The Philippines is an abusive society

Philippine jail. Nobody notices. [Photo source: Gulf News]

By JoeAm

The Philippines is an abusive society, today. The abusers are the government, its paid staff and trolls, and its followers who choose threat over debate and vilification over compassion.

But the abuse was evident well before President Duterte took office. He just made it official.

President Aquino and his staff (Abaya, Roxas, Abas, and De Lima prominent among them) were heaped with scorn. They were forced to deal with the strange Filipino attitude that being well off, earnest, and well-behaved is an insult to the millions who cheat or are dealt what they believe is an unfair lot. That includes corrupt people, poor people, and people in line at the MRT. That abuse continues today . . . not to but FROM . . . a government that loves violence and dictatorial methods. From all indications, the government seeks to jail Aquino, Abad, and Abaya, jail Sereno, kick Robredo out of office, and stifle all dissent as a destabilizing threat. It is helped by a captured legislature and legislators who close their eyes to the abuse. And a captured Supreme Court that abused the properly appointed Chief Justice.

Think about it. If these enablers saw a young girl getting accosted on the street, they’d cross to the other side of the street, duck their eyes, and pass by. That horrifying, abuse-enabling character is the way many powerful and educated Filipinos behave these days. Only it is their nation getting accosted. And millions of Filipinos.

Recall the venom directed against President Aquino . . . From INC that shut down Edsa, with President Aquino’s aunt and uncle screeching in the background . . . To the Catholic Church that hated the reproductive health law . . . To anybody with a transportation problem who believed Abaya carried a bunch of wrenches and a magic wand . . . To the Romualdez clan and half the gullible nation that painted Roxas a villain about Yolanda when it is today known that he was a hero . . . To those who vilified President Aquino for every decision that differed from their own, on Mamasapano, on resolving the Hong Kong bus massacre, on the Sultan who invaded Sabah, on DAP which was plain good business sense . . . and on and on and on.

Modernization and progress meant nothing to ANYBODY as far as I can tell. Building 60,000 new school classrooms, thousands of kilometers of roads, winning the WPS arbitration, fostering a conservative economy that was fiscally responsible, raising no taxes, bringing down debt, raising the Philippine investment ratings, getting airports off the “worst” list, earning respect from allies around the world, and climbing up every global rating index known to mankind, from anti-corruption to business competitiveness.

The Philippines is largely a thankless nation.

Do you see why a government with character represented by  Duterte, Cayetano, Calida, Alvarez, Sotto, Gordon, de Castro, Bato, Andanar, Aguirre, Roque, Marcos, Arroyo and thousands of sycophants HATES the Aquino government?

The Aquino government was competent and honest and civil. That was and is offensive to those who in the darkness of their souls know that they themselves are manipulators, self-dealers, cheaters and thugs.

The venom just pours from this government. A massive funding of trolls who spread lies and heap very personal abuse on earnest servants of the People, like Vice President Robredo. A police force that shoots first and asks questions never. A wielding of power and favor to take apart democratic institutions that can hold officials accountable. The eviction of a 71 year-old nun because she was helping lumads. Martial law and abuses of people and processes in Mindanao.

Giving away the PEOPLES’ sovereign resources in the West Philippine Sea to another lying, abusive thug, China.

The government clearly does not want its people protected. It tells WPS fishermen to go work in construction. It shuts down a thriving tourist island and uses troops to keep media out (Boracay). It farms prized projects out to Chinese companies and to hell with Filipino interests, even the local residents (Marawi). It runs the most grossly inhumane jails. The President regularly taunts and insults women, claims “destabilization” if criticized, and threatens everyone with getting killed.

Is there a stronger word than perverse? I arrive at malicious. Deranged, even.

But it is not just government. It is the sorry set of citizens whose sense of self accountability is so battered and weak that they require a thug for a leader and decent people as victims to satisfy their vengeful desires.

James Fallows was being kind when he said the Philippines is a damaged society.

It is a sick society.

It is so psychologically inside out that good is bad and bad is admired. It sees incompetence as “being like me” and competence as an insult.

This is not the poor. This is educated working people. It is business people, doctors, teachers, BPO workers, and OFW’s.

Oh, they will raise their excuses, cast their blames. It is an art in the Philippines, this escape from personal accountability.

But trust me on this. It is not the Aquino Administration or ‘yellows’ who are the root of backwardness and suffering in the Philippines.

It is the abusers.

It is the lost souls who must vilify decency to be emotionally whole.


71 Responses to “The Philippines is an abusive society”
  1. Francis says:

    They don’t know any better.

    The Philippines is not an abusive society—because that assumes that people are intentionally being abusive, that the abuse is the first principle and driving force of this society. I wouldn’t interpret things that way; rather, it seems to me that our being an abusive system is a symptom of something deeper.

    Ignorance—which, for our purposes, I shall define as the opposite or lack of wisdom.

    Ah. I am being a perfect Filipino when I say this.

    Filipinos loving talking about “ignorance” and about how “ignorant” the “they” are; the “they” being people not including themselves. There is a proposal floating around to restrict certain positions to college graduates, and you see people nodding their heads furiously. Yes!

    We confuse education for degrees, for words written on parchment. We equate wisdom with the feat of having graduated. Oh! Am I saying that Sotto’s “University of Life” is a respectable excuse? No. Wisdom is not the recognition of having something—whether that be college units at University of the Philippines or decades of practical common sense at the Univeristy of Life.

    Wisdom is, as Socrates puts it, knowing that one does not know. This lead us to the humility and wonder—humility at the vast expanse covering what one does not know, and wonder at the exciting possibilities that await—that drives the creation and discovery of new knowledge, that drives people to always be learning, always be understanding, always be knowing.

    What is the relation of wisdom to decency?

    Plato, if I recall correctly, was remembered as one of the major proponents of the notion that to be virtuous required knowing what virtue is. Through what we know, we can be virtuous or at least enable a virtuous way of life.

    We know so little, therefore we fumble in the darkness—angry.

    • Francis says:


      The first sentence should read: “We don’t know any better.”

      Which is not to insult anybody—but to make it clear that this is a common concern of society, not the problem of one “troublesome” group. And I regret the wording of that first sentence; it defeats the point of the whole comment.

    • edgar lores says:

      Ignorance does not excuse the abuse… just as ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.

      • Francis says:

        The ignorance doesn’t excuse the abuse.

        If there are those who should be held accountable—it is those who’ve acted like devils perched on the shoulders of the citizenry, whispering black propaganda and conditioning. Those wannabe-puppet masters. That is clear, intentional abuse there.

        But the reason this intentional abuse is so effective is because it is enabled by a climate of unintentional abuse widespread in society—which in turn, is the result of ignorance equally widespread in society. Why are so many people—so many middle class folk, so many “educated” professionals—falling for this? At this point, the problem is not an individual moral problem but a systemic moral problem—a systemic problem, in short.

        I am reminded of Enders Game. I’ve read a synopsis, I’ve watched part of the film—but I’ve never managed to read the book. Yet, I am reminded of the ending. Ender realizes that he has not been playing a game—but commanding actual ships in actual war. The stark realization changes him; it dawns on him, the scale of what he has done.

        With our popular culture as anesthesia and lack of general awareness (or general concern) for things larger than ourselves—it is, I think, a likely possibility that our horizons often only reach as far as our barangays (whether literally or figuratively, i.e. workplace, etc.) and social networks can see.

        So—we think we are playing a game. A vague simulation, unable to grasp the very real consequences of our actions. We don’t know we are in a cave. We don’t know.

  2. Every time I reflect on the things that you write. I agree that the Philippines is a Sick society, dying even. It is very hard to live here and not lose your sanity or morality.

    • It is. One keeps sane by removing oneself from the insanity, or, as your other comment suggests, overthrowing it. That is an uphill battle here because so many Filipinos seem, perversely, to enjoy being victims.

      • Bernard-Adan Ebuen says:

        EDSA uprising happened only due to the untiring dedication many years earlier by the Left. Do we have a movement Now ? NADA . Me and you ..and your cohorts …we are the invincible army of arm-chair revolutionaries …Alas! Czech Vaclav Havel came down from his idyllic pedestal to walk the talk and talk the walk; and things Start to get better

    • edgar lores says:

      As a fresh-water fish, you don’t much notice at first glance how murky the river water is.

      But Joe Am is an ocean fish where the waters are less polluted. He has been beguiled to visit and stay in the river. So from comparison with his former habitat, he is able to see the difference between ocean and river water.

      To you, the water is murky… but it is home. To Joe Am, the river water is, to say the least, phantasmagorical.

  3. The nihilist in me is starting to think that we need a massive amount of destruction and a real bloody revolution to clear the cancers of our society. The problem is in revolutions there are no morality and there is no guarantee that the morals will win.

    • edgar lores says:

      Revolution is possible.

      And revolution, whether internal or external, is difficult to spark, to control, and to end conclusively.

      I believe an internal revolution is easier than an external one to spark, to control, and to end.

      The cancer cells in a sick society, the cancerous individuals, are numerous and affect — metastasize — healthy individuals nearby quickly.

      As a healthy cell, one can resist the metastasis by rejecting whatever effusions the cancerous cells emit.

      I believe one can stop — and even defeat? — the metastasis by emanating one’s own aromatic (heh heh) effusions.

      Internal revolution is the transformation of one cell, which is one’s self. But it usually take’s time.

      External revolution is the transformation of many cells quickly. Like any radical cancer therapy — radiation or chemotherapy — it attacks unhealthy cells but may in the process neutralize healthy cells as well. Thus, in the process, the patient may die.

      As you say, in an external revolution, although the object may be moral, there may be no morality in the process and no guarantee that morality will win. In this sense, from a historical perspective, EDSA I was a failure. It was, however, an important milestone and steppingstone.

      In a collective, the ideal situation is a healthy leader cell steadily transforming himself and pulling (or pushing) the whole of society forward and upward. Cancerous cells will transform into healthy cells through the magic of exosmosis.

      But in a collective where a rogue cancerous leader cell rules the body of society, which is also riddled with cancerous cells, what is to be done?

      I will leave the question unanswered.

      But, whatever the societal situation, one must resist the temptation to descend into cynicism and nihilism. That path has no exit except self-destruction. One must engage in an internal revolution (or evolution) to improve one’s perfect yet perfectible self.

  4. The abused often become abusers. – did those who killed Castillo go thru similar rituals aka ’50 Shades of Gay’?

    Or the sick game of Master and Servant all levels play up to the President with Xi?

    Islands often mean: the normal that visits is seen as abnormal, so little changes.

    Aussies merely walk upside down, that’s it..

    • In that sense, it is true for the poor that they have been used and abused in the Philippines, but it does not seem true for the ABC supporters of Duterte.

    • edgar lores says:

      Irineo, thanks.

      Finally got to read your recap of the brutality of Atio Castillo’s death by hazing.

      It does reinforce the master/slave syndrome and the bane that fraternities are. There is this recent op-ed piece by Joel Ruiz Butuyan:

      • Chemrock says:

        I’m thinking it’s not the problem of fraternities per se. It’s the profession.
        What if we have fraternities of engineers, or architects, or accountants, or enterpreneurs? Will same problems arise?

        By the way, Happy Vesak Day, Edgar.

        • edgar lores says:

          Chemrock, thank you. Happy Vesak Day to you, too.

          Re fraternities, I think the problem is both the fraternities and the profession of lawyers.

          As I see it, fraternities are not by nature inclusive. They recognize and practice exclusivism. It is a form of elitism that does not make use of the criterion of merit.

          And the trouble with most lawyers is that they use their specialized knowledge of the law to thwart the law (true justice).

          Combine the two and you have the ruling criminal cadre that reigns over the country today.

          There are in fact engineering fraternities/sororities and medical ones.

          If I were to hazard a guess, these non-lawyer professional associations may practice hazing and exclusivism. However, their impact on society would not be as dire as lawyer ones.

          The distinction has to do with the basis of their profession. Generally, engineering, architecture, and even accounting are based on scientific, mathematical, or statistical disciplines and methodologies, either singly or in combination.

          While an engineer and lawyer may both use logic, an engineer would not be able to fudge results or conclusions as much as a lawyer can. His conclusions are not based on opinion but on calculations that are objectively verifiable by peers. Lawyers, on the other hand, can argue and convince people that black is white.

          Law is not based on science and can even reject the constitution.

          Mind you, this is just a theory.

          • NHerrera says:

            edgar, it is a theory but cautiously — and seems to me accurately — phrased:

            While an engineer and lawyer may both use logic, an engineer would not be able to fudge results or conclusions as much as a lawyer can. His conclusions are not based on opinion but on calculations that are objectively verifiable by peers.

            The first highlight grants engineers as having feet of clay too. But the second highlight is perhaps the saving grace for the engineering profession.

      • Welcome, Edgar..

        The patterns of abuse and denial (of its reality and also of justice against it, yes even mere recognition of injustice) are everywhere. Two more articles I wrote: and Abuse against women is mentioned there, and how it is casually ignored. Maybe less now under the rug since the #BabaeAko hashtag.

        • edgar lores says:

          Irineo, thanks. Have read both. Keep on plugging.

          The abuse of women (Dela Riva, Pepsi, Carlson) is a special subcategory of abuse of Filipinas by Filipinos. That the tormentors of the last two of these women are both in Congress — voted into office again and again — reveals how sick our society is.

          As you say, the veneer of propriety that Marcos projected is gone. The abuse of De Lima, Sereno, and Robredo is open for all to see — and people dance with glee in the streets.

          The Chief Misogynist sits in Malacañang.

          HELLipinas, the beloved country.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. It is a well known psychological fact that abusive adults are the product of abusive parents.

    2. As a nation, who were the abusive parents of Filipinos? They were the successive colonizers of Spain, America, and Japan.

    2.1. Spain, the longest ruling colonizer, abused Filipinos by maltreating them as third-class citizens, as children, and not educating them. Spain bequeathed religion.

    2.2. America, the second longest ruling colonizer, abused Filipinos by war and exploitation. The Filipino death toll is estimated to be between 200,000 to 1,500,000. However, America did treat Filipinos as grown-ups, and did educate them and prepared them for independence. America bequeathed democracy.

    2.3. Japan, in a span of 3 years, occupied the Philippines and abused Filipinos as war enemies. The Filipino death toll is estimated to be more than one million and more than a thousand women were kept in sexual slavery. Japan has finished paying reparations but is still bequeathing massive economic aid.

    3. There is a Hindu word that describes the complexities of behavior that are the result of previous experiences. The word is samskara. The word has mainly two meanings:

    3.1. The first meaning is that given in the dictionary: “a purificatory ceremony or rite marking a major event in one’s life.”

    3.2. The second meaning is a “mental impression, recollection, and psychological imprint.” In Buddhism, samskara refers to mental dispositions. Filipinos have been psychologically imprinted with the abuse of their colonizers and are mentally disposed to inflict it upon themselves.

    3.3. The Urban Dictionary discerns that samskaras can be inborn, imposed, or acquired. I would say that abuse is inborn in the form of racial memory, imposed by the government of the day, and acquired as a meme.

    4. I think that the concept of samskara is a better explanation of present-day abuse. It provides psychological validity and historical context. As a people, we not only have been abused by governments of the day but that we have come to psychologically expect this abuse as normal.

    4.1. Not only that. We expect abuse as passive victims but we have also grown and, alas, adapted to it as active participants.

    4.2. In a way, democracy has given us the freedom to be abused and be abusers. Whereas, before, only rulers could mete out abuse, now everybody can do so especially in these days of socmed. The means of abuse have been democratized.

    4.3. The difference between the Duterte regime and past regimes is that the current regime, as Joe Am has noted, is the primary fount of abuse.

    5. As samskara is the form of psychological disorders, it is also the cure in its first meaning. How do we eliminate our disorders and rise above our conditioning?

    5.1. Each religion offers methods of purification and values that, if sincerely held and followed, would eliminate abuse.

    5.2. If you are not religious but spiritual, reflection on the values of democracy – liberty, equality, fraternity — would lead to the truth that abuse in any form is unethical and should not be practiced or tolerated.

    5.3. Whether in religion or outside of it, the raising of consciousness should make us better persons and a better people.

    • 4.2 “Freedom to be abused and be abusers.” Yes, within the culture of victimization. Raising of consciousness is indeed the answer, but the depth and blindness of those who are not conscious is astounding.

  6. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: As an informal historian, I am shocked and saddened that the National Archives has been greatly damaged if not destroyed by a huge blaze today, which began near the Land Management Bureau offices.

  7. Sup says:

    Roque wants Duterte critics deployed to attack China

    ‘Alam mo ang gusto ko? Kunin silang lahat, isama sila sa isang barko. Lusubin nila, sige!’ says Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque about critics of the Duterte administration’s approach to China

  8. Sup says:

    Roque press briefing:: No, Calida does not resign, He is not direct involved in the management of that security firm…. (60% stock holder, 3 kids each 10, wife 10%)

    Section 13, Article VII of the Constitution prohibits members of the Cabinet from doing the same:

    They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly, practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.

  9. NHerrera says:

    ABC = 10%
    D = 60%
    E = 30%

    The E socio-economic class — whose hourly thoughts are on the next meal to eat especially for their children or how to survive the illness with no medicine to take, forget the shelter or where to poo and pee — can’t be the abusive. If they are, it is of the nature of the primitive and instinctive caveman or rat race mentality merely to survive.

    Many of those in the ABC, D classes — for reasons already enumerated in the blog article and the comments — definitely are. The brain’s wiring, evident or latent, is just too strong (sorry, Fallows, you have to write again; your description is passé).

  10. Tancio de Leon says:

    Here is a true short story about the abusive people.

    Have you been dealing with “informal settlers”? They are experts at spending but definite failures in saving for a later but better future.

    Last Monday was a declared holiday to hold Barangay Elections. In our subdivision, we had a set of candidates who offered voters possible jobs, schooling, all ingredients for a better life. Another set of candidates offered a few days’ food on the table and free shirts. Guess what happened?

    An explanation of why our perennially poor “squatters” find it extremely difficult to save today for a better tomorrow.

    Have you heard of the marshmallow test? If someone had to offer you one marshmallow now, or two marshmallows in two hours time, which offer would you take? In this video, world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku reveals how a simple test using marshmallows can predict how successful you can be. Take a look:

    • NHerrera says:

      The Marshmallow concept and test have been discussed in TSH before, but it is good to be reminded of that in the context of the current blog article.

    • Malcolm says:

      The marshmallow test has been debunked by a new study, which found that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success.

      Don’t blame these “squatters” for choosing food (short-term reward) over schooling and other opportunities that will bear fruit in the future (long-term reward). It’s easier to delay gratification when you have the resources and financial ability to keep your family well-fed. But if you’re poor and uneducated, would you still be able to wait for that second marshmallow when everyday you’re on the brink of dying from starvation?

      The article I linked below explains my point better. I suggest you read it. The writer has some very good points.

  11. NHerrera says:

    Is it time to lay the blame on the new abusers at the helm — as the gut issues become stronger?

    Current news:

    Moody’s flags weak peso’s credit risk
    May 28, 2018 | 12:33 am

    DTI intensifies supermarket price monitoring
    Published May 27, 2018 2:52pm

    DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said:

    “Pumunta sila sa mga paboritong grocery and supermarket kasi doon talagang very stable ang presyo… Takot silang mag-increse ng above SRP dahil tinatanggal ang produkto sa shelf at hindi nila maibebenta iyon,” he said.

    Hahaha. Nice suggestion, BUT … Spend on the transport to get the can of sardines at your favorite SM Mall-grocery. In the old days, we say: “tell that to the Marines.”

    • Interesting that BSP tries to explain the risk away by suggesting it is related to the (very positive) Build Build Build infrastructure build-up. I think they are just blowing smoke, and the infrastructure program, if funded by expensive Chinese debt, is but another ticking bomb.

      • NHerrera says:

        SOME ECONOMICS 101

        A measure of GDP is

        GDP = C (Consumption) + I (Investment)+ G (Government spending) +NX (Net export = export – import)

        GDP growth this year versus last year’s may in fact increase because of massive G due to the Build, Build, Build Program even if the other items are small relative to last year’s or outright negative in the case of NX.

        A slow down or low consumption which relates to consumers reaction to price inflation may in normal circumstances be explained away by “just you wait; the good times are ahead” because of the fruits of the BBB Program. But if the situation gets worse for the tax-paying public, the BBB Program may not come to fruition, especially since now we are getting indication of the rotten products we are getting from China — in effect paying for those lemons, or else — and the corruption usually attendant to a massive, fast-paced BBB Program.

        No wonder there is some sort of scramble to mitigate or explain away the price inflation. No amount of legal mumbo-jumbo can fight gut issues — and so the likes of Pernia, Lopez, Dominguez come out of the woodwork to explain and not the usual mouthpieces

      • NHerrera says:

        Hahaha, the following news has the opposite effect on me:

        DTI: Price compliance at 100%

        If that is so, that means that the price inflation is not a figment of some “yellows” imagination; it is honest to goodness real. And so is its companion item, the deteriorating Peso exchange rate. After all, there is no such thing as Peso Exchange Rate Compliance. May be Senate President Sotto can file a bill on that.

      • chemrock says:

        In Malaysia, Mahathir’s preliminary investigation into those Chinese-funded projects revealed something he said is quite queer.

        Malaysia borrows from China, the money is parked in Chinese banks in China. The project uses Chinese companies, Chinese labour, Chinese materials. Contractors get paid accorduing to scheduled time-release of funds, not according to contract percentages of completion.

        Meanwhile in Philippines, details are not forthcoming. In view of Mahathir’s disclosure, Congress and Senate are still snoring.

        • Yes. Sneaky government, apparently destructive policies.

        • NHerrera says:

          Malaysia and Philippines are ASEAN members. Now that Mahathir is cleaning the Augean stables left by Najib et al, and revealing those critical items about Chinese-financed projects, the Philippines under normal circumstances — if quietly — should consult with Malaysia to learn more and apply these learning on our BBB Projects financed by China. But we “see no evil, speak no evil …”

  12. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: Someone I know of remarked that Prez must be watching all those episodes of The Apprentice.

  13. David C. Martinez says:

    Is there any way in the world I can get a book to you, Joe?

  14. David C. Martinez says:

    33% of them want to abuse you.
    33% of them want to be abused.
    33% want to abuse & be abused.
    The rest have yet to be identified.

  15. caliphman says:

    I would agree that Duterte and his regime have been abusive and vindictive towards Aquino, his staff and their followers. That however is not the same as calling the Philippines an abusive and also a thankless society. It is hard to escape fact that Duterte was democratically elected on a platform of change and a blind eye towards constitutional processes in getting his way.
    That the plurality of voters were swayed not by the accomplishments of the Aquino administration but by the lack of progress in solving more fundamental perenial societal problems points to a society polarized and with very different perspectives at the core. It is not unlike the situation in the US, Europe, and other supposedly less ignorant but more developed societies. It seems that the social polarization reflects less the differences between the gaves and not haves. Trumps abusive behavior towards rival candidates and opposing parties is no less vitriolic if less laced with obscenities than Duterte. To call Duterte’s lackeys and supporters abusive or ignorant is uncalled for if not downright elitist just as doing the same to Trumps followers.

    If the polls are to be believed, most of Filipino society still trust Duterte’s leadership inspite of his failed foreign policy and drug war agenda. In the US, there are those who compare Trump’s poor polls vs previous presidents. Until the even much lower polls of both Democrat and GOP parties are noted, and how Trump won the nomination and then the election becomes less a mystery.

    Which is not to say Philippine society and its political and electoral processes are seriously flawed at a time when governmental power is wielded by a tyrant and would be dictator. But it would be reliving the same basic mistake thar lost the last election for Aquino and his Straight Path agenda by not identifying and addressing the society’s deep frustrations and the need for very basic changes in the style and how the government operates.

    • If there is to be a solution, one must recognize the socio/psychological dynamics taking place. Without question, the Philippines is different in that success is not praised, but hated. There are historical, legitimate reasons. If one risks labels of ‘elitist’ or ‘yellow’ for recognizing this, then there is little hope for solution because that is exactly the problem. Condemning those looking for a better way.

      • Francis says:

        “Which is not to say Philippine society and its political and electoral processes are seriously flawed at a time when governmental power is wielded by a tyrant and would be dictator. But it would be reliving the same basic mistake thar lost the last election for Aquino and his Straight Path agenda by not identifying and addressing the society’s deep frustrations and the need for very basic changes in the style and how the government operates.“

        “If there is to be a solution, one must recognize the socio/psychological dynamics taking place. Without question, the Philippines is different in that success is not praised, but hated. There are historical, legitimate reasons. If one risks labels of ‘elitist’ or ‘yellow’ for recognizing this, then there is little hope for solution because that is exactly the problem. Condemning those looking for a better way.“

        Did the power of black propaganda—of outright deception and manipulation—play a role in getting us to this situation? Yes. The intentional abuse is undeniably present. Is this intentional abuse amplified by the force of ignorance-derived unintentional abuse. Yes. However—ignorance only makes the instrument unreasonably sensitive; ignorance makes people overly emotional or rather lack the ability to connect with their emotions (the irrational is a necessary part of our humanity) in a way that leads to a more profound understanding, which means that emotions are not bad in themselves. Emotions are tools, for lack of better term. Like logic. A way to sense and observe the world. Like a thermometer—but overly sensitive thermometers are just as unreliable as those that can’t simply register anything, right? Likewise with emotions.

        An overly sensitive thermometer must be registering something. The best lies are rooted in half-truths, or lies sprinkled with a dash of truth to hook someone in.

        There aren’t only two sources of fault—there is always three. One is intentional abuse. Another is the systemic abuse that enables the intentional. Third is the ways in which reformers and those with good intentions have failed to sufficiently address the first two.

        When I say that previous administration failed to sufficiently address the systemic issues in PH politics—I am not personally insulting the previous president. If I were to merely call PNoy names, that is maligning his name—but if I (or anyone else) were to give reasoned, logical explanations of why we think that the administration has not addressed systemic flaws im PH society, and how that has partially contributed to the situation we find ourselves in, then that’s constructive criticism.

        We cannot—should not—put those even with the best intentions on a pedestal. Democracy doesn’t end—it is an ever-continuing process that we do.

        If there is a reason why I admire the Left—it is their relentless drive to improve themselves. Often, the stereotype of the Left is Stalin or Mao—when in fact, the thought and practice of the Left is far more diverse than that. There are anarcho-socialists, there are democratic socialists, there are syndicalists, there are some social democrats who sometimes move a bit more leftwards—plenty diversity.

        This diversity is because the Left as whole is remarkable for the self-criticism that it engages in. While I have only skimmed a very tiny piece of the iceberg—I will say that a good chunk (maybe a majority) of leftist thought is dedicated to revisiting a particular incident, period, place, individual or group and asking what they got wrong, what they got right, and how their lessons (flaws and successes) could better the revolution in the present. I’ve heard of the Monty Python skit on the “Judean Liberation Front” and while it is true that this self-criticism has the downside of resulting in squabbling grouos dividing in squabbling factions—it is at the same time this self-criticism that has ensured the vitality of leftist thought.

        Look who are the only guys (besides Macron) who can compete with the overly nationalistic, inward-looking, proto-fascist right. Now, I don’t fully agree with the Left—I much prefer a class reconciliation (albeit one biased towards the marginalized, not the elite) rather than class warfare as much more sustainable model and ideal for ensuring justice—but I think (and I sincerely wish) that moderates and reformers, liberals and what-have-you would take a good look at the Left and “steal” (in the Steve Jobs sense) some good of their best methods.

        I think Filipino Liberalism could use a healthy degree of self-criticism right about now. A serious questioning of where EDSA got wrong—where the previous administration got wrong—and how to move on from there. Let us not put these on a pedestal. The highest tribute that we can pay to the spirit of EDSA, to the well-intentioned reformists that have done their very best given their knowledge and circumstances, is to treat them seriously. Even for the sake of unity, we must not put them on a pedestal—for what can result is a unity that is facile, a unity that ultimately will fade; my personal interpretation of EDSA is that, in focusing too much on the Anti-Marcos, the Anti-Dictatorship aspect, it failed to sufficiently reflect on what should come after the dictatorship.

        Above unity, is meaningfulness.

        Will this result in pro-administration bloggers taking things out of proportion and welding lies to truths in order to deceive. Maybe. Ignore them. They are blind. What matters is the nation, and that requires serious thinking—something more than “he said, she said” telenovela gossip.

        • Francis says:


          I think one useful way of deepening critical discussion is to make things less personal. The Government of President Aquino is not just President Aquino. The Government of President Duterte is not just President Duterte. A government is more than one man,

          A thought that just occured to me is that it might be a good idea—if we are to discuss the systemic issues of governance—to refer to administrations and not to presidents. Referring to presidents personalizes things, makes things too personal. Referring to administrations allows for an objectivity—as well as an intrinsic recognitions that governance, good and bad, is a team effort.

        • Francis says:


          As the Ancients put it, “Know thyself.”

        • Today’s blog article addresses an aspect of this. You may want to copy-paste this comment in that article. It is a perfect fit.

    • NHerrera says:

      I lifted these phrases from caliphman’s post:

      … lack of progress in solving more fundamental perenial societal problems … not identifying and addressing the society’s deep frustrations and the need for very basic changes in the style and how the government operates

      The important thought in those phrases if I recall right has been a subject of repeated discussions over several blog articles here. And was offered by many as well as caliphman as to why Duterte rather than Aquino’s Anointed was preferred by the voters in a democratic election.

      It may be early days yet but if Duterte is not able to identify, address and solve the fundamental perennial PH societal problems then we will be back to square one. While we are not at the end of the grace period, the corollary question is: is his style of governance, including the obsessive reliance on the Chinese, particularly The Leader for Life, Xi, who Duterte cannot find any wrong, conducive to finally solving our fundamental societal problem?

  16. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:


    Or when treason teaches the reaches of reason looks the same, to those who fail to heed its tragic consequences. And ends up chewing Shakespeare’s to be or not to be by Hamlet; or Mark Anthony’s oratory:
    O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
    And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
    My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
    And I must pause till it come back to me.

    It ain’t that simple this Noynoy’s tuwid na daan’s salience and relevance to pluralistic politics. Extraneous concerns becloud the SC Justices and President Noy’s search for the holy grail of Jeremy Bentham’s the greatest happiness (or good) for the greatest number. For poisoning the minds of the youth, a jury of 500 Athenians sentenced tit for tat Socrates to take his own life by drinking the poison hemlock.

    Rizal was shot for treason for advocating peaceful change and unarmed revolution. The road of history is littered with decibels of intellectual backfires. Just hours ago it might turn out to be that it is not a backlash but more of backfire to Putin patriotic intentions what happened to that Malaysian jet that flew to kingdom come 298 innocent passengers.

    President B Aquino III may have or had violated the constitution and must be impeached. The justices may have or had effectively stopped or scuttled billion pesos worth of multi-purpose development projects and can be accused of economic sabotage. In government treason is the pernicious HIV that comes in the night unexpectedly to the high and mighty. That brings me to the head of this cranial exercise: WHEN REASON TEACHES THE REACHES OF TREASON Or when treason teaches the reaches of reason. Let the opinions of the netizens of cyberspace in their blogs and whatever, let the climbers of social networks connect to join the distant dots of reason and treason. Let the storm of opinion wreck havoc to the lies of greed and anger.
    Why wait for the devastation?

    Simple lang naman. Ah. Why can’t these guys of SEPARATED POWERS and CO-EQUAL BRANCH, neverminding the constitution, come together, sit down and blah blah for hours and Just for what is just for the country, eat or shovel the bull shit? And for those outsiders, stakeholders let the mighty sun shine on to ashes the vampires salivating for the wealth of the poor.

    I know, I know it is like throwing a punch to the moon this the journalist who suggested that top honchos of UN, Hamas, and Israel could and should sit down to stop the carnage. I know too that when reason and treason loses the pull of gravity, weightless the astronauts can go to the moon.

    N.B. the above was posted on a blog on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 7:13 AM. A double read and think about it, time and events have not really made it obsolescent.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      IN THOUGHTS and in words I like to read and interpret this piece as: THE PHILIPPINES AN ABUSED SOCIETY.

      Lots of eche bucheche stretch and spin comes to mind:

      There will be no abusers if there are no willing ABUSED.

      Who are the abusers? and the abused? And Why?


      The Extravagance of Abusers: The Subservience of the Abused

      When Governing is Really Abusing

      How EDSA Fertilized Subsequent Abuse in Philippine Society

      The Bureaucracy as Instrument of Abuse


      Political Dynasties’ Role in Benevolent Abuses

      No, No, No, Noooo. Those and That’s not a pitch at all for radicalism or revolt against an established government but merely a jolly way of thinking outside the political box.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        In the present state of circumstances, I can deduce an abundance of innocent ignorance against the preponderance of malicious smarts in the society. A plenitude of ignorance dominated by seeming scarcity of cleverness could indeed result in an abused society which could be evident in the history of pernicious underdevelopment.

  17. David C. Martinez says:

    As social creatures we are obligated, to the extent we can, to seek knowledge, especially when it serves or promotes the common good. As God’s children, we are morally responsible, however much or little learning we each actually acquire, for what we choose to do with it.

  18. LG says:

    AMEN to this and prior posts🙏.

  19. Jojo says:

    Very well written article and so true! I pity my country. No wonder this country never progresses. It has degraded. Gone are the golden days when Magsaysay was president when the Philippines was the pearl of the orient … it has now become the trash dump of Asia.

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