Filipino culture is not damaged, it is just fluid

Carabao Cows chase a swan out of the pasture. [Photo source: Irish Mirror]

By JoeAm

Most contributors here at the Society of Honor seek understanding more than anything. The cultural character of the Philippines, and Filipinos, is the center of much discussion here.

I’d like to summarize a few highlights of my own understanding, and probe a new thought in some detail. Before doing that, I have to say my bias is American, and my challenge is not to presume that this is a morally superior bias, but one that helps me better understand some components of Philippine culture, like patriotism and productivity, or lack thereof. It’s like a mirror.

For sure, the American way has its own drawbacks, for example the war-monger part and the brutality that flows from that, the bitter political gameplaying, and even the downside of the intense drive for productivity and prosperity that considers 40,000 highway deaths a year as an acceptable price for the lifestyles generated. In a cold, objective sense, it is hard to see much difference between that calculation and 10,000 drug-war deaths per year as a price most Filipinos seem willing to accept if Philippine government can do what no one so far has managed to do, govern the ungovernable and build prosperity.

Two prominent qualities of Philippine culture that distinguish it from ordered Western societies are:

  1. A deeply ingrained tribalism that has a me-centered orientation to interpersonal relationships. The community horizon is very narrow. The ordering of priorities, in terms of allegiance, are roughly self, family, God or reason, tribe or community, region, and nation. God or reason float up and down the chain. A deep sense of nationhood is broadly missing. The me-centered orientation removes compassion from tragedies that are as relentless here as anywhere. Drug deaths, landslide graves, dilapidated buses crashing into the ravine, storm deaths in the thousands. Life is cheap in the Philippines. Resilience wins. Move on.
  2. We can see a pronounced acceptance of (need for?) a vertical hierarchy of authority, rather than a demand for a flat, rules-based society of equals. Most Filipinos, other than the well-traveled elite, seem not to relate to modern concepts of social equality or the democratic notion that citizens are empowered to run things. No. In the Philippines, citizens are empowered to find their place in the vertical hierarchy of authority. We can see this vividly on the roads as the vehicle with the most prominence is immediately granted the right of way, no matter what the rules say. Or in the local community where a barangay captain tells people how to vote, and they do. The elderly are recognized if not empowered, and the rich and people in government are regal rulers, entitled to considerable helpings of impunity. Racial jokes are common, as is sexual innuendo keyed to gender. Freedom and equality as Americans would understand it mean very little to people who have been oppressed from the getgo by foreigners, their own leaders, or neighbors who are not so kind.

Today, I’d like to discuss what I think is a third major, distinguishing feature of Filipino culture. Lack of structure. That may seem like a ho-hum topic, but it is actually the most defining of all Filipino characteristics.

The Philippines is an unstructured society. It is a free-flowing society.

Imposing laws, democratic principles, and institutional ethics in the Philippines is as fruitless as demanding that a carabao fly.

  1. Laws represent a society’s best effort to impose structure that ought to benefit citizens. Laws define limits and responsibilities, and grant certain freedoms. But in the Philippines, laws are a weapon for the powerful and an advantage for the rich. Even judges or justices of the Supreme Court have no foundational commitment to fairness or justice. Court decisions are fluid with technicalities used as ammo when true justice might produce an unfavorable outcome. The well-off can get annulments, the rest . . . tough luck.
  2. Ethics represent a similar rules-based effort to encourage professionals or groups of people (fraternities, lawyers, etc.) to do things that will favor, and not penalize, their associates. Ethical rules are typically anchored by an oath. But these ideals do not apply in the Philippines. They get in the way, and are generally only used as a way for the powerful to punish the weak. When a Christian advocate of the death penalty is appointed as chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, you know principles are loosey goosey and ethics mean nothing.
  3. Institutions represent a structural gathering of people who pursue a mission such as teaching, preaching, governing, providing services, or defending the nation. But the idea of principles and honor get bent sideways in Philippine institutions, as we can see from the way in which independent agencies of government put allegiance to themselves and an authoritarian leader ahead of constitutional purpose. Or how preachers back drug killings or college presidents hob nob with plunderers.
  4. Economy or the use of money is a vitally important structure because it is the basis for financial well-being of every citizen. Yet taxes in the Philippines are regularly misdirected or stolen, the government destabilizes itself and chases investors away for the sake of power and wealth, and economic managers are relegated to blowing smoke up the nation’s kilts. The discipline of economics in the Philippines is a matter of excuse-making, re-adjusting figures, claiming credit for good luck, and blaming others.
  5. Time is a vital structure that separates the past, the present, and the future and helps people organize and coordinate their affairs to best advantage. But Filipinos regularly amend the past so it looks better for the current administration, spend the present avoiding accountability, and ignore the future. The clock is just an estimate and not a commitment.

The common thread among all elements of structure is the free re-interpretation of what they are for. Where people of most modern nations see rules as lines in a drawing, Filipinos see gray space waiting for them to draw the lines as it best benefits them.

The striking thing about all this is that culture is not really damaged, from the standpoint of Filipinos. It is natural. “It is just what we do,” no worries, no problems. Conscience, the brother to compassion, has no bearing because no one expects others to care about them. They haven’t, for centuries, after all.

So Filipinos operate in a free space with structures not of community-determined laws, ethics, institutions, economy, or time, but of the more fluid and self-determined structures of authority and benefit.

Will these fluid structures promote health, fulfillment, and prosperity for Filipinos broadly?

No. No. They haven’t, and they won’t.

But consider it from within the herd. If you are a carabao, you don’t particularly care to look around and see a flock of swans running things.


156 Responses to “Filipino culture is not damaged, it is just fluid”
  1. Francis says:

    Re-posted from my comment yesterday in previous article due to relevance to the current discussion:

    This comment of mine was something I was planning to save until tomorrow but I can’t help but throw this thought now; it has been bubbling in my mind for some time—about Filipino culture and a way by which it can be approached…

    In that sense, I am off-topic—but I digress.

    My concern is with 5.8-6.1.

    First, a few points:

    “6.1. What we need is a break-out from the native ties that bind too tightly. Not only freedom from government. But freedom from tradition. Freedom from culture. The caterpillar has to break out from the cocoon to become a butterfly.”

    We can never be free from culture. And who is to say that “Western” freedom is freedom in its universal form—or that it is the only and/or final form of freedom? In a way—aren’t “rights” empirically not some universal abstract thing, but social constructs situated in a particular cultural context?

    (I say empirically because, like you—I do believe that “universal” rights/ethics do exist and that “universal” rights/ethics are out there. However, I recognize that while their existence is something I believe in to be true, their actualization/practice is not something as cleanly universal.)

    In any case—how we experience or define freedom is defined and bounded by the culture we inhabit.

    On these grounds alone, I would suggest that adopting “Western” individual-oriented conceptions of freedom would encounter much difficulty. The “freedom” we see in the West is not just a reflection of some abstract, ahistorical universal principle—it is that—but it is also in actualization/practice the result and ongoing culmination of a centuries-long historical process that still continuing up to this day.

    “Freedom.” “Rights.” These cannot be legislated, but must be lived in practice by the whole of society through both the lives of the individuals and the “lives” of institutions and “processes” of structures that make up society.

    Any project to “change” Filipino culture cannot avoid using Filipino culture itself. The building may be demolished—but one cannot import all the building material needed for the new building, nor neglect the foundations already in place. We are always forced to build on what is already there. Whether we want to or not.

    “5.8. Why the need for reinforcing social cohesion when we are a collective society?”

    This sounded odd to me. It is precisely because we are a collective society, that we celebrate the need to reinforce social cohesion.

    The question in “changing” Filipino culture is something that I have always found strange and sometimes irksome—for as someone who is currently studying the social sciences, my take on things is that it is better investigating and focusing on structures in society and institutions if one wants to “solve” culture.

    I mean, I don’t deny that culture exists, but focusing on culture to solve culture is…not effective in my opinion. It is probably more useful to indirectly interface with culture—deal with the more “concrete” manifestations of culture, i.e. how society is structured, institutions, etc.

    Enough about my opinion. That’s just my opinion.

    But if we are to consider the question of directly changing Filipino culture…

    …and we cannot avoid substantially building on what is “already there,” so to speak…

    The question which we must ask are:

    “What from the ‘foreign’ is best compatible with what is here—or closest to the best or promising aspects of Filipino culture?”

    “What is the best possible mixture of ‘foreign’ and ‘local’ culture for Filipinos?”

    I think that an Enlightenment-derived liberalism( with the autonomous self and all that) still has some ways to go in this country. I would rather suggest borrowing something more ancient from the West: Aristotle.

    I observed in one of my classes that the morality of Ancient Greeks bears a lot of strange parallels with Filipino morality in practice. In fact, I would argue that in some cases—Filipino morality probably comes closer to the more pragmatic and less “saintly” Ancient Greeks than self-sacrificing Christianity.

    Unlike Christianity—which expresses a disdain for the earthly material world and puts up the noble, poor saint whose eyes are turned towards the otherly world as the ideal man of virtue—the Ancient Greeks loved winners in this mortal world. Arete. Skill. We Filipinos (outside of Mass) like earthly winners a lot.

    Ancient Greeks (besides those like Plato) saw the virtuous man not only as a kind man to his fellows, but also as a successful man. Many Filipinos (see Rizal’s Pilosopo Tasio as one interesting observation of Filipino society in this regard) don’t have a good opinion of wise hermits reflecting on the nature of the Truth, the Good, etc.

    In fact—Filipinos would find it very intuitive that Aristotle listed “liberality” and “magnanimity” as virtues. “Liberality,” is essentially about the “mean” or “moderate way” of giving palibre and “Magnanimity” is essentially the “mean” or “moderate way” of patron showering public blessings on the community/privately contributing to the public good.

    I think many Filipinos would nod with Aristotle here.

    (Of course—we can agree or disagree whether these should be considered as virtues in the modern-day Philippines, but the point is that it may be worth looking at aspects of Western thought with the potential to interface and mix better with our culture in its current context.)

    The way Aristotle valued contemplative wisdom–but stressed the need for prudence or practical wisdom at the same time, would probably make appeal to the many Filipinos who prefer looking at things from the concrete rather than abstract.

    Aristotle’s ideas on friendship—I think—are something that might also find much interest among Filipinos who strongly value the notion of “barkada” and often have huge sets of friends and acquaintances. Aristotle differentiates between friends of “utility,” “pleasure” and “virtue” and counsels that the first two (especially the first) are easy to break—but the last literally lasts.

    The Ancient Greeks also lived in small city-states, which fits in well—though I stress, not at all exactly—with the centrality of the barangay in our political experience. The “polis” was the center of life for Ancient Greeks.

    Where do we depart most with the Ancient Greeks?

    I think that we have our fill with Sophists. Our wonderful spokesperson H.R. counts as one example. Thrasymachus says, “Justice is the advantage of the stronger.” Gee, I wonder why that sounds familiar…

    I think that what sets apart the likes of Aristotle and Plato from the Sophists (and us Filipinos) is this valuing of the distinction between opinion and knowledge. We seem to still not be able to distinguish the two. We do not know or care about the difference between opinion and knowledge. We take the opinion of the majority around us, of our many “friends” and “peers” in our communities as “knowledge” de-facto—unquestionable truth.

    – – –

    …the classics (while I admit I have procrastinated much in reading them—I am not exactly a model student) are a good read…

    I found the fact that the classics we covered were rich in anecdotes to be something which I think made them very relatable and understandable.

    Especially when compared to articles preaching the abstract wonders of “good governance,” which I don’t mean to say is a bad term—only that to most people, it might sound technocratic or detached…

    • Francis says:


      Some modifications from original comment present.

      • popoy says:

        Tweeto (attempt to KISS) is at the moment upstairs as popoy.

        If I may, I think Francis you just posted another piece worth of TSoH neurons. For how else did civilizations gave substance to history without the intellectualization of golden and diamond matter; against the further and farther idiotization of idiopathy inflicted on a groping society.

        Common sense de-intellectualize the spatial and temporal dimensions of aberrant culture.
        People heard it loud and clear before. Read about it (like Andres B) about the storming of the Bastille, blue bloods flooding streets, and the hangings, tarring, feathering and quartering of the deserved. Filipinos had heard it before from marching workers and students loud and clear: himagsikan! himagsikan! Dictador, tuta, Dictador tuta, IBAGSAK. Imperialismo, IBAGSAK. But of course Philippines is not France, nor the Pinoys, Frenchmen.

        Common sense fueled by revulsion had stopped on tracks the wrongness of brutal oppression. The march and progress of civilization DID NOT HAPPEN by rules from the top but by the slow stubbornness of the low. If progress brings happiness, happiness is a personal thing and can’t be obtained from and dished out by those who rule. Regardless of space and time, albeit the dialectics of concepts, people are better left alone to find their own level of being. Man is fashioned by nature; when the universe was modeled after man, nature is only a subset and better left alone like a rainforest to run its course.

        Structural-functional theory of any endeavor begs for de-simplification. Culture for analysis might not be amenable as dialectic structureless or dysfunctional entities; with solidness or looseness perspective.

        The theoretical solidness of the WHOLENESS of man are better understood in the HAPPY INTEGRATION of his social, political, economic, and whatever ecology in his habitat. Concrete examples of partial models are listed in the top twenty countries listed by UN’s human development index.

        The Philippines OFW phenomenon, those Flips or Pinoys find the wholeness of structure and functions; the social-political-economic-whatever in SOME of the countries they choose as new habitat to work and stay. Yes, YES. these OFWs go for a short visit to their kith and kin in Paradise which is not unlike Adam and Eve’s Eden of lost biblical souls.

    • ” . . . I would suggest that adopting “Western” individual-oriented conceptions of freedom would encounter much difficulty. The “freedom” we see in the West is not just a reflection of some abstract, ahistorical universal principle—it is that—but it is also in actualization/practice the result and ongoing culmination of a centuries-long historical process that still continuing up to this day.”

      I laughed on reading this as it is exactly the point of the article I had just finished. I also like the idea of “earthly winners”. Even though it is that same emotional need that prevents individuals from accepting accountability for things gone wrong. And without that, progress is like wading through a mud pit rather than building a bridge to cross it.

      I do believe it is possible to walk toward a different set of cultural imperatives, but not under an autocratic leadership that amplifies the least productive characteristics of Filipino culture. And who knows, maybe there is a Gandhi in the wings waiting to make large strides instead of small steps, although I don’t see him or her.

    • Earthly winners.. the admiration for athletes is another thing in common with the Greeks.

      Hidilyn Diaz and Manny Pacquiao are not touched by the all to common crab mentality.

      • Nietzsche defines the morality of the ancient world as “Master morality” as opposed to Judeo-Christian “slave morality”.

        One should be careful with Nietzsche ideas though, as a particularly vicious version of developed into Nazi ideals of superiority as opposed to perceived Christian victimhood, i.e. neopagan amorality – and Nietzsche himself went mad and died in the end.

      • edgar lores says:

        The Greeks not only admired physical prowess but also mental prowess. Filipinos do not.

        Filipino antiintellectualism is encapsulated in Duterte’s derogatory claim that if these SC justices were truly intelligent they would be occupying his position.

        • Francis says:

          We do admire mental prowess. Sophistry. Pambobola. The bullshitting lawyer.

          Even Marcos needed to look smart. Even Duterte needs a Roque.

        • NHerrera says:

          Yes. The kind of “intelligence” displayed back in those days — may be even these days — over several garapon of tuba.

          • Or Mocha with her favorite adjective: “Booobo siya!!”

            Or Duterte saying that Leni is “mahina ang diskarte” – as if diskarte was the ultimate intelligence. Diskarte is street smarts, but they will only take you so far, up to the pier.

            • Leni’s answer, among other things, says:

              “Hinalal kami ng taumbayan para guminhawa ang kanilang hanapbuhay. Pero dahil sa diskarte ng Pangulo nitong dalawang taon, tumaas ang presyo ng mga bilihin, lalong humirap ang buhay.. Sinumpaan naming mga lider magtatrabaho kami para sa mga kapwa naming Pilipino na bumabangon araw-araw para mabigyan ng mas magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya.. Bumabangon ako araw-araw para gawin iyan.”

  2. andrewlim8 says:

    The upside of this “fluidity” is that it saves Filipinos from mental health issues, depression and suicides.

    The downside is everything else – poverty, ignorance, inability to learn from mistakes, inability to remember lessons from history, poor character, you name it.

    Filipino ” resilience” is in its essence, mindlessness.

    “Puso!” from Gilas. ” Sipag at tiyaga” from the Villars. ” Never say die!” from Ginebra. ” Walang iwanan” from Erap. ” Wag kang susuko” “Wag kang bibitiw” .

    All these platitudes have short term value, but never get you moving from pt A to pt B to pt C.

  3. NHerrera says:

    In the contest of today’s blog topic:

    fluid = capable of changing its shape or nature when acted upon by a force tending to change it; changing readily; shifting; not fixed, stable, or rigid

    Very apt characterization. Although there are some elements of the Filipino culture admired the world over, it is amazing and fortuitous that you came up with the concept of fluidity which I believe dominates the culture — perhaps a mechanism to the Filipino survival. Resilient, adaptable?

    If it were a solid or rigid substance, it can be damaged with a good blow of a big mason’s hammer. But you can’t do that with a fluid. Unfortunately, this fluidity, which has its positive side, is not anchored on even a few irreducible moral principles or values — condemning the country and its people to a slow progress contrasted with the contemporary demands of a fast-paced progress.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      To continue with your ” fluid” metaphor: fluids cannot form a foundation for anything, including a strong, prosperous nation.

      Fluids become more useful when heat is applied (boiled) or heat is drawn away (frozen). Which is why dictators are appealing.

      • Interesting comments. The idea of fluid as a salve, a relief ointment, for the downtrodden makes sense. Day to day living is what millions do, totally devoid of opportunity and hope. I recollect how I could not do consulting work as my full-time job because losing the anchor of a daily corporate job was too much. Too unnerving. I’d go nuts trying to live day to day, not being in control of my future. So, yes, there is relief in living in the moment if you can do it.

        Conversely, once one commits to doing it differently, to being productive, then one gets a watch and the ulcers that come with watching it every five minutes. One gets stress and anxiety and may even become rude and overbearing. That is a bit of a trap, too.

        • NHerrera says:

          That is where meditation and the Buddhist Way may help reduce the stress and anxiety you wrote about. But don’t let the corporate boss catch you doing it often, or back to consulting you go. 🙂

    • edgar lores says:


      It is the Bruce Lee defense.

      One can adopt a philosophy of life based on the four classical elements — earth, water, air or fire.

      Each approach can be life-giving or life-destroying.

      o Water slakes thirst but is destructive as a tsunami.
      o Fire gives light but is destructive as a firestorm.
      o Air moves water, fuels fire, recycles carbon but is destructive as wind.
      o Earth is the womb of life but is destructive as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

      Water, as Joe Am notes, lacks structure. It has to be channeled, shaped, and poured into vessels to gain utility.

      Filipinos, surviving through a water-based philosophy, lack principles.

      Duterte, Aguirre, Calida, and the palace spokesmen use liquid logic to bend the rules of law and to smudge the lens of perceptions to further their own ends.

    • sonny says:

      Ah, NH. I wish I could handle as easy as I would like to, the analogy of fluidity, a physical term, to culture a human term that invites and conjures up very fast, abstract constructs such as anthropology and sociology. But as they say, “fools rush in where wise men dare not go.” I’m fool #1. 🙂 Here goes.

      Fluids undergo phase-changes. Take water: its phases are ice, liquid, steam. Three phases, same chemical composition in all three phases. Water exhibits different properties in each phase, e.g. ice floats, liquid water flows, steam drives locomotives & turbines. Water’s chemical composition is its essential identity, like man’s anthropology.

      Water’s properties are different depending on which phase one examines: why does water float as ice, flows and is non-specific in shape as liquid and how can water drive engines and turbines as steam. One can think of man’s sociology, his behavior & capabilities in the presence of pressures & temperatures.

      We can use this simple analogy and understand our humanness along these physical and abstract constructs and come up with clear conclusions.

      • There is the distinct possibility that the present crises are creating a lot steam from water. That energy properly harnessed can move a society forward. Unharnessed, it scalds.

        A lot of steam engines exploded while the technology was perfected. One more analogy.

        • sonny says:

          Yes, Irineo. The phase-change from liquid-water to steam creates expansive pressure, readily convertible to mechanical energy and modulated by relief valves gives out the desired mechanical power. The control chambers are key to safety or harm. The same principles apply to nuclear energy or any power sources & utilization. Hence the necessity of using qualified expertise & operators.

          One can extend the analogy further to the education of citizenry to the art of politics, leadership, governance and citizen participation.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    It is the nature of the beast to adapt.
    First it was all about survival, chameleons and praying mantises blend with their leafy surroundings, etc
    Then there is evolution, you adapt to evolve into another, the transformation happens with many revolutions of the earth around the sun.

    I am reading a book written by the team of Henry Kissinger about China, and it is written there that conquerors who were successful in conquering them were convinced to adapt to their ways instead of influencing their people.

    If that is true then all this things about water and bamboo bending with the wind has nothing to do about being conquered.

    So it is not only in Rome where you do what the Romans do every time you go for a Roman holiday.
    China made you do it even wen you are conquering them.

    Another interesting part is they let barbarian fight against each other instead of fighting them one by one.Then remaining tribe will be weak enough not to invade them.

    In the Philippines, we are tribal, we feel like victims of oppression even when the oppressors are gone, we somehow get impressed again then we become depressed.

    Now it is about bullying, it no longer the strong bullies the weak.
    The weak can harass the strong because of the”empowering” socmed.
    It is like someone being brave because he can hide or is like being hit by a sniper.
    That is one aspect.

    Imagine Mocha Uson saying that she will run for congress to have a level playing field.
    The bully always feels being bullied.

    is our culture damaged? says who, Fallows?
    Perhaps, but does it need fixing?

    If something is beyond repair you either throw it, or re (cycle,use,purpose)
    But Filipinos are consumerist after one use you throw it.

    If someone is terminal you do palliative care until they pass on.

    The problem is we do recycle, we recycle the same mistakes continuously and constantly and perennially that makes our culture fluid.

    We do not need to give or receive palliative care, we just need to care.

  5. NHerrera says:

    Here is news that may require more of that fluidity from the poor among us. Rappler reports:

    Inflation in September 2018 strains Filipinos’ budget at 6.7%

    The inflation rate was 6.4% in August.

      • NHerrera says:

        Of course, you and I, karl, can stand this growing up pain for a future benefit. That government official should address that to the poor and his family who have to scrounge for the day’s food.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Congress to the rescue?

          With our record breaking gas prices beyond our control, we contain what we can so the fluid can adjust to the container’s size and shape.

          Bill seeks to scrap fuel excise tax under Train law
          A A

          KEITH A. CALAYAG
          October 4, 2018
          SURIGAO del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers on Thursday, October 4, filed a bill that seeks to repeal the hefty tax on fuel imposed by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law……

          • karlgarcia says:

            I prefer a fluid Congress than a zombie Congress.

            • karlgarcia says:

              the government will now suspend excise tax on fuel.

              Maybe the bill filed by Barbers will be passed sooner because Arroyo is making her presence felt about inflation, that same thing happened during her time and her team was successful in lowering it, and now she asked the econ team to move faster.

  6. Tem says:

    May I add “confused” to the label? It will read “the Filipino culture is not damaged, it is fluid and confused.”

    I am neither a historian nor a philosopher, so I beg your indulgence. I do study both though. And here is my take on this topic.

    The ethnicity/culture of the Filipino is Malay. This links us with Indonesians and Malaysians. How different are we from the two? And how come they are moving forward, clearly in the economic sense, and we are far behind? (I hope our 6%+ growth is not a flash in the pan).

    It appears to me that the Malay mindset hews closely to a feudal culture. Before the western colonizers came, these places were all under variations of Datus and Sultans or Rajahs. In many cases, these were small communities under a “benign” ruler. There were no universal rules – only judgments by the Datu. And his decisions were “case to case.”

    When the colonizers came, they introduced (perhaps, forced) a system of leadership that had suitably evolved to fit their large nation-states – where the rule of law had already become absolutely necessary to sustain their society.

    On the surface, we have a constitution, we have laws and all, but the Filipino mindset is still looking for a Datu. In Malaysia, I am told they have found a way to marry the Malay and the western ways. They have laws (western model), but the laws include provisions which exempt members of the nobility from arrest (Malay model). It seems they have recognized the polarity between the west’s blind obedience to rules and the Malay respect for rulers. They confronted it and seem to be largely happy with it.

    We have done no such thing. We go through the motions of enacting laws, knowing, even as we craft them, that they will be largely ignored by those who can.

    • karlgarcia says:

      We are all students in life here.
      Literal students like Francis. who claims to have low grades in some subjects has contributed wonders here, so can you.

      • Kalantiaw is fake, but is for real. It isn’t really true the Malays only had the datu deciding without any law to guide him, at least in the Islamic areas, since the Filipino Tausug also have “Adat” as their customary law:

        Despite its Arabic origin, the term adat resonates deeply throughout the Maritime Southeast Asia, where due to colonial influence, its usage has been systematically institutionalised into various non-Muslim communities.[1] Within the region, the term refers, in a broader sense, to the customary norms, rules, interdictions, and injunctions that guide individual’s conduct as a member of the community and the sanctions and forms of address by which these norms and rules, are upheld.[2] Adat also include the set of local and traditional laws and dispute resolution systems by which society was regulated.

        • karlgarcia says:


        • sonny says:

          Thanks for “adat” reference. Explains many things for me.


          Before Islam or Christianity, there was the animistic (polytheistic) Malay. The Malay was both moored to the land and free to roam throughout the archipelago (thalassocracies). The Malay was surrounded by myriad forms of life, like forever, far and wide.

          tropical life + intellect & senses = order and mystery. Monotheistic Islam or Christianity had difficulty abiding by this. Animistic Malay didn’t have such difficulties. Thus, religion, reason, mystery converged on the Malay psyche.

          • Sonny, we had this discussion about the tropical world once. The mode of survival of tropical people like Africans, Malays, Tamils is shaped by their unpredictable environment, placing more of a premium on flexibility than on structure.

            Time is easy to structure in the agricultural tropics as the length of the day hardly changes, unlike further North. Time and weather are both panahon in Filipino.

            Institutions formed when larger units were needed, as opposed to the coastal barangays Yet even in the Pasig river delta, a system of paramount datu aka Raja ruling over many small dates still obviously sufficed. Refer also to the demographics of those simpler times.

          • karlgarcia says:

            pre-colonial Indian influence.


            As to pre-colonial governance we just discussed the Barangay


          • sonny says:

            @ thanks both to Irineo and Karl.

            Both replies are now data to “personal data algorithms.” 🙂 (I hope memory holds up)

    • Yes, you can add ‘confused’ if you apply some kind of moral value, such as prosperity being a good thing, because the drive for national prosperity getting set aside in favor of personal enrichment is a confused way to go about building a strong and happy society. If we used the Constitution as the moral document, we’d have to agree to the western value base. The governing authorities in 1987 did this, but the people, broadly, have not followed through. Nor have governing authorities since 1987, for that matter.

      • MLQ3 wrote an article about the Spanish-era barangay which partly explains things: native rules became hereditary cabezas de barangay (barangay captains) and among themselves, they voted a gobernadorcillo (mayor). If one political dynasty died out, the others cabezas in town chose a new colleague. These members of the principalia all were permitted to call themselves “Don” as opposed to “Datu” in Malaysia, doesn’t mean they were Spanish.

        Governors of provinces were not native, usually they were “Insulares” or “island Spanish”, born on the islands. Pardo de Tavera would be an example of an Insular family. Only in American times did mestizos (Spanish or Chinese) and “natives” get a go at more than being Mayors.

        Add to that that rule of law came relatively late in Spanish times – the Civil and Penal Code were only introduced in the late 19th century, so probably customary law under the principalia ruled before. Most probably the first Filipino lawyers were children of the privileged classes and twisted the interpretation to favor the outcome, just like today.

        5-6 generations is a short time to change attitudes. There are some signs of a new attitude among some in today’s social media discussions. The old ways were I think more normal before, even if there was this “delicadeza” of pretending to go by the book, lost now.

        Western value base? If one hears Cayetano before the UN, that is exactly how “values” were recited during the Martial Law period. More like Latin prayers, chants without meaning for the general public, just for ceremony but not to be followed. The kind of stuff Martin Luther hated and rebelled against, rightly. The stuff Vatican II rightly abolished.

    • In many cases, these were small communities under a “benign” ruler. There were no universal rules – only judgments by the Datu. And his decisions were “case to case.” => de facto, same thing with Philippine justice, except that it is couched in the language of Western jurisprudence.

      When the colonizers came, they introduced (perhaps, forced) a system of leadership that had suitably evolved to fit their large nation-states – where the rule of law had already become absolutely necessary to sustain their society. => that was a long evolutionary process. The Romans in the time of their Republic had a lot more variability in their laws than they admitted. Real codification was in the time of Justinian (Byzantine).

      Germanic tribes did not have judgement by the chief, but by elders -> the English and American jury system evolved from this, as opposed to the judge-based Roman system. Tribal laws became written down laws only because of monks who basically wrote down what was usually done. Still, there was a lot of case-to-case decision-making before that.

    • sonny says:

      Filipino culture is still unsorted and uncharted for many a part, just like the archipelago. 🙂 The culture is in search of “themes, paradigms and trajectories.” (c. Bishop Robert Barron)

  7. Laws, Ethics, Institutions, Economics, Time.. the (more abstract) structuring elements as opposed to just power and benefit. More structured societies of course accomplish more while less structured societies are more flexible. Same as with biological organisms.

    What is very “native Filipino” about the Duterte government is that they don’t really believe that specialized expertise has any meaning or usefulness. The results are what we see nowadays.

    Somehow the native mindset has to catch up with modern realities, managed by the elite until now.

    • Francis says:

      The difficult thing about ignorance is that one cannot even grasp the words to understand one’s chains—almost always unseen.

  8. NHerrera says:

    Off topic but still connected if tangential with the concept of “fluidity” — this time of the Calida kind.

    Part of today’s calendar of events of relevance to TSH is the Hearing at RTC 148 Judge’s court sala of the Trillanes Amnesty Case. Anything new, if you have it in your finger tips, karl?

    • The court was in session for 8 hours today hearing witnesses from both prosecution and defense. No arrest warrant was issued .

    • karlgarcia says:

      Sorry for the late reply, in addition, the highlights in the news is the witness whose certification was twisted to mean that there was never an application.
      Reading trolls comments, they still insist that the application does not exist.
      Trolls and govt are so twisted.

      Roque for being caught to be twisted is contemplating resignation because of that doctor’s visit.
      He was even told to not run for the senate because he will lose.
      I wonder if Mocha was told to go ahead because she will win. UGH.
      Bong Go will run, so maybe Roque is the new guy to wake Duterte every morning or is it noon?

    • NHerrera says:

      Joe, karl: thanks for the update.

      • NHerrera says:

        While on this sub-topic, I heard someone say on TV the following variation of the word:


        Whatever. I pray and hope Judge Soriano sees his way clearly, guided by his legal mind and conscience, through the thicket of this.

  9. Andres 2018. says:

    To understand better the current culture of Philippines, it is best to look back into its history.

    Time before 1600s – Rajahnate, Sultanate, Barangays. Independent city-states.
    Years between 1600s-1898 – Colonized by Spain.
    Years 1898-1940 – Colonized by America.
    Years 1941-1945 – Invaded by Japan.
    Year 1946 – granted independence by America.

    Before Spanish time, The Philippines was divided into independent city-states, each independently governed by its own rulers. Some parts of the Philippines are even once parts of kingdoms that are now outside of the current Philippine territory. Each of that city-states having each own beliefs, cultures and laws. Even today, this diversity is still apparent, cebuanos, illongos, ilocanos, moros and many more. Tribalism, as they call it, is deeply ingrained in every Filipinos. What will happen if you mixed diversified cultures into one? Or maybe the more serious question, how can you mixed diversified cultures into one? Or maybe another question, should you merge diversified cultures into one? Nahhhh! I am bombarded by more questions rather than answers while writing this comment. I better stop at this point.

    • The Greeks also started off that way. Sparta, Athens, Corinth as the major cities.

      They formed colonies in places like Sicily. Syracuse was a colony of Corinth, for example.

      Same with Malays. There are speculations about the Indonesian Batak being related by language and blood with the Ilocanos, that Batac as the name of a place is intentional – colonists often named places the same. Bataks dominate the Indonesian army BTW. Tagalog I have been told by Indos is similar to certain dialects in Sumatra from its sound. There could be some truth in the legends of Datu Puti, even if the full story is by now untraceable.

      Indonesia and Malaysia also came about from many tribes. What are their unifying factors:

      1) Indonesia. Bahasa was the “Swahili” of the Malays, a simplified common language. Malaysians also use it. Probably Filipinos would also know it if they had not been cut off from Southeast Asian trade by Spain. Second unifying factor is the idea of Pancasila which comes from Buddhism and was continued in Hinduism (Bali) and Islam. It is a mix of religion, philosophy and state ideology. Third unifying factor is that the Javanese de facto rule the country (the oldest kingdom with a highly sophisticated elite) with the Batak as their military enforcers (the brutality of civil wars in Indonesia makes Mindanao look harmless, unity was not achieved in a nice way there)

      2) Malaysia. Bahasa plus Islam (no Pancasila over there) plus Rajahs/Federalism.

      ..Philippine unity originally had its roots in mainstream Filipino culture, i.e. that of the colonized Filipinos, the Christian lowlanders. Even with different languages much is similar. The languages are also related to one another, like German is related to English,Dutch..

    • sonny says:

      Since you have created a timeline, this begs a simultaneous Filipino demography as time marched on.

      • The demographics look more or less like this:

        1500s: around half a million only

        1900: around 10 million

        1950s: around 20 million

        which has a lot of consequences for what kind of agriculture is needed.

        Netherlands for example is highly productive but uses technology similar to Israel.

        It also has consequences for the self-regulatory capability of a society.

        Metro Manila in the 1970s still had some self-regulatory capability, inspite of chaos.

        More people, less space and modern life (less time) make self-regulation harder.

    • Von says:

      I think we give culture too much credit. Whatever culture that is currently present is nothing more than a collection of solutions to a series of problem that our society encountered. These solutions became comfortable and became rote and we now we call them our culture. The question is not if we have a broken culture, the question should be: what do we want to solve? We are out of place in this world because we are not shooting for something. The problem and challenges we choose to engage will define our culture. We are not Greeks, we are not Malays, and we are not Americans. We are Filipinos and we are looking for the problem of the millennia. Do we look to the west and figure out how to burned down the aging paper tiger that is China and build our own empire in the Mongol fashion? Do we look south and lead a cultural and economic Renaissance of a very youthful and vibrant Southeast Asia? Do we take advantage of our multi-cultural adeptness to engage the most culturally diverse yet resource rich Southeast Asia where we are strategically located? Do we look to the east and economically merge ourselves to our sister cultures of North and South America? Should we colonize Australia and New Zealand to complete what our ancestors have done in colonizing the pacific and Africa? Should we capitalize our penchant for adventure and colonize the solar system and beyond? You see a broken culture. I see a Sumatran tiger about to pounce. It may sound funny right now but it is not without precedence. The Mongols conquered empires with hundreds of cultured cities, each with populations of millions. The Mongol army was never more than a hundred thousand men and with no written language. No city to speak of. They had nothing but a fluid and energetic culture that dared to ask: How do I stop this pesky tribal energy from destroying us from within?

  10. Sup says:

    Weather weather lang…………..
    The reason for being fluid/forgiving/forgetting is because the high temperature in the Philippines lessens our short term memory ……… 🙂

    Read ” The effects of high ambient temperature on short term memory”

    Click to access 623683.pdf

    • edgar lores says:

      I would say it affects long-term memory as well. Individual and racial long-term memory.

      We do not remember martial law. We do not remember we lodged application papers. We do not remember Pepsi.

      • Sup says:

        They remember but only when confront them directly they don’t..that’s the ”short term memory effect”…hahahahaha

  11. Cha Coronel Datu says:

    You had me at unstructured. It is definitely a step further than simply saying the culture is damaged. Even further than “Filipinos lack discipline” which the 16+ million that voted for Duterte were hoping he would be able to deliver. Marcos already tried that tack decades before and we are still where we were if not worse.

    Many Filipinos lack discipline because they do not understand, observe, or respect boundaries. From time to time someone comes to remind them, or convince them, or scare them into observing the boundaries. But then they see someone else let through and so they say the hell with it. Inconsistency leads to failed boundaries leads to lack of discipline.

    Consistency derives from structure. Structure, or the arrangement of parts and elements of the whole, allows for predictability of consequences of action. It is one of the first lessons of successful parenting. Children who know who is/are in charge, what/when they are expected to do and how, and the rewards and consequences of positive and negatives behaviours grow up to become disciplined and responsible adults. The child is father to the man. The child needs boundaries needs structure.

    • I struggle to remain non-judgmental. If one accepts that prosperity is a good thing, then one migrates quickly to structure as the best way to develop it. And then one can be judgmental about the lack of discipline, consistency, and applied effort. But it certainly seems that most citizens of the Philippines either never learned the importance of structure, or long ago gave up on it because it was applied so haphazardly by others, and it didn’t produce much for them, as individuals. When people agree that they can take care of themselves and others by applying discipline to their own lives, it will be a new day. Until then, cross the road at your own risk. Because the drivers take offense to your being there.

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        The struggle is real for many of us too, I believe. But that’s what makes you (and the others who form the lifeblood of this blog) different. Beyond the occasional ranting and venting that is good for letting off steam, there is always the urge and keen interest to dig deeper, to understand and get to the core of our troubles. That attitude is not too hard to pick up on and even imbibe if you frequent the blog often enough. Methinks that’s more than enough to make up for straying every now and then into judgmental territory. 😊

        • Yes, fair enough. I do think that if one hangs around this place reading Edgar’s stepwise enumerations and logic, Irineo’s history, NH’s rational good sense, Karl’s balancing act, Francis’ layer upon layer of meanings, Will’s faith and personal interpretations, and the humor of Sup and the contributions of others, your and JP’s humanitarian works and Popoy’s word puzzles, one can find peace, good will, and better brain power. It’s like if one swims in ‘smart’ long enough, and one works diligently not to drown, then one develops new muscles in the mind.

  12. edgar lores says:


    1. I have espoused that equality and liberty are not only the highest political ideals of mankind but also the highest spiritual ideals.

    2. Why? Because these ideals allow the full realization of the potential of the individual, the flowering of his abilities. And in the full realization of the individual rests also the flowering and the raison d’etre for society.

    2.1. From a Darwinian perspective, society exists to perpetuate the species, and nothing is more important than the begetting of children. The perpetuation is not merely for biological existence. It is to nurture and to build the best conditions for the benefit and wellbeing of [human] life. Indeed, of all life.

    3. It is argued that these ideals are not indigenous to Filipino culture and that, therefore, they should be adopted with caution. And, if adopted, they should be adapted to native conditions.

    3.1. No. These ideals are self-evident truths and are universal in character. The woman in the street in Manila is of the same essence as the woman in the street in Los Angeles. As is the man in Tiananmen Square.

    3.2. And if we are to reject or modify these ideals because they are “foreign,” should we not also reject democracy because it is Greek? And Christianity because it is Jewish? And Islam because it is Arabic?

    3.3. Yes, there are limits to these ideals but the limits should always be drawn to their maximum periphery as practiced in the most liberal of places.

    4. America may not be that most liberal of places. While the full conception of these ideals coincided with the birth of America, we can see that the ideals are not fully practiced there. America continues to struggle with racism against people of color and, lately, against immigrants. And we are spectators to America’s crisis on the treatment of women.

    4.1. In our country, we are similarly faced with issues of inequality and captivity. The first with minorities of all kinds – the Lumad, Muslims, and drug addicts – and the second with people who live in the periphery – the prisoners awaiting trial, the poor, and the powerless.

    5. The opposite of equality is hierarchy and the opposite of liberty is authority. In the essay, these opposites are felicitously summed in the phrase “a vertical hierarchy of authority.”

    5.1. Hierarchy is an efficient organizational structure for governance. But governance is in the political domain. And there is perennial confusion as to whether it extends to the moral domain.

    5.2. Because of this confusion, moral power is often ceded to political power despite the doctrine of separation.

    5.3. This confusion has resulted in the Drug War.

    5.4. Political power is delimited by laws, by the Constitution and the body of laws. Political governance should not be engaged in any activity that is immoral and that has been defined as illegal by law.

    5.4. Moral power is delimited by conscience and, not necessarily, by religious authority. A consequent realization of the Protestant Reformation is that each man must be his own pope.

    5.5. This is not to say that there is a complete separation of what is political and what is moral. There is an overlap. And the overlap extends more to the side of governance than to religion. It is well within the domain of politics to settle certain moral issues for the benefit of the citizenry. Reproductive health. Divorce. Same-sex marriage. What have you.

    6. As we move forward, the conundrums in thinking – categorization, scoping, and logic – continue to challenge Filipinos and mankind.

    • Absolutely beautiful, eloquent, elegant response to the article, walking us through a chain of logic and values that leads me to conclude that it is ridiculous to partake in an unstructured, undisciplined, illogical, self-punishing lifestyle. But Filipinos largely do, and no leader seems capable or willing to explain to everyone how each of us individually can gain by committing to building a structured, disciplined, sensible, uplifting lifestyle that takes care of others first, and us, too.

    • Sup says:

      That’s why i am learn……

    • chemrock says:

      Wow Edgar, that is powerful, thank you.

      As I reflect on your words, I can’t help feeling that these morality, equality and libertarian virtues you speak of is being challenged in the SC hearing on Kavanaugh currently going on in US. And I think the parallelism of Philippines to US is really so uncanny and unnerving in time and space when Trillanes goes to Court 148 or 150, as surely that will be his destiny because my confidence in the independence of the 2 lower court judges is as high as my striking the Php 574 m Lotto jackpot.

      The parallelism of the 2 countries goes right down to the root of the problem in the country – the schism caused by extremely polarised peoples. On the one hand, we have a disparate band who choose to embrace democratic values, of respect for individual freedoms, knowing full well the system comes with many imperfections. Across the aisle the multitudes who prefer a tribalism of sorts overlorded by an authoritative chieftain sitting on top of a hierachical structure, surrendering individual freedoms for peace and food that the lord promises.

      If Philippines’ culture is not damaged, neither is the US’. It is a continuing struggle of human drama going through the rise and fall of nations throes. Nations get consigned to the ouroboros of endless circles. If history is never learnt, there can never be progress. Despite the sciences and math assimilated in schools, the minds got left behind in the tribal villages.

      • In both the US and Philippines, a strange warping of the power grid is taking place, backed by big money. There is a departure from the values set forth by the founding fathers and principled elite who drafted both constitutions. I’ve never quite grasped the objection to liberalism which, to me, means, hey, share the wealth a bit better and be kinder to people. The extremist tendencies of Trump and Duterte are horrifying to watch and yet tens of millions of people like it. I feel a great sense of loss about the righteoousness of my youth that was attached to fighting for racial equality and against the war that occupied my time for a time. Now, there is a crass game of one-upsmanship going on and it seems to stain all of us.

      • edgar lores says:

        Kavanaugh seems to be a lost cause. But I hope RTC 148 lives up to its promise.

        • sonny says:

          Senator Collins, the lady Republican from Maine and respected by both sides of the aisle appears to be for the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. Whatever the final result the confirmation process is quite revealing as to how democracy in a large federal republic works.

          • It could’ve been easily just another Anita Hill episode, sonny. But Kavanaugh’s performance last Thurs. was simply contempt, even perjury. I agree with former Justice Stevens completely. As someone familiar with these Federal background stuff, what you did in high school or college can easily be explained as sorry I was dumb and young, but have since learned. Kavanaugh didn’t go that route, thus should be dinged for wisdom, or lack of it. Which is kind of a requisite for this job. And no, the Devil’s Triangle is not a drinking game. lol.

  13. popoy says:

    this is both OT and OOT:


    Stats people in TSoH should write about it because the hypothesis is that Lottery KEEPS the poor poorer and prevents improving their lives. It is about PROBABILITY THEORY.

    If the jackpot is 1 billion pesos, how much does the lottery agency pockets every time there’s a draw producing no winner? And continues drawings without winning the jackpot ? And how many winners will there be if there is cheating?

    • karlgarcia says:

      Is there a part where you give us the answer if we say sirit na?

      • NHerrera says:

        This is a numbers item and interests me. Before Popoy comes with the number after your sirit na, let me write my guess: about 30% is pocketed by the government agencies out of which they pay the expenses to run the system. Wasting space here, but here are my thoughts.

        1. If during the debate on this Lotto, sane people participated, then the government take greater than 50% would have been thought excessive.

        2. 10% or lower take would have been voted down because, for one the system is supposed to be a revenue making device for a good purpose (?).

        3. So say, between 20% to 40%. Hence my number of 30% — the average of the range.

        The wasted TSH space is the “rationalization” for the number I mentioned. And I will fight to the death, ala Kavanaugh and the Republicans, my reasons. Hahaha.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Thanks for the save.Nice catch.

          • NH,

            Foundations over here have similar takes, ie. 30%-50% (operations cost, ” ” air quotes 😉 ) . Wounded Warriors started out as a big scam by some kid who came up with a cool name, slogan and logo, and people just gave him money.

            Speaking of lotto, Mega over here is $470 million plus now. Like they say, you don’t have to tax the poor, just the rich… the poor will always tax themselves. Hence, lottery should be re-named tax for the poor.

            But realistically, everyone plays:

            … and this was me earlier tonite. So not completely atheist. 😉

  14. chemrock says:

    Private run lotteries hand over on average 30% collections to govt.
    On top of that, some govt collects taxes from winners.
    Govt run lotteries — don’t know how it all works out.
    All collections from lotteries go to charities, the raison d’etre for legalised lotteries.
    But Philippines under GMA, lottery collections go somewhere else.

    Is there cheating in lotteries?
    Damn sure there is.
    In countries where privacy is assured, the public does not know who actually won. Methinks that when someone wins, they will slip in another winner and said there are more than one winner. Even in Singapore, I’m pretty sure this is going on for the simple reason the laws of probabilities do not support a winner every week! Ours is a 6 out of 49 numbers game, so the chances of winning is 1 out of 10,068,347,520. On average we get a winner every 2 draws. That would mean sales is about 5 billion tickets per draw. Total number of people living here is between 5-6 million. Go figure.

    Philippines is even more mind boggling. A past Pangcor chairman once declared a technician a Php 10m winner. It was cash for the technician to disappear as his life was under threat because he publicised the photo showing President Estrada gaming at a casino. When querried, chairman said he has the right to do so — give money away as he likes!

    In terms of the software, just like the election software, it’s almost impossible to tweak a massive system in stealth without anyone finding out. However, in some systems which are developed like assembly lines (the Indian approach) then a particular part could be thinkered without interferring with the whole. Such is the case with lottery software. You could tweak with the module responsible for the random number selection. I believe if you use some sort of root toolkit, none will be the wiser.

    • chemrock says:

      Oops I do believe Phils lotto is like Spore. Draws are in public using numbered balls. Well it’s something that I protested long ago. They have dignitaries inspecting the balls (in Spore the job is given to Ernest & Young, public accountants). They did everything but weigh the balls. Yet weight is the critical factor here.

      Many years ago, a guy was convicted for trying to cheat. He was an insider. He cheated on the ball weights. It was a different game, we call it 4-D. Out of 10 balls, he added weight to 6 balls except his 4 preferred numbers. (How that was done was never disclosed). He could not control the outcome in terms of the number sequence, but it means his 4 digits has good chance of winning in various combinations and at various price levels. I remembered this well cos the 4 numbers he picked were the same as what used to play. Had he continued un-interrupted, I would surely have won several times.

      • popoy says:

        Muchos gracias, obregado, danke, merci, arrigato, Salamat, Thank you all gurus of TSoH. I typed the word lottery and click on TSoH and there you go, I see the FLOW of knowledge. A blog is far from being a library where the thirsty quenched the thirst for information and new insights. TSoH inspires and aspires to be a book in many libraries.

        In the days when lottery was still a baby, a friend whispered if the agency controls all the machines, and winners are never identified, the computer manager can have his own machine time delayed by four hours so he can bet for the winning numbers and distribute them to friends or powers-that-be the next day.

        COULD BE ALSO: If 29 million tickets must be bought to get one jackpot winner and what was sold was only 20 million tickets and the lottery people (by artificial intelligence) knows all these numbers; they also MUST KNOW all the 9 million UNPURCHASED NUMBERS (eg 1 to 49) combinations from which they can choose to tamper by weight or whatever. I know this comment is just a molecule of a byte in computer programming. But from the response here in TSoH informative chap books can be authored by Chemrock and NHerrera to guide the dire poor bettors.

        Lotttery, so says sagacious gamblers is the ONE BEST WAY to make the poor POOREST. JUETENG is the other best way. It’s much like trying to wake up a horse put to sleep by fentanyl by constantly whipping a carabao running the carabao derby in Bulacan. The sleeping horse will never wake up.

        Next, I might yet type CASINO and click on TSoH. Been there done little of that.

  15. On one hand I tend to agree with Francis, but on the other hand edgar also is correct. Thus, not mutually exclusive are their points, me thinks.

    I agree with Francis that mimicry without full understanding is dangerous, and Ireneo‘s described this process countless times on here of half-baked understanding of Western mores/values being implemented in less desirable situations, my 1st world vs. 3rd world dichotomy.

    But edgar‘s “we’re all the same” is also something I’ve espoused here before. There are 1st, 2nd, 3rd world differences in processes and practice , but in the end we all poop, pee, fart, fuck, eat and drink just the same. Same-same.

    Anthropologically speaking I think I come closest here to Ireneo’s understanding of Philippine culture.

    When you say Philippine culture, I automatically think of Badjaos and Aetas (i’d include Ifugaos also but my few individual interactions with them were more as official capacity, ie. badjaos and aetas I interacted with as equals).

    So it is in this regard that I am in agreement w/ Francis , there are indigenous traditions worth mimicking within the Philippines first, before mimicking outside traditions. Central to what aetas and badjaos had IMHO was a very real connection to the land (sea in the case of badjaos).

    In some degree this is also true among the Muslims there. Geography and terrain meant something. Compared to other ethno-linguistic groups there, they generally didn’t seem at all connected to the land.

    sonny made similar observations re Ilocos north and its lesser surrounding areas.

    Farther down south, i’d say Bohol is closest to what sonny is describing as “purer”, ie. the people of Bohol have a connection to the island of Bohol, which causes them towards beautification of their surroundings, i’ve not notice a similar affinity to their land w/ other Visayans—

    Siquijor and Camiguin maybe, but that’s mostly due to size, and possibly witchcraft. 😉

    As far as ancient Greeks are concerned there is definitely enough still over there, to weave one expansive, connective Homeric tale. Just as Augustus commissioned Virgil to write his “Aeneid” , i think there is still time to connect the Philippines via folklore, thus

    teasing all that which is important to adopt and mimic that is still very Filipino, producing a type of culture.

    Now , we come to edgar‘s “we are all the same”, here’s two quotes from Machiavelli i’m reposting:

    Machiavelli’s got it right, but keep in mind that this notion of “Republic” is also very fluid, both viscous and slippery.

    Indeed, Athen’s little experiment with it was very fleeting. Pericles’ funeral oration was beautifully said. But in the end, Athens was responsible for precipitating the Peloponnesian war, google “Might Makes Right” and the Melian Dialogue. Athenians around this time put to death one of its funkiest thinkers, Socrates– Xenophon’s Apology is superior to Plato’s.

    And just like that it slipped , like snapping your fingers when laced with snot. Just slips.

    Republic appeared again with the Romans. I’ve had many buddies tattooed themselves with “SPQR” , not fully understanding that the Senate represented the high borns , or patricians, whilst the P were everyone else, plebeians. Both in a delicate balance, keeping watchful eye for both tyranny of majority and tyranny of minority.

    even slaves had their say, google Spartacus War, though not technically part of SPQR.

    Then everyone became Roman under Caracalla in 212 A.D. (this is Mary Beard’s, but a lesson on open immigration). Thus precipitating Rome’s downward decline, though Byzantium (Rome East) continued til 1204 A.D. sacked by Christian Crusaders (Roman Catholics vs. Orthodox Christians more appropriately).

    Again just like that, just slipped away, this time less slippery but viscosity ie. slower.

    So you’re correct, edgar, America , the U.S. of A. is

    where this notion of Republic with a capital R pops back up again. And indeed both American and French are joint at the hips at this endeavor , the key to the Bastille is still hanging in Mt. Vernon, given to Washington by LaFayette via Thomas Paine (it is said that LaFayette wrote the 1st part of “Rights of Man”).

    Keep in mind the Greeks’ disdain for man-gods, as well as the Romans, where even emperors kept up the illusion of “Republic”, they were king slayers after all , a fact very much celebrated in their DNA. Thus, Machiavelli’s wise advise “either to destroy them, or to go & live in them”.

    Because of its viscosity and slippery nature, it’s closer to water, air and fire, and less earth. Your…

    the four classical elements — earth, water, air or fire.

    Each approach can be life-giving or life-destroying.

    o Water slakes thirst but is destructive as a tsunami.
    o Fire gives light but is destructive as a firestorm.
    o Air moves water, fuels fire, recycles carbon but is destructive as wind.
    o Earth is the womb of life but is destructive as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

    is IMHO Thomas Jefferson’s…
    Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith
    Paris Nov. 13. 1787.

    The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

    So in conclusion,

    Francis‘ “liberality” and “magnanimity” I saw amongst the badjaos and aetas , not the condescending kind described above, but more “purer” to borrow sonny‘s term. If there are any in the Philippines more closer to edgar‘s 4 elements, it’s the badjaos and aetas.

    Now how to replicate what they possess , because the stuff that they still retain (or at least what I saw when I was there), it too is about to disappear. It saddened me so to see many so many of them plucked out of their natural state, only to become beggars like so many other Filipinos.

    How to fight for it is the question. What both Francis and edgar wrote about is already in place. It’s Thomas Jefferson time, another substance both viscous and slippery, both life-giving and life-destroying.

    • To re-cap,

      edgar‘s : “3. It is argued that these ideals are not indigenous to Filipino culture and that, therefore, they should be adopted with caution. And, if adopted, they should be adapted to native conditions.

      3.1. No. These ideals are self-evident truths and are universal in character.”


      Francis‘ : “Any project to “change” Filipino culture cannot avoid using Filipino culture itself. The building may be demolished—but one cannot import all the building material needed for the new building, nor neglect the foundations already in place. We are always forced to build on what is already there. Whether we want to or not.” (hehe… kinda like how the new Chinese islands in South China Sea are actually from mainland Philippines 😉 but i digress).

      we are all same-same,


      • edgar lores says:

        I am not promoting to change Filipino culture from Filipino culture itself.

        “10. The process of Jungian individuation, which is realizing our full potential as individuals, involves, in my view, deconditioning and freeing ourselves from the dross of culture. This is self-actualization, the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

        11. There are many ways of achieving this on an individual basis. I would mention introspection, insight meditation, metanoia. This can be done in the now. It requires the raising of consciousness. On a mass basis, it is next to impossible, as Joe Am mentions. But humanity has gone from polytheism to monotheism, from monarchies to democracies. So it is possible. But it takes time. Although we tend to backslide as the Duterte episode shows.”

        My stance is not in opposition to that of Francis.

        • “9. You are right, we can never be entirely free from culture. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t because there are good things in it. But we can — we should –strive to be free from the defects of culture.”

          But remember, edgar , the premise is that Filipino culture is itself defective or damaged.

          I do agree with your remedy to an extend, but knowing what transpires on the ground, I tend towards Thomas Jefferson’s prescription, sure in more comfortable settings introspection, insight meditation and metanoia; but

          in times of paranoia, blood for blood has always been the “mass basis” of change. Always been, always will be— so the smart bet is not to avoid it like an ostrich ramming its head in the sand (ostriches don’t do this of course, but they are the most forgetful animals, very near-sighted too… buddy of mine runs an ostrich farm),

          the smart bet is to harness history’s “mass basis” pivots, study & master them, I know Ireneo‘s translated Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ to Tagalog, he could also do one better by translating Clausewitz’s “On War” (start with Book 6 Defence first), maybe he’s already done so?

          • edgar lores says:

            Just to clarify, there are two issues here that have been conflated.

            1. Proposition: “Mass culture change is difficult and next to impossible.” Joe Am, Francis, and I agree on this.

            1.1. The quoted item #9 confirms that my stance is NOT in opposition to that of Francis and Joe Am.

            1.2. However, I am not against mass culture change. It is improbable but not impossible. What I was pushing for is individuation. The hope is that with individual change, mass change will occur via osmosis.

            2. Proposition: “Mass culture adoption of another culture’s ideals should be adapted to local conditions.” I am NOT sure that Francis is proposing this. What he is saying is that while the ideal of freedom is universal, it’s practice is not… within a particular cultural context. I agree.

            2.1. My point was that the universal ideal should not be diluted from its maximum application: “3.3. Yes, there are limits to these ideals but the limits should always be drawn to their maximum periphery as practiced in the most liberal of places.” The distinction is between what is and what should be (or what should not be).

            2.2. Examples: modern slavery; China’s censorship of the Internet; China’s Uighur camps.


            3. Proposition: “In times of paranoia, blood for blood has always been the ‘mass basis’ of change.”

            3.1. My comment would be “possibly true” given the caveat of the introductory prepositional phrase.

            3.2. However, mass change can occur without the shedding of blood.

            3.3. Examples: Singapore; the apostasy from religion; Trump but not Duterte.

            • “3.1. My comment would be “possibly true” given the caveat of the introductory prepositional phrase.

              3.2. However, mass change can occur without the shedding of blood.”

              Agreed completely, edgar.

    • Francis says:


      Thank you for summing up the discussion.

      What I can comment is a hunch that I feel. I’m no expert, and I’m relying from what foggy gut feeling I have right now—but my intuition tells me that among the non-Western nations, it is the nations that have synthesized the best of their “local” traditions with foreign traditions which have tended to come out on top.

      The example that looms largest in my mind when I say this is Japan. There are others though. I don’t think that it is an accident that Ethiopia is on the rise, after decades of hardship; a strong sense of culture is a bedrock that lasts. It is possible that Ethiopia (a nation with a long history, never or was only briefly a colony) will probably have better odds in the long run than Nigeria—promising on paper with population and resources, but in the end, a British construct.

      I dunno. Disclaimer: I am a malansang isda, a very Westernized guy. LCpl_X here has probably seen and felt more of the Philippines than I have. But I can’t help but note that difficulties that romanticizing the past, of romanticizing the “Filipino” essence presents.

      This is not to say that we should disregard the lessons which we can learn from our indigenous brethren. By all means—preserve and study under the culture of the Aetas, the Badjao and all our brothers and sisters.


      We cannot turn back. We cannot return to the idyllic past, of small villages and tight-knit communities. This is the post-industrial era. And the Filipino People is faced with the challenge of leaping twice: over modernity, over post-modernity.

      A synthesis of the local and foreign is needed to ensure the quantum leap of our culture. But this is not the only thing necessary. We must also have an equal temporal synthesis of past, present and future. How? We must pay equal attention to past, present and future. We must be careful to not privilege one perspective over the other.

      In the Philippines—I think that there is such an obsession with the past when our people are serious, and when we are not serious (which is most of the time) we dull our minds in the present. The future is barely considered, if at all.

      The constant romanticization of the past in our nationalism, coupled with the endless apathy and fatalism with which we watch never-ending telenovelas.

      Among the greatest and most-recognized cultural export of Japan today is anime and manga; animation and comics drawn in a style influenced somewhat by Disney. A fusion of local and foreign that has matured into something truly local, quintessentially reflecting Japanese culture. It draws some inspiration from the past, yes—but it is dynamic (which is to say, it considers itself alive and therefore present and is still even now capable of conceptualizing all sorts of things—future.

      We cannot—will never be again—exactly like the Filipinos of yore, the Filipinos of the past. We can, however—try to be the best Filipinos of the present. We can, however—hope to shape the Filipino future.

      We can all probably stop yapping about Filipino culture when an equivalent to “Black Panther” arises—Filipino Futurism, where art thou?

      • Francis says:


        The greatest crime of Marcos was to take the time when Filipinos were able to envision a future—the 60s, 70s to my Millennial mind, were a time when Filipinos had a promise and vigor paralleling that of the Japanese during the Meiji Era; the sort of rare window of opportunity where a nation can feel confident enough to remake itself—and fuck it up so hard that we have had to settle with the drug called Duterte, masquerading as the future despite only being a constant, endless bloody present.

        • – about the 1960s, by Joel Pablo Salud:

          ..History makes it plain, however, that ‘destiny’ is something malleable, that somehow, by some miracle or magic, it can be altered, reshaped, though not solely by the hand of humanity but a multiplicity of factors, responses, choices. A wave of change can reroute a destiny and set it back on course.

          Joaquin himself unwittingly attested to the truth of that statement when he wrote his essay, “Junking the Heritage”. He said, “But a nation is not its politics or economics. A nation is people. And a nation changes only when the people change.”

          In this essay “Junking the Heritage,” Joaquin discussed the social, political and economic restyling which swept all across the Philippines ‘mid-decade of the Seething Sixties’. Caught up in these upheavals was the Filipino hitherto held back by ‘peasant-oriented attitudes making up his peasant-oriented society’. This society, Joaquin expounded, once marked by peasant-ness, routine meekness, resignation, fatalism and provincialism, had begun to grapple with its “smallness,” and by wrestling against it, eventually saw the fruits of his struggle.

          That Filipinos saw the need to struggle was in fact a good sign. The tendency of the Filipino to flinch from the challenge of defining his identity had reached its tipping point; he was made aware of the repercussions if he refused. As a result, he detoured into an “aroused interest in our country, people and its history”.

          The winds of change and general positive attitude then, noticed Joaquin, also came with a skepticism which, at length, gave us the ability to discern the road we were taking. We began to grasp Western materialism’s derisory nature, at once deficient and unsatisfactory, and how it assumed influence over our lives. The Filipino, now with an aroused sense of its role in the scheme of things, thought materialism cannot be its defining moment.

          This opened our eyes and spurred us to think twice, ponder on our choices, think in profounder ways which led to our speaking truth to power.

          This curiosity, triggered by what Joaquin called the prophets of havoc—our intellectuals—drove away the Filipino’s fear of introspection and examination of the society in which he was much a part, resulting in throwing ‘the book at ourselves’.

          By dispensing with the fear of introspection, the first revolution against smallness began..

          • ..continuation, paragraphs later:

            Joaquin saw past the social unrest and praised the Filipino’s efforts to finally define the “profile of the nation”. Marcos saw the upheaval only as a threat to his ambitions.

            Thanks to the benefit of hindsight (yes, I lived all throughout the Marcos era), I have all the reason to doubt the dictator than the National Artist, knowing the former’s propensity to lie and the latter’s partiality for truth, no matter how it hurts.

            For all that Marcos was touted by loyalists and foes alike as one of the most brilliant Presidents to ever sit in Malacañang, Marcos’ intellectual virtuosity mirrored that of the criminal mastermind. He ruled as a veritable dictator and plunderer. Little wonder his family today has gone to great lengths rewriting their patriarch’s history.

            With Marcos’ presidency lending some credibility to his claims, the winds of change which marked the “Seething Sixties” began to die down. The once healthy skepticism of Filipinos morphed into cynicism, and later, suspicion against the “prophets of havoc,” the nation’s intellectuals. This soon mutated into scorn and widespread indifference.

            No sooner than news of corruption in high places hit the streets (thanks to the so-called “Mosquito Press”), Marcos was finally unmasked. With time working against them, those corrupted by Marcos took advantage of the little time they had. Corruption, once a crime, had turned into practice. In so short a time, Marcos had transformed anti-materialism to a wholly materialistic mindset from top to bottom. Again, it was money for money’s sake. This bought the dictatorship more time.

            The hunt to arrest or execute all opposing voices was launched by Marcos, and nowhere was this hostility to dissent more apparent than the warrantless apprehension of writers and poets, editors and journalists, and the closure of all publications and media outlets. In exchange, Marcos let loose upon the public his narrative of self-serving grandeur under the guise of a “free” press. One such narrative, at best a tall tale, was his supposed participation in a guerilla unit which tried to bolster his image as a hero.

            By now, the general public had begun to heap scorn on most calls to dissent. Protest marches were marked as a menace to society. The words of the intellectuals, powerful though they may have been, fell on deaf ears.

            It would be safe to assume that with the advent of Marcos’ New Society, which showcased, above all, his achievements in the area of infrastructure, economic development, and relationship with the superpowers—all paid for by the taxes of the people—the all-too-visual spectacle turned the public’s attention from any talk of reforms to such pageants as military parades, global events, virtually the sights and sounds and wonders created by this conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda.

            Through this ritual of tyranny Marcos was able to erase all traces of confidence and dignity in the Filipino psyche save for the militant few. Faced with the majesty of Marcos’ stateliness and royalty—again, all paid for by the people’s taxes—the once proud Filipino was again reduced to the groveling, finicky and fearful crofter of Joaquin’s “The Heritage of Smallness”..

            • ..It is not inequality, but uncertainty that fueled this middleclass vote in favor of a Duterte presidency, the same uncertainty which threatened all their attempts at claiming and sustaining a respectable financial future for themselves.

              Taking a chance with a tyrant, therefore, outshines any gambit offered by indecision, worse, hesitation on the part of government to secure necessary social and economic reforms. No crime in wanting to be secure economically. This is how power ought to be used on the people’s behalf. It is fundamental course of action as regards the government’s relationship with the governed.

              But to focus solely on economics as a nation’s defining advantage, which led to the siding of the “ex-masses” with the oppressor to secure their economic triumphs, is another story altogether. Consider today the commonplace invitation by opposing political groups to put up “online anonymous troll accounts” for a hefty fee: who would’ve thought that commenting nonsensical comments as a matter of corporate policy would bring home the money?

              In the eyes of these ‘ex-masses,’ it’s either they make it now or they break it—that is, everything in their path. Even with Duterte’s admission that he was, in fact, a dictator wearing the hide and stripes of Marcos, to the ex-masses, there’s no turning back to the Dark Ages.

              Little did these people know that the same aspiration to free themselves from the Dark Ages ushered in a milieu more terrifying than Medieval times. The trouble, according to Reisman and Glazer, is the age-old problem of ignorance, or as Joaquin said, our fear of facing up to the challenges with eyes wide open…

              ..The Duterte administration, with its unstable social, political and economic baggage, topped with dictatorial ambitions, offers nothing but ten times the smallness Joaquin had foretold decades ago..

              • Francis says:

                I cannot help but envy your generation, the generation of my parents, the generation of my older professors, the generation of my grandmother.

                The Philippines felt it could do everything, be everything.

                How pleasant it was to be able to dream.

                We are stuck with Duterte. Who doesn’t even bother pretending like Marcos.


                I have a hypothesis bubbling in my head. Metro Manila plays a good deal in the malaise of our nation, as the nation is too attached to it and thus absorbs too much of its ills. And not just that.

                Overpopulation. The squatters coming. The squatters define the latter Marcos and post-EDSA era.

                The rich and middle class huddle in their subdivisions as they scorn the increasing number of “poors” in the city.

                Ang mga tao’y nagiging hayop; kanilang pangil nakalabas, habang galit na tumatahol.

                (The people become animals, their fangs bared, while furiously barking.)

                Call me crazy, @Irineo, but here’s my crazy hypothesis for why Duterte arose? And solution for populism too.

                A dehumanized society…arising from a lack of proper public housing policy.

                (And our fraying welfare system, but I think it is the lack in our housing situatuon that is the most pernicious.)

                The next President should have a New Deal-esque expansion of welfare—with housing not as an afterthought but as a must. The fate, the sanity of our democracy may rest on it…

              • Experiments with rats (who are after all mammals, the first mammals, our ancestors where like giant rats hiding from the dinosaurs) showed that aggressivity grew if they were put into close quarters, even mothers abandoning their children and up to cannibalism.

                Metro Manila is one of the most densely populated places on earth now, why be surprised? The more balanced places like Naga and Iloilo – maybe even Cebu – will have more of the classic Filipino settlement, walls around houses but less subdivisions than Metro Manila.

                in Munich and Vienna, there are rules that require developers of new housing to allot at least 1/3 (I think) to welfare housing. My experience with the mix of people in some areas of Munich city is that the rich are less ostentatious and the poor better behaved. This must be an effect of living close together, while total segregation can dehumanize. Extremes of that would be Jerusalem (Israeli and Arab parts) and Johannesburg (whites and blacks).

                Or Latin American cities where it has long been known that some middle class groups pay for death squads to get rid of street children – this is from memory, so verification needed.

                Or Rio de Janeiro where drug lords rule favelas and the anti-drug police is militarized. The following movie, Tropa de Elite was controversial because it was based on an interview with an elite officer and totally absorbed a bit of a fascist POV. Might have been done by DDS, with human rights activists being shown as pot-smoking and decadent, while the death squad police are shown as heros against corruption and gangsterism. Watch with care..

      • Francis says:

        Put into other words:

        Let us listen from the Filipinos of the past and our elders. Let us listen from the Filipinos of the present, the elements of popular culture. Let us draw from the Filipinos yet to be born—in the dreams we share with them.

        And weave them all into a beautiful chorus, one singing motherland among the choir of nations.

        • “The constant romanticization of the past in our nationalism, coupled with the endless apathy and fatalism with which we watch never-ending telenovelas.”

          I get you, kinda like how the original shield logo for the PNP was upside down, logo makers never having been exposed to how Mindanao shields were employed.


          They’re not your past, though their present is precarious, but consider that the best Jungle course is in the Philippines (now Okinawa officially) and Hawaii’s potential export is bamboo (why isn’t Philippines leading the charge?) , there’s plenty of knowledge to be mined; the badjaos like sherpas of the Himalayas can explain the limits of human anatomy, whilst attracting and protecting resources taken for granted.

          People from Europe, I guess since those folks can’t own guns, but other places too, go to the Philippines to learn then help preserve Filipino martial arts based on wielding the blade. There’s no other place on earth who’s got blade fighting down pat to a science, most cultures have lost their prowess, Japan (kendo) to Spain (fencing).

          People are still stabbing each other in the Philippines. There’s stabbing in the rest of the world sure, but not as expertly as the Philippines.

          My appreciation for them are somewhat limited in scope (this is my fault) , but my point is they are not the past, they’re seen as outcasts now, but much can still be learned, so place them on your list of future contributors.

        • popoy says:

          If I may intrude as I ride the trolley of trolls. from underneath the eche bucheche as the underbelly of wisdom, values may be seen IN THE CONCRETE in the ecology of human settlements in the FREE and not so FREE WORLD. The edifices in the left or right banks of a river in a bustling city of love or city of greenbacks or of all cities that sprouted by the river banks.

          What has been done to their environment tells so much on the material and psychic values of a people. If values are defined as the worth people gives to things then values of the people could be gleaned from the infrastructure that for centuries evolved in east and west banks of the polluted Pasig.

          No, NO, it could be capacity and capability of a people, NOT VALUES?? Yes, YES but contrast (NOT APPLICABLE to Pasig’s people) values as ingredients of capacity and capability of idiots, morons and imbeciles which should give you a pristine river.

          When junketing politicians visit the cities of GERUSCANAU (Germany, USA, Canada, Australia) they should take note of the progress and beauty of ECOLOGY, and the more or less moving vehicular traffic as indicator of a worthwhile value of a people they can bring home.

          • The following video shows the renaturalization of Munich’s Isar river in 2009. Police and private security patrol a lot in the summer, large litter bins are all over the area to keep the river clean. It is amazingly clean and fresh.

            This article has 1) the aspect of waterways as civilization and 2) LCPL_Xs comment on “knowledge of terrain” in it, even if the main topic is resilience:


            ..Going up and down the Isar river near Munich, one senses how an entire river was tamed for those who live along its banks. From the Sylvenstein reservoir upstream, whose water is sometimes let out preemptively before heavy rains – in order to be able to keep those from affecting Munich with its 1.4 million people. Canals along the Isar help regulate the river before, in and after Munich, but also have a history as passageways for timber chopped down in the mountains – an old industry. Likewise many small hydroelectric plants – still in use – interrupt these canals, including locks. Munich’s central heating plant takes up water from the river before the city, heats it up and puts int back into the canals after it has heated large parts of the town. The canals and creeks within Munich are laid dry in early spring, before the water in the mountains melts, to clean them. There is a large artificial lake north of Munich to help regulate water flow, additionally clean the water coming from the city – even if Munich has a huge sewage treatment plant which cleans the dirty water from the city before it goes into the river, in a process involving algae and bacteria.

            Rizal in his novels describes the Pasig River and the Laguna Lake including Talim Island very well. One feels that he knew his terrain, his countryside. Do Filipinos still know their terrain that well? One cannot immediately get to the level of Munich, which is like cleaning a toilet with a toothbrush. But it isn’t impossible to clean up things. Iloilo managed to clean up its river. Could be, or course, that many inhabitants of Manila don’t truly see it as their home..

            • Tweeto Wakatono says:

              Thanks IRBS for that techie footage on river conservation (wise utilization). Just imagine if the Germans had the same values of the Filipino people scholarly identified by Prof Mary Racelis Hollnsteiner namely (1) hiya, (2) utang na loob, (3) pakikisama and (4) SIR (smooth interpersonal relations). These values dominate politics and governance of the different national and local departments. For a country to develop and VANQUISHED poverty there is need for a dynamic integration of the social, political, economic, cultural, administrative and ENVIRONMENT dimensions of honorable existence.

              • Well, possibly one of those values is wrong. But DDS recently tried to get rid of hiya, didn’t help much.

                Seriously, Japanese also have a hierarchic and shame-based culture, bakit sila may nagagawa?

              • That’s an interesting point. The Japanese use the shame to energize a drive for perfection and productivity. Filipinos use it as a drive for the innovation of excuses and blames. If we could get incompetents to rip a knife through their belly, maybe that would change. Right now they are given praise and sent out to do more damage.

              • edgar lores says:

                We separate shame (hiya) from guilt (sala).

                To the Japanese, these two are one and the same, or intertwined. They have done something wrong that is shameful and thus feel guilt. They want to expiate their shame/guilt in some form — by resigning from office or committing seppuku.

                To Filipinos, these two are different. We may do something wrong and feel shame (or shame others when they do wrong). But shame almost never arises to the level of guilt. This is so because we are in denial that we did something wrong or because we can cast the blame on something else or somebody.

                Worse, many no longer have the capacity to feel shame or guilt. These are the ones who do not take responsibility, the walang hiya and, therefore, the walang kasalanan.

                These are the kapalmuks. And they are legion.

              • Even feudal loyalty was part of the Japanese was, transferred to the modern corporation. There are no real excuses – I think if a society wants it will do it. Technologies are just means to an end, or is Prof. Popoy telling me Filipino culture requires rivers to be fixed by carabaos?

              • The practical issue in the Philippines would be squatters on the riverbanks..

              • “If we could get incompetents to rip a knife through their belly, maybe that would change.”


                An interesting note on seppuku , though the ideal was to cut thru your belly muscle thus releasing your bowels (and with it your spirit) ; most actually never gone all the way , so the kaishakunin performing the kaishaku or euthanasia , decapitation for quickest end of pain.

                Why not cut straight through the euphemism (pun intended) and employ what WWII era over there called the verdugo ? same-same really ,

              • Edgar, oo nga, bakit mo ako hinuli?

                Napahiya tuloy ako, kasalanan mo!

              • edgar lores says:

                This reminds me of one of the things Duterte said in the tete-a-tete with Panelo:

                “Ang problema kay Trillanes, he is crucifying Bong Go for entering into business with the government.”

              • karlgarcia says:

                Some social media bashing makes people hide and get depressed,some lose it and ends life, some like Mocha goes on and insists that she did nothing wrong.

                Some gets mad and get even( revenge) or overkill.

                The Japanese also have impunity like the Yakuza and some other power trippers who only commit sepoku if they can no longer escape or wiggle there way out of a corner.

              • karlgarcia says:

                According to this blog.
                The Yakuza cut their fingers out of penance and sometimes commit seppuku.
                So I am wrong.


              • karl,

                seppuku is ritualized suicide, like their tea ceremony, etc. there are steps, each done to perfection.

                If one is just committing suicide by cutting themselves in the stomach, “some other power trippers who only commit sepoku if they can no longer escape or wiggle there way out of a corner” , then that is

                Harakiri (no ritual & meaning, just the act)

                As for Yakuza, whether directly connected or manufactured, they see themselves as modern Samurais, hence all the similar practices, hierarchy, even their own crests (mons).

      • I’m not necessarily speaking the “Noble Savage” here , though for the longest time in Rome there stood a humble hut revered by Romans as the place where Romulus lived .

        But it’s the connection to land, terrain, thus history that seems the commonality of all great civilizations. Israel has this (the U.N. chartered one, not the Moses delivered one), those guys (and gals, especially Gal Gadot 😉 ) know every nook and cranny of that place.

        Same with the Japanese, if you read turn point battles like Sekigahara, it was knowledge of both human and geographic terrain, that provided for the eventual consolidation of Japan, same with consolidation of Greece (can you imagine that dude who ran from Marathon, to Athens, to Sparta and back to Marathon…) and Rome. America is somewhat an aberration to this,

        but those early settlers made their new home theirs. Extreme ownership is what I’m talking about. That’s what badjaos and aetas have, something the average Filipino doesn’t.

        As for Wakanda, unless you have vibranium underneath don’t hold your breath, Francis, but keep in mind that adamantium is simply the cheaper synthetic version of vibranium, so if you don’t have vibranium to mine have the will to synthesize and make your own adamantium.

        • This was mainly about Marawi: cannot be just based on money, the people of Marawi have made clear. A natural sense of Heimat (roughly: home and heritage) is tangible in the statement of the Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement: “A city symbolizes its people. Built upon the aspirations and dreams of its people. Nurtured by and reflective of the identity of its people. We are not building a city from debris. We are rebuilding a city from history and from memory.” This sounds so very different from the mentality in Manila, which did not care enough about its legacy destroyed during World War 2.

          “a city is not merely the sum of its buildings. Not merely an occasion for economic gain.” the statement also says. Metro Manila, for the most part, seemed to me at least 90% based on money. “This is an invasion of a different kind. This one threatens to rob our soul.” the Maranaws say. Strange that Manilans did not notice or care about that kind of invasion just after World War 2. Maybe only a few people really cared for Intramuros back then. But escaping into a wasteland of malls and subdivisions with nothing but commercialism and glitter does not seem like a solution.

          German cities were practically all rebuilt, as much as was possible, from history and memory – even from plans that were hidden in caves to preserve them. People cleared wartime debris with shovels by themselves in small groups. While it is also true that many German city centers look similar due to quick rebuilding after the war, with the same chain stores and a non-remarkable architecture, there was an effort to rebuild, or to at least match the new with the old. Munich was rebuilt well. But that was because a sense of identification was there. Also part of the hard to translate Heimat.

          But what are people without roots, without any home? Just workers and consumers maybe. Or worse, not caring at all. Not caring if the dirt accumulates in the rivers of the city where one lives. Not one’s home really. Because one cares for one’s home. What do people without a true home in their hearts care for? To survive first, to get rich after that. They might not care if those who used to live next door to them when they were still poor and struggling are victimized by tokhang. They might not care who occupies their country as long as their economic lot is good and they feel safe.

          Many families and regions have their sense of home – it isn’t as if colonialism destroyed everything among mainstream Filipinos, meaning Christian lowlanders. Whether it is ancestral homes that some clans have, or certain fiestas and saints, or churches. Quiapo Church and its living Nazarene tradition. The great churches of Albay. Or UP Diliman, the home of my childhood, which grieved over an old but beloved shopping center recently. But of course there was a lot of migration recently, from provinces to the cities and abroad. Part of the fabric of tradition may have ripped.

          The pride of the Meranaw, their resolve not to sell out, is something that I feel deepest respect for. So unlike many especially in the cities of the Philippines who just care about malls, stuff, trends. My SUV is bigger and shinier than yours. Make way for my Ferrari, do you know who I am! No? Just went to buy the latest Dolce Gabanna. So what if I am the mistress of Mr. Ugly Toad? Haha!..

          • Francis says:


            What a beautiful statement from the people of Marawi.

            On the Diliman Shopping Center: I have heard rumors (accuracy not certain; so to anyone who might know more—I sincerely ask to please correct me if I am mistaken) that the burnt down building will not be rebuilt for the sake of the long-time tenants who have long set up shop in the shopping center—instead the building will be rebuilt and converted into office space.

            The tenants (or those who are left) are stuck in makeshift tents in the tennis court beside the former shopping center, a far cry from the time when they were prosperous and had conveniences like air-conditioning.

            • Francis says:



              I read that appeal from the people of Marawi.

              Though the writers did not mean it to be such, I will say that this appeal is unintentionally one of the strongest arguments which I have seen in favor of “rule of the people,” of democracy—and against authoritarianism, the notion that there are “those who know better,” that the “ruled” should shut up.

              • sonny says:

                Reminds me what happens at the synaptic gap: change in the concentration of ions, autocrats vs demos = signal jumps across gap. 🙂

        • Francis says:

          “but those early settlers made their new home theirs. Extreme ownership is what I’m talking about. That’s what badjaos and aetas have, something the average Filipino doesn’t.”

          Agreed. Own it.

          Whether the land in the physical sense (our nature—the waterways, the rivers, the lakes, the mountains, the forests) or in the social sense (our community, our bonds to one another) — we must take care of it.

          • “Many families and regions have their sense of home – it isn’t as if colonialism destroyed everything among mainstream Filipinos, meaning Christian lowlanders. Whether it is ancestral homes that some clans have, or certain fiestas and saints, or churches. Quiapo Church and its living Nazarene tradition. The great churches of Albay.”

            The oldest Spanish relic over there is the Santo Niño de Cebú , Magellan’s gift to Humabon and his wife, in 1521 , lost ; then 3 Spanish explorers later found again, by Legazpi in 1565 only after attacking Cebu , in the burning rubbles it survived, thus celebrated as miracle.

            So the Philippines was named after Philip II; back in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue for Ferdinand and Isabella, Philip is their grandson (so 3 generation later). With him is a more important lesson in extreme ownership and that’ s spreading yourself too thin.

            He was defeated in England , repelled by Queen Elizabeth (the Virgin Queen), precisely because he was fighting for God, his mandate was too wide a scope, to expand the City of God across the world (even St. Augustine didn’t imagine this, he couldn’t have).

            Whereas Queen Elizabeth only had England (and Scotland) to worry about thus rose above, became ascendant at this point in history, her pivot. Her extreme ownership was more based on geography and terrain both human and land; Philip’s was God’s will translated to land, a more abstract and subjective goal.

            On-the-ground vs. clouds. Very instructive.

            All Filipinos should study their name sake more closely. This is when Spain shrank and England expanded,

            Start here,

            • karlgarcia says:

              Mary lost her head in the end.

              Spain shrank because they went bankrupt even with all the gold and silver they collected around the world.
              The Spanish Armada was beaten by the Royal Navy the new king of the seas which could have ruled the Philippines longer than the two years they stayed here, but due to the real First World War which was the seven years war, we ended back with Spain.

              Then they ( British lost )America after a few years, so world rule is just weather-weather.

              I hope it won’t be the Chinese who rules the world next.
              Henry Kissinger is on it, he has studied everything about China.


              • NHerrera says:


                Thanks for bringing up Henry Kissinger’s “On China.”

                I got a copy of that book second hand three years ago and was impressed — discounting passages that may appear to magnify the larger than life role that he together with Nixon brought on US-China reconciliation. At the very least, Kissinger’s recounting of China’s history as the background to the later Nixon-Kissinger diplomatic moves is very instructive. Very interesting too is his descriptions of the towering Chinese figures in Kissinger’s time: Mao, Deng and Zhou.

                I did not miss, of course, his reference to US and Chinese strategy as it relates to the two board games: Chess and Weiqi (the Chinese name for what the Japanese call Go).

                As to which country, US and China, will come out the more dominant in the future, it may be difficult to forecast, but if we have a continuing US Presidency in the mold of Trump …

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks, NH.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I remembered you when I read about Weiqi.

              • p.s. ~

                I thought this book by Ed Luttwak goes well with Henry Kissinger’s take on China,

                ” Ed Luttwak is considered to be brutally honest, whereas Kissinger is recognized as a successful and charming but mendacious manipulator. Both are brilliant, and both are flawed in their own ways, but, in my view, Luttwak’s writing is more often reliable as giving you actually correct information (though selectively, with a slant towards his broader agenda of policy influence), whereas Kissinger is better at obtaining access and favor. They are kind of a real life Jewish immigrants versions of the ‘Once an Eagle‘ duo where Kissinger is Massengale and Luttwak is Damon.”

                I think the US has the luxury of distance, hence can afford to read and consider both positions, but in the Philippines , you guys should be more Ed Luttwak fans, not Kissinger. IMHO.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks for that.

                (Made this up)

                This is why Filipinos are called Filipinos and why we are so undisciplined.

                Philip Ii was so playful and pasaway that Charles V or Charles I (your pick) always shouted at Philip.

                FELIPE, NO !!!!!

              • NHerrera says:


                Thanks again for the link. Nice view from another international strategist.

                I believe the better approach to a grand strategy is to study the thoughts of many of the strategists and not to stick to one’s view. Take for instance, these three — Kissinger, Luttwak, and Friedman [of The Geopolitics Futures]. Get the intersection [in a set theoretic sense] of their ideas and select some items outside of the intersection and combine all these with the reality and constraints of the local situation to analyze and fashion the Filipino Grand Strategy.

                As an armchair analyst, it is easy for me to say that, but doing it is another matter. If you say that to me, I will agree with you!

            • “Then they ( British lost )America after a few years, so world rule is just weather-weather.”

              So very true, karl. There ‘s always two ways (maybe more ) to look at history, with a microscope and with a telescope. I tend towards Henry Kissinger’s big picture view, but only to a degree , then as you said it’s “just weather-weather” , like climate change (there’s micro climate dependent on terrain and how atmosphere affects it ; then there’s 5-day to 10-day weather patterns, then decades long records).

              But therein history are these odd pairings of people, who are either similar or opposites , that you can tease out grander strategic lessons, St. Augustine & Machiavelli read both and a better understanding emerges; Plato & St. Paul are both similar in that they used Socrates and Jesus to promote their own views; and here Queen Elizabeth & King Philip II of Spain, one a hedgehog the other a fox. And so on…

              What I noticed though is the farther out you view history, the wider more powerful telescope you use, you tend to return to the Book of Job, with this God’s admonition :

  16. Francis says:

    On the article itself:

    I very much like the article’s emphasis on “structure” better than discipline. It is less “biased,” less “judgemental” and more objective of an emphasis than the perennial obsession with the Filipino “lack of discipline” which dominates most conversations about Filipino culture.

    It also packs more “analytic punch,” than “discipline.” The concept of “discipline” is most effective at describing things on an individual level—but is woefully insufficient at describing things on levels larger than that, i.e. on the level of society. “Structure,” on the other hand, is a handy concept that can serve as good metaphor to understand things—not only at an individual level—but also at a societal level; you can start talking about “institutions,” for instance.

    It also is less divisive. I don’t mean to offend anyone hear—but I can’t help but extremely dislike hearing about “discipline” when it is used to talk about the problems (and possible solutions) of society. It is too loaded of a term for that sort of conversation. You use the word “discipline,” and it can’t help but imply that there are always two kinds of people: the “undisciplined” rabble and the “disciplined” enlightened ones.

    Contrast that to “structure.” It is an almost-neutral or almost-objective term. It doesn’t try to judge but to describe. More importantly—it doesn’t divide people. Yes, I can individually describe someone as having a “life lacking structure” but note not only that this sounds far less “judgemental” compared to calling some “undisciplined,” but how since the metaphor/concept can go beyond the individual—you can link the “individual” structure to the wider structures, the broad Structure.

    Which ultimately means that the responsibility for our lack of structure/lack of discipline is not only on “this” group of “undisciplined people” (an “Other”) but on all of us as wider groups like institutions, as a society.


    “Structure,” if applied correctly as a metaphor for understanding our problems as a nation, is more objective (almost-objective, I say) of a term and is far less divisive.

    A separate objection to discipline:

    Discipline is not the “parent,” but is the “childl of Structure. Discipline is a consequence of structure in society, in our lives—an effect.

    We would do well, as a people, to follow the roots and not just shallowly focus on imitating the superficial (yet awe-inspiring and impressive to all of us) surface: ask why exactly the “disciplined” East Asians got to where they were, instead of obsessing over standing one one side of the escalator.

    Then, on nation-building:

    The point of nation-building is not to “build discipline” — but structure. A strong nation has structure, a weak nation has little or none.

    • Afghanistan lacks structure yet still claims to be the graveyard of empires. Bruce Lee’s

      is an old Chinese saying. But Bruce Lee embodied this proverb better, though one could also argue the Korean war and our American defeat (euphemistically expressed below) is also a great expression of Chairman Mao’s embodiment of said tenet.

      • Francis says:

        I’m no expert, but the way it looks to me is:

        It is easy to instill chaos into complex things. It is hard to craft order out of entropy.

        The rebels can whittle down a superpower, but it is very hard to actually build up something as complex as a superpower.

        It is easier to not lose than to win.

        • True. But also consider that chaos itself or the state of no structure is itself complex. I’m no expert either, Francis, but many of my former colleagues and friends started out within your same line of thinking.

          I’m simply suggesting, a different way of seeing it… as for me i’ve since found respect in chaos, or those who operate outside of structure.

  17. popoy says:

    After living four score and one year, to hear from Filipinos say that Filipinos have no discipline is to me fake news since the close of WWII. From grade school to post graduate studies I have NOT seen any manifestation or demonstration of lack of discipline EXCEPT in few urban areas populated by rural migrants struggling to adjust and survive in very harsh environment.

    I was OFW for almost 15 years I observed we are disciplined sometimes better than the locals. How does one survive in metropoli like Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, etc. without being resourceful and daring? Ask the XYZ generations, do they find their parents as lacking in discipline? Can TSoH say so about themselves or their parents. Yes, I was born yesterday and therefore could be wrong about this.

    Driven by corruption and thievery is not the same as lack of discipline.

    • popoy,

      I think you’ll find this quote from Isaiah Berlin relevant, from here:

      • popoy says:

        LCpl I thought those who teach and seek to add knowledge to those who will see the cosmos inert and live should see many things and concepts as CIRCLES having two sides (inside and outside) as also may be in context with Isaiah Berlin. Have a look at my postings here as I have been there on both sides superficially exposed and trained in both the natural and social sciences. Students who misunderstand Professors are blessed with the opportunity to confirm or confute the truth; to persist to walk the endless darkness of ignorance with but a candle of knowledge .

        An awareness to be objective (the strength of natural science) or to be subjective (the weakness of social science) should be the holy grail of any guru doing it not for big bucks or livelihood but as a calling continually nourished by ignorance sans borders. It remains a weapon of criticism when man is compared to animals and vice versa. For example, it is shallow and flawed to compare a lion to a dictator. A dictator could never be majestic as a lion; a lion could never be as deceitful, cruel and greedy as a tyrant dictator. Any guru should attempt never to succumb to braggadocio in class or every where else. Which I am trying hard to be even in retirement.

        • popoy says:

          Romanticism in man makes him no hedgehogs or foxes:

          • popoy says:

            And on page 8 of my CONSTANT WINDS:


            I knelt before the wisdom of creation, knowing
            yet not doubting the purpose of it all.
            To be born, nay, to decide to be born is to
            understand, agree and accept the reasons why
            all living creatures must live and die.

            I grew up in blissful ignorance of the power to
            exist and banish; of the connections between man and beast.
            Like the caveman I awaken every morn agitated like fire,
            more cunning than beast, more patient than night I kill,
            ignorant no more of the nexus between predator and prey.

            I slowly open my eyes and blink to years of brightness
            of the eternal sun, heating, wrinkling my skin into old age.
            I snort and exhale the season’s wind; angry storm, spanking
            mountain trees, serene breeze, calming smoldering seas;
            yet nature’s helpless to lend resilience to my aging flesh.

            I am water filling my organ, tissue, cell and protoplasm.
            Water I am not from brooks and streams, free flowing spring
            and gurgling fountains; they seem to last forever while
            my organ, tissue, cell and protoplasm dehydrate and die.

            Barbarians and their cavemen ancestors live and die
            knowing, worshiping wind and water and fire.
            Wind, water and fire; Are not these in Earth the essence
            of their existence? I am caveman, I am barbarian
            till I learned God’s circle, His creation equation.

            November 22, 2004

            I might yet write a poem
            we can never be animals
            like hedgehogs and foxes
            for in Gods ribs
            we are flocked
            and created . . .
            don’t have the time
            to continue, must
            have my morning coffee. Eh.

            • LOL, beautifully said, popoy! And so too Isaiah Berlin hedges on the very dichotomy he’s manufactured , but proceeds to unravel the mind of Tolstoy with it in that very same essay, linked above. Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ is what my parents and their ilk seemed to have played on repeat.

              I myself am hedgehog ( I think ), having seen the movie “City Slickers” a thousand times since childhood, before Socrates, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Founding Fathers, philosophy, then religion , I only knew one philosophy and that was Curly’s ,

              • popoy says:

                After meeting his match while gunslinging curly came alive as an old man, I suppose. The song I usually sing under the shower while in college..

              • karlgarcia says:

                Curly transformed into a TV host, believe it or not.

    • Francis says:


      “Discipline” is in the eye of the beholder. Ruthlessness is its own “discipline,” I suppose. And I remember from one of the smartest in my batch—he wasn’t burning eyebrows all the time, just when it was necessary: don’t just work hard—work smart.

      I wonder what sort of society you must have then—where “laziness” becomes the optimum survival strategy. The problem is society.

    • Francis says:


      “Discipline” is in the eye of the beholder. Ruthlessness is its own “discipline,” I suppose. And I remember from one of the smartest in my batch—he wasn’t burning eyebrows all the time, just when it was necessary: don’t just work hard—work smart.

      I wonder what sort of society you must have then—where “laziness” becomes the optimum survival strategy. The problem is society.

      The solution, I think, is society.

      • popoy says:

        Francis, If I may. It was an iron (not a tiger) lady PM of UK who rebuked and admonished the political intellectuals saying there is no such thing as SOCIETY. It does not exist, a mere concoction of the mind. A Filipino dysfunctional society? An illegal drugs free society ? Tell that to the ICJ and ICC.

    • Madiskarte is a key word in that context. Descarte in Spanish is not just throwing away, it is about sorting the cards dealt you. Diskarte and abilidad is resourcefulness, possibly even to the point of bending or breaking rules that almost nobody follows anyway.

      Third world survival mode even in Lagos or Rio. One thing where Duterte is wrong though is in calling Leni mahina ang diskarte. Maybe Mar Roxas is, maybe Cory was, but not a middle class Bikolana like Leni. She won’t cross into crookery of course. But she is resourceful. No government money for Angat Buhay? Go to the private sector and ask with a friendly smile. Raised 3 daughters alone as well, you have to be resourceful for that. Small offtopic..

      • Tweeto Wakatono says:

        My historian prof JN Endriga (+) who became Dean without being a Dr. told us not to say Diskartes when we speak of the Frenchman Descartes.

  18. eduardomaresca says:

    I could not agree more.
    I have been married to a Filipina for about 20 years and I can fully attest to the truthfulness of your statement “The Philippines is an unstructured society. It is a free-flowing society.
    Imposing laws, democratic principles, and institutional ethics in the Philippines is as fruitless as demanding that a carabao fly”.
    In 20 years I haven’t even managed to get my Filipino wife to set goals or have a budget journal. Giving “structure” to a small family unit when your partner is Filipino is an insurmountable obstacle. The only way I manage to maintain joy and peace of mind when dealing with Filipinos is by becoming fluid myself and not expecting to impose some kind of “structure”.
    If giving direction and a structure to a little Filipino-Western family unit is an impossibility how can a much larger society made up of millions of people be given structure?

  19. Joe, this fits with stuff I am noodling on at the moment.. that Filipino culture worked out perfectly when:

    1) the country still consisted of small villages that took care of their own livelihood – either as farming and fishing communities near the sea or farming and hunting communities in the mountains

    2) the outside world didn’t intrude much on the 7000+ islands. This was before the Pacific crossing by Magellan and finding the way back to Mexico by Urdaneta thrust the Philippines into the middle of international business and power games between the Americas and Asia.

    3) there was still enough land to support a population that were mostly small farmers

    That is not a modern place, but a bit of a 19th century Romantic’s or a 20th-century hippie’s idea of paradise. Parts of the provinces still work that way but it is getting harder. It worked for centuries when colonialists and national elites – hated as they may be – organized the bigger stuff for the entire country, certainly taking their cut in some way but otherwise life went on at its old leisurely pace. It stopped working at some point. UP Balara urban poor still had pigs and chickens in the early 1970s, lived like in the old days. Not possible in crowded Metro Manila of today. Motorists somehow improvised their way even on EDSA up to the 1980s or longer – there is a point where that doesn’t work anymore. Think of how companies grow from startups to corporations as an analogy, of Microsoft’s garage phase with long-haired Bill Gates. The Philippines is a bit stuck.

    Modernity has its advantages but also means you have to be more structured, organized. The world crashing in on you means you have to have an ORGANIZED SOCIETY to resist possible enemies. Not having enough land to support everyone means you have to organize storage and distribution. Communities bigger than a certain number of people mean you have to ORGANIZE people according to explicit rules because the unwritten rules no longer work. You need institutions to enforce rules for those who don’t behave. Small towns vs. big cities are an example. There is a town in Germany that abolished all road signs. That works because the place is small and one can count on people to be well-behaved. Small communities also watch out better for one another. Can be oppressive as in a small town everybody knows what you are doing. Big places can be wilder.

    • That is superb, Irineo. It could easily be a book. I particularly like the institutions needed part. If you’d like to publish an article here, I’d be happy to do it. It could be with or without discussion, your choice. But you would have to moderate it.

      • Joe, many thanks. It is really a huge topic and I am struggling with expressing it in a concise yet clear manner to spark interesting discussions. But I think the option of discussing it on Twitter is better as it avoids the shredding now inherent in blog discussions.

        I will send you the article by tomorrow so you can publish it on Wednesday. I am quoting you (the above article) and MLQ3’s “Bamboozled by the Barangay” in it. It can be food for thought for the likes of MLQ3, Kristoffer Passion et. al. – maybe even Heydarian as he is an advocate of institutions a la “Why Nations Fail”. Looking forward to whatever discussions happen on Twitter – or even FB – and even how my father’s school of thought will react to it in terms of reconciling the nation of politicians (“nacíon”) with the nation of people (bayan).

  20. MLQ3 brought me to some ideas today. He sees the major crisis of the Philippines as one of modernization. I see that as well. Urban migration that started with Visayan settlers at UP Balara in the early 1970s still raising pigs and chickens to overcrowded Metro Manila of today where some have to eat disgusting pagpag. OFW migration starting around 1975 that made many kids grow up without proper guidance, I think this explains some behavior which wasn’t there as much before.

    Filipinos lack Heimat, which in German means home but also a sense of being at home and safe.

    The people’s soul is only reliable when it is at ease. If it is afraid and discontent, it may follow pied pipers. Germany in the 1920s and 1930s had horrible social conditions and Berlin was a very dangerous city. We all know who got into power because of that. Germany 1933. Philippines 2016.

    1) one of the first things Mayor Thomas Wimmer of Munich did when the war ended was to tell the people “Ramadama” which means “Let’s clean up”. A huge hill in the north of Munich is the result.

    He also made himself available to the people every morning, doing his other work after lunch. People were lost and had already looked for guidance with the wrong person for 12 years.

    He created the tradition of “Ozapft is” which means “keg is opened”. The mayor of Munich now always opens the first keg of beer at the Oktoberfest and gives the first glass to the Prime Minister of Bavaria. People need rituals, like families have birthdays and Christmas. A sense of Heimat.

    2) A NEW DEAL FOR JOBS. The government should do everthing to help, as VP Leni’s new initiative Bayanihanapbuhay is doing. Buy local as much as possible like she did for PPEs.

    Subsidies for those who plant rice and other food, like the EU does so food can be sold at a lower price than the cost. Food security, farmer’s livelihoods and landscape protection are the agenda.

    ANTI-MONOPOLY. Force large monopolies to sell at least 1/3 of their stock to the open market like ABS-CBN has done – though I don’t know if it is one-third. Spreading the opportunities for wealth through stockholdership was something Karl Marx also considered as a way to give participation.

    3) Public schools should be better funded. New classrooms was a major PNoy achievement. Building schools and creating new, digital learning materials can also be part of the NEW DEAL.

    DOST should jumpstart building locally-made tablets. Rwanda builds mobile phones today.

    The state should fund building Internet access all over the country. Also prefer local for this. All TV and radio stations should broadcast learning programs. ABS-CBN should be returned on air.

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  1. […] noted in 2018 that Philippine culture is not damaged, but fluid. Clearly it […]

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