Honor. Are you up to it?

Independence Day, Rizal National Monument, Manila

By Joe America

As I watched a video of the Independence Day flag-raising ceremony in Marawi with planes flying over the battle zone in the background, the American “Star Spangled Banner” moved easily to my lips, “the perilous fight”, “the bombs bursting in air”, “the hope through the night that our flag was still there”. It is a military song, really, as most national anthems are.

The military is an honor-bound institution. Songs of bravery and sacrifice cast honor on the troops. They rally the citizens in support of the troops. The Independence Day ceremonies also did that this year, in Marawi, in Manila, and across the nation.

Hmmmmm. Why is honor so important?

It’s because a group of people cannot fight without it. It’s a contract between souls, a bonding of brothers, and in the modern world, sisters. Honor is the foundation for trust, and for compassion, and for courage. It is the ‘inside stuff” that motivates us to do that which is hard, to be disciplined, to work as a team, and to bear the burdens and pains of battle.

Let me ask a question. For the lessons we can extract . . .

Can you imagine fighting in a military unit along side of House Speaker Alvarez, or Justice Secretary Aguirre, or Solicitor General Calida? Can you imagine Senators Pimentel or  Sotto or Poe or Angara charging up the hill with you to take out a an enemy machine gun nest?

Do you think they would be in front of you, or behind? Would they die to save you, do you figure?

Well, I don’t know, really, I don’t.

But I do know that to have the military kind of honor, you have to find, express, and believe in an allegiance to something bigger than your own well-being. Bigger than family. In nations that have more than one religion, it has to be bigger than faith.

Well, not bigger, maybe. But GREAT BIG, y’know?

And it has to be bigger than any single person in the nation. No matter his job.

It often seems to me that a lot of Filipinos do not have that bigger honor, the military kind, the national kind. They are caught up in the day to day struggles of poverty or subsistence and all their efforts have gotten them nothing but frustration. So they’ve never experienced national honor directly. A lot of ‘leaders’ also don’t have it, it seems to me. They are caught up in the dog-eat-dog world of conquest and self-service, negotiating all day to be popular and seen as a winner.

They can’t relate to military or national honor. It’s in their way.

Marawi certainly calls for the military kind of honor. It’s a dangerous, bloody fight. It is for a good cause, to rid the region of ruthless killers. Even civilians ought to connect with that, with what the troops are doing. Do you feel it, I wonder? Do you feel the heartache of people dying for you? Do your neighbors?

I actually think the people I’ve pointed to do have honor, but it seems to be an honor based on loyalty to a personality over loyalty to a nation. It is the kind of honor that is common in non-democratic states where power is the transmission line for authority down from the top, and honor is found in obeying those above and squashing those below who get out of line.

The problem is, the Philippines is a democracy, so authoritarian honor ends up being inconsistent with the kind of honor the military uses, or the kind of honor expressed well in the law of the land, the Constitution. This is the kind of honor that promotes trust, compassion, and courage. It is the kind of honor the National Anthems of both the US and Philippines extol.

Finding it is easy if one opens oneself up to the pain of those who have lost lives in the battle. They fulfilled our trust, didn’t they?  They were compassionate enough to serve on our behalf, they were courageous enough to fight and die for us.

How on God’s glorious earth can we not return that trust, compassion, and courage?

How can we not rise above the smallness of self-indulgence to grant them honor?

Do Alvarez, Aguirre, Calida, Sotto, Poe, and Angara grant them honor, do you think, based on how they handle their service to the nation?

I wonder.

I really do.

But think about it.

You, your family, your neighbors, and all your fellow citizens from Batanes to Sulu are in this huge national foxhole together. Honor is what allows us to get along together in the Philippines, for each other. To be disciplined. To be decent. To work hard. To care about the other guy. It allows us to survive. And if we think well enough, to thrive.

And consider this. Consider this.

The people are depending on you. All of them. The nation is depending on you.

Are you up to it?


35 Responses to “Honor. Are you up to it?”

    • Thanks for the expression of confidence, Glicerio. Perhaps it will catch on with others in government who have been playing it safe.

      • popoy says:

        ” As I watched a video of the Independence Day flag-raising ceremony in Marawi with planes flying over the battle zone in the background, the American “Star Spangled Banner” moved easily to my lips, “the perilous fight”, “the bombs bursting in air”, “the hope through the night that our flag was still there”. It is a military song, really, as most national anthems are.”

        Go for this link, FINISH watching, feel your hairs stand at attention and for the first time maybe your soul tells you what it is to be in patriotic euphoria.

  2. Sup says:

    ”The problem is, the Philippines is a democracy”
    Democrazy…….It is an honor to serve you is what they say after being elected…
    After that the good ones getting ridiculed, even jailed and the bad ones getting only applause even if the things they do is stupid/ senseless/useless and lawless

    Indeed let’s hope and pray the AFP will keep their dignity and independence in these trying times.

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. From the Supreme Court hearings on the declaration of martial law, it is apparent that there are several real issues. Such as:

    o Are invasion and rebellion the only reasons for martial law? What about public safety?
    o Is the Marawi crisis a rebellion or not?
    o What is the definition of rebellion? Must it occur in several places simultaneously and not just one place?
    o Is martial law necessary? Should it not be a measure of last resort?
    o Did the President decide on his own against the advice of his national security advisers?
    o Was the declaration based on false news?
    o Should the declaration have been confined to Lanao del Sur and del Norte and not the whole of Mindanao?
    o Should Congress have convened in joint session?

    2. On the last question, Alvarez and Pimentel were of the opinion that it was not necessary. And Sotto, Poe, and Angara voted on the Senate resolution to support the martial law decision.

    2.1. Calida is now defending the decision before the High Court, initially resorting to technicalities to have the martial law petitions dismissed.
    2.2. And Aguirre has been busy waving an old photo of Senators Aquino and Trillanes together with Representative Alejano, insinuating that these three had something to do with the crisis. Oh, dear.

    3. It is clear, from the number of issues that have been raised before the Supreme Court, that Congress was derelict in its duty to scrutinize the martial law declaration. And it is also clear that Calida would, if he could, also prevent judicial scrutiny of the declaration. As for Aguirre, it is clear – if I may be permitted an ad hominem — that his toupee hides insectile antennae that make him partial to baseless conspiracy theories.

    • “Are invasion and rebellion the only reasons for martial law? What about public safety”?

      I think the Human Security Act of 2007 covers that.


      Lots of good stuff in this Act.

      Sec. 47. Penalty for Furnishing False Evidence, Forged Document, or Spurious Evidence. – The penalty of twelve (12) years and one day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment shall be imposed upon any person who knowingly furnishes false testimony, forged document or spurious evidence in any investigation or hearing under this Act.

      Can this be used against Aguirre?

      Sec. 53. Anti-Terrorism Council. – An Anti-Terrorism Council, hereinafter referred to, for brevity, as the “Council,” is hereby created. The members of the Council are: (1) the Executive Secretary, who shall be its Chairperson; (2) the Secretary of Justice, who shall be its Vice Chairperson; and (3) the Secretary of Foreign Affairs; (4) the Secretary of National Defense; (5) the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government; (6) the Secretary of Finance; and (7) the National Security Advisor, as its other members.

      Did anybody here heard of an Anti-Terrorism Council convening?

  4. popoy says:

    As I read this critique lots of thoughts swished by my mental screen, each inviting a write up. A fox hole can not by a stretch be magnified into a SINKHOLE. Soldiers would be at a loss if they find themselves fighting in sinkholes created by the failings and inadequacies of man. HONOR is the father of SACRIFICE. Sacrifice is a GIFT each soldier gives to his country. LIFE is the ultimate gift which a soldier has sworn to give to his country, knowingly, willingly he may even deny his family. There is NO HONOR for the skill and the GREED in the slow process of artfully creating sinkholes. To die fighting in a sinkhole is the ultimate sacrifice for a soldier deserving perhaps God’s Medal of Honor. To die in a sinkhole excruciates the soul. To die in a sink hole excruciates the soul before Nirvana. To die in a foxhole begins the first step that leads to Heaven.

  5. Roman senators were also oligarchs. But you did not have much of a chance at a political career in ancient Rome without having been at war first. The Roman Senate was reserved for men over 30, senex meant old man, the young men from good families went to battle then ran for Senate later on.

    Honor is a lot about skin in the game. You don’t sacrifice young men’s lives as easily if you know how it is out there on the field of battle. I have a lot of respect for those down there in Marawi now – including the press people, and the humanitarian groups going to the bakwit camps around Marawi.

    The reports coming from the frontlines by Jamela Aisha Alindogan (Al-Jazeera), Chiara Zambrano and Froilan Gallardo show the stark realities of Marawi. There are more like them, and on the other side there are those like the ever-stupid Sotto who want to send anti-Martial Law people down to Marawi. There is also the ever-shameless Bato who dances Zumba with his cops while soldiers die in Marawi. There is one who always had others kill for him who is missing now. Probably because he finally got caught in a game where he is not a sure winner anymore? Having poor people killed was way to easy.

    • Bam. Well put. I do think the PH oligarch would do a better job of running the nation than assorted boxers and actors and mayors. Give them a cut of a giant pool of money that is added to each time another family earns its way out of poverty. Then move to middle class goals.

    • popoy says:

      The New Yorker magazine (May 29, 2017, p.36) put it in its pages. “Marines see themselves as some kind of a warrior caste. Spartans who live by a code of loyalty, toughness under fire and savagery in battle. The Marine Corps is much smaller than the Army. Its budgets are slimmer and the equipment sometimes antiquated, and its fighters are often pitched into terrible conditions. Their scant resources are a source of pride.” The US Marines and the Philippine Marines, do they differ much from its other in valor and honor? The soldier, God’s soldier no matter what their unit’s nomenclatures everywhere are the same in the way they live and die HONORABLE.

      I will not post these IF ONLY I have come across those of ours.

      • popoy says:

        From the same issue of New Yorker Magazine, I read that the present US Secretary of Defense is a retired Marine. He is called the Warrior Monk, the Commander-In-Chief uses his nickname Mad Dog. Early in the Iraq War “he met with local leaders and told them, ‘I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I am pleading with you, with tears in my eyes, if you fuck with me, I will kill you all’. Friends say, his library contains thousands of books.”

        • popoy says:

          my last posting in this thread as vicarious HONOR for our fallen soldiers in Marawi.

          And the Hunter Home from the Hill

          Words by R.L. Stevenson, Music & additional words by Tom Lewis
          (Recorded by Tom Lewis on Surfacing!)

          The lights here burn brightly, the welcome is warm,
          And this is a haven from many’s the storm,
          A poet once said: “You can never go home.”;
          But now the wind’s blowing chill,

          Home is the sailor home from sea,
          and the hunter home from the hill.
          So lay out a new course, North, South, East or West,
          Make weigh your anchor, sail on your last quest,
          Steer for the one port you’re sure to find rest,
          Lay alongside with all skill,

          Home is the sailor home from sea,
          and the hunter home from the hill.
          Under the wide and the bright starry sky,
          Dig me a grave, there let me lie,

          Glad did I live and gladly I die,
          I lay me down with a will,
          And this be the verse that you ‘grave for me:
          Here he’s at rest where he wanted to be,
          Home is the sailor home from sea,
          and the hunter home from the hill.

  6. Maybe every Filipino have to go beyond rote method and really connect (feel) to what they are saying when they recite the national pledges. Honor is built-in in both of them, we just need to feel it and live it.

    Patriot’s Oath

    Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas,
    aking lupang sinilangan,
    tahanan ng aking lahi;
    kinukupkop ako at tinutulungang
    maging malakas, masipag at marangal.
    Dahil mahal ko ang Pilipinas,
    diringgin ko ang payo
    ng aking magulang,
    susundin ko ang tungkulin
    ng mamamayang makabayan:
    naglilingkod, nag-aaral at nagdarasal
    nang buong katapatan.
    Iaalay ko ang aking buhay,
    pangarap, pagsisikap
    sa bansang Pilipinas.

    (I love the Philippines.
    It is the land of my birth;
    It is the home of my people.
    It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
    In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
    I will obey the rules of my school;
    I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
    I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully
    I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, and in deed.)


    Pledge of Allegiance

    Ako ay Pilipino
    Buong katapatang nanunumpa
    Sa watawat ng Pilipinas
    At sa bansang kanyang sinasagisag
    Na may dangal, katarungan at kalayaan
    Na pinakikilos ng sambayanang
    Makakalikasan at

    (I am a Filipino
    I pledge my allegiance
    To the flag of the Philippines
    And to the country it represents
    With honor, justice and freedom
    Put in motion by one Nation
    For God
    for the People,
    for Nature and
    for the Country.)


    • sonny says:

      JP, so glad you checked this in. We join you and your sentiment:

      “Besides, the AFP is the least absurd of all institutions at the moment.” — Irineo

      I am one, I dearly hope among many many Filipinos, willing to start with this idea and retrofit our patriotism and nationhood into the lives and memory of the Filipino heroes known and unknown that were spent, spilled and dedicated to that most intangible paste we call our national honor.

  7. jamesb says:

    Duterte’s gerontocracy
    Political instability
    Social deprivation
    Lack of education
    Lack of motivation
    Lack of innovation
    Lack of competition
    100 year gap

    “Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not knowing stuff?
    “I’m not one of those fancy Harvard heart surgeons. I’m just an unlicensed plumber with a dream and I’d like to cut your chest open.”
    The fact that the crowd cheers only adds to the portents of doom”
    Tina Fey

    • popoy says:

      I beg to differ as I like others to also differ from what I see and believe.
      I eat my cake and do no more. If God gifted me with beauty and talent to entertain
      then let me no other person be. Tina Fey and others were given beauty and brains
      to entertain MAY BE. And humble she should be to know how to make them useful
      or useless to others.

      If quoted correctly, let’s examine her genius.

      ““Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not knowing stuff?
      “I’m not one of those fancy Harvard heart surgeons. I’m just an unlicensed plumber with a dream and I’d like to cut your chest open.”
      The fact that the crowd cheers only adds to the portents of doom”

      Politics and prostitution are not the same, are not jobs. Virtue has nothing to do with experience or lack of it. To denigrate is to abominate wit. Heart surgeons, Harvard or Yale or UP-PGH are NO fancies toying with the lives of patients; licensed or unlicensed plumber deserved to be left alone with their dream. Be a “thing of beauty and “a joy forever” not their opposites.

      Beauty and talent blossoms and stands not on the heads of dirt and ugliness lest it becomes dirtier and uglier. In USA, Hollywood and Harvard have their God given purposes; so are actors and plumbers who should mind their own business. In any forest, beautiful birds and ugly beast have their own God given territories. Yes, “no man is an island” but no island kicks and punch other islands; islands verdant or desolate, stay put.

      LONG LONG AGO: It remains politically correct to hear and expect action from shouts of the innocents: “Kung hindi ako kikibo, sino ang kikibo? HUWAG MATAKOT: MAKIBAKA. SIGAW NG BAYAN: HIMAGSIKAN . When the time comes, when it is time it will just happen. Actors and surgeons, plumbers and engineers, toothless and unwashed, rich and poor, far and wide will gel as one. Come hell or high water it will come without the pious and the righteous blabbering for dollars or whatever.

  8. arlene says:

    Been reading of lot of this subject on social media. I won’t make any comment except to say “Good morning Joeam”.

  9. jamesb says:

    Autocrats are fake leaders, akin to addicts chasing power and status.

    Obsessive/addictive personality
    Inferiority complex/low self-esteem
    Jekyll & hyde – mood changes
    Loner/secretive – distrustful of others
    Childish/immature behaviour
    Needs ‘victims’ to control/bully
    Cannot tolerate criticism, or being mocked.
    Image is everything.

    It invariably gets worse with age and when under pressure, or when their image is threatened and the real truth is exposed.

    The root cause lies in deep-rooted anger, the seeds of which are sown in childhood and youth, be it through parental neglect, sexual abuse, and/or bullying. To them everyday is payback, often subconsciously, to the point that they cannot function without adulation for dr jekyll and sadism for mr hyde.

    Duterte was a small town autocrat all his life who has no conception of large country democracy, and you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, and a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

    To Lead – meanings

    To be in front – vision
    To chart the course – strategy
    To provide the example – inspire
    To set the pace – motivate
    To select the best – team
    To win – results

    Great leaders are transformational, not situational, and focus on the big picture rather than become involved in operational detail and are transactional. Leaders delegate and thereby maintain a breadth of oversight, rather than suffering tunnel vision, or pursuing singular obsessions.

    A leader gives power to people, whilst an autocrat seeks power over people.

    A leader acts with honor, whilst an autocrat operats with cowardice, hiding behind a badge of office – all mouth and no backbone.

  10. jamesb says:

    The first casualty of war is the truth, the second is debate, the third is freedom, and the fourth is any chance of peace, progress, and prosperity.

    “It is never smart, even in a strong democracy, to declare some debate off limits. In a weak democracy it is catastrophic”
    Naomi Wolf

    “In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the clouds of confusion. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit” (creeping dictatorship)
    Naomi Wolf

    “The 10 steps towards authoritarian rule

    1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy – (often exaggerated or imaginary.)
    2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
    3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
    4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
    5. Harass citizens’ groups. Create a climate of fear
    6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
    7. Target key individuals. Make an example of them.
    8. Control the press. Use disinformation
    9. Cast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason.
    10. Subvert the rule of law.”
    Naomi wolf

  11. edgar lores says:

    1. There is a poem – “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” by Richard Lovelace – that I used to recite in my youth.

    2. It goes:

    Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
    That from the nunnery
    Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
    To war and arms I fly.

    True, a new mistress now I chase,
    The first foe in the field;
    And with a stronger faith embrace
    A sword, a horse, a shield.

    Yet this inconstancy is such
    As thou too shalt adore;
    I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
    Loved I not Honour more.

    3. Very briefly, the speaker of the poem is a soldier addressing his beloved mistress and bidding her farewell as he goes to war. The central conceit is that, from embracing her “chaste breast,” he now embraces a new mistress, “the first foe in the field.”

    4. WTF?

    5. In the last stanza, he explains that he is not being faithless. In fact, his Love is founded on Honor. Without Honor, he claims he would not be able to Love her.

    5.1. If one did not have Honor, would one be able to Love?

    5.2. I do not think so. For to love is to care, and to truly care one must have the honor to sustain that care.

    5.3. All pledges of Love are naught without that integrity, that nobility of character, enshrined in that one word — Honor.

    5.4. To honor is to respect.

    6. And so we are led to wonder whether these leaders have a love for country. If they do not exhibit a sufficient measure of the honor of soldiers — who in the words of Lincoln have given or are willing to give “the last full measure of devotion“ – then they are without Love and without Honor.

    • You have once again put a laser of clarity to the ramblings of the article. Honor is how we, inside, think of and care for others. One of the ‘others’ is the nation. I frankly don’t know how Senator Angara thinks he is helping the nation. I suspect his idea of nation is based on what he gets, not what he gives. Others are even worse.

  12. ISK says:

    @ Sir Edgar on Open Discussion #4 (May 17, 2017)

    “There might be a real problem in the external world but most of the time the real problem is in our thinking.” – Edgar Lores
    TSH is really a gift to wanderers like me, I’m learning a lot.

    Maraming Salamat po at kay Mang Pepe/joeam)

  13. NHerrera says:

    Current blog topic on honor and the comments — enjoyed the reading up to this point. Thank you.

    • NHerrera says:


      Alvarez, Aguirre, Sotto, et al. — may your species and genes end with you and not continue to debase the country of those good officers and soldiers of the AFP and others, similarly minded, and their honorable descendants.

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