Thinkers only: the limits of intelligence

Outputs. [Photo by Anton Zelenov, Wikimedia Commons]

Editor’s note: This article was originally a reader’s comment in response to my recent blog about NEDA. I am publishing it here because I believe it warrants a wider audience if we ever hope to put the days of being resilient but incompetent in the past. JA


By Francis

Pardon for the excessive length of this comment. This comment is long because what I seek to achieve is to place “infrastructure” and “policy-making” (which have been tackled through multiple angles in other reader comments) in a wider, broader context. I also hope to synthesize and reconcile most of the points raised into a single, broad framework.

“Your point 1: yes, the Philippines has always had competent people. BUT the weakness has always been not in individuals. The systems to plan and implement collectively seem weak.”

“Now both examples show that at a simple, village or forager level, it was easy to keep people from “freeloading”.

“Freeloading is part and parcel of the mendicant mindset of the Filipino. …It’s encouraged by the culture of patronage..”

I do not wish to come off as elitist—again, I’m no expert, just some random dude on the internet and all that—but I think that Filipinos (as a general whole) simply don’t have the “grammar” and “vocabulary” of symbols and concepts to properly comprehend modern society as citizens of a mature democracy.

This is not because Filipinos are dumb or inherently stupid. Filipinos, I notice, generally cannot look beyond family/barkada in understanding society. When confronted with the many problems of modern society, we Filipinos always seem to apply family/barkada analogies; two common cliches arise as a result in political discourse: all we need is “unity” in politics (without seemingly asking the elephant in the room: “unity” for whom, and how shall that concept be filtered through structures and patterns of society—class, religion, region, ethnicity and whatever else?) and all we need is to put the “good” people in charge (without asking: how shall we ensure that the “good” people keep coming?). There is not much systemic thinking happening here and this shows, even among the ”educated” portion of the population—fond of talking about how they are always “smart-shamed” by the “dumb” masses.

Note how these two cliches pop up even among the opposition, even among reformists; the only ones who don’t rely on these cliches are the Left, and the only ones outside of the Left who don’t rely on these cliches are members of the academe.

Again, I reiterate that this does not mean Filipinos are stupid. Only illiterate in the “vocabulary” and “grammar” of modern society, which I guess would be ideology; Filipinos and Filipino politics is unideological. Ideology is often defined as a package of ideas that conceive of and promote a certain ideal society that entail and imply a programme of action or otherwise, a platform of policy to attain.

Ideology is (1)perception, (2)ideal/goal/objective and (3)action.

Ideology is a product of modern, complex society; it provides “grammar” and “vocabulary” to talk about modern society in societal terms or as a society instead of a patchwork of families and friends. Especially in democracies, where citizens have to decide on matters of import.

Why do we need ideology?

Let us think of democracy as a machine. There is input and there is output. Input is the wants of the citizens, the “people” and the output is the fulfillment of said wants; we desire democracy because it represents us, and because it represents us—it gives us what we need and want in a way that is superior to other forms of government.

Input = Citizen Needs + Wants -> Democracy -> Output = Government Policy

But there are millions of citizens in any modern, complex society. Each of the millions of citizens have their own wants and needs. Can the “democracy machine” fulfill handle all those millions of inputs and successfully translate them into millions of correct outputs?

Yes…in a way.

What mature democracies do is that they simplify things: they lump together all the individual want-inputs and need-inputs into a few blobs of groups sharing common values, whether by class, religious, ethnic lines—or a mixture of these. Liberals. Conservatives. Socialists. Islamicists. Christian Democrats. Confucianists. Communists. Paleoconservatives. Hindu Nationalists. Secularists.

To comprehend the reality of these blobs, these groups sharing common values—the concept of “ideology” arises. To live in the reality of these blobs in mature democracy, requires the practice of ideological thinking (whether we are conscious/aware of it, or not).

In the abstract world, the millions of interests (of input-needs and input-wants) are summed up in the “blobs” which act as simplified shorthand, which we call ideology. In the concrete world or reality, these “blobs” of shared interests/values are reflected in political parties, who input the simplified shorthand of their interests (ideology) into the “democracy machine” which churns out policy and program.

Observe the correspondence between concrete and abstract realities.

Concrete Reality: Millions of People/Citizens/Voters => simplification/aggregation => A Few Political Parties -> Democratic Government -> Government Policy

Realm of Thought/Abstract Reality: Millions of Interests => simplification/aggregation => A Few “Ideologies” -> Public Discourse & Debate in a Democratic Framework -> Zeitgeist/Prevailing Norms of Society

The West, after centuries of trial-and-error, breathes this like air; virtually second-nature at this point. Which is, I suppose, why party-building efforts are a bust; it’s like a fish teaching a person how to swim.

Again, I reiterate that Filipinos are not stupid for not comprehending this. Only “illiterate” as it were.

Here is the example of the gap: even the most average Republican and Democrat would understand those labels “Republican” and “Democrat” as entailing certain values, that in turn imply certain policy reflecting those values. That hypothetical person may not 100% agree with “Republicans” or “Democrats” but may feel that his interests/values are represented significantly by one or the other, and thus may be “aggregated” into one of the labels. In short, the average citizen in the West—regardless of intelligence or level of formal education—has access to “language” (“ideologies” and “ideological concepts” i.e. “Left,” “Right,” “Conservative,” “Libertarian,” etc.) that allows him to simplify his interests and combine his interests with other people, so as to effectively participate in public discourse and governance of a complex society as a citizen.

That allow him to have a simplified view of society as a whole, along with a simplified view of how his values and interests can alter/interact with society.

There is a debate about values, which implies a debate about policy.

Filipinos, on the other hand, argue about people. Personalistic. Like this complex, modern society is a huge barangay, and all we have to do to solve our problems is to slap the other guy’s back and say, “Okay lang ‘yan.” Very narrow.

Before one says that I am being Westernized, I would like to note that non-Western societies can think and offer frameworks on a societal level akin to ideology: Islamic parties in the Middle-East, the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, Confucianism, etc.

Which is not to say that certain Filipinos have tried to set up systematic systems of thought; Diliman is a womb that has birthed many—which have (in my opinion) sadly either been limited to academic circles or forgotten in some library somewhere.

What is not lacking is not ideology but ideological thinking on a mass-scale to the point where it is second-nature even to the average citizen, who has access (by osmosis) to a “language” that allows him to have a societal-eye’s (a “systemic” view) view—as we have noted above with the “average” Republican and “average” Democrat, etc.

But I think that, in bringing up “ideology,” I have muddled waters.

A potential question:

“What does this have to do with things like regional planning, calculations about local, optimizing operations for efficiency and scale and regional gains? These don’t seem like political things—these seem like very common-sense, practical things.”

We should be aware that multiple varieties of “systematic” thinking have been raised in the discussion in the comments.

For example:

“1) Regional plans (and the law regulating them) that make sure different areas are allocated to certain purposes. That explains a lot of stuff for me,… 2) Land use is the more local level, and very detailed. A lot in the center of Munich may have something built on it, but the next one who builds may have to build exactly 5 stories to meet the height of other buildings in adjacent lots…3) Forecasting as a planning method. Roads to nowhere make no sense…4) Financing…5) Prioritization of projects from the useful ones…”

Is a “managerial,” technocratic “systematic” way of thinking—as opposed to the “ideological” way of “systematic” thinking detailed above.

What is the relationship between these two? The schema earlier used is important in this regard.

Concrete Reality: Millions of People/Citizens/Voters => simplification/aggregation => A Few Political Parties (1) ->Democratic Government (2) -> Government Policy

The difference between “ideological” and “managerial” systematic thinking is that the first focuses on answering the question “why-how” or “why-BIG-how” while the second tackles the question “how” or “small-how.”

In “ideological” systematic thinking, the question dealt with is “why-how” because it tries to resolve what values society should prioritize (the “why”) AND the general direction of the actions (hence, BIG-how) whereas “managerial” systematic thinking deals with the question “how” because it deals with the technical details, the specifics of what must be done—hence, SMALL-how: the fine-tuning of the BIG-how.

To return to our schema—the schema for our the “democracy machine” can be thus broken apart like this:

1. “Ideological” Systematic Thinking allows for the public, the citizenry as a whole to participate in setting the OVERRIDING priorities of society, and the resulting OVERALL direction of government policy.

It takes place here, in arrow (1): Millions of People/Citizens/Voters => simplification/aggregation =>A Few Political Parties (1) -> Democratic Government (2) -> Government Policy


2. “Managerial” Systematic Thinking is where the experts, the technocrates translate the cues from the public, the citizenry as a whole into concrete policy. They fine-tune the OVERALL direction of government policy into SPECIFIC programs.

It takes place here, in arrow (2): Millions of People/Citizens/Voters => simplification/aggregation => A Few Political Parties (1) -> Democratic Government (2) -> Government Policy.

In a way, the citizenry as a whole is (supposed to be) the CEO and the middle-management who enforce everything are the technocrats…

How does all this mumbo-jumbo exactly relate to…(concrete) infrastructure stuff like railways and bridges? I guess:

Railways, Bridges, Etc. = Output, “Policy”

And in a way, we can consider systems that facilitate “ideological” and “managerial” thinking to be “infrastructures” as well—i.e. political parties for the former, policy-making bodies for the latter; systems that facilitate ideological thinking, we can dub the “infrastructure of participation” (as it allows for citizens as collective political body/bodies to decide the direction of society) while technocratic bodies like NEDA which handle “managerial” thinking for society can considered as part of an “infrastructure of action,” both of which being akin to the “software” of our society, if infrastructure be the “hardware” as it were.

And as Irineo pointed out, (concrete) infrastructure alone is not enough.

“How to bridge the gap between the “native” or “barangay” mentality that wants things done at once and the “elite” or “modern” mentality that understands planning and execution?”

As noted many times—there is no shortage of good people. For a developing country—we have a relatively robust (if somewhat underfunded) education system. Technocrats, we have dime a dozen.

Unfortunately—as Marcos has shown during the dark days of the dictatorship, and as Duterte has shown with his gut-fueled abrasive handling of Boracay—our system of government is such that politicians can easily overpower our experts and technocrats. Our “infrastructure of action” is heavily restricted.

And as the relatively anemic level of genuine participation among the citizenry—and downright lack of experience and opportunities among the few willing, who lack defined and well-worn structures like political parties to participate meaningfully—indicates, our “infrastructure of participation” is…lacking; <em>only the relatively few activists and advocates from civil society can speak up—as the ordinary ABCDE Filipino are either dismissive (worst-case scanario) or perplexed (best-case scanario) at what these “pilosopo” know-it-alls are actually doing.

“Policy? What is policy?”

Which means that technocrats don’t have a sympathetic base of politicians and citizenry to support their initiatives—which means that technocrats and civil servants are all the more vulnerable.

Improve the software, along with the hardware.

A random thought, to close this overly long comment: it is quite odd that we’ve always focused on physical outputs like classrooms, books and chairs in improving our educational system, and we’ve always lavished our attention on these…

…but we’ve never given as much attention on improving quality i.e. raising NAT/National Achievemet Test scores, and perhaps placing more funding into our normal colleges that produce our teachers.


123 Responses to “Thinkers only: the limits of intelligence”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    We have good individals bit not good teams.
    The chain is as strong as its weakest link.
    Wha hapen?
    We are told that we are good at bayanihan, but now they say collectively we suck.

    They say we are resilient, but cockroaches are also resilient.
    We bash stupidity without looking at the mirror, because there will always be a time when we do stupid stuff our selves.

    Education is the answer per Will, Irineo posted some multi-lingual stuff that would be educational if I knew what he was trying to convey.

    • Bayanihan works at local level, not national. And at a non-abstract level of to-dos, the tasks that one many have on a GANNT Chart.

      That is why I say Scrum might work. Teams of 3-9 people choose to solve stuff doable in 2-3 week sprints. Immediate check if done or Not.

      The multilingual stuff was simply 6 languages in which the EU Parliament resolution on the Philippines was published. French for Imee.

      That place has translators to and from 24 languages in 3 alphabets yet it manages to produce results. The UN uses 6 languages.

      Back to the article: missing higher abstraction is the root. Abstraction of interests beyond own group, and work beyond immediate tasks.

      • karlgarcia says:


      • Missing: ‘Abstraction of interests beyond own group, and work beyond immediate tasks.’ I think you have the Philippine condition down to 12 words. When one asks ‘why’, and ‘what we gonna do about it, if anything’, then it is possible to formulate an action plan.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Multiple-scrums might still need a large-scale scrum as you said batanihan only works locally.
        Bottom line is, hirarchies can not be dismissed, you need a leader who can see the forest, the big picture, you know what I mean.
        Those who do not want leaders might change their mind when everything fouls up.
        You will always look for someone to blame and a flat society with no hierarchies can not give you that.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Bayanihan can be sniffles (bahing) that became Filipinos’s common cold (sipon) handed
        down from generation with positive consequences. Look closely at the Bayanihan symbol.
        What gives, man? Men carrying on their shoulders a house to move it somewhere.

        A house that squats illegally on someone’s property? A picture of landless men only too happy helping another landless tenant move his house to a temporary lot before he is ask to move again. Many landless men helping one another in anticipation of help when it’s their turn to move. So it happens that happy landless men for centuries stayed happy and willing to help one another.

        So what? After many decades, what is the backlog of land reform, of land distribution to landless farmers? Tied to rice farming, in 1959 there were 3.2 million hectares cultivated to upland and lowland rice. Nowadays in smaller magnitude, Bayanihan is still the common cold alleviated by cheap generic medication.

        But that’s not the point, Eh. A pound of cleverness sometimes is just a kilogram of cynicism(less is more in a bad way). It is really about the spirit of helping one another that resides for centuries in the hearts of Filipinos.

        Huh? JESUS CHRIST! Jesus said and Jesus Saves: LOVE ONE ANOTHER, but help yourself first Jesus did not say. But– better of–people of progressive countries, think of what they did to themselves, revolt and flood the streets with blood if they must, as in France, fought a civil war as in the |United States, In pounds or in kilograms that’s cleverness.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    There was a blog here where Joe mentioned legislation about motor cycle safety, in which Pablo vehemently disagreed.

    We have laws that are far from original intent, because of debates, disagreements and compromises.
    The powerful wins, not the noisiest.
    Wisdom of the crowd is overpowhelmed by the stupidity of the few.

    • Abstraction comes from abs + trahere. To carry something (trahere) to a higher level. Laws are abstraction. Ten Commandments 2.

      Though shalt not kill unless it is an adik is not in Moses’ Laws. The extension adik is okey if related to GMA makes the abstraction ‘inutile’.

      Close if dugyot but only if Boracay. Manila more dugyot but too late to clean? Sabi ni Meyor replaces laws most simply ignore.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        It seems elementary and simple to a simpleton:
        Drug Lords (also manufacturers) and pushers
        are racketeers, racketeering businessmen
        addicts are not barbarians or savages
        addicts are sick persons needing a quick fix
        what to do with them DO NOT need bullets.

        Jail the Drug Lords and the pushers
        Treat and help the addicts with rehab
        Are what they do in other countries .

        • The fear of methheads (shabu addicts) probably has two major reasons – this is based on what I have read about them, also seen on the “Wired” HBO series and social media here:

          1) seeming total loss of conscience and self-control in extreme cases. In the “Wired” series, a methhead crushes the head of her addict boyfriend with an ATM, just like that. There are scare stories in the Philippines about rape/kills by methheads, or killing their own family. How often is not clear at all – individual cases are enough to scare the wits out of people. In the USA there was a real case of a methhead eating parts of somebody’s face. Scary.

          2) hard to bring under control. A Bavarian police video mentioned that extremely agitated meth cases can need up to three policemen to bring under control. And I have seen how Bavarian police officers can bring an unruly person to lying on the ground within seconds. How many cases of “Nanlaban” are simply cases of young and inexperienced Filipino cops panicking at the sight of a human banshee running in their direction as if nothing mattered?

          Seems they have the extreme strength of people who are on high adrenalin can be.

          Plus the overconfidence of people who are usually afraid whose fear is almost turned off by a drug designed to make WW2 Luftwaffe pilots and Panzer drivers awake and fearless.

          These are probably the same types that would drink gin at the kanto in the olden days, whistle at girls – but with meth they dare go further and that, I have read, makes some women take another way home, for fear of rape. Scare stories make fear worse of course.

  3. Vicara says:

    This article provides much food for thought. But in terms of infrastructure planning and implementation, I see a difference in non-ideological responses by provincial/rural residents and by NCR-dwellers .

    Responding to this statement:“How to bridge the gap between the ‘native’ or ‘barangay’ mentality that wants things done at once and the ‘elite’ or ‘modern’ mentality that understands planning and execution?”

    I’m Makati (NCR) born and bred, but worked for several years on a regional development program in rural areas–including conflict-affected areas. My impression is that NCR residents–the ones equipped with better education, more income, and more avenues for joining the “elite” class–are the ones who are the most impatient–at times to an illogical degree.(“The MRT mess can fixed right NOW!)

    Rural residents, for the most part, tend to be the most patient and least demanding.

    But most impatient of all are these same rural areas’ tiny populations of elites–governors and mayors and congressmen chasing big-ticket infra in time for election year, and “local oligarchs”–who want everything done FAST. Forget the careful planning and collaboration! Forget the long-drawn-out reviews of contractor bids! Forget transparent bidding by sub-contractors! (Just get all your materials from my cousin! Brod, make sure it passes through my district, OK?)

    • Very keen insight, Vicara. It fits with the polls that have ABC backing Duterte. I also know local politics are intensely personal and detached from what might be termed ‘western ethics’.

  4. Abstraction is missing. Bottom-up aggregation from local to regional to national for Topic 1, from tasks to projects and programs; Top. 2.

    Top-down is even worse I think, driven more by formality than effectivity or sense of purpose.

    Just some inputs. How to build that capability?

    • Francis says:

      Quick, gut response:

      >Force Filipinos to develop a love for reading. And for learning beyond the “non-instrumental” sense i.e. learning because you love the quest for learning, or because you love something—not because “you have to” or because “it pays a lot.”

      Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy out-of-this-world response:

      >Drop K12 focus on job-training. “Regress” a chunk of our educational system into reaalllly “old school”

      Western-Noble/Chinese-Mandarin style of teaching where you make students go through a close reading of the “classics” (not in English, but in Filipino—to force “intellectualize” the common usage of the language; it is not that language itself is not capable e.g. institutions like UP have already used the language in ways that show it to be equal to English or any other “international” language, but that people aren’t used to “treating” it as a “smart” language) so as to make people “get used” to the idea of asking “why” questions. And to develop a “grammar” and “vocabulary” for the “why” questions, as well.

      And it’s not as if the classics should be limited to the “Western” canon; could be—reflective of our mixed Malay, Chinese, Western, Islamic roots and include various thinkers from those various traditions. Have readings from the likes of Confucius, Plato, Rizal and Avicenna “under one roof” to address the context and long-standing issues of the Filipino, our our society.

      In the spirit of Bloom’s “Great Books” program, but constructed to form diverse and explicit theoretical foundations for Filipino culture and public discourse.

      • Some more brainstorming:

        1. Project weeks in schools where teams can pick tasks doable in 2 weeks from Angat Buhay et al – then do it.

        2. Educational field trips to give kids a feel for the nation – Israelis usually tour their entire country, scale that down.

        • Classics Applied Workshops in this kind of mold, for college:

          ‘China has occupied and militarized the Spratleys. What would you do as President?’

          Justify your answer with Sun Tzu and Macchiavelli. Discuss with your Cabinet of classmates.

      • Francis says:


        “Drop the focus on job training” is a hyperbole. But “how to deal with the questions that don’t have easy answers i.e. philosophy, ethics, etc.” should have equal importance with “job-readiness.”

        I mean, we’re entering the realm of the knowledge economy, the knowledge society. Among our greatest companies will now be those that manipulate information itself, such as Google and Facebook. If society as an industrial society is already complex now—it will be far, far, far more complex in the near future and beyond.

        And practically speaking, when you receieve a pink slip saying that your job has been automated—and the career you’ve spent your entire SHS track and post-SHS vocational/collegiate track on is now…gone, you’re going to want to know how to deal with questions like: “How am I going to meaningfully lead a life with this much free time on my hands?”—a question which I think our educational systems (formulated in a time when our then-industrial society needed to churn out students via assembly line—compare how your phone was made, to how “you” were “made” by your school: in batches, moving progressively from one level (step) to the next) were simply not made to do, on a genuinely mass scale.

  5. Vicara says:

    On that final section of the article:

    For decades, the Department of Education has reportedly been helpless in dealing with a cartel of Dep Ed insiders and retired administrators making money off the production and sale to public schools of the most illiterate and factually erroneous textbooks on the planet.

    This has totally primed our population to swallow the fake news now circulating; and to fail to comprehend the common sense (or lack thereof) of policy decisions and programs. No ability to assess or to see the big picture.

    • Vicara says:

      This needs a functioning Department of Justice to clear up. Can’t be done solely by the Dep Ed secretary.

    • Francis says:


      That has also occured to me. And—thanks to advancements in technology—there is a simple, easy way to gut that cartel.

      All it takes is someone with enough money to spare. Hell, if I won the lotto—I would put my money towards this sort of project, and I’d recommend anyone else here won the lotto, it would be a good idea to the same.

      Now, “that sort of project,” this “way” would be to have a common set of high quality open source textbooks available for free download online. Something along the lines of the OpenStax project:

      Observe that the following is present in our educational system:

      >Quantity of Textbooks is Lacking.

      There are still shortages, here and there.

      >Quality of Textbooks is Lacking.

      “For decades, the Department of Education has reportedly been helpless in dealing with a cartel of Dep Ed insiders and retired administrators making money off the production and sale to public schools of the most illiterate and factually erroneous textbooks on the planet.”

      There are two problems we can identify, with regards to our textbooks:

      1. Quantity and Distribution of Textbooks
      2. Quality and Process of Making Textbooks

      A set of digital and open source textbooks could solve both of these problems.

      The “digital” aspect could solve problems of quantity and distribution, as “digital” textbooks would be:

      1. Easily Accesible. Anyone with a computer with access to internet could download them.[1].
      2. Updated. The revised versions of the textbooks could be easily uploaded—making them often up-to-date and accurate, at minimal cost.

      The “open source” aspect could solve problems of quality and the process of making the textbooks themselves. It should be noted that the meaning of open source is

      ” — ”

      This has several advantages, as open source textbooks would be:

      1. Free. No cost to download for those with access to computers hooked up to the internet [2].
      2. High Quality. In contrast to old-school textbooks which are contracted to private companies and made in-house—away from public (re)view—no one owns the open source textbook. As it is open source, it is theoretically free for anyone to modify and adjust—meaning that, subject to screening from neutral bodies/independent task forces associated with the government, any expert of any field can come forth and “edit” the textbook, if errors be found.

      But a counter-point regarding [1] and [2]: “Not all Filipinos have access to a computer with access to the internet!” Which is true—perhaps in the countryside—but not so much in the urban areas. Smartphones (and tablets) are computers too; their costs going down, down and down—a “cheap” one can be bought for less than ten thousand pesos. And “Data” packages offered by Globe and Smart are in abundance.

      I will concede though, that even with cheap smartphones and cheap data, the “digital” aspect of these textbooks will only aid the lower middle class.

      I think what is more valuable in the Philippine context is the “open source” aspect of these digital textbooks. The rights to these are not going to be owned by a private company (which can form “cartels”) but held in the “public commons” via a neutral non-profit organization or the government[4]. This is simply monumental on two points:

      1. The process of writing (making) these textbooks is much more high quality and transparent.

      Given that the whole thing is a completely non-commercial venture, there is absolute transparency: anyone (or at least, any expert) can view the progress of the production of such textbooks and offer their inputs and views (online, possibly[3]). Thus, that makes it easier to subject the open source textbooks to peer-review—raising quality significantly.

      2. Distribution is made much easier.

      We don’t have to give every student a tablet to realize benefits on the distribution-side.

      The fact that the “writing” (making) of the textbooks is now completely non-profit/open source, means that, if the government wants to have physical copies—all it has to do now is to contract a printing press. This means, in short, that it is possible that the only input of the for-profit private sector is limited to the material paper and bindings containing the content; the for-profit private sector (which may be part of cartels) thus, in theory, cannot affect the content of the textbook itself.

      Corruption, if it thus occurs, will likely not have a significant impact on the “content” as it does today.

      And in places and situations where the textbooks cannot be delivered—the fact that the textbooks are open source means that the LGUs and local public schools in those LGUs can pursue, out of their own initiative, efforts to photocopy and bind the books themselves. They don’t have to “respect the copyright” of the books—they can xerox and bind the heck out of the said books, if funds are limited.

      [3]: I envision two sides/interfaces to the website containing these textbooks, like how Grab and Uber apps have a “driver” side and a “customer” side. One side will be the “student” side, where access to textbooks and supplementary material will be available for free download. The other side will be an “expert” side where everyone can view the textbook as it is being written or revised (a constant “beta” version) by “registered” experts who have been screened; the previous versions and “patches” being also stored, for reference and comparison.


      I don’t trust government to handle this well. The bureaucracy would eat this whole thing alive. There is a need for both flexibility and transparency that only the (non-profit) private sector can provide.

      Ideally—just like how Open Stax was partially funded by the Gates Foundation—one could have this be funded by philanthropic donations from leading businessmen in this country. Of course—some of these businessmen have interests in the (for profit) educational sector—which is not something that can be brushed aside lightly—but perhaps, it may in their interest to have a common standard, transparently assessed by experts.

      • Francis says:

        Minor Correction, and Addendum:

        I’d recommend [that if] anyone else here won the lotto, it would be a good idea to the same.

        This would tie up well with the idea of “education for its own sake,” and I would consider an initiative along these lines to be of the same spirit as that spirit of “free education” as education is not and should not be a privilege but a right.

      • Francis says:


        I forgot to insert a definition for open source in “—” :

        “Open knowledge is what open data becomes when it’s useful, usable and used.”

        “The key features of openness are:

        “Availability and access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.”

        “Reuse and redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets. The data must be machine-readable.”

        “Universal participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse and redistribute — there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.”

        • Never underestimate the forces of conservatism in the Philippines. They have POWER.

          For example, foreign initiatives to help orphans like Terre des Hommes were blocked by DSWD for years, as they did not follow some rigid directives these folks had made up. This is just stuff I heard, Vicara might have heard of similar things, confirmation appreciated.

          Lumad schools are always in a tight spot as DepEd refuses to really recognize them – even if they teach a mix of personal autonomy and practical skills in agriculture. “Communists”?

          Of course DepEd is indirectly descended from the Thomasite programs, but like nearly everything in the Philippines, old best practices are turned into Gospel Truth and more.

          Why do most Filipino journalists use strange words like “mull”, “solon” etc.? Because in Chicago journalism in the 1930s, those were the terms, and Filipino journalists them copied them. Others acted as if these first pioneers could never be wrong, copied them slavishly.

          Think independently, and risk people saying “sino ka para magpauso diyan? Pasikat!”.

          You might even end up like someone who tried to reform the judiciary, including having an IT system made to assist that. You get accused of potential corruption for choosing a good supplier, and the rest hate you for trying to change stuff. Better stick to plantilla et al.

      • Vicara says:

        Francis, about a decade ago I worked with a foreign donor program to help public high schools in some pretty remote areas–including the Sulu archipelago–set up computer labs in their schools, whether through direct connections or satellite dishes. The local political will–among parents, school administrators, teachers–and the kids themselves–to provide that internet access to students was tremendous and admirable. But naturally they focused on long-distance learning that would help the students with college skills, job skills and so on. The notion that kids would turn into autodidacts once they had the internet, or that they would gravitate like lemmings toward civics and abstract concepts of democracy and nationhood, is simply unrealistic.

        They’re hampered by long-running weaknesses within the education system itself. Sorry, but despite efforts by the last administration, national leaders for generations have failed to clean up Dep Ed corruption and increase its competitiveness and efficiency. The most recent focus has been on a major overhaul through K-12. But until the corruption and sloth at the different levels of the Dep Ed are weeded out—and this needs serious policing, just as in any other Cabinet department with similarly entrenched problems–how could we produce more educated citizens?

        There are developed countries that are hyper-connected online, where every kid has access to computers and tablets and literally thousands of online courses and libraries, but in some of these countries, including the U.S., science skills and math literacy rates continue to drop. Can’t do without good teachers. Can’t do without decently-written, well-edited, peer-reviewed textbooks specifically for Filipinos–whether printed on cheap paper or carried online. Can’t do without commitment at the highest levels of government–not just to education programs, but to things like civility in discourse and democratic norms (including observance of the Constitution and human rights). And truth.

        • Francis says:

          Thank you.

          I guess I was too much of a techno-optimist in my earlier statement and got carried away. Your reply was sobering.

          What I meant to stress was less of the digital aspect (which is really fanciful, I admit) and more of the open source aspect; that, if our textbooks are bad and if the system is corrupt—perhaps, we may have an external, non-profit initiative (independent of government) to create open source textbooks that could circumvent or at least partially alleviate the problem of bad textbooks?

          But reflecting on that, there’s probably a lot of practical issues that make that unfeasible or politically unpalatable.

          I suppose that one cannot fix a leaking boat by plugging only one hole.

          “Can’t do without good teachers. Can’t do without decently-written, well-edited, peer-reviewed textbooks specifically for Filipinos–whether printed on cheap paper or carried online.”


          Simply giving new equipment, i.e. open source textbooks, as you have pointed out, is not enough. No one, single solution can be a silver bullet—only a thorough, widescale reform of DepEd can save the state of our educational system, a hard and difficult task.

          It is not that I don’t like students focusing on the instrumental benefits of education, of wanting to become job-ready. I (currently contemplating on whether to shift to a certain course) myself can’t ignore noting how my college course will make me attractive (or not) in the job market. And it is true that giving people access to the internet won’t make them auto-didacts, and that to hope for such is overly optimistic.

          It’s just that I wish is that matters like civics and democracy are given a bit more attention at least. Especially given that students would be automatically leaning towards more practical subjects of learning—all the more reason for exposure (and increasing accessibility to exposure) of subjects such democracy, philosophy, etcetera; in many situations—and most especially in the Philippines—it is likely that school will be the only place where students will actually get to know about and experience these concepts in depth.

          “Can’t do without commitment at the highest levels of government–not just to education programs, but to things like civility in discourse and democratic norms (including observance of the Constitution and human rights). And truth.”

          I agree in that there is more than education at stake with reforming our educational system—our very values are at stake. Who we are as citizens—is literally shaped in our schools, second to our families.

    • Netizen Gerg Sue asked herself publicly why people who otherwise are very sophisticated in their working habits voted someone like Duterte. By inference, someone they would never hire in their work where the use Excel Sheets – and planning methods Duterte can’t spell..

      I have two theories about why it is like this, both are not favorable answers to the question: nasaan ang pinag-aralan nila? If you ask a Filipino that question personally you get punched.

      1. (Post)colonial attitude to knowledge and skills. What you learn is for the “amo”, the prayle, the Kano in the multinational company you work for. At home you are the same as before. You turn on your knowledge only when you try to impress other intellectuals or politicians – you do not apply any of it to your life. You speak of family morality yet this teenage actress.. And about skills – you organize your workplace to impress the Kano, to get promoted. Back in your bahay kubo – even if it is made of stone – you forget it all, do things “any old way”.

      2. Crookery. If you do things properly for the amo, once you do it for the government you try to make the most out of it. What are we in power for, after all. This is what Vicara illustrates.

      Sometimes it might even be a mixture of 1 and 2. After 2, you have many in the Kalahari.

      • karlgarcia says:

        may pinag-aralan at walang pinagaaralan has nothing to do with academics, but with GMRC.

        • karlgarcia says:

          masabihan ka ng wakang pinag-aralan, para ka na rin tinawag na hayup o animal.

          • Wakang? Wakarang?

            O kaya wakawakwak?

            • karlgarcia says:

              Nasobrahan ako ng kababasa ng comment ni popoy. I meant “Wala kang pinag-aralan.”

              • Sino, ako? Hala, I will get mad like Kris, then change sides to join Sharon and her!

                You will miss when I frowned like Nancy! 😀

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thiugh my original posts is about thecollege courses and job mismatch, this may pinag aralan o wala is very valuable,

                As Vicara said removing civics in our curriculum cost us.
                The Boy scouts has beeen linked to Binay so nothing to be proud of as far as I am concerned.
                The only value we thought ourselves is to value ourselves, this resulted to overconfidence and self interests.
                We need values education both for sectarian and non sectarian schools.

              • karlgarcia says:

                About that job mismatch point from the link.

                Job Mismatch: Fact or Fiction?
                While there is a prevailing perception that there is a great mismatch between the college and technical-vocational courses taken by Filipino students and the demand for skilled workers by industry and service providers, Morato was quick to dispel this.

                “There is really no substantive mismatch of the supply side with the demand side,” he said. “By and large, college and tech-voc students seem to know where the currents of the job market are flowing and they follow those currents.” He said that on the supply side, the top five certified tech-voc graduates come from these sectors: Tourism and HRM (1.427 million), Health/ Social/ Personal Services (1.25 million), Construction/ Metals/ Engineering/ Electrical/Electronics (884,000), Automotive (424,000) and ICT/ IT-BPO (286,000).

                On the demand side, the top five technical skills wanted for 2016-2022 would be: Tourism/ HRM (1.564 million); Construction/ Metals/Engineering/ Electrical/ Electronics (1.318 million) and ICT/IT-BPO (800,000), Health/Social/Personal Services (690,000) and Transport (588,000).

                Rather than “job mismatch”, Morato thinks it is more of a basic problem of having inadequately run college-level educational and technical-vocational skilling programs that provide venues for training to graduates.

                For example, Philippine nurses are highly employable at 53.5 percent because prior to applying for jobs here and abroad, they have training and internships, with most of them receiving no compensation at all, even before they are hired.

                “Their intense on-the-job training (OJT) and long training periods after graduation raise their employability level,” he explained.

                On the other hand, business administration graduates have the lowest employability, according to the study. Business courses are the most preferred collegiate course, which suggests that it business schools have become diploma mills.

                “The problem is really more fundamental and basic – it is a problem of under-education, under-skilling and underdevelopment [of skilling programs by schools and companies],” Morato inferred. “Industries should offer more internships, apprenticeships and dual-training programs similar to the medical and nursing professions, but eschew the practice of exploiting employees in the name of training,” he said.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Another important point.

                Potential Economic Drivers to Future Philippine Economy
                Morato forecasted that major industry groups with the exception of agriculture, fishery and forestry would be employing more workers by 2022, led by construction, education, health, transport/ storage/ communication and tourism.

                “Faster growth rate for the construction industry will be fueled by the massive Build, Build, Build infrastructure program of the Duterte administration, with investments of PhP 8.5 trillion between 2017 to 2022,” he said. “Education will need more teachers and administrators not just because of the natural growth in the population but also because of Senior High School. Health subsector will likewise heighten demand as the government pushes for a wider-reaching universal health care program. Transport will be buoyed by construction and housing, while foreign tourist arrivals will double from six million to 12 million by 2022.”

                While there will be fewer workers in agriculture, there will be more investments coming to it, “particularly in organic farming, high value crop production and high-tech agro-processing ventures.”

                Another subsector worth watching out will be the renewable energy sector, which he added may accelerate as the country reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

        • Still, a lot of stuff learned in the Philippines doesn’t stick. Many learn or memorize for exams, 3 weeks later it is forgotten as if that person had a teflon mind.

          I guess most K12 Commercial Track grads today will be more ready to start work than typical Commerce Graduates before.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    I am so excited to meet Will and Joe in a few hours. Yehey!

    • karlgarcia says:

      Having merienda with Joe and familly, Will, F Solgen Hilbay, Leah Navarro and Jim Paredes.

      • edgar lores says:

        I’ll have pancakes and coffee, thanks.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Sure have some. 😉

          • NHerrera says:

            karl, Will, Joe: how about a light side jointly-authored TSH article as a result of that merienda?

            • karlgarcia says:


            • Will was taking notes. It was a fine social affair, attaching faces to names with a few stories for amusement. Lots of history, brains, and passion in that group.

              • NHerrera says:

                Which is the more reason to memorialize or preserve the thoughts expressed in that meeting — including corny expressions if any. 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                Will is our designated scribe. I am sure if there is something to write about, he will do the honors.
                I was like star struck and happy because i finally met my cousin Jim Paredes.I got to hear his and Leah’s ideas about activism.m and I got to hear Fsolgen Hilbay’s youthful wisdom.

                I brought my dad and he made some inputs when he had a chance.He was thankful that I introduced him to the wonderful people Will interviewed. Will interviewed for few minutes, though I do not agree with some of my fathers answer about WPS, but who am I?
                I also brought my eleven year old so Joe Junior who is about nine had someone to talk with.

              • The eclectic gathering was a delight, wasn’t it? So much history, such rich personalities. My wife says your father is very smart, so best not to argue with him ‘cause you might have to argue with her. haha Joe Jr enjoyed gadding about with your son, so thanks for bringing him along.

              • karlgarcia says:

                @thesocietyofhonor ,

              • karlgarcia says:

                Of course I was happy to finally meet Joe and family and of course Will.

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. I am trying to wrap my head around Francis’ schema.

    2. The centerpiece of the schema seems to be ideology. The axioms seem to be:

    2.1. “Ideology is the grammar of modern society.”

    2.2. Ideology flows from citizens wants and needs.

    2.3. However, as there are many citizens with different wants and needs, citizens with common interests and values must coalesce into “blobs.”

    2.4. The blobs ideally cause the formation of various political parties through the process of “simplification/aggregation.” Each party defines an ideology that enunciates (simplifies and aggregates) common interests and values. The ideology may not necessarily coincide 100% with the interests and values of the composite blobs.

    2.5. Government policy is primarily determined by the dominant party (and ideology).

    2.6. Government policy and implementation operate at two levels: (a) Ideological Systematic Thinking and (b) Managerial Systematic thinking.

    2.6.1. The first determines overall direction broken down into objectives. Systems or entities that facilitate this thinking are called the “infrastructure of participation.”

    2.6.2. The second defines the steps and processes to achieve the objectives within the overall direction. Systems or entities that facilitate this thinking are called the “infrastructure of action.”

    3. My first reaction is that the schema is primarily descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is descriptive of a democratic framework. The framework is bottom-up. Ideology arises from citizens wants and needs and proceeds to define objectives and direction.

    4. In contrast, I can think of two different schemas that are extant.

    4.1. One-party system. This operates in China. The framework is top-down. Ideology arises from a single party which determines what it wants and what needs of the citizens it will satisfy.

    4.2. Theocratic system. This operates in Middle Eastern countries. The framework is TOP-top-down. Ideology arises from religion which prescribes what the Deity wants and what needs of the citizens are compatible with the Holy Book.

    5. My second reaction is that democracy, which is bottom-up, does not work in the Philippines because the social structure has always been top-down.

    5.1. Not only the social structure but also the social expectation for a strong leader.

    5.2. The simplification/aggregation process from the bottom has been stymied by (a) the dominance of the blobs of the oligarchy and the Church; (b) the inability of the citizens blobs to coalesce; (c) the inability to abstract © Irineo the citizens’ and the nation’s wants and needs; and (d) the overwhelming blobs of political dynasties.

    6. In other democratic societies, the development of political parties has been organic. Largely, the political cleavage has been over economic and social conflicts, between noble vs. commoner, and owner vs. worker.

    6.1. The elements for this cleavage certainly exists in the Philippines… except for the factors cited in 5.2.

    7. The Marcos dictatorship and the current regime has shown how weak our democratic moorings are.

    7.1. The direction of the current cleavage is — yet again — moving towards Church and State (?).

    7.2. The proferred prescription of education is, to my mind, weak. Who will do the teaching? And what will they teach?

    7.3. In a way, the problem of wanting a strong leader may be a solution. We need a far-seeing sacrificial leader and not a tyrannical sadist. This wise man will put in place the proper bottom-up “infrastructure of participation.” I believe this is the foundational groundwork that has to be done; education will be an integral part of the foundation. But where to find such a wise one? The present crop does not inspire.

    7.4. Food for thought: Given our top-down inclination, PDP-Laban’s thrust to form a one-party system may be a viable answer to the nation’s lack of direction.

    8. Thanks, Francis.

    • The classic of course on this topic is Nick Joaquin’s “Heritage of Smallness”:

      Society for the Filipino is a small rowboat: the barangay. Geography for the Filipino is a small locality: the barrio. History for the Filipino is a small vague saying:matanda pa kay mahoma; noong peacetime. Enterprise for the Filipino is a small stall: the sari-sari. Industry and production for the Filipino are the small immediate searchings of each day: isang kahig, isang tuka. And commerce for the Filipino is the smallest degree of retail: the tingi.

      What most astonishes foreigners in the Philippines is that this is a country, perhaps the only one in the world, where people buy and sell one stick of cigarette, half a head of garlic, a dab of pomade, part of the contents of a can or bottle, one single egg, one single banana. To foreigners used to buying things by the carton or the dozen or pound and in the large economy sizes, the exquisite transactions of Philippine tingis cannot but seem Lilliputian. So much effort by so many for so little. Like all those children risking neck and limb in the traffic to sell one stick of cigarette at a time. Or those grown-up men hunting the sidewalks all day to sell a puppy or a lantern or a pair of socks. The amount of effort they spend seems out of all proportion to the returns. Such folk are, obviously, not enough. Laboriousness just can never be the equal of labor as skill, labor as audacity, labor as enterprise.

      The Filipino who travels abroad gets to thinking that his is the hardest working country in the world. By six or seven in the morning we are already up on our way to work, shops and markets are open; the wheels of industry are already agrind. Abroad, especially in the West, if you go out at seven in the morning you’re in a dead-town. Everybody’s still in bed; everything’s still closed up. Activity doesn’t begin till nine or ten– and ceases promptly at five p.m. By six, the business sections are dead towns again. The entire cities go to sleep on weekends. They have a shorter working day, a shorter working week. Yet they pile up more mileage than we who work all day and all week.

      Is the disparity to our disparagement?

      We work more but make less. Why? Because we act on such a pygmy scale. Abroad they would think you mad if you went in a store and tried to buy just one stick of cigarette. They don’t operate on the scale. The difference is greater than between having and not having; the difference is in the way of thinking. They are accustomed to thinking dynamically. We have the habit, whatever our individual resources, of thinking poor, of thinking petty.

      Is that the explanation for our continuing failure to rise–that we buy small and sell small, that we think small and do small?

      Are we not confusing timidity for humility and making a virtue of what may be the worst of our vices? Is not our timorous clinging to smallness the bondage we must break if we are ever to inherit the earth and be free, independent, progressive? The small must ever be prey to the big. Aldous Huxley said that some people are born victims, or “murderers.” He came to the Philippines and thought us the “least original” of people. Is there not a relation between his two terms? Originality requires daring: the daring to destroy the obsolete, to annihilate the petty. It’s cold comfort to think we haven’t developed that kind of “murderer mentality.”

      But till we do we had best stop talking about “our heritage of greatness” for the national heritage is– let’s face it– a heritage of smallness.

      However far we go back in our history it’s the small we find–the nipa hut, the barangay, the petty kingship, the slight tillage, the tingi trade. All our artifacts are miniatures and so is our folk literature, which is mostly proverbs, or dogmas in miniature. About the one big labor we can point to in our remote past are the rice terraces–and even that grandeur shrinks, on scrutiny, into numberless little separate plots into a series of layers added to previous ones, all this being the accumulation of ages of small routine efforts (like a colony of ant hills) rather than one grand labor following one grand design. We could bring in here the nursery diota about the little drops of water that make the mighty ocean, or the peso that’s not a peso if it lacks a centavo; but creative labor, alas, has sterner standards, a stricter hierarchy of values. Many little efforts, however perfect each in itself, still cannot equal one single epic creation. A galleryful of even the most charming statuettes is bound to look scant beside a Pieta or Moses by Michelangelo; and you could stack up the best short stories you can think of and still not have enough to outweigh a mountain like War and Peace.

      The depressing fact in Philippine history is what seems to be our native aversion to the large venture, the big risk, the bold extensive enterprise. The pattern may have been set by the migration. We try to equate the odyssey of the migrating barangays with that of the Pilgrim, Father of America, but a glance of the map suffices to show the differences between the two ventures. One was a voyage across an ocean into an unknown world; the other was a going to and from among neighboring islands. One was a blind leap into space; the other seems, in comparison, a mere crossing of rivers. The nature of the one required organization, a sustained effort, special skills, special tools, the building of large ships. The nature of the other is revealed by its vehicle, the barangay, which is a small rowboat, not a seafaring vessel designed for long distances on the avenues of the ocean.

      The migrations were thus self-limited, never moved far from their point of origin, and clung to the heart of a small known world; the islands clustered round the Malay Peninsula. The movement into the Philippines, for instance, was from points as next-door geographically as Borneo and Sumatra. Since the Philippines is at heart of this region, the movement was toward center, or, one may say, from near to still nearer, rather than to farther out. Just off the small brief circuit of these migrations was another world: the vast mysterious continent of Australia; but there was significantly no movement towards this terra incognita. It must have seemed too perilous, too unfriendly of climate, too big, too hard. So, Australia was conquered not by the fold next door, but by strangers from across two oceans and the other side of the world. They were more enterprising, they have been rewarded. But history has punished the laggard by setting up over them a White Australia with doors closed to the crowded Malay world.

      The barangays that came to the Philippines were small both in scope and size. A barangay with a hundred households would already be enormous; some barangays had only 30 families, or less. These, however, could have been the seed of a great society if there had not been in that a fatal aversion to synthesis. The barangay settlements already displayed a Philippine characteristic: the tendency to petrify in isolation instead of consolidating, or to split smaller instead of growing. That within the small area of Manila Bay there should be three different kingdoms (Tondo, Manila and Pasay) may mean that the area wa originally settled by three different barangays that remained distinct, never came together, never fused; or it could mean that a single original settlement; as it grew split into three smaller pieces.

      Philippine society, as though fearing bigness, ever tends to revert the condition of the barangay of the small enclosed society. We don’t grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba. The moment a town grows big it become two towns. The moment a province becomes populous it disintegrates into two or three smaller provinces. The excuse offered for divisions i always the alleged difficulty of administering so huge an entity. But Philippines provinces are microscopic compared to an American state like, say, Texas, where the local government isn’t heard complaining it can’t efficiently handle so vast an area. We, on the other hand, make a confession of character whenever we split up a town or province to avoid having of cope, admitting that, on that scale, we can’t be efficient; we are capable only of the small. The decentralization and barrio-autonomy movement expresses our craving to return to the one unit of society we feel adequate to: the barangay, with its 30 to a hundred families. Anything larger intimidates. We would deliberately limit ourselves to the small performance. This attitude, an immemorial one, explains why we’re finding it so hard to become a nation, and why our pagan forefathers could not even imagine the task. Not E pluribus, unum is the impulse in our culture but Out of many, fragments. Foreigners had to come and unite our land for us; the labor was far beyond our powers. Great was the King of Sugbu, but he couldn’t even control the tiny isle across his bay. Federation is still not even an idea for the tribes of the North; and the Moro sultanates behave like our political parties: they keep splitting off into particles.

      Because we cannot unite for the large effort, even the small effort is increasingly beyond us. There is less to learn in our schools, but even this little is protested by our young as too hard. The falling line on the graph of effort is, alas, a recurring pattern in our history. Our artifacts but repeat a refrain of decline and fall, which wouldn’t be so sad if there had been a summit decline from, but the evidence is that we start small and end small without ever having scaled any peaks. Used only to the small effort, we are not, as a result, capable of the sustained effort and lose momentum fast. We have a term for it: ningas cogon.

      Go to any exhibit of Philippine artifacts and the items that from our “cultural heritage” but confirm three theories about us, which should be stated again.

      First: that the Filipino works best on small scale–tiny figurines, small pots, filigree work in gold or silver, decorative arabesques. The deduction here is that we feel adequate to the challenge of the small, but are cowed by the challenge of the big.

      Second: that the Filipino chooses to work in soft easy materials–clay, molten metal, tree searching has failed to turn up anything really monumental in hardstone. Even carabao horn, an obvious material for native craftsmen, has not been used to any extent remotely comparable to the use of ivory in the ivory countries. The deduction here is that we feel equal to the materials that yield but evade the challenge of materials that resist.

      Third: that having mastered a material, craft or product, we tend to rut in it and don’t move on to a next phase, a larger development, based on what we have learned. In fact, we instantly lay down even what mastery we already posses when confronted by a challenge from outside of something more masterly, instead of being provoked to develop by the threat of competition. Faced by the challenge of Chinese porcelain, the native art of pottery simply declined, though porcelain should have been the next phase for our pottery makers. There was apparently no effort to steal and master the arts of the Chinese. The excuse offered here that we did not have the materials for the techniques for the making of porcelain–unites in glum brotherhood yesterday’s pottery makers and today’s would be industrialists. The native pot got buried by Chinese porcelain as Philippine tobacco is still being buried by the blue seal.

      Our cultural history, rather than a cumulative development, seems mostly a series of dead ends. One reason is a fear of moving on to a more complex phase; another reason is a fear of tools. Native pottery, for instance, somehow never got far enough to grasp the principle of the wheel. Neither did native agriculture ever reach the point of discovering the plow for itself, or even the idea of the draft animal, though the carabao was handy. Wheel and plow had to come from outside because we always stopped short of technology, This stoppage at a certain level is the recurring fate of our arts and crafts.

      The santo everybody’s collecting now are charming as legacies, depressing as indices, for the art of the santero was a small art, in a not very demanding medium: wood. Having achieved perfection in it, the santero was faced by the challenge of proving he could achieve equal perfection on a larger scale and in more difficult materials: hardstone, marble, bronze. The challenge was not met. Like the pagan potter before him, the santero stuck to his tiny rut, repeating his little perfections over and over. The iron law of life is: Develop or decay. The art of the santero did not advance; so it declined. Instead of moving onto a harder material, it retreated to a material even easier than wool: Plaster–and plaster has wrought the death of relax art.

      One could go on and on with this litany.

      Philippine movies started 50 years ago and, during the ‘30s, reached a certain level of proficiency, where it stopped and has rutted ever since looking more and more primitive as the rest of the cinema world speeds by on the way to new frontiers. We have to be realistic, say local movie producers we’re in this business not to make art but money. But even from the business viewpoint, they’re not “realistic” at all. The true businessman ever seeks to increase his market and therefore ever tries to improve his product. Business dies when it resigns itself, as local movies have done, to a limited market.

      After more than half a century of writing in English, Philippine Literature in that medium is still identified with the short story. That small literary form is apparently as much as we feel equal to. But by limiting ourselves less and less capable even of the small thing–as the fate of the pagan potter and the Christian santero should have warned us. It’ no longer as obvious today that the Filipino writer has mastered the short story form.

      It’s two decades since the war but what were mere makeshift in postwar days have petrified into institutions like the jeepney, which we all know to be uncomfortable and inadequate, yet cannot get rid of, because the would mean to tackle the problem of modernizing our systems of transportation–a problem we think so huge we hide from it in the comforting smallness of the jeepney. A small solution to a huge problem–do we deceive ourselves into thinking that possible? The jeepney hints that we do, for the jeepney carrier is about as adequate as a spoon to empty a river with.

      With the population welling, and land values rising, there should be in our cities, an upward thrust in architecture, but we continue to build small, in our timid two-story fashion. Oh, we have excuses. The land is soft: earthquakes are frequent. But Mexico City, for instance, is on far swampier land and Mexico City is not a two-story town. San Francisco and Tokyo are in worse earthquake belts, but San Francisco and Tokyo reach up for the skies. Isn’t our architecture another expression of our smallness spirit? To build big would pose problems too big for us. The water pressure, for example, would have to be improved–and it’s hard enough to get water on the ground floor flat and frail, our cities indicate our disinclination to make any but the smallest effort possible.

      It wouldn’t be so bad if our aversion for bigness and our clinging to the small denoted a preference for quality over bulk; but the little things we take forever to do too often turn out to be worse than the mass-produced article. Our couturiers, for instance, grow even limper of wrist when, after waiting months and months for a pin ~a weaver to produce a yard or two of the fabric, they find they have to discard most of the stuff because it’s so sloppily done. Foreigners who think of pushing Philippine fabric in the world market give up in despair after experiencing our inability to deliver in quantity. Our proud apologia is that mass production would ruin the “quality” of our products. But Philippine crafts might be roused from the doldrums if forced to come up to mass-production standards.

      It’s easy enough to quote the West against itself, to cite all those Western artists and writers who rail against the cult of bigness and mass production and the “bitch goddess success”; but the arguments against technological progress, like the arguments against nationalism, are possible only to those who have already gone through that stage so successfully they can now afford to revile it. The rest of us can only crave to be big enough to be able to deplore bigness.

      For the present all we seen to be able to do is ignore pagan evidence and blame our inability to sustain the big effort of our colonizers: they crushed our will and spirit, our initiative and originality. But colonialism is not uniquely our ordeal but rather a universal experience. Other nations went under the heel of the conqueror but have not spent the rest of their lives whining. What people were more trod under than the Jews? But each have been a thoroughly crushed nation get up and conquered new worlds instead. The Norman conquest of England was followed by a subjugation very similar to our experience, but what issued from that subjugation were the will to empire and the verve of a new language.

      If it be true that we were enervated by the loss of our primordial freedom, culture and institutions, then the native tribes that were never under Spain and didn’t lose what we did should be showing a stronger will and spirit, more initiative and originality, a richer culture and greater progress, than the Christian Filipino. Do they? And this favorite apologia of ours gets further blasted when we consider a people who, alongside us, suffered a far greater trampling yet never lost their enterprising spirit. On the contrary, despite centuries of ghettos and programs and repressive measures and racial scorn, the Chinese in the Philippines clambered to the top of economic heap and are still right up there when it comes to the big deal. Shouldn’t they have long come to the conclusion (as we say we did) that there’s no point in hustling and laboring and amassing wealth only to see it wrested away and oneself punished for rising?

      An honest reading of our history should rather force us to admit that it was the colonial years that pushed us toward the larger effort. There was actually an advance in freedom, for the unification of the land, the organization of towns and provinces, and the influx of new ideas, started our liberation from the rule of the petty, whether of clan, locality or custom. Are we not vexed at the hinterlander still bound by primordial terrors and taboos? Do we not say we have to set him “free” through education? Freedom, after all is more than a political condition; and the colonial lowlander–especially a person like, say, Rizal–was surely more of a freeman than the unconquered tribesman up in the hills. As wheel and plow set us free from a bondage to nature, so town and province liberated us from the bounds of the barangay.

      The liberation can be seen just by comparing our pagan with our Christian statuary. What was static and stolid in the one becomes, in the other, dynamic motion and expression. It can be read in the rear of architecture. Now, at last, the Filipino attempts the massive–the stone bridge that unites, the irrigation dam that gives increase, the adobe church that identified. If we have a “heritage of greatness it’s in these labors and in three epic acts of the colonial period; first, the defense of the land during two centuries of siege; second, the Propaganda Movement; and the third, the Revolution.

      (The essay continues, showing how the Filipino nation was formed by those events.. but I have also mentioned that the nation has one fatal flaw: it was formed only by a few “elites”… OK every nation has that flaw, but eventually they managed to trickle down awareness.. my theory is that “Filipinos” – the founders of the nation and their actual and spiritual descendants – have maximum 2-3 degrees of separation, which can be seen on Facebook – and “Pilipinos” from various barangays are connected to Filipinos at most by having been their servants once. Josephivo mentioned once that the mass media awareness of this latter group was formed later on by Pacquiao and other phenomena. As they are barangay-minded, they have chosen a national barangay captain or mayor. So here we are now.)

      • Desperate striving for immediate grandeur is the flipside of this phenomenon.

        Marcos’ nuclear power plant, Manglapus’ Filipino car ambitions. You need to go step by step from small to big, develop capabilities and most especially MINDSETS before “graduating”.

        I have also written about this, and the history of progress worldwide shows that you cannot leapfrog things. Russia is cited as an example of quick progress under Stalin, but one must not forget that the Transsiberian Railway was the last Tsarist project. They had capabilities.

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks, Irineo. Explains a lot of things.

    • “5.2. The simplification/aggregation process from the bottom has been stymied by (a) the dominance of the blobs of the oligarchy and the Church; (b) the inability of the citizens blobs to coalesce; (c) the inability to abstract © Irineo the citizens’ and the nation’s wants and needs; and (d) the overwhelming blobs of political dynasties.” Fully agree.

      Because the entitled have remained mainly (post)colonial – extractive in nature. One can look at other historical examples of conquest where the conquerors were absorbed by the people at some point. William the Conqueror was in 1066, the Magna Carta was there by 1215. The originally French noblemen that came to rule England were forced to get of their high horses. The main memory of their original Frenchness today is the nasal tone of high class English.

  8. NHerrera says:

    Francis’ article and comments from edgar, karl and Irineo, among others, joined (mathematically, the “union” of their ideas) provide many food for thought. The article and comments so far provide fertile ground for abstract thoughts.

    Now a thought comes to my mind: why are delicious fruits best grown in certain countries/ soils — and not at all in other soils? The soil, an analog or abstraction for ideology?

    Related to this are the following thoughts:

    – The Russian soul/ soil can only bear the fruits of the tsar/ tsarina and their subjects, modernized in Russia’s Putin of today?

    – The China of history can only bear fruit of the kind we read in history, modernized in China’s Xi of today?

    – The US, a country of immigrants with the soul/ soil of the immigrants in their minds, undertook an experiment and produced a new soil to bear the fruits the world generally admire, modernized with Trump of today?

    – The Filipino with his historical former datus and subjects, even with the intervention of Spain and the US, remain, in the main, one with a soul of happy subservience to a strong datu, modernized in Duterte of today ?

    • NHerrera says:

      To clarify, I do not mean by the last line that the Filipino is not capable of high intellectual and creative achievements — examples, in fact, abound here and abroad — but I am thinking of the general soul of the Filipino in relation to how he is governed, in the abstract.

    • NHerrera says:

      Re my comment above on the US, there is book by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham, yet to be released [May 8, 2018], entitled “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.”

      The book is described with these words:

      While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

      • NHerrera says:

        I wish very much I can say a similar thing about the Filipino — notwithstanding my uncharitable comment above. (Perhaps it is one of my bad days; I will get over it.)

  9. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    Academic eche buchehes are sometimes wakawakwaks instead of Wakatans.
    Said another way: Academic comments are sometimes nonsence instead of being useful explanation. For the issues under discussion I will try the BASICS. I Never me mind if the basics come across as either nonsense or useful.

    An ideology is better understood as an ism. You get a wheel barrow full of them: NAZISM (extreme nationalism), FASCISM (extreme police rule), CAPITALISM (like democracy), COMMUNISM and TOTALITARIANISM (dictatorship), also the isms of theocracy (shintoism, buddhism, catholicism, etc). Ideology or ism is not the staple of the common mind.
    That’s why Canadians seems OKAY if there is the claim that Canadians HAVE NO ideology, only the belief in being good people.

    IDEOLOGY is better left to academics or revolutionaries as possible source or livelihood or food for their hungry minds forever searching for the good of mankind. For the good life many Canadians think ideology is hogwash, not so in the American academic community.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      SYSTEMS theory can help understand the workings of the universe through systems thinking and in the same way it can dissemble the process of transforming technics into techniques into technology. Systems are simple mental constructs. Like society it does not exists (so says UK PM Margaret Thatcher). Like a home it is not a house that have physicality. You cannot destroy a home like you can destroy a house. Systems can be intangibles.

      The systems approach is an incisive analytical and sound planning tool. It simplifies and compartmentalize complexity into parts which are systems in themselves to wit: input, conversion process, outputs and outcomes. Hugeness like that of the universe is peanuts if seen as a systems. I jokingly tell my students INPUTS are only five Ms: Men, Materials, Machines, Mequipment and Metchetera.

      Natural resources of the Philippines as inputs to be converted into outputs of economic progress into outcomes of the good life converted into happiness the most difficult as the outcome of outcomes. Well that remained mere eche bucheche of imagination.

      Systems are better understood like the human body is a system composed of many like; the nervous, respiratory, muscular, skeletal, cardio-vascular, immune system etc, the body is a machine they say like the internal combustion system of a car which have the cooling system, ignition system, the exhaust system. That’s why a doctor sometimes behaves like he is mechanic.

      It is systemic when a Filipino says, “Ang sakit ng kalinkingan ay dama ng buong katawan.” In English: “The pain in your pinky is felt by the whole body.” That’s a pontificating kind of systems thinking.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Oh Yes, in academia, policy is the relationship of the government to its entire environment. Put another way, policy is what government does or fails to do. Policy is also the abstract, authoritative and forceful, even coercive intentions of the government for time bound implementation. It is better understood as part of a paradigm of governance from the more abstract to the more specific and measurable as illustrated below.

        The Good Life
        National Goals
        National Priorities
        National Policy
        National Objectives

        The PARADIGM is just an outline of ideal governance , not a high fallutin jargon. A paradigm shift of system parts might be done out of wisdom or idiocy.

        This wakawakwak is not a criticism or an elaboration of the present blog of Francis. He painted a conventional portrait of a landscape and framed it in the TSoH museum wall. I did an abstract painting of a landscape for the academically inclined.

    • History Prof. Xiao Chua praises President Magsaysay as a “true pinunong-bayan who gave people GINHAWA”. Ginhawa or kaginhawaan, well-being can indeed be a national goal! (?)

      But I once mentioned that the more homogenous society of lowland Christian Filipinos in the time of Magsaysay, with just over 20 million people, could have its illusion of a dancing datu (Mambo Magsaysay) and around 2 million visited his funeral – 1/10 of the entire barangay.

      A version of Kaginhawaan is the Duterte admin promising a comfortable life for all Filipinos. In the times when there was still enough land for everyone to till, datus had it relatively easy. Imagine 650 thousand people in Lapu-Lapu’s time, or even 10 million in Aguinaldo’s time.

    • edgar lores says:

      So altruism?

  10. NHerrera says:


    I show below a picture of a checker board with two squares marked A and B — B lying in the shadow of the green colored cylindrical block. Telling most, if not practically all people, that the colors of A and B are of the same color will be met with “violent” reaction: “you must be mad to say this.”

    I myself reacted in the customary way — A and B are different colors. But wait, technician that I am, I used the old tablet I sometimes use with my computer: copied the image of the checker board and cut and pasted the portion of the board corresponding to A and B to the right of the board. QED — they are the same colors.


    I wrote the above to illustrate what conditioning does to us. Perhaps to the primitives who don’t know a checker board with its regular and alternate patterns of dark and light squares, when asked the question may say: yes A and B are of the same color.

    But we know about these patterns, not only in checker board games, but perhaps the tile we walk through, the table top covers of certain restaurants we have been to. And so the conditioning. What more the conditioning we have as Filipinos.

  11. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    Mind conditioning was done by Pavlov to dogs but I doubt any authoritarian leader
    can do that to multitudes who are not his lapdogs.

  12. – meanwhile, what a sense of priorities:

    If passed into law, the measure will require all manufacturers of locally-produced food products to inscribe Baybayin scripts and provide a Baybayin translation on their labels.

    The proposed law will also mandate local government units to included Baybayin signs for street names, public facilities, public buildings and other necessary signage for public offices like hospitals, fire and police stations, community centers and government halls.

    • madlanglupa says:

      Some people feel that it’s okay to have Baybayin for preservation and study, but bringing back Baybayin for wide usage is a bit too much.

      • karlgarcia says:

        If being OA and TH can produce results, then we are the most productive and accomplished nation.

        • To Thinking Pinoy: your next mission is to rescue three maids. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

          TO ALL TEAMS IN BORACAY – this is the fight of our lives!

          COMING SOON: after her valiant attack on a BBC journalist and the brave Filipino demonstration in front of the ICC, Sass Rogando Sassot shall organize a Long March from Jolibee Milan to the European Parliament in Strassburg.

    • NHerrera says:

      Oh my goodness!

      I suppose if one raises objection to this for practical reasons, one will be labeled as having a colonial mentality or as a senator may say, “mental colony.” This becomes really funny when we are soon going to have the third great coming — from the Spaniards, the Americans and now — the Chinese. Baybayin label of course will not be required along side the labels Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, etc. because they are not locally manufactured.

      It used to be that part of the achievements of the House are the creative (?) changing of Street Names. Have all these changing of names useful in instilling our nationalistic pride and spirit, and our being nationalistic against our territories and waters being grabbed by the Chinese with the not-too-subtle cooperation of our “nationalistic” leaders?

      There is the related saying of form versus substance. If only the wisdom of the current article and the comments are distilled and used instead by the House and the DepEd, it will not be form over substance.

      Oh well.

    • One of the multi-billion Build Build Build projects is to saturate Manila with cameras. The govt already has British supplied phone tapping capability, I think. I think we will see growing monitoring of social media. List-making. Deportations. Control of thought streams. We live in the matrix.

  13. edgar lores says:


    1. It must be emphasized that Francis’ schema is the ideal model of democracy, more specifically the republican form of government. It is NOT the reality.

    2. If we take the first axiom — “Ideology is the grammar of modern society” – this is not true for the Philippines. Here, the grammar of Philippine society is Power (© Irineo).

    3. Under the three schemas of power mentioned, power is derivative.

    3.1. Republican system. Power (or sovereignty) is derived from the people.
    3.2. One Party system. Power is derived from the monolithic Party.
    3.3. Theocratic system. Power is derived from the Mandate of Heaven.

    4. In our republican system, the balance in the separation of powers has been corrupted and power has devolved unilaterally to the Executive, who is Lord and Lodi. Both the Legislature and the Judiciary bow if not kneel obsequiously before the President. Even the people, the theoretical source of sovereignty, kneel.

    4.1. This peculiar and absurd situation is due to our evolutionary adaptation as a rigidly hierarchical society but it is also due to the lack of ideologies.

    4.2. As Francis has observed, the absence of ideologies has forced us to rely on the personalization of political power. If Mao Zedong expressed the truism that “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” in our case political power grows out of Malacañang… whoever the occupant may be. The Palace is the center of power and, like a typhoon, the force of the power hovers centripetally over Batasan Road and Padre Faura.

    4.3. Francis’ definition of ideology is ”a package of ideas that conceive of and promote a certain ideal society that entail and imply a programme of action or otherwise, a platform of policy to attain.” I would break this definition into two parts.

    4.4. In the first part, I would change the term “a package of ideas” to “a declaration of principles.” An ideology is a declaration of principles.

    4.5. Therefore, not having an ideology is not having principles.

    4.6. And not having principles in the exercise of power is a dangerous thing. This is obvious in our political world where the only principle that is observed is the principle of expediency.

    4.7. In the second part of the definition, Francis speaks of “a programme of action.” Again, I would substitute this term with a “methodology.”

    4.8. So, an ideology is a set of principles and a methodology.

    4.9. Now, the basic principles of democracy — the “unalienable rights” — are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as stated in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. I would substitute “life” with “human rights.” And, because democracy has evolved and been refined through time, I would add to these three the notions of equality, the separation of powers, due process, social justice, and secularism (the separation of church and state).

    4.10. Therefore, any ideology espoused in a democratic setting must rest on these basic or meta-principles.

    4.11. But because we Filipinos have not understood and internalized these meta-principles – even though they are embraced and enshrined in our Constitution — we have alienated the unalienable rights and mangled democracy in the process.

    5. In all seriousness, we – individually and collectively — must revisit these basic principles and decide whether to continue or not with our hybrid democratic system of horizontal Western ideals and vertical Filipino values.

    5.1. If we decide to stick with democracy, we must rebalance the separation of powers — this most basic infrastructure of participation — to be on an equal footing.

    5.2. We must abstract ideologies (© Francis/Irineo). Popoy has raised the question whether ideologies are necessary. This is a good question. Ideologies — isms — are systems of thought based on a peculiar set of perceptions (© Francis). These perceptions are, in truth, assumptions that prioritize values. Perhaps a distinction between ideology as a system of thought vs. a set of principles must be made. I think principles are essential.

    5.3. Most importantly, we must never forget the meta-principles… and never disregard them no matter how immediate and urgent our wants and needs seem to be. The journey etcetera etcetera etcetera.

    • Vicara says:

      If it’s any consolation to NHerrera above, the local dynamics which has shaped us is not dissimilar to that of other SEAsian countries, including parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. In this context, we are not dysfunctional outliers.

      The barangay datu/chieftain figure is at the heart of this sugregion’s politics, and for centuries such chieftains have been admired for their ability and nimbleness in dealing with a multi-polar power structure–including the overlapping spheres of influence of different sultanates, European colonizers (and related global trade)–and China, before it weakened during the Ching dynasty. This would include pitting one big player against the other. Duterte is cast in this cunning chieftain mold, and it is an ancient one.

      I get what you say, Ireneo, about our “thinking small”. Nothing maddens me as much as hearing people evade civic responsibility by saying “Kami’y maliliit na tao lamang.” But this is part of our heritage, for good or ill. And in asymmetric power struggles, this Hobbit-y barangay mentality can work for the benefit of the chieftain’s people–at least for the moment (there being too many variables to afford the luxury of thinking far ahead). At the very least, it exasperates Great Powers.

      This is not to devalue our more recent framework of democratic norms–our meta-principles–but while there is value in real-life comparisons between, say, the U.S. and Philippine legislative systems (one based on the other), we can’t afford to ignore this older political default mode. We have to be able to make these two contradictory strands of our national identity work together.

      • Indonesia and Malaysia had more practice in running larger collections of barangays before they were colonized – the Majapahit and Sri-Vijayan empires were entirely on their territory.

        The Filipino elite above the barangay is still considered “foreign”, as it grew after 1521.

        While Filipino small groups may excel in surviving, the effect of many divided datuships in the Philippines was usually selling out to the highest bidder – the oath to King Philipp II which got the “principalia” started, the shift to the USA when Spain faded, and now China.

        Indonesia does a better job of protecting its interests as a larger entity. It even had the foresight to BUY its Embassies back in the 1960s while Filipinos rent until today. There is a more advanced form of datuship at work there – the Javanese culture of leadership.

        For sure, Indonesia would never engage in the sort of nonsense the Philippines is doing in Kuwait right now – this OA (c) Karl version of Bourne Identity (c) myself. Duterte is cunning, but he is a fool compared to Widodo or Mahathir. They play in a much higher league.

        • The Philippine state and “Imperial Manila” are still seen as foreign bodies by many people.

          There is much more of an Imperial Java in Indonesia, including massive programs of migration and displacement of tribal peoples. Transmigrasi dwarfs everything in Mindanao.

          And of course the worst killing ever in the Malay world was in Indonesia back in 1965 – those were days without an ICC, half a million people at least died. The culture of thuggery there I described briefly in this article:

          Still, by now Indonesia seems to have a working (if harsh) police and justice system. And Widodo gets respect Duterte will never get, sitting as part of G20. Even in facing off China.

        • edgar lores says:

          Ah, so the peoples of Indonesia and Malaysia had the discipline of empire.

          The post-WWII experiences of the two nations have also been characterized, more or less, by political stability.

          Indonesia was governed for more than half a century (1945 – 1998) by just two strongmen — Sukarno and Suharto. The latter overthrew the former in a coup and served as president for 31 years.

          Malaysia got its independence in 1959 but, like Indonesia, had two long-governing strongmen who served for 37 years — Rahman and Mahathir. All six Prime Ministers of Malaysia have belonged to one political party — UMNO.

          The economy of Indonesia under Suharto and of Malaysia under Mahathir have seen much progress. Corruption has tainted the Indonesian rulers and the latest Malaysian prime minister, but none has been as corrupt as Marcos in emptying the state’s coffers.

          Both countries are predominantly Muslim. Malaysia is unique in having an elective monarchy. The monarch is the head of state as well as the leader of the Islamic faith.

          So there are tracks of a strong one-party system in Malaysia, and long periods of strongmen and strong theocratic influences in both countries. With none of the wishy-washy democratic rule that has plagued the Philippines.

          • Imperial experience and experience of real kingdoms for longer periods of time. This kind of stuff enters the memory of people and the habits from that are passed on thru generations.

            True that the Malay-Indonesian area influenced the Philippines – terms like Raja, Hari and Sultan, the Baybayin, the Kawi writing used for the Laguna copperplate, the Hindu calendar which gives the copperplate a precise date. But the Philippines was at the edge of things.

            Maybe a century more of Manila under the Malays who had been there barely half a century when Legazpi came. Even the sultanates that aspired to be kingdoms but were far from being anything close to what was on Java managed to resist the Spanish pretty well.

            The Portuguese only cared for ports, so all the conquered was Ternate and Tidore. Dutch preferred to stick to business and also went for a form of indirect rule via local elites, but did not try to change their religion or anything else. The English came to Malaysia much later.

            Although the Indonesians have a way of doing things that is quite compatible to the German way. Low-key but hierarchic. shows how Dr. Habibie managed to build up industry in Indonesia with assistance from Germany.

            Probably a bit of Dutch influence, although the relations to Germany are the strongest now.


   tackles the same stuff as Francis here:

            Filipinos act as if their leaders are personally known to them, using first names. And as if a state could be run like a barangay, where the datu whimsically changes the rules based on favoritism or mere caprice, where the favors of the state automatically accrue only to those who support the winning datu. The principles of utang na loob recently seen in President Duterte’s giving positions, or who was taken along on government trips, as if the presidential plane was merely a balanghai, a ship of the datu. Or Duterte’s personal view towards both AFP and PNP.

            plus these two aspects which I also think are significant:

            Often it seems that the Philippine state is seen as spoils of victory to be exploited, like in colonial times – not as something of long-term value to be maintained properly…

            the native elite of the Philippines was coopted first by the Spanish, then by the Americans – and even by the Japanese for a while. They usually managed to act like snakes shedding their skins for new languages and styles – to the extent that they are seen as foreign by many Filipinos. Colonial criticism of Filipino natives was also used by native elites to keep their countrymen in place. It is no small wonder that the behavior of Duterte and his group often resemble a caricature of the Indio as described by the most racist among Spanish friars. And that their attitude is the exact reverse of colonial racism which put foreign whites above native whites, mestizos below whites and natives at the lowest rank – with the strange exception that it places the Chinese where the whites used to be, and seems to a favor a number of Chinese mestizos. The damaged self-esteem caused by colonialism is at the root of many dysfunctional behaviors, including what is happening just now. Those perceived to be “oppressive” are hated on: the UN, the USA, the EU, educated people, old middle classes, the Church. Those perceived to be “lower” are put under pressure: Filipino Muslims (link) and slum dwellers for example. Weirdly, affirmation is looked for among those one claims to hate: “NASA and the Best President in the Solar System”, anyone?

            • edgar lores says:

              Irineo, thanks. I particularly like the insight on government seen as spoils for the victor.

              This grant of power to the victor — as in the power to make so many appointments to various government positions — should be considered in developing the “institutionalization of resistance.” Government service should be professionalized and tenured.

      • Playing off powers against one another was a game the Mindanao sultanates mastered..

        But Duterte is not the Sultan of Sulu, nor of Davao, and he is definitely not Kudarat.

        Humabon, it seems by all accounts, played Magellan for a fool, luring him into a trap.

        The rulers of Manila, a generation later, where outplayed by the Spaniards. They cut a deal which was good for them, but if Kudarat was right then others suffered – polo, encomienda..

        But they tried to fight before they submitted, and some tried to fight again. Duterte’s “strategy” is a sellout, favoring HIS entourage at most, and burdening other Filipinos with debt for generations. So yes, cunning – but Filipinos must see if that is worth the price.

        • Even the Filipino attitude of liking corrupt leaders who share the loot has its roots in “barangays surviving”. The colonial system of the Spaniards was geared to loot the people, so local leaders who stole from the system and shared with their folks were “heroes”. Mila Aguilar mentions that some local leaders in Pampanga and Bikol were heroic in that sense. Of course that attitude towards one’s own state is dysfunctional. But understandable!

          The attitude of civic disobedience where rules are not practicable – Joe’s example of people not wearing motorcycle helmets – is also a low-level system of survival. But a frustrating impediment in getting a Filipino state together, 500 years after 1521.

          Or remontado traditions, going away from the churchbells and taxes – fueling today’s NPA.

          • Finally, PDP-Laban may get a Filipino state together – based on the Chinese model.

            How pleasant and how Filipino that state will still be is another question altogether.

            Survival can also mean loss of identity. Oh, I forgot. That is why all this Baybayin.

            • Francis says:

              If that is the goal of PDP-Laban—to do what the Chinese do…

              …without thousands of years of Chinese philosophical and cultural tradition as bedrock…

              …without the degree of institutionalization and symbiotic ties that the CCP has with wider Chinese society…

              …would be morbidly hillarious to see PH as little parody of Big Dragon, much like we were a parody of Uncle Sam with our two-party system then…

              • Yes, a grand sense of humor is required to live in the Philippines.

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                to TSoH “a grand sense of humor is required to live in the Philippines.” is this
                what he means?

                In my book CONSTANT WINDS page 81, below was my take
                on Pinoy Humor written in 2005:

                Pinoy Humour

                Worse than lethal injection
                That’s Pinoy humour.

                Mightier than
                “the pen is mightier than the sword”
                that’s Pinoy humour

                When Humour is the armor of anger
                against tyrants
                when humour is the dove of hawks
                who will fear the legal criminals?
                when humour is a masked desire to kill
                the hydra of the anti-Christ
                when humour is the only recourse of the

                humour can be worst than a curse to the
                legion of thieves.
                -October 27, 2005
                POSTED as blogger in Ellen Tordesillas Blog,
                June 18, 2005 @ 6:57 am Just read in Malaya
                newspaper that Filipino humour is turning
                out to be Filipino ridicule.

    • The reality is that those who grasp the benefits of ethical democracy are very few, I’d imagine less than 5%. It would take a major, emotional PR program to raise awareness broadly. Competence to do that is suspect. Education is too slow and too out of touch with healthy civic ideas. It is built to support the hierarchical layering of control and obedience, not participation. The reality is dire.

  14. Francis says:

    Pardon again, for the length of this comment. Part of the reason this comment is long, is because I shall be copying some long comments made in other articles, which shall be noted as Appendix comment. The objectives of this long chain of comments are three-fold: (1) to demonstrate why epistemology is inseparable from politics and (2) to demonstrate why ideology should not be neglected or ignored, given the first point, and (3) to highlight the collective nature of ideology (as an intimately political thing) and how that distinguishes it from ethics.

    Why is epistemology inseparable from politics?

    First, what is politics? And what is power?

    Politics is power. But politics is not completely identical to power; rather–politics is the management of power to accomplish certain objectives on a collective and relational level; it is action defined in terms of the processes by which a group manages to pursue actions binding to all within said group. A lone guy stranded an island can exert power (by shaping his environment i.e. starting a fire) to accomplish certain objectives, but he cannot do politics or engage in politics.

    Because he is just an individual.

    Second, what is epistemology?

    My understanding of epistemology is that it refers to two things. One–it refers to the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge and the nature of knowledge. Second–it refers to how beings/actors/agents perceive and understand knowledge; our framework of how we “know” things. It is the second meaning that is most relevant in this discussion, and it is what I will usually mean when I refer to the “epistemology of [x]’ in this comment chain.

    Also–why did I put “beings/actors/agents” up there? I did not put that there at a whim. I placed that there, for a very crucial purpose; to broaden the usual perspective of “what agents” have a “framework of how they ‘know’ things.” Usually–we are accustomed to talking about epistemology in the individual sense, the epistemology of a single person–the framework by which an individual “knows or understands how he/she ‘knows’ things.”

    But in politics, there are more agents (agents = can act/pursue actions) out there than the individual. There are formal groups i.e. NGOs, political parties, etc. There are informal groups i.e. dynasties, etc. There are much more ambiguous “structures” of society i.e. class, religion, ethnicity, explicit ideological leanings.

    What I wish to highlight is that these collectives, these groups, these non-individuals may have their own epistemology, their own frameworks through which they know/understand “how they know/understand” in the first place. The ABC middle class may have their own epistemology or epistemologies (i.e. as reflected in partisan divides) and likewise may apply for the Born Again Christians and the Catholics, etcetera.

    “5.2. We must abstract ideologies (© Francis/Irineo). Popoy has raised the question whether ideologies are necessary. This is a good question. Ideologies — isms — are systems of thought based on a peculiar set of perceptions (© Francis). These perceptions are, in truth, assumptions that prioritize values. Perhaps a distinction between ideology as a system of thought vs. a set of principles must be made. I think principles are essential.”

    Why again, is epistemology essential to politics? This is my reply to the points above raised by Edgar.

    It is closely related to my understanding, my belief regarding the relationship between action and thought/ideas. My fundamental belief is that this roughly applies:

    Agent — Thought/Ideas — Action

    Before action, is thought. Or rather: thought/idea/the abstract/knowledge is in between us and our (concrete) actions. This seems patently obvious, but this has enormous implications. What this means is that we cannot separate the actions of any agent/actor (whether that be the proletariat class, a political party, the Catholic Church, or you-as-an-individual) from their/his/her epistemology. In short:

    Agent — Epistemology — Action

    THIS is why I constantly mutter (hopefully, to the point of not being annoying) about IDEOLOGY.

    Ideas shape action. Ideas are the origin of actions and perception (which is the gauge we use for further action). He who shapes ideas–shapes action. Even in “unideological” Philippines, this is Gospel Truth: aren’t we witnesses to how the epistemology of a good portion of the Filipino public has be shaped to understand knowledge coming from supposedly “D I L A W A N” sources (which were normally highly-regarded for their professionalism and ambition) i.e. Rappler as untrustworthy?

    The quotation marks I placed around the term “unideological” in the paragraph above is not just a mark of emphasis; I placed those quotation marks there to note that describing Filipinos or the Philippines as an “unideological” society is somewhat imprecise. It is not that we Filipinos lack ideology, but rather that we are unaware of ideology. The lack of explicit, technical or otherwise carefully constructed or consciously constructed ideology[F1] is not equivalent to a lack of any ideology. Ideology always exists; the question is only if we are aware of it.

    I would argue that our “cultural” view of society as one large barangay, of primarily relating to others via familial and pseudo-familial ties and little else–what is described in the excerpt from Nick Joaquin that Irineo posted above is itself an “ideology.” It fulfills the definition, if closely analyzed:

    “Ideology is (1)perception, (2)ideal/goal/objective and (3)action.”

    The “Barangay” ideology fulfills (1) by conceiving of society as one large barangay where familial and pseudo-familial ties predominate and where zero-sum competition exists between individuals and rival/un-allied familial networks, (2) is “rougher” I admit, but the ideal is that a generous datu shall generally reward everyone with abundance and be ready to give personal intervention to satisfy needs of individual/individual familial network–if one observes the oddity that the “good” of a “single” family/individual is equal to the “good” of society, think of it as similar (but not equivalent) to how libertarians in America would equal the freedom to fulfill their “individual” good as equal to the “good” of society, with (3) being that, on a wider macro “societal” level, there should be a datu should be a nice, trustworthy guy who you can ask for some lechon, este pork barrel, and on the micro level, it’s every individual and family for himself baby[F2]!

    The task for reformists is to unravel this ideological construct that is embedded deep within our minds, and perpetuated by our institutional structures and patterns in society.

    (A bit of digression: Popoy has noted: “It is systemic when a Filipino says, “Ang sakit ng kalinkingan ay dama ng buong katawan.” In English: “The pain in your pinky is felt by the whole body.” That’s a pontificating kind of systems thinking.” This is reference to arguably the most extensive attempt to detail an explicit Filipino ideology, without (some of) the Enlightenment-ness of the Left’s Marxism, and the Moderates’ Liberalism, Agpalo’s Organo-Hierarchicalism. Cannot say much about it at the moment–I confess to not paying attention in class or my readings as much as ought have–but suffice to say, it roughly uses the “barangay mentality” to construct a simultaneously genuinely systematic and genuinely Filipino theory of politics.)

    (To continue that digression: If I can recall correctly, what Agpalo concludes is that the Filipino views the body politic like a literal body, with the [strong]leader as the “ulo” or head and that it is this fundamental empathy e.g. “the pain of the pinky is felt by the head” that serves as a source of restraint, and that a possible ideal Filipino style of government would rule out parliamentarianism, in favor of a strong President restrained by a strong constitution. Please correct me if I am wrong though; am not sure whether memories are accurate.)

    Hence, I would strongly disagree with the notion that ideologies (including explicit varieties) are unnecessary.

    Ideologies are always with us and will always be with us. Hence–better for us to be aware of them and to be capable of explicitly dealing and interacting with them i.e. via “explicit,” “formal” varieties of ideology like liberalism, etcetera–especially considering that, to ignore ideology is to not only drive blind (lack conscious awareness of how ideology affects us) but to drive blind on a high speed highway (explicit ideology and society’s capability for such, is necessary for the fine-tuning and “quick” broad adjustments necessary in modern, complex society).

    But was there not an “End of Ideology” in the Post-WW2 and Immediate Post-Cold War Eras. No. Rather–periods of history where there was an “end of ideology” are only times when one ideology has become so dominant, so as to command an overwhelming monopoly. It should be noted though, that this dominating monopoly only lasts until the material conditions sustaining it no longer apply. Hence, the “Dominance of Social Democracy” in the Post-WW2 Era was underpinned by the brief moment of harmony between labor and capital in the West, culminating in the Welfare State and made necessary in order to compete with the Soviets–while the “Dominance of Neoliberal Democracy” in the Post-Cold War Era was underpinned by the brief moment of the USA as the Lone Superpower. Of course–the former unraveled with the rise of Reagan and Thatcher, and the latter is (now) unraveling as we can observe with the rise of figures as diverse as Trump and Corbyn–who are different, save for certain things: i.e. a commitment to a certain degree of protectionism.

    (Not that I dislike Corbyn. On the contrary, I think the UK under the man will insert some interesting ideas into political discourse on how to deal with far-right populism–but I digress.)

    There has never been an “end to ideology” and never will be. Not until we literally have literal Heaven on Earth, where all wants and needs are satisfied and therefore the “want-need” problem that ideology is meant to handle on a societal scale disappears: Singularity, Star Trek Post-Scarcity, Matrix Lotus Leaf Simulation, etc.

    “…Perhaps a distinction between ideology as a system of thought vs. a set of principles must be made. I think principles are essential.”

    The points above dealt with objectives (1) and (2) of this comment. Objective (3) which is to distinguish “ethics” from “ideology,” is addressed by this particular part of the comment, which is meant to serve as a reply to the above.

    Disclosure though; this is not a professional, technical definition. These definitions are a mixture of what I can remember from actual technical definitions and my own personal understandings of these concepts.

    Now, I think that every person, every individual has principles. Values. These aren’t the same though, every person has his own different set. Sometimes, they even clash–and at times, violently. The “Miracle of Democracy” is that we “jaw-jaw” rather than “war-war”; we learn to co-exist with each other, despite having different moral values. But I believe that this tolerance is often misunderstood as “unity” when in fact, it is the very opposite: it is managed “dis-unity.”

    Another reason why I don’t like it when the opposition or the government merely calls for “unity” as the key need of the nation. Whose unity? Whose terms?

    “…The Russian soul/ soil can only bear the fruits of the tsar/ tsarina and their subjects, modernized in Russia’s Putin of today? The China of history can only bear fruit of the kind we read in history, modernized in China’s Xi of today? The US, a country of immigrants with the soul/ soil of the immigrants in their minds, undertook an experiment and produced a new soil to bear the fruits the world generally admire, modernized with Trump of today?..”

    To extend NHerra’s metaphor regarding the souls/soils of nations and their fruits–my wild-eyed guess is that every nation (and certainly every democracy) is characterized by a fundamental tension in their national soul. The Americans have the Republicans and Democrats; the former is heir to Jefferson’s vision of an idyllic agrarian republic with a limited federal state, while the latter is heir to Hamilton’s vision of a bustling America of the cities–with an equally mighty and powerful federal state to match. We Filipinos have a long-standing tension between the (Westernized) Cosmopolitans and the Nativists, which cuts across class, as it is I think is an accurate way to describe the division between the ABCDE “Diliwans” who have respect for the West’s standards or institutions (i.e. the Church) and those who don’t have such respect, the ABCDE “Ka-DDS.”

    There is always a dis-unity, a disharmony in the soul of a nation. For something so diverse, held together by abstract construct, cannot hold together as well as a purely organic, purely emotional family or tribe (Refer to Appendix A.) Perhaps, those seeking national (and global) governance are like the fools of Babel, but I digress?

    The great thing about this democracy is that this dis-unity is regulated, to make sure that we settle disagreements in fundamental principles/values peacefully. Without violence. Via mechanisms described in the article above i.e. the “infrastructure of participation.”

    Of course, not all “ideologies” are accepted. Just as players who don’t wanna play by the rules of the game get kicked out, so is it that by force of norms–ideally, extremists like fascists are forced out or forced to “moderate” their views. You could call these “rules of the democratic game,” as Edgar does, as the metaprinciples.

    (Now, how to deal with the situation when the inmates control the asylum…Popper refers to that as the “Paradox of Tolerance”…a constant dilemma for any democracy on the brink…)

    Yet, if Group A of Principles ABC and Group B of Principles XYZ, with Person AA believing in Principles ABC thinking to himself, why can’t everyone just follow Principles ABC which I think are so important–what does Person AA do. He sets out ways, plans to try his best to ensure that all of society (everyone in Groups A and B) will conform as much as possible to Principles ABC.

    He extends his “principles” (his “ethics”) that once covered just himself (Person AA) and others like himself (Group ABC) towards other people not-like-himself-in-principles. This extension of individual principles or microprinciples to all of society, to make microprinciples into macroprinciples, is ideology.

    Politics, as we all know, is essentially a collective thing, therefore:

    Ethics is on an individual level. Ideology is on a societal level. In a way, ideology is ethics for society–but imagine society to be a perpetual teenager or guy in mid-life crisis.

    [F1]I.E. Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Secularism, Etc.

    [F2]This can manifest in either the “kanya-kanya” mentality (every family/individual for himself/herself/themselves) or in what Vicara noted as the tendency of Filipinos to “mind their own business” in a manner detrimental to civic virtue by explaining that “wala naman ako magagawa,”

    • Francis says:

      Appendix A:

      Supplemental to comment above, as well as the article.

      …My rough ad hoc sketch of the “path to democracy” is that, broadly speaking, it involves two steps:

      Step 1: Become a nation.
      Step 2: Become an ideological society.

      •Step 1: We’re one nation-ish.

      We are a relatively stable lower middle-income developing nation with relatively less experience on inter-ethnic conflict i.e. civil war; i.e. there has not been something akin to a Tagalog v. Cebuano war in our recent history. “Relatively” because we should not ignore the hardships experienced by our Moro brethren.

      Perhaps, the Americans (by bringing electoral democracy to our shores) managed to unite the elites of the various ethnic groups of the Lowland Christian Philippines with a game of musical chairs—that is, pork; why fight over who gets what little pie when we can all take turns with this one, big pie?

      In any case—with the exception of Mindanao and the Cordilleras—the Philippine nation did not experience the violent inter-ethnic conflict and rivalry experienced by other, unluckier developing countries. The trapo elite of GPH saw themselves as Filipino, the Huks (and their NPA heirs) saw themselves as Filipino—and the citizens caught in between, with the rise of mass media and its “Filipinization,” saw themselves as Filipino.

      Contrast that to rebel movements in other, wartorn countries—colored by ethnic ties.

      So. We’re relatively in one piece—peaceful.

      (Get it. It’s a pun…nevermind.)

      Step 2: Still a “tribal” nation of “tribesmen,” not yet a “polis” nation of citizens.

      We are one nation. One “body politic” in fancier words. We are all countrymen; each Filipino is akin to a brother or sister in our eyes.

      Our sense of “nation” is an extension of premodern, familial ties to unrelated, “stranger” Filipinos. That is, we treat strangers who are Filipinos like our family.

      Which makes this nation of ours seem more like one big super-tribe. Which is not good enough for modern democracy, that is—modern democracy for a modern, complex society.

      A modern, complex society requires that we elevate how we view our fellow Filipinos and ourselves from being “common tribesmen” (i.e. “You’re my brother from another mother!”) to “common citizens.”

      Not a tribe assembly, but a public. Not a tribe, but a polis.

      The difference between a tribesman and a citizen is the difference between pure emotion and thawt; the tribesmen relates to his fellow tribesmen with the fierce emotion of quasi-familial (and simplistic)love, the citizen relates to his fellow citizen with the fierce emotion of nationalistic love—still with familial overtones, but tempered and directed by reason and awareness, with a multi-faceted layering: hence, thawt—unity of heart and mind.

      In a tribe, there is specialization of labor—but generally anyone can do anything if they put their minds to it, or if extremely necessary. Hence, a simple quasi-familial bond uniting all, as a common identity is enough.

      However, a modern complex society poses a problem. The sheer complexity of modern society requires an intensive degree of specialization of labor and the rapid, widespread communications technology i.e. printing press, radio, etc. This leads to the rise of social cleavages (divisions in society) along class lines (with the specialization of labor) and national, ethnic, religious, or any other abstract-value/social-construct lines (with communications technology).

      All these different groupings (whether by material class or by abstract differences in “values” which can be somewhat traced to material experiences in part) in a modern complex society need to communicate with each other—whether to work with each other, oppose the other grouping/s, etcetera—and in fact, I argue that this is how democracies in modern, complex societies (i.e. the sort we see in the West function):

      A brain has multiple parts, each with a different function. The interaction between these parts produces the thought of an individual human being which produces individual action. In the same way, a modern complex society has different groupings which have different functions. The interaction between these different groupings produces “societal thought” (read: ideology) which leads to societal action and change.


      The problem of the Philippines, in my opinion, is that we do have these groupings—they’re just…unborn. In the sense that they can’t communicate with each other because we have no such thing as “ideology” in our public discourse (our “common imagination”/abstract realm as a nation) and no such thing as a “party system” in the concrete world to foster “ideology” in our society.

      I say “unborn” because social cleavages equivalent to, say, the sort that produce the Conservative-v-Labour, Democrats-v-Republican divides do exist. Otherwise—we wouldn’t all be hurling poo at each other because of whether one is D E L A W A N or ka-D D S. I guess you could say we all just don’t know how to properly debate, which is an oversimplication of everything explained above. But I digress.

      This is somewhat explained in my comment in the article on NEDA…

      • Francis says:


        From Wikipedia: mechanical and organic solidarity.

        “In sociology, “mechanical solidarity” and “organic solidarity”[1] refer to the concepts of solidarity as developed by Émile Durkheim. Durkheim introduced the terms “mechanical” and “organic solidarity” as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). According to Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society, which are mechanical and organic societies.”

        “In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in “traditional” and small-scale societies.[2] In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks.”

        “Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in modern and industrial societies.[2] It is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interests, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).”

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          sa isang basa lang, parang ang liwanag ng dating : NABALIGTAD ni Durkheim ang kahulugan ng MECHANICAL at ORGANIC. ORGANIC kasi ay likas at natural, ganyan pagkakaisa at pagkakabuklod nila sa isang tribo, isang pamilya: NATURALMENTE eh, organic yan. Pagkakabuklod nila dahil sa trabaho at propesyon, sa teamwork, eh di ba mechanical yan, wala base sa tribo o sa dugo yan?

          Sa mga big groceries, mas mahal ang mga organic vegetables. Ang pakikisama ng mga Lumads, ilongots, Dumagats, at iba pang katutubo ay bukal at likas o organic at hindi mekanikal o plastic.

          sa military naman, meron tinatawag na organic o composite battalions o units. KAYA yung mechanical solidarity puedeng tawaging COMPOSITE solidarity.

    • Francis says:

      Addendum to the Main Comment:

      “2. If we take the first axiom — “Ideology is the grammar of modern society” – this is not true for the Philippines. Here, the grammar of Philippine society is Power (© Irineo).”

      I would hazard a different guess: that the grammar for Filipino society is not ideology (which exists, but we cannot affect it for we are not conscious of it) but rhetoric.

      That, is emotional themes. Emotional language. Emotional logic. Emotional symbols. Hence, the main means of affecting the “deep patterns of thought and ideas” in the Philippines is not logic AND persuasion (emotion and reason, otherwise melded into “ideology”) but merely persuasion alone (just emotion, with any component of reason remaining subordinated).

      Hence, the question is perhaps how to facilitate a transition from “rhetoric” (just emotion) to “ideology” (emotion coupled with reason)?

      • Francis says:


        Also, another observation. Rhetoric is oral. Ideology is literate.

        • Dick Gordon is anal. But true, the mode of deciding in the Philippines is by second emotion.

          Sharon started with the emotion, then Kris Aquino said “I second emotion”.

          Of course everybody will bilib. If the women of the dilawans leave them who will still stay?

          In the Philippine version of Troy, Helen decides to stay with the Trojans and leave Paris.

          Bakling naman talaga iyang Paris na iyan, pati sa pelikula Orlando Bloom ang artista.

    • “there should be a datu should be a nice, trustworthy guy who you can ask for some lechon, este pork barrel,” Raiding, Trading and Feasting –

      ..As early as the first millennium A.D., the Philippine archipelago formed the easternmost edge of a vast network of Chinese, Southeast Asian, Indian, and Arab traders. Items procured through maritime trade became key symbols of social prestige and political power for the Philippine chiefly elite…

      ..It attempts to address the question of why Philippine polities, like early historic kingdoms elsewhere in Southeast Asia, have a segmentary political structure in which political leaders are dependent on prestige goods exchanges, personal charisma, and ritual pageantry to maintain highly personalized power bases..

      Iron Age European polities (Etruscan, Phoenician and Greek) are noted to have similar structures of rivalry, patronage and prestige. So I wasn’t that wrong about Helen and Troy. Now will the Yellows go to war go get Sharon and Kris back, or just send’em to Davao?

      • – a pro-Digong opinion piece, in Rappler no less, illustrates Francis’ points extremely well:

        ..It was the perfect atmosphere to welcome not just a rockstar. Tatay Digong is your loving father who will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.

        He deserved nothing less.

        Tatay Digong did not fail them.

        As expected someone sang You Raise Me Up. But it was Ikaw that caught his attention. As if on cue, Duterte readily took the microphone to sing along. By the time the song ended, the large screens were filled with the faces of teary-eyed Filipinos in the audience.

        The emotional atmosphere was perfect for Tatay Digong to begin his speech. He was ready for it..

        Finally, Duterte brought up his crusade against illegal drugs. He repeated his well-rehearsed lines: “Do not destroy my country. Do not destroy our young people. I will kill you.”

        Make no mistake about it. That was not revolting for the audience.

        On my way out I spoke with Yollie, a domestic helper from Sta Cruz, Manila. She was very pleased to report that her neighborhood is now a safe place. “Okay lang ang mga napapatay, drug addict naman sila eh.” (The deaths are okay, they’re addicts anyway.)

        Yollie smiled a lot, you’d would think she is the nicest aunt ever.

        Filipinos in the audience knew how to return the favor.

        When one domestic helper received a stern message from her employer to go home immediately, she insisted she would stay. She then told me she was willing to pick a fight if need be.

        A gentleman behind me wondered out loud if some Filipino reporters were present. (Yes, he singled out Rappler.) In the same breath he said he was prepared to hit them with his water bottle. The lady next to him assured him that there were far more people in the audience ready to defend the president.

        This is Barangay Hong Kong..

        • Francis says:

          I wouldn’t characterize this as a “pro-Duterte” opinion piece.

          Only the unvarnished truth. A truth that must be frankly grappled with.

          And one day—we shall wake and question ourselves, why is Myanmar leaving us behind?

  15. karlgarcia says:

    Regarding the reading habits of the Pinoy, one word: Under-rated.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    One familiar name to me answered a question on quora.

    Warlito Nobleza Vicente
    Warlito Nobleza Vicente, studied at Ateneo De Davao University
    Updated Jul 16 2013 · Author has 111 answers and 256.1k answer views

    Because they don’t think they are Asians.
    Filipinos believe they are Westerners who happen to be geographically located in Asia – much like Australians.
    That’s what 300 years of Spain and 50 years of Hollywood can do to you.

    Filipinos don’t have an Asian history like the Thai, the Vietnamese etc.

    The Fabricated Philippine State.

    Created in 1946 – the result of a series of negotiations conducted between Filipino nationalists and the U.S. government – the Republic of the Philippines is an arbitrary amalgamation of a multitude of diverse islands and peoples.

    This political entity is not a nation-state; neither is it a voluntary multinational association. Rather, it constitutes a new, post World War II, colonial order centered in Manila, and dedicated to the political and economic hegemony of the local Christian-Europhile community over the entire territory of the former American colony. That which separates the Philippines from all other multi-ethnic states in Asia is its unique nationalism.

    Although distinct Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Thai countries had emerged by the time of the onslaught of European imperialism in Asia during the late 19th century, there never existed a Filipino nation.

    While other heterogeneous Asian countries can seek to legitimate the existence of their states by declaring a continuity – however dubious – with indigenous kingdoms or empires that flourished in their lands before European domination, Filipino nationalists cannot.

    No single political entity ever ruled the entire archipelago, and those states which did arise to govern significant portions of these islands, including the area around Manila, were Muslim. Unlike other Asian nationalisms, for Filipinos history is an enemy, not an ally.

  17. karlgarcia says:

    Baybayin will be an issue in the federalism debate.

    It will bring us back to square one.

    Baybayin (Tagalog pronunciation: [baɪˈbaɪjɪn]; Pre-kudlit: ᜊᜊᜌᜒ, Post-kudlit: ᜊᜌ᜔ᜊᜌᜒᜈ᜔); a counterpart of the Visayan badlit (ᜊᜇ᜔ᜎᜒᜆ᜔), Ilokano kur-itan/kurditan, and Kapampangan kudlitan, is an ancient Philippine script used by the Tagalog people, derived from Brahmic scripts of India, and first recorded in the 16th century. Contrary to popular belief, the baybayin is an indigenous script of the Tagalog people only, not the entirety of peoples within the Philippine archipelago, as each ethnic group in the country had its own indigenous script distinct from each other prior to Spanish colonization

  18. edgar lores says:


    Let us try to unravel the confusion and the complexities.

    1. To simplify, epistemology is my way of knowing the world. It is how I view the world, my worldview.

    1.1. Francis is correct in saying that everyone has an epistemology.

    2. Is my epistemology my ideology? I would say no. Why?

    2.1. The definition of ideology is “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.”

    2.2. And the definition of system is “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.”

    2.3. So, to me, an ideology implies complexity, a certain amount of comprehensiveness, and coherence. The comprehensiveness is limited to a domain, say, religion or politics, but not to the entire life domain. Ideology is an ism, a distinctive set of ideas and beliefs.

    2.4. Rather than say, “My epistemology is my ideology,” I would rather say, “My epistemology is composed of several ideologies.” This is so because people will not understand when I say, “I believe in Edgarism.” But they will understand when I say, “I believe in Buddhism, Liberalism, and Republicanism.”

    2.4.1. Note that the ideologies form a complex whole but not a comprehensive and coherent whole. I would still be Edgar if I believed in Buddhism, Republicanism, and not Liberalism but Neoliberalism.

    2.5. Thus, at the personal level, the relationship of epistemology to ideology is: one is to many.

    2.6. Thus, also, there are cradle ideologies and adopted ideologies.

    2.6.1. The cradle ideologies for a Filipino in our time partly consist of:

    o Society – Hierarchical patriarchy that conceals a matriarchal reality
    o Economics – Capitalism
    o Government – Republicanism with a tropism toward dynasties
    o Politics – Democratic (Dilawan) or Authoritarian (DDS)
    o Religion – dominantly Christian or Islam
    o Ethics – Amoral familism or Utilitarianism, plus some religion-based Deontology
    o Food – Regional, Chinese, or Spanish

    2.6.2. The isms of society, economics, government, and ethics are mainly givens, while those of politics, religion, and food can be a matter of choice. However, one can choose to be a domineering patriarch, a communist rebel, or an amoral nihilist.

    3. Generally, ideology guides action (or non-action) but does not dictate it. And ideologies overlap and interpenetrate each other.

    3.1. One can be a Christian but still commit theft or adultery.

    3.2. T.S. Eliot writes in “The Hollow Men:”

    “Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow”

    3.2. In my analysis, one interpretation of the Shadow is how I feel. But it could also be unconscious motivation, external interference, or whatnot.

    3.2.1. Let me cite a better example than 3.1.

    3.2.2. As a Republican, I can vote. Voting is an element of the election process by which I choose the candidates to represent me.

    3.2.3. The vote can be seen from several angles depending on my qualifications and how I feel:

    o It is a privilege that is not granted to all by virtue of age, sex, or criminality.
    o It is a right that I may choose to exercise or not.
    o It is a duty that is either voluntary or mandatory (as in Australia.)
    o It is a duty that I may perform perfunctorily or assiduously as a good Republican.

    3.2.4. Those are the several angles from the viewpoint of the ideology of Republicanism. However, there is another angle.

    o I can see the vote as a product. As a poor man, I can see it as an end product to fill my almost empty wallet or tummy. As a candidate, I can see it as a raw product, an investment, that will allow me to have a bigger house, a sexier mistress, and an opportunity to travel.

    3.2.5. Thus, an ideology of government is corrupted and crossovers to an ideology of economics.

    • edgar lores says:


      3.2.6. As an Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) adherent, I may surrender my right to choose my candidates and allow the church to choose for me. Thus, an ideology of government is corrupted and crossovers to an ideology of religion.

    • edgar lores says:


      4. Seen from the perspective of The Three Primary Virtues, the ideological crossovers occur as a result of which construct in our hierarchy commands our greater loyalty.

      4.1. In the case of 3.2.4 and 3.2.5, the loyalty to Self and Family is greater than the loyalty to the Nation.

      4.2. In the case of 3.2.6, the loyalty to the church is greater than the loyalty to Self and the Nation.

      5. We suffer from ideological dissonance.

    • Francis says:

      Thank you, Edgar. You have helped untangled some lines of thought. In particular:

      1.0 I agree completely with your insight that one might have multiple overlapping “ideologies” in one “epistemology” and that “ideology” is not equivalent to one’s “epistemology” which, I suppose, calls for a further sharpening of terms.

      2.0. The question then, is—how do we untangle all of this?

      2.1. Personally, I raised the notion of “epistemology” and “ideology” in this discussion and in this article because I felt that, save for the academe, places like this blog, there is not much in-depth discussion (besides certain columns on the Inquirer; on which, I will only point out that the space given is sadly insufficient) on the “ideas” driving Filipinos, on our collective “head-space” or “abstract realm” as it were.

      2.2. That leaves the question though; how do we untangle the multiple overlapping ideologies? You proposed a rough sketch for untangling, i.e: 2.6.1—regarding which, I have a few points to raise. But before that:

      2.2.1. I believe that is a very subjective question. To the point of being an “essentially contested” subject; something that has no sure answer, and a lot of different answers depending on who you ask.

      2.2.2. Also, I am just a layman. Not an expert. Just a long-winded armchair analyst—a college student taking political science, with too much time on his hands.

      2.2.3. I raised 2.2.1 because 2.2.2; my subjective understanding of “how to untangle epistemology” (and what is an “ideology” or “religion,” etc.) is tied to my background. The following is not technical, just my own rough sketch:

      3.0. To me, the mother of all knowledge and quest for knowledge, of what can be known and the limits of what can be known, is philosophy. She is the Queen of Knowledge, Her Domain is Over What Can Be Known. Her mother, who deals with knowing what cannot be known, is Spirit. I would say, “Religion” but “Religion” (the organized faith) is merely a subset; the urge to transcend in humanity is overlaps but is not confined to organized faith.

      3.1. This Queen gave birth to second siblings. The first one born was Ethics, the eldest. The second who was born, was Politics. Ethics came before Politics, because before the formal collective (city, tribe and empire) was the interdependent individual—who was not atomistic and was closely tied to the informal collective of family.

      3.2. In my opinion, Ethics and Politics are the eldest children—second to Philosophy herself, because they are normative. They define the principles, the values—the overriding priorities of human life; Ethics deals with the values of the individual, while Politics deals with the values of the community—and later, by extension: society.

      3.3. Politics—the younger daughter—I think, is therefore the mother of all social sciences (I may be biased, ha!) who try their best analyze society objectively; that is, the social sciences are not (and can never be) purely objective, but they try their best to be as objective as possible. Think of the concept of “limits” in Calculus. Politics gave birth, in turn, to Economics, to Sociology, to “Government” (in 2.6.1.) which in other words is Public Administration, etc.

      3.4. I say that Politics is the mother, for politics is the study of norms/principles in society and how society ultimately decides these norms/principles. As the saying goes, “Everything is Political.” For instance:

      3.4.1. Economics is not just objective, but also normative. An egalitarian tribe can engage in primitive communism, and find it preferable to “rational,” and “efficient” free-market capialism. A social democrat may find regulated capitalism that sustains a welfare state desirable; a libertarian might view that as giving unearned assistance to “moochers.” Yet, how does society come to decide the “norms” that determine what is the “ideal” degree of redistribution? A political question.

      3.4.2. Sociology has multiple paradigms. Two of these (though there are far more—I’m just running on what I can remember) oppose each other. On one hand, is a paradigm that emphasizes society as conflict between groups per Marx. On the other hand, is a paradigm that emphasizes society as a functional unity, of parts working together as one. Both paradigms have much objective research done in their name—but what of the norms that lead one to prefer one paradigm over the other? Where does this preference come from? It must be political in origin.

      3.5. This is all just a creative myth. A way for me to get an easy handle of things. I admit that things have been oversimplified here and there.

      3.6. Given the above though—one can try to simplify 2.6.1 and locate ideology.

      3.6.1. Before that—my definition of ideology, in addition to what has been already given, is that it is inherently collective in nature—or if individual in nature, this “individual” refers not the atomistic lone individual, but always the individual “in relation” to society. If principles are one’s guide to constantly guiding his or her individual self—ideology is one’s guide to constantly guiding society or (when intersecting with ethics) one’s guide to how one as an individual can guide society.

      3.6.2. This inherently collective or relational nature of “ideology” is why I think of “ideology” as a “primarily” political thing. I say “primarily” because there is some overlap with “ethics” as noted above.

      3.6.3. I would therefore put “Society,” “Economics,” and “Government” or “Public Administration” as sub-categories or subsets under “Politics.”

      3.6.4. Thus, 2.6.1 (the “epistemological” space) would look like this:

      Ethics = [PRINCIPLES for Self, IDEOLOGY may overlap when it comes to Self-In-Society, REVELATION may overlap when it comes to Self-In-Relation-to-Immaterial]

      Politics: [IDEOLOGY]

      The “Spirit” or Religion: [REVELATION when “out of the box,” but precepts or moral commandments about what to “in the box” may overlap with IDEOLOGY in “Politics” or PRINCIPLES in “Ethics”] My simplified view of how I exist is that I am in a box. Beyond the box, is what I cannot know or comprehend. The “Spirit” (i.e. Religion) is different from all the “children” of “Philosophy” in that “Philosophy” (and all her descendants) deal with what is “in the box” whereas the Spirit deals with what is “outside” the box. The “Spirit” is different from Politics because Politics deals with material questions, about what is “in the box” whereas the “Spirit” deals with spiritual questions. Sometimes though, this overlaps. But just as the focus of Ethics is (under this framework, at least) primarily the individual and how he/she can live a moral life, the focus of Religion is primarily the otherworldly.

      4.0. I would disagree that “corruption” in “crossovers” per 3.2.5. exists; everything is interrelated. If our economics seems odd (the conflict between distribution of resources via patronage by the datu trapos and attempts to rationalize distribution by Westernized technocrats), our sociology (a society structured around kin and kinship/pseudo-kinship neyworks) seems odd, and our religion seems odd (the INC equating voting with salvation) then it strikes to me, as not corruption—but proof that all is interrelated.

      4.1. In that vein, my sketches above are attempts to show both clear concepts and to show how these clear concepts are interrelated to each other.

      4.2. Disclosure though, that I am a layman and am clearly running on the equivalent superficial knowledge of TL;DR’s and summaries. Nevertheless, I hope this sketch may prove a bit useful in clarifying the terms of discussion.

      5.0. In particular, the reason why I typed this comment, many previous comments, as well as the article on which this comment was made—is to clarify the lines and overlapping blobs between individual morality and action and the morality and action of society.

      6.0. I will say that this discussion has greatly sharpened my mind, and to that I add another thanks. 🙂

      • Francis says:


        A good mental image to accompany this comment would be not to think of the concepts as separate boxes, but rather different cups of beer placed closely beside each other—except they have been poured wrongly and too much so the bubbles and fizz overflow from the cups, such that they overlap.

        • I recently stumbled upon the book “How China Escaped the Poverty Trap” by Yuen Yuen Ang.

          For an excerpt:

          // …this is a study about how development actually happens. Is it really the institutions of good governance so keenly proffered to developing countries today that launch markets? Or is it growth that enables good governance? Or is history destiny?

          My answer begins with a simple observation: development is a coevolutionary process. States and markets interact and adapt to each other, changing mutually over time. Neither economic growth nor good governance comes first in development.


          Although development as a coevolutionary process is intuitively observed (in my experience, it appears that the less formal training one receives, the more intuitive it is), analyzing mutual changes among many moving parts is far from easy. To this end, I lay out a framework for systematically mapping the coevolution of states and markets. This approach reveals surprising insights into the causal sequence of development and raises new questions about the sources of societal adaptation. //

          In addition to that:

          A video on how we tend to describe the individual features of a face and how it usually falls flat as humans will analyze it in relation to other parts. “Contextual” seems to be an apt description.

          So with that, let me encourage your multifaceted approach and suggest that you stick with it and develop it further. As you are currently a student, just something to keep that in mind so that you may avoid more the pitfalls of the academe and liberal education.

          Lastly, sorry for not replying to your queries on the other post. As of the moment, I can only offer tidbits as I can’t afford to allocate much CPU power to my socio-blah blah analysis. It interferes with my workflow as I am currently busy with an unrelated project…

      • edgar lores says:

        Hmm. That’s quite a deep and long-ranging response. Let’s see if we can break it down.

        1. My breakdown of your response would be:

        o Section 2 – Preface
        o Section 3 – Untangling Ideologies
        o Subsection 3.6 – Francis’ Epistemology
        o Section 4 – Interrelationship of Ideologies
        o Section 5 – Coda on Individual and Social Morality

        I will skip the preface and plunge down into the details.

        2. Section 3 – Untangling Ideologies

        2.1. You are probably right in your “creative myth” about the sequence of how the various types of ideologies unfolded.

        2.2. You surmise that Religion came ahead of Philosophy, yet it is a subset of Philosophy. I would say you are right on both counts.

        2.3. Philosophy is the quest to understand the universe by categorization, but before it came Religions which proffered various explanations for natural phenomena and the universe.

        2.4. Religions came first to answer man’s eternal questions because there was an immediate need to quell man’s existential terrors. And so stories, myths, and legends were created to explain the origins of man, the heavens and the earth. These myths aggregated into religions.

        2.5. It was only later that man engaged reason to systematically address the eternal questions. And, at first, the men who dared to so and who questioned the tenets of religion were often rejected as outcasts and heretics. Some were put to death.

        2.5. The actual sequence of the development of ideological types is lost in time. What we know is that ideologies form the matrix of our epistemology.

        3. Subsection 3.6 – Francis’ Epistemology

        3.1. The dictionary meaning of ideology does say it is “especially” used to refer to economic or political theory. This is why I use the term “ism” to refer to broader domains.

        3.2. It is difficult to prioritize and develop a taxonomy of ideologies. “Everything is political” may be true for many but the same may be said of ethics. Much of the conflicts in the world is because ethics is not seen as a primary consideration. Or, rather, ethics is narrowly interpreted and is used as the justification for these conflicts, whether political or religious, whether national or international.

        3.3. You tend to see yourself in a box. In my Hierarchy of Loyalties, I tend to see Self as the center of an expanding series of concentric circles that partly include Family, Church, Community, Country, World, and God. God is equivalent to your Spirit.

        3.4. You echo the conventional understanding that “the focus of religion is primarily the otherworldly.” I tend to echo the Dalai Lama’s understanding: “My religion is very simple. It consists of kindness.” That is, religion is of this world.

        3.4.1. The notion that religion is primarily concerned with the afterlife is a cause of ideological dissonance. It is one reason why many so-called Christian congressmen allow themselves to commit theft and adultery. And approve of EJKs.

        3.5. As I stated in my earlier response (9:02 am), we have cradle and adopted ideologies. Therefore, the initial “epistemological space” would be collective. We adhere to the collective isms of the day until we, as individuals, adopt our own isms as part of the growing (or individuation) process. The “adopted” isms may be the same as the ones we are born into or different ones. The trigger for adoption, whether of old or new, is the realization of new meaning through our experiences.

        3.5.1. The cradle epistemological space is our initial cultural and social habitus (© Irineo). I will use the term to denote the totality of our isms, both individual and collective. We acquire the cradle habitus through osmosis and mimesis (© Wikipedia). This is what I refer to as our conditioning. We later develop an individual habitus.

        3.5.2. Habitus is peculiar to time and place. Your habitus is different from a youth in Mindanao, different from an Eskimo, and different from a slum-dweller just several kilometers from where you live. The U.P. habitus of Florin Hilbay is different from the Tondo habitus of his parents. His appreciation of the ideals of justice and democracy are so much keener. For Harry Roque, his pre-Duterte habitus is much different from his pro-Duterte habitus. In the former, human rights were sacred; in the latter, human rights are shit. Florin has transcended; Roque has descended.

        4. Section 4 – Interrelationship of Ideologies

        4.1. As I said, ideologies overlap and interpenetrate. The fact that there is an interrelationship does not mean that there is no corruption. I used the term deliberately. Corrupt means to destroy the integrity of.

        4.1.1. What is the integrity of voting? It is the integrity of democratic republicanism. And what is the integrity of democracy? It consists of the meta-principles that I listed earlier. Selling/buying votes goes against the meta-principle of equality (because the candidate becomes a patron and the voter a minion) and against the Lincolnesque definition of democracy. (One votes or runs as a candidate “for the people” and not for Self and Family.) For a church to dictate one’s votes is against the meta-principle of secularism.

        4.1.2. Parenthetically, the selling/buying of votes can not only be seen from the ideologies of government and economics. From the ideology of ethics, it can be seen as amoral familism tainting republicanism.

        4.1.3. Remember, the definition of ideology is “a system of ideas and ideals” – emphasis on ideals. And in maintaining several ideologies in our habitus, whether collective or individual, we should not allow one ideology to stain another beyond recognition. I know it is hard at times to decipher where the ethical lines are drawn, but when in doubt determine the purposes of each ism and perhaps use the Sieves of Ethics.

        4.1.3. If isms contaminate each other, they may also purify each other – as in Hilbay’s case. Or as Saul’s on the road to Damascus.

        5. Section 5 – Coda on Individual and Social Morality

        5.1. The analogy of isms to cups of beer and overflowing foam is inviting.

        5.2. More formally, and before we get wasted, I would see it as the Venn diagram shown below. The diagram is imperfect as one ideology overlaps the just two, one on each side. It could be perfected by enlarging each ideology to embrace the whole central node of Self.

        5.3. Seeing ideologies as modes helps. I would go further and view it as modalities of being where, depending on the current situation, one mode is dominant.

        5.4. I would say that the dominant modality depends on what stage we are in life.

        o As children, we are in learning mode and absorbing the ideologies of our time.
        o In college, in early adulthood, we begin to question our cradle ideologies and adopt new ones as the case may be. This is where you are.
        o After college, in proper adulthood, our dominant modality would be economic as we practice the profession we learned in college.
        o Our political ideology would become dominant during election times.
        o And as we mature past midlife, our dominant modality would be ethical or spiritual. This is where I am.
        o But throughout our lives, the different ideologies of our collective and individual habitus overlap and interpenetrate.

        6. Thank you, Francis.

  19. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    over a life of many years, I guess
    these seem to be the BASICS
    Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations – Capitalism
    Karl Marx – Das Kapital – Communism
    Nicolo Machiavelli – authoritarianism
    Albert Speer – The Third Reich – Nazism
    Siddharta – Buddism
    Saint Augustine -Catholicism

    And these guys became apostles of something
    Thomas Jefferson- Democracy
    Joseph Stalin- Stalinism
    Muzzolini- Fascism
    Adolf Hitler – genocide
    and many more wakawakwaks and wakatans,

    All humans with without ideology in their adulthood
    whether in caves or hospitals and mansions
    are born with or to principles, their fundamental
    guide to action from primitive hunting and fishing
    to surfing the internet or embezzling people’s money.

    Principles like schistomiasis once you have it
    Nobody except death can take it away from you. .

    • edgar lores says:

      You got it, man.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        There’s more Edgar. . .

        I used to live not far from the community
        of houses in the blog photo.

        Those people who live
        in those hovels are GOOD people.

        They are modern cavemen, no longer hunting
        and fishing or scavenging for livelihood
        or dragging their mates by their hair
        with a bludgeon on their shoulder.

        Falsely believe are the jungle men.
        The cave outsiders are pillagers
        and racketeers known as politicians
        Always watching the cavemen for a hit
        the outsiders struts like peacocks
        arm-in-arm with their galored peahens
        Outsiders lord it over cavemen with
        honorable titles before their names.

        The Goodness of cavemen men
        are impervious to change.
        Cavemen when they are out of their caves
        they are OFWs who send back faithfully
        to their country of caves yearly
        billions of moolah called green backs.

        And these cavemen have no clue
        why may be as consuelo de bobo,
        jungle men call these cavemen
        their heroes.

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          Oh Yes, there’s a parting word about ideology.

          Ideology isn’t surely an “opium of the masses,” Karl Marx may say
          Unlike religion believers are not theists but called ideologues.
          They are theorists, visionaries, revolutionaries and pundits of the press.
          As big game changers they come few and far between in the march of history.
          Ideologues shake and sway those without ideology who may really
          constitute the common and ordinary men, even the dregs and scum of humanity.
          Do the math to see they are large and many; ideally, principled followers followed
          by leaders of democracies.

        • You once mentioned the different “EMBO” places, the EM I think once meant “enlisted men” and these Rembo, Cembo etc. places in Makati, now Binay voting areas and total slums, were once built for enlisted men and are just after Guadalupe Bridge were Makati starts..

          from 1:25 is the part where in the movie Instinct, a professor who has lived in the jungle explains to his psychiatrist how men moved from tribes that took only what they needed from nature to so-called “Takers” – the lesson being that civilization started with exploitation.

 was the first story ever recorded – by some of the first “takers”, the Sumerians, whose writing on clay tablets was originally developed to count how much grain was given to the king. The tension between civilized and wild, again:

          The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. After Enkidu becomes civilized through sexual initiation with a prostitute, he travels to Uruk, where he challenges Gilgamesh to a test of strength. Gilgamesh wins and the two become friends. Together, they make a six-day journey to the legendary Cedar Forest, where they plan to slay the Guardian, Humbaba the Terrible, and cut down the sacred Cedar.[2] Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.

          In the second half of the epic, distress about Enkidu’s death causes Gilgamesh to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that “Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands”.[3][4] However, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri’s advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh’s fame survived his death.

          I think this also cuts into the topic started by Francis, which is related to Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents. Nice to have all the civilized stuff, and the more we are used to it the less we can return to the wild – just think of all the middle-aged FIlipinos with diabetes – but somehow we don’t feel that free, we feel weakened, in some ways our sedentary lifestyle does weaken us (Inca mummies were analyzed and found to have the fitness of present-day long distance runners), even our instincts (the half-wild outwit us at times) but what to do?

          “Stop trying to be Gods” is the answer the movie Instinct gives. Be humble and know our place in this world is what it means. Because the way back into the jungle is impossible.

          • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

            “Stop trying to be Gods” may be words spoken by the gentiles and the theist heathens as they admonished the apostles of Jesus Christ. But, BUT are ideologues trying to be Gods?
            I thank God because I believe I am neither an apostle nor an ideologue, just a bystander.

          • Francis says:

            If I remember what they taught us about Rosseau; the French philosopher admired the “noble savage,” and saw the objective of society as going towards a “civilized” state that recaptures the pure spirit of our uncivilized past. Marx, I think, was similar; we start with primitive communism, then undergo a long history of oppression from slavery to feudalism to capitalism, before the liberation of socialism, which utilizes the same “machinery of civilization” that enslaved man to liberate him.

            I don’t agree with Marx about class warfare; I think the future lies in class forgiveness and reconciliation, but I do agree with Marx and Rosseau in their idea of progress as something zig-zagging.

            I think that is the goal; not to regress back into some idealized past, but to transcend the present and have the future embody the best of past and present.

            “’Stop trying to be Gods’ is the answer the movie Instinct gives. Be humble and know our place in this world is what it means. Because the way back into the jungle is impossible.”

            Perhaps, it’s because I’m young—but I don’t accept this sentiment. The nature of man is to be more than himself.

            (Which I think, something we’ll realize is a universal sentiment for all sapient beings—whether made by our hands i.e. AI, or met in the stars i.e. aliens—but that’s besides the point.)

            This is not to say that we should “move fast and break things” and throw away caution, but that we should always look ahead towards the future. Even a cautious baby step is more than a step backwards, I think.

            • Francis says:


              Those respectful of the past must seize the wheel that steers us towards the future…

              …lest we get the likes of th Silicon Valley Billionaires and Chinese Social Credit Social Engineers, filled with unrestrained hubris, drive us off the clift…

        • edgar lores says:

          Popoy, thanks. I used to be a caveman. I lost my club.

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