Idolatry: The Roots of the Duterte Phenomenon

“The Adoration of the Golden Calf” – Nicolas Poussin (1633-4)

By Edgar Lores

“Idolatry is really not good for anyone. Not even the idols.”
— John Bach


We have speculated a great deal about the possible causes of the Philippine cultural malaise.

We know that a social disease complex, like an individual one, has many causes. A human disease can be physical or mental. It can be caused by hereditary (or genetic) factors, by infection, by deficiency, by physiological factors, by psychological factors, or by environmental factors.

If we were to construct a taxonomy of the factors for our cultural malaise, one that runs parallel to human disease factors, we might arrive at a matrix similar to Figure 1.

Figure 1. Partial Taxonomy of Cultural Malaise Factors

Here, in this partial taxonomy, I have classified the factors into six domains:

A. Physical factors
B. Hereditary factors
C. Infection factors
D. Institutional factors
E. Deficiency factors
F. Environmental factors

In this essay, I would like to add another factor to our national ailment. This is a psychological factor that I would locate under the domain of “E. Deficiency factors.”

This factor is idolatry.

My thesis is that idolatry is at the root of the Duterte phenomenon. It is the reason for our personality-based politics. It is the reason why the halls of power are populated with movie and television stars, basketball stars, putschists, and a boxing champion.

Idolatry is an affective disorder of the Filipino, one that rules his heart and benumbs his mind.

We are a nation of idolaters. And we worship different idols. As a consequence, the nation is a battleground of devotees holding high the images of disparate gods and fake demigods. And it is not uncommon for the fake demigods to claim divine status.

Accordingly, I would like to explore this factor in some depth. My discussion will cover the following subtopics:

  1. Idolatry and its Causes
  2. Split-Level Christianity
  3. Idolatry and the Loyalty Triangle
  4. The Unraveling of Idolatry

It is quite simple. Whether we are religious or not, we all have idols. As a religionist, we might revere Saint Francis. As a non-religionist, we might revere Stephen Curry or Roger Federer. I don’t know about you, but I revere Serena Williams. She is a badass.

Idolatry and its Causes

On second thought, I might relocate idolatry to the domain of “B. Hereditary Factors” because idolatry is as old as, if not older than, the Old Testament.

The dictionary defines idolatry as “the worship of idols.”

And an idol is “an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.” A secondary meaning is “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.”

In Exodus Chapter 32 of the Holy Bible, we read that the Israelites created a golden calf when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to commune with the Lord. He stayed there for 40 days and 40 nights. According to the Book, it was Moses’ brother Aaron who fashioned the molten calf.

Idolatry in itself is a disease, as well as a cause of our national malaise and, as such, it is multifactorial.

In Verse 1, we read: “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” [1] [Bolding mine.]

From this verse, we can deduce three causes which I will list in the sequence they are presented.

  • The first cause is the need to belong. This can be found in the first emboldened phrase: “the people gathered themselves together.”
  • The second cause is the need to connect to a higher entity (or reality). This is found in the first clause of the second emboldened phrase: “make us gods.”
  • And the third cause is the need to be guided. This can be found in the last clause of the second emboldened phrase: “which shall go before us.” Further support is found in the last emboldened phrase: “the man that brought us up out of the land [of Egypt].

If I were to rearrange the three causes in bottom-up fashion according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I would sort it this way:

  • Tertiary cause – the need to be guided
  • Secondary cause – the need to belong
  • Primary cause – the need to connect to a higher entity

The need to be guided belongs to the second stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy. It is a Safety Need. It is the need to be shielded from the disorder of native existence.

The need to belong belongs to the third stage. It is a Psychological Need. It is the need for a man, as a social animal, to be a part of a group.

And the need to connect to a higher entity belongs to the fifth stage. It is a Self-actualization Need. It is the need to realize the full potential of — and, at the same time, transcend — the self.

I submit that self-actualization is, or becomes, the primary cause because motivation increases as lower-stage needs are met.

(Parenthetically, I feel that Maslow’s Hierarchy is incomplete. I have classified the third need as a Self-actualization Need. However, it properly belongs to a sixth stage: Self-transcendence. This additional stage would incorporate Eastern religious concepts into the Hierarchy. It would be the equivalent of Buddhist enlightenment or nirvana wherein the notion of the self is discarded. This is not the nirvana-after-death, the cessation of rebirth, but the nirvana-in-life, the release from desire and suffering. [2])

Idolatry, in essence, is the transmundane yearning to rise above the earth and to reach to the skies. It is an expression of our innate divine impulse.

And yet, because idolatry is the substitution of a graven image — in this case, a golden calf — for the real God, it is a perversion of the divine impulse. A transient reality is substituted – indeed, exchanged — for the Absolute Reality. The ridiculous is substituted for the sublime.

Here again, as we have observed before, when we arrive at the bottom of things, we are met with paradox.

After Aaron had made the golden calf, he built an altar before it and, in Verse 5, he proclaimed: “To morrow is a feast to the Lord.” [1]

Verse 6 continues: “And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” [1]

In this verse, it is revealed the Israelites began to celebrate and honor the golden calf as a real God. Without any sense of honor or horror, they have taken an image of a cloven-hoofed animal to be their new God. They have reverted to pagan ways and cast away their true God who led them out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea. In so doing, they have entered into a state of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.“

This brings us to split-level Christianity.

Split-Level Christianity

Fr. Jaime Bulatao wrote his ground-breaking essay, “Split-Level Christianity,” in 1966 before the theory of “cognitive dissonance” came into vogue. The theory was developed in the 1950s.

In his essay, Fr. Bulatao observed a phenomenon which he described as the “coexistence within the same person of two or more thought-and-behavior systems which are inconsistent with each other.” [3]

The two incongruent systems he referred to are Christianity, on one hand, and paganism, on the other hand. He theorized that the systems existed as two layers. The Christian half was the top level and the pagan half was the lower level.

He explained that the existence of the incongruence in one person was unconscious, and that the split could remain together yet separate because “Learning is specific to a situation.” By this, he meant that the stimuli and the behavioral responses on each level were specific to their own milieu. The milieu for the top level was the home, school or church setting while that for the bottom level was the street setting.

His essay is replete with examples but one suffices:

“Hence, students can agree in class that bribery is wrong and after class pay the policeman a five-peso bill to be let-off a speeding charge (five pesos is the accepted fine for students, one or two pesos for jeepney drivers)”.

My critique of Fr. Bulatao’s model begins with the agreement that his basic observation of the phenomenon is indisputable. We see this today in many Filipino Christians’ acceptance of Duterte’s decidedly unchristian Drug War.

I would also agree that the incongruent systems are layered, with Christianity being the top layer. Christianity is the thin veneer that hitherto has concealed the pre-Hispanic pagan substratum of the Filipino psyche. Under the Drug War, the substratum has broken through the veneer and has emerged in all its ugly gore and glory.

However, I am not quite convinced the split is a result of separate situational learning. Most of Fr. Bulatao’s examples are selective, geared to show the Christianity/paganism dichotomy mostly occurring in two different settings, home/school/church vs. street. But some of his examples occur within the one setting, such as:

  • No. 4 about students learning statistics in school and fudging their input research data. [3]
  • No. 7 about college girls who cheat on examinations in ethics class. [3]

It is easy to imagine dissonances, not necessarily of the Christianity/ paganism kind, taking place within the same setting. I would draw your attention to Supreme Court justices honoring the country in Monday morning flag ceremonies. Then retiring to their chambers to write ponencias that shred the Constitution and are inimical to the nation’s future.

Finally, I am not convinced the split is at all unconscious. Although Fr. Bulatao does not use the term, his explanation is an invocation of the defense mechanism of compartmentalization.

Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism that allows “conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgment and interaction between separate compartmentalized self-states.” [4]

In the Drug War, it is hardly credible that people are not consciously aware of the corpses in the street with their heads wrapped in duct tape and their bodies defiled by carton placards that warn, “Huwag tularan”. I am more inclined to accept the defense mechanisms of denial and rationalization. Indeed, one will hear the following justifications:

  • In the case of denial:
    • “The drug crisis is a criminal issue and not a health issue.”
  • In the case of rationalization:
    • “Nanlaban.” (“The drug addict had a gun and resisted.”)
    • “The barangay is quieter.”
    • “The streets are safer and I can walk them at night.”

It may be that compartmentalization is an acceptable explanation for Fr. Bulatao’s relatively moderate examples. Clearly, it is not adequate to account for the extreme dissonance revealed by the murderous Drug War.

It is true Fr. Bulatao concedes that there are “special cases in whom the unconscious has become conscious.” He questions whether the individuals in these cases can still be called “split-level Christians” or just even Christians at all.

In other words, “Are cafeteria Catholics true Catholics? Are they Christians?”

There may be no objective way of resolving the question. We can only go by the subjective assessment of the individual believer. All we can do from our observation post is to observe that the disparities in the dissonance are one of scale ranging from a small gap to a chasm.

Whether the split is a small gap of, say, cheating on an exam or the chasm of the Drug War, I now proffer the alternative hypothesis of idolatry.

This brings us to my theory of the Loyalty Triangle.

The Loyalty Triangle

In my essay “The Moral Landscape: Part 1 – The Three Primary Virtues,” I described a model of basic human interactions. [5] It was my thesis that the geometry of the Three Primary Virtues (TPV) – namely Loyalty, Honor, and Duty – underpinned our actions and behavior with each other. I stated that in the social environment:

  • We choose to interact with various social constructs which form our Hierarchy of Loyalties.
  • We interact with our chosen constructs and navigate through life within the bounds of the Primary Virtues.
  • That the Primary Virtues are not virtues per se but can be vices. They are the glue that binds a family. But the family can be a nuclear family of parents and children or a criminal one of a boss and gangsters.
    • Because of this, I have alternatively referred to the TPV as the Loyalty Triangle.

It is part of my thesis that the dynamics of idolatry revolve around the Loyalty Triangle.

I postulate that idolatry is a process comprised of several stages:

  1. Initiation
  2. Binding
  3. Contagion

At this juncture, let me requote Verse 6 so we may have a closer look at the first three stages: “And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” [1]

From the perspective of the Triangle, idolatry is an offshoot of external honoring.

  • We first develop an admiration for an idol due to his possession of a unique and attractive quality. Perhaps, because like the golden calf, he (or it) is golden. Or because like Duterte he is not. Duterte’s admirable quality is supposed to be his “authenticity” – a euphemism for crassness. This is the Initiation stage.
  • In turn, admiration progresses into honoring the idol. In the verse, the bestowal of burnt offerings and peace offerings are acts of honor. This is the Binding stage.
  • In a final turn, honoring proceeds to acts of loyalty that become duty. In the verse, the mystic acts of shared eating, drinking, and playing are the beginning of ritualistic acts of loyalty and duty. This is the Contagion stage. (Note that in our times, social media has been instrumental in this stage. I would hazard that Fr. Bulatao would consider soc-med as part of the street milieu. But is it?)

Please understand I am not suggesting that rituals of honor, loyalty, and duty are of themselves idolatrous. Rituals are powerful spiritual practices that can be performed in celebration of a true God or of an idol. Or of our chosen constructs.

As time passes and the rituals are performed regularly, the rituals accrete upon the foundations of the Loyalty Triangle. This is analogous to masons laying bricks to build a wall – a façade, really. Eventually, a three-sided pyramid, a tetrahedron, is constructed. And at the pinnacle, we lovingly place our idol.

Behold! We have built – not an altar like Aaron — but a pedestal for our idol.

The mortar that binds the bricks is a mixture of ingredients of needs and forces. We have mentioned two needs earlier. The first is the safety need to be guided. This gives us security. The second is the psychological need to belong. This gives us status.

As to forces, there prevail different measures of Love, Trust, and Power.

  • Love is the dopamine of idolatry. It is the addictive agent. It is bilateral between the devotees and the idol. I should qualify that and say seemingly bilateral because on occasion Duterte has poured scorn on his followers, saying “Naniwala naman kayo.
  • Trust is faith in the capability of the idol. Unlike needs, it is a positive glue. It is unilateral, arising from the devotees and directed towards the idol. The idol will delegate and entrust certain tasks to his inner circle, some (or many or all) of whom may betray the trust of the devotees.
  • Power is a goal and a byproduct of idolatry. It is multilateral. Devotees feel empowered. While the idol possesses power in his unique quality, in reality, the major portion of his power emanates from his supporters. Ultimately, power is the goal of the idol. Once acquired, the idol will share it with his inner circle.

We know idolatry assumes many forms, tangible and intangible. We may idolize stones, people, and wealth. We idolize the latter both for itself and for the things it can buy.

In Duterte’s case, he seems to idolize power and to be affected with the messiah complex. For him, power is the only thing deserving respect. Not laws. Not language. Not women. Consequently, he worships the political and economic power of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. At the same time, he fears and cowers before the moral power of various organizations and upright women.

At bottom, split-level Christianity can be explained in a way that unites Fr. Bulatao’s and my understanding:

Religion can be practiced at various levels between the extremes of a ritualistic level and an existential level. There is a core of believers who practice their religion as a living truth. For them, theory (or faith) and practice are one. Then there is a spread of believers who cling to their religion as a convenient but dead truth. Faith is more — and mere — theory rather than practice. These latter are idolaters.

For idolaters, there is no essential difference between religious idols and political idols because the tenets of the faith are not lived day in and day out. In the exigencies of daily life, the political idol may overshadow the religious idol.

Both types of idolatries are rooted in separation from an inner spirituality and are instances of spiritual death.

The Unraveling of idolatry

In the above section, I listed the first three stages of idolatry. I would add two more:

4. De-contagion
5. Unbinding

De-contagion can take many forms. It can occur from the side of the devotee or the side of the idol.

  • Disillusionment is the usual path for many a devotee. By slow revelation or instant epiphany, the emperor is finally seen to be naked.
  • Self-destruction is the usual path for an idol. The emperor openly displays his nakedness.
  • Destruction of the idol by external forces. This is the toppling of the emperor.
  • Rejection, other than from disillusionment, can come from either the devotee or the idol. An example of this is the emasculation of Duterte in recent times by nonresponsive audiences.
  • Death can occur at the individual level or a group level. For a devotee, the death of a family member or an acquaintance may turn him against the idol. For an idol, death may diminish him or make him larger than life.

Unbinding is the final abandonment of the idol by the devotee. It may be acknowledged privately or publicly. [6]

The idol — the Lodi! — is no more.

The de-contagion of the idolatry of the golden calf was a bloodbath. Allow me to paraphrase verses 20 through 28:

Moses took the golden calf, burned it, pulverized it into powder, mixed it with water, and made the Israelites drink the concoction.

Then he asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” And the sons of Levi gathered at his side.

Then he ordered the sons of Levi to “slay every man his brother and every man his companion and every man his neighbor.” And on that day about three thousand men perished.

Idolatry is one of the greatest sins. Its prohibition is emblazoned as the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

And even as God allowed Moses to lead the people into the Promised Land, He still visited the people with their sin and plagued them.


As the third year of Duterte’s term begins, the de-contagion stage of the Duterte phenomenon has also begun. He is besieged on many fronts. Anecdotally, disillusionment is rife.

Do we detect strands of dismay and futility emanating from the presidential idol?

On June 26, speaking before thousands of newly-elected barangay captains and reacting to the results of a survey on criminality, Duterte said, “Pag ganito, wala akong silbi. I’ll ask you to join me. Mag-resign na lang tayo.

He has uttered the threat – and the promise — to resign many times.

But he has 4 more years to go. Four long years. Thus, the madness is still upon us. It will continue. And it still has to be played out in full.





186 Responses to “Idolatry: The Roots of the Duterte Phenomenon”
  1. arlene says:

    Those deficiency and institutional factors say a lot on what is happening now but everything on that list contribute to it. Thank you for the resourceful take and summarizing them beautifully Edgar. Good morning to all!

    • edgar lores says:

      Arlene, As we say here in Oz, G’day!

      All the factors in the list come from discussions here in The Society, either directly or tangentially. As Joe Am remarked, “We have been busy.”

      I am sorry to add another factor to the list… but all adds up to the raising of awareness. And awareness is a seed of the prevention of a disease.

      • arlene says:

        And awareness is a seed of the prevention of a disease….How true! Some of us are too complacent to react and act. Duterte’s ways are not ours. He thinks he could do everything while he is in power. so really, really sad.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Lodi! Joke lang.

  3. madlanglupa says:

    From observation, there are seemingly endless instances of people surreptitiously cheating or stealing in a chronically impoverished society, the “survival of the fittest”, if only because (a) they want that diploma no matter how, so better the chances of being employed and to acquire heightened social status; (b) to earn more money, such as violating traffic rules if only to achieve the “boundary” or getting out of inconvenience.

    Another observation is that many of us are often focused on family-first before everything, literally.

    • edgar lores says:

      Indirectly, these activities of cheating, stealing, acquiring social status, and violating laws may be laid at the foot of idolatry.

      What is the primary reason that we cheat, steal, acquire status, and break laws?

      One reason would be to gain wealth. And wealth may be a form of idolatry… if we pursue it for its own sake, for power, or for status.

      We have to careful here. Getting rich is not, in and of itself, idolatry. Whether on the personal level or the national level. Indeed, a prescription suggested here in The Society is to have the ambition to attain prosperity. And, having attained prosperity, we may share it with others selflessly.

      But the means that we employ to attain prosperity (or to avoid poverty) and the ways in which we use that prosperity are paths that are laden with moral pitfalls.

  4. NHerrera says:

    It is interesting to me that members of the Senate who early in Duterte’s Presidency displayed rather blatantly their idolatrous behavior [ref, EJK Hearings], now display some “unbinding.” But not so members of the Lower House. Is this because — with exception of course — the Senate members have generally higher IQs than their counterparts in the House?

    It’s about time SWS or Pulse Asia publish their second quarter trust rating of Duterte. Let us see if there is also a significant “unbinding” of the general mass to the idolatry of Duterte.

    I like the chart of the taxonomy of Philippine cultural malaise and the blog article itself. Thanks, edgar.

    • edgar lores says:

      That is an interesting speculation as to whose IQ is higher. Absent the conduct of a mass IQ exam, I am not prepared to say one way or another.

      1. The Senate EJK hearings are balanced by the House Sereno impeachment hearings in their crudity.
      2. The slavishness of both houses was equal in their refusal to convene to review the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
      3. It may be that the Lower House may indeed have a lower IQ average than the Senate, but one cannot discount, in my opinion, the negative effect of Senator Pacquiao’s IQ on the Upper House average.

      The second quarter poll results for the year are due out this month. Will there be a significant proof of unbinding? Again, it is hard to say. I anticipated a big drop way back at the start of 2017. It didn’t happen. But no doubt the President is feeling the heat.

      • chemrock says:

        (3) I know this very well.
        Ten years in school, my report card (3 terms a year) have been very consistent for my Chinese paper. It’s always in Red and below 20/100. The last entry was 7/100. Not only I gave up, my dad gave up as well. It seemed I could beat my classmates in most subjects, so I’m one up on them by a 2,3, or 4 marks in other subjects. When it come to Chines I lost to everybody by 50 to 70 marks. No wonder I was always at the bottom end of class. I attribute my poor standard in class to the Pacquaio factor.

        • edgar lores says:

          Ahaha! There must be a “law” describing this factor.

          If not, we will call it eponymously as Pacquiao’s Principle. And we will define it as “An entity, individual or collective, with an accepted or designated superior status will always score higher than other entities… unless the former is highly deficient in one instance.

  5. josephivo says:

    The complexity of peoples thinking and believing is so monolithic or diverse depending on so many factors, so plastic or so rigid, brains wired differently reacting in different degrees on different chemicals. Stories are necessary to make sense, to give a feel what the non-existing average is thinking and believing, ideally to give an indication of the variability too. I like Edgars theory of idolatry a lot, it makes me think, understand.

    Idolatry can also be seen on a timeline. From ape to homo sapiens, then hunter-gatherer to semi-cyborg due to a progression of ideas and associated a progression of available tools. The need for an alfa male to lead a strong troop. The recognition of our consciousness and parallel the spirits inhabiting all living things, even all objects surrounding us. The need to see hierarchic structures in our new city civilizations and consequently in the spiritual world, Gods as the leading spirits. Ever greater challenges requiring pharaohs and emperors and subsequently a dominant deity. Eventually real science, the enlightenment, constitutions and the centrality of the individual, religion on an existential level. People living in the past are perceived as adhering to idols.

    (Bulls and calves. Bulls have a long history. In the oldest known temples of Gobekli Tepe, 14,000 years ago and predating agriculture, statues of bulls indicate that they were worshiped already. This archeological site in Turkey seems to indicate that religion might have been the cause of agriculture rather than the result. Large ceremonies on the top of a hill, venerating powerful idols attracting hunter-gatherers from for away required a lot of food hence domestication of plants and animals. The golden calf in the bible, a calf has the promise of becoming a bull. The statue of a bull on Wall Street. And the masculine power of our president.)

    • edgar lores says:

      The Old Testament is said to have taken place between 2000 BC – 400 BC. Gobekli Tepe predates it. So, yes, if a bull relief was found on a pillar on the archeological site, then one might say that idolatry is older than the Old Testament.

      The historical timeline is horizontal. The other observation is that the spirits inhabit all living things. Spiritually, the divine impulse connects the Seen to the Unseen. It is a vertical vector. As I have observed, idolatry is a perversion of that vertical vector.

      People in the past practiced paganism. Paganism is associated with polytheism, the worship of many gods and idols. So paganism is a form of idolatry. But the practice of revering many gods and idols can be seen to be extant in almost all monotheistic and non-theistic religions. It is also extant in politics.

      • josephivo says:

        What I mean is that in science often new discoveries make the old approach to pseudo-science: astrology, alchemy, psychoanalysis… The same happens with approaches to religion, the old ones called idolatry: practices of spiritism, practices of polytheism, the formal temple rules and the white beard of the patriarchal God in the Old Testament…

        How Filipinos look at politics, the way of organizing society, is an old fashion way, practiced in pre-democratic, pre-role of law societies. The “king”, the wise ruler who will take care of us, the father who will correct the deviating citizens. A sense of eternity, it is the nature of things noting will/can change, my place in society is a given, a state of being, not of doing.

        • edgar lores says:

          Agree. It is granted that most Filipinos look at society in an old-fashioned way. But eventually and hopefully, we will catch up with modern notions of constitutions, human rights, and the worth of the individual.

          We have a long way to go. Not only Filipinos but the whole world. Neuroscience began barely three scores ago in the 1960’s.

          Religion (or spirituality), as an existential concern, as a truth to live by, has always been true for certain individuals throughout history.

          I believe individual consciousness is rising as partly evidenced by many people become nones … not in a cynical way but in an earnest way of evaluating and revaluing their lives.

  6. Early religions that had animal-headed Gods like the Egyptian Horus and the Indian Ganesha.

    Clearly the beginning, where agriculture brought people together into larger settlements.

    Former hunter-gatherers started hunting each other, vied for control of agricultural areas.

    Where the flow of the two rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) was unstable, constant war.

    Where the flow of one river was stable, men began to call themselves God-Kings = Pharaohs.


    One Pharaoh decided to do away with the many gods and worship only the disc of the sun = Aton.

    Echnaton may have inspired the Jews who were once Egypt’s slaves to worship only one God.

    Moses tried to do away with idolatry = the first step towards a higher degree of abstraction.


    Only Muslims and Protestants follow that degree of abstraction to the fullest = no images!

    Thus the beautiful calligraphy of mosques, but also the sternness of Protestant churches.

    Catholic churches with their saints and Orthodox churches with their icons look “friendlier”.

    • Catholicism always gave space to older rituals as a way of assimilating new populations.

      I read somewhere that traditional Marian practices originate from the Roman cult of Minerva.

      Likewise, there is a special “Ascension of Mary” holiday in Bavaria and Austria = August 15.

      PLANTS, of all things, are brought to church to be blessed. Late August is also harvest time.

      The assimilation of an older goddess of fertility and harvest, the curvy stone-age figurine?


      I know less of Orthodoxy, but most icons are of Jesus or of Mary, and of high quality.

      The older ones in the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul are striking even in their faded glory.

      Early Romanesque churches also have the Byzantine style “Christos Pantokrator” (All-Ruler)

      • Saints in the Philippines have an ambivalent status. The one most beloved in the Black Nazarene – possibly because he is not white and blonde like the other saints?

        It is known that some Katipuneros chopped off the noses of saints – was MRP among them?

        God made man in his own image, but MRP and the likes of him may think – why do the santos look even more white than mestizos? Did God make only the white man in his image. Are we brown-skinned and flat-nosed people not also children of God?


        So the Filipino made God in his own image and called him Digong.

        Digong at some point decided to ask for proof of “Diyos”. Possibly he did only mean the Catholic God, like Mocha said. The American God worshipped by Manny is “Si Lord”.

        How can Diyos or Dios be Lord? Go into any church and you will see that Diyos looks different from Lord. Lord looks like Joe America.


        Abstract concepts are far from abstract in the Philippines. They are personified.

        Cory Aquino personifies democracy – another split-level Filipino concept in practice.

        Digong is the anti-Cory. He demands human sacrifices. Unlike the Abraham’s God who told him to untie his eldest son. And very much unlike the God that sacrificed his own Son for humanity. And those who are tempted by the snake land in Camp Crame, like Senator Leila.

        • edgar lores says:

          1. Ahaha! “Lord looks like Joe America.”

          2. “He [Digong] demands human sacrifices.” This notion seems to be embedded in the human psyche. In the past, it was to bring rain for bountiful harvests or to pacify angry elements of Nature such as volcanos, earthquakes, and storms. Now, in the Philippines, it is to bring a measure of community peace and order.

    • edgar lores says:

      Yes, Catholicism is friendlier.

      I think idolatry is in the eyes of the beholder. I believe all religions practice idolatry in one form or another. That is, they revere something other than the spiritual path that is defined by the tenets of their religion.

      Protestant churches may carry no graven images (other than Jesus) but Trump has the support of evangelical Protestantism. There are several hypotheses why this is so. To me, the explanation is idolatry. That is, the adoration of a person (or a thing) that is not representative of their religion.

    • josephivo says:

      “where agriculture brought people together into larger settlements.”

      Gobekli Tepe seems to indicate the opposite: Were people came together in larger numbers, agriculture became necessary. This large size settlement predates agriculture by a few thousand years and indicates ritual gatherings and veneration of ancestor spirits and the spirits of large animal prey, cattle, soon to be domesticated.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    @edgar8lores, @ Irineo, @Gian;
    @chempoo is requesting assistance about exlanation of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.

  8. karlgarcia says:

    How can analyzing the idolatry phenomenon different from labeling the Duterte supporters as 16 Million bobotantes Dutertertards.

    I mean JoaAm appealed that this blog stay away from the approach.

    Is it because it was done in an expletive free manner, the approach is now different?

    Just asking, I know everything can be explained.

    Sup was cautioned for his passion, but his passion has implications that may lead to the shutting down of the blog totally.

    How do we proceed?
    Am I overreacting?

    • Hmmmm, name-calling among participants in the conversations here should be avoided lest the forum begin to look like others where the conversation is people flaming one another and there is precious little real discussion. That said, insults can even be an aid to understanding, sometimes, like to declare the senate to be of deficient IQ. Those are opinions and we are being truthful, to our views. I particularly don’t like when two contributors are flinging insults at one another. It is a form of fallacious argument. Hey, let’s rise above that.

      The topics that need to be avoided here are those that depart from discussion and go to a ‘call for action’ in the political arena. I can’t be a party to that. So readers have choices. Go to other forums to do those action calls, or try it here, and I will stop the blog because I am not interested in testing the magnanimity of Immigration.

      I work hard to stay on my side of the line, free speech, without crossing to the forbidden zone, political activism. On Twitter, I will not retweet some good tweets because the user goes by “Impeach Duterte”. I don’t re-tweet or even push ‘like’ on ‘resist’ tweets. And on FB, I urge contributors to take their action calls to a different forum. I also tend to avoid criticizing President Duterte directly as he is the duly elected Head of State, and that seems somehow to denigrate the idea of sovereign choice for Filipinos.

      I recognize that the lines may look fuzzy at times, but it is what it must be.

      • Also, on Twitter when people group-tag me with others (generally ‘yellow’ opinion leaders), I ask them not to do that as I belong to no group and they are implying an association. On FB, I get enrolled in activist groups, and I withdraw from all of them. I’m an individual, respectful and appreciative of the right to live in the Philippines, with a conscience, an enjoyment of writing, and the right to speak. That’s all.

    • edgar lores says:

      It’s different because we are observing in a general way that Filipinos are idolaters and not discriminating against a specific group of idolaters.

      We are observing dispassionately as Fr. Bulatao did when he coined the phrase “split-level Christianity.”

      And to a great extent, the phenomenon is widespread. The phenomenon is as true for PNoy supporters and Sereno supporters as it is for Duterte supporters. It is true for persons who worship wealth, fame, celebrities, cars and other forms of idolatry. I would describe the phenomenon in simple terms as adoration without hardly any qualification. Or almost total unconditional adoration.

      This is when a person (or object) is considered more important than principles. Everything that the person does is right and his words and deeds are beyond question and beyond criticism. Or, if not, are justified beyond reason such that improper acts of commission and omission that are carried out in his name are normalized. That person is raised to the status of a god or demigod — an idol.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thanks, Edgar!

      • sonny says:

        Note to me: terms like idolatry and oligarchy are non-starters since these terms are mere place-holders or reference pointers to things not fully explained or understood. Oftentimes anyway. Much appreciated for this take-away, edgar.

        • sonny says:


          Greetings to Joe and the TSH!
          Just got back from a trip to God’s Nature (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Mt Rushmore & the Badlands of So. Dakota, the Great Plains). I wish this blessing on everyone. 🙂

          • That is beautiful country, for sure. Waterfalls, geysers, bears and wolves. Lakes and mountains. You are making me a tad homesick for my younger days in Colorado where the deer and antelope still roam.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Nice places to imagine, if we had met in Manila, I could dare ask you to email me some pictures.

            • sonny says:

              Karl, no.2 son took all the pictures of the trip. You know how much I’d like to share those pics with friends. I would as soon as he makes them “sendable.” He drove most of the 3400 miles we covered by car, all told.

              @ Edgar, it’s thank you on how you populated the mystery with range and clarity.

              @ Joe, ‘tho much slowed down by arthritic joints, our spirits soared high at the sights you mentioned. The human spirit at the faces of Rushmore side by side with the indomitable Chief Crazy Horse memorial to the Native Americans will not be denied.

        • edgar lores says:

          Sonny, thanks.

          We grapple with the mysteries. To the extent that we try to inquire in order to understand and be enlightened, then we are allowed and validated.

  9. madlanglupa says:

    OT: It is time for us to begin dissecting this… draft document of the proposed Constitution.

    Click to access 20180709-con-com-final.pdf

    • karlgarcia says:


      Unleash the Beef! More cow jokes, please!

    • Thank you for this link. I am unlikely to do a blog on the topic, but someone else can. Or it can be brought into any discussion as an open forum. If I were a voter, I’d vote no because I do not believe the process does anything for the people, does a lot for the authorities it empowers, is very, very expensive, and I don’t trust the motives for federalism. Local regions and governments can be empowered under existing laws, and having a transition commission headed by President Duterte is absolutely unacceptable. I understand AFP is no longer cited as the protector of the people . . . I’m not sure of the language. So one would have to look at the old constitution and the new. I fully expect the propaganda effort to get the idea sold and Filipinos will buy a big fat pig in a poke.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thank you for the copy. I skimmed over the draft.

      Without an in-depth analysis of its contents, I reject the proposed Constitution on the basis of mistrust.

      I do not trust the Duterte administration to implement Federalism.

      If we look at Joe Am’s report card, the administration is failing in 5 benchmarks out of 8, excluding Federalism. The tenor of the country is near-chaotic. The Legislature and Judiciary are under the thumb of the Executive. There are state-sponsored killings. The promise of change has become a nightmare.

      To make a major change in the form of government at this stage is to invite disaster.

  10. josephivo says:

    idolatry and the Philippines.

    What fails in the analysis, or better what is too much, is the Philippines. We see similar behaviors with Putin and the Russians, Trump and its base, Erdogan and the Turks, Orban and Hungarians…. and so many more. Duterte is just one bucket in the tsunami of anti-democracy.

    Apart from idolatry more must be at play?

    • edgar lores says:

      1. The reason for the omission is simple: I am not qualified to speak of other countries.

      2. To a certain extent, the idolatry phenomenon exists in all countries. In America, for instance, cinema idols have successfully transitioned from the silver screen to the halls of government. There are Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      2.1. In the Philippines, the line stretches back to Rogelio de la Rosa, although he was different from his successors in that he exhibited competence. But his successors — Joseph Estrada, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Tito Sotto, and Noli de Castro, to name a few — arguably did not and have not.

      3. Too, in the Philippines, there are unique cultural features that abet idolatry. I will identify three:

      3.1. Arguably, as Irineo has pointed out, the Catholic propensity for the veneration of saints has exacerbated the idolatry phenomenon. Ostensibly, Islam does not practice idolatry so the phenomenon of Erdogan in Turkey and, say, the succession of strongmen (Nasser, al-Sadat, Mubarak, etc.) in Egypt cannot be coherently explained by idolatry. These leaders would fall under the “king” paradigm that you spoke of earlier… without the religious element.

      3.2. Also associated with Catholicism is the culture of patronage which is based on the Padrino system. The patron is looked up to as an idol to provide blessings and favors.

      3.3. The third factor is the notion that public officials rule over the people, rather than serve them, that still pervades in the country. This notion is traceable to our pre-Hispanic Rajaship, reinforced by Spanish colonialism, and it has not been overturned by the introduction of democracy.

      • In the US, the hero has been the idea of heroism itself, the cowboy rescuing the damsel in distress, Sgt York picking off the dastardly Germans one at a time or charging the bunker or saving the planet from alien invaders or Mr. Smith going to washington. Movies made it work. The US is going to hell today because of lousy movies, netflix, the internet, and laughing at jokes in evil movies. Americans have lost their idol of being just and brave and kind.

        • edgar lores says:

          I could be wrong, but in America, there is admiration for heroes and idols but not faith and adoration as it is in the Philippines. Here, there is a religious fervor that brooks no dissent against the idol.

          I note, too, nowadays that the cinema heroes are not human beings writ large but superheroes with superpowers. This could be partly attributed to the decline of religion, and the need for the divine impulse to be present in real life… even if only as representations in reel life.

      • josephivo says:

        Still I’m confused.

        Isn’t there an overriding fear/gut-feel/hope/manipulator/historic-wave… that is/are global?

        Why is it happening today and not yesterday, idolatry in the Philippines is older than the Philippines itself?

        How is it distributed over the population, % strong, %average, % weak? How robust is it, what makes an idol, how does it recruit followers? Is it a bottom-up swell or a feeling manipulated by some clever political actor?

        What do Duterte, Trump, Erdogan, Orban… have in common? What do Filipinos, Americans, Turks, Hungarians,… have in common or what are fundamental human traits leading to the phenomena? What changed in the time frame that is happening all over the world? What defining “stories” are changing, religious or economic or cultural or technologic….?

        • josephivo says:

          Was Pinoy an idol too, chosen by similar forces? if so, what makes the difference with Duterte? If not, how did his majority convert to the majority of idolatry adepts?

          • Yes, of course. An idol to the naive promise of American-style “democracy”, in reality for most Filipinos it was simply American consumerism. Just like Catholicism for most Filipinos is simply a status symbol, a form of magic whose rituals count but not its teachings.

            A businessman who voted for PNoy told me “we expect more from those who claim higher standards, and he disappointed us there”. The promise of American-style riches did not come fast enough I guess, so vote for the promise of business with Chinese backing?

          • edgar lores says:

            1. If I were to identify the elements of idolatry, I would name three:

            o An element of admiration/veneration
            o An element of irrationality
            o An element of the supernatural

            2. The spectrum of leadership ranges from weak, average, to strong. Under the strong category, we have kings and idols.

            2.1. Kings are admired and their powers are believed to emanate from the Divine. Kings, by societal rules, exact obedience. But they are not necessarily idols.

            2.2. Idols, on the other hand, exact more than admiration; they exact veneration. And they exact more than obedience; they exact sycophancy.

            3. The strongmen under discussion – Erdogan, Trump, Duterte — are all “kings.”

            3.1. PNoy, while admired, was not venerated. Obama is like PNoy, admired but not venerated. Both of these two leaders cannot be classified as strongmen. In fact, people sensed a weakness in these two. I will partially identify that weakness as their rationality. These two men had limits beyond which they would not trespass.

            3.2. Erdogan is a strongman. I cannot classify him as an idol because I have not been exposed to him. It may be that he is but I do not know. I do not know how he is received by the people, whether it is with rock-star reception. Look at videos of Duterte in Seoul and you will see what I mean. I do not know that people support and defend him with excessive zeal and vituperation as the DDS do with Duterte as you see in social media. There is in Duterte an element of great irrationality; he has no self-imposed limits. And there is also an element of the supernatural. He is called Lodi, Poon.

            3.3. Trump is not a strongman in the sense of Erdogan and Duterte. The political milieu will not let him be one. I suppose Trump is an idol to the far right, the white supremacists, but I am not sure that he is venerated as much as Duterte is.

            4. Idols can be born or made. Duterte is a made idol. His backers — Ramos, Arroyo Arroyo and I do not know who else — sensed that he had “it” — “it” being the charisma that would resonate with the people. These backers created the initiation stage. And as his backers hoped, Duterte caught fire with the madla during the campaign, which was the contagion stage. Thus, Duterte was both a top-down and a bottom-up idol.

            4.1. Per Juana, most idols are made by the entertainment industry but they have to be born with charisma.

            5. Idolatry was always happening in the past in the Philippines. It was mostly restricted to religion but there were times that it flared in the political arena. Of the past presidents, we know that Magsaysay had “it.”

            6. An idol can assume any of the major archetypes with their corresponding narratives — hero, rebel, caregiver, etc. I believe people respond to Duterte as a rebel against conventional politics. I see him as a trickster.

            • edgar lores says:

              Idolatry is a universal phenomenon. I know this to be intuitively true.

              But the dynamics may be different for each culture. In the Philippine milieu, pre-Hispanic culture and Catholicism play their part. The collectivistic nature of the society is also a factor; the herd mentality is conducive to idol-worship.

              Western cultures are individualistic so idolatry plays a lesser part in politics. Idols tend to remain in the entertainment industry… which is creative and non-rational. Also, in the West, the press is strong and people are presented in the news with warts and all. In Oz, we have the tall poppy syndrome where people who have achieved fame are cut down to size.

              Nevertheless, the observations in the essay apply to all cultures. The observations are primarily based on an exegesis of the Bible story and interpreted from the perspective of the Loyalty Triangle.

            • edgar lores says:

              7. People will ask, “What is supernatural about Duterte?”

              The answer is simple: he has the power of life and death over people.

              He has accorded himself that power — and people have acceded it to him.

              The idolatry phenomenon is so close to us that we fail to see in perspective the superhuman powers of the false god.

  11. Your dissertation of the root causes of Filipino malaise garnered an A++ in my book, Edgar.

    The inclusion of idolatry is valid. Filipinos , in general, are prone to idolizing personalities. I remember my teenage self as a rabid Noranian and it took maturity and a lot of reflection to get away from that mode of thinking. Mahilig tayong mga Filipino sa “uso-uso” so we are easily swayed into thinking that a popular person must have all the requisite “goodness.”

    The media and the entertainment industries in PH are guilty of perpetuating idolatry among the masses. They (unwittingly or intentionally?) advertise the personalities and most Filipinos buy into their spiel.

    PS. Hi, TSOH! Had been in my hidden hole because I was so disappointed with the leaders of the countries I love and cherish. I was turning into a “nega” so I chose to meditate and took a temporary vow of silence about political matters.

    • edgar lores says:

      Juana, thank you for coming out of your hidden hole and for the high marks. I was caught between Nora and Vilma. They both amused, each in their own way.

      Now, you mention the role of the entertainment industries in the perpetuation of idolatry. Thank you, I did consider religion but not the entertainment industry.

      But, of course, idols are their bread and butter.

      It would be alright, I believe, if the entertainment idols did not stray from their domain. If only they followed the wisdom of Dolphy who, on being urged to run for office, said, “Eh, kung nananlo, ano ang gagawin ko?”

      • I agree that the entertainment industry is in the business of packaging personalities into idols. I believe it is the responsibility of the personality to be self-aware and examine their self-conceit before foisting themselves on the citizenry.

        Dolphy is an example of a self aware and responsible entertainer. He would have won if he run for office. His statement reflects that he knew where his talents lie and he was not going to “wing” politics because he has self respect and respect for his fellow Filipinos. He was a top shelf entertainer and human being.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I remember when Lotlot attended the same pre-school I did in 7th or 9th ave near Camp Aguinaldo.
      I was star strucked just because I watch Superstar variety show and by that time Ian Deleon was born.

      At least idolatry for showbiz people has been renamed “Star Strucked fan boy/girl” .
      or simply fanboy/girl. And you can flaunt it by Hashtagging them all the time.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Vi did have a variey show after After Luis Manzano was born and she says “I love you Lucky” before the show ends.

      • Showbiz idolatry becomes a problem when celebrities leverage their popularity to cross into public governance. The Estradas, Revillas, Sotto and Lapid among others, showed us that entertainment talent and experience may NOT transfer well in politics.

    • Negative is just the flip side of positive. Good to hear from you, Juana.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        Thanks, Joe. Had been reading but my comments would have been venomous (towards the we-know-who) if I wrote them down.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I hope you saw Philippinefail comments. I am no longer the tanod I used to be. I missed you during those moments.

    • Mahilig tayong mga Filipino sa “uso-uso” so we are easily swayed into thinking that a popular person must have all the requisite “goodness.”

      Good for self, as in suwerte. Like the Hawaiian and Maori belief in “manâ”, some sort of force that runs through especially ruling families. Interestingly, similar beliefs about winning and losing – the manâ of King Kamehaha was seen as used up when US gunboats came.

      Manâ can be gained by defeating a powerful person (as in Cory defeating Marcos), by serving a powerful person (Harry Roque and Alan Cayetano serving Duterte) and yes, by having sex with a powerful person (the kabits of Alvarez and Calida, possibly Mocha?).

  12. karlgarcia says:

    If Raissa’s analysis holds true that it would take more than 20 years to federate a region, then Poon(Lord/Master) Duterte will just say” Behold, my daughter!

    Unless Titan(ic) Arroyo forces will Change the charter to Federal Parliamentary midway, because there was a reason to put the neckbrace back on his goddess. And threatens that all ICTSI ports will move out of the country.

    Or if Deity Bong Bong feels that Godess Imee is being harassed by congress.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Who needs to wait for the next season Game of Thrones?!

    • edgar lores says:

      Karl, thanks.

      I just read Raissa’s analysis on just two sections of the proposed Constitution, and we should heed her warnings.

      She says, “What I noticed about the entire draft Constitution is that it does not spell out in detail the steps of transition from presidential to federal.”

      So the people are really being sold a “big, fat pig in a poke.” Or caveat emptor. There must be a local equivalent of these excellent idioms.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Litson nasa loob ng poke, imagine that! Ugh!

      • karlgarcia says:

        Non censored version: Babala sa mamimili, huwag tumawid pagtapos bumili sa Baclaran nakamamatay!

      • karlgarcia says:

        Babala sa mamimili: Hwag tumawad sa Matadero o sa lahat ng may hawak ng kutsilyo.

        • edgar lores says:

          I think this last one is apt.

        • Are the Constitutional drafters/reviewers pulling a “budol-budol” trickery on us?

          “Budol-budol is a scam principally involving a bundle (budol) of cash padded inside with sheets of paper cut in the size of money. Only the exposed sides however are real money, everything in between are plain paper cuttings.”

          • karlgarcia says:

            Exactly JP.
            They find ways like letting you inhale or ingest a hypnotic.

            Almost all plant based anti anxiety Anti seizure anti depressant anti psychotics can be a hypnotic.
            Now they can just get it from Brazil or India in FDA approved tablets.
            Now about Cha cha I hope we won’t get fooled again during the plebiscite.

            • karlgarcia says:

              But how do they do it over the phone?
              They took lessons in pushing the right buttons in Call centers?

          • edgar lores says:

            Something like that. Gifts wrapped in colorful paper and ribbons.

            The link says: “Victims of the Budol-budol gang often describe the members as sweet-talking, charismatic, and convincing.”

            “Charismatic.” That is a word I was looking for to describe idols. It has a theological denotation of divinely conferred power.

            The constitutional consultative committee included several prominent persons, including ex-Chief Justice Puno, two other ex-SC justices, and ex-Senator Pimentel. These eminent persons have the charisma of Duterte, which is to say almost none at all, but they have a quality, a public “presence” that has seen them rise to high office.

            To be sure, the draft constitution contains some good things like the anti-dynasty provision but these are overwhelmed by the dangerous things such as the increase in the number of senators (24 to 36) and congressmen (292 to 400) and the addition of “lawless violence” as an excuse to declare martial law.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Then we must not let them push our buttons so it won’t get past us in the plebiscite.

              AM radio and tabloid journalist non idolatry should help the offline world not get fooled.
              Add the land line and the old fashioned word of mouth to counter sovial media keyboard warriors and the other side’s journalists.

              Unlike popular belief.
              Perceptions and impressions do not last.

              Pulse Asia and SWS can attest to that.

            • – “Charisma” is an ancient Greek term that initially gained prominence through Saint Paul’s letters to the emerging Christian communities in the first century. In this context, it generally referred to a divinely-originating “gift” that demonstrated the authority of God within the early leaders of the Church. Max Weber took this theological notion and generalized it, viewing it as something that followers attribute, thereby opening it up for use by sociologists who applied it to political, military, celebrity, and non-Christian religious contests.[1] Other terms used are “charismatic domination”[2] and “charismatic leadership”..

              ..Weber applies the term charisma to [A] certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader … How the quality in question would be ultimately judged from an ethical, aesthetic, or other such point of view is naturally indifferent for the purpose of definition.[4][a]..

              ..Charismatic authority is often the most lasting of regimes because the leader is seen as infallible and any action against him will be seen as a crime against the state. Charismatic leaders eventually develop a cult of personality often not by their own doing..

      • karlgarcia says:

        Babala : Me CCTV dito!

  13. karlgarcia says:

    This, I would gladly take with open arms, but I won’t worship the poon because of it.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    If Jim, Leah and Agot will win, then I refuse to say that it is because of the idolatry phenomenon.
    Let us just call it simply as name recall.

  15. karlgarcia says:

    Leni and the Third Way
    By Richard Heydarian

    • edgar lores says:

      Karl, thanks.

      Here, Heydarian is describing idolatry:

      “Our age is also one of medieval tribalism marked by charismatic leaders—men and women who are endowed, as Max Weber memorably put it, with perceived “supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.” Not only are ordinary voters less attached to ideology, they are also more drawn to such polarizing and tough-talking leaders, who skillfully tap into their basic fears and instincts.”

      Charismatic. Supernatural. Superhuman. Exceptional powers or qualities. Voters are drawn to these leaders.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    Last link drop for today.
    John Nerry’s Hypocrisy and the Filipino Catholic

  17. karlgarcia says:

    Gunga Din
    You may talk o’ gin and beer
    When you’re quartered safe out ’ere,
    An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
    But when it comes to slaughter
    You will do your work on water,
    An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ’im that’s got it.
    Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
    Where I used to spend my time
    A-servin’ of ’Er Majesty the Queen,
    Of all them blackfaced crew
    The finest man I knew
    Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din,
    He was ‘Din! Din! Din!
    ‘You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
    ‘Hi! Slippy hitherao
    ‘Water, get it! Panee lao,
    ‘You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.’

    The uniform ’e wore
    Was nothin’ much before,
    An’ rather less than ’arf o’ that be’ind,
    For a piece o’ twisty rag
    An’ a goatskin water-bag
    Was all the field-equipment ’e could find.
    When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
    In a sidin’ through the day,
    Where the ’eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
    We shouted ‘Harry By!’
    Till our throats were bricky-dry,
    Then we wopped ’im ’cause ’e couldn’t serve us all.
    It was ‘Din! Din! Din!
    ‘You ’eathen, where the mischief ’ave you been?
    ‘You put some juldee in it
    ‘Or I’ll marrow you this minute
    ‘If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!’

    ’E would dot an’ carry one
    Till the longest day was done;
    An’ ’e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
    If we charged or broke or cut,
    You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
    ’E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.
    With ’is mussick on ’is back,
    ’E would skip with our attack,
    An’ watch us till the bugles made ‘Retire,’
    An’ for all ’is dirty ’ide
    ’E was white, clear white, inside
    When ’e went to tend the wounded under fire!
    It was ‘Din! Din! Din!’
    With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.
    When the cartridges ran out,
    You could hear the front-ranks shout,
    ‘Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!’

    I shan’t forgit the night
    When I dropped be’ind the fight
    With a bullet where my belt-plate should ’a’ been.
    I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
    An’ the man that spied me first
    Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.
    ’E lifted up my ’ead,
    An’ he plugged me where I bled,
    An’ ’e guv me ’arf-a-pint o’ water green.
    It was crawlin’ and it stunk,
    But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
    I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
    It was ‘Din! Din! Din!
    ‘’Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ’is spleen;
    ‘’E’s chawin’ up the ground,
    ‘An’ ’e’s kickin’ all around:
    ‘For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!’

    ’E carried me away
    To where a dooli lay,
    An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
    ’E put me safe inside,
    An’ just before ’e died,
    ‘I ’ope you liked your drink,’ sez Gunga Din.
    So I’ll meet ’im later on
    At the place where ’e is gone—
    Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.
    ’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
    Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
    An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
    Yes, Din! Din! Din!
    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
    Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
    By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
    You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

  18. karlgarcia says:

    Gunga Din is about an Indian water bearer, abused by the British soldiers yet sacrificed his life to save one of them.
    Now, White Man’s burden is about the Phil-American War

    Take up the White Man’s burden—
    Send forth the best ye breed—
    Go send your sons to exile
    To serve your captives’ need
    To wait in heavy harness
    On fluttered folk and wild—
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half devil and half child

    Take up the White Man’s burden
    In patience to abide
    To veil the threat of terror
    And check the show of pride;
    By open speech and simple
    An hundred times made plain
    To seek another’s profit
    And work another’s gain

    Take up the White Man’s burden—
    And reap his old reward:
    The blame of those ye better
    The hate of those ye guard—
    The cry of hosts ye humour
    (Ah slowly) to the light:
    “Why brought ye us from bondage,
    “Our loved Egyptian night?”

    Take up the White Man’s burden-
    Have done with childish days-
    The lightly proffered laurel,
    The easy, ungrudged praise.
    Comes now, to search your manhood
    Through all the thankless years,
    Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
    The judgment of your peers

  19. Cha Coronel Datu says:

    Filipinos make idols of ordinary men and women, then they elect them into office.

    Cory Aquino was a political unknown until she lost her husband and became the rallying point of the protests against the Marcos dictatorship. She became the virgin Mary in yellow.

    Fidel V. Ramos was a career soldier until Enrile turned to him for support at EDSA and then afterwards he chose to stand by Cory Aquino when Enrile and his Ramboys tried to topple her government. He became the cigar-chomping EDSA hero who protected the virgin Mary in yellow

    Erap Estrada was already idol of the masses before the virgin Mary even wore yellow. He was Asiong Salonga, beloved Mayor of San Juan, father to many, kumpadre to everyone – well and truly the real Filipino idol.

    The exception is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She never shared the same levels of adulation that her predecessors enjoyed before becoming president. (And certainly not after) . She’s merely been lucky the first time, having been at the right place at the right time as VP to the deposed Estrada. Then she was elected President, because of (or is that despite?) a phone call to a certain Garci. Had Garci not answered that phone call or not done as he was told, the King of Philippine Cinema, Fernando Poe Jr., would have been the president. Idol!

    Noynoy Aquino is the son of the Virgin Mary in yellow. While he proved himself equal to the task, he probably wouldn’t have become president if not for the pedigree.

    And now there’s, Rodrigo Duterte , idol of the masses reloaded. Sans the movie star looks. In other words, the ugly Estrada.

    So who will be the next Filipino idol?

    • edgar lores says:

      It’s a three-party race of ladies?

      o Leni Robredo
      o Grace Poe
      o Sara Duterte-Carpio

      Which of the three has “it?”

      o Alphabetically by the first name, it’s Grace.
      o By the last name, it’s Sara.
      o By reverse alphabet, it’s Leni.


      o Leni gives off the Virgin Mary (or Maria Clara) vibe.
      o Grace used to give off the same vibe but perhaps no longer. She smokes and drinks (?).
      o Sara gives off the strong woman vibe like Gloria.

      Other factors:

      o Sara has no national-election exposure.
      o Grace topped the senatorial election, and she might do it again.
      o Leni has attained a higher national position than the other two.

      Is there a male in the offing?

      • Bong Bong Marcos, I suppose.

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        I could see that – a 3-party contest. .

        Leni has previously resisted becoming a symbolic leader of the opposition against Duterte, preferring to focus on doing good work on the side instead of stepping into the limelight. Now that she has indicated her willingness to unify and lead the anti-Duterte forces, there are enough gems to mine where she stands to turn her into a winning idol. She has a good back story to begin with, being the widow of a beloved deceased politician. (There you go Joeam) . Also like Cory Aquino or maybe even more so than the lady in yellow, she has an air of purity and chasteness about her, add to that – soft spoken, doe-eyed with a winsome and motherly smile.

        Grace Poe may be the adopted daughter of a Filipino idol but charisma is not inherited nor transferred via adoption papers. She had that spark in her when she first walked in the senate halls but she lost her focus. Instead of doing good for the sake of doing good which would have endeared her to Filipino voters, she became more interested in taking advantage of her perceived popularity to move up the political ladder. I think that turned off a lot of her initial admirers. She is topping the senate polls apparently, but that’s probably more attributable to name recall. And besides, she also topped the last senatorial elections and that didn’t make her President then.

        Sarah Duterte has the mestizo looks. Filipinos could go for that. But she is not “mahinhin”. (Far from it) . Filipinos idolise beauty and gentleness/refinement together when it comes to women. If you have none of that, you could get away with being witty and “intelligent”. Like Miriam Defensor Santiago. Duterte’s daughter is no Miriam Santiago.

        But there’s yet a dark horse lurking , the lady justice Sereno. Intelligent and articulate, assertive but still soft spoken, and motherly too. We can work with that too.

        • edgar lores says:

          Ah, you added Sereno. Among the four ladies, I would support her. I believe she has the qualities of the other three combined into one: pure, intelligent, and fierce — a warrior.

          • To be frank, I’m not sure she has the ability to organize and command a team of people of diverse views and get them on a path to ‘conquest’. I have the same skepticism regarding Leni Robredo. Who is running the war room? If it is the same people who ran the Roxas campaign, then it will likely end up with the same results.

            • edgar lores says:

              Softies? No killer instincts?

              But isn’t the quality of mindless toughness the exact thing we despise in people like Duterte, Pimentel, Alvarez, etc?

              As I wrote somewhere up there, PNoy and Obama had that quality of softness which was their rationality.

              I think it’s very rare in a female to have that combination of softness and toughness that we seem to be seeking. Hillary has it. So did Thatcher.

              Cory was all soft. Gloria was all hard.

              Grace and Sara are hard. But where is their humanity?

              Julia Guillard, the first Oz female PM, was tough but, in the testosterone pit of misogynists that Canberra is, she did not fare well.

              I believe Conchita Carpio-Morales has that combination but even she was victimized by Corona. (He didn’t extend to her the full courtesy of a retirement package, and she just shrugged it off.)

              Perhaps, Robredo and Sereno will develop the required toughness seeing that they are undergoing a baptism of fire.

              Sereno is a true Christian in the way that I understand the term. She is — in the term in vogue — woke. She will always have it tough in an idolatrous Philippines. Even Randy David does not understand her [kind].

              I submit that half the burden is on Sereno’s and Robredo’s critics and detractors; they just don’t have the values — the mindset — to live in a non-Darwinian world. They don’t have sacrificial patriotism.

              In the Philippine political milieu, anybody — anybody but unconscionable leaders like Marcos and Gloria, atavists like Duterte, and military generals like Ramos — will be eaten alive.

              And so… how do we get out of this rut?

              Perhaps we need to have an interregnum of a military junta. This means sacrificing democracy in order to have it back some years hence.

              Of the men, I can only think of people like Trillanes and Alejano as possibilities.

              • Edgar, Joe’s metaphor may be primarily military, but it also can be sports or business.

                I read about a soccer coach in this world cup (forgot for which country) who managed to turn highly paid soccer pros, mercenaries, into a real national team for the World Cup.

                I think Joe has used the military metaphor of “taking that hill, no matter what it costs”. In our profession it can be making people otherwise only half-willing put in all the effort to get a piece of software delivered on time, on budget, right quality. Making everybody get focused.

                That is NOT necessarily a barbarian type of skill – in fact the barbarian typically is unfocused while the civilized Roman-type army falls into its classical, impenetrable tortoise formation.

                Ninotchka Rosca did call the present-day Filipino elite effete, i.e. easy prey for the wild..

              • edgar lores says:

                Irineo, thanks.

                I grokked the metaphor. I have participated in corporate teams. The philosophy is the same whether it is a hill or a boardroom. Or a nation.

                It’s a question of leadership but also more than a question of leadership.

                A prince (or princess) has to be Machiavellian to a degree, but do they have to be cutthroats like Duterte?

                I don’t believe so. One has to show that one is made of steel and may have to demonstrate the use the sword at the right moment to teach a lesson. But after that, the sword can remain sheathed.

                To wield the sword constantly as Duterte does — and Gloria did — is self-defeating.

                The other side of the equation is the ability to inspire people.

              • Thanks for probing the matter of softness and swords. It is the ability to organize the generals and inspire that I was searching for, by being a sword bearer and rabble-rouser, leading the gathering army into battle. One cannot defeat a horde of sword swingers by keeping one’s own sheathed, or by a one dimensional push. One needs an army, navy, and air force. Plus the battle is for hearts and minds and is likely better won in an arena or boulevard than a chapel.

              • edgar lores says:

                The generals usually stay behind the battle lines with swords sheathed.

              • In warfare, yes, but we can see Duterte’s generals out front swinging, from Calida to Uson and even Pernia. It is not warfare, except as a metaphor, it is publicity and privates get scant attention.

              • edgar lores says:

                True. So let’s use the basketball court analogy?

              • A fair dinkum resolution.

              • Sonny also mentioned “converted pagans” as the most important resource in Christianizing wild lands. The Philippines is Christian on the surface, pagan in reality.

                The likes of Trillanes and Alejano are the closest thing to converted pagans. Trillanes, an ex-navy officer who refused to have pirates thrown overboard like before.

                Those who are too Christian are those who believe, to quote Rizal, “that the Devil had suddenly acquired the sensitivity of a teenage girl and would be scared by crosses”.

    • The macabre thought passed my mind that you almost have to die to become an idol, or be so larger than life that you are likely to be insane. People gravitate to the dead for the loss, and to the insane for the boldness of it all.

  20. edgar lores says:

    I found this op-ed piece eye-opening about the imposition of martial law in Mindanao. The title says it all: Mindanoans – in particular, Agusans — have come to love their captivity. But it leads to the “silence of the lambs.”

    • That seems to be the trend worldwide, bowing to authority and the belief that brutal policies affect others and I can find peace in that. The news we get is so tainted by editorial bias and shallowness. I would imagine there will be clubs forming among intellectuals, rather like TSOH, or gatherings of friends, as people aspire to find the depth and richness of thinking that has not been watered down and pre-shaped.

    • Tes says:

      Would anyone care to dissect why, and maybe, from this, we will know whom to field against this S–t of a president?

      • I am not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist but I would venture to say that he got “mommy issues.” For real.

        Robredo, De Lima and Sereno would be the bets. Why? Because they scare the bejeezus out of him. Let us see him say the things he says about them in the media face-to-face. Titiklop yan because he is only brave when the opponents can’t defend themselves. I would like to see a face to face debate by Duterte and any of these women. Let’s see who is going to be proven to be incompetent.

        • Add Hontiveros and Trillanes in the mix of prospects as they are key parts of the unified opposition. Right now, they have chosen Leni Robredo to lead the effort. The presumption can safely be made that she will be the 2022 presidential candidate. The united opposition includes LP, Akbayan, Magdalo, and several civic groups. I’m guessing Trillanes will be the VP candidate but it could be someone else.

      • edgar lores says:

        I concur with Juana’s analysis.

        It is well known that Duterte adored his mother and sought her approval. On the other hand, he disdains women and objectifies them as vaginas.

        He exhibits the Madonna-whore complex. He desires and fears the yoni.

        I think VP Robredo is the perfect foil.

        Politically, his suggestion that he can choose his successor is utter nonsense.

      • The leadership of the united opposition will tell followers who to support. Leni Robredo has been chosen to lead the united opposition.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I refer you to the latest blog entry. We are discussing the topic.

  21. Exodus 5: After this, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “The Lord, the God of Israel, says this: ‘Let My people go, that they may have a special supper to honor Me in the desert.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord. And I will not let Israel go. (modern addition: I want a selfie proof)

    • edgar lores says:

      It would have been nice if Moses had selfie proof. But doesn’t DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” constitute proof? Heh heh.

      Despite watching the epic movie several times years ago, I read the whole of Exodus while writing the essay. Moses goes to the Pharoah several times, and each time God hardens the Pharoah’s heart. Even after the succession of plagues.

      Makes for dramatic reading.

  22. hector delos santos says:

    I just hope this will be posted so that people will know the result of idolatry.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thank you. Certainly, there are parallels between Hitler’s genocidal war and Duterte’s Drug War. The ICC is our best bet to have Duterte on trial for crimes against humanity.

  23. karlgarcia says:

    “Highly paid mercenaries into a strong national team”

    I wish an English National team football coach could do that.
    It could be done in US basketball.

    • edgar lores says:

      I think perhaps this is how we should view politics — not as a battlefield but as a court, not as a battle but as a serious game.

      True, the game can descend into a brawl, as we saw recently. Therefore a basic requirement is a consensus of civility on all sides. The players must play within the rules.

      People who cannot conduct themselves with civility — Duterte, Alvarez, et al — should not be allowed on the court. They should be booed off the court.

      The scoring of points between the home team (the current administration) and the visitors (the opposition) should be seen as incidental. The object of the game is really to bring joy into the lives of the spectators in and outside of the court.

      The coaches work out the strategies and direct the players to execute them. The strategies are the policies to uplift the nation.

      The players have different roles to play. Some act as guards (army, navy, airforce, police). Others act as shooters (cabinet). Still, others act as forwards (congress and judiciary).

      The ball is the power of responsibility, the power to achieve goals.

      There. I have exhausted the analogy. Except… except the spectators can enjoy their popcorn and hotdogs and soda.

      • karlgarcia says:

        No trowing of bottles …. and chairs, please.

        • karlgarcia says:

          At least in congress, I recall only one fistfight and that was after Villar sent the impeachment complaint of Erap to the senate. Poor sgt. at arms. he could not hit back.

          Sen Trillanes almost got into many fist fights.
          I hope he never crosses Paquiao. joke lang.

      • edgar lores says:

        Refinement: The scoring of points should be seen as incidental by the players. But the points signify that the strategies, put in place for the benefit of the spectators, have been successful.

      • chemrock says:

        Another refinement Edgar — the referee will be the judiciary, that’s stating the obvious.

      • karlgarcia says:

        then let us view it as such.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Seriously with David Beckham, no world cups?
      No world cups since 1966.

  24. Francis says:

    @Edgar—in an earlier article—proposed that the root of our national issues (i.e. prominence of populism, poverty of national discourse) can be traced to “Idolatry.”

    The worship of idols.

    Idolatry—as @Edgar has postulates—has arisen due to three causes: the need to guide, the need to belong, the need to link to higher entity.

    I think though, that it should be asked—what is the root of the root? Why is there idolatry? Because man needs to be guided, needs to belong, needs to be linked to something higher than himself? Yet—this question remains: why do people need to be guided, why do people belong, why do people need to link to something higher than themselves?

    Man is Man—but he is also an organism, an animal. He is an organized entity comprised of atoms ordered in a certain fashion—a walking delay of the inevitable trend of all things to entropy, chaos and simple nothingness. Life like any other organism.

    What is life? I define life as self-sustaining order, a self-sustaining defiance of entropy. Life inherently does not want to become nothingness. Life, in short, inherently wants to survive.

    The point of all life is to survive.

    Why does evolution exist? Because life wants to survive more, life wants to survive better. The mitochondria got absorbed by the eukaryotic cells, the once-fish grew legs and stepped on land, the dinosaur flew, the ape became smarter, man became sapient.

    I think that evolution has gone in several different directions: bigger size, smaller size, ways to regulate heat like hair and feathers, sharper claws, etcetera—but the most important evolutionary trend, I think, is that of “awareness/perception” (my informal definition).

    I think of organisms as “survival” machines. They respond to inputs from their environment with “outputs” or actions to cope. The “range” of outputs that an organism can envision/conceive—I informally define as awareness/perception: It can be observed that as organisms have evolved, the “range” of possible outputs, the general “awareness” of organisms has increased as well.

    The single-celled organisms were (I suppose) barely aware of their environment, save for the most basic urge to go where there was food/energy. The senses of animals developed; better noses to smell better, better eyes to see more of the environment. The limbs of animals developed to extend their “awareness/perception” of the environment.

    Logically, it follows that the extension of “awareness/perception” means that more “options to survive/possible actions to survive” are available to “higher” organisms?

    Man is special because our “perception/awareness” had evolved to a point where we could ask what it means to survive. I’m no programmer, but I guess we can view all life before us as programs that took “input” from the environment” and released “output” (action to survive) according to a certain “code” of sorts.

    Man is different, in that we are like a program which can modify its own code. All other organisms act to survive, without being consciously aware of the need to survive. We are consciously aware of the need to survive.

    That is why we fear death. That is why we invented luxuries. That is why we have so many different ways of living life. We—being sapient, being beings of (some) rational capacity—can not only pursue actions to survive, but question what it exactly means to survive.

    I think this evolution has continued up to now. One way of looking at Man’s progress is that we have increased our “energy consumption” over the centuries—I think that, in tandem with our actions to further secure our survival (“energy consumption”) an increase in “information production, control” has also occurred. And it is telling that the “industrial revolution” has occurred in tandem with the rise of mass media? And that the “post-industrial” digital era has also come coincidentally with the rise of social media?

    My point is that all life seeks to survive, and all life survives by pursuing a range of actions—a range limited by how much said organism “knows” as it were.

    Man included.

    Pardon for the really long-winded preface. What is it that I mean?

    Idolatry is a strategy to survive. It is logical in a way. If I cling on to this thing bigger than me—I survive, I may even better my situation. It is not irrational in itself.

    It is irrational from our perspective—because we all have (either through some reading of our own, or because we have gone to other countries) a broader and more nuanced view of the world. Given what we know, idolatry is illogical.

    Given what many Filipinos know, though—can you blame them if “idolatry” becomes the most logical course of action. If all that you are aware of is the barangay—then the simplistic course of action that idolatry implies is a completely rational and logical course of action.

    If you made Filipinos realize the world consisted more of the “barangay,” you will see a shift.

    • edgar lores says:

      Francis, you have reduced the whole of Maslow’s hierarchy to its base layer — physiological needs.

      This reductionism — extreme reductionism — denies that other needs, causes, and motives emerge once the physiological needs are met.

      It’s too simple — or too simplified — an explanation.

      From the essay: “I submit that self-actualization is, or becomes, the primary cause because motivation increases as lower-stage needs are met.

      • Francis says:

        I don’t think we disagree.

        “I submit that self-actualization is, or becomes, the primary cause because motivation increases as lower-stage needs are met.”

        I agree—or rather, I will go further: it is not enough for people to just have their physiological needs satisfied. It is worth noting that all people—from those in simple tribes to ourselves in fancy cities—have culture, myths, traditions, things that can’t be boiled down just to pure rational interest. We are inherently sentimental—and perhaps, that indicates that sentimentality is a need.

        We need other people. We need to create meaning and share meaning with other people.

        This is what I mean—when I tried sketching the “evolution” of life’s attempts to “survive better” — it has culminated in the appearance of human beings, who don’t just seek to survive but are also able to define what it means to survive.

        A fox seeks to catch a rabbit. It relies on hard-wired biological tools and behavior to find the optimum strategy to eat the rabbit and thus “survive” as it were. A human being—on the other hand—is able to rewrite his/her “parameters for survival” depending on the situation and is faced with a seemingly infinite array of pathways towards “survival” in a sense; should I lay down a trap and if I do—what kind of trap, should I season my burnt rabbit with so-and-so spices to make it healthier, how should I divide my rabbit among my family members, should I not eat the rabbit because I noticed how it was eating some suspicious variety of fungi that I knew was closely associated with the sickness of my fellow tribesmen…

        From this uncertainty to define “goals” for survival—I think, arose subjectivity, culture, reflection and morality. The need to self-actualize comes, I think, from this uncertainty of what to do; animals follow their instincts, but our “reason” it seems keeps saying all sorts of things, lays out all sorts of plans—some contradictory.

        This uncertainty also broadens “what it means” to survive. Some people would say there is “thriving” and there is “surviving” — I would say that both are just “surviving” in two different ways, one mental/spiritual and the other physical. Like animals—we can get die physically, but I think that man is unique in that we can “die” spiritually; anomie, aimlessness…

        We need literal bread, just as much as we need the Body of Christ. Even in the most efficient authoritarian regimes, there has always been an undercurrent of discontent lingering—even if there is food in the belly, it is ultimately not enough. Which is why “soft authoritarianism” these days (i.e. China and Russia) seeks not to prevent outright self-actualization and needs of such kind so as to…warp them into something beneficial to the ruling regime…to allow some art, and not others…to use nationalist mythos to distract…

        The above is just my personal opinion though, my way of trying to build a parable to root myself…

        This was not the point of my original comment, though.

        The point of my original comment was that “our actions” depended on our “mental horizons” — in this case, our capacity to perceive so as to survive. The reason many Filipinos resort to idolatry is because their “intellectual horizons” are that limited; from the vantage point of their limited “horizon” — the barangay “reality” that they have constructed and been raised and taught to construct and inhabit— idolatry is a completely logical way to survive or live.

        You have to widen this intellectual horizon—shatter its limitations—if you want Filipinos to awaken to something higher.

        This is something I have very strong feelings on.

        @Edgar—I wouldn’t be writing like this, if it weren’t for books and articles that showed me how vast the world is. And it is no coincidence that many of us here are abroad or have had considerable experience abroad. Our “horizons” are wide—we can see the sunset on the ocean, but many Filipinos are stuck only seeing the back of the mountain.

        It is of the utmost importance that this horizon must be widened.

    • The barangay / extended family model makes a lot of sense. In simpler societies, certain people were the carriers of INTUITIVE and PRACTICAL knowledge. Abstraction hardly existed, neither did much words to explain, pass and refine knowledge scientifically.

      In fact the way of life of people in such societies made it hard to devote much time to building up knowledge, so experienced elders and people seen as capable were simply followed.

      In fact the Philippine barangay society is a special case in its hostility to experts of any kind. The preference is to listen to Mocha and Digong. Why? Because experts are “elites” and they were the aliens that came 500 years ago to rule/fool everybody. Sad but “true”.

      • edgar lores says:

        This is the exact reason I am against the barangay construct. it encourages collectivism at the expense of individual development.

        I would not have developed if I had lived in a barangay. Well, perhaps I would be an elder… but it’s not my thing.

        • – this is where the indigenous concept of human rights is flawed (I discussed a bit with Prof. Chua on Twitter about this)

          1. OK, rights have to do with kapwa (fellow man) but many Filipinos have a restricted concept of fellow man (KKKs only). Example: Ka-DDS versus us evil dilawans, turds etc.

          2. The native concept divides into tao, hayop, aswang. I mentioned that an ex-GF from Pangasinan truly believed a family in her town were aswang, and that “adik” might be the modernization of aswang, i.e. those seen as non-human, much like witch hunting stuff. Prof. Xiao Chua (avowedly dilawan) confirmed that Prof. Van Ybiernas (a DDS) sees it that way.

    • edgar lores says:

      There is another dimension to idolatry and survival in the religious sense.

      Religion and religious idolatry are not about survival in the here and now. It is about survival in the hereafter.

      But religious idolatry — in that it is a representation of a God and not the true God — may conflict with the true faith. In which case, it is not about survival in the hereafter. It becomes fetishism?

      • The entire world of anting-anting and the concept of “galing” (both healing power and magical power) points to fetishism. Katipuneros wore them, there was a crazy sect in the 1960s that took on Marcos’ PC with only anting-antings against bullets..

        Living Lodis of course embody the “galing” and “suwerte” of anting-antings in a special way, and if people believe they can lead them into paradise, they will follow – the abundance of religious groups in the Philippines with cultic leaders shows this. Even Indonesians have similar beliefs in such powers – a student who demonstrated against Suharto when he was under house arrest spoke of a “strange force” pushing him back close to Suharto’s home. Since Duterte is not only Mang Kanor but also Mang Kukulam, fear and awe is his to use.

        • Francis says:

          It is not just the Philippines.

          Right now—social democracy in the West is being pushed to the limits; the excessive power of big business weakening the welfare state and other social protections on one hand, the vitrolic rhetoric hurled by the “other” (i.e. the migrant, the immigrant, the refugee) on the other.

          What is bitter to me—is that solution is obvious: more global cooperation; global cooperation among democracies to “unionize” as it were and globally seek concessions from capital in this globalized world where capital can just outsource willy-nilly at the slightest hint of national regulation and higher taxes to better the common folk, global cooperation among nations to “spread” the burden of rising refugee numbers and to solve the root problems of the refugee crisis in the very places where these refugees, migrants, immigrants come from.

          Instead—we are all turning on one another.

          The West is caught up in a big barangay, a modern barangay, a barangay of barangays—but a barangay nonetheless: the nation.

          Which is not to say I disprove of nations—or that I disprove of barangays. On the contrary, I appreciate the rootedness that barangays and nations can inspire—but would wish that a greater cosmopolitan spirit would arise…

          If in the premodern eras, we had tribes and villages—barangays—and in the modern era, we had nations, perhaps in this postmodern era where problems just seem so impossible to overcome? we may need have a “globe,” and stand as one species.

          To layer our “local” and “national” with “global” as it were.

          Though—the Philippines has a task doubly hard; it has to build both a national and a global spirit. Some catch-up.

          As I have noted in the latest article—I am somewhat bitterly resigned to the possibility that we may have to learn the costs of “black and white” thinking the hard way.

          • The backlash towards nationalism is strongest in Eastern Europe, where the idea of many countries being together was embodied by the USSR and the Warsaw pact – and hated.

            In Western Europe it meant a period of prosperity – and freedom like never before. Add to that the fact that Western Europe always was more modern, while in Eastern Europe you have everything from the Catholic conservatism of Poland to Orthodox authoritarianism.

            Plus the tribal attitudes of the Balkans, which in Albania may still include blood feuds.

            • Francis says:


              Unfortunately, it seems that I have come to a conclusion—with climate change and many other worrisome climate issues, along with global inequality—that it is either we reform together at a scale beyond nations…or…the Dark Ages come back…

              …and if the latter happens or is our destiny…might as well be a prepper…or build up your local community to weather the storm or go off and be a hermit in some hamlet somewhere and wait out (or escape) the literal end of the (globalized) and (modern) world.

  25. edgar lores says:

    I just want to record this here.

    I was listening to the Rappler panelists on the SONA before Duterte arrived.

    The question arose of why many Filipino Christians support the Drug War.

    One of the guy panelists — I don’t know his name but it wasn’t JC Punongbayan and not Leloy Claudio — said that some religionists and even priests believe that Duterte is godsent — Sent by God — to cleanse the country.

    Get this: in religious terms, Duterte is not a spawn of the Devil but a creature of God.

    This raised the hair on my arms.

    From my view, the belief is superstition and based on (a) an interventionist God and (b) a God of the Old Testament.

  26. This bridge movie between Heneral Luna and Goyo, “Angelito”, is also about idols vs. leaders.

    For those who couldn’t see Heneral Luna or Goyo, it gives an idea of why the movies are the talk of the town: they make history come alive as if it were just yesterday, make it feel relevant again.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] late Edgar Lores wrote about fascism and Idolatry, JoeAm has written about critical thinking, confidence of the dumb and that Duterte is the symptom, […]

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

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

%d bloggers like this: