The Philippines is a nation with no purpose

What life without purpose looks like. [Photo from GMA Network]

By Joe America

We are overwhelmed with disturbing news, social media angers, dirty politics that we can’t control, irrational thinking from everywhere, and information that is so frustrating we can only think in short, angry key strokes.

We are going nowhere. Spinning our wheels.

We have eloquent documents that people never read, like, for instance, paper books. People don’t even read the Constitution. Have you? Most don’t know what’s there and don’t care. Even though it is the rule book for life in the Philippines.

What is the Philippines trying to become, do you know? A playground for the entitled?

I can’t figure it out.

It is not to be an independent, sovereign state, because China has been given free right to valuable Philippine resources. It is not to be healthy, because hysteria over a vaccine has driven half the nation away from doctors and their life-saving needles. It is not to be economically strong, because a strong economy requires stability but this place is a massive conniption fit of knee-jerk decision-making. Civility isn’t a goal because there are no dignified presidential speeches anymore, just harangues, threats, and curses. Unity is not a goal because everyone hates everyone else and venom is the main language spoken across the land.

The Philippines is in full reactive mode. Reactive to what other nations say and do . . . or don’t. Reactive to China and the US, in particular. Reactive to human rights complaints, reactive to political criticisms, reactive to terrorists, reactive to storms, reactive to rice shortages, reactive to religious leaders, reactive to . . .

Well, you get the idea. It is a nation going nowhere. Just bouncing around.

If you were asked to recite what the primary goal of the Philippines is, I’d guess you would scratch your head or put together some generalities that, on probing, wouldn’t hold true. You could recite the Preamble to the Constitution but, if you thought about it, you’d find that it is out of touch with what is actually going on. It is meaningless.

The Constitution has been shredded by leaders who recite their oaths for show, then go out to game the system.

Friends, I’m sorry to inform you that you live in a nation that has no sense of self, and no idea where it is headed other than onward to the next scoop of silver by the money-grubbers. What a tiny, tinny nation this has become, one of no brain, no heart, and vicious soul.

This started before President Duterte was elected, or he would not have been elected.

I’d like to propose that Filipinos who still have some sense and passion left set out to change this dismal state of affairs.

The nation needs a purpose. War is out, we’d be slaughtered. Nationalistic passion is out, we are too tribal. Being moral people is out, we are already God fearing. Being world class is out, we are bottom of the bucket, in Asia.

Damn! What would inspire a nation of emotionalists to unite and get building?

Well, first of all, the purpose needs to be simple. People must be able to relate to what the nation is trying to accomplish. They need to “get it”, so they can join in a real union to accomplish it.

Well, if it were up to me, I would propose the following goals that can give the Philippines a sense of purpose, of passion, of going somewhere. There are only two.

  1. Become as prosperous as possible
  2. Distribute wealth fairly

That’s it.

That’s all there is to it.

The numerical target driving everything would be GDP per Capita. One number. The nation should obsess about it.

“Enough with the poverty, already! Let’s get rich, Baby! Let’s ALL get rich!!”

“Okay, JoeAm, you are going nutcase on us again. What about human rights? What about defense and security? What about corruption and drugs and all the other stuff?”

Good questions, all. I’m glad you asked.

Those policies and activities fit into a category of responsibilities that “go without saying”. If we were unfair or unkind to our citizens, we would find it difficult to get to prosperity or distribute wealth fairly. If we did not defend our land, we would lose our riches and have less to distribute. We’d come up short.

These two goals are what in the corporate world are called “Top Line Goals”. Everything else flows from them. For most corporations, the main objective is to make money for shareholders. That is it. That’s the sole reason for being. Things like social responsibility and good products and service “go without saying.”

What happens when Filipinos commit to being as prosperous as possible, as a nation? It’s dramatic.

  • Transparency happens because every dime counts; we need to check progress relentlessly; facts matter
  • Truth would matter; you can’t make good decisions without it
  • Mocha Uson is fired because she is wasting our harmony and our resources
  • We SEEK grants of aid from the EU, we don’t reject them
  • We AGREE to international rules because they give us respect and economic stability
  • We reject the Chinese incursions that risk taking the nation’s future out of Filipino hands
  • We stop throwing trash everywhere because it is killing our seas and wasting money
  • We start managing fisheries aggressively so small fish can become big meat
  • We clean up Manila transportation with more mass transport and enforced discipline
  • We don’t let the nation’s debt run wild; the risk is too great
  • We hunt down drug lords and dealers, not kill users or fill inhumane jails with small time criminals
  • We change the educational system to foster critical thinking and ethical bearing
  • We stop the nonsense of government being a place to get rich; it is a place to serve
  • We focus institutional work on highest need (the Senate stops pretending it is the NBI and writes some laws to get the nation untracked)
  • Unethical politicians are fined, removed from office, or jailed

“But Joe, the masses don’t understand the economy or top line goals, they only understand what they see in front of them, job or no job, food or no food, fast trip to work or struggle to get to work.”

Yes, thanks for pointing that out. That gets us into the “how to” part of the commitment. There will be thousands of steps taken to shift government priorities to prosperity. Here might be some of them:

  • Introduce a national awareness program called  “The drive to prosperity!” taken up by all government agencies and media, with frequent reports of progress so that people ‘feel’ the success
  • Develop subordinate goals like import and export targets and manufacturing job growth
  • End the sugar tax and various penalty fees on poor people
  • Introduce socialized gasoline and rice programs (low-cost gas and rice for minimum wage workers); raise taxes on land, homes, and large corporations.
  • Put in place a national work program to get the nation cleaned up and orderly; mandate two years of service for high school students not going to college.
  • Get rid of the tangle of telephone and electrical wires and broken sidewalks
  • Monitor busy pedestrian crosswalks
  • Unclog drop-off/pick-up points for mass transportation

You have to look prosperous and feel prosperous to inspire more prosperity.

The output of these efforts over 10 years would be a clean, modern, active, safe nation on the rise. All citizens would feel vastly better about their environment and personal standards of living. They would be richer, and feel richer.

They would live, work, and play in a nation that is bold, bright, and respected.


69 Responses to “The Philippines is a nation with no purpose”
  1. Ancient Mariner says:

    Spot on Joe Am but wishful thinking. As long as the Filipino people (the average guy in the street) continue to focus only on themselves with total disregard for the effects of their actions on others it will remain a dream. Sad to say.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Round and round we go.

    One president thinks he has a vision, the next will say my vision is better and to hell with your vision.

    Task force this and that .
    Mission Kill,Mission eliminate.

    • The president who can execute this program is the president who will be in charge for eternity, rather like George Washington is, for getting the US off on the right path.

      • karlgarcia says:

        We aleays like to change things like our constitution if the manner of amendments is only partial and not a total revamp, that could have shown more stability, instead it shows how fickle we are.

        • I have mentioned a number of Constitutions and their history over here – to show that most nations created exactly the Constitution they needed AND understood at a given time. In the Philippines, I would see three groups in the making of Constitutions:

          1) the idealists like Father Bernas who drafted large parts of the 1987 Constitution

          2) the trapos who try to make it full of loopholes for themselves

          3) the people who for the most part do NOT understand what it is about

          While in many other countries you have a) pragmatic idealists = leaders and b) people who want their affairs to run smoothly. So the principles are real and not just window-dressing.

    • josephivo says:

      “Spinning wheels”, “Round and round we go” …

      Indeed, a lot has to do with circles. For many these are very small circles, me, my family and some close friends. Others feel they belong to a slightly larger circle, the clan, the colleagues, a neighborhood. Only few identify with the nation and for a very small group of enlightened intellectuals the circle includes all human being with each having his/her human rights. The perspectives and thus realities within these circles differs so much, that even using the same language becomes an issue.

      The law of increasing entropy breaks everything down unless external energy is applied. Making circles grow needs even more and better aligned positive energy, not the energy of fear. The long arch of history proves that mankind is able to move forwards even with temporary setbacks.

  3. onesaponatime says:

    This is great, Joe. Just like treading through a road-map to healing a damaged culture.

    Please pardon me, but my personal assessment is – it would take at least 2 more generations, after next-gen takes over, to bring the country up to where it should be, as envisioned and traced-up on your map. But, yes to all the points and by all means let us start now.

    The world-wide financial crisis some 9 or 10 years ago comes to mind – what makes the So. Koreans and Thais donate their gold to help their government manage its debt, is something that Filipinos may need to rekindle – love for country.

    • Yes, to get to an ‘accomplished state’ where education has re-seated ethical ideals and good thinking, I agree. I put in 10 years as the amount of time to get the work begun and agreed to and demonstrated. But even that would require hard work, and smart, pragmatic work. Upriver for sure. I’m glad the article was meaningful for you, and appreciate your shading of the timeframe.

  4. James Black says:

    I can’t fault a word you say on this. My experience is whenever i echo similar sentiments, i get the most mindless responses and all my critics can think of is that i am insulting the nation, not a thought is given as to whether their may be a grain of truth in any of it. The other reaction is “we know what you mean BUT” and then history which is unconnected to the issue is dragged up and usually, the history they cite is false or at least distorted. Pointing out what many of us know to be obvious insanity gets rebuked with insane and perverse nationalistic blab blab and instead of considering the issue, it just gets nasty and then my words are reported as being hateful, and the very same people who have expressed their own frustrations with the same issues turn full circle and defend it, make weak excuses for it and even pretentiously call it cultural difference with the claim i fail to be in full understanding of cultural matters. They are usually way off the mark and then play victim of my alleged bigotry. Whilst people continue to make excuses for themselves, blame others and ignore that this is an age old problem more related to mindsets than government, then nothing will change. This admin is guilty of wrong more than any other administration but people are now conveniently ignoring that this foolishness has been going on far longer than the near 2 years this fascist police state has been in existence. They are in denial of their own huge prejudices yet very quick to point out that criticism is based on prejudice from outside and the tone is “mind your own business.”. Government past and present have a lot to answer for but the Filipino people have a longer charge sheet as far as i am concerned as they empower it by failing to resist it, not seeking to look inward and by making sad excuses for themselves. The most twisted and deranged politicians get the highest approval and if you want to get elected, dont speak the truth, just feed the vindictive and fuel the already widely held prejudices and tap into the sense of victimhood which they conveniently adopt as required. I have given up on any good coming anytime soon even after this fascist police state has dissolved. The real problem is that Filipino mirrors do not reflect, they deflect.. .

    • chemrock says:

      And the greatest deflection coming up next is the rekindling of the Sabah claim.

    • Yes, they deflect. Filipinos are masters of making excuses. Of WISHFUL THINKING.

      A mayor without any plan is made to look as if he were Sun Tzu, his city “Singapore”. Even if it hardly has anything to show for in that direction, its rivers as dirty as those in Manila.

      Aquino was a bit better with his technocratic staff – I think he was a good as his staff in every given area. Excellent economically, good at the DPWH, bad in the DOTC. He too was way to easily pissed off at criticism, not reacting by yelling but more piqued and a wee bit petulant.

      Of course I was a witness to Martial Law and the difference between the glossy reality of propaganda versus the dirty reality on the ground. Clean and dirty kitchens, as always.

      But hiding squatters, for example, was the same whenever foreign visitors came – whether it was to Marcos’ UNCTAD V conference or the conferences of Benigno Aquino III. Spanish cultural influence of the negative kind, form over substance, “basta may postura” – just looks.

      Honesty with oneself is the first condition for change. It IS painful. Vanity stands in its way!

      • Example for deflecting… UP Concert Chorus came to Germany for years, even decades.

        Each time I told them your singing is great, but your cassettes suck, please invest in a proper recording studio.. nervous laughter, the kind you get when you break a taboo.

        When I told the boss Rey Paguio, God bless his soul as he is now dead, he turned away.. didn’t insist as such incidents if they reached my father got me scolded as a “rude German” – now why can’t a man who knew Ryan Cayabyab ask where to get a proper recording, hm?

        • The sad thing being that some already have/had world-class standards. Examples:

          – Rappler. Maria Ressa with her CNN background (vs. most Philippine journalism)

          – Movies: Heneral Luna with its perfectly crafted costumes and scenery (vs. low-budget stuff, hell even Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Rizal movie had Europe scenes that were so obviously fake I felt like crying, and Rizal’s Spanish was badly pronounced at times, no language coach?)

          – Government: MLQ3s Malacanang library, all turned off now (vs. Martin Andanar’s PCOO)

          Usually the excuse for not even trying for quality was “we are not perfeeect, we are human”. Finally you have walkie-talkies that don’t work at Mamasapano, for an elite unit, goddamit.

    • Yes, indeed. The ‘fun house’ mirrors, bent to skew truth and reason and replace them with superstition based populism.

  5. Yes, it does take time like others have said, but you have to start somewhere and not lose sight of the vision – while giving people a feel things are going forward so they are busy and contented.

    Ninotchka Rosca called the Philippines the “Land of Constant Beginnings” for a good reason.

    People want too much too fast I think, think zero-sum, meaning I might as well get mine before the other guy takes it from me, and damn if I have to I will grab it from him before he does it with me. These are habits of people with an enormous scar inside them from hunger and oppression.


    A national work program, getting people to remove plastic garbage all over the rivers, move what is in the way like “stray lampposts” is hitting two birds with one stone. Accomplishments can make people proud. But it shouldn’t be just for show like Imelda’s Metro Manila Aides = street sweepers in a fancy uniform. Just like monitoring busy crosswalks should not be a job for PNPs, but there should be a better form of tanods doing that. But thuggery on the job should be a complete no-no.

    Don’t put Roland Cardema in charge, unless you want a Reicharbeitsdienst!!!


    Strategically placing K-12 high schools with TVET and industrial estates near squatter relocation sites, somewhat like the pilot metalworking project with on the job training at San Pedro Relocation Center National High School in Laguna, is the next step. Make sure estates like that are properly connected to larger places, either via proper roads and bus lines, or even mass transit train lines. Suburban train networks around Manila are a higher priority, I am sure, than bridges to islands.

    While you’re developing train networks, scale up capabilities one already has, like building bus bodies, to building train wagons. Just the outer part, the windows and maybe the doors at first. Chassis might be a bit too hard, but it can be the next step. Maybe using locally developed stuff like the DOST AGT (rubber wheels, concrete monorail to avoid issues with metal wheels and metal rails getting squared – wheels or bent out of shape – rails, plus having locally available spare parts) is an idea. But that means you have to get rid of the WAKARANGS (c) Popoy who hunt for commissions.


    Yes, that takes a will. And prosperity will take 2 generations to accomplish, possibly even three.

    It also took Singapore, Korea, Japan some time to become what they are now. Wait, wasn’t the Philippines there already, even ahead? What happened is the major question right here and now.


    Marcos spent and borrowed like there was no tomorrow. After all, the economy was great around 1968, the peso and the Deutsche Mark had the same value and the peso had higher buying power. The country already was on a launchpad to greatness, but wasted its initial momentum. The same thing is about to happen right now – is already happening. The attitude to prosperity must change. The attitude of immediate blow-outs with whatever one has gained, the one-day-millionaire mindset. Well, some Filipinas are kinda bitches who prefer the allure of gangster with the quick money and a dangerous edge to the steady but boring “disente”. One does not need to look far from Benigno Aquino III and Kiko Pangilinan to know that. Hard for a young man to resist in a half-ghetto culture like that. Wanna be cool, better be corrupt not honest? Disente means square? Wrong mindset?

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Filipinos are born and mature as good people. MATALINO rin pero yung kunting iba
        mga WALANG ALAM. Mga tulog na mulat ang mata. There is a HIGH price to pay for decency, for decent living. in country with decent and higher standard of living.

        Dapat alam ng mabunganga: There is a HIGHER PRICE to pay FOR CLASS. All hard working OFWs know that, so that they work so hard for a decent life, not even for a life of Class. When government officials travel they SHOULD not shame their country by spending like they are in Quiapo or Tondo or Pasay.

        There is a high price to pay for human decency and lot of shame to pay for idiotic frugality. Pag ang utak nakakambio ng PAATRAS, masahol pa sa nakapreno yan, kalian man HINDI AABANTE yan. Yung utak surot at mahirap maging utak vampire sa pagsipsip ng dugo. Magkalayo ang nakaw ng petty cash sa plunder.kaya meron COA na dating binansagan COHA ng KUHA. . .

        Ano ba ang impakto este impact of 100 US dollars sa overnight sa motel equals 5,000 pesos. Aboso ba o nakaw bang kumain sa resoran walang ipis sa halagang 20 US dollars eh Diyos Ko eh One Thousand Pesos na yan, Ah. Sa SM food court meron kang 200 pesos busog ka na, meron ka pang pambili ng lotto. Sa New York city BAKA LANG meron homeless mas mapera kaysa government employee Pinoy. Mga OFW seguron ALAM yang mga sinabi ko.

        • in typical thoroughness Germany maintains standard tax-free per diem rates for all countries and even specific cities.

          NYC => €58 daily for 24 hours continuous stay (without hotel costs, just food etc.)

          DC = €62 daily = PHP 4 thousand more or less

          Norway = €80 daily (very expensive country, I have been there this is true)

          Macedonia = €29 daily

          Mongolia = €27 daily (just barbecue whatever animals you find on the Mongolian barbecue)

          Australia = €51 daily, €68 daily for Sydney

          Most companies (and probably even a lot of government offices) just say buy whatever you want but you can claim only up to the daily per diem set by the Finance Ministry, that’s it.

          Unless you are inviting special guests, there are other forms and rules for that kind of stuff.

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          sa mga kamag anak ng mga OFW
          laging pumupunta sa Money Changers alam nila ang
          palitan ng US Dollar into pesos kahit pabago-bago

          one dollar is 52 pesos
          ten dollars is 523 pesos
          one hundred dollars is 5,231 pesos
          one thousand dollars is 52,231 pesos
          ten thousand dollars is 523,100

          sa barya barya coins naman:

          two US Cents is 100 centavos or one peso
          one US Cent is 50 centavos
          half US cent is 25 centavos
          one-fourth US Cent is 12.5 centavos
          Halos WALA ng US cent is 10 centavos
          Mas wala ng US Cent is 5 centavos
          Kailangan ang microscope is one Philippine centavo.

          Halaga ng isang litrong gasolina:

          US $0.99 cents is 47 pesos in Manila.

          full tank of 40 liters:

          US $39.60 sa Pinas 1,880.00 pesos


          • The best comparison of cost of living is the price of a McDo Combo meal – the ingredients are the same anywhere in the world, so it is a rough index even for Economist magazine:


            The price of Combo meal in fast food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar) in Manila is €2.66 (Php170)


            The price of Combo meal in fast food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar) in Bangkok is €4.42 (170 ฿)

            Interestingly, Nairobi is more expensive with €4.70 for a combo..

            Dhaka is cheaper than Bangkok but still higher than Manila with €4.11 for a combo

            (full tank in liters is hard to compare because every country has different excise taxes – very high in Europe for example, but in some border regions people drive to where it’s cheaper)

      • I think the discussion got sidetracked. NYC is not New York City in this context.

        it is National Youth Commission. Of course expensive or not for the meals depends on how you “dibay-dibay” – how many meals, where, how many people per meal, where, when?

        But this seems typical for the attitude of the Duterte admin to money – it is there, spend it. Don’t think about tomorrow because tomorrow never comes, especially because of them. 😦

  6. willie says:

    People always look for a change . “Change” has come in July 2016. What change people are looking for? Because I notice that people in my barangay who are running and are mouthing Dutertismo slogans are calling the electorate to elect them so that there will be “pagbabago. How is that? Change na naman. I thought that change came in July 2016. Indeed that word change is nothing but a slogan.

    • There are new small coins from the Central Bank. Hindi ba change iyon, as in barya?

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        IS there now a One Hundred Pesos coin ( 2 US$) ? In Canada they have a Loonie, a two dollar coin (worth 80 pesos).

        • The new Philippine coins are heavily criticized as they look almost the same:

          By contrast, the Euro coins are easy to handle as each is distinct in shape and size:

          The 2-Euro coin is worth 128 pesos. The main complainants about the Euro coins were the Greeks who were used to certain amounts being in bills only. They were afraid they might spend money too quickly if it is in coins. I don’t think that is why they went broke. Not really.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        the more things and people change
        the more they become the same.

        the more water is changed to many forms
        the more it comes nearer to dropping
        from the sky as distilled water.

        Dust thou art to dust worms will make thou
        From hydrogen and nitrogen you came
        to N and H you will end despite any change.

  7. NHerrera says:

    1. Become as prosperous as possible
    2. Distribute wealth fairly

    You stated those as goals, but a whole system can be built around them, some of the elements of which you enumerated. Then we got ourselves an ideology [ref, previous blog article]. Unfortunately, that ideology is embraced and practiced by our politicians (for themselves, hahaha) and only the first part — no mind to the second part; even our rich Christian Evangelists practice that.

    • I remember reading the blueprint for an ideal society according to Confucius at the entrance of New York Chinatown that sounded similar to 1 and 2. Though sometimes I think Confucius was a bit like Yogi Berra, lots of things he said he may not have said. But part 2 is of course common sense – I know what it means to live in a society where wealth distribution is such that you don’t have gated communities or security guards for stores because.. not needed. The quality of life for the rich is better if the poor are not so poor to become constant threats. Or the poor don’t care about society anymore, because they feel society has betrayed them.

      • Another side advantage of an equitable society – no cesspools because hardly anyone dirties public property. You don’t need to be rich at all to enjoy intact nature even in cities.

        But wasn’t the Philippines were it is the rich who often throw garbage out of car windows?

        • NHerrera says:

          Last line loaded with meaning. The rich, one would expect to have more education and knowledge and have more time to think of the consequences of his action — but out of habit dirties the environment outside of his car or his home. But blame the poor for the cesspool outside his home/car.

    • The politicians are mostly fake prophets and can be revealed as such by a charismatic leader.

  8. edgar lores says:

    1. I believe that 2-step formula would work.

    2. My 2-step version would be a general rephrasing of the original formula:

    2.1. Know your potential(s).
    2.2. Realize your potential(s) as fully as you can and fairly.

    3. The reason for the first rule is that by saying potential we mean to include any and all activity (vocation) to which we are individually suited. That potential could be creating prosperity by various means or playing a musical instrument or becoming a chef. In other words, first, know thyself.

    3.1. I say potentials — plural — because we may have many talents. Wife, cook, realtor, and a supporter of lost causes.

    4. The second rule follows and it says that realizing your potential means fulfilling your dreams. Your vocation may not necessarily make you prosperous money-wise but following your dreams should make you happy. You are engaged in doing something you love.

    4.1. And the adverb “fairly” is very important. It describes how you interact with the world. It means you do not step on or step over anybody in making your dreams come true. You engender a kind society by being fair and kind.

    • Whew, 4.1. is a tall order. Why? Because it is hard to stay nice in a place that isn’t so nice. Just thinking for example of Tiglao’s article accusing Leni Robredo of talking to member of the EU Parliament when she was in Berlin recently. Berlin is around 800 km. from Straßburg.

      Strass what? Straßburg is where the EU parliament is. The sheer amount of ignorance and unfair accusations in the Philippines can make one explode – I know, I have been thru that.

      You gotta either love the place a lot (!!!) or get very rich by corruption to stay there, IMHO.

      • edgar lores says:

        Heh heh.

        One can respond to slurs and fake allegations. It is not necessarily turning the other cheek. One can stand up to others and defend one’s self with an “appropriate” response — but not step on or step over others in fulfilling one’s ambitions.

        • True. And when I look at the movements to defend Leni, CJ Sereno and Leila de Lima, it seems there is a bit of a small blossom of fairness growing in society over there. Only time will tell whether those small flowers will supersede the smelly weeds that dominate today.

    • I think your idea is right, but it loses its way in the translation to ‘common man’. It is the Roxas argument. Conceptual, not tangible.

  9. Rod Ybardolaza says:

    Rightly said Joe but that seems like an impossible dream. How could we prod or inspire our stubborn countrymen.
    As an OFW, I have seen how Filipinos excel and progress in other countries. Why can’t we do it in our own country?
    Perhaps we need to be prodded with strong arm rule like what Marcos did and Duterte is doing now. Or maybe we need inspiration like what Cory did and Duterte is doing with his 16M followers.
    Yet, we are still failing until now. What’s really ailing our country?
    Maybe you are right. We need a national objective. And if this national objective cannot be attained collectively then we should at least strive to do so individually.
    Somehow progress will happen as with many OFWs. It may be noteworthy to say that we achieve our individual progress regardless of who’s sitting in Malacanang.

  10. Francis says:

    “Enough with the poverty, already! Let’s get rich, Baby! Let’s ALL get rich!!”

    But unfortunately, that ends up like a face-off between the kindly community banker and the (totally not pyramid scheme) salesman. I dub the former “KB” and the latter “PSS.”

    KB: “Come here and enjoy some of our investment products. Why, they’re reliable as the Ark of the Covenant! You’re sure to get stable returns for a long, long time! With our bonds and time deposits…”

    PSS: “Awww! Why bother with that old man! Just put some money into our scheme, and you’ll be sure to get more, more and more! All you have to do is to sell some of our fine products and get more people to join the fun!”

    KB: “Doesn’t that….sound like a…pyramid scheme…?”

    PSS: “Listen here. Unlike that old bozo, I’m promising two things for ‘ya. Instant. Yuge. Returns. Who the hell gets rich from bonds anyway, am I right?”

    The question still remains. Why choose the long, boring path to prosperity (liberal democracy and strong institutions) when you can get the EXCITING! get-rich-quick path to prosperity (personalistic rule, extractive and weak institutions that don’t create, but take wealth; keep the patronage flowing until the last drop San Mig is gone…).

    If I am observing things correctly, authoritarian regimes are marked by a mixture of extremes: the really decrepit (Zimbabwe, North Korea, etc.) and the spectacular performers, at least in pure economic terms (South Korea, Taiwan, China, Rwanda, etc.) But nations with long histories of even just stable “formal” democracy (i.e. the Philippines, India) have always muddled along.

    • Right. You correctly recognize that the block to national enrichment is that, oh, 10% of the people are money grabbers and have not one iota of compassion or patriotism. It falls to the new leaders to exhibit the passion and anger toward those 10% so that the 85% who are just riding the waves get a different sense of how to improve their lot. The 85% appears to be waking up to the notion that their lot is getting WORSE under Duterte. Like, each time they drive to the gas pump or buy rice.

  11. Francis says:

    The real solution(s) to our problem(s) in the long run, is likely to be systematic and complex. A complete overhaul of the whole damned thing. And a lot of mumbo-jumbo. Tons and tons of mumbo-jumbo.

    Here’s a mad-crazy thought-bunny with none of that hyfalutin’ mumbo-jumbo:

    Emmanuel Macron’s Critique of Pure Liberalism

    It’s not an accident that Donald Trump’s closest foreign friend is the French president.

    “…Despite their radically different platforms at home, both presidents see themselves as insurgent outsiders who have rewritten existing political rules, landed unexpected victories despite pundits’ predictions, and shaken the old political establishment. But their similarities aren’t simply a matter of style. Macron has never been the knee-jerk postmodern “globalist” many accuse him of being. Instead, both in domestic and foreign policy, he has systematically tried to channel populist appeals for protection back into a liberal framework, while never letting anyone outbid him in claims to patriotism…

    “Observers have often characterized Macron as the French heir to the Clinton-Blair “third way” of governing that split the difference between the existing left and right. In fact, he is attempting to transcend that difference by charting a third way between the nationalist temptation and the globalist creed. The French president is keenly aware that the overarching task of his mandate — the outcome of which will determine his success or failure — will be to restore trust in liberal democracy by reforming not just the EU, but globalization as a whole.”

    “For Macron, there’s more at stake in this project than just the fate of France. “The great compromise of modern times” dating back to the 18th century is being attacked, he argues. This delicate balance depends on a successful market economy benefiting all, a stable and thriving middle class, and support for individual freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law. That compromise is being threatened by economic imbalances and a “nationalist fascination” offering delusional solutions for them. Macron proposes instead to address the root causes — a “crisis of globalization” that has been allowed to morph into lawless competition, to the detriment of the middle class.”

    “..Macron made the case that the EU should and could appropriate populist successful themes without retreating into nationalism. In another speech, in Athens, he summed up his vision for the EU in a plea for “European sovereignty” — a contradiction in terms and an illustration of his attempt to overcome tensions between national sovereignty and European integration.”

    TL;DR (Net Lingo for Summary):

    Macron is not a pansy.

    No boring-ass technocratic plan that not even a technocrat’s mother could love! No caveats and loophole-nuances! No promise of merely just muddling through, of mediocrity! Non! This man has such a huge ego, that he compares himself to Jupiter! Liberalism, in this guy’s hands, is not just “keeping the ship from falling apart” (really unappealing and booooooring) but is instead in the midst of a “grand battle” of survival and re-invention.

    Here’s a craaaaaaaaazy thought:

    Don’t go “I am agreeable to everyone!” Chiz or Poe. Go all the way in. Don’t run your statements by focus groups. Say what’s on your mind. Be frank. And if you’re goddamned proud of yourself, show it.

    The only way to top off Duterte, and save liberalism in this country, is one with an ego just as large.

    We need a Macron.

    Of course, Macron has his problems. One of the quotes from the articles above noted:

    “…we don’t want, in his words, Schumpeter to become Darwin — that is, if we don’t want economic transformation to lead to a destruction of the social fabric of our democracies.”

    I am aware that there is some considerable resentment in France revolving around some of Macron’s bold actions. Like pension reform. In that sense, I feel that he is being too “neoliberal” and not enough “social democrat” in trying to save liberalism. Just as there should be “no taxation without representation,” the 21st century should espouse the idea that there should be “no free trade without welfare, equal in scale—even to the point of being international and multilateral in scope. So far, Macron has been re-inventing “neoliberalism” but not re-inventing “social democracy” for the globalized world, which is an enormous oversight in my opinion.

    • What is needed is to unite the career- and success-minded dilawan mindset with the egalitarian mindset of the barangay – to counter the Dutertian crab mindset which assumes that anyone who is even slightly successful is betraying the barangay of equal stupidity.

      Rhetorically, it is the likes of Will and PAB who are up to the task I think, as a vision like that has to be translated into terms the man on the street can identify with.

      • Looking for already existing examples of that ideal mindset, I see Mr. Chill Hilbay.

      • Francis says:

        A possible archetype to counter the “tough guy datu” archetype would be a personality in the mold of someone like Heneral Luna.

        Heneral Luna, in contrast to unmanly and sniveling illustrado opportunists and the trapo padrino Aguinaldo, was a professional soldier. Like many trained technocrats, well-meaning reformists and promising rank-and-file white and blue collar workers—he was booted out for being too professional; he stepped on too many toes, showing “walang pakikisama” in demanding results.

        Unlike said technocrats and well-meaning reformists though—Heneral Luna is manly. A man’s man.

        The common rhetorical attack against the technocrats, the reformists is that they are effete, weak-kneed pansies. They are glasses-wearing nerds who you can bully for lunch money. Hence, the “rational-legal” of Weber is portrayed as emblematic of man made unmanly by civilization—while the strident and emotional populism is the “noble savage” who is true man, their avatars seen as the real manliest of men.

        Heneral Luna transcends that by making the “rational-legal” manly. The “professional” is now “cool.”

        The caveat being that this is proto-authoritarian and potentially sexist.

        • Francis says:

          A Note:

          The language is not reflective of my true views. I am rather a timid nerd pansy myself—and I do think that well-meaning reformists and technocrats, for all their (perceived) detachment, live thankless lives in the eyes of a citizenry that seems to think that everything can be solved by the gut.

          Just that, I’m not sure what can stand to counter unrestrained populism. Just sketching things here and there.

      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

        Thanks for the mention, Irineo. Wish you were here, so you can join the resistance as well. What an impact you will create. But don’t be guilty. Hahaha!

  12. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    by just reading the title and going no further
    this sentence comes to mind as maybe no waffling title:
    “It appears therefore apparent that lots of
    thinking locals and foreigners perceive
    the Philippines as country without a Purpose.”

  13. madlanglupa says:

    It goes to a few factors why: family, money, power. Family always come first, and as such it acts as a double-edge sword because by concentrating attention to the family rather than nation-building, that means a society that has become “every man for himself”.

    Offtopic: Someone joked that any more and it’s pretty much Borapocalypse Now.

  14. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    Read if you have the time.

    China’s Nine-Dash Line no more — South China Morning Post reports: “China’s claims in South China Sea ‘proposed by continuous boundary for the first time’.”

    China might as well put a continuous maritime steel net for this boundary just like we read about steel net being used as enemy-submarine barrier. While at it why not a dome over the area too. They have the money don’t they?

  15. Andres 2018. says:

    My IP was banned here before, trying to leave a reply if ban was removed na. Hello to all.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    From Pearl of the Orient sea to the doormat that says welcome to China.

  17. A certain ricardo t. sent me the following e-mail directly, when it is more appropriate as a comment here.
    . . . .

    Your proposal is very enticing with only two target accomplishments .

    It is the second one that unmasks your plan :

    2. Distribute wealth fairly

    This gives rise to two questions :

    a) why ?
    b) what is fairly ?

    This can only be answered by Socialists , Leftists –.

    Why don’t you reveal the untold truth behind your eloquent proposal ????

    . . . .

    It seems that he must think I am a communist for wanting wealth delivered fairly, and his conclusion that this can only be answered by Socialists, Leftists, seems to me to be a fallacy and a trap. I’m a corporate guy, myself, but recognize that democracy will not reach its full potential if the rich are making off with 98% of the wealth and leaving 2% for the rest to struggle for. It is simply compassionate to figure out how to share the riches better rather than do as TRAIN has done, increase costs on the poor and provide relief to those with a decent salary.

    I think there are a lot of inequities in the Philippine tax codes and processes, namely the failure to use automated methods to assure collection of taxes due from professionals, and to make sure properties are taxed at fair value, rather than jigging the system to declare one value for taxes and use a higher value for the actual transfer of money. President Aquino was able to increase taxes by cleaning up some of these loopholes, rather than increasing rates, and so was able to keep inflation in check. I think bright minds who are not necessarily political socialists, but may be compassionate socialists, can figure out how to get more balance into the distribution of wealth.

    • Micha says:

      Aside from creating a more compassionate egalitarian society which could, in itself, be a form of national objective, fair distribution of wealth is actuslly good for capitalism. It will make the system more stable and sustainable. It will sustain aggregate demand that’s crucial for making businesses open.

      And it will have saved its soul – assuming capitalism has a soul.

      We only know that it unleashes the animal spirits in men and in the personhood of corporations but it has yet to be established if capitalism has a soul at all. Because judging from its current neo-liberal iteration that’s been taken to the extreme, what we see is a brutish, predatory, zero-sum Darwinian system. And we all know how nasty life can be in a Darwinian world. Its desperate victims have pinned their hopes on pseudo-saviors like Trump and Duterte and it will get even uglier if the so-called guardians of capitalism will not discern the warning signs.

      Reform. Recalibrate. Redistribute.

      Otherwise, this particular ism will have seen its day.

  18. A virus has a purpose.

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