How are we doing?

Editor’s note: The following guest article by tphillips is, in a word, “WORD!”. It is exhaustive, it is intelligent, it is factual, it is meaningful, it is pragmatic. If the Philippines, and her citizens, fail to thrive . . . it is a choice. The knowledge needed to succeed exists . . . in this blog. JA

By tphillips

Conceptual Framework

In the era of fake news, social media trolls, and dishonest leaders, real facts matter more than ever, since they act as the means to counter ignorance, identify problems, establish priorities, evaluate options, make comparisons, judge performance, and measure progress.

In the boardrooms of the best run corporations there is no room for being thin-skinned, blinkered, uninformed, or being unable to defend recommendations/decisions.

And the best decisions are invariably based upon accurate and comprehensive information, and achieved through honest opinions, and open dialogues, all set against a clear vision, common values, and comprehensive strategies.

It is also no co-incidence that recent years have seen a shift in leadership styles, recognizing the importance and benefits of employee empowerment, diversity & inclusion, high performance teams, creative problem solving, flexible structures, ‘lean’ processes, multi-skilling, continuous improvement, cultural sensitivity, and a resurgence of targeted, bonus linked ‘management by objectives’. Managing large and complex organisations needs discipline, accuracy, collaboration, professionalism, and the ability to multi-task at high speed, and to constantly improve, innovate, and achieve results in competitive environments, and disruptive sectors.

They do not rely on song and dance acts, accept ludicrous promises, entertain feeble excuses when things go wrong, blatantly pass the cookie jar around the family, or have time for endless conferences and junkets. The long lunches have long gone. And along with no free lunches there are also no free rides. Swim upstream, or get washed away.

And modern boards are no longer retirement homes for pensioners.

Whilst organisations are overloaded with data/information, the goal is always to sort the wheat from the chaff, and be SMART in choice of measurements/key performance indicators – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Executive information systems simply and graphically portray what is happening and keep the teams on the same page, even if working in different countries/locations. The days of all trooping round together is also only a distant memory. Big groups do not impress, but just indicate that nobody is on top of everything, delegation is poor, and people have too much spare time on their hands that they can play spare tyre.

Laptops, smartphones, video-conferencing are the standard way people work effectively, maximize productivity, and speed up decision-making. There is little room for technology Luddites in progressive organizations, or for generational throwbacks.

Politicians and government leaders need to get with the program/times. Learn technology, learn languages, learn cultures. The basic tools of globalization. Parochial and/or provincial will not a business grow, nor a nation build.

Technology was once the preserve of large corporations. Now the cost of entry is negligible and the small enterprise/entrepreneur can also open new doors of opportunity previously closed.

The same applies to governments. They must modernize, professionalize, and organize. Systems are the way to stop corruption, which may be why some places still use paper methods and payroll systems which can hide ‘ghost employees’, and family members as ‘contractors’

Double the size of CoA, and give them teeth to shake the foundations of city hall. Stop being a money laundering center for China, and maybe the next location for Russia now that it is being squeezed elsewhere.

The dynasty of Duterte shows little interest in stopping corruption. All talk, no action. All hat, no cattle.

The Philippines is putting all its eggs in the rogues’ basket. A recipe for scrambled eggs.

Planning and decision-making

The approach to planning and decision-making is a reflection of the culture and the leadership.

The nature of work itself is rapidly changing, and individual skills, industry sectors and organizations all need to keep pace, or be left in the wake of more dynamic and innovative companies, which will only recruit the very best in the growing ‘war for talent” which itself sees no geographic boundaries. Nations which are not open and progressive will suffer from a ‘double whammy’ – they will not attract inward investment in sunrise sectors, and they will lose the brightest STEM graduates. A vicious circle and downward spiral.

The same applies to future cities, and to nations themselves.

Success attracts success. People, students, universities, research centres, start-ups, corporate HQ’s all benefit in an efficient and symbiotic environment, and invest where there is compatibility in values, and added synergy through co-operation between government, business, and academia.

Governments, national and local, can no longer be an obstacle to innovation, or continue as expensive top-heavy bureaucracies, with low productivity and antiquated systems, but must become proactive engines and enablers of growth, and in the process put their own house in order. To achieve that they need the sharpest kids on the block hungry for success, quick to learn, and ready to adapt.

Countries/cultures which apply the principles and practices of ‘dead men’s shoes’, cronyism, and patronage will be left floundering in Industry 4.0, and reduced to the low-end of the supply chain with little ability to add value or compete internationally.

Emerging countries need to replace legacy systems with integrated processes, they need to improve the quality of services to customers, and they need to train/develop modern leaders who can combine a breadth and depth of skills across the board, and employ flexibility in their style and approach, acting as an alchemist, whilst avoiding the pitfalls which result in relative failure for over 70% of leaders.

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, a Dutch psychologist at INSEAD, highlights the six typical flaws in CEO’s/leaders which often become liabilities when promoted/elected to higher office:

  • Excessive narcissism – constant need for admiration, and who think they can solve problems without help – ‘”i alone can fix it”
  • Hubris – confidence becomes pride and arrogance, – “rules don’t apply to me”
  • Imposter syndrome – dread of being exposed as imperfect. Threatens and punishes when threatened. Hides behind bluster and braggadocio. At heart insecure and out of his depth.
  • Folie à deux – leaders shift their delusions to subordinates who ‘buy in’. Objectivity is lost and chaos takes over.
  • Hypomania – excessive optimism, anything is possible. Believe their own press/propaganda. Emotional, reactive, chaotic.
  • Inadequate life scripts – replaying scripts that satisfied basic wishes/roles in the past, but incapable of adapting to new circumstances/events – clings to past methods/familiarity as a comfort blanket. Remains transactional, not transformational

If you can’t take the heat/criticism, then stay away from leadership. And the best way to avoid criticism is by focusing wholeheartedly on priorities, delivering on promises, and excelling in performance.

The worse the leader the more they try to avoid/hide facts, and increasingly need to peddle propaganda to paper over the cracks and cover up their incompetence.

Politicians also make the mistake of remaining in constant campaign mode and fail to lead as a CEO, preferring the adrenaline of the crowd to the perspiration of hard work, and placing social activities above professional standards, and slogans instead of substance.

An overview of the current facts would suggest that The Philippines is becoming wedged between a rock and a hard place – ignorance and subservience, dynasties and oligarchs, irrelevance and impotence, incompetence and corruption, kakistocracy and kleptocracy, gerontocracy and autocracy, cronyism and patronage, jobless growth and moral decline, street killings and jungle warfare, nationalism and protectionism.

It is a recipe for continued decline/failure, and unless the fundamentals change, then little will change.

Winners in the future

In the future the winners will be those nations which are open, in terms of, society, diversity, inclusion, markets, ideas, technology, and change.

Winners want to embrace the future, whilst losers want to revert to the past.

And those leaders/nations who are too incompetent, or too lazy, to tackle the hard work will simply trade independence for co-dependence, sovereignty for slavery, and dignity for disrespect.

A closed mind is closed to opportunity, to collaboration, and to learning. It sees only problems, not solutions, and exudes negativity and exclusion, and misses the possibilities of prosperity through diversity and creativity.

A closed mind must be awakened from within, through self-awareness.

A closed society must be developed  from the courage to be self-critical and inculcated with the passion to win.

Biases – unconscious and confirmation – result in a state of ‘denialism’, and ‘whataboutism’.

Emotion and deflection instead of reason and evaluation, and systems thinking and critical analysis are replaced by whims and witless decisions.

“The mind is like a parachute – it works best when open.” Zig ziglar

Ideas cannot bloom in the dark.

The start of any dialogue, planning process, or cultural transformation, needs to be based upon a common understanding, and an acceptance, of the baseline facts, and a clear definition of the problems, otherwise the only outcome is a pissing contest between bar stool drunks.

Through a combination of insularity, incompetence, and indifference, The Philippines has continually underperformed, relative to its resources, – high inputs have achieved only moderate outputs, suggesting that there are a raft of systemic problems within the ‘processes’ itself – but instead of holding up a mirror to and recognizing the weaknesses as the first step in transformational change, it has only sought to play the victim, shift blame, hold out a begging bowl, and avoid responsibility.

A nation with no understanding of what it takes to be a winner will always be a loser.

The Philippines has an insular president, a weak senate/congress, an unethical supreme court, a fearful media, a subservient populace, and a workforce which is being used as a low-cost labor pool for exploitation at home or to export abroad as the political dynasties and economic oligarchs continue to constrain development by maintaining protectionist measures, a rent-seeking extractive economy, and ‘trickle-down’ policies which only fuel inequality whilst maintaining the status quo.

The current ideological shift to ‘socialism with chinese characteristics’ and the push for federalism will not only be strategic blunders, but are not even wanted by the vast majority of the electorate, with most not even being aware of the autocratic decisions being taken on their behalf by their supposed democratic representatives, who are instead following in the tradition of Filipino politicians – self-interest before national interest. Personal greed before national need.

People want government/congress to focus relentlessly upon jobs, jobs, jobs, instead of endless and meaningless investigations, long holidays, junkets abroad, and salaries which make them dollar millionaires in just a few years – (Who investigates the investigators!) – the senate/congress and their army of staff should not be stating the obvious, making motherhood statements, or trying to busy themselves with trivia but doing some real problem-solving and being far more transparent about their own expenditures and life-styles. The brightest and the best! The wise men of the nation! The paragons of virtue, intellect, and integrity! Elect clowns, expect a circus. Elect dynastic members, expect a crooks charter.

  • “Solve drug problem  in 6 months”
  • “Solve traffic problem  in 6 months”
  • “Create 2 million new jobs each year”
  • ” Bring home OFW’s to high paying jobs”

and the new tourism undersecretary:

  • “Tourism will eradicate poverty  in 4 years”

(Put that in an advert and give Wanda Teo’s brother Ben Tuflo another 60 million pesos as he laughs all the way to the bank. There must be no worse run organization in the country than DOT, except maybe DFA, or maybe BOC, or maybe… o.k., so the level of incompetence and corruption is the normal standard in the Duterte administration. Couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery, and some numskull even puts the Kuwait OFW video on-line – the stupidity of the person is mind-boggling, but sadly no surprise).

“Do you pray for the Cabinet members, Dr. Hale?’ someone asked the chaplain. “No, I look at the Cabinet members and I pray for the country”. Edward Everett Hale

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’.” Theodore Roosevelt

It seems that the opportunity of democracy is being lost, without even trying, largely because it represents hard work, and necessitates collaborative leadership, intellect, integrity, cultural change, and long-term strategic planning.

Simpler just to shoot first, and make sure nobody asks any questions afterwards!

A future without democracy would comprise of blacklists, social controls, elitism, even more corruption, and another 50 years of decline/underperformance.

The pressing need is to strengthen institutions, not weaken them, to increase checks & balances, not remove them, and to generate ideas, not suppress them.

The Chinese approach embodies the  philosophy of ‘the end justifies the means’, that authority is not to be questioned, and human rights are irrelevant in pursuit of ‘the common good’. The result is a culture of abuse and fear.

The reality of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is that it is actually ‘capitalism with Chinese authoritarianism’, and is a Pandora’s box, in the longterm for China itself, but in the shorter term, for those countries which it ensnares through economic baubles in one hand and political control in the hand hidden behind its back.

The Chinese are building “a golden bridge for countries to retreat across”. Money can easily defeat a corrupt and greedy enemy.

The Chinese have played their ‘friends’ like a fiddle, and are stringing them up like a kipper.

The future will not be east versus west, but open societies and closed societies. Each must decide which canoe they want to paddle, but be sure that they don’t end up in shit creek without a paddle.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Sun tzu

Tee-off, or bunkered

Will The Philippines be bunkered by the middle income trap?

Sport teaches us a lot about ourselves and about life.

Take golf for instance. To some it is “a good walk ruined”, whilst to others it is an obsessional form of joyful pain.

But seeing the ball take-off from the tee in the right direction is exhilarating, especially for the high handicapper.

It is a game which offers constant challenges, and which rewards continuous effort. A bit like life itself!

To succeed there needs to be a game plan, alignment, balance, power, direction, timing, skill, and a strong follow through, all adapted to take account of the prevailing conditions, and opponents. A bit like strategic planning and business management.

National economic development needs the same characteristics if it is to achieve ‘take-off’.

Anything less results in getting stuck in ‘the middle income trap’, where growth is neither sustainable nor inclusive.

Economists talk of countries being caught in the ‘middle income trap’ for anything between 20 and 50 years, unable to escape due to an inappropriate strategy, weak fundamentals, and poor leadership.

Raising skill levels, changing culture, and creating new industries is measured in years/generations, not months.

Countries such as the UK, and even China are reaping the benefits now of the ground up education and IT strategies/foundations which were originally laid in the 1980’s.

“When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself.” Deng Xiaoping in 1983

Clever these Chinese!

The Philippines has been experiencing strong headline growth for a number of years but genuine progress has been sluggish as neo-liberal policies and oligarch greed simply fueled inequality and constrained both innovation and competition, with little impact upon reducing poverty levels or improving the quality of life for the vast majority.

A classic case of ‘the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer’, and a copy-cat of US policies, and problems, complete with social divides, anger, and conflicts.

In essence economic growth is the process of generating wealth, whilst national development is turning the wealth into human welfare and well-being.

GDP growth is to be welcomed, but put into perspective, especially since The Philippines has had good GDP growth for the majority of the past three decades, but not been able to translate that into quality jobs, or sustainable increases in the standard of living, due to the twin evils of political dynasties and economic oligarchs operating as a cozy cartel/closed shop.

The creator of the GDP metric, Simon Kuznets, in a 1934 report to the US Congress acknowledged the GDP’s flaws as an economic indicator:

“The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income. If the GDP is up, why is a country down? Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.”

Hard Facts

There is a surfeit of national/international data and surveys available, and below are some key indicators/indexes which give pointers to the main issues/problems to be addressed, and which should be regularly tracked/updated to identify ongoing progress, (improving or deteriorating), and benchmarked against others to quantify competitiveness, and to put into context.

It is folly to dismiss those which suggest bad news and only be interested in the good news. They are often interconnected, have causal relationships, and it is the metrics which are ignored which invariably get worse, and which need to be the priority.

The clues are there. Including stark reminders of the inequality, and the 1st world bubble of luxury which politicians live in, courtesy of tax-payer money, and which not only enables them to create property empires but through all the extra ‘perks and undisclosed benefits’ live well past the average age of their constituents – 68. The money they steal to enable a long stress free life full of good food, free healthcare, foreign holidays, and stem cell injections, is also robbing some-one else of years off their life. The electorate pay a high price in many ways for selling their vote, or voting for entertainers and retrobates.

The SONA would be better off with less verbage and more facts, akin to a corporate internal report to employees.

If you don’t measure it, you won’t improve it, and if you ignore it, you will be in the wrong canoe, and if you elect the wrong politicians they will have run away with the padfle and life-jacket.

A good leader, like a rising tide, ‘lifts all boats’. A bad leader ends up scuttling the fleet.

  • Population – 11th largest
  • Size of economy – 34th largest
  • Rankings/indexes:
  • Press freedom index – 133rd
  • Quality of nationality index – 125th
  • GDP per capita – 125th
  • GNI per capita –   111th
  • FDI received ranking – 57th (very low for an emerging country)
  • Median salary – 40,000 pesos per annum
  • Average salary – 164,000 pesos per annum
  • % people without any savings – 60%
  • Rule of law index –   88th
  • Democracy – 51st (flawed democracy)
  • Murder rate – 15 per 100,000 ( above 10 = high) EU 2 per 100,000. 51% increase in murders in 2017
  • Income equality, Gini – 110th (very unequal)
  • Innovation –   73rd
  • Creativity – 62nd
  • Education system quality – 79th
  • Teacher:pupil –  1:32
  • Corruption level – 101st
  • Ease of doing business – 113th
  • Poverty level –  22% (relatively static for a number of years)
  • Self-rated poverty – 42% (a slight improvement)
  • Stunted growth –   44th worst (30%)
  • Traffic – worst in world category (Manila)
  • Manila airport – voted worst in world in recent years (but now improving)
  • Remittances –  3rd most in world = circa 12% of gdp
  • Good governance – 83rd
  • Competitiveness – 56th
  • Total factor Productivity, 2001 – 2013 – 1.83% (lowest in ASEAN)
  • Universities –  only 1 in global top 1000
  • University graduates – 10% of current youth population (S Korea 70%, EU 50%)
  • IQ average – 86 (global average – 100)
  • Cronyism, EIU – 3rd worst in world
  • Dynasties – 74%+ of political positions
  • Shadow economy – equivalent to 40% of GDP
  • Chinoys – 1% of population, 60% of wealth
  • Cabinet average age – 69
  • Average wealth/assets:
    • Cabinet – 130 million pesos each
    • Senators – 111 million pesos each
    • Congressmen – 62 million pesos each
  • Fortune 500 companies –  zero
  • Tech unicorns – zero
  • Tourist arrivals – 46th, 6 million annual. (2 million to one location – Boracay)
  • Workers rights, ITUC – 6th worst in world
  • Workers in unions – 5% (due to endo/contractualization)
  • Internet speed – 100th (21st of 22 in Asia)
  • Start up ecosystem – 103rd
  • Smart cities – 148th (Manila)
  • Innovative cities – 326th (Manila)
  • Women in politics – 54th
  • Newspaper readership – 5% ( of population)
  • Human development index – 116th (80th in 1990)
  • Social progress index – 68th
  • Impunity index – worst in the world (beating Mexico as 2nd worst)
  • Cronyism – 3rd worst in world
  • Good country index – 77th
  • Health care quality index – 60th
  • Global terrorism index – 12th most affected
  • Globalization index – 74th
  • Tax as % of gdp – 14.5% (EU 40%)
  • Money laundering – PH identified as a country of “primary concern”
  • Infant mortality – 21 deaths every 1000 births (singapore 2 every 1000, EU 3 every 1000)
  • Life expectancy – 124th, 68 years
  • Filipinos abroad – 10 million
  • Drug users – 2 million est.
  • Drug addicts – 250,000 est.
  • Drug killings by police & ejk’s, jul 2016 to jun 2018 – circa 16,000 people
  • Drug lords jailed – 0
  • Economic red flags:
    • Inflation – increasing, 4.3%
    • Peso – worst performing currency in the world in the past 12 months
    • PSE, stock market – worst performing stock market in the world in the past 12 months – bloomberg
    • Balance of payments – deficit worsening

Philippines fails badly on:

  • Rule of law
  • Human rights
  • Education
  • Innovation
  • Corruption
  • Governance & institutions
  • Inequality
  • Poverty
  • Health
  • Strategic planning
  • Media freedom
  • Competitive spirit
  • Impunity

Soft Factors

“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to generate ideas which create value.” Louis Gerstner, CEO, IBM

Quo vadis?

Choices determine destiny, which are, in turn, based upon vision, values, and identity.

And in transformational change, organisational development and/or nation building, it is a case of going back to basics:

  • Where are we now?
  • What is the vision for the future?
  • Where do people/stakeholders want it to go?
  • How do we chart the right course?
  • Is there alignment of strategies and plans? Are there concrete strategies and implementation plans?
  • Are the right skills/people in place, or being developed?
  • What are the stated/committed targets?

The hard measures are largely influenced by the soft factors.

When it comes to destiny, culture is king, and it is attitudes and aptitudes which determine aspirations, abilities, and achievements. They are more nebulous to identify and quantify, but just as critical to manage, and to have clarity and consistency in core values and positioning on the continuums. Once agreed they are the bedrock against which words, actions, and decisions are both guided, and tested.

Change is driven by the top, but without clear values and example, then like a fish it can also rot from the head, and the whiff of failure soon becomes a stench, be it incompetence, corruption, lack of integrity, or hypocricy.

The continuums of cultural choices:

  • Vision or, short-sighted
  • Democracy or, dynasty
  • Universal values or, chinese socialism
  • Independent or, co-dependent
  • Diversity or, insularity
  • Strategic planning or, short-termism
  • Open society or, closed society
  • Free press or, censorship
  • Competitive or, protectionist
  • Meritocracy or, mediocrity
  • Equality or, discrimination
  • Free market or, oligarchy
  • Inclusive or, elitist
  • Innovative or, copycat
  • Rational or, emotional
  • Modern or, feudal
  • Dynamic or, laggard
  • Collaborative or, dictatorial
  • Rule of law or, rule of jungle
  • Winners or, losers
  • Service economy or, servant nation
  • Personal responsibility or, victim mentality
  • Self-determination or, fatalistic
  • Identity or, confusion
  • Unity or, division
  • Civilised or, uncivilised
  • Accountability or, impunity
  • Transparency or, secrecy
  • Ability or, cronyism
  • Progressive or, retrogressive
  • Ethics or, corruption
  • Artificial intelligence or, human stupidity
  • Intelligent cities or, urban jungles
  • Engineers and entrepreneurs or, maids and bananas
  • Dignity or, subservience
  • Multi-culturalism or, homogeneity
  • Individual or, collective
  • Confidence or, inferiority
  • Globalization or, isolation
  • Centrism or, populism/extremism
  • Cosmopolitan or, provincial
  • Freedom or, control
  • Discipline or, chaos
  • Education or, ignorance
  • Reality or, denial
  • Do or, dream
  • Debate or, dictate
  • Brains or, bullets
  • Leaders or, sycophants
  • Egalitarianism or, authoritarianism
  • Modern technology or, old bureaucracy
  • Integrated or, fragmented

It is certainly not all bad news. There are many good, enthusiastic, capable people, and if given the support, encouragement, and opportunity they will make a difference, but change is a slow, complex process, and the youth of today need to drive the debate about tomorrow, not the old men from yesterday. The future belongs to the youth. They need to stand up, show interest, and take responsibility, or the tipping point will be past, and it will be a case of deja vu.

The past generation of leaders failed, but they cling on – addicted to power and status, but still clueless.

They had 40 years and here we are.

They are all rich, and the country is poor. Mmmm.

The past cannot be changed, but the future can be different . . . or the same.

Choices determine destiny.


156 Responses to “How are we doing?”
  1. timowp17 says:

    And we belong and contributed to this destiny. As President Duterte appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, this is their cover Story. I have no other words but I definitely agree with his premises and reasons.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Population: 11 th largest.
    1) We do not have enough psychiatrists.
    That could have helped in the mental well-being of our leaders and our nation as a whole.
    2) The so-called brain and brawn drain.
    Sure many left, but many remained, what are they, chopped liver?
    3) Too many lawyers, too many business graduates, not much STEM grads.
    4) Too much of the population is concentrated on the urban areas,because no one wants to farm and fish because of many contributing factors.

    So what if we have a large population, we can make use of it.

    • 1) Or the schools need to teach healthy introspection.

      It seems to me the current government looks at Filipinos as a commodity for them to use or manipulate (fake news). There is no compassion or ambition to improve the lot of the common Filipino. Filipinos are throwaways, like with WPS fishermen, EJKs, Boracay, and Kuwait.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Commodites are better off, they have value before disposal. Garbage has potential value after disposal. Those with no value even after disposal is the Filipino who accepts defeat.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    As I have said before, we can dream big, but wehave to start small.

    So many projects proposed to DOST, yet not much is implemented.

    We can build our own ships, sure, but we must start small.
    Build our own cars, sure but after starting small do not forget to innovate and upgrade.
    i.e the jeepney.

    • There is the element of mastery that is important in ramping up any technology. If the attitude is just to rote repeat what has been taught, the most you will every do is be a copycat.

      Somewhat like the typical Filipino band just copies foreign music up to the last riff. Nothing own is added, unlike even the least creative cover versions usually do.

      The Filipino has been conditioned to think like a consumer and an employee for most of his history. Not like a builder and a craftsman striving for mastery, more than work, salary, buy.

      • Francis says:

        Which is why I would argue that the Philippines doesn’t need more managers, more lawyers, more technocrats—

        —but more philosophers (in both the narrow and broad sense of the word). All the techniques in the world (no matter how brilliant) will be like ash, if we don’t even have a grasp or simple appreciation for why we do all this.

        It is why—I don’t mean to offend—I am very cynical when it comes to proposals to impose “objectivity” or “objective measures” or “rational thinking” in our society. Yes—we can apply SMART techniques, etc. to our nation. But we will have little appreciation (unlike the West) why.

        It is a mark against our culture, our nation that the very word pilosopo is an insult.

        On a side note, I tentatively propose looking into the philosophy of pragmatism—a very American school of philosophy. If Filipinos are too practical in focus/too concrete-minded (a certain trait that some would argue is shared by a certain former colonizing nation of ours) then perhaps, a good way to make “abstract” thinking and “philosophy” in general respectable is via a philosophy that sees no distinction between “abstract” and “practical.”

        After listening to a podcast episode on pragmatism recently, which led me to look it up online—I can understand why some Filipino liberals (i.e. Osias) were greatly inspired by this particular variety of philosophy.

        • I have called myself a practical philosopher in the past, in the sense that I think of solutions and the reasons behind doing things a certain way – to be able to improve how to do stuff.

          “Pilosopo” has a bad reputation in the Philippines because Spanish friars – usually the most mediocre of them came to the Philippines – taught outdated forms of philosophy without real applicability demonstrated. Exceptions like the top-flight (and hated) Jesuits prove the rule.

          “The Filipino is task-oriented” I once heard. True. Possibly the awareness has to be slowly built bottom-up from tasks to projects to programs. Just like the geographical awareness may have to be slowly built up from barangays to cities to regions to national awareness.

          It may take some playfulness, like Lego and Fischer sets can forge builder mentality.

          The serf mentality inculcated in people for centuries is the biggest blockade. If all people are trained to do is parrot what the teacher says – whether it is Medieval scholastics or MBA stuff, then nothing will come out of it. The teachers may have to change first, I think.

      • karlgarcia says:

        With personal mastery, you give your all-out personalized effort, you give all your heart and soul.

        • Mastery in the Philippines can often be found in handicrafts such as weaving. Old-school Filipino carpentry also has/had its sense of mastery, similar to what is on Java or Bali, with tropical wood. Arnis masters also have a sense of mastery, or Bourne wouldn’t be using it.

          Someone on the chain gang to build a church, or an assembly line worker, does not have a sense of mastery. A skilled worker or professional can have it, but it is a question of attitude. High level industrialization like that in Germany and Japan is rooted in a culture of mastery.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Arts is hard to master, except those showbiz billboad and portrait painters who just copy pictures.
            We do have national artists.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    We must not por everything on just stem.
    Dual degreees if possible. Stem plus the Arts is advisable.
    Creativity must be channeled to unleash the brain power.

    • karlgarcia says:

      AsI mentioned STEM without arts would no longer do.
      STEAM is the way to go.

      Being Pilosopo is just a person paralyzed by analysis. Being a philosopher is someone with creative analysis.

      Rote learning made us experts in meme spreading.

      • Pilosopo is often used for a person who uses crooked reasoning to justify nonsense.

        At least half of Philippine lawyers (I might be doing them injustice) and 3/4 of politicians are therefore great pilosopos. Especially if they use foreign-sounding words they don’t know.

        Quo warranto in saeculo saeculorum. Boracay est insula. Bikol est peninsula. Filipinas est divisa in partes tres. Nemquam nequam. In dubio pro reo non sequitur con adictos drogas.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I remember mercedes criticizing Unc Sonny for his Latin know-how.
          I attended a Latin Mass once and I was lost, but I enjoyed the sound.

          Our lawyers like their Latin and their English that is why law is only for those who can pretend to understand.

          • From a book by Umberto Eco.. “nemquam nequam”.. “who said that, Donald Duck?”

          • From Jagors book on the Philippines, page 129:

            “Native priests.. do little credit to their profession.. they pass the greater part of their time in gambling, drinking and other sinful amusements.. except when officiating in the church, when they read with an absurd assumption of dignity, without understanding a single word..”

            (as Jagor says nice things where they are deserved, I tend to believe him)

          • sonny says:

            🙂 Thank you, Neph. I can’t resist, so here goes.

            Using Latin, Greek or any foreign language for that matter can be done for many reasons: a key to understanding the culture and wisdom of antiquity and glean lessons for our shared humanity across time and space and open the rich treasures of the lands and peoples who used or still use that specific language only or as mnemonics (short-hand) for principles learned as bedrock to certain professions and their peers, e.g. lawyers, doctors, IT pros, or to impress (when the user cannot sustain the masquerade) or to humor (as Irineo has done above), or make a listener run to the dictionary 🙂 or use in one’s coat-of-arms, etc.

            Many times I wish basic Latin to be compulsory in grade school. Filipino learners will have a blast, I think. Doing so will tickle their funny bones and learn good English in the process or realize the importance of precision and open-mindedness and really exercise their intellects.

            (Take me with, next you go to a Latin Mass. We’ll have a great meal after, discussing our times in TSH). 🙂

            • karlgarcia says:

              Many thanks Unc, nice to hear from you, and I hope all is well.

            • Other languages give insights into other ways of thinking.

              The two different major past tenses in Spanish for example – one indicating something that just happened, the other often used to narrate entire sequences in the past, like a black-and-white sequence in a movie. An entire world of seeing the world differently.

              The different types of snow of the Inuit, the different words for rice in Filipino – adaptations of language to the world of their speakers. Latin and its inherent logic and stringency.

            • sonny says:

              @ Karl

              You’re very welcome, Neph. I lurk most of the time in Joe’s TSH and just keep on learning other points of view and then some and thus exercise my aging mind. Else watching TCM (Turner’s Classic Movies) has some nuggets from the old masters of cinema. The current offerings from Hollywood are special effects and techno-rich but oftentimes shallow or tired in material. Ironically the Marvel crowd whom I enjoyed growing are fun to watch now with CGI as their paper version (comics) was then.

              I’m glad you and Irineo are in fine and sharp shape and running on full cylinders as do the other members carrying on as steel on steel, thanks to Joe’s sails and rudder.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Katuwiran is the translation for reasoning out. But it is more of straightening the crooked.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    Nepotism is more destructive than a dynasty, because you may nit be at power, but if most of your relatives are next in line, then you will be the next dynasty.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    The youth should never forget to listen to the older generation, there are still wise people out there.

  7. Excellent article. Obviously by someone with pro background. Though I do not consider myself a pro, it dovetails with my observations as someone who has been around – and has his eyes open.

    “Countries such as the UK, and even China are reaping the benefits now of the ground up education and IT strategies/foundations which were originally laid in the 1980’s.”

    Bavaria where I live has Fachhochschulen or Polytechnic Universities in unlikely places like Deggendorf, Rosenheim or Regensburg. I know some excellent IT people from these polytechnics, people of relatively humble peasant origins. Bavaria was a mainly agricultural state back in 1945. One level “below” engineers you have technicians. On the job training, the German dual system called Lehre – or the K-12 TVET or K-12+ which are similar – makes for highly skilled workers. Industries need these people.

    Or what would BMW in Munich be without all the levels of people in it? Or MBB in Hamburg, which had Indonesia’s Dr. Habibie in a leading position (link)? Finally, it was Habibie who was among those who got companies like Indonesian Aerospace (link) off the ground. Off course they geared up essential skills by building planes in license for MBB and the Spanish CASA which also once started off subcontracting for German firms – and is now part of Airbus Military, building the A-400M (link).

    “Winners want to embrace the future, whilst losers want to revert to the past.”

    Japanese cars in the 1950s did not amount to much, neither did BMWs from the 1950s. But unlike the Filipino jeepney, they were developed into more. Building the capabilities needed for a truly modern country – which include mindsets such as thinking of maintenance, operation and supplies – takes time. Filipinos can be fast learners. If they want to be – and are not hard-headed.

    “A closed mind must be awakened from within, through self-awareness.

    A closed society must be developed from the courage to be self-critical and inculcated with the passion to win.”

    Calling the Philippines a closed society may surprise some, as Filipinos have always been good at imitating the trappings of modernity, all the fads and the fashions – while the mindset is medieval at best, tribal at its worst. But I have been around due to my IT profession, and have seen mindsets change before my own eyes – from the Malaysia of Mahathir to freshly minted EU member Romania to formerly sluggish Portugal. Or for that matter, Germany which had turned into a bit of a laggard in the early 1990s but reoriented itself, in part painfully, and is back among the leaders. My takeaways from the above article are:

    1) it is all about mindset, mindset, mindset. Like I said once, you can buy the most modern car but if you have the mindset of a peasant, all you will do is use a BMW to carry your potato harvest.

    2) it is also about relevant methods and tools. What worked in past contexts no longer works today. Examples: subsistence agriculture worked with half a million people in the Philippines back in 1521. Or: expecting nothing to change worked in a world where travel wasn’t as easy as today and has mass tourism and refugees as two sides of the same coin. Or: expecting to close any country to the world doesn’t work as online brings the world to you, you have to shape how you use it, not fight it.

    3) it is finally about the will to win. There is too little of that among Filipino leaders. Own topic..

    • “Calling the Philippines a closed society may surprise some, as Filipinos have always been good at imitating the trappings of modernity, all the fads and the fashions – while the mindset is medieval at best, tribal at its worst.”

      Harsh but accurate, I think, and I like that you grant that things can change for the better if people know where they want to go and commit to it.

    • anton says:

      K to 12 is not the same as the German system.

      • I was referring to K-12 plus or K-12 TVET which is SIMILAR (not same as) the Dual System or Lehre where you have on-the-job and school training.

        Especially the project which is German-sponsored. But even TVET has been working with Grohe in Tondo since the late 1980s and deriving aspects of the German system. One main difference is that TVET is only 2 years, Lehre is usually 3 years.

        • Quote from above: On the job training, the German dual system called Lehre – or the K-12 TVET or K-12+ which are similar – makes for highly skilled workers. Industries need these people. TVET = Technical Vocational Education thingamajig 😀

  8. Francis says:

    My quick-gut response:

    You will need a Marcon to sell all of this.

  9. Vicara says:

    Team Duterte rode into power by constantly pitting Filipino against Filipino through visceral trigger points and the propagation of non-facts and untruths. This worked very well for them during the election; but now the very same binary is undermining THEM. No government, even a semi-autocratic one like ours, can be sustained in the face of such a polarized, bewildered electorate. Especially when the numbers of the angry are being expanded daily by dimwit administration actions such as the closure of Boracay, the Kuwait OFW rescue debacle, etc.

    The choice will become increasingly stark: Team Duterte has to find a way to get the country to pull together (which will be fiendishly difficult, since this administration is founded on tribal enmity–including executing citizen “drug suspects” without due process). Talk about “inadequate life scripts”!

    Otherwise, for its survival it will have to quell dissent through the police and military, as has happened in Venezuela.

    • I suppose one could read optimism into your assessment, that the incessant hating and scapegoating and throwing of Filipinos to the wolves of despair is not exactly an uplifting strategy, and is in fact so dire that it eventually ends up eating itself.

  10. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    In the world of words
    there is too much scatter
    only straight thinking can re-arrange
    words into something with meanings
    letters which can be Greek or whatever
    are symbols of nonsense and common sense
    which are really bits of data
    information is organized data
    Facts are simply VERIFIABLE information.
    Waffles are facts in randomized information .

    • Vicara says:

      In this country of Waffleheads
      facts have not mattered, transfixed
      as we’ve been by unceasing natter.
      ‘Twill be long before straight thinking can fix
      the brittle dark constructs of Duterte and Nix.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Facts matter mighty to the free and upright
        Fecal matter facts become to public pooper.
        It is truth that counts that sets everybody free.
        A society clueless of truth could seek facts
        yet remain chained to Sisyphean bondage.
        Victorious battle like EDSA struggled for facts
        and missed the war of selves to be free.
        unleashed as weapons of truth unshackle
        a society from lies of the low life.

  11. Sup says:


    Inmate a to inmate b.
    ”How can we smuggle a tv set inside the jail?”
    Inmate b: ”Just use the PTV channel and nobody will watch you….”

  12. Zen says:

    Harness the sun’s energy. Build more solar panel companies and lower the expenditure on electricity. It is so hot in the Philippines and nobody’s doing anything about it! Just an idea on how to improve the measure on ‘ innovation’.

  13. Micha says:

    A trade off for the acceptability of a fascist regime would have been to be able to convert the whole gov’t bureaucracy into one efficient task oriented functioning machine, much like what Hitler devised in Germany but should have been geared towards economic development instead of exterminating Jews and drug users.

    Rodrigo missed out on this opportunity in his fascist experiment and the whole country is reaping the whirlwind of his cruelty and stupidity. All the promises, all the vulgarity, all the bragging – sounds and fury signifying nothing.

    It’s like one of those converted car engines that resemble the revving up of a Ferrari or a GT race car but couldn’t win a sprint even against a Honda civic.


    One quibble from the article. Chinese socialism is a misleading phrase. Both the power structure and economic arrangement in China is not socialist at all.

    It’s a misnomer; just as North Korea calls itself Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    Chinese socialism is actually capitalism 2.0.

    • The German bureacratic machinery, the Apparat, already existed way before Hitler. Lenin was so impressed by its efficiency that he imported many of its aspects into Communism, including the 1916 rationing system of Field Marshall Ludendorff also known as war economy or Kriegswirtschaft, and the idea of having residence and work permits for cities, which was an effective instrument against excessive urban migration in Imperial times. China still has the residence/work permit system copied from Russia, who knows with what is going on in Boracay now, the Philippines may institute something similar to control the islands? Hitler just got into the command cabine of the apparatus, which is a bit like this baby here:

      Somewhat like Duterte got to sit on the President’s chair and realized what possibilities he had – for himself. Germany BTW restricted the power one leader can have after the war – precisely because the machinery of state is quite advanced over here. In Europe you first had Absolutism and the reins in the hands of one man, but the beginning of a machinery, then you had the Enlightenment, French-style bureacratic modernization under Napoleon, then the answer from the German competitor. Now there is the huge factory called the EU.

      What Duterte has is centralized police power – something begun under Marcos (INP) and completed under Cory (PC-INP) and Ramos (PNP) with a modernized police force. Today PNP recruits must have at least high school diplomas, not a requirement under Marcos. Since around 2009 there was a modernization program for PNP, tragically supported by the Bavarian State Police via the Hanss-Seidel Foundation and stopped now. My tax money teaching them to shoot straight – but just 7 years will not change mindsets. What Duterte also realized is that with the budgetary powers of Imperial Manila in his hands, he could do nearly anything he wanted. But still, he is breaking the Philippine machinery. You cannot run a jeepney like an amphibious 4 x 4. He thinks he can even jump across ravines with it..

      • Micha says:


        After the defeat of Germany in WW1 and the overturning of German monarchy in favor of the Wiemar Republic, bureaucratic efficiency in governance does little to quell the gloom and demoralization of its people which led to the rise of a strong man fascist. Every western European country can brag about its bureaucratic efficiency but none so effectively used it for evil ends as the Jewish extermination and that’s why the comparison with our own little brown fascist.

        • The point is that Hitler did not invent the machinery – that would give him too much credit.

          Not even the Autobahns were his idea – the original grid plan came from a consortium of Jewish(!)-German businessmen who planned to run the network as a kind of PPP.

          The first Autobahn wasn’t even built by Hitler and his people. The present A555 between Bonn and Cologne (probably renumbered in Nazi times) was a project of the Mayor of Cologne, Dr. Konrad Adenauer – who later became the Chancellor of West Germany at 73.

          Which proves another point – not all old mayors are bad national rulers. But it might have helped that the provisional capital of West Germany, Bonn, was just across the river from Adenauer’s home. Left the old man with enough energy to rule until the age of 87 (!).

          much of the gloom BTW between the wars was because liberal policies had abolished the requirement for residence and work permits in cities. People left the countryside and swelled the ranks of the poor in cities. A man with a provincial (Austrian) accent was their “hope”..

          • Micha says:


            But of course not one person can be credited with bureaucratic efficiency, It’s a people-specific or country-specific trait. If you’re one of the major global empire, you need to have an efficient bureaucracy both at home and in the conquered lands to manage it. The Romans, the Brits, the French – all have displayed efficiency in managing their empire in times past which became a cultural thing in their modern governments. But none have developed an efficient system of rounding up Jews, putting them in camps and, instead of shooting each one, suffocated them in gas chambers. That’s all Hitlerian signature which was the point of my comparison.

            • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

              My knowledge of world affairs is shallow history
              could be paltry and faulty. I am like I know
              Adolf Hitler is a NAZI, it was Il Duce Muzzolini who’s a FASCIST.
              Nazism and fascism may be blood thirsty brothers
              but they are not the same in every way.

              Socialism is an ultimate Utopia which is really nowhere
              So it could be the Omega of Communism and Democracy
              Always the ends are Holy, jolly good for humanity
              if the means employed are not empowered idiocy.

              It is the wisdom of nature for its creation
              to be in constant contention to give it
              its thesis an anti-thesis to achieve man-made synthesis.

              When there is theory of a class struggle that
              should end in a classless society govern
              by a dictatorship of a proletariat. Anybody can
              walk not on his feet but on his head
              the corridors of long history.

              The end is clearest and could be no other
              a rewind, a return to a community of absolute equality
              a cave man’s kind of society.

              • That return is nearly impossible. Anthropologist Jared Diamond noted that you need a lot more square kilometers of jungle, savanna or sea to sustain a small hunter-gatherer tribe than to sustain a much larger number of settled-down farmers.

                Industrialized farming makes that equation even worse for wanting to go back. Half a million people lived in the Luzviminda archipelago, not yet Filipinas, in the time of Lapu-Lapu. Try to live like them today with 100 million – that is not sustainable at all anymore, unfortunately.

              • The Philippines failed land reforms also are about the dream of each family having a bahay kubo and its own plot of land for subsistence farming – something that might still have worked but already was nearing impossibility when there were 20 million Filipinos in the time of Magsaysay. Now it is ridiculous as rice produced in the Philippines is more expensive than that coming from Thailand or Vietnam due to the small size of farms – please correct me if I am wrong on that. Economies of scale are not realizable at all that way.

              • Micha says:


                Fascism – a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

                How does this definition of fascism not apply to Nazi Germany?

              • karlgarcia says:

                Per wiki.

                Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology’s disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but also incorporated fervent antisemitism, scientific racism and eugenics into its creed. Its extreme nationalism came from Pan-Germanism and the Völkisch movement prominent in the German nationalism of the time, and it was strongly influenced by the anti-Communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged after Germany’s defeat in World War I, from which came the party’s “cult of violence” which was “at the heart of the movement.”[2]

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                As a snoozer I try to be a bit awake, just little bit. Who says who wants to return to the days of cave men. Telling what it is, is just that; saying Hitler is a Nazi and Il Duce is a Fascist is not saying anything but that. NAZISM is ULTRA, extreme Nationalism COULD repeat could explain why Joema and his NDF and NPA is extremely angry with imperialist America, why I will say Democracy which about peoples’ rule, why the rule of law which should EMANATE from the people is NAZISM. As the end product of Democracy, Communism and whatever, even the “super race” Nazis bred from the Aryan race is ultra nationalism. Mga Wakarang those few In History who are Nazis. the late Senator Claro M. Recto is a sage nationalist, never was a Nazi.

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                As I misunderstand or misinterpret the words of others, so also I can be misunderstood and need to restate what I just posted in this manner:

                As a snoozer I try to be a bit awake, just little bit. I did not say I want a return to the days of cave men. Telling what it is, is just that; saying Hitler is a Nazi and Il Duce is a Fascist is not saying anything but that. NAZISM is ULTRA, extreme Nationalism COULD repeat could be a reason why Joema and his NDF and NPA are extremely angry with alleged imperialist America, why I will say Democracy which is about peoples’ rule, why the rule of law which should ultimately EMANATE purely from the people is a kind of NAZISM. As the theoretical desired end product of Democracy, Fascism, Communism and whatever, even the “super race” Nazis bred from the Aryan race is ultra nationalism.

                Mga Wakarang are those few In History who are Nazis. The late Senator Claro M. Recto who was a sage nationalist as a worthy example, never was a Nazi.

    • Francis says:


      “A trade off for the acceptability of a fascist regime would have been to be able to convert the whole gov’t bureaucracy into one efficient task oriented functioning machine, much like what Hitler devised…”

      I agree with the sentiment completely. If we’re gonna get an authoritarian state—at least make our bureaucracy efficient as a byproduct. Hitler is a bad example though; as Irineo pointed out, Hitler was coasting on the already institutionalized efficiencies of German bureaucracy. In fact, if I can recall correctly, it was the personalistic approach of Hitler in both practice and ideology, along with his overwhelming emotionalism which actually served to make Germany very inefficient during the war.

      I think it is safe to say that authoritarianism by groups (save for LKY—who was on “Easy Mode” as he was literally handling only a small city-state) is the only way to build truly “robust” authoritarianism; only societies run by effective authoritarian institutions where no man dominates (Japan) or where one man does not preside but rules through institutions and is guided by long ingrained institutionalized patterns (I think, Korea and Taiwan) can become effective enough to compete with democracies.

      And even then, Japan was a (formal) democracy throughout its post-WW2 heyday and Taiwan and South Korea have us beat with their democracy—so, yeah.

      I hate to sneer or sound condescending, but it utterly bemuses me greatly to see people glorify Duterte as the one who will make us like Dada Xi’s China.

      We have not the Confucian tradition of state, nor a history of effective (if authoritarian) institutions to implement state will to do such things.

      Our trapos learned governance-by-asking-for-bribes from the Spanish, and governance-by-sharing-the-lechon-este-pork from the Americans—some of whom had quite pedigree (Tammany Hall; truly—we learned from the best, our politicos can boast) in “creative” accounting.

      It thoroughly amuses me that there some people who honestly confuse “Banana Republic” rule of some brutish charismatic with the sort of authoritarianism that Plato could love.


      “While many scholars have sought to analyze South Korea’s economic success, not enough attention has been paid to the impact of Japanese colonialism. Japanese colonial influence on Korea in 1905–1945, while brutal and humiliating, was also decisive in shaping a political economy that later evolved into the high-growth South Korean path to development. More specifically, three state- society characteristics that we now readily associate as elements of the South Korean “model” originated during the colonial period: Korean state under the Japanese influence was transformed from a relatively corrupt and ineffective social institution into a highly authoritarian, penetrating organization, capable of simultaneously controlling and transforming Korean society; production-oriented alliances involving the state and dominant classes evolved, leading up to considerable expansion of manufacturing, including “exports” and the lower classes in both the city and the countryside came to be systematically controlled by the state and dominant classes. While there were important discontinuities following WWII, when the dust settled, South Korea under Park Chung-Hee fell back into the grooves of colonial origins and traveled along them, well into the 1980s.”

      Where do high growth political economies come from? The…. Available from:'s_developmental_state [accessed May 04 2018].

      You don’t just snap your fingers—and then, bam! Or alakazam! Or PHederalism! Or Martial Law! A prosperous developmental state!

      It takes decades of institutional trends and some luck. Even then—in the case of South Korea—it took a brutal process of forcefully grafting institutions and overhauling the whole system, to the extent of importing tons of Japanese colonialists to run the efficient and effective bureaucracy.

      That assumes that our wanna-be Lee Kwan Yew’s have the competence to do all of that.

      If Ferdinand Marcos—arguably, one of the finest political minds we’ve ever had—was impotent against the force of historical and institutional trends, I doubt Rodrigo “I admit my limitations openly to the press; I just can’t do it, because of so-and-so” Duterte can.

      • Micha says:


        Imperialism took a heavy toll on our collective psyche. We became timid and incompetent (as opposed to can-do) administrators of our own affairs. How to overturn this psychological/cultural baggage is the challenge.

        Marcos had his historical and cultural perspective on target. It was a case of spirit is willing but the flesh is weak – sometimes it’s tempting to give up on this dysfunctional country.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    Shadow economy:
    40 percent of GDP comparable to Thailand’s 50 percent.

    We see San Miguel’s annual reports, but no one is bothering about the Sari-Sari stores selling 85% of their beer or even their whole f and b income.

    I am sorry to say TRAIN law is not helping the shadow economy.

    • As long as VAT collection remains ineffective, expect more economy to go shadow.

      It took Italy decades to get that under control, with a strict “fiscal police” who could randomly ask people in stores to produce receipts – and make them pay on the spot if it was missing.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Irineo ,ask people there about Mercury Drug’s receipts. I think they use vanishing ink. Mercury Drug is the biggest pharmacy in Pinas. I think, it has improved recently, but for years, their receipts were useless.

      • The rise of the malls created a similar system. Malls groups in the Philippines routinely charge between 2-10% of gross sales. This is why SM and Ayala mall groups are very profitable. These groups require the tax mapping and routinely send mystery shoppers to randomly check tenants with their receipt issuance. This is why a lot of the efficiency in tax collection was due to increasing share of malls and decreasing shadow economy.

  15. NHerrera says:

    The article, a compendium of facts and “how-to”s, explicitly stated or implied. It is our choice if we want to continue or not being servants.

    • Slightly OT: an English version of Fedor Jagor’s Travels in the Philippines (around 1870) – Jagor was a Russian-German from Berlin and it could be he even met Rizal at some time. His observations from the period just 10-20 years before Noli and Fili are an excellent counterpoint from the point of view of a Westerner – but a Westerner who was very liberal by the standards of his time. No fotos but lots of excellent drawings. One drawing makes clear why the barong tagalog, worn outside, was originally a slave’s garment of ridicule – because native officials wore it inside a suit, so it hung out from inside the suit at the waist, looking foolish. The shirt inside the suit should never look out except at the hands. Which makes me think: the true descendant of those self-ridiculing native colonial officials is President Duterte. Otherwise the panorama of the Philippines of those times is unparalleled, with sections about “The Bicol Indians”, “The Visayan Indians” and “The Chinese”, and a lot of agricultural stuff – even that the unit of measure for rice then already was “ganta”, still used in the 1970s I think.

      • The aspect of vengeance is tackled on page 212., I wonder how much tokhang (or the indifference to innocent victims of it) is still by this kind of logic: (emphasis mine)

        “If a man dies, his nearest kin go out to requite his death by the death of some other individual, taken at random.. Unless, indeed, it be a friend they encounter, the first victim that offers is killed.” (this is about the non-Christians of Isarog mountain)

        • sonny says:

          Ah, the remontados of Isarog. Read about them in PHILIPPINE STUDIES periodical, interesting chapter on the Bicol region.

          • My personal conjecture is that marginalization breeds a certain cruelty. The Ugandan Iks are an even extremer case – displaced by a government dam. But I have also read sources that mention infanticide during the early Philippine encomienda period with its abuses.

            And of course ghetto situations breed cruelty as well – this is documented in Eastern European Jewish ghettos and in African-American ones. I am just wondering what causes people to accept random killing of their own countrymen – which among the Isarog remontados BTW led to a marked decline in population, as Jagor sadly notes in his book. You mentioned to me also how the Igorots quit headhunting when they noticed it decimated them too much.. meaning that a people can also choose life over self-destruction – GOOD.

  16. Micha says:

    The article hoisted the corporation as a model for running an efficient national government, which is just as well as far as efficiency goes.

    But corporations and national governments don’t share a motive for why they wanted to be efficient.

    Corporations want to be efficient because they need to earn profits.

    National governments, on the other hand, is not in the business of earning profits. It is, first and foremost in the business of providing services : regulatory service, legislative service, judicial service, law and order service.

    Nowhere in its constitutional mandate that the national government should, as its reason for being, be motivated by the need to earn profits.

    That’s a crucial and fundamental distinction which makes the pronouncements of some national officials every now and then about the need for savings and income source rather disingenuous.

    • Francis says:

      The presence of external threats has often been a driver for state development and initiative. The “Space Race” comes to mind. Also, Japan—the Meiji Revolution was an attempt to catch-up to the West, so as to not be swallowd up by it.

      Even redistribution i.e. “Welfare State” as answer to Communism, from the Western Europeans and the Americans.

      Ideally—the threat of China swallowing us up would present a perfect pretext by which our elite can shape up and firm up the Filipino state. Unfortunately, our answer has been to be like dogs exposing their bellies; which is to say, subservience.

      I guess that’s what you get, when you have an elite so used to having some other majo power prop them up.

      • Yes, the elite definitely goes the path of least resistance in two major ways:

        1) always collaborating with the next major power after a while. With every new colonizer the main period of resistance was shorter, followed by collaboration. Of course external defense was then left to the (former) colonizer, the external defense capacity hardly built up.

        2) making use of natural and human resources without adding much to their value. Mining for one, labor export (both OFWs and BPO) on the other. Little in the way of developing value-added industries based on natural resources, or upskilling human resources. In that sense the Philippine elite is about as lazy as the elites of Arab Gulf States. Everything OK as long as they have their consumer goods, Western fashions – plus maids and drivers.

    • I tend to think that governments ought to be in the business of generating prosperity, which is national wealth, measurable, much like profits.

      • Micha says:

        National wealth, measurable in pesos, shared and distributed (fairly, preferably) amongst its citizens.

        It is however meaningless to determine how many pesos the national government has. If you somehow were to decide that the national government has a billion pesos, what would that mean? Being monetarily sovereign, it would not tell you anything about the government’s ability to spend. It’s money creation ability would allow it, by congressional fiat, to spend whatever amount it deems necessary.

        When you send your taxes to the national government, they leave the economy. They cease to be part of any money-supply measure, M1, M2, or M3.

        Money, in pesos, on national government books are not part of the economy.

        • Well, that gets us back into the MMT argument, which has no end in sight. I think people make money, most not as much as they like, many in the Philippines making nothing, and the national goal ought to be to take care of them better, financially. That becomes the ‘profit’ goal and ought to lead to rational deeds in the pursuit of that goal.

  17. Francis says:



    I seriously wish there was a Filipino version of this. I played the game myself, and I think that after playing this game—one is really left with the impression that mediamen do have to play a careful balance between accuracy, popularity and speed.

    It’s also genuinely fun.

    Does illustrate quite well (if in an unsaid and implied manner) why relying merely on bloggers and some obscure site on social media for news isn’t reliable.

    If you have a teenage kid, this is a good way to show why trusting professional media (even with all their faults) is great. In fact, the way the game is played could actually be a good way to illustrate certain ways in which some of our media does things wrong i.e. when they put sensationalism over accuracy.

  18. OT, From Jose Antonio Custodio:

    The manner that the Duterte administration justifies the installation of Chinese missile systems in the West Philippine Sea by saying that it is not aimed at us shows a blatant disregard for the safety of its own neighbors. It is a selfish and cowardly statement. A statement that deserves utmost contempt.

    The Philippines has finally become an enabler of China’s territorial ambition in the region. Manila is a security threat to Jakarta, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Canberra, Tokyo, Taipei, Wellington and many others. Shame on you DFA. Shame on you National Security Council. Shame on you defense sector. Most especially, shame on you all at the Office of the President.

    my comment to that – isn’t that exactly the way Filipinos treat their neighbors – as long as tokhang is not directed at them everything is fine.

    isn’t that the way every island, every city acts – it’s Marawi, it’s Boracay, it’s not us? (from nearly two years ago but still relevant)

    There is not much caring in the Philippines outside of one’s own circles. The educated mourned an Ateneo professor killed by gunmen more than students in Dagupan who were casualties in the war in against drugs, possibly killed by vigilantes. There are anti-Marcos activists who make stones for martial law victims, but no stones for even the “collateral damage” of the present drug war..

    ..More people stay alive – and live lives worth living – if communities watch out for one another. Especially when it comes to the lowest rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (link) – livelihood and safety. That may not guarantee love and belonging, or even esteem. But it makes hatred and destruction much less likely.


      China continues to build up its military portfolio in the South China Sea despite its repeated pronouncements that it will not militarize the region. China has now installed missiles in the Spratlys after placing military jamming equipment and building a monument in its reclaimed islands.

      With a range of 295 nautical miles (nm) and 160 nm, the missiles can target vessels located as far as the waters of Balabac, Palawan. According to reports, the missiles are located in Zamora Reef (Subi), Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief) which are approximately just 13 nm, 103 nm, and 117 nm away from Pag-asa Island, respectively. Pag-asa is the largest Philippine-controlled island out of the nine features in Spratlys we are claiming.

      The distance of Pag-asa Island from the closest missile located in Subi Reef is around the same distance as that of Quezon City to Taguig City. Ganyan kalapit ang mga kagamitang pandigma ng China sa mga kababayan natin na naninirahan ngayon sa Pag-asa Island.

      The actions and continuous aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea are obviously threats to our national security. I call on the Duterte administration to wake up from its long doze, silence and inaction. Let us not let China’s sweet talks of investments and loans lull us into a false sense of security. Their actions clearly belie their pronouncements. Pain lamang ito sa patibong.

      We must raise this matter in all possible forums as a grave concern not only to us, but to the whole region. The recent events also heighten the need to have a legally binding Code of Conduct as soon as possible.

    • And the question seems to be, are Philippine leaders aware of this social and national aberration? Or is it okay to be self-involved first, and community involved only if there is gain to be had?

  19. Micha says:


    David Brooks, tentatively addressing the anxieties of capitalism:

    It’s easy to argue that the American left is on the cusp of a great victory. The economic anxieties of the working class have gone unaddressed. The Resistance is passionate and politically engaged. Faith in capitalism is plummeting. Only 42 percent of millennials embrace capitalism, according to a Harvard University poll, while 51 percent reject it.

    The goal for most on the left is not replacing capitalism, but reforming it to make it work better for all. That would involve two big tasks.

    The first would be to rewrite rules to redistribute wealth. In an anthology called “Reflections on the Future of the Left,” Dean Baker imagines ways this might be done: impose a tax on financial transactions to weaken Wall Street’s power; change monetary policies to give full employment priority; shorten the workweek to tighten labor markets; and change corporate law to make it easier to cut executive pay.

    The second task would be to ensure economic security for all. This would involve raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, providing universal basic income and having the federal government provide a paying job to all who want one.

  20. edgar lores says:

    1. A feast. A smorgasbord of ideas.

    2. I detect love and devotion, impeccable research, perfectionism, OCD… and endless enumeration!

    3. Where to begin?

    3.1. When faced with a complex piece, I tend to break it up into pieces, capture the central idea of each piece in a sentence, a phrase, or a word… in my own words. The last is important. Paraphrasing accelerates comprehension and internalizes the central ideas.

    3.2. This method of study undoubtedly springs from my computer background. But I found recently that it has a name – the Feynman technique.

    4. Thus:

    4.1. Conceptual Framework. Apply the advances in modern corporate management and technology to government.

    Main idea: “They [governments] must modernize, professionalize, and organize.”

    4.2. Planning and decision-making. The government suffers from flaws in leadership and is addicted to propaganda and mired in populism.

    Main idea: “Governments… must become proactive engines and enablers of growth, and in the process put their own house in order.“

    4.3. Winners in the future. The winners will be open societies. Enumerates the major weaknesses of the country — institutional, social, policy, and attitudinal.

    Main idea: “The future will not be east versus west, but open societies and closed societies.”

    4.4. Tee-off or bunkered. The country needs a game plan – like golf. The middle-income trap.

    Main idea: “In essence economic growth is the process of generating wealth, whilst national development is turning the wealth into human welfare and well-being.”

    4.5. Hard facts. Statistical data and character profile of the country from various indices. Whew!

    4.6. Soft factors. Enumeration of cultural choices. The dichotomies seem to be between shadow and light.

    Main idea: “Choices determine destiny.”

    5. My reactions:

    5.1. Conceptual Framework. It may be difficult to transfer corporate management and technology to the civil service. The main blocks would be the attitude of service with a frown and the personalized interaction system of palakasan. How to overcome these blocks?

    5.2. Planning and decision-making. Our democracy is based on personalities, not principles. Weak leaders, populism, and propaganda will not go away soon. How to achieve the shift to principles?

    5.3. Winners in the future. My impression is that the country is moving from a closed society to a much more closed society. How to encourage the shift to an inclusive society? Also, the social philosophy should be “the means are the ends.” Then, there are no losers; we are all winners NOW.

    5.4. Tee-off or bunkered. The country is far off, years away, from the stagnation of the middle-income trap. I would emphasize the realization of individual potential as another main aim of national development.

    5.5. Hard facts. The statistics are appalling – murder rate, corruption level, university graduates, IQ average, Chinoys, global terrorism index, infant mortality. What truly staggers me are:

    o Newspaper readership – 5%!!! This is willful ignorance.
    o Impunity index – worst in the world!!!

    5.5.1. The willful-ignorance trap is a greater threat to national well-being than perhaps anything else.

    5.6. Soft factors. The dichotomies highlight extremes, we just have to be careful to follow the more or less middle path with a marked inclination to the light and with the awareness that, repeat, the means are the ends.

    6. How are we doing? Badly, I would say. Very badly.

    7. I mainly have one question about the central thesis that underpins this excellent piece: Why is it that despite the advances in corporate management and technology, companies are in trouble and mired in ethical problems? (In Oz, the big four banks and the leading superannuation management institution is undergoing an investigation by a Royal Commission.)

    8. I hereby transfer the crown and title of Mr. Enumerator 2018 to tphillips. Hip, hip, hooray!

    • And the main idea I pull from your superb breakdown of the article is that we are seeing the demise of ethics in favor of personal advantage. We are becoming smaller people.

    • chemrock says:

      Edgar, thanks for giving me a name to something that I had been doing and teaching youngsters — Feynman technique.
      I discovered accidentally as a recruit in my army days. Sometimes, we got handpicked to explain some stuff to the rest of the class. I realised that when speaking out like a teacher, I really understood stuff and never forget them. I have been getting kids to go through their lessons pretending they are teaching in a class.

      • edgar lores says:

        Many people have independently invented or discovered the same thing but the credit goes to the oldest or the most well known. The wheel, no doubt, was invented by Mr. Wheeler.

        • sonny says:

          Thanks for breaking tphillips’ tour de force into a la carte servings, edgar. Makes clear where capable people can participate towards becoming parts of the solution.and unclog deaf ears and stay unworthy hands.

          • edgar lores says:

            De nada. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, we need to maintain the stamina to finish, and the ability to comprehend, long reads.

    • NHerrera says:

      Indeed the Feynman Technique discusses a variant of what we ourselves — such as chemrock, edgar, etc of TSH — must have used to reflect and grasp for our own benefit different things with our minds and tools such as paper and pencil (and to jibe with present technology, the tablet and stylus).

      By the way, being an engineer, Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, was one of those in the consciousness of old guys such as myself. He died at a relatively young age of 69 — by todays longevity measure — but the world is fortunate to have his Lectures in Physics preserved and available for free online.

      Fellow Physicist Leonard Susskind, a friend of Feynman, attest to Feynman having a big ego but fun to talk with. 🙂

      • NHerrera says:

        Big ego with a brilliant and beautiful mind — that is understandable. May we say the same thing about Trump and Duterte?

        • sonny says:

          I hope I can find my copy of Feynman’s semi-autobiography SURELY YOU’RE JOKING MR FEYNMAN.

          I remember Mr Feynman clearly in a panel interview of what caused the Challenger Disaster: it’s the O-rings and the freezing temperatures during the launching at Canaveral.

          • NHerrera says:

            Sonny, it seems we are both fans of Feynman. I had that book too and was trying to get hold of it, but managed to find only my copy of his “Six Easy Pieces” — excerpts of his many Lectures on Physics. The “Surely you must be joking…” portrays the rich facets of his genius.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I hope (and wiki) never run out of donors.


          • sonny says:

            Big yes and big thank you to NH and Karl. 🙂 Personalities like Dr Feynman are a great boon to humanity, I feel.

          • sonny says:

            For Feynman fans I also found this:

            • NHerrera says:

              I bookmarked that animated review of Feynman’s “Surely, you must be joking …” Thanks.

              • sonny says:

                First met Feynman in our Calculus textbook (author Thomas, series & integrals), then during the popularity of Sagan. Looking back Feynman is much more enjoyable than Messrs Sagan & Hawking, no discredit to the latter two. I superlike the animated review also. Glad you like, NH.

      • edgar lores says:

        The love story of Feynman and his wife Arline is one for the ages.

        The story of his “postmortem” letter — his and hers — is sublime.

        • NHerrera says:

          The romantic in me is deeply touched by that letter of Feynman to his dead wife of two years. Thanks for sharing that edgar.

          True to Susskind’s YouTube talk, Feynman’s Post Script to that letter had this:

          PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.

  21. edgar lores says:

    There are many sentences that ring true but perhaps the line that most resonated with me, while reading, was this:

    “A closed mind must be awakened from within, through self-awareness.”

    My immediate thought was, “How true!”

    I have always advocated for the rise of consciousness. For me, the tools for doing this have been solitary activities — introspection, intuition, meditation, and ratiocination.

    Upon further reflection, however, awakening can be triggered from without.

    o Reading has afforded me many epiphanies. The quoted line is one such.
    o External conflict — not necessarily war but political turmoil as we have now — can be a seed.
    o And a good teacher can also serve as a spark to the fire. Jesus and Buddha were such.

    Perhaps, like me, you were fortunate enough to have an exceptional mentor in high school or college who served as midwife to your intellectual and spiritual birth.

    The flame, once lit, may never die out. But this is patently untrue. There are many idealists who flamed and burned out in their later years. The country is replete with these burned-out husks.

    To keep the fire burning requires fortitude and a certain amount of serendipity.

    And if you are able to do so and provide warmth and light, then you become a bon-fire.

    • In my groggy morning state, I read the line as “A closed mind must be awakened from within, through self-interest.” It then struck me that the best way to generate self-awareness is through self-interest, which is what turmoil can do, or a dynamic speaker who can elevate emotions and the associated chemical pleasures. So if the political turmoil is not enough to stoke self-interest/awareness, the opposition would do well to find a firebrand speaker who can juice up the telesyre exhilarations.

      • edgar lores says:


        CJ Sereno is a firebrand speaker. There is just one problem. She speaks in complete sentences.

        • NHerrera says:

          At least not of a kind — like some German academic may write — where a sentence is as long as a sizeable paragraph? 🙂

        • She would have to get ‘down and dirty’ real fast, and in complete sentences, to attract popular backing. But getting thrown out of the SC would give her a certain ‘gravitas’.

    • NHerrera says:

      Yes. And along one’s distilled constant and life-long lessons, this may still fit in:

      God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      Courage to change the things I can,
      And wisdom to know the difference

      — Reinhold Niebuhr

      I understand though that Niebuhr’s statement may easily be used as a cop-out, using the first phrase of the statement.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Accept me for what I am, Duterte says

        President Rodrigo Duterte urged the people to accept him as he was because it was already too late for him to change.

        “I really speak like that,” the President said in a speech during a gathering of school principals in Davao City, referring to his sometimes vulgar language.

        The President said he could not “change at this very late age.” “You’ll just have to take me for what I am,” he added.

        “If you cannot understand me or you cannot give an allowance for my habit, please forgive me,” he said.

        The President said he became prone cursing during his youth and had been severely punished by his mother, Soledad, because of it. —

        From Today’s Inquirer

        • NHerrera says:

          Uh-uh: I may take the statement/ apology as sincere; however, his vulgar tongue is strongly restrained when it comes to China and Xi. Why is that? That means, that if he wants he can restrain his mouth.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Yes, NH. Galit daw sya sa druga pero di mya masabi na galit sya sa mga pinanggakingan ng draags at tungkol sa missiles, di naman daw nakatutok satin dahil may pinagsamahan naman daw tayo at Tsina.
            Galit sya sa imperialistang Europa pero pag Hapon, matagal na daw yan at palipasin na.

            Talagang walang isang salita, double speak does not even cut it.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Maiba na na naman tayo.
            Wala daw sya pinakulong kaya wag daw sya tawagin strong man.
            Oo nga naman si Aguirre ang nagpakulong ke Delima. Napabakarda kasi kaya nya nagawa yon.🙄

            • NHerrera says:

              karl, you seem to have at your finger tips, matters De Lima. I understood that the reason the trial of D5 has not proceeded is because there are no takers among the judges her case was referred to — they have demurred for good reason. Anything new on this?

        • edgar lores says:

          How can a man — who cannot govern himself — expect to govern a nation?

          • karlgarcia says:


          • Francis says:


            All that people want is an honest man, in this increasingly incomprehensibly complex and postmodern world.

            Even if he’s slapping me in the face—at least he’s not shoving my back into a deep hole, all while whispering sweet nothings?

            People would take a cartoonish villain over something incomprehensible, Lovecraftian. What we fear most is what we don’t understand. People understand Duterte, for all his faults—his flaws are our flaws.

            I speak as a devil’s advocate.

            • NHerrera says:

              If I may: spoken like an investor or a stock buyer or seller — better the devil known, so one can assess how to move forward, than the unknown. May be the Filipinos in general are that wise?

            • Sure, to die immediately from a bullet of a cop who talks like us is better than dying slowly from Dengvaxia, administered by these strange educated yellows from outer space.


              He said that China assured him that they will come when he calls them for help. “Bakit ko nilagay diyan? Mas mabuting may garantiya ako. Kung tutulong man ang America, which I doubt, meronsila ‘yung mga missile-missile (Why did I get them?It’s better that I have a guarantee. If America decides to help, which I doubt, these two countries have missiles),” he said.

              “They [America] have lost so many wars. So China said, ‘We will protect you. We will not allow the Philippines to be destroyed. Nanditolang kami at kung gusto mo, anytime, tawagin mo kami (We are just here, call us anytime),’” he added.

              The man on the street understands deals made verbally and tends to be suspicious of anything written down. In fact the tribal mentality sees the requirement to fix things in writing as a sign of distrust. There was a case I heard about from a diplomat where a UN agency had to waive a requirement for Somalian tribes to sign something in exchange for help – instead witnesses signed that they had heard the chiefs swear to adhere to this and that, having to sign something would have pissed them off. Duterte’s mindset is similar to that – and to that of many Filipinos who are still tribal in mindset. “Tayo nag-usap, ganito”, “Ako ang nakiusap, sila ang nangako”. Some sentences later Duterte says something I think is NOT true, but appeals exactly to the mentality of giving and keeping one’s word:

              “When you talk to itong China, Russia, isang salita lang (China and Russia have one word). ‘We will be there.’Itong America, itong mga Italy, wala ‘yan. Mga puting i****. Totoo. Takot lang ‘yan mamatay (America and Italy are nothing. They are afraid to die),” he said.

              This was not the first time Duterte expressed his appreciation toward China and Russia. In March this year, Duterte said that Russia is no pushover and said that American will surely “melt first” if war breaks out. The President had also recognized the help of China and Russia, especially during the war in Marawi City last year.

              Weird – did Russia and China help at all in Marawi? It was the USA and Australia, I remember. But effectively, Duterte as a tribal leader who does not believe in written stuff has rescinded the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States and defined a new alliance. The question being, will Filipinos take his word as the final word, like they have so very often? Or will they limit him? The “Council of Major Chiefs” (Senate) will be important here, though interestingly some of Red Chiefs from the Council of Minor Chiefs already have spoken:

              -Inday Espina-Varona is a reporter, so I trust her word on this. I find it interesting that the Left is (hopefully) finally turning away from its old sponsor China-

              Sabi nga nina Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares:

              It’s lame to shrug off an outrage by pointing out that Chinese missiles aren’t aimed at PH:
              “…any retaliation it would incur from the US and other claimants would definitely affect the Philippines.

              “The fallout from the increasing militarization of the West Philippines Sea would surely affect our country whether it be a shooting war or not. What the Duterte administration should do is protest this latest Chinese provocation and involve the international community in denouncing this act,” said the progressive solon.

              Colmenares said that “Malacanang should not be happy that these missiles may be pointed at other countries because it can just as easily be pointed at the Philippines when it would suit China’s purpose. I think that the statement is another Malacanang joke, but it is not funny,”

              “It must also be noted that Chinese aggression in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) started after China was able to discover the location of rich marine resources in the area because of information gathered through the JMSU in 2004 which China did not share with the Philippines. It only gave us uselessly blurred pictures of the area,” said Colmenares.
              “We have always challenged the administration of then Pres. Gloria Arroyo and now staunch Duterte ally to report to the people what it has gained from the JMSU, but it has failed to do so. It is now very clear that the JMSU did not benefit the Philippines, as what we have long argued in the Bayan Muna petition we filed at the Supreme Court,” added Rep.Zarate.

              “In fact, former Pres. Arroyo was forced not to renew the agreement after it lapsed in 2008 despite her claim that it was beneficial to the country. China became more aggressive and militarized the area after confirming the presence of resources through the JMSU. Arroyo stayed silent despite the fact that China used the information it gathered for its benefit alone,” he said.

              “Then, the Arroyo administration never protested even if Chinese ships aggressively cruised the seas near Palawan in 2007 when it was well outside the South China Sea and the JMSU area. Now, under the Duterte administration, missiles are currently placed in our occupied territory, but, all the government is doing is just passing the blame to others,” said the Davao-based solon.

              “The Duterte administration should not repeat the sell out done by the Arroyo administration. It must stop its subservience to China. It is tragic that it was the government itself who betrayed Philippine patrimony and sovereignty then, and, it should not be repeated and must stop now,” ended Rep. Zarate.###

              • Of course Duterte’s attitude is typically Filipino: “doon ka sa llamado, huwag sa talunan”.

                (be with the winners, avoid the losers) = the collaborator, balimbing, supermajority attitude.

              • Two things are wrong with that of course, even assuming loyalty doesn’t count at all:

                1) The assumption that Russia and China would win a confrontation.

                2) The assumption that one can switch back quickly without old allies remembering. Already now, there is a blemish on the reliability of the Philippines as an ally. With whom will others prefer to deal with – I mean the neighbors of the Philippines – after such a direct betrayal.


              MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, May 6, slammed China’s reported installation of missile systems on 3 islands in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines.

              In a statement, Robredo urged the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China to assert the Philippines’ rights.

              She also criticized the “increased militarization” of Philippine waters, which violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

              “We are alarmed at the reports stating that the People’s Republic of China has installed missile systems on 3 of our islands in the West Philippine Sea, namely, Kagitingan, Zamora, and Panganiban Reefs. The increased militarization is in violation of UNCLOS and serves to contribute to regional instability, compromise our security, and further curtail our sovereignty,” Robredo said.

              I think that the world is now watching how Filipinos will choose. If one goes by the ones one already knows, the USA is more familiar to Filipinos than China is. But then again,
              the Dutertian propaganda of “we are the victims of the white man” might yet win.

              • Jose Antonio Custodio once again.. (I still wonder for which side the Philippines will decide, because its future will totally depend on it)

                So this Duterte in his speech to justify the missiles China has installed in our EEZ has claimed that the United States has lost so many wars (Except for the Vietnam War, I am not sure what many other wars are those he claims the US lost) which is why he is turning to China to protect the Philippines because the Chinese are more reliable. That being said, one wonders what war in modern times has China won?

                Thinking, thinking, thinking…..can’t seem to remember any real war they won….

                Oh I remember!

                The Chinese Civil War.

              • sonny says:

                Because our history is replete with the malady of “cultural attenuation” from many sides of our national experience many Filipinos can probably predict what the Philippine choice will be. IMO.

                (attenuation = the reduction of the force, effect, or value of something)

              • Not only Filipinos are thinking that way, others also. So Duterte should not put the blame on Westerners alone for hedging their bets and limiting their commitments to Filipinos.

                A memory from the early 1990s: Filipinos (mostly Ilocanos) working for US Embassies noted that the willingness to recruit Filipinos for US Embassies and US Bases went down after the Philippines closed its US Bases – in addition to the general reduction in that period.

                Why should any Western company put in new investments into the Philippines at this stage. Regarding BPO, nobody who has trade secrets and is in his right mind will put them in the hands of a country that could shift to China tomorrow – my opinion only. But logical IMHO.

                Who will deal with a country that signs the Treaty of Rome in 2011 and just leaves in 2018?

                When it comes to people and to countries, how others deal with you also depends on how you deal with them. If you are purely transactional, expect others to be like that as well. Act loyal and it is reciprocated, usually. But mess up, then blame others? Looking at Kuwait.

              • Classic definition of ‘unreliable’. Investors, business owners, and even friends hate it.

  22. NHerrera says:


    A 71-seconds video-clip spoof on the recent happenings in the Whitehouse on SNL, with Alec Baldwin as Trump, Ben Stiller as Cohen and Stormy Daniels as Stormy Daniels.

  23. karlgarcia says:

    “The dynasty of Duterte shows little interest in stopping corruption. All talk, no action. All hat, no cattle.”

    His action is not to file charges and then reappoint them.

  24. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    Popoy Conjecture:

    It’s a long shot, far fetch may be. That history is a surreal canvass, like a mosaic of epochs and events that can be shuffled at pre-determined times like a pack of cards. A card that happened long ago is about to be played in the big waters west and east of the Philippine Archipelago. If the card is played again with the same ending, there is nothing for the world and the Philippines to worry about.

    But the couple Will and Ariel who wrote the History of Civilization is no longer around to debunk what could be a silly conjecture. It is not TIME but events and actors WILL TELL what happens before the final curtain. ABANGAN, if what specifically happened in the past will happen again. It needs brain, guts and balls to make a repeat of history.

    • sonny says:

      Popoy, not to negate but reinforce what you say: always for starters I cling to facts (reliability as to time, place, people, manner) and interpretation (plausibility tests of common sense, witness from other reliable data, context and author’s ‘epistemology’ … etc.) 🙂

      • sonny says:


        … on interpretation: clustering, interpolation, extrapolation

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          Thanks Sonny for the amplification. But my eche bucheche could have been missed by many. I was referring to Donald and Xi of the here and now with flash backs to 56 years ago when Jack and Nikita were exchanging dagger looks but calmed down may be for the sake of mankind. I need to know more the difference between snooze and stupor. The conjecture is really a regular long shot by Stephen Curry and a far fetch fast break by Lebron James but they hit their marks.

          It’s really salitang Tondo: “If you don’t remove those missiles in that island, I will bomb you to kingdom come.” If Don has the balls of Jack (both being ladies men), expect a repeat of history. And that my dear Watsons is my eche bucheche.

          In the mid fifties in Calamba Laguna LTB Bus station a boy selling boiled banana and a girl selling boiled peanuts had been heard and seen to be quarrelling. The angry girl said: Pag hindi mo inalis yan saging mo sa ibabaw ng mane ko, yayapusin kita. The naughty boy immediately removed his banana over the peanut of the girl, deathly afraid of what comes next.

          IF you can’t smile for this post, God will have mercy on your soul. Joke only. Eh.

          • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

            Will this be the “Mad Dog General” talking to Donald like it is history repeating itself? Listen.


          • sonny says:

            Popoy, wordpress ate up my reply: yes, I heard of ‘saging the Pacing’ always generates a smiley; THEN: the drama in the Atlantic = missiles + Krusch + no internet + no Elon Musk; NOW: the drama in the So China Sea + missiles galore + trigger-happy hackers + Elon Musk and islands in Space to hide to. All this is just History, Redux. I hope with happy ending or not. 😦

            • sonny says:

              meant to write ‘saging ni Pacing.’

              You’re on target as usual.

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                Sonny, The girl selling boiled peanuts is not Pacing, she has no saging unless Pacing is really gay like Vice Ganda. Try to see Alice Vikander’s film where she helped her husband’s search for the holy grail removal of his eggs and banana. Thanks for the pansin Sonny.

            • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

              “All this is just History, Redux. I hope with happy ending or not. 😦”

              Saying: Just History or Redux could cheapen the flow of current events. Like what’s behind Nokor’s sudden peacenicky gesture toward Sokor and the USA. Like when a Diplomat’s home lost it water and electricity connections could lower decibels if not shut the volume of vociferous discourse. Like it is when a common welder will say: “Pag hindi mo inalis yang tarugo mo, acetylene ang gagamitin ko.”

              Like when freedom of the press is mistaken to be demonizing the President of the strongest nation on Earth when actually the press was only slapping and spitting on his face, kicking his guts, showering him with sewage, making and having fun insulting his wife and family. Demonizing? The President was only given his daily hugs of hate. Soon it will be just history and for redux.

              But Sonny all these are just words and should not hamper objectivity of our discourse. I seldom see now in the streets like in the sixties fingers greeting fingers with the peace sign. I have to attend Sunday Mass to be able to exchange greetings with a smile: Peace be with you, brother/sister.

              • sonny says:

                Yes, I guess. It’s like what the lady of my house says and does, no matter how big the principles the devil is always in the details. Doon palagi magkakatalo! 😦

                Sa simbahan lang lahat panalo. Pax tecum. (peace be with you)

  25. OT: There was a hovering question for me all the while re Kuwait: how can diplomats with immunity be threatened with arrest by Kuwait. The answer is between the lines glaring at us all:

    The three diplomats threatened with arrest, who were not identified by the DFA, were among those sent to Kuwait to support the embassy staff process the mass repatriation of OFWs in the final days of the amnesty for undocumented workers in Kuwait, which ended on April 22.

    After Kuwait vowed to take action against those who participated in the rescue, the diplomatic personnel transferred from their hotels to the embassy.

    The three diplomats who are facing kidnapping charges are DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) executive director Raul Dado; DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations (OUIER) officer Muammar Hassan; and DFA-Assistance-to-Nationals officer Francis Baquiran.

    These three were part of the Rapid Response Team formed and led by DFA-OUMWA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, Cayetano’s political appointee and former aid when he was still a senator.

    All three are NOT diplomatically immune in Kuwait, I assume, as they are not part of the Embassy. Typically you will have an Ambassador, a Minister-Counsellor, First Secretary, Second Secretary – and lots of Attaches. All diplomats are introduced to the receiving state, and THEN have immunity.

    Official passport holders like USecs are usually welcome in most countries and get in more easily than ordinary citizens – this is also part of international relations. But they have no authority abroad. And unlike the diplomatically immune, they can of course be arrested and prosecuted abroad.

  26. edgar lores says:

    1. The article is rich in take-off points. Points that may be ignored in using the Feynman method.

    2. I would draw attention to one of the typical flaws of leaders:

    “Folie à deux – leaders shift their delusions to subordinates who ‘buy-in’. Objectivity is lost and chaos takes over.”

    3. This seems to be the overwhelming psychosis of the Duterte regime.

    3.1. Fact 1: There is no doubt that Duterte is a deceiver.

    3.2. Fact 2: There is no doubt that he holds his audiences spellbound.

    3.3. Fact 3. There is no doubt that people believe his lies to be not lies but truths when they are in the audience.

    4. My theory is that Duterte has the force of a master hypnotist because he speaks with utter conviction. Go to Youtube and view a speech. You will come away persuaded if not convinced.

    4.1. I watched, I immersed myself in this speech on corruption, given on March 6, 2018. If I didn’t know Duterte’s record, I would have been persuaded and convinced — easily.

    4.2. The folie a deux (of two) is really a folie de beaucoup (of many).

    4.3. I think part of Duterte’s “charm” is his candid honesty in his dishonesty. It is disarming. One cannot but help “forgive” his deception. He uses many introductory phrases to subliminally show his humility.

    4.4. This is the psychology of forthright confession: forgiveness of a sinner who has strayed but who unmasks himself and shows his human, all-too-human, face.

    4.5. As a Catholic nation, we know — if we confess we will be redeemed.

    • Thanks. Best demystifying I’ve read. He has psychic connection with the struggling Filipino.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        I might have missed some important innocuous words about the person of President Duterte. I have done a BIT of work in places in both Western and Eastern Visayas and even parts of Mindanao when with other government employees we crossed overland in 1967 the heart of Mindanao from Bago Oshiro, Davao to Cagayan de Oro. I did not cross swords or words with any Visayan farmers or co-workers. I found them mostly very sincere and non-plastic. They could speak faulty Tagalog and funny English accent, but I think they are totally sincere and non-plastic.

        Critics of the President asked and wonder why do people admire and clap their hands when listening to him. I think it is a modest trait of Filipinos to admire sincerity and being non-plastic, regardless or discounting other traits. This is a long eche bucheche, trying to guess why lots of people admire President Duterte despite or in spite of whatever. I apologise if I missed reading those positive words in TSoH.

  27. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    FACT is what this good blog is all about. I might have interjected that Fact is the ingredient that will make TRUTH set you free.

    Philippines let it be known that by suggesting no need to worry about the 230 thousand OFWs in Kuwait because talks and negotiations are going on; only it cannot be made public in the meantime.

    Well, What happens then if KUWAIT comes out and tell the world that THERE IS NO TALKS or Negotiations going on right now. That will be like being as diplomatic like NAWASA and MERALCO cutting water and electric connections to the DFA building in P. Faura.

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