What has to happen to end Philippine self-destruction

We all cry to be winners. Kayla Anise Richardson wins gold medal at 2015 SEA Games Women’s 100m finals Singapore. [Photo: Inquirer by Raffy Lerma]

By JoeAm

It does not take a genius to understand how dysfunctional the Philippines can be. One only need look around to see the mediocrity, selfishness, and nonsense that infest the legislative halls, or the brutality, lies, lack of civil bearing, corruption, and incompetence that define the national government agencies, provincial and mayoral offices, and courts.

This ridiculous scene was set up by the nation’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, an accomplished self-dealing suspected murderer. It has persisted ever since through cycles of occupation, independence, hope, and abysmal self-destruction. Poverty, lack of opportunity, and frustration . . . these are not the qualities of an inspired public.

President Duterte is a genius at dealing in this environment. People respect tough guys who are in the face of the white-shirt dilettantes who present themselves as morally superior to the natives. So we are on another down cycle. Any hope for prosperity is disappearing into private accounts, a poorly run economy, and the gifting of precious assets to China.

I’ve taken to looking at people’s behavior as a psychiatrist might. I’m an undocumented analyst. It sure seems to me that the roots of Philippine dysfunction are weaknesses in emotional character. Add to that poor nutrition and an accompanying weakness in reasoning power.

The most damaging psychological trait among many Filipinos is when they search in the emotional mirror for heroes who suffer and wage the good fight, “like I do”. They look for contest winners who overcame the odds . . . and who too often are character losers, like the boxer Pacquiao and various entertainers who occupy positions better suited for businessmen or honest lawyers, if there are any.

Everything in the Philippines is backward because the fundamental emotional drive is to hug mediocre suffering souls who “are like me” whilst heaping blame on the talented and skillful souls who are the best way forward for the nation.

Let me turn right sharply here and pull a few paragraphs from a recent comment by reader Francis, a young Filipino of extraordinary insight and expressive ability. He is flying miles above my head and so I have to work hard to grasp his meanings, but when I find them, they are spectacular. He wrote a few days ago:

@Chemrock—you pointed out the dangers of biometrics, big data, etc. This is what I mean by the hollowing of man’s inside; a logical conclusion of our (unrestrained) capitalist system; more and more ways to extract “profit” (value) must be found—so companies like Facebook use our usage of their services to suck up our data like a vacuum cleaner and sell them to advertisers, and companies like Amazon ensure that their workers are giving them the most dollars per sweat with extremely intrusive monitoring devices.

The other side of the coin is the damage to our environment. I found an article citing a senior UN official that we may exhaust our topsoil (due to our overly intensive industrial agricultural practices) in less than a century—topsoil is indispensable for agriculture, and for us to exhaust that will mean very scary implications for our ability to feed ourselves. We—the current generations—are doing the equivalent of robbing the college savings of the next generations by extracting more resources from our environment than its capacity to renew or replenish. We don’t care and are complacent because the marginal benefits—the benefits to everyone right now—are just so alluring, too alluring.

Now, I sound like a commie. I’m not. I love democracy—and I despise tyranny. I don’t want to justify the USSR or Maoist China.

I am not against markets. I am for markets—in service to the greater good of society. Man was not made for the Market—but the Market was made for Man. Unlike Communists—I do not think that it is feasible in our lifetime, to truly be a “market-less” society; markets are efficient and they’re here to stay—but we have to be their boss and not the other way around.

We (sorta) made markets serve the common good in the West; the welfare state of Europe, the “New Deal” arrangement in America. Governments, in those times, had enough leverage to negotiate with capitalists and extract concessions to ensure harmony in society.

Now—national governments seem puny in the face of global capital. This isn’t the 50s or 60s where capital was still somewhat tied to their nations, and therefore government could still force them to follow something else besides their self-interest/profit motive. Globalization has made this impossible; it is impossible now to extract concessions from big business, if they can just go somewhere else—and that hurts ordinary people.
A social democracy on a national scale is no longer enough.

I want social democracy on a global scale—I want global regulations on markets, on big business that ensure that the ordinary people don’t get left out.

It is unfeasible to pursue a market-less society, right now. The alternatives are either inefficient, autocratic or both. The market is still damned efficient and has to exist. But it has to be restrained. The free market is like the mighty Yangtze River—it feeds the people with much abundance, but is prone to killing people with devastating floods. Dams are therefore necessary.

So why is Francis not a hero instead of Manny Pacquiao?

That is the great failing of Filipino leaders, that they have not made achievement and brilliance a priority. Japan has. China has. Taiwan has. Korea has. The Philippines remains backwater stupid with its crab norms. The nation’s leaders are too greedy and too intellectually confined themselves to cast a new set of priorities, to make achievement POSITIVE instead of negative.

I should clarify that achievement is not found in getting first honor in a system that rewards spitting back memorized data, hammered relentlessly into kids’ heads until they grow bored with the idea of education. It is found in the excitement of new knowledge, in winning by problem solving, in relentless small achievements, in creativity and love for humankind, and in thinking like Francis. It is found in the INSPIRATION of discovery, and the joy of accomplishment.

Filipinos don’t accomplish much, really. We can take government agencies as our example. Agency offices do the bare minimum, usually with glowering staff. Processes are a lot of trivial nonsense masking for activity but that just impose authoritative obedience on the innocent and helpless. Paper is still the medium of choice 40 years after computers came on the popular scene. Priorities are unheard of. Goals and deadlines are unmentionables.

A career in the Philippines is the durability of just being there until the next payday.

Totally uninspired, uninspiring, and unproductive.

I’m not here to complain, really. I’m here to focus our laser-like awareness on one huge need.

That need is to inspire Filipinos rather than pacify or abuse them. It is to work hard to build a social framework that lifts people up every day, enriches them emotionally, and creates success after success after success, from individuals to nation.


153 Responses to “What has to happen to end Philippine self-destruction”
  1. Cesar says:

    So what else is new in the Philippines? At its very core the country is already in a post-mortem stage and way past its melanoma.

  2. madlanglupa says:

    > The most damaging psychological trait among many Filipinos is when they search in the emotional mirror for heroes who suffer and wage the good fight, “like I do”. They look for contest winners who overcame the odds . . . and who too often are character losers, like the boxer Pacquiao and various entertainers who occupy positions better suited for businessmen or honest lawyers, if there are any.

    More precisely, messiah-like characters, given that many watch television and movies. Purported saviors who are supposed to bring in security and prosperity on a silver plate.


    Oh, well, this might as well be some sort of a warning sign, given today is… SONA.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Francis, you never cease to amaze, young man.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. It seems we don’t have the right role models.

    2. I scour history for a “successful” hero or heroine of intellectual prowess but there is none. By successful, I mean someone who reached nebulous intellectual heights, crystallized powerful new ideas, prevailed over his/her contemporary foes, and was not martyred. Not Rizal. Not Bonifacio. Not Mabini. Perhaps Recto… but he did not reach the apex of political power.

    3. This dearth of heroes and heroines means there are no high standards to reach or to emulate. Consequently, we wallow in mediocrity.

    4. Consider:

    We worship brawns, not brains.
    We worship external beauty, not internal beauty.
    We admire rich people, not compassionate people.
    We admire dishonesty, not integrity.
    We admire crassness, not refinement.
    We practice immorality or amorality, not morality.

    5. People who try to live lives of integrity and adhere to moral standards are criticized as “walang pakikisama.”

    6. What has to happen is an internal revolution of high ideals and morality.

    • Yes, that is exactly what has to happen.

      But read this speech by Atty. Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Founding Dean, College of Law-De La Salle University and National Chairman, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG): http://pcij.org/stories/the-importance-of-living-within-the-truth/

      There are people of character, with brains and purpose, who have not been marginalized. So there is a core around which a resurrection of Filipino character and dignity can occur.

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks for the speech.

        Diokno may be right in that our native language includes the concept of right — karapatan.

        What we do not understand and appreciate are the human rights established in the articles of the UDHR.

        So when Diokno says, “To say that we imported the concept of human rights from the West ignores our language and our history, and insults our heroes who gave their lives so that we could live ours in freedom and dignity,” he is in denial.

        We have imported part of the UDHR into our Constitution… but we do not fully observe what has been imported. If we do not accept this, then we are not living the truth. We are, in fact, living the lie.

        (Note: The 1898 Malolos Constitution establishes some individual human rights but does not contain the full panoply of rights established in the 1948 UDHR.)

        But you are right in recognizing that there is a small core of Filipinos around which resurrection is possible.

    • Francis says:

      We did have a philosopher-king—or someone quite close—@Edgar.


      “So it is, then, with this temperament we have postulated for the philosopher: given the right instruction, it must grow to the full flower of excellence: but if the plant is sown and reared in the wrong soul, it will develop every contrary defect unless saved by some miracle.”

      “Remember how we agreed that the born philosopher will be distinguished by quickness of understanding, good memory, courage and generosity…when he grows older, his friends and his fellow citizens will no doubt want to make use of him for their own purposes…”

      “…Will he not be filled with unbounded ambition…”

      “Therefore in a way, the very qualities which make up the philosopher’s nature may, with a bad upbringing, be the cause of his falling away, no less than wealth and all other so-called advantages.”

      I think that the soil is quite unfit for great flowers—great men and women—in the nation. It doesn’t just drive away great men and women to greener pastures abroad—it corrupts those who stay; in our present, the most offensive example is Roque.

      • Francis says:


        Quoted passages—excerpts from Plato, (c)The Great Political Theories, Curtis

      • edgar lores says:

        Francis, I have to disagree. Marcos was the antithesis of a philosopher-king.

        • Francis says:

          I don’t think we disagree.

          It is not that I think Marcos is a “philosopher-king” but that he is proof of how someone who could have been something quite like a philosopher king could easily be corrupted by society into the worst of evils.

          • edgar lores says:

            I still disagree. Marcos did not have the mental capacity, the moral capacity, the spiritual capacity — in short, the character — to be a philosopher-king.

  5. Filipinos, generally, refuse to understand the underlying causes of their maldevelopment.

    First is the psychopathology that individual members of society belong to their tribe and to no one else. This marker validates the Filipino nationhood as inchoate, at best puerile, vis-a-vis the pursuit of a unifying identity and concept of the commonwealth or the common good. A national language based on Tagalog failed to unify and bring diverse tribes to the concept of a nation state. Since independence was obtained from the American colonial masters in 1946. Tagalog merely supplanted English and Spanish as the language of Imperial Manila and the failed Aguinaldo revolution.

    The second reason is a lack of philosophy of knowledge. This constitutes the biggest setback in the education of the people. Rote learning that transpired in the Spanish colonial era prevails to this day to the detriment of the Filipino psyche. Meanwhile, the miseducation of colonial subjects under the Americans was not overcome. A pretentious intelligentsia grounded on the arts and culture of America sits in the ivory towers of the state-run universities and spell out their dictat until retired.
    Meanwhile, wage employment is the goal of a college education and not a self-employment in the various disciplines or fields of specialization.

    Finally, the third reason is a corrupted view of religious beliefs. A transcendent God is merely a buddy or bosom friend, first among equals, which you can repudiate since unseen, and relegate to the licentious days of the Spanish friars. That Filipinos ingratiate themselves to the Godhead is a perverse reality since public sinners buy their ticket to heaven or salvation. Or the stupidity that the unknown God is also stupid like most, is the height of profanity.

    Indeed, the very little that Filipinos know about themselves, their common heritage, the world and the sacred is a patent misfortune of this divided and under-developed nation.

  6. Jose Guevarra says:

    The Philippines has a dire lack of citizens with superior intellect who are willing to lead the country. Leloy Claudio of the Ateneo very succinctly traced this lack of intellectuals to the Marcos regime. During his dictatorial reign, Marcos effectively used every means possible to get rid of intellectuals who could challenge his rule.

    Marcos was actually very smart not to have killed those have already established well-built political careers among his contemporaries. Killing the politically established just does not provide good optics in Marcos’ goals to portray to the world a “prosperous” New Society. All he did was threaten his would-be political adversaries with indefinite detention should they choose not to toe the line. Those who had the means, Marcos allowed to go overseas, as long as they promised never to return. Most of those who chose to stay did so by effectively selling their souls to the devil (joining Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan). We have many descendants of these Marcos contemporaries: the Laurels, Roxases, Macapagals (now the Arroyos), etc.

    Those who were younger suffered greater misfortunes. Those whose political careers were still just budding were simply “put away” at the first sign of dissent. The same was true with student activists, many of whom came from UP, the Ateneo, etc. Those who were not as high on the intellectual ladder were tortured until they gave up their more superior comrades. This went on through all of the 22 years of the Marcos regime. Systematic elimination of anyone who was potentially a threat to him and his immediate family.

    Even those whose leanings were not political were effectively disposed. Ever wonder why we have a dearth of geniuses in the sciences, engineering, economics, and the like? Well, because Marcos scared them all into leaving the country. Why do we have such an admiration for overseas Filipino workers? Because sending all our talent abroad served two of Marcos’ purposes: get rid of more of potential adversaries and ensure there is some foreign currency getting into the country even in the absence of investors. Marcos made sure that students only got the barest minimum from the public schools. Parents who could afford it sent their kids to expensive private schools, which actually offered just a tad more than their public school counterparts.

    Marcos never really invested in science and technology R & D. There was no and has never been any really meaningful career path for those who degrees in the sciences and engineering. And you still wonder why they all went abroad?

    Over the years, other Filipinos acquired an aversion to the intellectual elite. All because of Marcos. And now we have Duterte, Sotto, Pacquiao, Roque, and worst of all, MOCHA USON.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Brain drain will still be around if we do not let SSS retirement benefirs near or better GSIS.
    That is what I hear in coffee shops and former collegues.

    I don’t know what is the science behind the fear of bankruptcy of SSS.

    Solve the pension benefits then drain can be addressed.
    Canadian style universal health care can also be done.

    We must have new industries if learning curve is the issue,then learn new ways of learning.

    With the right attitude we can strive to have aptitude with high altitude.

  8. karlgarcia says:

    intellectuals,the article have Francis as an example, may his tribe increase and more tribes be like him without the need for tribal war.

  9. karlgarcia says:

    We have been building ships for five hundred years for other nations, we must build our own.
    Our jeepney modernization must be for the Filipino hand, we must do our own jeeps then later we will build our own sedans.

    Many industries like the suggested military industrial complex can be achieved.

    We are not lacking in ideas and potential, we don’t need another hero, there are so many already, just do not fail to recognize them.

  10. karlgarcia says:



    The bulk of global inequality is accounted for by income differences across countries rather than within countries. Expanding trade with China has aggravated inequality in some advanced economies, while ameliorating global inequality. But the “China shock” is receding and other low-income countries are unlikely to replicate China’s export-oriented industrialization experience. Relaxing restrictions on cross-border labor mobility might have an even stronger positive effect on global inequality. However it also raises a similar tension. While there would likely be adverse effects on low-skill workers in the advanced economies, international labor mobility has some advantages compared to further liberalizing international trade in goods. I argue that none of the contending perspectives — national-egalitarian, cosmopolitan, utilitarian — provides on its own an adequate frame for evaluating the consequences.

    Dani Rodrik thinks that the more we have a level playing field globally, national inequality still abounds.
    Rodrik should tweet to trump that hs immigration and trade policy just won’t do.

    link to follow

  11. chemrock says:

    Joe is basically asking how to solve the problems of a damaged culture.

    To solve a problem, it first needs to be identified. Here’s a local Filipino who saw the problem clearly. He said of Philippines:
    “Here is a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor… . Here is a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy. Here, too, are a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite.”

    What do Filipinos do to someone who sees the problem and probably could have played a big role towards solving the problem? The killed him, that’s right.

    He was Ninoy Aquino.

  12. NHerrera says:

    One constant word that I had in mind as I was listening to the SONA speech was CREDIBILITY. The other is the pageantry complete with the associated attires — on which Filipinos excel.

  13. madlanglupa says:

    Alvarez ousted, replaced by Arroyo. Of course, it’s not going to change a thing whatsoever except who gets the largesse, the lion’s share.

  14. alcura says:

    This reminds me of Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ In The Wind” – The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, The answer is blowing in the wind…

    • alcura says:

      The answers are blowing in the wind. The answers are out there for anyone who is willing to grab them. The real problem is that no one is willing or capable of grabbing those answers.

    • To me, Dylan is saying, ‘well, we don’t know’, whereas I am saying, it is possible if you focus on people’s need to be inspired.

  15. chemrock says:

    Someone once said, Philippines is a nation that “stayed 300 years in a nunnery and 50 years in Hollywood”.

    The pageantry at the SONA is a clear sign it is still in Hollywood. The event appearance is more important that the message from the pulpit.

    For the SONA, what is important is not what Duterte say he will do. It’s what he said he won’t do that is more important.

    He told Alvarez he won’t be displaced. There you are, presenting the new Congress President Arroyo.

  16. Ancient Mariner says:

    Roy Rogers for House Speaker.😇

  17. Francis says:


    The President is calm—promises stability.

    • Francis says:


      Must be in response to criticism regarding the instability caused by the ad-libbing of the President—the rumbles of the business sector, etc. must have reached the Palace.

    • I gave the President a B- grade. It was a sound speech with programs mentioned like Land Use Law that were important. Human rights is the big negative that, at the outset, established a grim tenseness in the chamber. It never went away. Natural applause was limited. Most came from the gallery of supporters, not the real audience. He did not swear or insult, he left VP Robredo alone, he promoted Bong Go and Harry Roque, with a humorous jab at Roque’s ambitions. He did defend the WPS more strongly than has been done up to now. He mentioned raises for the soldiers and cops, a fine utilitarian move. He did not oversell federalism. The speech did not inspire, the video clips were distracting, but the overall tension could be cut with a knife.

      The Arroyo coup likely did not occur because the House was not officially in session with the vote was cast. Tomorrow is a new day.That episode probably added to the tension.

      • karlgarcia says:

        National Land Use and Universal Healthcare are the strongest points for me.

        • Same here. I also like his toughness with mining companies and I think he wanted to say something about ‘kill’ in reference to the rice corruption scoundrels, but restrained himself.

          • karlgarcia says:

            If he can solve the artificial shortages that would be awesome. If he could do it without a matrix, better.

            • Yes, true.

              Change in topic. Did you notice the pained expressions on Puno’s and Pimentel Sr’s faces when they were acknowledge for their ComCon work, as if they understood that they had ruined their legacies and committed an act of prostitution? It was evident they were embarrassed by it, not proud.

              • karlgarcia says:

                50 % smiling 50% in tears I think.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I said before that Arroyo forces would make themselves relevant again, I just did not know it was this fast.
                Arroyo will push for Federal parliamentary system, it is obvious.

                She is long rumored to be the next PM.
                So now with out the pain in the neck neck brace. No more pretenses.

                Remember, she has control of Central luzon, Bicol Region, New Negros region and Northern Mindanao.

                Let the Game of thrones commence!

              • karlgarcia says:

                A picture paints a thousand words.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        It really says a lot about how low our standards have gone, when the ability to refrain from cursing and insulting people earns them a B-.

  18. pablo says:

    quote: “Filipinos don’t accomplish much, really.”
    So wrong.
    I just hosted 2 young, very bright and exciting Filipina’s, they have a plan to maximise their education and leave in 2 years time for greener pastures and join the other 10% which fled the country. They are the right stuff. They were thirsting for knowledge. They WILL succeed and build up a brilliant career, that is already very clear.
    Filipino’s and Filipina’s DO accomplish a lot.
    Just not in Philippines.
    A country without remaining brainpower and without exiting and capable people.
    A country ready for a take-over.

    • I would be ecstatic to be proved wrong on that point.

      • pablo says:

        Rather simple. I worked abroad all my life. All over the world… My best colleagues always were Filipino’s (Filipina’s). They were willing to go the extra mile. They were always eager to gain new knowledge. And after a hard days work, they knew how to have fun and party. Ready for the next day of hard work again. 35 years of the same experience.
        That’s why it was so difficult to retire in Philippines. These brilliant and beautiful people seem to have dissolved, they are certainly NOT running the country. It seems they are family people who want to get the best for their kids, most of those wanting to work abroad as well.
        Together with my Filipino colleagues, we accomplished a lot. Sometimes the seemingly impossible, sometimes game-changing novelty techniques.
        Just not in Philippines.

        • madlanglupa says:

          > It seems they are family people who want to get the best for their kids, most of those wanting to work abroad as well.

          Pretty much the culture in the last 50 years is to send the best out: indoctrinate the young to work elsewhere because income here is difficult, life here is difficult, family first rather than nation.

          • Pablo says:

            Although maybe correct at first glance, but you make it sound as if the leavers are deserters. But look at it from the other side. If the smartest ones leave, maybe they see it as it is. Over-simplified maybe, but why stay for a bunch of profiteers fighting a loosing battle?
            Joe put the emphasis on the people here but now the question seems to have changed to: Why do the best leave while they seem to be essential to pull the country out of the mud, what does it take to keep them here and build up the nation?
            Maybe the leavers do not want to fight a lost battle? Maybe they see it for what it is and we should learn that lesson?
            A very harsh view, but one worth considering.
            In my experience, if ever there is a huge problem and you get the honest opinion of all people, the average idea has always correct.
            So, what if the leavers are correct?
            Ofcourse, they love the Philippines. Of that, there is no doubt. They really do, otherwise there would not be the thriving Filipino communities abroad or not so many Filipinos retiring in Philippines (albeit most of them keep a foothold in their host country). But it seems that a huge part has decided that the situation “at home” cannot be changed and is not worth the fight. Does that make them deserters? Traitors? Spineless? Profiteers? Or are they the backbone of the nation keeping the country afloat with remittances and support? I find it very difficult to consider the OFW’s in a negative light. Even if aforementioned one in 150 returns to the country, the 149 leavers have left for a very, very valid reason because it is very hard to leave the country where you were born, to build up a new life in a country which often is not very hospitable. The situation here therefore must be pretty hopeless to take the drastic step to stay permanent in a foreign country. But once their kids get educated in the host country and find their partners there, the people are lost to Philippines. And the second generation as well. The problem brain drain then compounds.
            And the Remainers can continue nursing their attitude of depending on handouts.
            I know that this is a simplified version, but it serves as a trigger to think about the use of discussion how to improve as opposed to how to limit the damage. The latter could be considered negative, but it might well be realistic.

            • I don’t think the question has changed. The idea to build a social sensibility that keeps smart people here . . . that inspires them to stay . . . is exactly the point.

              • Pablo says:

                Sure, but it ain’t working, isn’t it? It’s getting worse. So many people tried to change it, but it’s getting worse. I tried my little thing and was sabotaged (Not that this should be a yardstick). At what point do you change the playbook from a motivated game changer to a damage-control position? If there is no “Alexandra Octavio-cortez” and Gina is sabotaged, then keeping on the game-changing track is ultimately causing self-destruction causing harm to everybody in the vicinity.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Had to look up the lady from the Bronx.


                I thought it was about Jenny from the block.

            • karlgarcia says:

              I would not call you deserters, not because I have first degree relatives and in-laws abroad.
              It is what it is.

              But those of us who stayed are not chopped liver.
              You may call our hope dreaming, I don’t care, I am not the only one.
              Before this turns into a John Lennon song, I just want to point out that we still think things will change or why are we still here talking about it.

              I strongly oppose any notion that there is no hope.

              But when the time comes when my son would ask if he could migrate to greener pastures, I would not stop him.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        This is just anecdotal, Joe. Among my classmates at the Philippine Science High School, more than half went on to the US or Europe to pursue further studies soon after having obtained their bachelor’s degrees in different universities in the Philippines. I am pretty sure at least 90% of those of us who left obtained doctorates in different fields of science.

        Our teachers in PSHS always encouraged us to go ahead and pursue further knowledge as they sent us off. “Go ahead, go abroad, learn more and do more,” they would tell us. But they also begged us: “Please come back when you’re done and give back to your country.” Which to me made perfect sense. We got where we are on the backs of Filipinos who paid taxes. We should only be very happy to help rebuild our country. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

        But if memory serves me right, among those who left and got PhD’s abroad, here’s the exact number of those who came back: ONE. One out of maybe 150. Mine was the 17th class of students at PSHS. So assuming the same can be said of every class, that’s 17 out 2550 students that taxpayers spent a lot of money on as early as high school, so they can all get advanced degrees abroad, hoping they would at least consider coming back one day.

        So it’s not so much a question of whether we can accomplish a lot, Joe. There really are many Filipinos who I think have proven they can. But THEY ARE MOSTLY NOT IN THE PHILIPPINES, Joe.

        • That seems to be true especially of the Martial Law era batches – I am from Pisay Batch ’82.

          But you can only make people come back if the environment is conducive to innovation. One look at how they treated Mahar Lagmay and his Project NOAH is a negative example.

          • Jose Guevarra says:

            True. It’s not even about the money that can go to our pockets. It’s really more about money invested in us and our endeavors. When we see how wealthy politicians have become compared to everyone else, compared to what they have spent on our schools and universities, and then compare that to real opportunites we can have abroad, is it really any wonder why many of us choose not to come back?

        • My focus is on here, in the Philippines. Anyone who has read the writings of Edgar, Irineo, and others from abroad, would agree with you. But unless the overseas folks return, one would have to look around and explain the gross incompetence and lousy thinking and values in some way. Then want to do something about it.

          • Jose Guevarra says:

            I think you’re missing the point, Joe. Advanced countries generally do not suffer from this kind of brain drain that the Philippines does. When the best and the brightest of your people all decide to leave, who are you left to work with? No one except the ones with “gross incomptence and lousy thinking and values.”

            • I think you are missing the point. Something needs to be done about it and pointing to a brain drain does not do that. The comment was not directed at you or people who left. It is about what is happening here and what to do about it. If you want to write an article about the brain drain, have at. This article is about who is here.

              • Pablo says:

                But it is interrelated. The bright and hardworking ones, the ones with initiative and thirst for knowledge leave the country. Left behind are their relatives who expect a remittance every time they are in trouble, thereby creating a class of spoiled and irresponsible people who can’t be bothered to plan & save & fight as their safety net is sending money when needed. Many of the OFW’s will return later, but then the burning fire inside them seems to have gone and they focus on having a peacefull and happy retirement. Ofcourse not all the best human capital moves abroad, there are those lovely people who stay and want to fight to make a real country out of those islands, a country where laws are followed. Only their quantity is too little. The critical mass is not there with the brain drain. So the critical ones are silenced, the murder rate on journalists is sky-high. And the country continues to slide down the slippery slope. It is nice to dream about what should be done. But that is what it is: a dream. And that is evident from many comments. Pie in the sky. Not backed up by realism, nice plans but no teeth to implement. I have not found any law so far which was implemented. Then you must get real and accept the harsh reality. Don Quichotte is in many of the reactions on Joe’s piece. But the young folks have voted with their feet and run away. Is there an Ocasio-Cortez amongst the remaining young ones? Would there be enough fighters left to support her? I hope so, but like Jose indicated, when only ONE remained and the rest fled the country, the army of supporters for “the girl from the Bronx” just is insignificant. I pray to be wrong. Every night, I dream, but then wake up.

              • I don’t think the overseas brains have the desire to return, so that is an impractical solution. The Philippine schools continue to crank out people who pass the same exams to become lawyers and engineers and even take their oaths, then start self-dealing or leaving the country. So there are smart people here, but they just do what works for them, under a system that rewards with favors rather than builds character and careers. Nothing changes and nothing will until someone comes along to tweak a different set of desires. Where achievement is more highly regarded than being compliant.

            • Around a million middle class Filipinos left for the USA between 1965 and 1986, when Kennedy opened the country for immigration – and Marcos made people think of leaving. Karl and others have verified this number more or less in a previous blog article.

              Think of around 40 million Filipinos at that time. It wasn’t necessarily always the cream of the crop but often those in the middle, between the top and the bottom rungs. Then look at migration after 1986, often to Canada, Australia etc. as the US was getting harder to enter.

              But there already was major migration to Metro Manila after World War 2. Why was that? Was it the rule of warlords in the countryside, the lack of middle-class opportunities there? The successful moved into subdivisions. Those who failed moved into slums. So it started.

              The Marcos needed money and the POEA was founded in 1975. Filipinos went to “Saudi”. Katas ng Saudi jeepneys and sari-sari stores. More and more chose that way. Came back.

              Then came BPO. Money without leaving. Somewhere in all of that is the “cause of them all”.

              • sonny says:

                Hence the different premises that should be attached when analyzing the Filipino situation: are we talking about Island Philippines or Diasporic Philippines? This simple distinction subsumes lots of other premises in the analyses.

              • Mostly island Philippines. Diasporic Philippines itself is not even uniform. The crowd in the English-speaking countries is usually of a higher level of educational attainment than the OFWs in the Middle East or Singapore/HK – or most of the Euro crowd for that matter, except in places where there are UN jobs, meaning a place for professionals. The vote for/against Duterte is usually very much related to educational attainment / social class.

                And of course Filipinos who leave (all of us) somehow retain a bit of the times they left. Finally many of us (including myself at times) fail to distinguish properly what subpopulation / milieu / stratum of island Filipinos we are talking about when describing certain attitudes.

              • sonny says:

                Some notes:

                When deciding to return to Island Philippines, a would-be repatriate examines the extent to which one’s credentials and drive could be leveraged for the long-term and beyond. Scions of old-money oligarchic families, for example, must return to help husband the family heirloom be it business-, political-, socio-economic-, academic-related or derived. e.g. Aquino, Dominguez, Bunye, Pangilinan, Macapagal, et al.

                The most footloose are the high-end middle class and laborer classes, I think.

        • chemrock says:

          When Deng Hsia Ping opened up China, 1 million Chinese went overseas to pursue their education. The willy Deng knew that when these 1 million return, China would be different.

          Well, initially, lots of Chinese did’nt return. Just like Filipino OFWs, there’s nothing for them to return to.

          When China began to improve (on the back of community spirit that re-energise itself when given lots of space in a new China) these students started returning and their contribution to nation building was enormous.

          Bottom line is govt needs to create the environment to attract back talents. Nationalist fervour alone won’t work.

          • Francis says:


          • Jose Guevarra says:

            And this is my point. You want to stop the Philippines from self-destruction, well, you have to throw at least some talented people back into the mix. Which means SERIOUSLY investing in them coming back. The grossly incompetent, well, you can only push people too far. But if you at least provide real opportunities for the geniuses, the outstanding ones, and the ones with highly-prized values, then maybe there is hope still.

  19. 500 years ago (minus 3 years, I wonder how that jubilee will be celebrated) island tribes with just around half a million total population (what a wealth of resources they had, seemingly unlimited) suddenly had ships of a strange race appear just like Imperial cruisers in planet skies in Star Wars.

    They had their basic knowledge of survival, of nature, of the seas. A little bit of writing and arithmetic. The conquerors recruited their best people as scribes to serve them. Could it be that until today, becoming learned is “leaving the barangay” to serve “the elites” whose forms of organization grew out of what the conquerors created, but was successively taken over by Insulares (locally-born Spaniards), mestizos and finally trapos? Church teachings, formal laws and finally democracy barely understood in their true sense, but perfectly learned – as new tools for POWER.

    Calling people immoral, saying they had done something illegal, or calling on Robert’s Rules of Order were simply tools for one-upmanship, just like sophisticated / high-falutin words learned in Spanish at Sto. Tomas or in English at U.P. or in New York State Jesuit accent at Arneo/Ateneo were there to intimidate the “natives” – Teddy Boy Locsin, schmuck par excellence, has used the word indigenes quite recently on Twitter, unabashedly the elitist. That people develop such a warped mindset – and the simple people truly hate the fake knowledge a lot of the elite peddle – is clear. But go back to the barangay, unlearn 500 years then relearn is impracticable, even deadly. One hundred million plus people now live in the same area, 200x more than then. How then, how?

    • Francis says:


      We may have to learn the hard way.

      • The Philippines has IMHO been going the hard way since around 1998 – but learning.. ???

        • Francis says:

          We are forgetful.

          Observe Marcos.

          • madlanglupa says:

            Not only tend to forget but also getting distracted easily.

            Manufactured couples get more media mileage than national heroes and history.

            • Why do I say since 1998? Because until 1998, the Philippine government tried to at least maintain a semblance of being like it’s American role model of before – forget today. It did look like “Grade 1”, meaning reciting stuff, but better than the Pinoy dramas that came.

              Strange, yesterday at the Batasan was a mixture of Pinoy drama and unexpectedly, a Bisayan reciting “Grade 1” texts like in old days but from a teleprompter, looking very bored.

              How to get from the Grade 1 / HS / Student Council stuff – or drama – to real useful work?

              • Francis says:

                Why 1998 though?

                I think the fall from grace was with Marcos. 1960s with heady activism, an emerging middle class and potentially viable industry seemed like inflection point.

                Which is why I hate Marcos. He damned us. And his son is praised for damning us. What irony.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Beware, the daughter!

    • Of course there are real elites that have developed, those who really have knowledge.

      But of course the snake oil merchants like Gordon (Ateneo), Roque (UP) etc. hate them and the simple people often cannot (tragically!) distinguish fake elites from real elites.

    • I left the how question unanswered because it is first important to recognize that the key is emotion, it is not knowledge, or history, or technology, or politics. Once that is accepted, then we can talk about the how part.

      • It is a question of trust and distrust. “Our kind” and “their kind”. Exactly the “like us” mindset.

        The “others” might be out to do practically anything to us, even have our livers with vinegar. Christianity, the idea that the ultimate “human sacrifice” is made, isn’t quite in the hearts yet.

  20. Jose Guevarra says:

    “rewards spitting back memorized data, hammered relentlessly into kids’ heads until they grow bored with the idea of education. It is found in the excitement of new knowledge, in winning by problem solving, in relentless small achievements, in creativity and love for humankind, and in thinking like Francis. It is found in the INSPIRATION of discovery, and the joy of accomplishment”

    See, Joe, you already said it yourself. But intellectual creativity is not the kind of thing encouraged in the Philippines. Not with our culture of “respect and obedience.” Gotta toe the line or else…

    • There was a bit of a culture of opportunity after the Second World War. Public schools were still excellent, the English written by the likes of sonny and Edgar attest to those times. There was a culture of excellence in that every High school valedictorian and salutatorian got an automatic UP scholarship. This was a legacy of an achievement-oriented culture the USA had partly implanted into Filipinos during their relatively short colonial period. Yet..

      the older drives proved stronger. The culture of rote is as old as Spanish times, Rizal wrote about “gramophones”. Learning as a mindless exercise in obedience something Rizal also criticized when it came to many friars – his Ateneo being a progressive school unlike the rest.

      Of course what snapped back was learning as a route to higher status, to entitled status. Public schools were reduced in funding, the length of schooling in high school reduced from 5 to 4 years, the length of elementary schooling from 7 to 6 years – two early Pisay batches graduated simultaneously because of the 5-4 year shortening, this I am sure of, 7-6 years shortening of elementary I wouldn’t know. By 1978 out of all those who passed the Pisay entrance exam, only 4 came from a public school and that was UP Integrated School – not exactly the same standard as the typical public school which was totally falling apart then.

      And you had more of a chance to move up via education if you studied in the 1950s or 60s. By the 1970s/1980s the “educated” (entitled exclusive school) crowd wouldn’t let you in, meaning it was better if you went abroad to work. The old feudal mindset had won.

      New trends like BPO (foreign employers don’t care if you come from the same crowd as their fathers, they just look at if you can do the job) and kids of OFWs being sent to the good schools are more recent and bear examination. I wonder what Francis can say about that.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        We do have mandated K-12 education now, which as you know, many Filipinos fought against fiercely. Don’t know how that;s working out yet. We’ll see some time, I guess, as the first batch of graduates are niw college freshmen

    • I said it myself but I’m missing the point? Color me confused.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Here is one part of the problem: Maybe you can give up on those who have already left, but how do you stop, or even slow down, the bleeding of talent?

        • sonny says:

          Maybe not give up on us who left: one may get the Filipino out of the Philippines, but one cannot take the Philippines out of the Filipino (wherever he is).

        • Well, I don’t ‘give up’ on overseas Filipinos and don’t appreciate your misrepresentation. Overseas Filipinos are a different topic than social norms and government policy in the Philippines. Enticing Filipinos back to the homeland is impractical today but is a desirable goal – to have the jobs, social environment, and government policies that are attractive to overseas Filipinos. The ‘how to’ stop the bleeding is a natural follow-up question to this article and discussion. One simple answer is ‘vote better’, but that is not enough, I think, for lasting health of the nation. So I’ll be writing on the subject in upcoming blogs.

  21. NHerrera says:

    An opinion writer writes about the turmoil besetting US President Trump. He titled his piece,

    Rattled or frustrated, Trump is lashing out all over.


    Compared to him, President Duterte is in a better situation, fresh from his latest SONA. Poor Trump. In a play of the words in the blog article, Trump is self-destructing, and helping in the “destruction” of the once admired US of A.

  22. karlgarcia says:

    They say that for things to change poverty must be mitigated.
    Conditional Cash Transfer
    Microlending for microentrepreneurs
    Opening banks to SME lending
    K 12
    Free State University Tution.
    Believe it or not- TRAIN
    Solutions turned to Problems

    Misuse of CCT
    Low count of bank savers
    Mismanagement of finances due to vice, too many mouths to feed, addition loan to loan sharks, lost to get rich quick schemes.

    Too many Food and beverage smes and microentreps.
    lack of roads for Transpo sect with dilapudsyed tricycles, jeepneys and buses.
    Housing occupied by kadamay
    Many still end up as rebels
    State Univ populated by the gifted by parents nit the intellectualltly gifted.

    TRAIN led to inflation no matter how it is denied by the experts.

    plenty more.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Solution Build build

      Solution turn to prob

      Lack of low skilled workers, if you lack low skilled whobwilk the high skilled order around, joke only.

      It is hard to do a crash course on building bridges and buildings, the old timers used experience, the old timers are already too old and the the young are too inexperienced.

      Solution- Bring the Chinese from Africa and South America to Philippines.

    • Poverty reduction requires steady economic growth and jobs. While that framework is being constructed over 15 years, the rules for career advancement need to be changed. Ending contractualization is but one beginning step. Rules for government and large businesses with more than 50 employees need to mandate human resources guidelines based on competence, not favor, and hiring from within rather than hiring from outside (with exceptions). The Duterte government’s acceptance of imported Chinese labor is obscene, and his chasing away of grants and investments is insane.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I would be very glad to be proven wrong on hiring of Chinese laborers.

        Endo and contractualization must ensure that no SME or even large corporations shut down due to personnel salary and benefit remmitances.

        The thing that is stopping people to climb another rung is, the higher your salary, the easier it is for the new CEO to notice and fire you.

        • karlgarcia says:

          One Health gov exec contemplated on hiring Cubans for the public health sector.
          Then the more doctors will get out once you do that. They earn sh_t and the Cubans get paid gazillions?

        • That’s an eye opener. They fire competence because it is too expensive.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Sad but true most of the time.

            • You need more competence the higher the “Level” of your company. Irineo’s definition:

              Level 0: R&D companies. Lilium in Munich with its “electric flying car”, or the recent Hyperloop prototype by Munich Technical University (I think No. 34 in recent global rankings) which won an award from Elon Musk for running 467 km/h in a partial vaccuum..


              Level 1: specialized, innovative high-tech. Not totally new stuff but refining existing stuff and combining it in new ways, or being capable of producing stuff nobody else can in that quality. In Munich: MAN (robust trucks and busses that run on anything, simply legendary), MTU (turbines, Dr. Habibie of Indonesia was VP there before he went back, I think most Indonesian ships civil or military run on those turbines) BMW (cars as integrated systems)

              Level 2: repetitive manufacture at a high level. Japanese car factories in the Philippines. Grohe plumbing, training TVET kids since the late 1980s in Tondo and employing them. Jobs for some skilled workers, engineers and maybe even some scientists.

              Level 3: highly qualified services. A lot of the IT and telco industry belongs there. The software industry itself can be Level 1 or 2 also. “Plumbers”. Some high $$$ Super Marios.

              Level 4: Malls, eateries – highly volatile because consumerism depends on more people having stable jobs. The better the overall economy the more permanent jobs here.

              Level 5: Optional services like taxis, entertainment. The stuff people save on in tight times.

              Government is financed by taxes. So is public education. Obviously you need to concentrate on the top levels to somehow finance government. Intuitively even Russian communists knew this, which is why there system survived for a while. Space program and all of that. MAN produces trucks that are built to last while Russians built the AK-47 which is built to last. Filipino Level 1 stuff could be in composite fibers based on pineapple, abaca etc. but you don’t get there without a venture capital / business angel scene. Just some thoughts..

  23. karlgarcia says:

    The thing I mentioned about pension.
    The people move to government when they reach 40 so they could enjoy GSIS benefits.
    The problem is a more bloated bureaucracy.
    (Which a federal government will further bloat)

    How can you invite people to work in the private sector or remit SSS as an OFW when you will get an average of PHP 5000 when you retire.

    We must fix our pension system.
    The uniformed personnel have the same pension problem.

    Then we promise to double their salaries, show us the money first.

    Then a universal healthcare, again, show us the money.

    How I wish MMT can solve everything in a snap.

    Not a jab to MMT, I just wish it is realistic to be realized.

    Nevermind, the power of the purse is so powerful it has the power to make things not happen.

  24. Francis says:

    “ZTE itself is a good example of how the reach of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the broader Chinese military-industrial complex extends well beyond their military focus. The PLA itself has business interests stretching from hospitals to bathroom tiles exported around the world. ZTE itself is part-owned by two firms with extremely close PLA ties. Follow the money and the connections become apparent.”

    “The largest individual owner, with a 30 percent stake of ZTE, is split among four companies, including Xi’an Microelectronics Technology Research Institute and Shenzhen Aerospace Guangyu, which control the board of the holding group. Follow the corresponding beneficial shareholders upward and you discover that Xi’an Microelectronics is owned by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), and Shenzhen Aerospace is owned by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC).”

    “The similarity in names is not an accident. CASC and CASIC were at one time the same entity before being separated into their current units in 1999. CASC and CASIC are directly owned by the State Council’s powerful State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission but report to the PLA and are involved in the defense industry, including the development of military satellites and precision-guided weapons. According to U.S. congressional testimony, PLA offices are embedded ‘within CASC and CASIC design departments, research institutes, and factories.'”


    NBN-ZTE sounds awfully familiar…

  25. NHerrera says:


    Part of the picture as Philstar reports it:


    The role of Sara, the President’s daughter, and the Majority Coalition in the drama is noted in the report. Happy days are here again. Is the smile of the Chinese Ambassador wider now than during Alvarez’ time considering the hatching of the NBN-ZTE deal — but eventually scuttled — during GMA’s time and the note of Francis above? I note too the comments of Poe among others on this development. This development is rich in implications.

  26. Francis says:

    If there was something so wrong in the emotional disposition of the Filipino—an inherent emotional flaw—then why do Filipinos succeed abroad, as many have pointed out. I disagree with the thesis that the root of Filipino dysfunction lies in emotional flaws—because these imply there are inherent, internal flaws within our national character.

    Which is not true—because Filipinos, taken out of the poor environment in their own nation, generally excel. There is nothing internally flawed with us—or at least flawed to the point of being a significant factor in our national dysfunction.

    The problem is structural. The problem is institutional. The problem is societal. I think that peoples are emotional and tempermental everywhere. We are all human beings—with human virtues and human vices. We all feel.

    And is it not the case that a good portion of America is also under the spell of emotional populism with Trump? And Europe?

    (I think the commonality—explained in detail below—is not that America and Europe are becoming as emotional as we are, but that their institutions are becoming as battered and ineffective as our own.)

    Again—all peoples, all nations are emotional. I liken emotions though, to a river. To re-use a metaphor I had used before, the emotions of a people are like a river. A river can be a godsend, for it can nourish—feed you with irrigated crops and tasty fish. Likewise—the temperament of a people, their emotional disposition can produce enormous benefits; American individualism can give impetus to innovation, Japanese politeness can strengthen a strong sense of unity, Filipino hospitality allows us to get well on a personal level with all sorts of people—yet, it is also possible that these can turn sour: American individualism can turn to selfishness, Japanese politeness can cover up stagnation, Filipino hospitality can merely be veiled self-interested tolerance and not genuine acceptance.

    And you can’t wish away a river or make a river go away. A river will always be there; same goes for emotion. It will always be there—the only thing that can be done is to channel it.

    We need dams—a strong institutional framework to channel our emotional rivers, to avoid as much as possible the vices of our emotional disposition and to maximize as much as possible the virtues.

    (We can view the “New Deal” in America as one good example—still using markets to channel individualist spirit into something beneficial and productive, while using various regulations and safety nets to constrain that individualist spirit from becoming rampant, from devolving into mere selfishness.)

    (One can say that Trump is likely the logical conclusion of a moneyed political system going crazy and haywire? An emotional short-circuit?)

    I have come to a conclusion that the problem is not that there aren’t good people in this country, or that there aren’t enough good people in this country—or that the masses prop up the likes of Pacquiao and Sotto.

    The problem is the rules of the game in this country. To sum everything in one statement: the institutional arragements of the Philippines allow for the elite to easily organize to screw us over in the most efficient fashion, while making it extremely hard for the ordinary people to do the same.

    One example of this is our weak political party system and here it is worth comparing our circumstances to that of America.

    We have institutional arrangements that make it damned easy for the elite to organize in their self-interest:

    Observe GMA’s coup—and those overwhelming numbers in favor of her in the HoR.

    We have institutional arrangments that make it hard for the ordinary people to organize in their self-interest as effectively especially when compared to more mature democracy:

    Observe the stark contrast between American and Philippine midterms.

    Because America has a relatively stronger political party system compared to us—Democrats can hopefully provide a check on the Trump administration by actively contesting seats in Congress. People can express dismay—and see it reap tangible results.

    In this Philippines? Not so much. Imagine Con-Ass, for example. Why do we fear Con-Ass? Because there are some people want HoR and Senate to vote as one—and given how SC treated Quo Warranto, this may turn out to become legally possible.

    And we fear HoR votes having more say because HoR is beholden to the administration, among other factions.

    2019 is coming up. Midterms. Yet—will that even make a difference? In Senate—maybe. In the HoR—nah; a weak party system means that the advice to “vote for people who won’t stand for Cha-Cha” is utterly useless.

    Thanks to our weak and flawed institutional structures—the likes of GMA can amass influence while the people have virtually little effective influence.

    • Yes, it is institutional and structural that people learn to respond the way they do. Yes, other nations are becoming more emotional, too, and we are emotional creatures. Also, studies are confirming that social media affect our emotions in ways that are damaging. But the crab culture in the Philippines that sees success as a threat and mistakes and apologies as weaknesses is clearly more pronounced than in the US, where the “keep up with the joneses” drives people to work harder and grow their paycheck. The institutional framework in the Philippines does not promote that drive. You have focused on the institution of politics. I would focus on the institution of employment, all the practices in the Philippines from contractualization to impunity and hiring favorites that keep capable people pinned down . . . and frustrated . . . and crabby.

    • Pablo says:

      I hear what you are saying… However… how come when you have finally a straight shooting candidate, she is beaten by the crooks? Is there not something here which prefers appearance over substance? Oh, Trump is not an example and comparing with American political party system is just as bad. Let’s compare it with a federal system which works. Let’s use Switzerland as an example. Why can it not work here? Why do people still elect their conman? There is ‘something’ which prevents the people from electing the persons who will lead them to success. What is this ‘something’?
      Eradicate the ‘something’ and life will advance at a speed never seen before. If we don’t, the bottom of the slippery slope will end up in China.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Direct representation.
        I wonder who would propose that?
        why not have a people’s initiative for direct democracy?


        • What I like about it is this: “The Federal Council holds the executive power and is composed of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors elected by the Federal Assembly.”

          I long ago argued that the nation should be run like a corporation, and this Council seems similar to a corporate Management Committee.

          • Each Councillor is President for a year, and by tradition, they are not allowed to take their discussions outside the council. Usually one of the seven is Italian-speaking, 1-2 are Franco-Swiss and the rest are German-speaking from various regions. Swiss model always fascinated me because that country is very tribal, often one dialect per valley. But one should also not forget that the last civil war between two cantons was in the 19th century.

            • pablo says:

              Exactly. And how many languages does the Philippines have? So, maybe Tagalog does not need to rule, but the federation can bring respect to each and every one for their language. Switzerland is not run by law, but by respect. Respect for people, respect for the law, respect for life, respect for nature. Not flawless, ofcourse, but diametrically opposed to anything happening in Philippines. With so many islands, a federation based on respect would be ideal. However, in the making is a federation build upon power grabbing. Respect for law? Respect for life? Respect for property? Respect for each others language and customs and religion? Hickups from laughing…. Poor people, not a chance. Hence the flight outwards maybe?

              • https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/federal-council/history-of-the-federal-council/federal-charter-of-1291.html – the first Swiss charter (a simple Constitution) from 1291 is about respect – this is the way laws should be, just some examples, even if some of it is very outdated:

                The office of judge may not be obtained for any price and may only be exercised by those who are natives or resident with us.

                Any dispute amongst the Confederates shall be settled by the most prudent amongst us, whose decision shall be defended by all.

                Those who commit murder shall themselves be put to death. A murderer who flees may never return. Those who protect him shall themselves be banished from the valley until they are recalled by the Confederates.

                Those who maliciously injure others by fire shall lose their rights as fellow countrymen, and anyone who protects and defends such an evil-doer shall be held liable for the damage done.

                Any man who robs a Confederate or injures him in any way shall be held liable to the extent of his property in the valleys.

                The property of debtors or sureties may only be seized with the permission of a judge

                Every man shall obey his judge and must if need be indicate the judge in the valley before whom he must appear.

                Any man who rebels against a verdict and thereby injures a Confederate shall be compelled by all other Confederates to make good the damage done.

            • sonny says:

              Very interesting observation on the Swiss, Irineo. This lingual diversity within the cantons makes me reach way back to the Swiss tribal make-up of the Helvetii and Vercingetorix and company experience of Caesar’s in the Gallic wars. Now in history & sociology mode, (Most obvious is the archipelagic vs land mass natural boundaries, viz mountains and forests, of the Philippine Malay thalassocracies and forest geographies of the Swiss; also looking into why the Vatican singled out Swiss mercenaries as security component of the popes). Hopefully will find some key data on our respective similarities and differences. tata 🙂

          • karlgarcia says:

            We could try that, if Federalism would be our direction.

      • The Swiss overthrew their oligarchs (William Tell vs. the evil Gessler) centuries ago.

        Three valleys decided on common rules in a simple, one-page Constitution and stuck to those rules, changing them slowly and when needed. Can just one Filipino village do that.

        I repeat: agree on a list of simple, common rules, stick to them and change them only when needed. Not to favor a group or someone, but because society needs it. That might be key.

  27. chemrock says:

    The experience of Naga City and Cebu City offered good lessons for others to replicate. The legacy of People’s Power Movement of Edsa is still strong. There are strong social organisations there of people with the common interest of seeking politicians that delivers on the provision of goods and services. They invite candidates to forums and grilled them seriously. Those that stand up to scrutiny, they engage and actively support.during the election runs. Slowly and surely, this is they way to end clientelistic form of politics. It’s not a wonder why Naga and Cebu tend to have reformist mayors.

    Now why this cannot be replicated in other cities? Cebu and Naga show its got nothing to do with culture, tribes, institutions etc.. Its social organisation.

  28. karlgarcia says:


    Maybe it is not wrong to regularize the former endo people.
    Outsourcing and Freelancing would be very expensive, what needs to be done is to train the low skilled personnel to be high skilled and future proof them from automation. Employee retention will be a must, but Management should brace themselves for higher labor costs.
    Downsizing is wrong sizing not right sizing.

    • My sense of Filipino corporations is that the company holds the power and laws do not really protect employees or even customers very well. The endo problem is an example. To me, just regularizing employees is a simple first step, but there needs to be more to get companies focused on modern human resources management to assure career paths for promising people and merit raises for steady workers. Also job descriptions with work standards identified, regular performance counseling, and so forth. There may be higher labor costs, but there would also be significant improvements in quality of work and productivity.

      In the consumer arena, I think there may be lemon laws, but the practice of in-store inspection of goods rather than easy return of defective products under warranty illustrates the challenges. Customers cheat and stores don’t want them bringing products back. But customers who pass the inspection may find their goods break down in a month and should be able to return it . . . but can’t. The store is protected. The customer, not.

      As I type that, I recognize the parallel in the problem Filipinos have getting a tourist visa to the US. So many Filipinos have cheated on their visas that the US doesn’t trust anyone under age 95 (joke). Citizens have bad ethical behavior.

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  1. […] how self-destructive the Philippines tends to be. I won’t go back over that. You can just read the article or look around to see for yourself. You won’t have to look […]

  2. […] Of course, I am not the only one. Society of Honor, a very prominent WordPress news website that details everything that’s occurring in the Philippines, has published this article: What Has To Happen To End Philippine self-destruction? […]

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