The Philippines needs a moral revolution

I suppose the French Revolution was a moral revolution among other things. [Getty Images]

By JoeAm

I must leave it to Philippine citizens to talk about and undertake specific political acts like whom to elect. The current government is not inclined to look favorably on foreigners intruding into their electoral affairs, especially if they have contrary ideas.

I also avoid discussions of overthrow or revolution and cringe every time someone brings the idea up on my Facebook and Twitter posts, or here. I have on numerous occasions asked people to take such messages to a different forum. I have my own ideas on such matters but I confine them to my own cranium.

Here’s my pinned tweet (headline tweet) that states my viewpoint:

The Philippines is pretty much dehumanized these days, I think. Plunderers are freed and people of principle and honor are hunted like rats. Killings are a mode of operation for the police force. The President and his backers justify his bad language and demeaning ways towards women. If it is afterward called a joke, he can say whatever he wants I guess, no matter that he sets a low, low, low bar for children’s behavior. And adults’, as we can discern from the hostility and threats emanating from his trolling agents. Or from the fact that murder has become an accepted way of conflict resolution across the land.

It’s not a dignified way to run a nation. Nor a kind way, either. Nor a fair and reasonable way.

Yet I have to admit, it is the way things run across the nation, and have for a long time. Elections are always violent. Laws are not seen as protective by most people, but as inconveniences to be avoided if they are in the way. Vote selling and other cheating ways are prominent. Threats are a way of life. Most people broadly are of little conscience as they toss plastic onto the road or let their dogs run wild, endangering motorcycle riders. They don’t read much, see education as an obligation rather than self-fulfilling, don’t know anything about competence in government, elect showboats to office, and love fake news and gossip about esteemed people. It’s a loose, tabloidian society, in the main.

Well, yes, for sure for sure, this characterization probably does not include you, or a lot of well-traveled, educated people. But most of the nation is not that. Even a college degree does not assure principled thinking or good problem solving ability. I mean, just consider the House of Representatives, a great ship of fools if ever there were one, most of the reps pretending education and station in life but dealing dirty.

That leads me to believe that the nation needs a moral revolution more than an armed one, because unless values are upgraded, it will be hard to get out of the rut no matter who runs government.

Contributor Irineo Salazar gave me some insight into Philippine history on this topic, which surprised me. President Cory Aquino knew something needed to be done. So did President Ramos who issued an executive order on the matter.

  • 1992: A Moral Recovery Program: Building a People–Building a Nation by Patricia Licuanan summarizing her task force’s work, submitted to the Senate. Written right after EDSA. Reviews strengths and weaknesses of Filipino character, the many faces of Filipinos, and the roots of character. Sets forth a detailed list of goals and strategies for change. Senate Resolution No. 10 on the subject of Moral Recovery was sponsored by Sen. Leticia R. Shahani and approved by the Senate on September 18, 1987.
  • 1996: Institutionalizing the Moral Recovery Program, Executive Order 319 under President Fidel Ramos. Directed mainly at government departments rather than people. Vision: “Pursue a vision of a Filipino nation that is God-centered, people empowered, prosperous national community living in Unity, Justice, Freedom, Love and Peace and governed by a visionary government that is democratic, responsive and effective with a community of civil and military servants who are professional, competent, disciplined and trustworthy.” 
  • 2013: Moral Recovery Program by Paulo Baldemor. Reviews the Ramos Executive Order but overlays a ‘people’ dimension on the definition of Moral Recovery:  “. . . a movement which aims to mobilize all Filipinos for nation – building through the practical exercise of human values to awaken us all to the power of these values in achieving our individual and national goals. . . .It seeks the empowerment of all our people through the sustained application of human values and code of collective existence.” Seems unfinished.

Well, they say “recovery” to suggest that there once was a proper moral code here, and maybe there was, but I don’t know when. I think it has to be “revolution” to get from now to a new place. Just forget the past. “Build, my good citizens, build!”

Clearly, the assorted weakness of Filipino social values are known. It is no secret. The Licuanan document is overwhelming for its breadth and depth. It looks mainly at the human dimension and views instilling a deeper sense of patriotism as an important goal. The Ramos effort is focused mainly on corruption. The two broad weakness (1) lack of patriotic dedication (sacrifice of self to good nation-building), and (2) enduring corruption are two major, major problems for the Philippines.

Let’s consider . . . who are the primary moral custodians today?

  • National and local governments
  • The Church of choice with the Catholic Church historically dominant
  • Schools
  • Families

Are they performing well? Hmmmmm . . .

  • We see governments stocked with overbearing, corrupt, wang-wanging arrogance and mistaken priorities, like congressmen who want to adopt federalism, play political favors, and scramble for pork rather than solve corruption, do responsible budgets, or feed kids. What kind of moral teachers are these?
  • We note that the priests who were willing to scream and march in the streets to protest reproductive health are today not involved in protests. They are quietly burying the dead and uttering sound bites about President Duterte’s swearing and attacks on the Church. The Catholic Church has a problem with predator priests and Muslims are unable to restrain terrorist extremists. They built their buildings in sand, I fear. It is hard to see moral leadership from them holding people to good behavior.
  • Schools continue the practice of teaching obedience and order-taking rather than knowledge that expands horizons, excites kids, and frees them up to find fulfillment thinking for themselves. If the educators don’t know how to teach dedication and sacrifice, only marching, how will morality ever each the soul of our kids?
  • Most families have no foundation in psychology or healthy nurturing and basically apply the rod or let kids join the gangland that is texting and social media. Many, many parents support the Duterte Administration, so what values do we expect them to be teaching?

My harsh conclusion is that there are no moral teachers in the Philippines. There are some wayward preachers on Twitter and Facebook, but no organization or institution seems capable of taking the lead, defining the problem, being an architect of a new thinking, and being competent enough to roll out an action plan to change things.

The Legislature is lost in the moral woods. Some legislators preach Jesus but have no idea what He means. The Executive branch is stocked with heathens undermining Philippine civility. Liars and manipulators overwhelm earnest people. The Judiciary doesn’t even know what justice means, or fairness, or laws. Laws to them are trivial details to be rationalized to achieve a desired political aim.

The values driving these behaviors are predominantly self-serving, not in the service of building a strong, productive, healthy nation. Convenience and self-enrichment are the goals, not dedication to a higher cause.

Most revolutions start in some backroom somewhere. Then they capture the nation’s passion.

The Philippines needs a moral backroom. And some moral passions.

Probably things are not yet hard enough. The existing corrupt and self-punishing moral codes are all that people know. People are comfortable in their misery and the ineptitude that surrounds them.

Personal accountability is not internalized by most Filipinos, I think. In this absence of personal engagement, moral codes float free, available to the highest bidder.


105 Responses to “The Philippines needs a moral revolution”
  1. A grim but truthful assessment! — perhaps, applicable to all countries today! One must try to do right the best way he can, together with all others who stand their ground against any form of oppression and dehumanization. THANKS, MABUHAY THE SOCIETY OF HONOR!

    • And thank you for your reading, and especially the encouragement, brod of Willie. 🙂

      • popoy says:

        “A grim but truthful assessment! — perhaps, applicable to all countries today!”

        It’s literally freezing where I am now, still I shivered because may be I am ignorant no more of hades: “perhaps, applicable to all countries today.”

        With due respect it’s only words (APPLICABLE and ALL) that can dance the twist; I remember our Cadet Regimental Commander who later became the College Dean who barked at us being so noisy: “You guys Wake up there! If you are awake, you wake up some more.”

        I have read many many times how words and essays can be the three fingers pointing back at writers, even journalists.

        • Emy Lavina says:

          Very scathing but true….I can only say as ordained priest but presently retired: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima cullpa

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Moral Recovery Program – MRP

  3. Looking at the current bullying scandal, after the hazing death of Atio Castillo, and of course the violent President who is surprised?

    The place IS a jungle, more and more each day. Trouble is people seem to feel the constraints of morality outweigh it’s civilizing benefits.

    Bullying is just the kid stuff. Mature people steal bigtime and keep the loot. Decency is almost bakla i.e. weak in such a society.

  4. arlene says:

    Those crooks and corrupt in the government seems to be the greatest bullies of all. They steal not just by the millions but billions as well and we just let them. Down the line, we react when kids bully each other but when big drug lords and corrupt people in the govt. do it in front of us, we keep silent.

  5. popoy says:

    Extreme? OOT?

    May I repeat it here what I wrote (must search old TSoH files) here before: General Mattis will be the next POTUS after I read about his life and with no basis except scanty knowledge of many famous military leaders and being a Lolo’s boy of a USAFFE Sergeant veteran of Bataan and survivor of the Death March. I was always there by his chair during beer sessions with his foxholes buddies and got soak by osmosis with tales of danger and fear.

    I recall to had been asked by an in-law friend after a Sunday mass breakfast whom will I vote for in the run between Obama and McCain. I said I can’t; I am not qualified but was convinced to answer. I just said I will vote for experience, war experience, war survival experience, for wisdom and empathy. Now after so much political water and eche bucheche under the Gen. Washington Bridge in the Big Apple, McCain will have made sure USA would have had different recent history.

  6. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    The Philippines ingested poison when the man kissed the grand tricolor in Quirino grandstand. We’ve been regurgitating all the poisons ever since, the body politic’s way of defending itself, to keep it from dying from toxic brew made in Davao. We’ll see. If we’re inherently strong, we may survive. But we will survive. Claim it. We’ve identified the poison, therefore the antidote is not far behind. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. A very sober assessment.

    2. Of the 3 efforts to define, institutionalize, and review a Moral Recovery Program (MRP), the first effort by Patricia Licunan is the most significant. The overview is compelling although it lacks implementation details.

    2.1. Executive Order 319 of ex-President Fidel Ramos is just a delegation of the MRP to a secretariat in each government agency.

    2.2. The review by Paulo Baldedmor is just a rehash of the Executive Order. It does not indicate the breadth and width of what has been institutionalized, does not report progress, does not provide a status report, and does not supply metrics.

    3. As stated, the assessment of the 4 moral custodians is sober.

    3.1. Of the four, the family is of prime importance as it nurtures and shapes the character of the child in his primary formative years, which is his first seven years. To me, this is the primary failure.

    3.2. Religion should have instilled moral values into the parents. This is the second failure.
    3.3. Schools should have corrected any deficiencies in parental and church training. This is the third failure.

    3.4. And the government should have planned for the civic and ethical training of the youth, provided for a fair economic system in which families can flourish, and ensured a fair judiciary.

    4. Some revolutions fail and some succeed. When asked if the French Revolution had succeeded, Zhou Enlai said, “Too early to say.” If America had made the realization that individual liberty was intrinsic and that all men were equal, the French Revolution brought back the focus to human brotherhood. Alexandre Dumas encapsulated the individual in the collective and the collective in the individual with his motto for the Three Musketeers, “One for all, and all for one.”

    4.1. There was a moral revolution in the Philippines with the coming of American democracy and the Thomasites. I should know. I am my father’s son, and he was a contemporary of the great Filipino politicians Recto, Diokno, and Tañada. Add Quezon. Include Osmeña.

    4.2. Marcos killed the nascent moral revolution. The People’s Revolution promised to reignite the dying embers. But Marcos’ successors – Estrada, Arroyo, and now Duterte – have doused the embers.

    5. Steven Pinker, in his book “Enlightenment Now,” argues that the Enlightenment values of reason, science, and humanism are extant and continue to mark humanity’s progress. That things will continue to get better. VP Robredo echoes his sentiment.

    5.1. Next year’s election will prove — or disprove – whether the positive sentiments are taking hold in our corner of the world. I will be satisfied with a moral evolution. My metric is that al least 4 of the opposition senatorial candidates win office. (Reference: Erin’s arithmetic.)

    • Another nice parsing of the key points in the article, putting in the perspective of the damage done under Marcos. I agree that next year’s election will be a defining moment. It is being shaped today, I think, as the bullying issue flares up.

  8. popoy says:


    A people need a yardstick to compare and MEASURE WRONGDOINGS. Many boys in short pants got them from their forefathers or grandmas without PhDs. I got mine from two long lifers, a seventy-niner and a centenarian plus four unschooled Lolas..

    Rarely but may be more than once I heard them with conviction describe a person, a group or family: WALANG HIYA! MGA WALANG HIYA. And my Lolas were both very religious.

  9. popoy says:

    let’s leave for a few minutes the Philippine Isles and be a straight thinking drone for a cosmic view of the Free World:

    Europe responds with alarm to US defense secretary’s resignation
    Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
    51 mins ago

    © EPA The resignation of US defense secretary Jim Mattis prompted a response of fear and anger from European ministers.

    Europe responded with a mixture of panic, disorientation and frantic steps to limit the damage after the resignation of US defence secretary James Mattis.

    Mattis’s decision to quit the administration came after Donald Trump confirmed he is ending all US military operations in Syria, and amid reports he is planning to halve the US troop presence in Afghanistan.

    The resignation of Mattis deprives Europe of one of its most reliable interlocutors and a firm supporter of the Nato transatlantic defence alliance.

    Mattis’s resignation is seen in Europe as an alarming symbol of Trump’s determination to take personal charge of foreign policy, and the pointed reference in his resignation letter to the need to treat allies with respect will echo across a continent alienated by the president’s insults and caprice. But above all the resignation shows the depth of the foreign policy chasm between Trump and even mainstream Republicans on the US’s responsibilities to Europe and the Middle East.
    UK defence and foreign office ministers, habitually inclined to keep differences with the US out of public sight, openly clashed with Trump’s decision. The UK Middle East minister Alistair Burt tweeted: “There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood – vital any successor agrees.”

    The tweet is a warning to the US that the Gulf states, as well as the Kurds, may deduce that the US pullout means its long interests may lie in allying with other more steadfast partners such as Russia or China. Russia has been increasingly active in the Middle East, and now seems certain to emerge as the victor that protected the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Other Arab countries are preparing to recognise Assad as victor by sending diplomats to Damascus.

    The UK defence minister Tobias Ellwood also showered praise on Mattis, saying he was “trusted, respected and admired by friends and allies, as well as feared and revered by our foes”. He added on Twitter: “The most impressive military mind I’ve had the honour to know. Jim my friend – our world will be less safe without you.”

    Ellwood had previously clashed with Trump’s assessment that Isis, or Daesh, had been defeated in Syria saying “it had morphed into something else”.
    The UK ambassador to the UN and a former political director at the foreign office, Karen Pierce, also clashed with Trump, pointing out the UK air force is currently active over Syria, and the job of defeating Daesh was far from over.

    Germany, the country that had most to benefit from an agreed political settlement inside Syria in terms of returning refugees, also insisted the security threat posed by Daesh was alive.
    “The IS has been pushed back, but the threat is not over. There is a danger that the consequences of [Trump’s] decision could hurt the fight against the IS and endanger what has been achieved,” said German foreign minister Heiko Maas in a statement.

    The sense of a profound transatlantic crisis spread across the European foreign policy establishment. Co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt tweeted: “A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.”

    The French president Emmanuel Macron was discussing with allies whether a supported French presence could act as a temporary substitute for the departing American ground troops in Syria.
    Attempts were also being made to discover from a chaotic Washington administration how quickly the 2,000 US troops in north-east Syria were leaving, and, separately, how speedily Turkish troops under the instruction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plan to go over the border into Syria to attack what Ankara regards as Kurdish terrorist havens.

    The sense of anger, edging on defiance, at Trump’s decision was clearest in Paris.
    The French defence minister Florence Parly said on RTL radio “We do not share the analyses that the territorial caliphate [of Islamic State] has been annihilated. It’s an extremely grave decision, and we think the job must be finished. While the territory controlled by the caliphate is no longer what it was in 2014 … if it has been reduced to near nothing, there remains, however, a pocket where jihadists have bunkered down,” she said.

    Parly also suggested that implementing the withdrawal of 2,000 US soldiers from Syria should be discussed among the allied coalition, adding that “you can’t withdraw troops from one day to another”.

    Macron has invited two leaders of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to Paris to discuss how to protect the Kurds from what may now be an attack either by Daesh, Turkish forces or Syrian government forces.

    “The two co-chairs of the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) Riad Darar and Ilham Ahmed are expected in Paris,” said SDF representative Khaled Issa, referring to the political arm of the previously US-backed SDF, which has formed the backbone of the fight against IS.
    France has about 1,100 troops in Iraq and Syria, providing logistics, training and heavy artillery support, as well as fighter jets. In Syria it has dozens of special forces, military advisers and some foreign office personnel.

    President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Trump on Tuesday night, diplomats said.
    “The military campaign against Islamic State continues,” French army spokesman Patrik Steiger told a news conference. “At this stage, the announcement by the American president has no impact on France’s ongoing participation (in the coalition).”

    Even if a European force in Syria to combat Daesh and protect the Kurds proves unrealistic, underlining the lack of an independent European military capability, European politicians were fuming at the manner of Trump’s decision-making.

    Neither the Syrian withdrawal nor the prospect of cutting troop numbers in Afghanistan were preceded by any serious consultation with Trump’s European allies, many of whom either have ground troops or air forces operating in both countries.

    The former UK ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher said: “Storm clouds darkening”.
    Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the European Liberal group in the European parliament, said: “A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable – and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood.”

  10. karlgarcia says:

    I guess for a continuing revolution, the ethical institution that Joe proposed for public and private governance must commence.

    With ethics committees, composed of members of the Judicial Council, Civil Service Commision, National commission on Public Governance, The Securities and Exchange Commission, the DILG or something simpler and better, we would be good to go.

    Before I forget,
    The church may just continue what they are doing.

    • Exactly. The first step to self improvement is personal accountability. Ethics are the way professions hold themselves accountable. The formation of ethics commissions is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of accountability and sincerity of service. It is not authoritarian because ethical rules and punishments are self-determined by the respective professionals. People AGREE to hold themselves accountable.

      If heads of Philippine institutions are not willing to do this, the public should just give up and migrate to a state that is sincere and striving for competence. Because they won’t get good service and competence in the Philippines.

  11. popoy says:

    OOT ?

    Will or Can somebody in TSoH clarify this so the taxpayers may know where their hard earned money are being spent on legalities or illegalities called PENSION.
    As regards ELECTED government officials like

    A Barangay captain
    Town or City councillor
    Town or City Vice Mayor
    Town or City Mayor
    Provincial board members
    Vice Governors
    Provincial Governors
    Congressmen(women) or District representatives
    Vice President


    1. When an elected official (enumerate them) resigns, lost an election or removed from office, is the official entitled to a pension. SAY, congress and the presidency.

    2. Which of any elected official that’s out of office is entitled to a Pension?

    3. Why are there no PROHIBITION for some out of their elected office (by resignation removal for cause or retirement) some officials are still allowed to run for higher lower public office?

    4. Why are ex-presidents of the US do not run for higher or lower elective office after finishing their terms of office? Is it because of old age or lack of greed for wealth and power?

    5. Should there be a law from Congressmen up to Presidents prohibiting them to run for any higher or public office after they are out by losing an election, end of tenure, or removal for cause
    6. Which of the elected positions grant retirements? Is there a law allowing pensions at the same time with salaries for a new elective office.


    • The questions are excellent. As to 3, ethical disciplines here are weak, and laws that follow from them. Often, doing wrong is seen as a strength. 4. I believe they get very rich be giving speeches (Bill Clinton) or seek the rewards of public service (Jimmy Carter). After the stress of a presidency (see how they all age), they are not inclined to do more work. 5. In my opinion, no. They should be free to pursue any ambition, just like any other American or Filipino. 7. A lot. 🙂

      • popoy says:

        Thanks JoeAm for the pansin and meaty response.

        • “4. Why are ex-presidents of the US do not run for higher or lower elective office after finishing their terms of office? Is it because of old age or lack of greed for wealth and power?”

          They usually just start their own foundations (different racket), more lucrative, but mostly more respectable too , ie. once you attain the highest office of the land, why settle for college president or town mayor (makes no sense). I believe Jimmy Carter is without one, but very active in promoting other non-profits like Habitat.

    • edgar lores says:

      Great set of questions.

      This is the practice in Oz:

      1 & 2. Elected official pension

      1.1. Senators and members of parliament (MP) are entitled to a government pension after a minimum years of service. Spouses and orphaned children are catered for in case of death. Entitlements are quite generous during service and post-service, such as travel allowances. This applies to federal and state levels.

      1.2. Local officials — mayors and councilors — do not seem to be entitled to one. However, there is in Oz a “superannuation guarantee” which is a personal pension scheme. All employees, government and private, participate in the scheme. All employers are mandated to contribute to the scheme.

      1.3. Comment: the pension schemes, entitlements, and allowances weigh against official corruption.

      3. Prohibition to run for higher/lower office

      3.1. There is no prohibition.

      3.2. The Prime Minister (PM) is a member of parliament. He/she may be voted out of office during general elections or be ousted by party caucus. In the latter case, he becomes an ordinary MP.

      3.3. Former MPs have run for local office.

      4. Ex-presidents or ex-Prime Ministers running for lower office

      4.1. I know of no case where a PM has run for local office. It would be demeaning after reaching such political heights. The post-service entitlements are such as to make it unnecessary.

      4.2. Ex-PMs do renominate as MPs.

      5. Prohibition for running after an election loss, end of tenure, removal for cause

      5.1. Oz does not have term limits, unlike the Philippines.

      5.2. One cannot nominate for federal office if one has (a) served a prison sentence of 12 months or more; (b) is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.

      5.3. A state MP did not renominate after allegations of domestic violence. He was not forced to resign as he hadn’t been jailed at all or jailed for more than a year.

      6. Pensions and salaries

      6.1. Pensions are availed of after retirement (voluntary) or election loss (involuntary). It may be available in case of ill-health or financial hardship.

      7. What is happening?

      7.1. Chaos.

    • chemrock says:

      In our Little Red Dot –

      1. Members of parliament entitled to pension previously. After 2011 they join the rest of us – draw on own retirement fund with Central Provident Fund aka SSS.
      2. NA
      3. Party decisions.
      4. Our prime ministers don’t leave the scene. Their brains are too good to be wasted. They remain in party and stand for election. They stay as MOs but no cabinet positions. They have fancy prefixes – minister mentor, minister emeritus. They have stated they draw no salaries, only allowances to run the office.
      5. Party decisions
      6. Cabinet members don’t need pension. They all retire multi- millionaires on salaries.
      7. Proletariat are pissed.

  12. eduardomaresca says:

    “They don’t read much, see education as an obligation rather than self-fulfilling….. and love fake news and gossip about esteemed people. It’s a loose, tabloidian society, in the main……. Even a college degree does not assure principled thinking or good problem solving ability”.
    It sounds familiar unfortunately. Most Filipinos whom I know have college education but I have never seen any of them read a book….and that also applies to my Pinoy wife who used to be a teacher in the Philippines.
    It seems like college education in the Philippines is a means to an end and after getting the degree most Pinoy stick their books on the shelf and part with them for good

    • When school is an obedience rather than an inspiration, one never finds fulfillment in a book.

      • eduardomaresca says:

        My Filipino wife was a teacher and she never reads, I didn’t even finish college and I’ve read hundreds of books….really, it comes down to inspiration

      • I think the Luther Bible was the pioneer in making people read in Europe.. before that they relied on priests and monks.

        The pre-Reformation mindset that priest or teacher tell you what to think might still be too strong in the Philippines.. crazy stuff is Gospel in Congress by 3rd Reading but probably unread.. q.e.d.

    • edgar lores says:

      Reading can be a drudgery, relaxation, escapism, a thrill, or a thirst.

      In school curricula elsewhere, certain books are required reading at certain levels, in middle school and high school. The requirements may help in the formation of the reading habit. Or it may put students off because of the dreaded additional requirement of writing book reports.

      I cannot recall reading being a rigid rubric of the school curricula in the Philippines. I recall reading one book in Year 8. It was “The King of the Golden River.” That didn’t quite inspire me.

      I came to reading by way of comics and Reader’s Digest — in particular “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” and the jokes at the end of each article.

      Crucial factor: the reading materials have to be found in the home. A recent study suggests that a home needs at least 80 books to be effective.

      There is evidence that reading makes one smarter.

      From the article: “As expected, respondents’ education, occupational status, and reading activities at home are strong predictors of superior literacy nearly everywhere, but respondents clearly benefit from adolescent exposure to books above and beyond these effects. Early exposure to books in [the] parental home matters because books are an integral part of routines and practices that enhance lifelong cognitive competencies.”

      • I read because my mother had a library full of mystery books, and she also subscribed to the Reader’s Digest, providing me . . . as with you . . . many moments of mirth reading the jokes, which were italicized and funny. Then came the America’s Funniest Home Videos and digital and away went books for many, I suspect. My young son speaks his google entries into his phone browser, but I type mine. We play cultural leap frog as the water temperature increases at a rate we cannot notice.

      • chemrock says:

        As a little kid I read from books that my uncle picks from British Army residences, and school library. Once I had a book with me in the toilet. I was careless and it jind of got messy. Had to tear off a couple of pages and dabbled water over a few others. Managed to return it to the library without fuss and hoped next kid to loan it has a stuffy nose.

        Wasn’t a great dad but something I’m happy with is my kids picked up my reading habits.

        Thanks Will, a delightful and inspiring read. None of us may have great platforms, but we can seek our 15 mins and dispense thousands of small kindness.

        Merry Xmas to everyone at TSOH and your family.

      • NHerrera says:

        Thanks for the link, edgar.

        “Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies spanning literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.”

        I am a believer of that with a note (perhaps redundant) that the 80 or so books are a reasonably good mix; and the parents impart without nagging some guides themselves. Then we may say with some confidence that the child-adolescent is armed to face the chaos and challenges of the cyber age.

        Joe Jr. is lucky to have a father in Joe, knowing what we do about the series of blog articles he has written.

        [I am old school but I still like the feel of paper as I read — dog-earing or folding a page corner for the last page read; though this is of course not as convenient as the e-book reader marking such.]

        • NHerrera says:

          Talk about books, here is Peter Bergen, a National Security Analyst, on Mattis:

          Mattis is also a “warrior monk.” An American four-star general is likely to move a dozen times during a long career, bringing family and household effects from one post to the next. Gen. Mattis, who has never married, instead moved his books — all 7,000 of them.

          That set of books probably made the General, among others.

          If he collected those books from age 1 to his present age of 68, that averages out to 103 books per year. I wonder about the number of Trump’s set of books.

          [Never married does not mean he did not indulge in activities married men do?]

      • eduardomaresca says:

        Ito ang problema: in the houses of graduate Filipinos books are hard to find. In the house of my mother in law I haven’t seen any…

        • “There is evidence that reading makes one smarter.”

          I don’t consider myself well-read, nor am I a fast reader (I say each word/syllable as I go when reading silently, plus my lips move).

          Though i don’t disagree that books are good for the mind and soul,

          BUT I have always been suspicious of reading as somehow evidence of intelligence. Yes, reading makes you privy to more info , but the crux of the above assumption is that most of the info out there is only gotten via reading.

          I’ve met really well read folks, and been in awe of the info they possess and their ability to conjure up all sorts of trivia , but the folks I would consider “smarter” than average were always those who don’t read too well, but either

          were gregarious enough to elicit info from others more knowledgeable , or those with vitality and adventure to learn plenty of life’s lessons thru their own experience.

          Book smarts is fun and safe sure , but I think creativity in thought and action is more the stuff of intellect. In a way, I’m favoring diskarte here over book learning , not the outcome of diskarte per se (the stuff we don’t like about it) but the process of it all,

          since it requires one to set down the book and actually engage with people and life head on, and not vicariously.

          • eduardomaresca says:

            There are obviously a lot of people who don’t benefit at all from reading. I mean the kind of reading that raises one’s level of consciousness and humanity like books on relationships, how to master one’s emotions, how to communicate better etc.
            To acquire these skills a certain amount of reading and, most of all, meditating is essential

            • “I mean the kind of reading that raises one’s level of consciousness and humanity like books on relationships, how to master one’s emotions, how to communicate better etc.”

              there’s no amount of reading that will raise any of these, if you feel some rise it’s most likely an illusion and some form of self-delusion.

              Life’s about secretions and excretions , you’re either born good or bad , or somewheres in between (or fluctuate to and fro). But secretions, of glands and other useful stuff meant to be exchanged, is the point of life, if you’re too busy reading, you’ll have missed a bunch already.

              • Don’t get me wrong, reading is fun and insightful… for example, I cannot poop unless I’m reading. But i’m under no pretense that it somehow makes me superior to say my mechanic or some janitor, or some Arab in the middle of the desert, much less some Filipino in Manila, which I feel you’re alluding to here, again see Einstein’s quote above.

              • eduardomaresca says:

                If you are too busy reading you are trapped in your mind. Reading is some form of fuel but much of the self actualization occurs while secreting and excreting….

              • “Reading is some form of fuel but much of the self actualization occurs while secreting and excreting…”

                Subtract reading from that equation.

                The first Jains, Buddha, Gnostics, Zoroastrians, hermits, weirdos, shamans, etc. etc. they didn’t read.

                Subtract reading and recalibrate.

                Is reading really necessary?

            • chemrock says:

              Lance, knowledge doesn’t equal intelligence, that’s fact. Point is reading is very important because the likelihood is that a person especially a child, who has a thirst for reading is likely to be one who tends to search for truth or answers. I would exlude those who reads nothing but those romance stuff. And one thing I observed, those who reads often more often than not, picks up very goood language skills.

          • eduardomaresca says:

            If reading becomes an empty intellectual exercise and a showy display of one’s sophistication I agree with you, it becomes pointless and it has zero value as far as raising your level of humanity is concerned.
            If, conversely, the purpose of reading is to broaden your insight, to deepen your level of understanding, in other words to escape the gravitational pull of the ordinary and mundane life and rise above the ego-driven way of thinking of the herd and get on the path of “”what Joseph Campbell called “the hero’s journey” (the hero being anyone who wishes to step out of his comfort zone and shoot for a self-actualized life) then reading is definitely something that we should integrate into our lives and make it a top priority.
            Most Filipinos (and a growing number of my fellow countrymen) fail to do that and prefer the quick fix in the form of entertainment, tv, internet etc. to the deep stuff that can ground a person.
            So sad

    • Question: Did baby Jesus have to read to “self-actualize”? He was most likely raised a stone mason, but from all accounts probably learned to read liturgical Hebrew to read stories from the Old Testament,

      but what self-help, self-improvement books did he read? hmmmmmmmmmm…

      • eduardomaresca says:

        The Bible is the ultimate self help book

        • Name me one story in the Old Testament (remember there was no New Testament during Jesus’ time) that you’d qualify as self-help, eduardo? Why?

          • eduardomaresca says:

            The book of Proverbs and the Psalms are full of gems of wisdom that self help gurus just copy and paste and borrow from ancient wisdom

            • Those are memes, I mean stories… you mentioned Joseph Campbell above, where are the hero journeys that lead to self-improvement, where’s the quest, the winning and defeating of monsters???

              • eduardomaresca says:

                Campbell said that those who want to escape the gravitational pull of the ordinary and mundane life have to face and conquer the threshold guardians. Those guardians could be well meaning parents, relatives, neighbours or friends who are comfortable with you staying the way you are

              • I’ll throw out some stories, there’s Job (classic, non-Hebrew, probably the oldest book in the Old Testament),

                There’s the two stories of Ruth and Esther, early feminism?

                There’s Jonah, your closest IMHO to Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

                Then there’s historical stuff about Kings and Judges and Prophets, doesn’t compare to actual good stories like the above books,

                but guess what, eduardo, Jesus never mentions them (some mentions of prophets and old laws, but no favorite stories really). Which leads me to conclude, Jesus didn’t read the Old Testament for self-help.

                Again, is reading really necessary? that’s the question.

    • If it isn’t, then what’s the point of your initial post? Just to express that you read and most Filipinos don’t, hence what? You’re better?

      • eduardomaresca says:

        Not necessarily. Much of what I say in connection to the Philippines and Filipinos is related to my marriage and I have the impression that, because the Philippines is, by and large, a society, that seems to cater to instant gratification and there seems to be little room for reading and reflecting, many Filipinos tend to be more emotional and impulsive than other cultures. Reading and meditating are excellent ways to keep emotionalism at bay and keeping strong emotions at bay is critical in an intimate relationship. Obviously I am talking about these things from my limited perspective as the husband of a Filipina. There are certainly deeper truths and insights that I need to delve into to better understand the Filipino mindset (or, more specifically, my spouse’s one)

    • “Point is reading is very important because the likelihood is that a person especially a child, who has a thirst for reading is likely to be one who tends to search for truth or answers.”


      I’m not necessarily saying the opposite here. I totally agree with your statement.

      I’m just pushing back on the whole notion that reading = intelligence . Not so, and I’m sure we agree.

      You in banking and business management you have the ideas, abstract concepts, and there are lower ranked people, ie. your tellers and workers.

      Me, with military there’s the flag officers and civilian policy makers, and lower ranking folks affect their policies.

      NH & sonny, as engineers, they have the technicians that follow thru with their engineering concepts laid out.

      edgar & Ireneo, create systems, like roads and intersections and there are the folks who use these things they’ve designed to navigate and perform their tasks.

      and so on and so forth.

      It all goes back to clouds vs. ground, you see.

      Saying that more people should just read and evolve seems less likelier a scenario, so the thinking should be more top-down than bottom-up. Concede that most people just don’t wanna read to evolve.

      Hence, why you as management should be more familiar with your clerks and tellers; why electrical engineers should be familiar with the job of linemen, civilian policy makers that of Lance Corporals’ duties, etc. etc.

      The focus of those people in the clouds should be to land on the ground and interact with those on the ground better than just telling them to get a wider library and read more.

      My bias here is that I’m convinced those with PhDs will have plenty more to learn than the other way around. More beneficial on their part comparatively. But that’s more a military bias, not necessarily applicable in other fields, I dunno.

      If those in the clouds are so smart, the challenge isn’t to simply invite the ground dwellers to the clouds, ie. reading, or listening to more classical music, or going to art exhibits, etc. (that’s IMHO more difficult an undertaking), but for those lofty ideas to be translated, made more palatable & digestible to the masses.

      In conclusion, saying more people should read is moot IMHO; assume already that most just don’t read, are happy with excretions & secretions; the question now is how to infect the rest with your lofty ideals and ideas.

      That’s why I asked above is reading really necessarily. And the answer is IMHO , a resounding no. Because there’s plenty of ways to transfer that clouds stuff into stuff usable on the ground.

      The trick is HOW. That’s where cloud dwellers should focus on, and the first step is to get down from the clouds and interact with ground dwellers. Don’t mold them in your image, you adjust to them.

      HAPPY NEW YEAR, chemp!!!

      • NH,

        This by the way was the genius of Gen. Mattis. With all those books, he always understood the young buck Private. He made big concepts more digestible.

        This too is the genius of Trump, though unlike Mattis , Trump is not a cloud dweller coming down, but someone who’s never left the ground ever.

      • eduardomaresca says:

        Reading does not equal intelligence. There are people who are illiterate who have more practical wisdom than literate people who simply read to accumulate notions that have no practical value when it comes to dealing with the big issues of life.
        The point I was trying to make is that many Filipinos (as well as a lot of people in other countries, including mine), including highly educated ones go for the quick fix and the instant gratification and watch a lot of tv, spend long hours on social media and from my perspective, as the husband of a Filipina, things that cater to instant gratification don’t breed profound thinking. Reading is more likely to encourage deep musing and thinking but, of course, there is no guarantee that this will happen. As I said, a lot of readers simply accumulate information for the sake of accumulating information and as a result they are not any better than others. I just mean that by reading regularly there is a greater chance that one becomes a deep thinker but that is not always the case…

        • “things that cater to instant gratification don’t breed profound thinking.”

          Agreed. By definition profound thinking is not instant.

          “Reading is more likely to encourage deep musing and thinking”

          Agreed. As compared to scrolling and clicking thru Twitter and fb.

          …”but, of course, there is no guarantee that this will happen.”

          EXACTLY! That’s my point.

          “I just mean that by reading regularly there is a greater chance that one becomes a deep thinker but that is not always the case…”

          Sure. When you’re comparing social media vs. reading great works, there’s greater chance.

          BUT how did great written works, thus profound thinking, come about? Through experience , no? OR like Stephen Hawking/Einstein from just sitting down and thinking (though both have admitted that jaunts across town or a hike here & there produced nuggets of thoughts for them, which they’d later expand and develop).

          So isn’t it much better– with probably a greater degree of surety, certainty — to say every Filipino (all humans for that matter) should go out there and play sports or go hiking or travel or dive and swim around the open sea. Just do.

          IMHO, the ailment of Filipino society is very similar to here (everywhere), we’ve ALL become consumers, not producers. More so the Filipinos, because they don’t really originate stuff (they used to be number 1 in rice and anything rice, they traded that for palm oil, or whatever the industrial fad of the week is).

          Part of this inability to make stuff anymore is because the downsizing of trade crafts. it’s exactly because of your type of thinking and others here, ie. that reading is how people become better that that is weirdly (wrongly) somehow the only way.

          Basically, bookworms (people who tend not to make things) phased out auto shop, welding, wood shop, machining, smithing, horticulture, etc. etc. So your bias has been played out, and it doesn’t necessary end where you think it will end, eduardo.

          But over here, where they phased out trade curriculum in high school and college as well, it is making a come back. People are now gardening again focusing on heirloom plants, same with livestock, diversifying. Due to reality TV shows mostly, and economy collapse of 2008, people are machining and smithing again (ironically the custom made gun industry is generating this interest too). There’s a push to be producers again.

          Instead of reading, just go out there and figure out what people need (what you need) and make stuff again.

          Give your wife a business to run, or if no capital then, something to make in small batches first. Does she like to bake? sew? garden? cook? Better to read for a reason (ie. for some project, to better sales, to better manufacture, to make, etc.) than to use reading as some feeling of superiority against others (ie. I read, you don’t, thus I thinking more profound thoughts, people just see thru that bs 😉 ).

          IF you want to get your wife off social media, don’t make her read, make her do, eduardo! Everything else (and all your complainings here) will come together once she’s out and about. And doing.


          “In 2012, the New York-based Turkish entrepreneur Ipek Irgit had a bright idea: to turn the brightly colored crocheted bikini she bought in Brazil into a business. The Kiini, as it was called, was a hit, and soon she was pulling in millions of dollars a year. She has also been quick to sue imposters, including Victoria’s Secret and Neiman Marcus, when they released similar versions of her design. But it turns out that Irgit had an uncredited influence of her own: she bought her original suit from the Brazilian street artist Maria Solange Ferrarini, who has been selling her handmade bathing suits for the past two decades. A lawyer recently negotiated a deal for Ferrarini, whose swimsuits are available at major retailers under the name “Platinum Inspired by Solange Ferrarini” for about $170.”

          If your business booms just be ready for stuff like this. 😉 You guys should do something similar and call it the Filipiini , design it with saints and Catholic icons. Should be a hit both in Italy and the Philippines.

          • Consumers not Producers.. Nicholas Taleb says there are more slaves today than ever before. If you define a slave as one who works for the man and buys his stuff at the mine or plantation owner’s store, he is right..

            Watched a Swiss TV show about old-school crafts some days ago. A smith, a ropemaker, a wheelmaker, a horsehair matress-maker and a dressmaker were shown. Most would be able to work without electricity, like Amish people.

            They and the Amish have better chances of survival in case things break down. Others would have to loot the nearest grocery store..

          • sonny says:

            🙂 Reminds me of:

            Einstein, IQ >> 145: didn’t invent but thunk with free-association (my read) while working in Swiss Patent Office, comes up with Special & General theory of Relativity using thought-experiments on light;

            Hedy Lamarr, actress, IQ >> 145: comes up with an idea of radio guidance system for torpedoes, WW-II;

            Augustus Kekule, chemist, IQ >> 110 (I presume) finally comes up with the solution of structure of Benzene ring from a dream of six snakes connected tail-to-head and births a whole branch of aromatic Organic Chemistry;

          • eduardomaresca says:

            We might explore that idea thanks

    • eduardo,

      I was just talking to a buddy last nite in sorta similar circumstance as you. Basically, he’s complaining about his wife (married 2 years) how she’s not up to par with his intellect and stuff. Now I’ve never been married so I’m not one to dish out marriage counseling , so it just struck me how similar to this thread the subject was.

      So jab in the dark, I told him , Hey maybe it’s not an intellect vs. no-intellect situation maybe you guys just need to share a pursuit together, like a hobby or a business. but I did tell him for sure don’t have a baby (if you’re miserable now, think how you’ll be miserable with a baby, baby has to suffer not fair). It’s so cliché having a baby for this reason.

      I told him read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” It’s written for 2nd graders it’s so simple you’d have to be really obtuse not to finish the book. Rich Dad is some hotel/real estate tycoon of Hawaii, while Poor Dad is the author’s dad, who was Superintendent of Education, State of Hawaii— so he was by no means some “poor” slob, just no rich.

      Once you read Robert Kiyosaki’s best seller (he’d go on to write other books, one or two with Trump in the 90s), you’ll realize it’s about Nietzsche’s

      Just remind your wife that Poor Dad isn’t necessarily without power, it’s when you start feeling sorry for yourself, demanding apology, seek to be offended all the time, censor others, etc. that’s when Slave Morality goes astray (find balance) , but in and of itself Slave Morality is not really as Nietzsche depicts it, more like this meeting (real or not),

      that’s Alexander the Great meeting Diogenes

      Keep in mind , I’m no fan of self-improvement books, nor get rich quick books, which I would lump Rich Dad, Poor Dad as , but as a book it’s the simplest way to get to Nietzsche’s Slave vs. Master Morality, which IMHO seems the root of your ailment and that of my buddy.

      So read Kiyosaki’s childish gibberish to get at Nietzsche’s bigger thoughts, just keep in mind that as a fan of Schopenhauer , although he seems to denigrate Slave Morality, I think deeper Nietzsche understood its inherent strength, see Diogenes/Alexander painting,

      where Alexander asks (having been taught by Aristotle, Aristotle being a contemporary of Diogenes who both were students of Plato, Diogenes also of Socrates),

      he asks, “Can I do something, anything for the Great Diogenes?”, to which Diogenes replies, “Yeah, move! you’re in the way of my Sun!”. To which Alexander tells his entourage, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes”. Poor Dad, Rich Dad. Slave morality, Master morality.

      • So once you’ve got your wife to read, or you read it to her, or summarize it for her. Then you two get into Thomas Stanley’s books (these 2 in particular), where he collects data (not deliberately) on Nietzsche’s Übermensch (or Nobleman). Read those two books, discuss Slave morality with your wife, and then off to your great adventure in becoming great. I have a feeling your blogs will be less about complaining and more about doing after this.

        Good luck, eduardo! HAPPY NEW YEAR! same to your wife.

      • eduardomaresca says:

        Actually my marriage is thriving. We are different as far as reading is concerned but two polar opposits attract each other. I didn’t marry my twin, i wouldn’t have made any sense. We complement each other rather nicely.
        Mabuhay ang Pilipinas

        • Oh, my mistake, eduardo. Either way, I’m sure you’ll stand to benefit with the above regardless, no?

          • eduardomaresca says:


            • I would just remind you not to apply Nietzsche to some social system, he’s mean to be read personally, micro- not macro- , for yourself to become either slave or master. He’s not Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, Spinoza, etc.

              But for sure Trump is master morality; where Obama is more slave morality. For the public good, I’d side with slave morality types than master morality. Back to proportionality. Master morality types tend to just keep ongoing, and

              Clean air and water, clean environment, you get stuff like that from slave morality types, slaves to Mother Earth. 😉

              • eduardomaresca says:

                I read Nietsche back in the high school days. I am talking about 35 years ago (“So Spoke Zarathustra”, Italian version, I don’t know the exact title in English).
                Back to my point. I wish my wife would read more and do less fb but in the past I have been in relationships with very well-read girls and the relationships didn’t work out while this one has been a long lasting one and it gets better and better

              • You don’t have to convince me of your thriving relationship w/ your wife, eduardo. but here’s more on Nietzsche for the uninitiated ,

              • sorry, that quote was in response to your Zarasthustra, here’s it in full:



                A testing and a questioning hath been all my travelling:- and verily, one must also learn to answer such questioning! That, however,- is my taste:

                -Neither a good nor a bad taste, but my taste, of which I have no longer either shame or secrecy.

                “This- is now my way,- where is yours?” Thus did I answer those who asked me “the way.” For the way- it doth not exist!

                Thus spake Zarathustra.


                Apropos to the thread indeed. 😉 thanks.

        • That is a superb way to describe what I’ve found with my wife, too, eduardo. We are miles apart in our history and cultures, but the combination of the two is fantastic because (a) we both have a sense of humor, (b) both are reasonably intelligent, and (3) both are of good character. So every day is a joy to explore . . .

          • eduardomaresca says:

            Thanks for sharing. I truly believe that there are ways to make a Western-Filipino intimate relationship not just work but actually thrive

  13. NHerrera says:

    I was watching Fareed Sakaria’s Sunday Night’s Global Public Square (GPS) on CNN. One of the guests, Ferguson of Stanford University, had this to say (my paraphrase):

    The future of democracy is uncertain in a climate of institutionalized fake news greatly aided by technology [ref. Facebook, twitter, google].

    It seems the world, not only the Philippines, is in need of some “moral” revolution. Like a new war strategy after the nuclear bomb.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    The founders of this Book sale events called Big Bad Wolf will be returning, that means we underestimated the Pinoys! reading habits.

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