different kinds of people’s revolutions including the Sakdalistas or Pulahanes and the anti-American Ricartistas – Prof. Reynaldo Ileto – seems to be sympathetic to Duterte…


    Today’s meeting of Duterte with all Philippine mayors – including a lot of swearing from him again – came across to me, very eerily, as a kind of tribal council with the “Supreme Chief” gathering all chiefs. Hope they wake up quickly: it is 2017 and there are 200 times as many Filipinos as in 1521!

    • “Joe, thanks again for the mention.. “

      Hey, where’s my mention?!!! LOL! 😉

      LCPL_X also once mentioned the values and spirituality of the different Native American groups”

      I’d add that their’s was closer to amoral, than moral, not making doctrines of values, playing it by ear all the time, so maybe all this morality stuff is related to sedentary life styles? When the bringers of morality did come, they annihilated the Natives, and placed them in unproductive lands, and called that moral.

      I’d also add that there’s a lot of “this too shall pass” and “we’ll see…” in Native traditions, which are not uniform but many similarities, about seasons and how change was the only constant in life, etc. the more sedentary among them, well they were the ones who came up with funky morals, like ritual cannibalism and virgin sacrifices, Chaco Canyon specially.

      Maybe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedentism is where people messed up? Didn’t the Mongol horde get as far as your neck of the woods there, Ireneo? Any wisdom they left behind, still palpable in society? Especially concerning morality, immorality and amorality?

    • sonny says:

      🙂 Touche, as usual, Irineo!

      Just a note: in a chemical reaction, the formation of canonical complexes is a sign that true stable products are possible from the starting materials, i.e. the laws of thermodynamics are being satisfied. (my statement is totally subject to jury 🙂 )

      • sonny says:

        Why mention chemical reactions?

        PDu30 has pounded his fist on the political arena and put everything in Philippine society up in the air, i.e. rendered unconnected. He has started a “chemical reaction” that has affected our society from the foundation to practically all nooks and crannies. All what were sacred, familiar, friendly, inimical, past, future, rich, poor are now up for grabs making all sorts of social, political, economic reconfigurations possible. This is what the new looks like, IMO. My hope remains that when everything starts to settle, true, stable configurations of Filipino society will start to form. In a more urgent way, the old will have to change.

        • The dry, ripe rice has been thrown into the wind. Whether we land with the grain or chaff is still up in the air. Nice to have that glimmer of optimism.

          • sonny says:

            Joe, the ideas that your blogs spawn among the commenters here are true reflectors of the whats, whereats, and how-tos of real hope to pursue. These I am grateful for.

              • sonny says:


              • i7sharp says:

                Going through this thread, starting with (with all due respect to all others) what Irineo wrote January 12, 2017 at 1:07 am, I thought of what could best be done about all the good inputs – such as viewing them in different prisms or trying to keep them as simple and as useful as possible.
                There are a few verses (the word “bible” has already appeared many times) that come to (my) mind. One of them … well, two … is easy to remember if only because it is numbered 12, 13, 14.
                Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.
                13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
                Fear God, and keep his commandments:
                for this is the whole duty of man.
                14 For God shall bring every work into judgment,
                with every secret thing,
                whether it be good,
                or whether it be evil.

                Another is …
                Jeremiah 8:20
                “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

                Different perspectives can be gathered through some of the charts here,
                The one that caught my attention first was this:


              • i7sharp says:

                It was only now that I was able to re-visit the site from which I had gathered the chart displayed in my previous post.

                Here’s about the author/creator:
                … a long spiritual journey for a former Catholic altar boy, but the mysteries of prophecy are not easy and take time and a lot of study to understand (Isaiah 28:10).

                I originally created this website both as an introductory learning tool for those unfamiliar with the Book of Revelation, as well as a forum where those with extensive knowledge on the subject can exchange ideas. In teaching Revelation, I found that its initial obtuseness can be intimidating to newcomers. In response, I developed a set of teaching notes, included on this website under Teaching Notes, which have helped me to make the vital prophecies found in Revelation more accessible to the masses. One day, it will be critical for all Christians to understand the signs of the End Times. This day may be very soon or off in the future, but this website is a small effort to fulfill one of the overarching messages of the Book of Revelation – be prepared! Lately, my teaching has focused on developing charts to simplify complex prophetic topics to help people understand, as we may be the generation to witness His coming.


                I, too, want to simplify complex topics.
                I must say that “Donnie” has done far more, way, way more, than I have.
                I, too, was a former Catholic but I don’t think I ever came close to being an altar boy.

                For those who want to see more charts:


              • The purpose of this blog is to discuss matters pertinent to the development of the Philippines. You use the forum to promote other interests. I don’t accept advertising and dislike it when people use the forum for promotional purposes, no matter how virtuous the promotion. Kindly stop posting your personal links here and reflect on the manner of discussion undertaken here. If you care to join in, you are welcome. If not, kindly excuse yourself. Also, kindly don’t quibble with my editorial prerogative. We’ve been down that path already.

              • i7sharp says:

                NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
                This blog is a collaboration by people interested in the well-being of the Philippines. It is a place to think and discuss, to teach and learn.

                Joe, I try to keep the above in mind.

                What do you think of this – in relation to “the well-being of the Philippines”?:
                Do you see this more as a promotion of myself than of the Philippines, my home country, by the way?
                If so, what do you suggest I change in it to make it more to your liking?

                by the way, Joe, lest you think I have forgotten:
                “ja” is for “Joe America”
                “guidelines” is for … guidelines.


              • This is simple stuff. I don’t know why you make it so complicated. I am an editor of a blog. I’m responsible for its integrity, that is, content. You are a contributor. If you can’t take editorial direction, and don’t provide the kind of content I seek, you can’t publish here. I also don’t click on your links for reasons I have explained.

    • Tribal council. Perfect!

    • “…what is lacking today is a broader sense of “kapwa” (fellow human being) beyond small groups?”

      That is why it is refreshing to read an opinion like what the article below expressed. I am hoping the PH youth of today will bring about a sort of “Age of Reason.” What is evident reading the comments is that a lot of people are still hang up on tribalism. Divisiveness is still alive and well in 2017 PH and those who advocate for national unity are seen as an aberration.


      • sonny says:

        JP, seems like regionalistic behavior is the common Filipino sociological starting point – there is no escaping this. This becomes problematic if our social behavior does not develop beyond our geographic and familial boundaries. Even so, we can still think of a highly-developed regionalism and grow into a truly open ethnicity, i.e. a cosmopolitan socio-economic-political worldview. The strength of the Filipino will depend on how well we nurture the solidarity-subsidiarity cultural dyad: solidarity among Filipinos, subsidiarity in our international affairs (migration, globalization).

  16. I found the article below very enlightening and informative. It segues with the blog’s topic.

    Do we have to adjust to the present political reality or do we steadfastly hold on to our core values and beliefs?

    “The challenge will be a steep one for journalists and for all Americans, when so much of what comes from the next president has to be checked and double-checked. The first step is to establish when there is a gas lighting operation in progress.

    Then comes the battle to hold on to the facts.”


    • sonny says:

      Like the last eight years, JP, we do have to hang on steadfastly to principles we hold dear.

    • i7sharp says:

      “our core values and beliefs”
      would be harder to define or elucidate on than
      “my core values and beliefs.”

      Can you kindly talk about the latter?


      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        Why are you so interested in “my core values and beliefs.” Is this your expertise? Tell me why you want to talk about this topic because it rather personal and intrusive. One normally do not ask people the question you are posing. They just observe or in this blog, “read” people.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks for the link. I also learned the word “gaslighting.” Not in the physical sense it may mean, but one that may “rhyme” with post-truth, anti-factual.

  17. NHerrera says:

    Off topic


    My bringing up the matter comes from the PH visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe — the first foreign leader to visit the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

    With or without detailed previously planned strategy, I note the, say, fortuitous interaction of immediate historical events and personalities of the dramatis personae in our part of the world; and state — at this time at least — a welcome warming up of the relationships of PH with respect to Japan, China, Russia and the US (the latter, a “re-warming up”).

    It is on a topic like this that I greatly welcome Irineo’s take from his wide historical database.

    Our current blog topic concerns adjustment of one’s morality. What I introduce is an adjustment of geopolitical relationships.

    • NHerrera says:

      And if I may indulge in something I am not good at:

      1. Connecting the above with the word I just learned from Juana today, PM Abe is to my mind the least gaslighter of them all. Or among the personalities involved, he is at least, the most subtle.

      2. Among the four, I think of US-Japan as a block together with a shared and cohesive economic-security relationship.

      3. Japan, because of its culture and its rich history of economic and military relationships with China and Russia — winning over them in some past confrontations — embodies in their mind-set something that Filipinos probably can learn more than from China and Russia.

      4. Thus, in the three-cornered relationships of US-Japan, China and Russia relative to PH, Japan in addition is probably the glue that will bind this “structure” in a better way than the others. Japan besides being Asian, has in the past and especially during its relationship with the US, post WWII, incorporated some Western thoughts, but not succumbing to it, as the more fluid-like nature of the Filipinos.

  18. josephivo says:

    To Lance:

    An amoral person with no morality, no sense of good and evil is extremely exceptional, it happens when one part of the brain is damaged by birth or by accident. Certain drugs can suppress it, it can be weaker than average by malnutrition or lack of training in childhood (see “Anatomy of Violence” by Adrian Raine)

    Most people behaving in an amoral way have a good sense of morality, know what behavior is commonly accepted and what behavior is not, they just see a selfish objective as more satisfying. The common sense varies over time and it varies between cultures, it has little to do with religion. Catholics, Protestants, Muslims… Shamans and even Deist and Atheist share the same definitions of good and evil during the same timeframe. The golden rule, respect for elders, respect for life, not lying, kindness…

    E.g. Superiority makes certain behaviors moral as “educating”, leading and even enslaving. “Blacks have a better feel for rhythm, Chinese handle chop sticks better but as a whole whites are far superior.” Until the 50ies this was quite an acceptable statement in Europe or the US. Today “Some animals are stronger than us, some are faster, some have better senses, but as a package we humans are far superior” is no more acceptable for some moralists (e.g. Peter Singer)

    Some moral rules change fast, some are changing slow. Basically good behavior helps the species, bad behavior hinders its wellbeing. Some behavior is very easy to recognize as essential for the survival of our genes, others are not helping at all, just byproducts of other beneficial traits.

    • josephivo says:

      I belief in progress. And I recognize that progress is not a steady linear stream forwards. It is more often turbulent, even chaotic. But I think that over the centuries there is factual information that people are more healthy, less violent, less ignorant, more interwoven… and with better morals. For the latter just compare the morality of the Old Testament, The New Testament and today’s “enlightened” interpretation of the New Testament. (e.g. Jefferson still could use it to justify slavery)

      • “An amoral person with no morality, no sense of good and evil is extremely exceptional, it happens when one part of the brain is damaged by birth or by accident. “


        that reminded me of this,

        Most people behaving in an amoral way have a good sense of morality, know what behavior is commonly accepted and what behavior is not, they just see a selfish objective as more satisfying.”

        IMHO opinion everyone’s acting on self-interests, josephivo,

        sometimes the lines might be blurred, ie. a mother taking a bullet for her son , etc. acts we generally view as altruistic, but from a Darwinian sense whether that sense of self is as individual or viewed as collective , everyone’s acting on self-interest.

        I think Spinoza viewed it using Epicurean concepts , ie. satisfying, hence pain/pleasure. But Spinoza’s self-interest was more related to Jainism , ie. attaching your pleasure to something bigger , expansion was the word he used in his Ethics— that part is too far for me, so

        what I’m trying to say is “satisfying” and pleasurable may be seen as fleeting, perfect for selfishness, but if you track Spinoza, he was attempting to describe something grander.

        So back to progress vs. regress, and Spinoza’s expand and contract. If that selfish act causes everything and everyone to expand , is it really selfishness?

        BUT all the rest, I definitely agree with you, josephivo!

        • I thought this was apt here, josephivo:

          “Furthermore, Spinoza argues that when we seek what is genuinely to our advantage – as opposed to what we merely believe is good for us – we enhance the being of others as well as ourselves. Like Socrates in the Republic, he suggests that there isn’t really a conflict between self-interest and morality, between egoism and altruism. This is because all human beings share something deeply in common: beneath the surface of diverging and conflicting ideas, emotions, tastes, inclinations and prejudices, our true nature is constituted by reason, which grasps the way in which everything in the universe is connected.

          And so Spinoza sums up his account of virtue like this: “the more each one seeks his own advantage, and strives to preserve himself, the more he is endowed with virtue, or what is the same, the greater is his power of acting according to the laws of his own nature, that is, of living from the guidance of reason. But men most agree in nature when they live according to the guidance of reason. Therefore, men will be most useful to one another, when each one most seeks his own advantage.”

        • josephivo says:

          Self-interest, I totally agree, but as Spinoza explains self-interest and altruism can go hand in hand. But my point was that the common belief morality might see A as more satisfying, but a single individual might think otherwise and prefer B.

          There is progress in morality over time, but not all move at the same speed, some are still in the Middle Ages or slided back, a few might be slightly ahead. The importance of human rights today but with some still in a the old mode “kill all sub-human outsiders, the source of all evil so we can clean up society” (outsiders as jews and other inferior races or drug addicts)

        • Edgar Lores says:

          But we do not act on self-interest alone. When we act for something bigger, we may, in fact, be acting against self-interest.

          • josephivo says:

            Unconsciously or consciously? Consciously, did you act because you had to or because you liked to? Or was it pure based on reason or emotionally/reflexive/groups behavior? A little burden now for a big future reward? A zero sum world?

            • edgar lores says:

              My comment was intended to demolish the proposition that we act solely out of self-interest.

              There are many variations and combinations of motives and interests, and one would have to assess specific acts to be able to answer those questions.

              Along the lines of the questions brought up, it should be instructive to look at the presidential decisions on the SSS hike.

              1. Conscious/Unconscious

              o PNoy – Yes
              o Duterte – Yes

              2. Had to/Liked to

              o PNoy – The decision was clearcut and was made out of duty (i.e., had to)
              o Duterte – The final decision was messy and contradicted the original inclination. it was not “had to” in the sense of duty but “had to” in the sense of expediency.
              – The decision was populist, thrown as a sop to appease angry pensioners and distract critics.
              – The hike was justified on the basis of a contribution increase. Drilon has pointed out the justification is illegal.
              – The postponement of the second tranche to 2022 clearly indicates an attitude of it’s-not-my-problem.

              3. Purity/Reward

              o PNoy – The decision was rational, primarily pure in the interests of SSS and the pensioners. True, one can never discount self-interest. But self-interest, in the form of personal legacy, of being a good president, is secondary here. The reward is more to the benefit of the SSS and the pensioners.
              o Duterte – The decision, I would say, was emotive primarily out of self-interest. True, pensioners benefit but that was not the primordial intention. The reward is continued popular “satisfaction” with the regime.

              • edgar lores says:

                On item 3 I would add, PNoy was acting not out of “immediate” self-interest but of “subsequent” self-interest. It was, one could say, an act of delayed gratification. But, as I said, self-interest was a secondary motivation.

                So Pnoy passes the marshmallow test and Duterte does not.

              • edgar lores says:

                Another item of importance: Why does it take a Drilon to point out the illegality of the justification?

                It means that nobody is performing due diligence. Not the cabinet. Not the SSS officials consulted by the cabinet. Not, in particular, the Solicitor General.

                Such incompetence.

              • NHerrera says:

                Amazing how the application of a concept on a timely and specific example — the SSS pension hike in this case — clarifies the concept. Vintage edgar. Thanks.

  19. a distant observer says:

    I have not much to add here Joe. I would however argue that we should be careful to not demonize social media and its use. Social media certainly can foster self-publicizing and even narcissistic behavior. But I think social media is not a darker place than the internet in general. One can use it for fostering the good as well as the bad sides of man. I am concerned too about the deterioration of people’s view on democracy and the worldwide epidemic of longing for strong “Führer”. It’s a long and tiresome task to fight against the populist phrases that are flooding social media conversations and comment sections.
    To upheld democratic values in (social media) dialogues was also one of my conclusions when writing an article for your blog. I sent it to you some time ago. Did you receive it?

  20. This article concerns me:


    Is PDP-Laban taking notes from CPC in preparation for a one party and authoritarian government? (Like it is not already. The only thing that keeps the facade of democracy in PH is the Constitution. The last two sentences are not snark, it is how I see it. Enlighten me if you disagree.)

    Pimentel need to be transparent with the people. He said it is the party’s business. Read: It’s none of anybody’s business why PDP-Laban is meeting with CPC. Can he do that as #3 in PH government? Anybody else uncomfortable about this meeting?

    • Thanks for the query. Pimentel lost my trust long ago, and this just adds to it. None of the Duterte supporters and enablers believe in democracy as far as I can tell.

      • If Ryan and other Republicans try to meet with the CPC, most Americans including Republicans will be up in arms. They can also kiss their chances of being re-elected or running for any office goodbye.

        Vis-a-vis the recent poll showing that Filipinos do not have a lot of trust on China, I can’t understand why Pimentel is doing this. Maybe there is something about PH politics that I am ignorant about? I am waiting for someone to school me.

      • Pablo says:

        While I do not agree with the means on how the things are done, the statement that none of the supporters believe in democracy shows how misunderstood the mood of the population actually is. I think that most of the supporters actually DO believe in democracy but are (were) so disappointed with the past performances of “democracy” that they did not see another way out. And many supporters actually believe in democracy and are proud that the president cleans up part of society. The shortfall is that only part gets cleaned up and inappropriate means are used. But many people see that finally their area is “cleaned up” while in the past the corruption was tolerated so they see that as a confirmation that we are “on the right track”.
        The trick is on how to mobilize those people with the good intentions to do the right thing.
        Disqualifying them as “none of Duterte supporters…………” does injustice to the majority of the population who are certainly of good intentions. If they would not be, it would be time to move to a lonely island in the South Pacific.

        Also, the use of “none of Duterte supporters…………” sounds as if we would have isolated ourselves from “those nasty and stupid people”, pretending we are better instead of assessing the underlying problems.
        Sorry, but I live in a big City where the mayor seemed to be a supporter of a druglord. We all knew it. Now the druglord is dead, the mayor has been called to Manila several times, whole area’s have been cleaned up, you are not intimidated anymore if you go to a police station, businesses are booming in area’s previously intimidated by investments from drugsmoney and apart from the drugslord and his wife, only few people lost their lives unlike Manila. Is it a surprise that Duterte has a lot of supporters? I would probably feel the same if I were in their situation, it is only that I have been around and got proper education and know from history where it could end. But as there is not the aggressive unreasonable screaming like with the Trump’s, Farage’s and Le Pen’s supporters, there still is a fertile soil for reason and learning which we can tile to improve the situation instead of isolating ourselves from these supporters. While Brexit and Trump are the result of only a fraction of the votes, I therefore have difficulty defining democracy as mortally hurt in Philippines. We rather need to take the good parts, admit the failures of the past and build our future together.

        • Trump got nearly half the popular votes.

          Democracy requires buy-in by the people to be successful. Only a minority of Filipinos feel that buy-in and are committed to it. The ignorant may be good people, but they have been disenfranchised and a government by propaganda is not bringing them in out of the ignorance. Then we have your “few’ people killed, which suggests that the rest of the 6,000 dead, and 18,000 kids left without parents is ‘out of sight, out of mind, and out of conscience” for you. That the dead represent a gross violation of the Constitution and human rights is just a minor conceptual matter.

          I find that attitude disgusting and mark you as just one more enabler of the real horror real people are left to deal with.

          Pardon me for being blunt. I am tired of the excuses thrown up as intelligent argument.

    • chemrock says:

      Countries build relation at people to people or govt to govt levels, I have never heard of political party to political party level. Fishy fishy fishy.

      BTW I didnt know the visionary, the purveyor of coffee, Genuino, chairs the party’s finance committee. He sure is not genuine when it comes to fiduciary morality. Mind boggling why someone under investigation for greasy fingers in Pagcor is tasked to look after finance.

      • karlgarcia says:

        It may have happened before, if I recall Irineo shared that the Christian democrats of Germany met with some from the philippines, the social democrats also met with social democrats, etc.

      • a distant observer says:

        Well yes sometimes there are cross-border activities of political parties with similar ideologies and agendas. In Europe for example, there are repeated meetings between the right-wing populists from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, UK, Austria and other countries. I am most concerned with Pimentel’s secretiveness though.

    • a distant observer says:

      Fishy indeed.

      – “This is a party internal matter which we want to keep internal as there will not be any adverse effect on the state whatsoever,”
      – “Hence, this is not an issue of national concern. (It’s only for the) strengthening of ties between the two parties. Very simple objective only,”
      – “About the PDP’s trip to China, I would say that it coincides with the DOE official trip. In any case, it is a simple side trip for pleasantries, sharing and cultural exchange.”

      So many apologetic phrases in one short report. No doubt there MUST be something fishy. I would find that funny if there wouldn’t be serious consequences to expect… I know some might find this thought outrageous, but I am more and more contemplating the thought whether Duterte is the Chinese “Manchurian Candidate”.

  21. karlgarcia says:

    If no one is worried about being wiped out from the map, then our morality should be questioned.
    Maybe this is just a hawk and dove thing per usual.


    • NHerrera says:

      The US-China notices give a hint of a Game of Chicken reminiscent of the US-Russian Navies game in Cuban waters in the 60s.

      Who will “drive straight through” on its intent or “swerve”? We hope both swerve with a resulting understanding as was the case in the Cuban missile crisis.

      The antagonists then — Kennedy and Khrushchev — had their varied colorful personalities but in the end demonstrated their intelligence and rationalities. Can we say the same thing of the present cast of characters, including the minor players in the game?

  22. Grace Lim Reyes says:

    Not to be off-topic, I just want to share my personal experience about the changes happening in our community.

    I have lived in the nearby provinces of Metro Manila in the last decade primarily because I wanted to get away from the urban jungle and raise a family in a more laid back manner. I seldom go to Manila except to visit my mother, sister, aunt, and uncle. After the election and the installation of the Duterte administration, I really felt the winds of tide are changing.

    As I meandered through the chaotic streets of Manila, my gut-radar was sending unsettling signals.
    1) Feeling apprehensive for no reason. I used to commute in Manila in the wee hours and nothing compares to the unusual fear I felt whenever I go to Manila today.
    2) Feeling hostility. I feel anger in the air.
    3) Less friendly people even among old neighbors (had a recent spat with them because of shared parking issue at my mom’s home).
    4) Be astute or you’ll be swindled or scammed.
    5) People feeling entitled because they can.
    6) Feeling suspicious about anything and everything.
    7) Wouldn’t want to cross path with a cop.

    Basically, the dog eat dog world is more pronounced today than in the past. It is mind-boggling how in a span of a few months could uproot everything we hold dear. I am beginning to realize that life is cheap for many who support mass murder and the drug war. The naturally caring and friendly population is but a figment of my imagination.

    • NHerrera says:

      I was about to write the following:

      Suppose one takes away from one’s mind thoughts of EJK and the threat of the imposition of Martial Law, then on balance, are we in a net positive or negative situation?

      Then comes along your post, Grace Lim; and I got my answer. Thanks.

    • I hope Pablo reads your comment. You nailed it, for me. I’ve noticed the sense of personal entitlement and threatening manner as well. Also, I don’t go out as much as before, and the PH has lost some of its magic for me.

      • sonny says:

        “… the PH has lost some of its magic for me.”

        This is really sad, Joe. They say the beauty in a Rembrandt painting is how the shadows are used for the subtle contrasts that bring out the other dimensions of beauty in the subjects. And the shadows serve the lights of the subject and cannot exist without those lights. You misuse or abuse shadows and one comes up with ghouls and outright darkness. Grace’s observations so resonate.

      • Grace Lim Reyes says:

        I tend to avoid people in cars with closed fist stickers (the symbol of the current administration) or people wearing the same while walking. The daily dose of cusses on TV is distressful. I turn off my tube whenever he’s on. In our humble home, cuss words are no-no. Even in anger, I have never heard my late father utter expletives.

        • madlanglupa says:

          It is madness. The fascist brofist symbol is now becoming synonymous with the Nazi swastika. We have this feeling of living the last days of the Weimar Republic.

    • a distant observer says:

      Thanks Grace for sharing your observations! These are exactly the changes that are hardly measurable, but leave a profound impact on the everyday life of Filipinos…

    • josephivo says:

      What part is caused by me, my feelings of anger, fear and unbelief? What part is different behavior of the outside world showing their real colors?

      I’m struggling to understand.

  23. madlanglupa says:

    Last night’s speech of the biggest motormouth in the history of the motherland has talked of bombing terrorists even with their hostages, and then entertained the notion of imposing Martial Law again. All the while his sheep-herded constituents in his kingdom of Davao applauded and chuckled at his half-funny jokes.


  24. karlgarcia says:

    I wil drop this link about Randy David’s column where Duterte reacted to the 1 billion earmarked by PAGCOR to rehab. With the usual they are better of dead remarks.

    Randy David also mentioned an example( his bishop brother’s rehab center in Caloocan), to show that rehab is also difficult because the priority of the poor are their families, but that means it really needs a government program.


    • karlgarcia says:

      Duterte said that the 1 Billion should have just been used for worthier purposes like feeding the poor.

      Though some or many will agree because of widespread poverty, but there are already some funds allocated for poverty, why question pagcor’s choice that it goes to rehab.
      He is ok it cane from a wealthy donor though, like that one in Nueva Ecija, but he would be against government spending for rehab?

      Not that this is suppposed to be surprising, but aaargh, many people still agree.

      • This analysis by Dr. Segundo Romero complements that of Randy David perfectly:

        Stand-Alone Presidencies

        Changing a nation is like a relay race — you must not look at just one lap, you have to think of at least 20 laps. Everybody talks about the Singapore model, but what makes Singapore Singapore is the persistent collective intelligence behind it. The People’s Action Party has been in control since 1959. It remains at the helm, elaborating on the city-state design, never resting on its laurels, challenging itself to be ahead by thinking and acting ahead, over and above any scheme any emerging opposition can offer. It was not Lee Kuan Yew that is the secret of Singapore, but a Lee Kuan Yew who knew nation-building required a powerful, sturdy, and persistent earthmoving bulldozer that would transcend his mortal presence. That is the People’s Action Party.

        In the Philippines, leaders who want to change the country all want to be a Lee Kuan Yew, but they fail to appreciate the need for the bulldozer. They think that the bulldozer driver can flatten the country’s problems alone. And so the tragedy of the Filipino continues. Rodrigo Duterte thinks the bulldozer is the amalgam of his chums from San Beda College, classmates from elementary and high school, and his asymmetric personal memories of being part of the revolutionary struggle in the 1970s.

        The problem with the Duterte bulldozer is that it is put together by the mere Duterte persona, made to look like a strong presence with the use of strong words. Filipinos are taken by this kanto-boy, Binoy-like rhetoric, failing to appreciate that “rudeness is the weak persons imitation of strength” as Eric Hoffer puts it. There is no real collective design thinking behind Duterte.

        In fairness, this myopia, this failure to excel in succession politics, is what PNoy failed miserably in. What’s the point in having a good starter runner, if the rest of the relay squad will not run in the same direction, or as competently and honorably?

        And so we are stuck with Digong, tolerable if only he were not so clueless on what makes a nation. One can be pardoned for believing in one’s propaganda, if one will at least cobble the talented and patriotic people to help bring it about. Depending on elementary, high school, and college chums does not come close, especially when they are all in the pre-departure area from this life. Being appointed to high government office is their imagination of what Soylent Green looks like.

        The reason the succession strategy of the Digong cabal is pathetic is that they are not organizing to fast-track and at least demonstrate the shadow of a coherent change strategy, even just for the remaining time for Digong (at most five and a half years). Instead, they are trying to prevent, by mochaic innuendo, con-Troll attacks, and dis-ingenious dis-invitations, the constitutionally-designated successor, Vice-President Leni Robredo, from preparing to taking over in due time. At the personal level, the carpetbaggers are apparently worried they do not have time to amass great fortunes under the Digong administration. As the Duterte appointed Immigration deputy commissioners’ case shows, they want their cash right away, the first time the opportunity presents itself.

        The reason the concatenated, unassembled imitation of a bulldozer Duterte has put together is worried is that Duterte himself knows that going the distance (six years) is the worst case scenario, as it would reveal the full measure of his ineptitude, and the full horror of the scam he has (perhaps unwittingly) perpetrated on the Filipino people. he would rather be given an excuse to pre-terminate his term, if only his sycophants would allow him.

        One would hope VP Robredo will not be a stand-alone President when she takes over. That would be a tragedy. She should not allow herself to be bamboozled into neglecting her political organizing duties. Already, so many people are waiting for her leadership for a strategic, sustainable, programmatic governance post-Duterte.

        In the end, she has to make the people believe, not in stand-alone presidencies, but in an engaged, participative, even accountable nation. As Obama, in his farewell address to the American people said — believe not in the leader’s ability to change the nation, but believe in the people’s ability to do so. Sure, we deserve this Duterte because of our political slothfulness. But should we deserve another, future one?

        • Francis says:


          Amen. I shared the post. Why people think you need a dictator to have an efficient state boggles the mind. Japan had no dictator. And the best technocrats can never make up for the failings of a swindling autocrat–Marcos; funny how all the stuff people liked about Marcos were by his technocrat were stuff that ultimately failed because of Marcos’ (and his cronies’) corruption. Funny that.

          To be fair to the Duterte administration—or at the very least, their technocrats—there some good plans that are now (http://pdp.neda.gov.ph) being prepared by NEDA. I would actually recommend a full article (or series of) discussing these plans as they are really genuinely interesting. And what ultimately caught me by surprise with these plans was not just their specificity and clarity (each annex has relatively defined S.M.A.R.T outcomes on the executive level coupled with a legislative agenda—so each annex has two checklists you can bother 🙂 the government with) but the way almost all (save for the annex dealing with agriculture) of them liked talking about the achievements of the previous administration; the tone is literally gushing. Which bodes well I suppose for that critical “relay race” continuity that’s so elusive in governance here. At least in NEDA.


          On Duterte though. His strong will is not necessarily a bad thing. But personalized rule and bypassing of institutions can only go so far—Duterte-style rule (on a national scale) is like energy drinks and mind-enhancing drugs. Sure—they’ll help you ace that test the first time around. But if you choose to take them over studying and you start taking them all the time instead of only times when they’re absolutely necessary—you’ll start getting addicted to them.

          To the point where you’re helpless without them. All while seriously damaging your body in the long run. An apt metaphor—I think.

          • “To be fair . . .” is an interesting argument. When one is in a china shop with a bull, how does one remain calm to discuss the quality of the craftsmanship of a particular piece and ignore the fact that the bull is demolishing the store? That’s the problem I have in discussing some of the positive aspects of the Duterte Administration. I feel like I become another enabler, a person able to look past the killings, and the giving away of sovereignty, and corruption of democratic principle represented in propaganda, Marcos burial, and decisions made for favoritism (like the SS decision, as Edgar notes). To me, those are the three bulls in the PH china shop, and I find it hard to write about positives without feeling that I am betraying the Philippines and Filipinos.

            • NHerrera says:

              For one interested in and a collector of fine chinas, how indeed can one think clearly with a bull in that china shop rampaging about.

              On waking up this morning and viewing the comments, I was struck by the comments of edgar on the application of a concept to the sss pension hike and this one — how a rational person think in a china shop with a bull wrecking the shop. What a picture to keep in mind while arguing in an environment such as presented by that apt image.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Bulldozer in a chinashop?

  25. gerverg1885 says:

    I think that each one of us should adjust our morality everyday to make ourselves better than we were yesterday.

    If we are kind to all the people we interacted today, we must be kinder tomorrow because it is the only way to a more peaceful world.

    Living well does not mean we should have all the things that most of us desire. We become insecure and greedy with too much wealth and too much food makes us sick.

    Living well is being considerate and compassionate to all the people we meet and much better, to all of creation.

    Being morally upright is something that comes naturally to anybody who understands and practices fairness and equality.

    • sonny says:

      hear hear

      Maybe now, in the face of the killings around, is the time for the examination of the humanity inside all of us. I think this is both the antidote and salve for the national pain being inflicted.

    • This story fits with what you are writing… kindness found in the most unlikely situations…


      Dante Salvacíon knew that twice every fleeting second, parts of him died with each passing pigment in the wind.

      His left eye, in particular, had gone blind many moons ago. It was struck by an asphalt nugget that sprung out of nowhere. It was at his first traslacíon—the annual parade of the Black Nazarene.

      Dante was fourteen, and had little choice but to put up with the stink of sweat, the tremors of devotion spreading like wildfire, and the hysteria the likes of which grew with each passing of the Nazareno.

      For Dante, partaking of the ritual parade paved the way for his coming of age. However, he needed to do it for reasons that were more important: his father, a devotee of the Black Nazarene, fell ill. Lymphatic cancer.

      As a child, his father brought him to kiss and pray at the feet of the Black Nazarene each Sunday after High Mass. During days when his street chums had no time for play, he’d sneak inside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and begged the helper to have him sit at the feet of the image. Among the thousands of children filling that area of Quiapo, only Dante proved worthy of the privilege. He spent his leisure scrubbing the church pews for some measly coins.

      Dante’s father survived for a year. Quite unlikely for someone suffering the disease, the doctors claimed. Shortly after his fifteenth birthday, his father died. And his mother, a month following the internment, passed away due to heartbreak.

      The cura paroco, Fr. Francisco L. Reyes, was kind enough to stand as his stepfather. The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, also known as the Parish of St. John the Baptist, became his new home. It provided him shelter for the next two years, and food for his famished body. In return, Dante scrubbed the massive floor area, changed the melted candles, and disinfected the feet of the Nazareno with rubbing alcohol.

      As for the swelling that resulted in the pebble hitting Dante’s left eye, in time the infection led to his blindness. The priest introduced Dante first to a doctor, then to a spiritist and a promoter of herbal medicine. There was nothing they could do; the infection had spread to his right eye. The young man felt the stirring of pain and swelling a day after the spiritist applied sap obtained from masticated gumamela leaves mixed with saliva.

      Dante, desperate for healing, sought the help of the Black Nazarene. To his dismay, his prayers seemed to have been stranded among the thousands of other prayers raised in church each day. For two years he begged the Black Nazarene for some hope. His prayers turned out wasted.

      Badly in need of money for an operation, Dante decided once and for all to leave the care of the priest to search for his destiny elsewhere.

      He met the wily Ignacio at the foot of the stairs of the Manila Cathedral where, through a friend, Dante was able to raise the capital to sell cigarettes. The young runaway was able to convince a member of the laity organization to allow him to sleep at the foot of the Manila Cathedral door, and the use of the bathroom when nature calls.

      Ignacio, on the other hand, notorious for his street name ‘Bullet,’ worked as a peddler of marijuana and other illegal drugs. A bullet from a rival gang had pierced this thirty-four-year-old’s chest, missing Ignacio’s heart by a mere half-inch. To cover the wound, Bullet sought the services of a tattoo artist. A red rose now blooms over and around the injury.

      Ignacio was everything Dante wanted to be: well-dressed, not overly fancy but slick. Strutting the frontage of the Cathedral in his buffed leather shoes, tall as he was lean, Bullet wore smart shirts that boasted of the darker colors of the rainbow. Slung on his shoulders was a fake black leather bag where Ignacio’s stash of marijuana and other party drugs lay hidden.

      Dante once witnessed a sale between Bullet and a man in a sports car. The latter had just paid the Archbishop’s residence a visit. A few meters outside the gates, he honked to get the attention of wily peddler who waited at the corner of Arzobispo and Beaterio.

      Ignacio handed the man a box no larger than his two hands, wrapped in Christmas wrapping. Bullet received an envelope thereafter, which Dante presumed to be cash. From then on, Dante quietly traced the steps of Bullet if only to learn the trade.

      One cold afternoon in August, Bullet approached Dante. Unknown to the runaway, Bullet had noticed his interest in what the peddler was doing. With little fuss, Bullet said, “Hey, you! Yes, you… Make it quick. A man in a silver-grey Mercedes Benz will park along the corner of Sta. Lucia and Anda around nine in the evening tonight. He will honk twice. Hand this package over to him immediately. He will then hand over to you a taped envelope. Leave as soon as you get it. Give it to Cristel, that young woman who’s selling cigarettes in front of the Comelec office. Meet me at noon tomorrow at the Villa Immaculada parking lot. Do this, and I will reward you well.”

      Dante could only nod in excitement.

      Fearing he might miss his chance, Dante arrived an hour early at the site. His heart throbbed wildly, leaving him out of breath half the time. He had by now consumed half the pack of Pall Malls he brought with him. He slipped a new stick off the pack, hoping that the customer would arrive on time.

      Dante smoked three more sticks when the silver-grey Benz arrived half past the appointed hour. He lost no time doing what he was told. As the driver pulled his window down, Dante handed over the box and waited for the envelope. The driver, obviously upset that another person handed him the merchandize, took longer than usual in inspecting it. “I need the envelope, sir,” Dante said under his breath. He was feeling the onset of pain in both his eyes, and the involuntary trembling of his knees and right hand.

      “I need that envelope, sir.”

      Suddenly, four police vans appeared out of nowhere and flanked the young runaway.

      Police operatives alighted the vans full armed. Two officers of the Manila Police Department rushed to Dante’s side, kicked the back of left leg, and cuffed both his wrists.
      Flustered, Dante poised to make a break for it, but as soon as he lifted his right leg, a cop lunged at his face with a punch, sending him back onto the pavement. At that moment, Dante thought he would go blind with pain.

      “That son of a bitch, Bullet, must’ve known we’re on to him,” the man in the Mercedes Benz, said. He got off the car and approached Dante.

      “And who might you be?”

      Dante bowed his head.

      “I’m asking you nicely…”

      Dante refused to say a word.

      The officer pulled his gun and pointed it at Dante’s face.

      “This is the last time I am going to ask you. Who are you and where’s Bullet?”

      Dante closed his eyes, said a quiet prayer, and waited for the inevitable.

      The officer, whom Dante could barely see on account of his blindness, holstered his gun and said, “Bring this asshole to the safe house. Let’s see how tough he really is.”
      At an abandoned tannery south of the Meycauayan River, Dante took a beating the likes of which could’ve killed a horse. The officers took turns ploughing his face with their fists, his torso with the ends of rifle butts, his lower limbs sticks made of yantok. He lay crouched in a corner of an empty room save for a plastic chair situated underneath a small barbed window.

      They pounced on Dante relentlessly, leaving his face pockmarked by bruises and swelling. His right eye had started to bleed. After five minutes, Dante passed out. He was then revived by pouring a bucket of iced water on his head. The ensuing pain struck his eyes like a lightning bolt.

      The officer pulled his hair and yelled, “Who are you and where is Bullet?”

      All this time, Dante’s eyes were closed, his mind truanting somewhere between this life and the next. He recalled his first traslacíon, the reek of blood and sweat, the prayers lifted in a frenetic display of devotion, the tug and pull of devotees seeking to touch soul of a lifeless image made of antique dark wood.

      As if to taunt him even more, the commanding officer pulled a clutch of hair from the back of his head, leaving a portion of his scalp bloody and peeled of its skin.

      “Strip this son of a bitch of his clothes! You, give me your cigarette.”

      As Dante lay crouched and naked, the other officers began stepping back. “Sir Buenaventura, I think he has had enough. I don’t think he will talk.”

      The commanding officer grimaced. He recalled bringing with him five officers to the safe house. He can’t seem to recall bringing with him a sixth officer. They were seven in the warehouse.

      “What’s your name?” the officer asked.

      “SPO1 Bernardo Sanchéz, sir, from CID. My CO said I should lend you a hand in the drug bust.”

      The commanding officer stared at SPO1 Sanchéz curiously. The other officers showed the same look of surprise.

      “SPO1 Sanchéz, you’re not in any position to tell me what or what not to do. I want information on the whereabouts of Bullet. If you have a better idea on how to squeeze that information out of this drug peddler, then by all means…”

      SPO1 Sanchéz said, “Sir, I think…”

      “You’re not being paid by this government to think! You’re here to follow orders! My orders! I may not know you that well, SPO1 Sanchéz. But it seems you’re a friend of drug addicts and peddlers in Quiapo. This penniless vagrant in front of me is one of them, I’m sure. Now, should I charge you with insubordination, or should I just shoot you instead as a coddler of criminals?”

      The commanding officer by now had aimed his pistol at SPO1 Sanchéz.

      Regardless of the threat, SPO1 Sanchéz made his stand. “Sir, with all due respect, you’ve been getting a lot of flak from Crame lately. Twice, your group faced charges of abuse and torture. Three times, you and your group were suspended for conduct unbecoming of an officer and for other reasons I would rather not divulge at the moment. I wouldn’t mind if the suspect fought back. But this young man has refused himself the opportunity. What do you want us to do, kill him for not retaliating?”

      The commanding officer cocked his pistol. “I will count to three,” he said. “Either you do what I say, or I will shoot you here and now.”

      The other officers backed off, and grinning, left SPO1 Sanchéz to fend for himself.
      “One, two…”

      SPO1 Sanchéz approached Dante, knelt down before the young man and said, “Open your eyes.”

      As soon as Dante opened his left eye, he saw light seeping in from a small window. He blinked thrice, and on the third time, he could see clearly with his left eye. His right eye, suffering a lesion on account of the beating, could also see clearly despite the crushed blood vessels in his retina.

      “I can see…” Dante murmured.

      “If you wish to pull that trigger,” SPO1 Sanchéz said, “You might as well do it now.”

      Buenaventura swung his pistol across SPO1 Sanchéz’s face, but missed it by a few inches. SPO1 Sanchéz landed a kick right into Buenaventura’s torso, sending the officer hurtling across the room. The young officer thereafter unsheathed his .45 Colt, walked toward Buenaventura and poked the barrel into his mouth.

      Eyeing the other stunned officers in the room, SPO1 Sanchéz said, “I suggest you all turn your backs and leave. If I hear just one word of this outside this room, I will hunt you all down one by one and kill you. Go!”

      The other officers left without looking back.

      “Are they gone?” Buenaventura asked.

      SPO1 Sanchéz helped the commanding officer to his feet. “Yes,” the former said. “Do you have the stash?”

      “In my bag. Do you have the cash?”

      SPO1 Sanchéz reached for his coat pocket and handed over an envelope. “There’s fifty-thousand extra for any injuries I may have caused you.”

      Buenaventura took the envelope and sans a word, scuttled out the room.

      SPO1 Sanchéz reached out for Dante’s hands and helped the young runaway to his feet. Dazed still from the beating, Dante couldn’t believe what he saw and heard.

      SPO1 Sanchéz saw the look of confusion on Dante’s face. The officer pulled the lone chair from underneath the window and said, “I’m the youngest brother of Fr. Reyes. I’m from a different mother. Don’t you remember me? I used to visit Quiapo church during late nights on Sundays. Remember the pancit bihon and siopao you found at the door of Fr. Reyes’ room? Those were from me. We were never really formally introduced.”

      “I don’t understand,” Dante whispered to himself. “Are you a drug peddler, too?”

      SPO1 Sanchéz grinned.

      “The day you left the church, Fr. Reyes sought my help. He didn’t have to ask twice. I tracked you down and watched you each day at the Manila Cathedral. José Villarica, the head of the laity organization, the one who agreed to have you sleep at the foot of the Cathedral door, is our second-degree cousin and one of the heads of the Hijos del Nazareno. He and your father were good friends. Your father and me, well, we go a long way back. We never missed our yearly devotion to the Nazareno. He was a member of the secret society, Cofradía de Nuestro Santo Jesús Nazareno.”

      “But…” Dante hummed.

      “The CID have been watching Buenaventura for two years now,” SPO1 Sanchéz said. “Buenaventura and Bullet are related. They’re cousins. They’re into peddling drugs. This evening, the drop-off was supposed to be the first of many, leading to a larger supply of illegal substances that arrived at the Port tonight. Bullet was supposed to lead Buenaventura to the larger delivery. Bullet, however, wanted it all to himself, so he used you to deliver the initial stash to Buenaventura while he skirted away to the Port. When Bullet mentioned this exchange to Cristel, she tipped-off the CID. Cristel is a CID undercover operative. Bullet is now in police custody. I gave my word that I will look after you. I’m sorry if they beat you up so bad. Don’t worry, there’s enough money in that envelope to help you get by for months. Call me at this number when you need me.”
      SPO1 Sanchéz pulled out a maroon handkerchief from his pocket.

      “I’m not sorry at all,” Dante said, still bedazzled by the fact he could see clearly with both eyes. He walked around and panned his eyes across the room. “For some reason, I can see. I was blind, but now I can see. Somehow the beating…”

      SPO1 Sanchéz disappeared. The chair had been empty all along. Only the bloody handkerchief remained.

    • edgar lores says:

      Agree with all points, in particular, the first.

      Morality should be dynamic, evaluating and re-evaluating circumstances and motives.

  26. gerverg1885 says:

    So there could be a semblance of truth to the tales of people who said they had remained steadfast in their devotion to the Black Nazarene image due to some miracles they received. This is one story worth reading because I am a firm believer in some things that are mesmerizingly out of this world.

    I am a part time reflexologist by avocation who eventually became a natural healer when I found the source of the leaves that I am now using to treat diabetes and complications. What I saw in the people whose limbs and lives were saved by those leaves were plain miracles that were hard to explain as I’m still wondering how a simple concoction had brought literally dead people back into the world of the living to tell their stories…like that lady who told me she already ascended on those high stairs only to be told by an old man with a very long beard to go back.

    Two years ago, a man who could not walk due to his stroke about a year ago asked me to massage him. I maybe took pity on him so I massaged his leg two times. I could not believe his brother who told me that my patient was already walking without any support while I was walking to treat him for the third time.

    He was the one who told people about what happened to him so I became known in our town for this knowledge. But I always tell people that if they consider what I do as a miracle, it should be that they benefitted from it through helping themselves.

    I am a free thinker about almost anything so I do not close my belief on the possibility of anything short of a miracle, like what happened to Dante.

    And I always believe in the God-spirit in each of us that guides us in our daily lives to help those who are in need, particularly in matters of spirituality.

  27. sonny says:

    Help! (so many gems in THS comboxes)

    Who said Filipino is a cut and paste culture? (I need actual #comment por favor. Thanks)

  28. Zen says:

    This is just my opinion but I think that the test of a society’s, government’s, person’s morality is when one acknowledges he is in the wrong and proceeds to accept it. I have lived in England for 16 years and find that its people are governed well and the sense of morality is alive and robust. When corruption happened amongst the ministers of parliament and made public, most of these MPs had to resign. In fact everytime this kind of blunder happens you would expect that the erring government offical, celebrity, newsmen, chief of police, local leaders, bank managers etc. would resign even if investigation to the wrong or crime committed is still ongoing. The test of morality is when the wrongdoer relinquishes high moral ground for the sake of the truth based on facts and the people’s ( taxpayers ) right to know and understand it. They call it honour and an honourable thing to do. Our country has no more moral compass as the barbarians at this point in time but we still have moral leaders, government officials who are morally upstanding and can turn the tide of popular amoral hysterics. Yes, I agree that TIME and our HISTORY could give us the needed asssurance that everything would change for the better and a more moral society we all hope we deserve.

    • Pablo says:

      Zen, an interesting observation. But please go one level deeper.
      Why ??
      Erring people in the UK did not resign by themselves, a big campaign precedes the resignation. Lots of people are involved and they make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable. Then, the resignation follows.
      In Philippines, I found that at no level, people create a fuss. Even at the lowest levels, corrupt Barangay captains are hardly ever questioned, nobody speaks up while everybody knows about the issues. At the level of the municipal mayor elections, I found that no difficult questions were raised, it was all nice and friendly.
      It’s part of Joe’s original post, really, but it was ongoing looooong before this president was elected.
      Call it shy, call it embarrassed, call it polite, whatever you like. Maybe you can even call it cowardice, but more at the end of this story…
      Whatever it is, questions are never raised openly. Issues are resolved on a more social level, if things become completely unacceptable, people start talking and finally word reaches the powers-that-be and sometimes issues get resolved, a balance between own interests and public waves. Not legal, no programs, no accountability.
      Everybody is in the same mode, not only the poor people, also the educated and experienced people, also the people returning from abroad with different experience.
      And National government always has been in cloud cuckoo-land, making new laws which hardly ever are implemented.
      On the other hand (and a very sad side), Philippines has an unacceptable high level of murders of journalists. Some people are brave but then get chopped and the culprits hardly ever efficiently called to justice. Maybe that is one good reason to shut up and take it on the chin?

      This is my 25 year experience in a 60000 soul community, maybe it is different elsewhere, I cannot judge, but I see the same happening in the big City nearby.

      But indeed, there are some outstanding people here, it made me offer my services to the community to try to improve and work a full time job doing it. But never have I heard the sermons in church (re-)setting the moral compass, nor from any other organization pretending to serve the interest of the population. It is all low-key. Even Ombudsman cases tend to sizzle out instead of enforcing the implementation of laws which are often more than 10 years old but never enforced.
      All this will not cause the resignations you mentioned in England. And MAYBE that is one background reason why Duterte was elected: that could be done anonymous and without exposing ourselves, let somebody else do our dirty work. MAYBE.

      That should not stop us trying to improve the situation, however, we should also be realistic and consider the limitations.
      Like Grace Lim Reyes wrote about the other side of the story in Manila, I cannot really comment on that, luckily, I do not live there. The above is my experience in my little part of paradise where life is slower and less violent but the problems are similar, often more pronounced……

      Maybe it also is part of an admirable resilience. People cope with big disasters all their life and come out smiling (most of the time), so why worry about another “few” deaths when our house is burning? Live today, worry later. Maybe……

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