Race to the bottom: the United States vs the Philippines


Stalin. What allows such men to rise? In 2018!

By Joe America

People point again and again to the parallels between the presidents of the United States and Philippines. Overbearing autocrats, womanizers, rude language, abrupt knee jerk decisions, unable to bear criticism or media reports they don’t like. Lashing out at critics. “Destabilization plot!” Lies, insults, and inconsistencies. Concocting enemies out of thin air and blaming everyone but themselves for mistakes. Gadding about in jets to far off hideaways rather than working at the office studying laws and policy papers.

Truly it is uncanny.

And yet, these two people were elected and retain rabid followings through thick and thin. It is rather terrifying that both leaders are, in some respects, a reflection of their nations, and the thinking and moods of the electorates in the US and Philippines.

This is what we want to explore in this article. Why has the most advanced nation on the planet gone hostile, self-centered, and irrational? Why are Americans and Filipinos both on the same path to the bottom? What happened to drive America, a beacon of democratic idealism (and occasionally hegemonic demonism) to a fall from grace internationally, and a fall in civility and respect for human rights?

For sure President Trump WON the election. He did. It is undeniable. If Russia pushed him the final few yards, as China may have pushed Duterte, it was a gullible, self-absorbed, or otherwise unseeing, unreasonable, some would say dumb, electorate that voted for the guy. As the great Filipino masses voted for Duterte and STILL vote for him in the polls.

Does the US have a poverty problem? Is the middle class fed up? Why the anger toward Muslims and immigrants? This is the nation that wrote the book on “huddled masses”, why is it suddenly “give us your intelligent, skilled people, or keep ’em yourself!” Should the Statue of Liberty be replaced with a giant replica of a segment of the proposed Great Mexican Wall?


We know that long-term poverty in the Philippines drives much of what happens in politics, from electing boxers and movie stars to accepting that the corrupt are a part of the elite, yet holding bitterness toward these privileged people who preach one thing but provide no help at all to the poor.

Populists reign because knowledge doesn’t seem to work.

Now populism is driving US politics. Not principle. Is poverty the reason?

The answer seems to be no. The poverty rate has been the same in the US since 1965, ranging between 10% to 15% of the population. It went up during the Bush years, but edged down a bit during the Obama years. Not much has changed. It may be a part of the bed of discontent, but it is not the CAUSE for a deterioration in values and incivility.

The same can be said about jobs. America has jobs, operating almost at full employment during recent years.

Stagnation in the working class

The difference between poverty and stagnation is that the poor have already lost hope and those who are going nowhere are in the process of losing it. The poor are resigned and bitter, the stagnant are angry and striking out.

We witnessed this in the Trump election where the economically battered “rust belt” in the central/eastern states carried the election for him. And the loss of hope and opportunity would seem to provide the basis for a lack of confidence and appreciation in the American dream, as promoted by liberal thinkers.

Plus, America seems to have become murderous, with many of the deeds done by people who originated in foreign lands. Worry and airport security checks are the style of the day. Americans have felt threatened by Muslim extremists for many years and are likely fed up with the idea of being a target . . .  yet are asked to accept refugees.

So stagnation . . . or loss of the ‘American dream’ . . . seems a more likely culprit than poverty leading to the election of an extremist to the White House.

The irony is that the Trump Administration’s immigration program, centered on skill-based immigration, may push stagnated workers further down the totem pole of opportunity.

But still, but still. This is not much different than in the past. Worker opportunities have cycled up and down for decades. It did not sacrifice the American dream or ideals. It did not get extremists elected.

There is something more ‘causal’, more direct, more comprehensive and pernicious that has led both nations into the pits of civility.

I propose that it is social media. That is the common cause we are looking for.

You may feel deflated that this is not the profound reason you were expecting. But read on.

Social Media

The profit objectives and amoral engagement of a few giant corporations have re-defined the way we learn and speak, and even reset our emotional buttons.

Let me lean heavily on an article recently published in Wired, a magazine that predominantly covers technology. It has organized a lot of study and thoughts about social media platforms and, in a recent article, it punches us right in the face with them. Here’s the link to the full article: Wired. It’s the (Democracy-poisoning) golden age of free speech. I’ll pull out some pithy excerpts to illustrate how the US and Philippines are EXACTLY the same.

First, lets set the scene, how technology has drawn us to a very few corporate platforms and redefined how we get and express ideas:

“Here’s how this golden age of speech actually works: In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructures. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.”

So that is good news and bad news. Good news in that there are only a few platforms. Bad news in that they are global, hugely profitable, and powerful in many dimensions.

But they are not the entire problem. WE are a large part of the problem. Our emotional neediness makes us as pliable as electronic puppets.

“Humans are a social species, equipped with few defenses against the natural world beyond our ability to acquire knowledge and stay in groups that work together. We are particularly susceptible to glimmers of novelty, messages of affirmation and belonging, and messages of outrage toward perceived enemies. These kinds of messages are to human community what salt, sugar, and fat are to the human appetite. And Facebook gorges us on them – in what the company’s first president, Sean Parker, recently called ‘a social-validation feedback loop.’“

Did you catch the key phrase that allows us to see the US and Philippines as EXACTLY the same?

“ . . . outrage toward perceived enemies . . .”

Hillary Clinton, a capable, experienced, intelligent, hard-working, principled, earnest woman was painted as a conniving witch. She was a proxy for Democrats. Mar Roxas, a capable, experienced, intelligent, hard-working, principled, earnest man was painted as an incompetent elite. He was a proxy for the elite.

It was so simple, so very, very simple. We were not people. We were labels and numbers to be manipulated and we had no idea what was going on.

“Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in – but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s back.”

“The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out. They look like epidemics of disinformation, meant to undercut the credibility of valid information sources. They look like bot-fueled campaigns of trolling and distraction, or piecemeal leaks of hacked materials, meant to swamp the attention of traditional media.”

It is no accident that readership of lengthy blogs is down and likes for short, pithy messages are up. In a way, this blog, and this article, are dinosaurs of media and message.

The winners in the modern debate are the unprincipled, the liars, the manipulators. The people who do NOT have allegiance to what the constitution . . . or even bible . . . represent.

“During the 2016 presidential election, . . . the Trump campaign used so-called dark posts – non-public posts targeted at a specific audience – to discourage African Americans from voting in battleground states. The Clinton campaign could scarcely even monitor these messages, let alone directly counter them. . . . The campaign did it cheaply, with Facebook staffers assisting right there in the office, as the tech company does for most large advertisers and political campaigns.”

We know that Facebook worked directly with the Duterte camp as well. They separated themselves from the messages and motives and dealt strictly with the technology and numbers.

Where is this going?

“Creating a knowledgeable public requires at least some workable signals that distinguish truth from falsehood. Fostering a healthy, rational, and informed debate in a mass society requires mechanisms that elevate opposing viewpoints, preferably their best versions. To be clear, no public sphere has ever fully achieved these ideal conditions – but at least they were ideals to fail from. Today’s engagement algorithms, by contrast, espouse no ideals about a healthy public sphere.”

The world has gone amoral. Standards of decency and respect have been thrown out the window, baby, bath and bubbles. This is not just a POLITICAL event, it is social and it is psychological. Racism and Christianity, murders and Catholicism, can exist side by side. Legitimately.

What needs to be done?

“There are few solutions to the problems of digital discourse that don’t involve huge trade-offs – and those are not choices for Mark Zukerberg [Facebook] alone to make. These are deeply political decisions. In the 20th century, the US passed laws that outlawed lead in paint and gasoline, that defined how much privacy a landlod needs to give his tenants, and that determined how much a phone company can surveil its customers. We can decide how we want to handle digital surveilance, attention channeling, harassment, data collection, and algorithmic decisionmaking. We just need to start the discussion. Now.

It will take people of strength and character to get it done.

Let me suggest something radical to get the discussion started. I propose that, in the Philippines, Senator Binay has a better chance of getting it done than Senator Poe or Senator Aquino, who are confined by their labels.


101 Responses to “Race to the bottom: the United States vs the Philippines”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Thanks Joe and Andrew for the suggesting the topic.

    • That Wired article came out at exactly the right time. Although the US and Philippines are vastly different culturally, economically, socially, and psychologically, they are both susceptible to new forms of ‘truth’, morality, and communication.

      • Sup says:

        So true.


        A Filipina woman is looking where to eat in an mall with her boyfriend from USA.
        They stop in front of an restaurant looking at the meals..They both see something they like.
        So they enter the small restaurant and wait in line to order their food..
        Inside the restaurant they still read the menu board on the wall.
        The USA guy wanted to order chicken satay….It was inside and outside the restaurant on the menu boards.
        When the cashier wanted to take their orders the Guy asked the chicken Satay…The cashier told him ‘not available sir’. ( Nothing mentioned inside and outside on the menu boards it would not be available)
        So the USA guy turned around and while walking outside again telling the restaurant staff ‘thanks for wasting my time..never again here’
        Outside his girlfriend got angry with him..He could not say that..He should have said ‘OK, Salamat, Next time maybe…
        I guess this little story tells a lot about the different cultures.
        Trump worst surveys ever, Duterte best surveys ever……

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Re: Stalin photo
    Remove the mustache and he looks like Ronald Reagan in that photo.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Lance downplayed social media and maybe still downplaying it, reasonable rebuttal notwithstanding.

    But Socmed did it for Obama.
    A tool or a weapon is as good as its user.

    I see everyone has cellphones, people dare display thrm even with do many snatchers and robbers around.

    I saw Bill’s reply to Lance about Rappler’s target audience.
    For any article, some go straight to the comment sections and that is where the misinformation comes from, sort of blind leading the blind.

    • I think without question, social media are material. Just look where people’s noses are at a restaurant before the food arrives. Not sniffing the orchids, but locked into the cell phone.

    • karl,

      Yes Obama used social media perfectly. My point re social media with Trump is based on where he won electorally (he didn’t win the popular vote) folks in the Rust Belt are less social media savvy, they listen to Talk Radio (then FOX news).

      Over there, yes Filipinos like fb, but the majority of Filipinos also still listen to Talk Radio. With how slow internet connection is over there (hell Joe can’t even watch videos, and complains regularly about his connection), so yeah social media played a role amongst city folks or BPO workers or even OFWs with internet access, but the majority of DU30 voters (the majority of the Philippines),

      i’m sure were enlivened via Talk Shows (or TV, or just regular neighborhood chatter) , not so much social media. You have to think in terms of how social media is in the providences and boondocks, karl (not the city). That is my point.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Plus the command votes in the provinces is still prevalent.
        The city is population heavy and that means more voters, Presidents(nowadays) always thank Cebu because that place is Vote rich.

      • karlgarcia says:

        In a way social media is used as a tool for command votes in the city and the old fashioned way in the provinces.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Nancy Binay does not look and act like an elite.

    I don’t know if Politico site is trust worthy, but I saw this at Bandera written in the vernacular.


    She was not offended at all, according to her for being mistaken as a maid. I think that is one advantage, she does her own chores, (hands on) and I see that she is willing to learn.

    • NHerrera says:

      There is a learning thing here. For Senator Nancy Binay (myself included). Compare that confirmed truthful trivia news with a Mocha Uson behavior. Nancy Binay has ways to go and is far far from reaching a level of incompetence that Uson has methinks. Thanks for the read, karl.

    • Sabtang Basco says:

      Nancy Binay beauty is called Benatonic Beauty to borrow the phrase from Pareng Ulo who is the only USMC Filipino-American in San Diego training SEALS in demolition and free-diving. Unbelievable? You better. We go all the way back to Philippine Politics dot com. He coined “Benatonic Beauty” from Cebu word “Benatonan” which is “Maid” or “Househelp” in English.

      I say, Karl, Nancy Binay and Mocha Uson are the looks of Filipinos not Megan Young and that German Miss Universe from Philippines.

      In beauty contest Filipinos go for non-Filipino looking. But in politics always trust BENATONIC BEAUTY because they always win they sit in the most influential cabinet position like Leila de Lima in the extreme and Gloria Arroyo in the middle. Of course, they are all cute and prettiful.

      I love Filipinas. I do not love German and American looking Miss Universe. And do not forget that import from New Zealand and Canada. The Sinulog is over in Cebu. Check out who won Miss Sinulog contest they are always white with foreign last names.

      If you have last names listed in this link, here: https://coconuts.co/manila/features/25-filipino-surnames-will-make-you-laugh/ DO NOT EVEN BOTHER TO COMPETE IN BEAUTY CONTESTS ….

    • Sabtang Basco says:

      Oh … Karl, here is how Filipinos look at Filipinos married to a white with mestizo children.
      A Filipina went “home” to Philippines (actually, her home is in America but still call Philippines “home”). She was with her future-WoWoWiee looking children, you know, blonde hair blue eyes white skin. When one of her children wandered at SM the security guard told her, “Hoy, bantay ka ma-igi sa mga ALAGA mo!”

      I feel like throwing a sucker punch on that guard. How dare!

  5. NHerrera says:


    With, say, 10 social media platforms vying for attention and influence, each — though not perfect in its action — through its Board, management and editors, spends some measure of efforts to go for the truth as has been traditional. So the common denominator for the truth is high, and the consumers at large sense this.

    With millions of social media outlets, controlled only by a phone, computer and fingers to hit the keyboard, there are no Board, management, editors to control the truth or falsity of what is being thrown. The common denominator for truth is then very low — and as has been noted in the blog, the past pace of modern life such as it is, discourages going over lengthy messages beyond a twitter length. And that low level truth or fake news becomes the communication winner.

    The sad fact is that the tools so employed — fake news writing and associated trolling efforts — cannot be employed by the good guys without being labeled as bad guys themselves. Sort of like not being able to use rifles and guns, only the swords..

    • JohnD says:

      I see this as a great opportunity. I agree that is the problem. So, what do we about it, knowing we cannot use the same tactic. Facebook will be introducing a user based ranking system. Whether that will work to filter out the most true stories remains to be seen. But its a step. I relied on snopes for years as a filter to see if some claim is true. There are data mining software out there that could be customized to rank the probability of truth. But truth is only half the effort, the actionability of news can also be just as destructive. If news is true and people act negatively, that’s just as bad. News could be fake but people’s reactions could be noble.What will we say if Trump apologized sincerely(fake of course) and people empathized and vehemently passed serious laws with extreme penalties including activating the military to fight international money laundering?

  6. manangbok says:

    “Question: Why are Americans and Filipinos both on the same path to the bottom? Answers: 1. Poverty, 2. Stagnation in the Working Class, 3. Social Media.”

    Other possible answers:
    1. People who never learned their history lessons. In Germany (Hi Mr. Irineo! 🙂 ), children were taught about the holocaust and Nazism is portrayed as bad period. In the US, how do you teach the Civil War to your children, especially children from the Confederate South? In the Philippines, we have never learned that Martial Law is bad period — there were always “two sides of the story” as my Ilokano uncle was wont to say, “Ukininam dagiti Tagalog” (these are bad words, by the way, but a direct quote)
    2. Parents who love their children but do not care about their fellow men and women’s children. The tyranny of genetics. (Trump=Kushner/Ivanka, Duterte=Davao/mafia family, Filipinos and their political dynasties, Americans who favor their white cousins to the detriment of their black/Latino/colored neighbors.
    3. People who believe that survival is a zero-sum game. You have interpreted Game Theory the wrong ways guys. Elinor Ostrom would disapprove (and she has a right to do so as she won the Nobel Prize in Ecomomics) — http://evonomics.com/tragedy-of-the-commons-elinor-ostrom/
    4. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. People, these 2 monsters approve of Stalin and Mao Zedong’s genocides (even if it’s in theory, it’s still wrong) — and you admire them???? Hello!!!! Satan has returned and I even know what that devil looks like.

    • chemrock says:

      The Japanese revised their atrocities in their history books. But the new generation seemed OK. How come?

    • NHerrera says:

      An interesting article by the author, an evolutionary biologist, David Sloan Wilson. Wilson agrees with Elinor Ostrom — a 2009 a Nobel Economic Prize Awardee — that the tragedy of the Commons may be avoided if Core Design Principles and 8 Conditions are met in a group with common interest. I can see this in a University with the Board and Faculty members agreeing to these Conditions to see about the common resources of the University. However in a larger context, such as a country, this may generally be difficult, except in countries such as Japan or Germany.

      In fact, Wilson notes that such mechanism may not work for a “disadvantaged” group.

      Nevertheless, it is of academic interest, and applies well if Conditions enumerated by Ostrom are met.

      (By the way, post John Nash, Game Theory is generally accepted or known now not only as a zero-sum game, the latter is, in fact, only a limiting case.)

  7. JohnD says:

    I think Filipinos and Americans are in a twilight. The times are ambiguous and we crave acceptable order. We can accept war and remain “moral” because we understand war. People die, people sacrifice, people suffer, some become heroes, some become rich, people are born. But our times are confusing. People work hard and live uninteresting lives. Young kids sing a song, show how to do make up, gather people together and they become billionaires. Not just millionaires, but billionaires. Some corporations make more money in a year than the annual budget of the Philippines. Information flow is abundant, convincing, misleading and cannot be trusted. The planet is dying, food is tainted and you cannot trust the water that flows down the mountain that your parents used to drink. Never mind trying to understand medical care, no trust there. So, we crave the promise of comprehensible order. Consequences be damned. But our times are truly interesting. You can stop a war to get peace. You can deploy more police to stop drugs but nothing will create order from the problems I mentioned above. We trust nothing and stopping a war or the influx of drugs or the flow if immigrants will not make you trust more. Until society begins to trust, morality will wither. It will be interesting to see what the people in Philippine and American society will be their new cornerstone of order. Historically, before trust was the anchor, it was deterrence, you don’t attack another on the street because he had his sword or he had his small army. It seems people are warming to that again. I just hope people will remember the problems that came with that thinking. Another historical anchor was isolation. You simply stayed away from large concentrations of people. With the internet, that is also possible despite 7+ billion people. For the near future, I think the new anchor will be a combination of isolation and deterrence through wealth accumulation. Clans will form for societal interaction and protection not necessarily from violent attack but from financial predation. Within these clans members will find trust and order. All this talk of federalism and autonomous regions in the Philippines will cater to clans.

  8. chemrock says:

    When comprehension is impossible, turn to Faith.
    The underlying cause is Satan is rising.

    For those who believe in science, it could be something else that’s changing the DNA of humans. Human beings will not be wiped off by climate change or nuclear wars. The demise of humans will be electro magnetic fields. EMF is killing us softly. EMF waves traverse through concrete walls, there is no running away from it. Electronic technology and all these gadgets that has become an indispensable part of our body, is killing us. EMF invades our body and cause damage at the cellular level. Slowly but surely our DNA is getting hit. Decades ago, autuism. Decades autuism was like 1 out of 100,000. Now it’s about 1 out of 30,000. A US report indicates autism rates shot up 78% in the last decade.

    I’m now doing some work involving retail electricity. Invariably, this involves smart meters. I’m the kind of guy who just want to learn more than what is required for my work. So I researched, and it led me to smart meters and EMF. It’s frightening, guys, and the govt is’nt telling us. Go read your Iphone fine prints. You are’nt even supposed to put ears to phone.

    Human beings are going crazy is the answer.

    • chemrock says:

      EMF is Bill of Oz’s Wolbachia bacteria. It’s inside us.

    • NHerrera says:

      OK. Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg combined is the culprit. (Thank goodness, I am somewhat hard of hearing, I just use texting on my old reliable Nokia 630, on vibration mode — too cheap to get a hearing aid; and use laptop at home.) Your post brings to mind too the previous “zombie” blog of Joe. 🙂

    • LOL! I agree with this EMF stuff, chemp! That’s why I always run to the next room when microwaving something. People laugh, but hey i don’t have brain tumor! LOL! (and why I still have a flip phone which I don’t carry on my person, usually in my backpack, never in my pocket near my balls!)

      P.S. – in that book “37th Parallel” , Chuck (an engineer by training) carries around some sort of EMF detector to all the sites he investigates , ie. cattle mutilation, to UFO sitings, etc. and there’s a consistent reading (at a certain level, i forgot), some sort of EMF finger print, that he’s not yet matched with anything.

      But if you can imagine two dead cattle with parts surgically removed (missing), no blood at all, then beeping EMF readings on your gauge, that’s some scary stuff! and it’s still on-going,

      1975! chemp, I gotta feeling you’ll like this book.

      • We’ll all have to move here, chemp! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_National_Radio_Quiet_Zone

        “Reported sufferers of the disorder known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (or EHS) have been making Green Bank their safe-haven. It’s a place to escape from iPads, bluetooth keyboards and garage door remote controls. It’s an escape from the technology that the rest of us wholeheartedly embrace as part of our lives.

        The symptoms of EHS can vary: some people suffer from headaches, sleep problems, heart palpitations; others might experience skin rashes, fatigue or muscle aches. Driving past a mobile phone tower might set someone off, others might be in constant agony from the abundance of WiFi signals bouncing around the air. There’s no standard cause and no standard symptoms, which makes diagnosis difficult.”

  9. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic. apparently after years of denying it, they have conceded it is now a threat more than a boon, as it has become a propaganda platform.


  10. “… in the Philippines, Senator Binay has a better chance of getting it done than Senator Poe or Senator Aquino, who are confined by their labels.”

    Senator Binay had been labeled too. She was voted to the Senate when her family’s reputation was still intact. She came from a dynastic family that is now perceived to be corrupt. As an individual, she is a strong woman and of late, had been making sense in political discourses. She obviously matured into a woman who can make sound decisions and get things done. The question is: Will Filipinos let her?

    • That’s true, there is that label. The topic is social media messing with our minds. She was directly confrontation to government sponsored fake news in Poe’s fake news hearing, which I would take as an anchor position to develop some law about how Facebook and Twitter operate within the Philippines.

      • I get the gist about the social media as root cause but the bigger picture is PH slide to the pits and the proposition that Binay could stop it. Binay could legislate something about it but will Filipinos abide by it? How many times have we seen Filipinos pee infront of a building with a posted sign saying, “Bawal umihi dito?” Some traffic in Manila is created by blatant disregard of existing laws. PH is on a slide mainly because the rule makers are breaking the rules.

        The Pareto principle of “the trivial many and vital few” is in reverse operation in PH. The trivial many are holding democracy hostage by conniving with the “chosen ones.” The vital few are being prosecuted and haunted. Binay has been sending signals recently that she is joining the ranks of the vital few. So far, I have not read the social media trolls riding her back. It is just a matter of time, if she persists, that they will be on her like white on rice.

  11. Bill In Oz says:

    Joe I have been mentally comparing Trump & Duterte during this day to see to what extent they are both racing to the bottom. in th light of the major issues in each country……
    1 Government sponsored campaign of Extra Judicial Killings ( EJK’s ) of drug users
    Philippines since May 2016 ~ 14,000 in a population of 106 million people
    USA since January 2017 – none known or publicised at least.

    Comment : Trump definitely the better option !

    2: Suppression of Islamic Terrorism
    Philippines since May 2016, : ongoing campaign since may 2017 when Islamic terrorists seized Marawi. Many hundreds of them now dead; Marawi recaptured by Philippines military.
    USA under Trump : major increase in military support for wiping out ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Strong vetting & security clearances on all Muslim migration to the USA and on cargo from a number of Muslim countries.
    Comment : Roughly on a par.

    3 : Respect by the President for the legalities in each country:
    Philippines : No respect at all for any of the major constitutional institutions which are beyond Duterte’s control. Examples the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the Vice President etc.
    USA : No attempt at all to deny other institutions of state their independent role & function. The Supreme court functions as it always has; ditto for the senate, state governors, city administrations.

    Comment Trump better by a mile !

    4 : The media :
    Philippines : continuing attempts by major players in the Duterte regime to attempt to control and scare off media institutions such as Enquirer, Rappler, ABS-CNN
    USA : While Rrump has been consistently critical of major media organsations and journalists which criticise him, there has been no attempt to suppress any of them.

    5 : Human Rights
    Philippines : the only people who have any ‘rights’ are the powerful. The rest don’t have any at all so most folk with grievances are silent.
    USA : Trump has made no attempt to restrict the human rights of US citizens or lawful residents. He has attempted to make the Humans rights of foreigners living illegally in the USA or wanting to migrate to the USA, subject to existing USA laws and administrative processes. ( Something that Obama by executive fiat decided to abolish. )

    6 : Relations with China
    Philippines craven appeasement towards China’s ambitious attempts to control the West Philippines seas which under international legal precedent under Philippines law. A huge welcome mat for Chinese economic interests.
    USA : Trump has made it very clear to China that attempts to destroy or undermine USA companies or jobs by trade which involves dumping Chinese products in the USA will result in tariffs. And this policy has been implemented this week with a 20% tariff on Chinese solar panels.
    On the South China sea Trump has continued to assert the long standing policy that this issue needs to be solved via the usual international laws and agreements.

    The picture I am seeing here is not one where Duterte & Trump are even faintly comparable.

    • The comparison is commonly made though, which is why I was asked to do the article. Generally it pertains to a breakdown of civility (lies, cursing, threats, vengeance), possible law-breaking, and authoritarian manner. Your comparison is interesting though. I’d also say Trump is presiding over a roaring economy (well, stocks, for sure), whereas the Philippine economy is hovering, at best.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Joe I agree that there has been a breakdown in civility in USA politics. No argument on that.

        However I think Trump is an old fashioned nationalist American as well as being a very rich one.

        And being an old fashioned nationalist is very politically incorrect ( un-PC is the jargon) among the largely college educated globalist minded folk in the USA, Europe and even here in Oz.. Such people are concentrated in the MSM, colleges and universities. They see Trump as an aberration, a throw back to a past time, a crypto fascist, a mistake, a troglodyte even to be got rid of as soon as possible. even if the methods used are tainted with deceit.

        There is a lack of respect for USA democratic processes inherent in this attitude. A complete lack of awareness that there is another America; an America which is prouder, much more nationalist; an America which is much more motivated by love of country; an America which is much less influenced or burdened by the ideology of ‘One World’ and globalism; an America which is very aware that if Americans do not stand up for themselves no one else in the world will. These Americans still stand by that old saying : “America right or Wrong”.

        Trump has become a figure head for these Americans and he is their president. In many ways he a throwback to an earlier time as reminds me of President Teddy Roosevelt or more recent times Ronald Reagan.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          And I suspect that the very character of the Republican party will change during the course of Trump’s presidency. It may even stop being the party of big business & revert to something like it was back in the 1850-60’s when Lincoln was elected as a Republican party president of of ordinary Americans in the North and West.

        • He plays golf regularly, is overweight, and most of the 61% who don’t like him are very patriotic.

          • My mind gets boggled at all the certainty people possess that what is in their minds is any kind of truth, and if it is not truth, I don’t see how it can be knowledge. So I take a lot of pronouncements with a lot of grains of salt. There are two important measures of presidents, I think. 1. Did they leave the nation in better condition when they left office? and 2. Did they leave Americans in better condition. The criteria are worth arguing, but I don’t have the time or internet connection. But my conclusions are:

            President, nation, people

            Bush, Sr. yes, yes
            Clinton, yes, yes
            Bush, Jr, no, yes
            Obama, yes, yes
            Trump projected, OMG no, no, the horrors, no

          • Bill In Oz says:

            Joe, I am a foreigner.. An Australian, not an American. And an observer not a participant. My comment is not meant to imply that people who disagree with Trump are ‘unpatriotic’.

            But it’s very clear that there are contending & polarised views in the American population about what being nationalistic means.

            Back in November 2017, the Guardian published an interesting article about Trump’s popularity and came to the conclusion that after almost a year in office he would, according to the polls, win an election again if one were held. Here is it’s concluding sentence :

            “I want to emphasize how polarized the United States is – that each of these lines represent a section of society with wildly different opinions about the past, present and future of this country.”


            PS Why it Trump’s weight relevant here ? If Trump were female, the fact that ‘she’ is overweight would be extremely ‘politically incorrect’ and not permitted publication.

            As for playing golf….Sooooo ? Here it is a very popular pursuit of older males…But nearly all golf clubs have ‘Lady’s days’ as well when men cannot play.

            • I was being flippant. Trump does not study policy issues. He golfs, listens to his whacko bigot advisers (Bannon, Miller), watches TV, tweets, and runs America as if it were the Apprentice. I am flippant because I can’t take him seriously, or any analysis that furthers his work to divide the nation into good Americans and bad ones. I’m overweight, too, and consider myself an expert on the subject.

  12. edgar lores says:

    1. I still think the three poisons posited by Buddhism – ignorance, greed, and anger – are at the root of our malaise.

    2. These three poisons were previously locked in our hearts and laid bare just to our small circle of friends, family, and associates. Now what social media has done is to provide a conduit for these poisons to infect the wider world. This is expressly true for the two poisons of ignorance and anger.

    2.1. As JoeAm has underlined from the Wired magazine article, social media has allowed us to express and echo “messages of outrage toward perceived enemies” to the entire world. And the angry messages inevitably reflect our ignorance.

    2.2. The fire of anger was previously confined to the backyard and at most to the neighborhood and town centers. Through the worldwide web, our anger has been stoked by our perceived enemies… as well as our perceived friends. We now have a raging conflagration that threatens the entire nation if not the world.

    3. Anger is born of ignorance. Anger is an expression of an inability to cope. If we had sufficient knowledge of circumstances – individually and collectively — anger would not arise. We would face situations squarely and calmly.

    4. It does not help that Trump and Duterte are prime purveyors of ignorance and anger… and exemplars of greed. Both are consummate liars. Both have hated targets – migrants, addicts, news media, and truth. Women are objects to revere, to use and abuse.

    5. The Wired article notes that social media is young. The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in March 1989. After that, there was a quick succession of significant milestones in the 90s and the Noughties.

    o 1993 – (April 22) Mosaic became the first web browser
    o 1994 – (Jul 5) Amazon founded in Seattle, Washington, USA
    o 1996 – Mobile phones became popular
    o 1998 – (Sep 4) Google created in Menlo Park, California, USA
    o 2003 – (Aug 1) Myspace, a predecessor of Facebook, founded
    o 2004 – (Feb 4) Facebook created in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    o 2004 – (Apr 1) Gmail launched
    o 2005 – (Feb 14) YouTube created in San Mateo, California, USA
    o 2006 – (Mar 21) Twitter created in San Francisco, California, USA
    o 2010 – (Apr 1) Appearance of the first post for The Society of Honor

    5.1. It’s almost unbelievable that most social media milestones happened in the last 20 years.

    5.2. I like Chemrock’s thesis.

    • edgar lores says:


      o 1997 – (Jan 16) Outlook bundled with Office 97

      • karlgarcia says:

        This reminds me of Yahoo, they turned down a merger with Google, now they are so sorry about that decision.

    • Along with social media, edgar, I think you also have to cover this phenomenon,




      which started sprouting up around the late nineties, around the same time regular media covered the Lewinsky scandal (or post-Lewinsky news), news comedy and/or satire news, as peoples’ source for news— Bill Maher would be on that list too.

      Question: is there a Filipino equivalent, ie. satire news, news comedy, mixing comedy with tragedy over there? This IMHO is what clues us to the type (quality?) of news consumer in the Philippines.

      • edgar lores says:

        I wouldn’t know but it has been observed that Filipinos do not like/understand satire.

      • manangbok says:

        “Question: is there a Filipino equivalent, ie. satire news, news comedy, mixing comedy with tragedy over there? This IMHO is what clues us to the type (quality?) of news consumer in the Philippines.”

        Willie Nepomuceno, Jon Santos, Tessie Tomas etc are comedians who usually impersonate politicians. Nepomuceno was famous for doing Erap Estrada and Tessie Tomas was funny as the Imeldific type. Jon Santos impersonates everyone. Filipinos do satire usually in gag shows or sitcoms. We don’ t have the stand up comedy format like Trevor Noah or Stephen Colbert. Or maybe I am too young to remember correctly, but I think Noel Trinidad and Subas Herrero used to do stand up in Champoy? I am not sure if they poked fun at politics though. Anybody around here who grew up in that era? 🙂

  13. Francis says:


    [While thinking about a long response to the article itself.]

    I’ve always had a sympathy for politicians in general. I think that we the public—we think paying taxes makes us as morally right as God Himself. Absurd. A citizen is no infalliable god. Neither is the public. Tao lang lahat tayo.

    Also, I find it rich that ordinary citizens find themselves automatically virtuous, by virtue of being ordinary citizens. Disclaimer: I too am an ordinary citizen. What? Just because one isn’t surrounded by the temptations of office—one is good? This is crazy to my ears.

    Can you really say a man is good, if you have not put him to the test?

    I think that a lot of the problems in political system throughout the world will not be properly understood, if we don’t have sympathy for the politician. Now, I’m not saying “go easy” on the politician—many are frankly best described in impolite language. But true understanding of the political situation—and therefore, true understanding of potential solutions—requires stepping into the shoes of everyone into said system. Including the bastatds themselves.

    [Digressing a bit, but to explain why we must step into the shoes of politicians, no matter how bastardly they are—to paraphrase the ideas of a reading they recently had us go through for class: The natural sciences, being easily predictable and studying things that aren’t human, can have this objective vision of truth and can portray the quest for truth (in the natural sciences, at least) as this process requiring neutrality and rigor. Politics (though I think this applies to all social sciences) is different. You cannot plunge an entire society into an experiment, make an entire society undergo repeated trials. You’re also studying humans, who are self-interpretating beings. This means that truth in the politics cannot be entirely objective, as there’s always a subjective aspect to it. The quest for truth in the politics recognizes bias—in fact, one of the ideas that struck me in the reading, was the notion that bias are natural, that biases are the starting points to our understanding. What matters is that you are always willing to progress for your initial starting point that are your biases, in a never-ending journey towards greater understanding. What this all means, to cut things short: the natural scientist doesn’t have to understand how water feels, to understand that water is the combinatiom of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom—but the social scientist, the student of politics has to be willing to step into the shoes, the feelings, the experience of the subjects he or she studies, in order to get understanding. And that includes politicians.].

    Anyways, what I was going to say:

    There’s a certain sympathy that one can feel for Hillary. Granted, I do not ignore the fact that she accepted tons of money from corporate speaking gigs—but I think that in Hillary, one can find many of the characters that Rizal wrote. Once, Cristina (Crisostomo?) pitched the case for universal healthcare; vested interests were displeased. Then—she reappeared as Simone (Simoun!?) who seemed very establishment now.

    • Francis says:


      “What matters is that you are always willing to progress FROM your initial starting point that are your biases, in a never-ending journey towards gre…”

      Also, I feel sorta bad about not citing in the earlier comment: the long stuff in the [bracket] is from the first chapter of Thinking Politics (2001) by Thiele. Citing is caring. 😊

    • karlgarcia says:

      I think you meant empathy.
      If awa is to be included in the equation, then some politicians are pasang awa, some pass with flying colors and some are bagsak.
      That is my subjective take on the subject.

  14. Sabtang Basco says:

    Where similarities of Duterte and Trump ends:
    1. Trump did not win the popular vote so was Duterte
    2. Duterte won the popular vote after congressmen and senators switched allegiances so were their constituents
    3. Trump has the lowest rating of all gyrating between 30 to 38% depending on who is polling
    4. Duterte got 75% rating
    5. Trump core supports him regardless of lies, cheeseburgers in bed, tweeter flops and hair style
    6. Duterte ignites his rating for every kill
    7. Trump “grab ’em by the pu***y”
    8. Duterte rape nuns (of course, because they are virgins)
    9. Russia has “pee tape” and “golden shower on Trump
    10. Duterte has no taped scandals
    11. Trump paid Stormy Daniels us$130,000 to keep quiet
    12. Duterte do not pay them, he employs Mocha

    Whee similarities begin:
    1. Trump supporters are racist white-supremacist high-school drop-outs in rural and rust-belt
    2. Duterte is supported by majority of ignorant Filipino zombies
    3. Trump has The-Cut-Cut-Cut Act tax reform (yes, Virginia, this is what he told Mnuchin when he was asked what he wanted his tax bill called)
    4. Duterte has TRAIN tax reform
    5. Mueller is requesting to interview Trump
    6. Philippine press has not interviewed Duterte because he banned them from Malacanang
    7. Trump is trounced in the intelligent blue states where majority of ivy-schools are located except UP-Princeton immediate area
    8. Duterte wins everywhere it began with 16Million votes then to 75% popularity mostly where areas has no University of the Philippines
    9. Pence sits quiet in the sideline
    10. Robredo is sidelined

    This is THE VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA .. The Philippine Air Force is commissioned to patrol Scarborough Shoals. Usually it finds more problems than answers…

  15. caliphman says:

    My two cents on this now very frequent comparison made by mostly Filipinos and much less by Americans. I consider the word bottom here means lack of personal fitness, regard, ,competence, consistency and conscience in conducting the office of the presidency and in keeping with constitutionally defined roles and responsibilities. In my view, Duterte far outtrumps Trump when it comes to crudity , brutishness, lack of civility, mental and emotional instability, and disregard for established laws and institutions. While Duterte is ahead in this race, Trump’s presidency is more scary as the latter wields and is willing to use its enormous military and economic power when he decides it is to his political or personal benefit.

  16. josephivo says:

    Artificial intelligence. We have to think on how to control it, not in the far (???) future when super-intelligence will be wiser then us, but today. Deep learning is already with us. A computer tough itself how to play go. Nice gimmick? Not at all, the same is happening at Amazon and Facebook were computers are optimizing the algorithms that have to maximize their profits, being the number of clicks or the time spent on a website. These algorithms are getting extremely powerful, leading to our internet addictions.

    Our brains are wired up to search for alliances, to work with people we can trust. Algorithms drive us to echo chambers, to radicalization, to identify the “others” as real demons. Pope Francis: “Fake news is as the serpent in the Garden of Eden”.

    Remember cigarettes? Guns in the US, or sugar addictions leading to obesity? Without regulation profit driven organizations will always win. It is high time to discuss what optimizing rules in social media are acceptable and how to enforce them. The destruction of our democracies will be a sure consequence if we fail to do so.

    • Nice synopsis of the blog article. The key question is if people within a burning building have the wherewithal to put out the fire.

      • josephivo says:

        Looking at cigarettes, it took 50 years to start fighting the Tabaco industry. Guns and sugar are just coming on the radar of the general public. But the internet addiction problem is even more serious, computer intelligence taking over if we are not careful.

        Seems Facebook starts realizing it, some other IT leaders too. Politicians who realize the problem are still powerless because the general public is kept completely ignorant.

  17. bnimble07 says:

    [ˈnīəˌlizəm, ˈnēəˌlizəm]
    1. the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.
    synonyms: skepticism · negativity · cynicism · pessimism · disbelief · unbelief · agnosticism atheism

    2.philosophy: extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.

    3.historical the doctrine of an extreme Russian revolutionary party c. 1900, which found nothing to approve of in the established social order.

    Both Duterte and Trump are classic Nihilist. How the two populist leaders got to that point can be debated. But this is where we are today. So we make this our starting point. My guess is the common thread to both societies, though one can argue there are other superficial similarities, is Massive Inequality (or MI for brevity). I’ve lived in both societies, so I can attest that it is still happening and getting worst by the day. It might be a recent phenomena in the U.S. but in the Philippines MI has been a fact of life for centuries. Though one can argue that looking at purely Econ Stats (GDP; Dow Jones; BLS Stats, etc.) one can paint a far rosier picture than the actual “rot” underneath both American and Philippine society. Yet it’s undeniable that in both countries the chasm between the “Haves” and “Have Nots” is widening at an alarming level. This is NOT new to Filipinos but it’s fairly new to Americans and the NEW Technology is a major driver for MI in America. This is a subject of another discussion blog I think.

    How both countries got to this point of Massive Inequlity is quite interesting. One (America) is the richest country in the planet and the Philippines is a poor but aspiring new Asian Tiger. These two societies could NOT be more different. Yet here they are in the 21st century devolving to become a nihilist society almost at the same time. One possibility is the Filipinos’ intense unabashed attraction (addiction?) to everything “American” since Admiral Dewey destroyed the Spaniards in Manila Bay in 1898. Being American or copying American is in our DNA.

    Why is Nihilism relevant to our discussion? This is why: pervasive nihilism is the fertile ground for a rise of Fascism in society. We saw this in late 1930’s Germany, in pre Soviet Russia which gave rise to Lenin and the Bolsheviks and now we see it in the Philippines and in America. The predictable result: two populist leaders who understood the mood of the electorate and was able to channel that despair, anger, hopelessness, fear into a political movement. Both leaders naturally “manufactured” convenient enemies to focus on in their electoral campaign. Drug Adiks for Duterte and Mexican Rapists/Muslims for Trump. Bingo! Both hit the jackpot. Inadvertently both societies chose the path to Fascism where Simple Solutions were offered to solve very complex problems. It’s hard to blame the voters who chose them, as neither leader advertised themselves as Fascist. Nobody is that bloody stupid. Not even Trump – the Stable Genius.

    JoeAm asked: What needs to be done? So my question: how do we get out of this quagmire?

    Two things need to happen. We need to have a massive cultural shift and a new mindset. In both societies we need to go back to the real meaning of Democracy. As Sir Thomas More, English philosopher and lawyer once said (I’m paraphrasing here). “Remember what Democracy is about it is about elevating people. It is creating a mind set of listening to Truth, creating beauty and to do justice.”

    Admittedly, this is easier said than done. We are a very long ways from Sir Thomas More’s concept of Democracy. But at least people in America and the Philippines are now beginning to realize that things are NOT going well and they’re starting to discuss that the path we are on is a very treacherous one and some are searching for a Better Road Forward.

    • manangbok says:

      I agree with what you said 🙂

      I have never liked nihilism as a philosophy … sure it can explain things but not offer positive solutions …. it is defeatist and ultimately pointless. Because why would one want to live his/her short life in this world by comparing his/her sufferimg with others? We should lift each other up; not drag each other down.

      Sure we will all die someday … but that is just the point on why this world has meaning.

      The writer Ursula K. Leguin (who recently died, passed on … crossed over — choose your word) had this to say: “Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose …. That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?”

      See that last sentence … would you destroy the world to save yourself?

      Worth pondering on 🙂

      • edgar lores says:

        A Buddhist metaphor also uses the same metaphor as the waves and the sea. Although the metaphor is more granular — that of a drop of water at the tip of the wave.

        And the emphases are of impermanence and non-identity.

        There is no selfhood. It is an illusion. We are one with the wave (family, community, nation, humanity), which is one with the ocean (being and non-being or nothingness).

  18. Sup says:


    ”The four top leaders of Congress have agreed to set aside their differences over how to amend the 1987 Constitution and concentrate on drafting proposed changes that they could present to the people for approval, reviving the Duterte administration’s bid for federalism.

    Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of the House of Representatives met on Wednesday night to break a stalemate between the two chambers of Congress on how to vote on proposed amendments to the Constitution.”

    And to make it believable they made this picture….

    • May God have mercy on us!

    • karlgarcia says:


      • karlgarcia says:

        Your time table may still take effect.

        • edgar lores says:

          I daresay the pushback from the Senate hearing has made Alvarez’ original timetable impossible.

          • karlgarcia says:

            More pushback.

            • edgar lores says:

              1. I try to categorize the pushback and I think there are 4 major groups:

              1.1. The Intelligentsia. This is a broad group consisting of columnists and bloggers here and abroad. Abroad, there’s Syjuco and Rosca.

              1.2. The Silent Majority. This is the group identified by Jozy. It consists of silent upright citizens and those who are vocal on socmed. I will note that a strong subgroup are righteous believers who are fervent non-cafeteria Catholics. This is Will’s demography. These are the people who march and attend rallies. As a whole, they represent the oppressed citizenry.

              1.3. The Ideologues. I would put the Church and the Left in this category. Strange bedfellows.

              1.4. The Notables. I am using JoeAm’s term. This group consists of the active and retired justices and politicians. It includes oppositionist reps and senators.

              2. I believe there are minor groups that are underground movements like Alt-Malacañang and Alt-AFP.

              3. If one forms an acronym of the major groups it would be NISI. This is a legal term and I find it appropriate.

              adjective LAW

              (of a decree, order, or rule) that takes effect or is valid only after certain conditions are met.

              3.1. Makes me wonder when and if certain conditions will meet and a new rule will take effect.

          • Sup says:

            ”DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday he wants the review of the 1987 Constitution finished within the year to give the legislature enough time to act on proposed amendments, a key part of his administration’s reform agenda towards a shift to federalism.

            This after the President constituted a 19-member consultative body, headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, to review the 31-year-old charter.

            “I want it done this year. Just enough time for Congress to act on it. We do not want to hang,” Duterte said in Davao City upon his return from a 2-day visit to India. ”


      • NHerrera says:

        In other words, strike while the iron is red hot.

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