Winning is a state of mind

Did this rally win? [Photo source: CNN]

By Joe America

Editor’s note. Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 27. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.  JA
Facebook has its moments. It can produce a lot of heart, and many intellectual gems.
This article is about one of the intellectual gems. A game-changer, for those who believe in democracy and the Philippine Constitution.
Here’s a dialogue that recently transpired on my Facebook page:

Dear intelligent people of the Philippines who are okay with dictatorship because you think you will fare well. Please discontinue being stupid at the earliest possible moment.

Andrew Craig-Bennett Andrew Craig-Bennett Forty years experience of the Philippines has taught me the following lessons:

1. Most Filipinos cannot take advice. They have to find out for themselves. This can be extremely painful for them, but not for the person offering the advice. The person offering the advice just feels frustrated.

2. The Dunning-Kruger Effect was invented here.

3. Don’t expect consistency.

4. Most Filipinos are on the winning side. And they always have been. If the side that was losing starts winning, the majority of Filipinos were always on that side. To illustrate, forty years ago, everybody had always voted for Marcos. Twenty years ago, nobody had ever voted for Marcos.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect occurs when someone mistakenly thinks he is smarter than he actually is, or when a smart person mistakenly thinks others are just as smart as he is.

All four points that Andrew makes are worth discussing, but I want to focus particularly on his last point.

Most Filipinos are on the winning side.

That explains so much, does it not? Especially Andrew’s example. It explains the 80% ‘satisfaction’ rating for President Duterte when his policies are killing a lot of innocent Filipinos, freeing killers and drug dealers, increasing prices, not fixing transportation, not producing peace, gifting Philippine seas to China, demonizing good people, and tearing down democratic institutions and principles. Who in the world would be FOR such achievements?

But if that is the winning side . . . it’s as easy as cheering for Pacquiao as a boxer, even if he is a bum as a senator, husband, basketball player, and preacher.

Let us presume that the idea that ‘most Filipinos are on the winning side’ is scientifically true (for reasons we don’t even have to explore).

Then the answer as to how democracy advocates can win back the hearts and minds of the masses is right there in plain sight. It is what we have been debating and trying to discover for months.

Democracy advocates, those for the Constitution, just have to show that they are winning.

Okay, Joe, I think you are having a Dunning-Kruger moment here. If you are so smart, tell us how to do that, because the ‘yellows’ are losing battle after battle.”

Okay, okay. Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I have some ideas.

  • Start filing cases against those who are violating the Constitution. Lots of cases. Define the enemy. Recite what the Constitution says. Point out the losers.
  • Stop holding small, one-day rallies for this cause or that. Small rallies make the effort seem weak. Winners are not weak.
  • Get popular celebrities like Kris Aquino (and her brother) to start talking simply, loudly, and excitedly for democracy and the Constitution. Find some bold, charismatic opinion leaders. Winners.
  • Publicize testimonials of people who voted for President Duterte, but now regret that decision.
  • Loudly criticize losing events. There are so many: Drug lords freed. Napoles granted protection by the State. Fleeing the ICC and the idea the Philippines can be a modern nation. Transportation woes. Price of rice. China chasing Filipinos from the seas and stealing Filipino jobs for Chinese projects. Take up the winning side.
  • Claim the space of being for the poor, and for the people. They ARE The Philippines. Make them winners.
  • Stop blaming the 16 million who voted for a dream. Change the dream. Make them winners, too.

Winning is a state of mind. Those for the Constitution and democracy should stop complaining (whining is a losing representation) and start showing themselves as winners. Over and over and over again.

You probably have some ideas about how that might be done.

The discussion section is a good place to share them.


131 Responses to “Winning is a state of mind”
  1. Grace Sapuay says:

    Re: Most Filipinos are on the winning side.
    He is correct on that one for many Filipinos but not all. I have witnessed it myself. A supposedly very learned person I know started asking who to vote for during the last presidential election campaign. She asked who is the winning candidate. I was aghast. Many Filipinos treat elections like betting in a casino. Tragic. But I’d say not all. I don’t. Many of us don’t.

  2. arlene says:

    I posted several links on my wall and did shout -outs of what I presumed would happen next. A friend commented she was reading my commentaries and told me I was so brave. I think some of those people who truly care for democracy are afraid to speak and they just keep quiet. As long as their personal lives are not affected, they remain mum about it all. They know what is happening but they are passive. Good morning Joeam.

  3. Filipinos want to be on the side of the winning chieftain. The tribal logic prevails.

    Trillanes hit the right tone I think for many when he said Duterte might as well have punched himself instead of a Palace window. The classic scenario. Young warrior challenges old chief.

    The other alternative is the female leader, similar to the Bai among Lumads. Leni is closer to that than even Cory, moving in and out of communities, using the language of ‘we’ in her speeches. And adversity has seasoned her – witness her regal bearing beside Duterte at the PMA graduation.

  4. Francis says:

    An excellent article.

    The Filipino language has “tayo” and “kami” which—if I am not mistaken—translates to “us” and “us-but-not-including-you” respectively. In a social and political landscape dominated by shifting alliances between dynastic clans and patronage—it’s not surprising that we have this sort of “go for the winner” dynamics.

    I guess that any long-term solution to this a simultaneous cultural and institutional approach; shaping the culture on a mass scale is impossible without some sort of institutions to facilitate said shaping of culture. For instance—a possible long term solution is to develop truly grassroots political parties (and also to encourage more favourable conditions for said genuine political parties via legislation i.e. genuine PR reform, political party reform, etc.) where citizens can be “socialised” into a more liberal democratic political culture, a political culture that would incline people to reflect on their first principles and to go beyond the confines of clan and regional interest alone.

    In the realm of the short-term…

    “Winning is a state of mind. Those for the Constitution and democracy should stop complaining (whining is a losing representation) and start showing themselves as winners. Over and over and over again.“

    The opposition isn’t whining—or at least, thinks it isn’t whining. Why? The opposition is uncreative and stale—in that it repeats (without adjustment, mind you) the old strategy of the Anti-Marcos struggle: moral ascendency. You can preach righteousness, and evil shall depart!

    Which forgets that “moral ascendency” is a tactic that was useful given the particular social and economic circumstances of the time. It is not a universally useful political tactic to preach about the goodness of universal values. Which forgets that “moral ascendency” would have been toothless and unable to bridge the gap between a “David-like” slingshot opposition and a “Goliath” of a government-backed party without a terrible economy sapping the legitimacy out of the Marcos Regime.


    If there is one thing that is arguably the greastest “universal” fault of the adminiatration, it is China.

    Unfortunately—the thing about EJKs is that many people can easily ignore the fact that it matters by stating that “liberal democracy” is a “Western” (and “effeminate” not macho) thing, and that sometimes you gotta break eggs to make omelets.

    Which is easy to say if you aren’t eggs.

    However, on China:

    Even the thugs on the street would find it hard to argue against the “weakness” of our current administration. What is galling about the administration’s foreign policy tilt towards China is not so much the tilt itself (while I personally vehemently disagree with this and would much rather have our nation put its chips besides fellow democracies i.e. the West and India, I do recognise that if the tilt is properly done—which I doubt our ever servile political elite have the capacity to do—it can possibly be beneficial) but how embarrassingly obsequious our tilt has been. When you change “teams” (in this case, from America to China) for example, you’d expect “us” to negotiate with China. Drive a good bargain.

    Nah. The way the administration’s doing it, it’s giving away the entire house for free. I suppose that thugs fighting turf wars—by necessity, realist street-smart Machiavellis—would find that to be stupid. The foreign policy of this administration is an example of universal stupidity; stupidity that can be universally recognised by people of all walks of life and philosophical persuasions.

    Stupidity of a sucker, a loser.

    I find the Left’s slogan to be black hole of rhetorical power in this regard. US-Duterte Regime is (to appropriate their language) not following the mass line.

    I like to think that China-Duterte Regime, or (here’s an original off the top of my head) Tuta ng Dragon* would be very powerful. And clear.

    • Francis says:


      On China:

      The DDS line is that a China will inevitably become the Superpower of the 21st Century and (following the logic of following winners) should be our guy, instead of America. Coz they’re “winners” really.

      Thing about the “winner-logic” is that it assumes that the “winner” gives some porky patronage to the “follower” and this assumption can be seen in the way patronage works in this country at all levels of government.

      So, I suggest this: do not attack our tilt to China using sily things like “Rule of Law” and whatnot. Boring. Also, “liberal democratic” and “effeminate.”

      Instead, adopt a two-pronged approach:

      1. Talk about all of China’s own weaknesses. Why it’s not a hundred percent set in stone that China shall be a superpower. The debt crisis. The dozens of ghost cities. The rapidly aging population. Or the mere fact that there are a ton of other contenders i.e. EU and India which adds up to a multi-polar world where’s it’s logically dumb to put all your eggs in one untested basket, i.e. China.

      2. Talk about how China won’t even give you the nice, delicious patronag—este, lechon. How they won’t even use local labor to build the huge infrastructure projects funded by their loans which, by the way, come at a higher interest compared to our friend Japan. How they’ll brutally ask you to put up your natural resources as collateral if you can’t pay your loans. How—considering that your son cannot even be a worker for their projects—the only people who’ll really benefit are those stinking politicians!

      • Francis says:


        Point 1 = China is not a winner.

        Point 2 = Even if China is a winner, China won’t share much porky patronage with you.


        “We must side with China because China is a future superpower (read: winner) and will help us out a lot (read: give us stuff in exchange for our allegiance).”

        Is a line of argument that is dismantled.

      • Seems that way to me, too. I so admire the real independent nations like Viet Nam whose leaders calculate that ceding to the gorilla does not get them many bananas.

    • I think a natural output of anger is whining, and we all do it. They are legitimate opinions and expressions of dismay. But to get to winning, one must move past it into leading.

      I agree there is a lot of stupidity going on, and I am astounded most days that grown adults educated at top universities promote the stupidity because it is beneficial here and now rather than taking up the courage to build a future. Agree on the left. I mean, this “US-Duterte” approach is deep black hole.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      If I may, the go for the winner dynamics of the Filipinos is old hat if the hat is 60 years old or more. In the early fifties, they called it the bandwagon mentality alongside colonial mentality.

  5. NHerrera says:


    There is a scientific approach in this short article. Hence, to me, very logical and persuasive. The observations by your Facebook correspondent, Andrew Craig-Bennett, seems generally indisputable — Most Filipinos cannot take advice; Don’t expect consistency [from Filipinos]; Most Filipinos are on the winning side. This can be taken as axioms from which to proceed to find the best approach at a solution. You have enumerated many aspects of the solution.

    By the way, the last is the major axiom — Most Filipinos are on the winning side. In a way the two others — Most Filipinos cannot take advice; Don’t expect consistency — are partly subsumed in the major one: can’t take advice except from the winner; don’t expect consistency in principles except when it comes from the winner.

    Joe, you have a theory that may stand the test of time, until many are lifted from poverty and have time enough to think about higher principles other than as consequences of the axioms of the article.

    • Indeed, that gap between the promise of dreams (of getting out of poverty) and the reality is about 20 years off, under good conditions. So winning now needs a Phase II, which is winning again and again, every day of every year.

  6. josephivo says:

    The “Filipino” does not exist. And the Dunning-Krugger effect is stronger in America, weaker in Asia.

    Some Filipinos are more American than Americans them self, some are mixed up as they lost all bearings and some are heavily relying on their Asian roots.

    To complicate the issue, they can behave differently in different spheres of live. And even more, give different relative importance to these different spheres, financial management for a poor farmer is unimportant, having rice on the table less important for an oligarch. Politics is just one thing.

    So, who influences political preferences? I believe it is a small group of individuals, some motivated by ideals, most by personal gains.

    Isn’t then the best strategy to win an election in our connected social media world, money and the help of Cambridge Analytica?

    • That is worth discussing. Yes, I agree that leadership influences political preferences, which is why a pro-democracy effort that is free lance and unorganized like now is a losing proposition. I have mixed feelings about social media. It would be useful to have a counter-propaganda program, or a pro-democracy propaganda program, but I don’t know if it is necessary. Cambridge Analytical is becoming a swear word. I might have to ban it here. 🙂

      • NHerrera says:

        The news that politicians in the US and UK want answers after Facebook’s latest controversy involving Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 US election may not spell the demise of Facebook, but its about time Facebook cleans up its act.

        Christopher Wylie who co-founded and previously worked as a data analyst for Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm that worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been suspended from Facebook.

        He shared evidence of the company’s activities with two newspapers, as well as reportedly with cybercrime investigators in the United Kingdom. Over the weekend, he also spoke on British television about how the company was reportedly able to harvest data from 50 million users.

        Getting that data “allowed us [Christopher Wylie and associates] to move into the hearts and minds of American voters in a way that had never been done before,” Wylie said in an interview with the UK’s Channel 4 on Saturday.

        • I follow Filipino author Miguel Syjuco on social media. He has had similar experiences as Wylie, being repeatedly shut off of FB for his postings because the trolls go out in hordes and report him if he posts anything disagreeable to them. The last time, he was shut down for quoting President Duterte in a string of quotes. In response, he will set up his own web site so he is free to comment.

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. There is something in that. In sabong, Filipinos tend to bet for the llamado rather than the dejado.

    1.1. Llamado is the sure winning cock, and dejado the loser. The profit is small, but it is better than losing one’s pants.

    1.2. There is also the bandwagon effect. We are suckers for polls and surveys.

    2. These two examples show that the Filipino is a segurista, a safe bettor, a non-risk taker. So unlike the Chinese who will risk much for great rewards.

    3. If we extend the implications of the racial trait of risk aversion, this would explain why there are no (or few) Filipino outliers in any field of endeavor. We do not stick our necks out and would rather hew to the path much traveled.

    o There is safety in tradition.
    o There is safety in not rocking the boat.
    o There is safety in not standing out.
    o There is safety in numbers.

    4. There are exceptions of course. The weak opposition in the House and in the Senate… and in the demos.

    4.1. Arguably and ironically, the greatest exception might be Duterte. He is a risk-taker but only insofar as our traditional political orientation, which happens to be occidental in nature, is concerned. He is a risk-taker and segurista in one, hiding under the wings of China, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin.

    5. The Filipino is without principle, expedient, and wind-tossed.

    • I don’t think “without principle” is exactly how I would describe it. I think the principle is to have a life when everyone in the neighborhood is a user. Expedient seems to me to mean, yes, if there is no food, why worry about democracy and what the high falutin’ elite are preaching, and wind-tossed seems to me to mean, there is food if I cheat so I’ll cheat. So, yes, yes, there is plenty of that. But I think point 5, if it defines democratic policy, will not help develop a winning team.

  8. Kris Aquino made a short but impressive TV ad sponsored by Ariel Detergent for Women’s Day. She surely made a lot of sense in a minute and a half than all of PRD’s two years of speeches combined.

    • chemrock says:

      Very smart script there.The political undertone is undeniable. Corporate Ariel is taking a stand, good for them.

      Just imagine if Mcdo, Jollybee, KFC, Pizza Hut follow suit.

    • I like Kris. I wonder what she will do when her brother gets arrested.

      • karlgarcia says:

        “ The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered former president Benigno Aquino III, former health secretary Janette Garin, and former budget secretary Florencio Abad to answer criminal charges filed against them over the implementation of a multibillion-peso dengue immunization program.

        The DOJ subpoenaed the 3 former officials to appear before the department on Friday, March 23, at 10 am for a preliminary complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Incorporated (VPCI).

        My dad already told me not to comment against Aguirre, but that I can not do?

        Maybe not on fb or anywhere else, even just here, I want to air my grievances to the man who is a distant relative and a family friend.
        He recently reached out to my dad.
        My dad listens to , I mean he hears what people have to say.
        Ok enough of Aguirre for today.

  9. chemrock says:

    Are you saying, in a nutshell, to fight fire with fire?
    Take back the public space. Normalise your views.

    Employ the same tactics to push back. Socmed blasts employing advertising tactics, like continuous, flighting or pulsing patterns. Take back the publicity space. Normalise your points of views. But do it the ethical way, meaning no fake news.

    Focus on one particular aspect, and have a concerted effort to hit the same point from various angles for a prolonged span. Then switch to another focal point. For example, hit Rogue for his bullshit human rights stand and transformation into a sycophant, and everybody bang on this topic for one week.

    Another eg China. Francis had some suggestions above. For me I think it’s better to go by poisoning the well. Everytime there is something negative regarding China, just blast it daily. But don’t dwell on intellectual stuff. Just go for simple bad stuff, and there are lots of these. Eg plastic rice, some photos of PRC killing dogs for dog meat, unhygenic food preparation, aggressiveness of Chinese tourists, corrupt officials executed.

    But but… organisation is essential.

  10. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: Monday started with what one called a blitzkrieg: Congress just passed articles of impeachment against Sereno 31-1, while DOJ is slamming down with a subpoena against Aquino et. al. re:dengvaxia.

  11. josephivo says:

    Fear. Fear is our strongest emotion. Our brain is hardwired to mitigate danger of the lions, but also of eagles above and snakes below and most importantly the invisible threats of curses or the wrath of the Divine. Most actions are driven by emotions, inclusive voting. Fears come in a hierarchy as in Maslow’s pyramid, the basic one’s as physical needs hampered, security threatened or damaged social connections. One drip of fear is stronger than a full glass of positives.

    Many Filipinos do not live in the luxury of satisfied basic needs, playing a fear trump is easy. Druggies are stealing our last sack of rice, attracting murdering police, raping our daughters, “I’ll kill them”. But how to square the circle, how to sell something positive based on fear?

    • That’s MY question. YOU are supposed to supply the answers!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Law and order is supposed to help against fear. Trouble is, law and order hardly works in practice in the Philippines, inspite of noble efforts to keep it working it has degraded.

      “Rule of law becomes a farce the moment everybody cheats, from top to bottom. Where the call for violent solutions is sheer desperation. That all did not happen overnight..

      Such a system eats itself up at some point. Rules become merely tools for winning instead of being there to guide the fundamental consideration for others that should be at the heart of any society.” – this is my latest (sad) view on the Philippine condition.. – this I found recently:

      “..Scala demands to know: But are we right, after all, to venerate written laws? Why shouldn’t we follow the example of the Spartans? They avoided endless lawsuits by simply doing whatever the wealthiest citizens decided. Another well-known substitute for laws, he points out, is the judgment of a prince or his proxies. The Turkish sultan delegates full judicial powers to pashas, who decide criminal cases without written laws. The defendants have no attorneys and no right of appeal. So the people are spared expensive litigation and the greed, self-importance, and soul-deforming hypocrisy one sees in our Florentine jurists. If a pasha takes bribes or lets personal interests warp his judgment—Scala clearly relishes this next thought in a mischievous, metaphorical way—the sultan’s men thrust a stake into his bowels, raise him high in the air, and hurl him skewered to the ground. In any case, concludes the chancellor in a less colorful vein, the best laws come from nature. Surely we should trust a few good men to grasp natural laws more truly than the low-life tribe of lawyers?..

      ..If we could find one or a few trustworthy men to make and apply our laws, Bernardo agrees with Scala, that would save the rest of us a lot of trouble. But even the wisest people disagree about what is just or unjust by nature. We have no choice but to make laws by common agreement, and to take whatever pains we must to try cases as fairly as we can.”

      There you go, most Filipinos thought the one trustworthy man was Duterte – even I originally thought he might be, until I read about his system of delegating quasi-judicial power to barangay captains even in Davao, and thought what kind of “pashas” would they be?


      Bernardo echoes Plato, this time the philosopher’s dialogue the Laws, fountainhead of most later ancient and early modern thinking about the rule of law. The worst form of ignorance, Plato tells us, is conceit of one’s own wisdom, which takes the most extreme forms in the very powerful and rich. Any man who thinks “he can play the leader to others” without laws to guide him, Plato’s main speaker says, “has been deserted by God.” Though “many people think he cuts a fine figure,” before long he “brings himself, his home, and his state to rack and ruin.”..

      Without laws, he has Bernardo Machiavelli say, “cities and states” are “nothing but bands of robbers” where the cunning and violent harass the rest. Good laws are our mightiest arms. By setting bounds to self-love, they help win us friendships, which in turn help bring victories to our troops and triumphs at home. And as Plato said, if anyone should claim to be an expert whose political knowledge is superior to the laws, “such a person must be called a tyrant.”

      This is all extremely applicable to the Philippines of today, and what is happening now is a good rationale for getting rule of law truly working for the first time – as up to now it has been more of an elite farce, either to favor the oligarchy like in Sparta, or pashas like in Turkey..

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Fight fire with fire sideways to survive.

  13. Grace Sapuay says:

    I see the hand of GMA controlling the puppets.

  14. Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

    I do dislike these psychological explanations. They are particularly suspect from foreigners (like myself). When I first read Joeam years ago I thought, Gawd, not another foreigner condemning Filipinos’ supposed idiocy.

    Then after a lot of backwards and forwards Joeam seemed to read more, look around him more. He stopped condemning the people he had settled amongst, and seemed to begin to understand the institutional context of individual Filipinos’ decision-making, and to produce some very reasonable analyses.

    But alas Joe has reverted to type, since Duterte – who (incidentally) neither he nor anyone else forecast.

    An anthropologist friend once said to me: “Culture (he could have said national psychology) is the explanation the visiting businessman gives to national differences, as he jets from place to place.”

    In other words, its an uneducated perspective. Please, read some history and some anthropology, Joe. Your formation has been as a businessman, and maybe you don’t like such stuff. But if you trust psychological explanations, you’d have believed British explanations of Irish economic backwardness in terms of Irish peasant idiocy, Western 19th scepticism about Japanese progress, Western perceptions that the Chinese would never move forward because of their entrenched familism.

    All nonsense in the light of history.

    Theories of national psychology make bad history.

    And they make racist history too. That’s maybe a harsh hit – but a true one.

    • You are invited to fill in for my intellectual shortcomings and lack of knowledge. I once had a rather brilliant and eccentric university professor who claimed we have education backwards. We get narrower and narrower in our studies when we should get broader and broader. Sadly, I have not been able to accomplish what he inspired us toward, and still, after many years of trying, am unable to claim having all knowledge. But I do know your lecturing me on this point will not help build a respectable democracy in the Philippines. I might even go so far as to say that your rather rigorous expectations of me, although flattering in a certain oblique light, suggest that . . . sadly as well . . . you aren’t there either.

      • NHerrera says:

        It seems rather a sweeping statement. Unless there are more than the above, I cannot believe that the Filipino writers — and I do not mean only those writing in this blog, TSH — do not have any sense about history, anthropology and psychological explanations as it relates to Filipinos and their problems. I am willing to learn from him. I hope he shares some more of his thoughts.

        • I have a hard time distinguishing his remarks from those of social media emotionalists and trolls who go to personal aspersions first and forthright discussion never. I wasn’t trying to do a psychological parsing of Filipinos as a race, but thinking out loud about how to promote democracy. If he doesn’t see the difference, I am relegated to weeping huge, wet tears for his inability to read straight. 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

            You are not wrong there. I was reacting to your quoting approvingly Andrew Craig-Bennett’s words, which I found somewhat objectionable.

            I don’t quarrel with your ideas about promoting democracy. As a prescription for message content they seem fine. But again the question is, what institutional structure can we look to that will carry the message?

            (I don’t have an answer!)

            • Well, we are on the same page about institutional structure, and I suppose I am suggesting that the democracy advocates do a better job of institutionalizing their effort, and get out of the personality/political mode. Perhaps it might be envisioned as an enduring political party based on principles rather than favors and power.

              The purpose of this blog is discussion, and articles are considered conversation starters, not necessarily news or private ‘truths’ being peddled. We could have a robust discussion about any of the four bullets in Andrew’s comment and sort out if it is racist or accurate or even meaningful. I have known Andrew for some time, and he is sincere, broad-minded, well-centered, and not racist. We all come at things from our own life’s patterns, and I always appreciate when someone responds to one of my throw-away literary expressions with a thoughtful, and thought-provoking response. As Andrew did.

              • Institutional structures have to go with the grain of culture, not against it. That is why the cultural context is very essential. I think the most mature views are to be found in Acemoglu/Robinson of “Why Nations Fail” or Hofstede/Trompenaars with their metrics like power distance (very high in the Philippines, similar to Russia, higher than India!) or long term vs. short term orientation. Yep, my impression of Andrew is that he is definitely NOT a simplistic type. His observations are those of a concerned layman, based on experience.

                In arriving at the truth, a multitude of perspectives are useful. In fact our mix (Filipinos abroad, foreigners in the Philippines, Filipinos at home) makes it truly interesting. You just have to factor in the vantage point and principles of the person who is giving an opinion.

              • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

                The problem is, the formation of ‘real’ political parties is facilitated by certain institutional structures, discouraged by others (obviously, I don’t count parties in the Philippines as ‘real’)

                Most presidential systems encourage a contrast between ‘ins’ and the ‘outs’, by which the ‘outs’ turn their coats and join the ‘ins’ when it becomes clear who has won the Presidential contest, in order to get the spoils of office.

                The U.S. system, while presidential, has two extra features which strengthen its party system – primaries, and the college of electors. By contrast Latin American presidential systems behave I believe (though I speak largely from ignorance) more like the Philippines’ political system – rotating the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’, with the ‘outs’ bailing out every Presidential election and joining the ‘ins’.

                I submit that this sort of structural cause, not national psychology, is why Filipino politiciams ‘join the winners’. This does not happen in ‘real’ party systems.

                It is going to be very difficult to get that any anti-Duterte mass movement going. There’s no institutional basis for it. He has also so far been amazingly clever, quick, and efficient at responding to public opinion (Marcos in contrast was a sick man when ousted). And he has enormous financial resources – the money supplied by all the political crooks, and the vast sums that Congress voted to the Presidency.

              • Makes sense. A few months ago, I would have argued with your last paragraph. Today, I agree.

              • Pork barrel will be one major reason for all joining the winning group. Money collected everywhere distributed centrally to the provinces via the Representatives. Other countries have systems which distribute income by percentage – Germany for example has a quota for federal, state and municipal, and for chain stores and conglomerates there is automatic distribution based on the number of employees / business in different states / localities. Presidential power of pork in the Philippines give ENORMOUS clout to the position.

                One further factor is campaign funding. No limits that I have heard of. No reimbursement of party expenses based on number of seat in Parliament like in Australia or Germany. So parties are dependent on oligarchs / local magnates for their funding.

                Also, there are probably no pensions for Congressmen/Senators. Two terms in German Parliament already gives one pension claims. This is a major deterrent to corruption I think. Normal professionals can afford to be politicians and go back to normal life later on.

    • andrewlim8 says:


      Kindly explain further “the institutional context of individual Filipinos’decision-making” as opposed to what you term as psychological explanations.

      When you wrote that “there may be only 500 potential readers in the Philippines for a serious book on the country” in your Linkedin account profile is that a psychological explanation or is there an institutional context?

      • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

        By institutional, I mean issues such as the impact of the 1986 Constution, or the stage which anti-corruption measures have reached (cleaning out corruption appears to require “moving the dial” so that corruption becomes socially unacceptable and professionally disastrous, but moving the dial takes a lot of time. In the UK the move from ‘the old corruption’ of the 18th century to the relatively clean politics of the late 19th century took 150 years).

        Theories of national psychology lead one astray. For example the Nordics are the least corrupt nations on earth, by most measures. Is that their national psychology? Probably not since if you put a Swedish businessman in Russia, where corruption is the norm and SOP, he bcomes as corrupt as any Russian businessman, otherwise he wouldn’t survive. So it is not his psychology which makes him incorrupt, but his context.

        Of course, the focus on corruption is itself questionable. China is highly corrupt, but has admirable economic development. Given the Chinese case corruption in politics clearly cannot be the reason why the Philippines has been held back (for a better theory see Mancur Olson on the superiority of political structures with “sitting thieves” versus those with “moving thieves”). In his view, it is not so much the corruption as the structure within which corruption occurs.

        Always look at the structure!

        And JoeAm is of course right that I don’t even begin to know all the answers. Not least because they’re complicated, and require huge amounts of knowledge about different countries and different histories.

        • edgar lores says:

          So why is it that Filipinos who immigrate abroad maintain their corrupt ways?

          Anecdotal evidence: I know of Filipinos in Saudi who committed financial fraud, and Filipinos working in the Australian postal system who committed mail fraud.

          Why assume that a Swedish businessman in Russia will become as corrupt as any Russian businessman?

          Do Russian businessmen in Great Britain become incorrupt when doing business in that country?

          • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

            Re Swedish businessmen in Russia – of course this is not based on research, but on comments I have heard. And my next paragraph may have some bearing.

            Re Russian businessmen in the UK. You ae right, for sure for a time they do/will carry over their old habits. But if they stay they, or their children, will learn that it doesn’t work, and that they will end up in prison! Whereas in Russia it works, because they will bribe their way out, which is impossible in the UK.

            (To somewhat support your comment, none less that the ex-head of the Commission on Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, has pointed out that crime in London has become racially/ethnically specialised).

            • edgar lores says:

              So, if I may press the point, it’s not all about structure, is it?

              Psychology is important. Anthropology relies heavily on psychology. Anthropology is the study of human behavior — read psychology — in the past/present of usually out-of-the-way societies. To understand a culture requires understanding the internal logic, history, and psychology of its people. Not from an outsider’s viewpoint, but from having lived with the natives and internalizing their values, their memes, their traditions, and, yes, the societal structure and institutions.

              • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

                I simply disagree. Until very recently, academic psychology had a minimal impact on anthropology. For good reason when psychologists, often of the Freudian school, attempted to explain societies, their attempts were held in contempt.

              • edgar lores says:

                Ahaha! Who mentioned Freud?

                Anthropology facilitates the study of psychology in comparing cultures. At the same time, psychology facilitates the study of anthropology in understanding human behavior in specific cultures.

                The two are interrelated. Try googling “relationship of anthropology and psychology” for your enlightenment.

              • So I did, and it appears from the literature that anthropologists were enlightened (deepened, broadened) by Freud’s work. Hmmm . . . who to believe, in my search for ultimate personal knowledge of all things . . .

              • Have you heard of this? (Pretty much developed in UP, to try to see things from an indigenous perspective. There is of course the continuing clash between “colonial” and “homegrown” perspectives of culture)

                We at TSOH don’t see ourselves as serious researchers or even experts, just as laymen trying to gain an understanding of things for ourselves. Sometimes we are pretty accurate, sometimes we are way off the mark, but we do learn by discussing stuff. For a purpose.

              • To push for Matthew’s point here, can I ask you if the structure is important? Having had similar discussions in the past, there is indeed a tendency to overlook it in favor of the Filipino’s ‘psychology’. As what you’ve implied to me before: “It’s the people, not the system.” And that is surely a point of disagreement.

                But sure, in the long run, the people will surely dictate the direction. However, when the short run effects of the system will inevitably fuck up the compass, well, we’ll never really reach the long run, won’t we? Or if we ever would, it’ll probably take much longer than ever.

              • edgar lores says:

                From my view, structure is formed (or malformed) from psychology.

                Structure can be native or adopted.

                Native structure arises from the intersection of many things — history, tradition, events, interpretation of events — plus the psychology of the people.

                Take any native meme, say, utang na loob. How did it arise? At base, the cultural trait probably arose from a variation of the universal Golden Rule. But why is the trait so strong in Filipinos? Could be a combination of positive and negative factors reinforced through time. Positive would be gratitude, reciprocity, barter, affiliation (or belongingness), and so on. Negative would be fear of loss of opportunity, loss of status, ostracism, and so on.

                For adopted, take democracy. We have deformed the basic characteristic of democracy — which is equality — by our psychology of a stratified society, by patronage, by corruption, by favoritism, by utang na loob, and so on.

                Having said that, I will also say that structure can reform psychology. Democracy, the separation of powers, have given us the concepts and benefits of due process, human rights, and the power of the vote. True, these benefits are being trampled in the dust right now but they should fully re-emerge… if we fight for them.

              • And I actually have no disagreements. Even agree wholeheartedly. 🙂

                But as for the million dollar question:
                How do you make the people fight for ‘them’ then?

              • edgar lores says:

                By trampling on their benefits. Ahaha!

                Levity aside, by “institutionalizing” resistance. How societies institutionalize resistance is a topic worthy of study.

                Part of the answer is LAW, which is an intersubjective agreement. Certain things are prohibited but, unfortunately, are allowed to emerge into reality in low-moral societies.

                Duterte broke the law in Davao but there was no institutionalized resistance. Davaoenos did not resist. The DOJ at that time, under De Lima, did not have the wherewithal and the support to unmask the Punisher.

                Then Duterte ran for the presidency and the masa could not detect the whiff of corruption and death emanating from the man. And the demon applied his final solution on a national scale. Again, there was no institutionalized resistance. Instead, there was institutional cooperation from the Legislature, the Judiciary (in burying Marcos and freeing plunderers in accordance with to the wishes of the demon), the businessman, and the media.

                And, so, here we are being strangled by a leader of our own choosing.

              • People vs. system is a chicken and egg kind of question. You need both to harmonize. People need to WANT a system to really work, not just a farce to LOOK like it works. The de facto (not theoretical) system has to reward desired behavior, not punish it. Iyon lang siguro.

              • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

                To answer Irineo Salazar, no I haven’t real the Filipino psychology school, unless you consider F. Landa Jocano a representative. Frankly that’s the sort of stuff I dislike.

                It essentialises a culture. It’s like all that writing which says that Chinese businesses are family-oriented because that’s how Chinese culture is (e.g Gordon Redding at Hong Kong University). Well, read historians of the labour process on British industry in the 1830s and you’ll find all those supposedly ‘Chinese’ characteristics – appointment of relatives, distrust of non-family members, etc – were universal in British businesses. Absolutely universal! The UK simply hadn’t yet built the institutions nor the company sizes which allowed modern company forms to thrive. If you know the social history ‘national psychology’ essentialisms just dissolve. Nothing essentially Chinese about any of this.

                Same for 1,000 other cultural characteristics. Maybe you think it is a cultural characteristic of Filipinos to be superstitious, or to help their provincial relatives? So it was a British characteristic in the 1880s when Brits and other Europeans surged into the fast-growing towns looking for better-paid work. Descriptions of this recently-arrived provincial population teems with strange folk beliefs, and of people hosting their rural relatives in their homes and funding their training. But now most Brits are extremely sceptical, and wouldn’t dream of lending money to their immediate siblings! That isn’t ‘British culture’, it is how societies work at different stages.

              • Well yes, essentializing doesn’t work, all you have is a snapshot of how a culture is in time.

                German culture in the time of Goethe – just the language gives you an idea of a slower pace of life, pre-industrial revolution, most of the technical words of today didn’t exist back then.

                Thing is, there are these snapshots, some causes are effects and are causes once more, the question is how does one get OUT of certain vicious cycles and enter virtuous cycles?

            • Basically changing and adapting behaviour through reward and punishment? Like operant conditioning? Hmm… Never seen the said concept applied on a national scale… But I can somewhat agree with it.

              As for your example, with countries being held in higher regard, bad deeds are usually punished and good deeds are rewarded with consistency. So sure, there will be bad eggs. However, time will surely not be gentle.

              For the PH’s context, the deeds and conditioning are reversed. And I’m sure there has already been much sentiment here, from those that had lived in the PH and then migrated, that the environment is really not that conducive to the ‘good guys’.

              Nevertheless, I’m guessing that you’re of the view that the system/structure is equally problematic when compared to the people, if not even more?

              Also, if I may add to your points, I view the situation in the PH and its stagnation as a result of an iterated prisoner’s dilemma.

              Looking at it iteratively, not defecting will usually mean stagnating as you can usually expect that the other one will. Given this, the mindset will usually be to defect and get a ‘1’ rather than just a measly ‘0’.

              And as of present, there is still little to no progress from moving to a zero-sum game to a positive-sum game. Not much feedback mechanisms to encourage such development.

              • It is hard to break vicious cycles. But Acemoglu/Robinson mention in their book, for example, how the UK broke out of oligarchic rule into democracy. Mr. Montagu mentions the evolution of the British system from corrupt to not corrupt in over 150 years.

                From anecdotes, the place I live in now (Munich) was relatively corrupt in the 1950s. Still a Catholic backwater in a rural environment with hardly any industries, except maybe those that catered to the newly arrived American GIs – the juicy details of that one can imagine.

                I think more honest opportunities to earn money led to a more honest attitude. Just like there is a German saying that circumstances and opportunity can make people into thieves! Maybe a bit like South Korea went from corrupt before to nearly not so corrupt nowadays.

              • So if I may interpret it correctly, it’s all economic? Assuming the assumption is correct, well, I won’t actually disagree.

                However, with that, I still have an issue with how we’re surely taking longer than normal. How can I say that? Well, all one needs to do is look at our neighboring countries. So what do you suppose did they do to jumpstart such economic developments? Was there a drastic circumstance that pushed for such changes or is it really just a slow but sure change?

              • Also. I think it is economic+psychological. My hunch is that short term thinking and fear of not getting “enough food at the buffet” keeps pulling the Philippines back down. Plus lack of seriousness in dealing with issues. Romania’s anti-corruption directorate for example has several hundred prosecutors dealing with cases at all levels. Compared to that, the Ombudsman is only a token effort. And Philippine courts are still way to SLOOOOOW! Probably more is needed to make a skeptical people believe change will be lasting.

              • Psychological is a given. At it’s base, humans are still animals of course. And what’s keeping them from reverting is still mostly economics as it is what makes the world go round.

                As a musing I’ve entertained back then, I’ve imagined Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs as being inverted, with a hint of ethical egoism.

                Basically, humans will aim for the next level so that they can maintain the previous one. As an example, people will aim for safety needs so that they can secure the physiological ones. And to maintain safety needs, they’ll have to aim for love/beloning. And so on.

                But I seem to be going off track…

                As for the justice system, well it really has been a real bottleneck for change. However, how does one actually reform such a thing? If an Emergency Ordinance was the only thing it needed, why is no one doing it?

                Oh wait. They did. Those fact-finding commissions and whatnot. However, it is supposedly unconstitutional. Thus, we’re back at the previous square.

              • The old system will always resist… I saw this with my own eyes at the DFA late 1980s.. generally speaking there were the new guard, either businesslike or idealistic, and the bureacratic old guard, foxes that new all the old ways and had many a maneuver at hand.

                So I am not surprised with what is going on between CJ Sereno and Midas Marquez. Seems DFA though WAS able to successfully modernize over decades – there are similar things in the corporate world, with old ways and pockets of resistance vs. reforms. Often IT is used to shine a light of transparency into old structures. Sometimes IT projects are resisted for that reason, because of cozy arrangements that some do not want known.

              • Old resisting the new? That I can understand. To quote something I found a while back:

                “Viewpoints of society don’t change because people in society change. Viewpoints of society change because people defending the obsolete viewpoint die out.”

                So in addition to letting them die out, one must also of course not let them breed.

                But for our case though, it seems that there is even a lot of inter-breeding. As you’ve said, there really was a lack of seriousness in dealing with the issue. So now, you have these complex tight-knit networks of political affiliations that seem to go back and forth and around.

                And with that, you either un-entangle such a complex beast and isolate them from each other, or you just destroy it altogether, let them scurry, and rebuild anew with additional anti-nesting mechanisms. And guess what is becoming more appealing?

                As for IT and transparency, well, that is actually one reason why I’m optimistic when it comes to a very likely move for Constitutional Reform. Given our technology now, they really can’t just have their way as what had Marcos did back then. As I’ve said to Edgar:

                “If there is anything different now, the people are surely starting to get involved and many of these greedy bastards are starting to blink. And this is where it will all probably start.”

                Heck, I’ve even seen a sort of La Liga Filipina being organized now. (If Miguel Syjuco rings a bell, I’m even becoming more optimistic.)

                But in case that things will still go south? Well, all the more fuel to the fire. Again, this is probably what Jefferson means that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

                As said before, it will be rebuild or rebuild from the ashes. It has been way long overdue.

              • I think DFA was able to modernize because they introduced the 2-year Foreign Service Academy – and because personal computers from the 1990s onwards minimized the need for clerical staff that in Philippine government offices often are, well, a bit special.

                Meaning one wonders what they do all day, and some probably have “special work” to do from time to time for some people. There were rumors I heard in some place but not more, but enough to get a picture of what probably was without having to know too many things.

                But imagine the typical Philippine office where you don’t have top universities plus 2-years of FSA, but whole lot of people – too many – usually from second tier universities, quite OK but with little chance of a career, coming into the usual Filipino office politics and cliques.

                You have cliques everywhere but I think cliques are very dominant in Filipino offices, even in the private sector I have observed it, government even more I am sure. You play by their unwritten rules, or for sure some of them can get nasty. Cockroaches in your desk drawer..

                At some point they may ask you to do something that is not exactly correct, technically. Maybe not even that wrong, but you’re in administrative trouble if it does come out. Is it even possible to rotate and replace enough to keep new toxic cliques from forming? I don’t know.

                Of course there is, in addition to herd mentality, utang na loob, So certain networks can be very strong because of that. Again, using information technology can keep records where no one can tamper with them and simplify rotation. So maybe one can dry out swamps?

                But the little I saw in my short time (purely a contractual student job) at the Embassy was that certain cliques are strong and possibly even impenetrable – they don’t even report all of what happens in their area to HQ. Imagine that in every department, precinct, city hall?

                DSWD: Rotting rice is found buried. Bilibid: drug lords thrive no matter who the current SOJ. Customs: there was an article here about the unofficial tara system. Who can reform that? Any boss can expect only partial control. You can’t put your own spies into every office.

              • One possibility to get real changes is citizen watchdog organizations that report if things are not being done properly in government offices. Embassies and Consulates improved a lot because of Filipino community pressure since 1986 onwards. But overseas Filipinos have no reason to be scared of an Ambassadorf – the man has no goons at his command, and the money they earn is independent of him, unlike a Mayor who may know all the big shots.

                If it can work, then only from the ground up and at all levels, as you said with networks.

                BUT then again Filipino groups must be able to stand up for themselves. What I also observed with overseas associations was the tendency to want to be “close to power”. 😦

              • Irineo, for citizen watchdogs, it seems that social media takes the cake? Connecting people from the ground up and at all levels. But of course, there is the problem of translating things into reality. But from what I can see, that is probably on those people on the upper strata of the network and how they can encourage people to show up and step up.

                Sadly, seldom do they reach out to the lower levels. Well, they do so but it is usually mostly on a superficial level. And I guess this could be a reason why this inevitably leads to groups wanting to be ‘close to power’. Because they are probably aware that they could surely be dropped from the ‘network’ anytime as they are never the ones doing the ‘leading’ in the first place. .

                (Social?) Status is probably a huge factor and one does not simply appear out of nowhere and just become a leader without it. No matter how competent you are, it is probably more important. However, it can become a numbers game. But that’s highly unlikely as the people are too disparate.

                (I can see a connection to Edgar’s ‘institutionalizing resistance”… For a musing I’m entertaining now, the people will probably need to win small battles before one can expect them to fight the big ones? It is a given that people will need to invest some time to develop these ‘resistive’ qualities. And as with investments, if this risk is not minimized, people won’t probably invest at all. They’ll just see it as a lost cause.)

                (Or you can start ’em young? I guess like with money, investing small but early and consistently can yield similar returns to a huge but inconsistent investment. But then again, profit is also dependent on assessing the current investment environment and proper entry… Hmm…)

              • NHerrera says:


                IP, first, a minor or trivial point — for nomenclature I have in mind using:

                C = Cooperate as you have depicted
                D = PSI = Pure Self-Interest

                I am aware of course that Defect is the traditional or generic term used for Prisoner’s Dilemma.

                Another point that may not be as trivial: without knowing it the general mass of Filipinos are practitioners of Game Theory’s Prisoner’s Dilemma. In economic terms, they are just using a very high discount rate for future rewards from cooperation — hence their choice of D or PSI.

              • NH, for nomenclature, that actually crossed my mind. However, looking at their individual circumstances, I can’t help but distinguish between self-interest and self-preservation. Why? Because the connotation of the former is that a conscious choice is made to take advantage of other people while the latter one is because that there is no other choice. (Looking at the short run, of course. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that most people are only capable of such.)

                Given how there is surely mix of the two, I’d prefer to stick to the more neutral terms.

                Also, when it comes to the payoff, I recently found the points to be actually a bit off as it only focuses on ‘rewards’. So to address that, I think negative numbers should also be used to quantify ‘punishment’. Like the following:

                I dub it as “The Citizens’ Dilemma”.

                Using A & B respectively:
                Cooperate-Cooperate: Yields a reward for both citizens.
                Cooperate-Defect and Defect-Cooperate: Yields a more significant reward for the defector and a punishment for the cooperator.
                Defect-Defect: Yields no change in the status quo.

                And as was said, the Filipinos are indeed unwilling practitioners. However, I’ll dare say that all people around the world are surely constantly faced with such a dilemma. But Filipinos do defect a lot.

                If I were to enumerate some factors why it leads to such a situation:

                – No arbitration: Little to no effort is made to address the information assymetry between parties. If there is, it is mostly just ends up a ‘nah fuck you, nah fuck you’ deadlock.
                – No proper enforcement: If by some miracle that they agree, (or one inevitably yields), there is little to no action that will encourage cooperation and discourage defection between parties. Because going back to the previous factor, there was probably no proper agreement in the first place. So fuck ’em.
                – No citizen involvement: Given the factors above, you really can’t expect the citizens to become involved as well. In short, a fuck you too.

                In a way, that pretty much sums up the Filipino mentality: Fuck everyone who isn’t me or isn’t with me. Hence the mess that we’re in now. It is indeed a vicious cycle. And as I’ve asked many times, how does one break it?

                Lastly, may I suggest the following link? It’s actually what spawned the whole prisoner’s dilemma idea. There is probably some answers there to the last question. Not to mention that I’m sure you’ll find the whole thing interesting. 🙂


              • ip, the level of confidence, ease in dealing with strangers, a certain level of chutzpah are part of being in public view – easier for people with a higher social position to develop it.

                A study on the CEOs of German Top Corporations revealed that most come from the same social class and had a similar “habitus” (a term for the entirety of how a person behaves, dresses etc.) – now try identifying dilaw and Dutertian by habitus, it shouldn’t be that hard.

                And true, certain circles in the Philippines (the ones I called Filipinos in my article Honeylet and Leni, with that F) stay among themselves, max 3 degrees of separation. Contact to the Pilipinos, the -lets and -lyns, only short. I know the Filipino networks well (grew up in them).

                But any society has developments like that. Not long ago, the networks of nobility were very much present and very powerful in Germany. They still are there, but much less powerful. Used to be they controlled much of the Foreign Office. Knew the GMRC of diplomacy.

                As for developing leadership, Social Democrats and labor unions were I think a factor in developing leaders from the working class over here. A union leader has his “resbak” and moves up the ladder in facing bigger and bigger challenges, at the top you are the one negotiating with the CEO types. Christian Democrats I think did the same leadership development for small town people, but that started after WW2. Group solidarity needed.

                Filipinos in Germany already had become bolder by the time Embassies were open to any dialogue (from 1986). Working in a Western context had developed their assertiveness.

              • ….

                For habitus and social status, a point of agreement. But as a question: Does it ‘trickle down’ and lead to some development below? Or is it by some whole other factor entirely? But of course, the old guards will influence the new guards in some ways. But with that, the new ones will probably push on the opposite direction of the pendelum swing. So as you’ve said, new blood will inevitably step up with time. But as I’ve asked before: Where are they then? Why are we still ‘here’?

                But thinking about it now, when you say ‘working class’, it was probably composed of the middle class over there, no?

                I guess that this could be a reason for why the social democrats (and by extension the opposition) here are unsuccessful. The target populace here has mostly been the lower classes. And to be blunt here, that is probably an ineffective strategy. By virtue of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they probably couldn’t care less about esteem and self actualization as their concern are still mostly physiological. Three square meals a day with a roof over their heads is what is needed. Democracy is an overrated concept for many of them and it really doesn’t serve them as of the moment because of the upkeep. So in a way, their goal and reference for now is basically the middle class. But if the middle class is stuck, it follows that they’ll be stuck as well. So what’s the point? Why hassle?

                Hmm… If they really want to mobilize people for change, they should probably find a message that will resonate with the middle class and mobilize them. And Duterte has seem to have capitalized on that by aiming to address security and safety needs. The next steps will probably only be aimed at after some progress on the said need.

                And if the middle class steps up, the lower class will follow after that. Think of it as re-arranging a pyramid of blocks to become more evenly distributed? (Assuming a constant population? Not really sure if the analogy that I am visualizing is translating into words properly…)

              • ip, The German working class is now fully middle class, able to afford at least one vacation per year to a warmer place. The founding groups for Social Democracy in the 19th century were coal and steel workers, poor but moving up and similar in aspiration to Filipino OFWs.

                The desperate middle class, scared of losing everything – both white collar (office workers) and blue collar (manual laborers) of course voted Hitler in 1933. There was some similarity to today’s situation in the Philippines. Old regime gone but many of its supporters were still there and restless, democracy already there but except for Social Democrats it was a game for those who had money, new media (radio) to reach more people, global instability etc.

              • So would we become like Germany after Duterte? HAHAHA

                But in all seriousness, a dictator does seems to be the ultimate ‘stick’ to the carrot and stick method.

                But given that we’ve already had one in the past, what do you suppose is/was different from Germany, to our current and previous dictator?

      • Matthew Montagu-Pollock says:

        When I wrote in my Linkedin profile ” “there may be only 500 potential readers in the Philippines for a serious book on the country” ” [a] that was written maybe 10 years ago, and the English-speaking audience has grown enormously, at least so I believe, though I don’t know of any research on this; [b] frankly the comment was mis-phrased, and partly reflected my doubts about my writing abilities; [c] nevertheless, it would be interesting to know how many copies of Rey Ileto’s ‘Knowledge and Pacification’ or Carolin Hau’s ‘Elites and Illustrados’ have been sold by Ateneo, both writers with hugely greater skills than my own, who would be expected to achieve much larger audiences than my estimated 500.

        The causes of what I presume are a rather small market for serious books are in my view institutional – English is still a second language for many; the serious reading habit, which again takes time to nurture, is only established in a few urban centres; books are expensive; libraries are scarce.

        • The culture is very much based on personal communication. Even serious historians like Ambeth Ocampo and Xiao Chua are like part-time entertainers with own shows and FB Live. Popularizers like Lourd de Veyra (rock musician) and Rodolfo Sabayton (comedian) work with real researchers (Chua etc.) to give their own shows like “History with Lourd” serious foundations. Those who popularize definitely read, and regulary promote new books on their respective FB pages – social media is the thing for the personally communicative Filipino.

          Then you have radio shows and interview shows which far outstrip print and Internet media in coverage – whether it is Tulfo (pro-Duterte) or “Bawal ang Pasaway” (Winnie Monsod).

          Lots of migrant Filipinos preferred voice tapes to letter in the 1980s. Personally I think the culture of writing remained something outside the true culture for most. The likes of Rizal are exceptions that prove the rule. Visual and audio still rule. If there were smell transmission..

  15. Totally off topic, but I drop it here because it is one of the most invigorating technology reads I’ve had since I was hauling my sewing-machine-like Osborne around in the guise of portability. The title is ‘Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble’, an article in the New York Times Magazine published in January of this year. It is interesting, comprehensible, and enlightening, all in about 3 million words. Written by Steven Johnson. If you want to catch up on the bitcoin fundamentals, and what they mean, this article is a great place to get briefed:

    • Ancient Mariner says:

      3 million words?

    • Blockchain technology is an emerging technology that was theorized in the 1990’s but its practical application were first seen in 2009 when Nakamoto introduced it to the world as a secure storage unit for the cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

      The article is actually on topic if you substitute democracy in place of blockchain in the paragraph below.

      “Whether it (democracy) eventually lives up to its egalitarian promise will in large part depend on the people who embrace the platform (ideology), who take up the baton, as Juan Benet puts it, from those early pioneers. If you think the internet (democracy) is not working in its current incarnation, you can’t change the system through think-pieces and F.C.C.(governmental) regulations alone. You need new code (narrative).”

      The narrative is pretty much the “Filipino Dream” fleshed out and acted upon by conscientious and upright Filipinos. How do Filipinos envision PH in its most satisfactory state (homeostasis)? What are the factors that need to be shored up/ changed/ amended / etc in order to start the ball rolling (weaknesses)? What are the factors that are already in place that could be utilized (strengths)? What are the desired outcomes and how they could be replicated?

      • You know, Juana, that is downright brilliant. Those last questions are great ‘solution’ starters.

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          Didn’t I call her before our Joan d’Pines?

          “The narrative is pretty much the “Filipino Dream” fleshed out and acted upon by conscientious and upright Filipinos. How do Filipinos envision PH in its most satisfactory state (homeostasis)? What are the factors that need to be shored up/ changed/ amended / etc in order to start the ball rolling (weaknesses)? What are the factors that are already in place that could be utilized (strengths)? What are the desired outcomes and how they could be replicated?”

          . . . for this response to the above quote, I fear it to be misunderstood for mis-intentions. Posted or published before here or elsewhere, I can’t remember anymore; an essay I re-assembled to a wannabe poetry of 64 stanzas; I numbered them to make it easy to pick what is salient to the current blog. Who reads anyway my long Wakatutak here? Only Joe Am, Eh? Written long ago, the thoughts could be irrelevant now but do pay notice to the stanza numbers, please.

          A Blast From the Past: Noynoy’s Philippine Dream

          1 The world is too familiar with the American Dream.
          The global compass needle pointing from north to
          Southeast to west quivers in awe, on how a person
          Through hard work and human ability, in an incredible

          2 Trustful environment that challenges the individual,
          Can transform a pauper into a millionaire, a relative
          Unknown talent into a wealthy celebrity; how struggling
          Artists and professionals after years of hardships
          Would win fame and fortune overnight.

          3 The American dream is about Americans,
          Not about the country—the United States
          Of America. Without the country—being
          About or in another country—there will be
          No American Dream. I know, so that’s my
          Dilemma. By serendipity, hard work and

          10 Before thoughts unfold, let it be clear that
          REFORMS—seeking a Philippine Dream—start
          And are expected to be instigated from the TOP;
          While REVOLUTIONS are upheavals exploding
          From BELOW. This piece is about the former.

          43 The third essence is the mammoth engine of the dream,
          What Noynoy calls the structures of governance. It is so
          Large, overlapping the three others, it is considered the
          Fourth branch of governance: the BUREAUCRACY.
          It is the super Jumbo jet, so colossal that when piloted
          By the morally unfit, technically decrepit, leadership

          44 Incompetence could dehumanized and crashed the nation
          Into poverty then turmoil. They are co-pilots, they who
          work alongside the pilot, the branch which make the laws,
          and the branch which interprets the law. These co-equal

          46 Noynoy needs ALL the help he can get from all
          Filipinos: the pious and the peacemakers, the zealots
          And the crooks, the clean and the dirty politicians,
          The opportunists and free-loaders, the radicals and

          47 The communists, the misled government men,
          The OFWs, the immigrants and the double citizens,
          the young idealists, all creatures with two legs whose
          DNAs and spirit are Filipino—who according to John

          53 Early on, I posited not without alacrity that
          A constitution, the fundamental law of the
          Land embodies the dream of the polity i.e. of
          A nation and its people. From a sublime desire,

          54 The constitution becomes a clear statement of
          Intent, of a future state of the state; but which
          Others will see as impossible to achieve in its
          Totality as in a dream come true.

          58 In short, the dream is about the virtues of theist
          Law-abiding citizens, efficiently and justly governed,
          In united pursuit of prosperity. The sub categories
          Are defined in the chapters that deal with health,
          Education, justice, national defense, finance,
          Environment, etc.

          59 Noynoy’s Social Contract with the People shall,—
          Put in its proper perspective—be considered his
          Philippine Dream. We can find it in his stated
          Vision for the country: (1) A re-awakened sense
          Of right and wrong, through the living examples
          Of our highest leaders; (2) An organized and

          63 As it is more down to earth, current,
          and doable and non-Committal where
          it should not be. The vision looks inadequate
          and simplistic without belabouring its context.
          The people’s virtue of right and wrong
          Leads on to more complex issues of education
          Reform; nationalistic attitude of patriotism and love
          Of country; deep changes that can lead to “new politics”,

          64 A politics that overhauls the authoritative allocation of values
          In the Filipino society; the intrusion of religion on purely Caesar’s
          Jurisdiction; fostering excellence in the sciences and the arts;
          Recognition and honour for its heroes and upright citizens, just
          Compensation for victims of neglect, atrocities and bad governance, etc.

  16. Ancient Mariner says:

    Oops. You are correct.

  17. People on Twitter are posting these photos of tarps found in Mendiola and Divisoria. Some say they are all over Metro-Manila. They say: “ABUSADONG GOBYERNO. Abusado na. Murderer Pa.”

    (The other post is a tarp in Mendiola but in Moderation)

    Spotted kagabi sa Divisoria. Kalurks!The tarp says: Abusadong Gobyerno. Abusado Na, Mas Murderer Pa.Di na happy ang mga utaw. Chararat naman na nga kasi dito sa Pinas.#AbusadongGobyerno #TheWalkingDead— Jose Marie Viceral (@vicegandasiako) March 19, 2018

  18. Sup says:

    Off Topic.
    Confirmed at Headstart ANC this morning that de Lima did selective justice in the Napoles cases…
    Try to watch the replay’s today..

  19. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: Nothing boils the blood than this man presiding over the biggest MLM ever.

    • NHerrera says:

      One has to be a robot to be charitable — not commenting is an option but not preventing the involuntary rising of blood pressure when you see him. You probably have a ranking of at least three that correlate with your BP rise?

  20. NHerrera says:


    The Cambridge Professor and data scientist, Aleksandr Kogan, conducted a personality test Facebook application built by Kogan. Those who took the test gave Kogan access to their data, including demographic information about them like names, locations, ages and genders, as well as their page “likes,” and some of their Facebook friends’ data. Because of such scientific pursuit, Facebook, gave him millions of users data.

    There is no crime in that, but what subsequently happened is that Kogan shared the data with Cambridge Analytica the controversial data firm that worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (and may I add, the information in the personality profile is like handling the chicken coop to the fox — made to order for Cambridge Analytica in relation to the 2016 Election Campaign).

    Politicians in UK and US are up in arms against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

    Aleksandr Kogan for his part says he has not yet been approached by UK and US authorities, but if asked said,

    “I’d be more than happy to testify and speak candidly about the project.”

    • Great summary. It also gets bizarre when Cambridge Analytica’s head is recorded talking about how to manipulate politicians with prostitutes and other means, and the apparent revelation that they did this regularly.

      • NHerrera says:

        Which brings up the oft-mentioned statement that the next war world war may not be about the use of nuclear weapons but of a soft weapon, but equally dangerous, the cyberspace weapon.

        I don’t know if it is any comfort, as a corollary, if China decides to just use those islands for tourism, and devote instead their considerable budget to cyber-weapon technology as Russia seems to be rather successful. (To be fair, though, all the developed countries will not be acting to their best interests if they are not at the game too.)

        • karlgarcia says:

          A few days ago, I had this mini-tantrum about ethical hacking. What’s in a name, anyways.
          If I don’t see anything wrong with under-cover deep penetration agents, I should not find anything wrong with ethical hacking.

          At least in this cyberwarfare we don’t have to match the Russians and the Chinese man to man and weapon to weapon.

          • NHerrera says:

            That is right, we cannot match their armed population and their nuclear weapons, planes, ships but we can take a stab on cyber-tech, and we do have some bright boys. But we still cannot match the budget that can be arrayed on it. This is of course not a reason for not developing that technology, if only for cyber risk assessment and defense, very limited though the budget is.

            But then the painful reality. Why bother? What national security are we talking about in the context of our present set of leaders?

  21. NHerrera says:


    In developed countries, a fall of the stock index from the Peak of about 10 percent is viewed with great concern. But not so in the PH? I am just posting this for info, although it is not really my province.

    Peak Jan 26, 2018 = 9041
    Close Mar 20, 2018 = 8060

    Decline from Peak = 10.8%

  22. PDP’s 2019 Senatorial Slate

    1. Koko Pimentel
    2. Francis Tolentino
    3. Reynaldo Umali
    4. Zajid Mangudadatu
    5. Geraldine Roman
    6. Karlo Nograles
    7. Harry Roque
    8. Bong Go

    Hmmm… Who will complete the slate? Panelo? Aguirre? Calida? Bato? Sasot? Nieto?

    Sara also endorsed Pia Cayetano and Mocha Uson but they will probably in her Hugpong line up.

  23. karlgarcia says:

    Winning is a state of mind, just ask parekoy, he still thinks he beat Joe in a debate that happened or never happened three years ago.

    • NHerrera says:

      Naughty boy you, karl. Stoking the duel 🙂

      • Karl is illustrating the “Ipse dixit fallacy (he said it himself)“ that we learned from Chemrock.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Sup posted a recent comment from parekoy, parekoy commented that joe is struggling for readership which is very out of touch and he thinks joe can’t get over the fact that he beat him. beat him in what?

        • andrewlim8 says:

          that is rather like Trump saying Hillary let him win the election so he can be impeached, or Trump saying the Democrat won in a local election because he was like Trump. 🙂

          aha ha ha ha ha

          and it all happens…. ta dahhh …. in another person’s blog….ha ha ha ha ha

  24. Coolasas says:

    The first point suggested could start a spark … if only we could clone more Trillanes and Morales who doesn’t back down on calling out the government.
    If only we could …

  25. chemrock says:

    “Dear intelligent people of the Philippines who are okay with dictatorship because you think you will fare well.”

    A couple of days ago I started drafting a new blog on militarisation in Asean and the dangers it represent, and Philippines’ role in bringing on this state of affairs. These are existential challenges that nobody’s talking about. It’s stuff that DFA and AFP should be extremely concerned and have some vision on, but wala … Cayetano is a thousand miles away.

    Then today I read a comment by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. It takes the thunder away from my blog, but nice to see there is at least one guy in the Cabinet who can see beyond the hubris in the admin.

    • The belief is that a code of conduct for the disputed seas is the anchor point for peace. It is my bet that China will never agree to such a code as it would restrain her imperial ambitions. The only two forces likely to stop or restrain China’s ambitions are the US and a regional alliance, anchored by Japan, Viet Nam, Australia, and India. I doubt that the Philippines is the Switzerland of Asia, and will have to take up a position either for or against China. In the meantime, it can tread some happy happy middle ground.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: