Why incompetence is the norm in the Philippines




By JoeAm

The Philippines does not lack money as much as it lacks skill in how to deploy the wealth that is generated. Incompetence is the norm at both public agencies and private businesses. Why is that?

Not wanting to waste your time, for efficiency is important, I’ll get right to the point:

  • Skill at managing work requires critical thinking and ingenuity. Schools teach filling in the blanks.
  • Competence is not easy. It requires talent. Filipino honchos persist in hiring family, friends, and favorites.
  • Running a nation requires policies, laws, and knowledge. Voters elect boxers, thieves, and liars. Running a nation does not require populist blowhards crowding one another out to get to the front of the national cash machine.

That’s it.

Solve those problems and you’d get clean water every day, fewer drugs, electricity that stays on, and internet speeds that blaze. Beaches would be clean, traffic would begin to move again, and seas and lands would be looked upon as precious commodities rather than a trash can. Doctors would make appointments, land would be titled and used as collateral for loans that would be paid back, retailers would smile as if customers were important, and most of the existing leadership would be in jail or weed-whacking the national highway.

Of course, the problems will not be solved without someone teaching a completely different set of values to those which now exist, where people grant favors and expect them back, with no regard for efficiency, quality, ingenuity, and productivity.

In other words, people have to WANT to be surrounded by competence, demand it of themselves rather than a free ride, and have no patience for seeing or listening to all the populist blowhards in important positions who pretend competence.


202 Responses to “Why incompetence is the norm in the Philippines”
  1. “people have to WANT to be surrounded by competence, demand it of themselves rather than a free ride” exactly! Too many freeloaders. Most of us have that mindset of getting max consumerism and indulgence while giving back as little as possible. To some extent most of us are little Wanda Teos, Bong Revillas and more. How often have I seen the party and shopping mindset among Filipinos abroad – often with a bit of a sneer for those who worked “too hard”. The too hard and too honest approach was the norm in the 1950s, when the likes of Sonny and Edgar were kids, NHerrera and Popoy young – 1970s Martial Law Zeitgeist was too honest and hardworking was baduy and foolish, cutting corners to succeed cool and smart. Unfortunately that leads to wholesale tragedy of the commons if everyone has that attitude, that he who serves competently and honestly is a sucker while cool people live off other’s work like the examples I mentioned above.

    • I mean what does THIS say about our values?

      • While this man would surely just be ridiculed by Filipinos:

        Well who cares who that is anyway, not Xi Jinping or Donald Trump or anyone “big time” as many Filipinos say.

        • A nation of big timers, hahaha! Losers, all.

          • Like TBL prating recently about ICC people losing access to outlet stores because Bensouda’s Visa to the US was canceled.

            Ignorant because outlet stores are all over nowadays, this is not the golden age of PX anymore. And stupid because the formerly just obnoxious behavior of some Filipino diplomats towards other nations, presuming that they were the right hand of the USA, is ridiculous in the context of trying to suck up to both Xi and Trump.

            • Yes, why is it that the nation’s leaders do not really grasp independent? They just do suck-up, not accountability. Accountability is crucial for competence. I should have put that into the article.

              • kasambahay says:

                it’s very lonely at the top, which reminds me of a song: no man is an island, no man stands alone, each man is my brother . . . but it’s just a song.

                leaders do have lots of advisers and experts on their fields, giving ideas, sharing, debunking ideas and theories, fomenting, etc, all are on his beck and call. and the leader is supposedly going to put all ideas together, aggregate and conglomerate all, and come up with one potent idea, the best of the bests. and so the leader governs the nation. any mistakes and misadventures, the leader is responsible, in charge.

                as for incompetence, when pressured and only when pressured, the leader fires the incompetents, and then replaces them with another from his pool of inept and similarly incompetent upstarts, lol! that’s mostly what’s happening in pinas. mea culpa my country.

              • Yes, that about nails it. Or rather than firing him, just moving him to another department.

      • They are populist, without regard for result.

      • distant observer says:

        Thanks for this table.

    • Yes, that is exactly the condition. When people are sneered at for striving for competence, it does not promote competence, for sure.

  2. Ron says:

    Joe, How is that different from America, for example?

    • One example: AOC is seen as cool by many for knowing exactly what she is talking about.

      While in Pinas it’s “cool” to admit not reading the bills you sign. Isn’t that the sitting pretty life we all yearn for deep within?

      • karlgarcia says:

        It is cool to plagiarize, we have even plagiarized whole constitutions. Cool to copy bills, they are fair game, we must reuse and recycle. 🙄

        • karlgarcia says:

          Why reinvent the wheel?
          Incompetence without accountability us not just normal, it is all but natural.
          Just be sure to blame everyone but your self.

        • We can’t all pull it off like Leonardo di Caprio aka Frank William Abagnale Jr., or be as cool in stealing as Danny Ocean aka George Clooney, can’t we?

          But even Abagnale knew his checks by heart, and passed the bar without cheating.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Catch them if you can.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Do you concur?

              • Sayn da bowcher. Den we kan meyk rekwisisyon. Bepor no.

                Also do not forget to get an affidavit. Only valid with stamp en seel.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Even in the private sector, if Financial planning did not allocate the budget, better luck next year.
                The late passage of the budgets disrupts so many lives, like some hospitals and some other institutions will have no budget, some won,’t receive their salaries, we will have to apologize more for delaying government projects(smh)……

              • In the private sector of developed countries, not being able to pay your bills means that management has to declare insolvency (called Chapter 11 in the USA) and appoint someone to take care of paying the bills until things are OK or the company is liquidated.

                That insolvency manager is in Germany obliged to pay salaries first, although insolvency can mean some very quick and painful job cuts. But people not getting paid is unlikely.

                Excuses like “Ma’am Sir got sick so we could not sign da bowcher” don’t work over here.

              • Salary not remitted to employee by 5th day of the month I think means a fine over here.

                Social security agencies can fine employers for just late payment of social security fees.

                I wonder what happened that SSS has payment arrears and cannot even collect them?

                But what is important is da bowcher. En da affidavit. En da SALN if not beri bad like Sereno.

                Even if da SALN is suspicious, no investigation needed says Panelo. Basta kumpleto.

              • I tend to agree with another comment somewhere in response to my social blatheri missionary work that the first priority should be to build ethical values. Without those values, bad remains good and good remains bad. Levy fines and get assassinated is basically the ethical foundation of the Philippines, I fear.

              • Or put people in jail for doing wrong – and get put in jail for putting them in jail, like de Lima. Basically some DDS, and Mikee Arroyo, have called her arrogant for her role in DOJ.

                If there were an ethical foundation, Bong Revilla could not act as as if unjustly imprisoned.

              • Perfect example of the warped values, where doing right is arrogant because it penalizes the corrupt.

              • Or get voted out of office for improving BIR collections, as MLQ3 confirmed to me was one major motive of some better earners for disliking PNoy. As if that was wronging them.

              • Yep. Another perfect example. Incompetence is preferred because it takes the pressure off the wayward.

              • “Excuses like “Ma’am Sir got sick so we could not sign da bowcher” don’t work over here.”

                I’ve never personally done banking over there.

                But i’ve come along w/ some friends who have, and that’s about the correct description, there’s always some older lady in her 60s, always a Tsinoy (or Tsinoy looking, ie. very Chinese features and light complexion). that either does the signing , or simply does the micro-managing.

                Over here, you do business with the teller, and if its over her head she talks to the teller to her right or left; if they don’t know they ask some person sitting on a table; if still no, then they walk into some office looking setting.

                Some old woman Tsinoy running all the details seem really counter-productive, having every decision go thru her i mean. considering most of the younger women are i’m sure accounting majors in college ( a lot of those in the Philippines i noticed).

                Another business similar to personal banking over there, would be the girlie bars and KTV bars, in one bikini clad girls gyrate to music, the other girls in long dresses or short skirts sing with or for customers; while the main girls entertain there are side-girls

                who are essentially the waitresses , pushing more drinks and this and that.

                these are the girls you give money to the mamasan or assistant mamasan (usually the sister or close cousin), who is usually in a cage-like enclosure again older Tsinoy looking female (though this time its more like 70% of the time, and not as old more like 40 to 50 years old).

                most actual mamasans tend to stay behind the bar, keeping a close eye on her bartender(s) or roam around and talk to the customers if social or to her girls if mean and/or maternal. My point,

                similar operation, especially the cage-like cash register or a high platform desk for bank managers. but the bars in the Philippines tend to be the best in customer service.

                Over here both bank tellers and strippers (not usually prostitutes mind you) would be equal in their customer service, a simple smile, small talk and empathy of what you’re trying to get out of the transaction.

                in the end it’s about empathy of the transaction, knowing and understanding what the customer is attempting to accomplish. banks there just had no clue. the most memorable for me, was “Sir, this is blue ink, it has to be black ink, sir” Lol !!!!!

    • Good lord, man, you don’t know? America is a competitive society obsessed with hard work and rewards for it. Good thinking and rewards for it. Why you be askin’ such nonsense?

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. I believe competence in the private sector is higher than in the public sector. Several degrees higher I would say.

    2. In the public sector, one is largely hired on the basis of who-you-know. The “palakasan” system is alive and well. And there is the accepted notion that a public job is a sinecure.

    3. In the private sector, one is hired on one’s merits and capabilities.

    4. In both sectors, there are qualifying hurdles such as exams and interviews. In both sectors, I imagine – now, three decades since I left — annual performance reviews are conducted.

    5. The rot in the public sector is in the “palakasan” system, which, as we have seen with Duterte, goes hand-in-hand with utang-na-loob. The rot starts at the very top.

    6. A study should be made of the incompetencies in the public-private consortium that manages Metro Manila’s waterworks.

    6.1. At the very top, one can see the failure of the public arm to project for future water needs of a growing urban population and to develop adequate dams and resources. Who cares about so many years hence when I got my job because I am the son-in-law of a cousin of the president?

    6.2. At the very bottom, perhaps the main concern of the private arms is to maintain billing volume and income, and to be blind to the need to meet sanitation standards for water quality and the need to maintain water infrastructure despite low water utility due to leakage and theft.

    7. For people who are driven to excellence because of personal standards, being competent is soul-satisfying. That Filipinos are not so driven shows that we are essentially mediocre. We are only world-class when it comes to beauty pageants, Makati car parks, and holding the Guinness world record for corruption.

    • One note: MLQ3 mentioned the introduction of PRP or performance-related pay in government as one reason for anti-PNoy hate.

      Also: I think BPO is several notches more competitive and capable than the old Makati private sector which had country club style of management and hiring also within a certain circle of families and elite schools. That may have raised the bar for the latter as well.

    • Well, okay, the public sector is atrocious, the public is just bad. Globe and Smart are private. The Inquirer. Gaisano malls with its snarling staff. The transportation companies. I admit there is a certain Indiana Jones character to barreling in a dilapidated bus down the road at an unsafe speed as the conductor pours water through the floor of the bus to keep the engine cooled, or gear box, or whatever is grinding down there. But there are better ways to travel. Some companies get it. Jollibee is best. Real estate giants, although they are thuggish and write their documents to protect themselves rather than the buyers. The people is just pin balls, bouncing around the machine, because incompetents here have authority.

      • edgar lores says:

        I was thinking along the lines of private companies not engaged in public service utilities. Not Globe and Smart.

        Companies like San Miguel. SM Investments. Ayala Corporation. Proctor and Gamble Philippines. Nestle Philippines. SGV.

        I worked in private companies and the work ethic was as far as you could get from the public sector.

        • edgar lores says:

          Even here in Oz, private companies that are public service utilities get the shaft. Like Telstra and Optus in communications. And some energy companies like AGL and Origin.

          • I wonder if the difference in the Philippines is foreign clients versus Filipino clients.

            If one looks at the data migration disaster that has befallen BPI recently (thought they would migrate to new systems last weekend, been down since then, no money for anybody not even salaries) then one can imagine how bad it must be. I do remember PNB in the old days, waiting for long to get a withdrawal while the “bowcher” (voucher) was typed and passed around for signing by stuffed shirts with some ladies just carrying papers around.

            • Or BPI is just changing its records, quietly, especially for the Julia Vargas branch.

              And let us watch out for arrests of prominent yellows who suddenly have too much money.

              After all, AMLA and Ombudsman are now in the “right” hands and can “lose” old records.

            • The retail practice of invalidating the product warranty by testing the purchased equipment in the store is one of the most incompetent practices in the history of retailing, I think. It is okay that the worker is getting paid peanuts, but it presumes the customer’s time is also worth shit.

            • edgar lores says:

              We know that every major IT upgrade or conversion is a disaster waiting to happen.

              I don’t know but the length of time its taking BPI to recover tells me that the planning and testing were not thorough.

              o Pilot conversion planning. Sometimes a portion of the old system is converted to the new system to test timing and procedures including recovery procedures.

              o Backup/recovery planning. If something fails midstream, the backup plan should take over. A recovery plan should not take that long to implement. Banking is almost a 24/7 online operation. Here, in Oz, the wee hours of the night are used for batch processing and weekend transactions are processed on Monday nights.

              o Configuration planning. If a major upgrade is taking place, it is often necessary to lease/acquire supernumerary resources. Extra processors. Extra storage units. Extra personnel. Since this is a bank, I am thinking this should be independent multi-site installations capable of parallel processing.

              o Verification planning. It is sometimes necessary to do parallel processing between the old and the new system, although internal checks should suffice.

              The Australian Tax Office did a major upgrade some years ago and I remember it took them almost a year to recover.

              I believe most Oz banks carry on with legacy systems written in COBOL.

        • Okay, yes, I can see that. Okay, I concede the point. The PH should privatize government.

  4. “… a completely different set of values to those which now exist, where people grant favors and expect them back, with no regard for efficiency, quality, ingenuity, and productivity.”


    I was really happy when Ireneo responded to my now many rubber monologues on here (i think it was Mary Grace that bore the brunt back then).With this article below,


    But that initial excitement , of Filipino-owned and -made tires (for motorcycles) , dissipated as soon as I thought about other Filipino endeavors you’ve outline above.

    I do wish to be proven wrong, and that somehow the new tire company develops German style efficiency and precision; with American ingenuity and productivity.

    My biggest worry is that these tires disintegrate like old chewing gum in your mouth, you guys ever had those?

    With that said, any move forward like the above tire company should be celebrated. Hats off to them. it’s a good start.

    • it’s Finland that’s helping out…

      “Under the MoU that was signed on 7 March, Phoenix Petroleum agrees to invest in Pilipinas Agila Tyre Manufacturing and help prepare the feasibility study for the establishment of the Pilipinas Agila factory in Mindanao, the country’s second-largest city. Phoenix Petroleum, which is partnering with Finland’s Black Donuts Engineering for the project, will provide both financial and technical assistance towards setting up the plant.

      According to Emmanuel F. Pińol, the Philippines’ Agriculture Secretary, the initiative could be a “game changer” in the local rubber industry. “Other Asian countries have already established their own tyre manufacturing company, why can’t we also do that?” he commented. “A tyre factory in the Philippines will also mean a stable income for the country’s growing number of rubber farmers.”

      In order to realise the project, the Department of Agriculture has organised groups of rubber farmers to form the PRFA. The aim of the association is to “mobilise Filipino rubber farmers to become active partners of the government in promoting their own welfare and in the development of the rubber industry in general.” In January, a group from Black Donuts Engineering visited rubber plantations in Mindanao to assess the capability of farmers to operate the tyre factory.”

  5. popoy says:

    O O T Eh. Why incompetence in the use and comprehension of words is perhaps the norm for some people? in writing opinion. Like how Chocolate Hills can be turned into a Grand Canyon. BANNING any kind of people to visit a University Campus is so different from INVITING THEM. To BAN as against to INVITE tells a lot about the affective and objective brain of the banner and the inviter. What happened to Irene M. Araneta is a pathetic example Critical thinking is sometimes downed by pathetic thinking. .

  6. Micha says:

    Given the most likely trashing of opposition senatorial slate, it can be said that the political opposition also lacked competence to erect a compelling counter-narrative to the populist fascistic agenda of the current regime.

    The dry, boring, and mediocre ideas of the opposition naturally fail to excite voters who mostly see candidates like Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, or Erin Tanada as representatives of the old status quo which made the rise of somebody fatuous like Duterte possible in the first place.

    • Boring? Sure Pacquiao is more exciting and Bato is funny until his police shoot you Haha!

      Dry? Were there water shortages in 2016?

      Mediocre? Sure, EU aid ties to stupid human rights was not so original. Chinese loans are.

      Representatives of the old status quo? Sure, hate Aquino, Tañada, Diokno so much that you vote Imee into the Senate just to spite history!

      Compelling? It’s more fun to be Venezuela?

      • Decades later, people will still nitpick on how dilawan was not first world yet (who is in the Philippines save a few?) but brush over how fourth world the DDS is in competency, after all they are just ordinary Filipinos who can blame them, the Chinese too, huhu we expected so much more of the elites and whites!

      • Micha says:


        Given the political maturity and economic predicament of your average Filipino voters, what message or ideas do Roxas, Aquino, or Tanada have that will propel them in the secure spot of magic 12?

    • kasambahay says:

      mischa, I like boring, I like predictability too. that when I turn on the faucet there is water, turn on the switch there’s electricity. I like boring like things going on schedule, trains on time, the prices of commodities within my price range and affordable.

      yes, I like boring. I dont like the corrupt and their allies all for singing and dancing as if the senate is dance hall. I have a simple life and I like boring, the predictable with no nasty surprises.

      • kasambahay says:

        I dont like excitement, who wants a heart attack? panic attack, stage fright, spike in blood pressure, etc. dios mio, I just want to vote that’s all. and it’s otso diretso for me, all my fave boring candidates with proven track record, trusted and dependable at certainly hindi kawatan, god bless them.

      • Micha says:

        Why not tell that to the voters who’ve been through economic hell for decades already?

        What competing narratives or ideas do the opposition have given the machinery and the colorful messages of the current fascist regime?

        • What alternative do you propose?

          • And: fascists by my definition would create jobs for locals, even if it were just shovelling for the next road or cleaning esteros.

            Fascists would also build local industries – and not favor new overlords.

          • Micha says:

            A radical departure from neoliberal rot imposed on the country since 1980’s.

            • Back to the Marcosian system?

              Or Hugo Chavez?

              • Micha says:

                Marcos adopted neoliberal policies about the same time the economic hitmen staged their coup against Allende in Chile.

              • @Micha, I have no idea what you expect, truly. I share your disdain for the current fascist bunch, and agree that the neo-economic model is not proving capable of good wealth management or caretaking of the disadvantaged. It is also out of step with “common man morals” in the Philippines, which see arrogance in good effort and something attractive in cheating, lying, and uncivil behavior. Filipinos broadly like the fascist-in-chief. But I don’t know what you propose. I am lost at the pragmatics. What is the model, and how can we get beyond bitching and moaning? The opposition may prove incapable of getting their message across because they can’t compete with the splashy prominence of state-funded demolition (of Roxas and Aquino) and promotion of clowns, killers, and thieves. The message the opposition offers is not exactly neo-liberal, not fascist, and not the upside down morality of the masses. It is also not MMT, although it is jobs and stable, growing economy. It is more the pragmatics of life in the Philippines. Water, China, poverty, health care, human rights.

                Try talking MMT at the barangay, and they’d howl at the fancypants elitism. Try talking to the politicians and they’d walk away. Nothing in it for them. Try talking to the educated lawyers and professors and they’d shrug and say “good luck with that” and walk away.

                So what is the governmental model you propose, positively, that will actually get somewhere? You are fine at accusing the opposition of not connecting, what do you propose to do to connect? Or are you just one more blowhard in the social media fog pit that we might discern is all talk, no pragmatics?

              • “MMT.. Try talking to the politicians and they’d walk away. Nothing in it for them..”

                Nancy Binay might like MMT. Imagine being able to run the Philippines with the same benefits as Makati. For both rulers and ruled with no limit to funds!

              • Ah, of course. Explain it as unlimited ghost employees perhaps.

              • Micha says:


                Well then, that is the tragedy of the opposition. Nobody there to excite the prospects of the voters and they’re looking at a 12-0 rout this May.

                The elder Tanada and Diokno used to be considered leftists along with stalwarts like Salonga and Joker Arroyo during Marcos’ martial law years. And of course Ninoy Aquino was accused of being a collaborator with Joma’s CPP no less. Since then, nobody came of prominence or popularity to represent the legal left that could help haul in the votes for the opposition.

                When you’re up against a rightist fascist regime, coming in from the mediocre middle won’t cut it especially if they’re being viewed as nothing more than status quo protectors of the old establishment like Roxas.

                During the midterms congressional election in the US, democratic voters were energized by left of center platform represented by AOC and Bernie Sanders and they were able to take the majority in congress as a check and counter leverage on the rightist fascist agenda of Don Donald.

                That is how to run a campaign against the candidates of our fascist criminal regime.

                If the 12-0 rout materializes this coming May, all I can say to the incompetent mediocre opposition is, beh buti nga.

              • I’m still looking for the alternative to fascist, neo-liberal, upside-down moral values of the masses, and MMT. Me, I just say live up to the values in the Constitution, tell the truth, and stop the name-calling, whining, and blaming. Get to work. The Philippines would thrive.

              • The only one making it into the 12 is Roxas, by most polls, Aquino is iffy.

                The left IS supporting five of eight mostly, meaning all except Aquino, Roxas, Alejano.

                If the polls are right then name recognition is more important to most than any vision at all, and the left / Colmenares hardly have any more traction than the middle.

              • https://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2019/224807-makabayan-endorsement-independent-senate-2019-elections

                Makabayan endorsed:

                Neri Colmenares – Makabayan’s candidate
                Bam Aquino – Otso Diretso
                Nancy Binay – United Nationalist Alliance
                Chel Diokno – Otso Diretso
                Samira Gutoc – Otso Diretso
                Florin Hilbay – Otso Diretso
                Serge Osmeña – independent
                Grace Poe – independent
                Erin Tañada – Otso Diretso

              • Grace Poe has managed to position herself as a “fantasy social democrat”.

                She projects wanting the good of all without saying how she will do it.

                And is silent or complicit in TRAIN and tokhang but no one cares.

              • Micha says:

                And btw, JoeAm, AOC endorsed MMT to be included in the conversation on how to finance the Green New Deal. And Bernie once hired Stephanie Kelton as senate committee adviser.

                So there…

              • Good. They are in the US. There is that small detail.

        • kasambahay says:

          thank for your suggestion but no thanks. voters know who to vote come polling day, they dont need to be unduly told and condescended. excite them and they’ll freeze! grassroot voters have tendency to freeze and miss shading the entire circle/s on the ballot. they shade anywhere but the circle, lol!

          excitement, anxiety, nervousness, being responsible for their choices that whatever happen after they could well be blamed, make for mental block and the finger freezes!

          so voters manage/d 25% of the required 100% shading, 50& if they’re lucky. big problem with recounts later.

    • Micha,

      Given the polls, is it safe to say then that for sure Sara DU30 will run for President in 2022, and win ???

      Although I agree with you re counter-narrative, my sense is that there is results on the ground that is reverberating, being felt, thus Filipinos now doubling down on DU30.

      yours is more abstract, where I’m saying there are actual tangible stuff being felt that’s being missed here , if that stuff being felt was indeed negative, then the polls would indicate it; since its going towards DU30’s favor

      then the results being felt on the ground must be positive. chemp awhile back agreed that indeed things are kinda quiet these days, i’m sure there are other effects, i dunno what they’d be,

      maybe like that rubber tire company Ireneo posted about, is that project a carry-over from PNoy or is this DU30’s becuz it sounds like its his, ie. most rubber is grown in Mindanao, so they ask and they receive. transactional results like that…

      the gov’t actually being responsive. or merely active , ie. creating the illusion of response. so no, boring is not good… bcuz for so long there has been consistent inactivity, now all of a sudden it feels like (for many it seems) that things are happening.

      don’t discount that, is my point.

      • 2022 is intriguing. President Duterte recently said he wanted Bong Go for president in 2022. I think maybe his daughter is too independent and therefore undependable for him. But we also have Bong Bong Marcos in the wings and the ever ambitious Grace Poe. Plus perhaps VP Leni Robredo. Senator Trillanes says he is backing Robredo and not running, but there are lots of rocks in the path, not least of which could be fallout from the potential failure of the opposition senate candidates under Robredo’s oversight, and possible impeachment of her. Duterte is not looking so dictatorial these days with all the pushback against China and other problems (budget, water, drug exposes, and killings).

      • Felt? People FEEL there are less addicts in the streets. Sure they are either dead or have gone into hiding.

        Yoohoo! The zombie apocalypse is over, the rest is just minor inconvenience. And OFWs have ten-year passport validity.

        • sure, That.

          and also, how many other projects like Agila Tires that have made groups of people (here rubber farmers) happy about certain results; I know that bridge from Mactan island to Bohol has been proposed and considered, since Bohol has water and Cebu has power, but if is happens under DU30’s watch (which seem is gonna happen),

          he’ll have Cebu and Bohol happy.

          my point, DU30 is making people happy. if you put that on the scale , the not-so-happy folks are outweighed and that is politics.

          but gian‘s sentiment below (ones expressed so many times on here) is a great deterrent, Ireneo (that is my secondary point here).

          • Otso Diretso as of now has many grassroots, volunteer campaigners.

            They are TALKING to real people out there, listening, all of that.

            Will who hardly posts here anymore is one of their leaders.

            I wonder what kind of feedback they get, in malls, markets etc..

            On socmed some people have posted the weirdest reasons they heard for some choices..

            The picture is fuzzier than ever, even for me – things don’t make too much sense anymore.

            • I’d be curious to know what counter-narratives they are espousing,

              1) DU30 ‘s not doing anything for you.

              2) DU30 is against human rights and rule of law.

              if that ‘s the only dichotomy they are proposing, i can already tell you 8 > is barking up the wrong tree, Ireneo. Deaf ears. though I admit i was really rooting for that Muslim woman that Wil featured, only she impressed me of the 8.

              grew up in Jeddah, she could’ve leveraged all that towards Marawi re-build. Gulf states, not just KSA anymore are really looking to invest outside.

              • This is from Samira Gutoc, who in general projects a very strong presence.

                I really don’t know how the ground-level conversations are going, I wonder..

                LP started with Project Makinig, a listening project, I wonder about the results.

              • Maybe the “i’m just like you” politics is wrong,

                maybe she should’ve leveraged her Saudi connection, as the Filipino Gertrude Bell and TE Lawrence in one.

                like I said, Gulf states are looking to invest out, they want the Singapore model, oil’s running out, time’s up. they are looking to invest,

                why didn’t she play up her ME and Jeddah connection? not so much Islam, but access to Gulf money???

            • kasambahay says:

              you seem up to date. grassroot volunteers and campaigners of otso diretso are out and about. they even have polls and surveys of their own as opposed to false e, pulse asia, etc.

              schools, colleges and universities conducted their own surveys in their campuses and among their students, and otso diretso dominated their polls. tops! they’re not reliant or handicapped by the surveys put out by weather stations and such.

              accused to harboring npas, their students forcibly tested for drugs, accused also of the destabilizing ‘red october’ plot to oust the govt, students, parents, their friends and relatives are up in droves, campaigning. their nation, their county, their choice. and they’re for otso diretso.

      • chemrock says:

        Don’t get me wrong. Quiet on the streets don’t mean success of Du30 policies. People are just reactive. Get out of sight and out of trouble. Du30 hasn’t solved the underlying social problems. As soon as he is gone, Juan will come out to play again.

        • for sure I am not saying success or that DU30 has solved problems, chemp. I’m simply using the data you’ve provided and interpreting it towards my hypothesis that DU30 must be doing something right.

          everyone seems to be in agreement here and have similar sentiments as gian here

          or other similar thesis, mal-nutrition, no good, moral corruption, etc. etc. essentially that Filipinos cannot think for themselves.

          chemp , i’m simply stating that many Filipinos are doubling down on DU30 because they are feeling some movement, sure you guys can talk about movement during PNoy’s time , but as stated it was incremental and almost akin to the Trickle Down theory over here,

          all politics is emotional and people respond to results (whether real or not). that is my thesis,

          i don’t buy gian’s “Filipinos are stupid” thesis (and would farther surmise that this is the reason why yellows are losing). my point.

          Respect the voters, respect the crowd (whether its wisdom or something else is a different story 😉 ).

      • Micha says:

        @Lance Corporal

        I sort of mostly agree with your assessment re: creating the illusion of response. I would just add that PDutz, crass and crude as he is, speak the language of your average man on the street, the language of tricycle drivers and kargadors, the language of a long repressed and economically alienated people.

        It doesn’t matter that he fail to deliver on his promises 99% of the time, he just make it appear he’s on to something.

        Also, his full frontal attack on the Catholic church seem to resonate positively on much of the population who are sick and tired of the hypocrisy and conservatism of its bishops and princelings.

        It doesn’t matter that he appears to be the agent of Satan because the supposed agents of God have not done much to alleviate their suffering either..

        • I agree, he hits all the right notes, Micha.

          But look also into stuff that’s actually being felt on the ground.

          1) Quiet streets. (chempo)

          2) Agila tire company. (Ireneo)

          3). Mactan island to Bohol bridge. (mine)

          add 4, 5, 6, 7, …… (what’s yours, Micha)

          Why are people so happy with DU30??? that’s the question we need to answer, and stop answering it with “Filipinos are stupid”. not only is that the wrong answer, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, and falling into their (DU30’s) side of the narrative.

          because that’s what oppressor’s do, call people STUPID. it comes full circle, Micha. all related.

          ironically, I’m the only “Filipinos are not stupid” person here. and i’ve been consistently so.

          • cause you are not Filipino.

            We Filipinos are too stupid to know why and how the others are stupid, and so are the other Filipinos. Finally we are all stupid, how many of us are needed to process a bank deposit?

            • Hahahahaha… true dat!

              but my point, is Micha’s counter-narrative. and falling into the trap of “yellows”, “liberals” and “elitists”. You can’t get more elitist than calling people stupid, Ireneo.

              • “Finally we are all stupid, how many of us are needed to process a bank deposit?”

                I’ve always wondered why it took 20-30 people to run a gas station over there. Lol!

                But that’s not stupid just a surplus of cheap labor, accountants and gasoline technicians, apparently.

              • Well, I think it is more about Filipinos being caught up too much in their own little worlds and circles to really get what is important for the others. In that respect “all are stupid”.

                Real dialogue in a society rests on articulation on one end and listening on the other – and both require a recognition that the other’s interests and rights are valid and existent.

                Duterte is not a person for dialogue either, he just presumes to know what the masses want, and they see him as one of their own, think that they are represented by him.

                A lot of resentment plays a role there, and voting popular candidates might also be from that resentment against elites who wealth and/or knowledge the rest did not have.

                So what some DDS say, the Duterte’s being President brings the poor more respect, could be more like the gate-crashing of the elite by the street happening in this video:

          • No, you are not. I don’t think Filipinos are stupid. Most are trapped and have been for centuries.

        • “PDutz, crass and crude as he is, speak the language of your average man on the street, the language of tricycle drivers and kargadors, the language of a long repressed and economically alienated people.” fully correct plus looks and behavior, full street cred.

          “the population who are sick and tired of the hypocrisy and conservatism of its bishops and princelings.” and are more open about their sexuality than the upper and middle classes, who have a certain sense of privacy about these matters the lower classes don’t share and therefore see as false saintliness/hypocrisy even. Even if the old sexual hypocrisy of the middle and upper classes hardly exists anymore like it still did up to around maybe the 80s.

          • Ireneo,

            if i had a penny for every high ranking priest who ran a parish in the province, small towns, Bohol and Negros East mostly (and some in northern Mindanao, they seemed to be more on their toes in western Mindanao 😉 properly behaved) , who had

            and actually recognized their own children (i mean kids who called them “Papa” like literally) from young girls in his flock,

            i’d be close to a quarter richer, Ireneo. Not to mention that most of these priests usually had a fleet of donated cars parked in their church. Yup Catholic priests who have impregnated the town’s prettiest young girls.

            its no wonder DU30s Catholic attacks resonate, can you imagine having a crush on those girls only to have the town priest cock-block you. I’d vote DU30 too! Lol! think of the optics and psychology involved.

            and that’s just the wholesome old guy, young girl action, i’m not even touching the gay stuff or the more criminal trysts. Dirrrty!

            • Micha says:

              Hush, you naughty naughty you. Semana Santa is coming up. Don’t say bad words about the reverend fathers. 🙂

    • Micha,

      so sorry about Holy Week,

      and to be fair most of those priest/fathers are taking good care of their kids providing them with free Catholic education and a car once grown, and giving money to the girls they’ve impregnated (even supporting their new bf or husbands). but they are raising another type of princeling, one raised by the church and funded by church coffers. Entitled.

      most are brats, like their rich, landed counter-parts.

      to be sure, the Philippines might serve the Old gods and the New, but I serve the Many-Faced God. so Valar Morghulis indeed,

      Bu, heed Lord Varys’ advice (from S7 E2). But also remember the Red Lady’s too,

      • HIstorical note: some of the first Filipino mestizos were children of Spanish parish priests.

        Their special status gave them access to being administrators of church land, sometimes also as buyers of church land.

        Spanish parish priests also instructed the children of the principalia, the local upper class consisting of coopted chiefs.

        The elitism of color and language plus education started mainly in those days.

        MLQ3 also once noted that the most arrogant natives before were the sacristans, as they had direct contact to the priest.

  7. kasambahay says:

    incompetence has found kindred souls. the elephant in the room, the military and the armed forces, the geniuses and graduates with honors at west point and duntroon, the highly decorated officers with years of service and experience are all for it now. likewise the other elephant in the room, the legal fraternities are in for incompetence too. rule of law has gone hiding, lol!

    all their concerted efforts make for one massive incompetence, which in turn make citizens fearful albeit confused with lots of head scratching. say the wrong word and you could end up meeting doom. question the wrong people and your life could well be forfeit.

    incompetence has gripped the nation, lol!

    • It has gripped the nation like a mammoth typhoon moving in super slow motion back and forth for years. Thanks for the imagery.

      • caliphman says:

        Stupidity in this context implies not having the intellect to discern whats good for Filipinos regardless if they are happy or content with their present lot. It is obvious and a given that there are those like some of us who consider themselves less stupid and think they can discern better whats better for the country and the people as a whole. So having said that, are they stupid because they are like content carabaos happy just to be led by their carabao master who looks and talks like the rest of the herd? Are we elitists just because we discern that their lot could be much better and the rest of the herd either understand but disagree, know but do not care, or are simply just incapable of knowing or caring. And even if we learn
        what about their lot what makes them so content, how does that change anything? How does that change our discernment and perspective? Should we just not accept that we know better than most other Filipinos whats good for them and by definition we are therefore elitists? And if it so happens that carabaos are like horses and you can guide tby em to water but cannot force them to drink it? Does it matter whether you call them stupid or use a kinder term or not? I would suggest that undertaking to change a country full of content carabaos would be a very monumental if not disheartening task for those who embark on it. Maybe a more feasible task is to find candidate leaders who look, think, and talk like carabaos but shares our values and vision who might eventually lead the carabaos out of this dilemna?

        • I don’t see contentment (nor stupidity) I ‘m seeing people who are fed-up and are on fire. They’ll hire the craziest guy into office because they want to challenge the status quo.

          And the fact that 8 > aren’t taking traction less than a month now, means they like the new direction, caliphman. I understand more intelligent Filipinos don’t like the current direction, but these Filipinos lost the election, and from the likes of it are about to lose next months election as well.

          Making 2022 , a sure thing for Sara DU30.

          Stupid, or other euphemisms of stupidity, isn’t working, so why not just stop calling them stupid. Just start from there, and proceed with a better direction, but using stupidity as the answer to every Why is not helping.

          Joe stated above that he doesn’t believe Filipinos are stupid, just trapped— however you wanna describe it, you’re still undermining the decision they’ve chosen, and kept on choosing,

          respect the decision and the folks making them, then

          examine the decision process , don’t excuse it with your own euphemisms of the word “stupid”, or other rationalizings. What is happening on the ground over there? that is what’s needed now, data, not assumptions of stupidity (or other euphemisms of the same idea).

  8. caliphman says:

    I believe I said calling them stupid or not, and us elitist or not changes nothing. I am not one for name calling eithet but that neither here nor there.

  9. edgar lores says:


    1. I am trying to make sense of all the political comments.

    2. I begin with these five comments:

    2.1. Giancarlo: ”Filipinos are stupid.”
    2.2. Caliphman: Filipinos are ”content carabaos.”
    2.3. Lcpl_X: ”All politics is emotional and people respond to results (whether real or not).”
    2.4. Joe Am: Filipinos ”are trapped and have been for centuries.”
    2.5. Irineo: ”The picture is fuzzier than ever, even for me – things don’t make too much sense anymore.”

    3. I empathize with the sentiment of the first comment but it is a dead-end. After having made it, where does one go? Nothing is left to do but to raise one’s arms in resignation and say, “That’s it. Nothing can be done about it.”

    4. The analogy of the second comment is iconic of the traditional and bucolic lifestyle. It is rich in allusions of the master/slave mentality, the timidity, endurance and resilience of the Filipino, his imperviousness to thinking and his preference for wallowing in the mud.

    5. The third comment can be divided into two parts. The first part is true of the Filipino and perhaps of Americans. (I believe the swinging Aussie is more rational in his voting behavior.) The Filipino, for the most part, feels rather than thinks about his political choices. The second part is questionable. What are Duterte’s results – real or imagined? (The “safe streets” argument was debunked in a previous blog.)

    6. The fourth comment gives us a clue to the Filipino conundrum as depicted by the carabao analogy of the second comment.

    6.1. Which brings us to the question: What is unique about the Filipino?

    6.2. I think our failure to understand the Filipino arises from our misperception of his essential flaw. His flaw is not in the incapacity to think or the inability to think logically. No, his flaw lies in his value system. One can describe his value system as anachronistic in its anti-democratic and anti-Christian modality. It is this value system that we must unravel. And this is what we, the Society, have been doing for the most part in the past years.

    6.3. The Filipino votes not in reaction to results but according to his historical conditioning. The preference for certain archetypes – authoritative, messianic, gangsterish, comic, and virginal — are embedded in his psyche.

    7. Which brings us to the last comment. The Filipino has been attempting to free himself from centuries of captivity. As with Irineo, I don’t feel the May election is settled. Far from it. I feel that there is a grassroots surge – and revival – for decency. Leni, who won by a slim margin, is at the forefront. We shall see if the surge is strong and timely enough to lift a sufficient number of Otso Diretso to the halls of power.

    • I’d like to add nuance to my simplistic statement.

      I take public transport daily. I take the LRT1, LRT2, or MRT3 depending on where I need to go for the day and will surely take a jeep in any given day.

      I eat at jolly jeeps and carinderias.

      For an introvert, I push myself to interact with strangers in the hope of better understanding.

      Stupid acted as a catch-all but I mean it in a more hopeful way.

      We are under-educated in the things that matter, like critical thinking, logic, scientific method.

      We have under-developed value systems.

      We have an under-developed capacity for second, third, and fourth order thinking.

      In short we Filipinos are stupid

      We are all ID and ego never or almost minimal superego.

      Can we change this? I believe so but this is a two to three generation thing.

      Like complex physics, we need old people to die out because most of them will never accept the modern world.

      All the base instincts we have are reinforced by most if not all the institutions of our country.

      There is social entropy and if there was a second law of social dynamics I believe it would be similar to the second law of thermodynamics.

      • edgar lores says:

        As a general statement, “Filipinos are stupid” is as valid as “Filipinos are incompetent.”

        The objection to the statement — at least to me — is less to its truth than to its brutality. And to the attitude of the sayer, whether it is said as an utter condemnation or as an anguished observation.

        Without context, the first attitude is assumed. But within the context of the first statement — “Feeling a little down with the results.” — the second attitude is made clear.

        One can restate and euphemize it by saying, “Filipinos are unenlightened.”

        The truth of the statement remains the same but the sting goes.

        Agreeing and hoping that the grassroots surge will invalidate the statement. But if Jinggoy wins, all bets are off.

        • ‘One can restate and euphemize it by saying, “Filipinos are unenlightened.” ‘

          In that case, why euphemize at all, cut thru the chase and mean your words directly, “Filipinos are stupid”.

          I’m saying don’t play with words, double-speak, people will see thru that, instead respect these decisions they are making, just analyze them fairly. w/out calling Filipinos stupid. Why go there at all, is my point here.

          Now, you’re coaching young gian about double-speak??? that doesn’t sound enlightened. Don’t. be fair.

        • The distinction between stupid and unenlightened is culpability. I believe poor Filipinos are generally not culpable for their condition. But in terms of intelligence, my high school graduate wife is smarter and quicker of wit than my advanced-degree self. Knowledge escaped her along the way, but she is a fast-learner and no longer fits into any category of stupid, and a declining degree of unenlightened.

    • “5. The third comment can be divided into two parts. The first part is true of the Filipino and perhaps of Americans. (I believe the swinging Aussie is more rational in his voting behavior.) The Filipino, for the most part, feels rather than thinks about his political choices. The second part is questionable. What are Duterte’s results – real or imagined? (The “safe streets” argument was debunked in a previous blog.)”

      It wasn’t “debunked” , edgar, I questioned your poll. here, https://joeam.com/2019/04/04/almost-no-one-will-read-this-article-because-it-is-long-and-contains-the-word-paucity/#comment-276337

      I’m simply calling for a list of DU30’s purported or actual results, that way we’ll be able to talk clearly about the Why’s , i agree your 2.5 is the crux. Part of being enlightened is the ability to clear the “fuzz”. So add to this list,

      • I think there are three further points to add:

        1) the candidate helped US (“kami”, us without them). Bong Revilla and Imee Marcos are seen for their regional projects in Cavite and Ilocos for example.

        2) the candidate helped ME (or I hope for help) via a network that goes down to the barangay. Binay had his sister cities concept for that kind of help, Duterte has a whole lot of governors and mayors allied to him. The Filipino logic of “kapit” or clinging to powers-that-be

        3) “ONE OF US” – the sense that someone who looks, talks and acts like the normal people is more likely to work in their interests. Not to be neglected as a factor after a long colonial period where elites were kept apart from the people by education, sometimes by ancestry.

        The benefits of an anonymous and well-oiled government machinery and justice system are not understood anyway by those used it being rigged all the time, using it the wrong way was always the norm, they never learned anything else. so is ignorant the right word here?

        • Yes, but imposed, not voluntary, I think.

        • edgar lores says:

          I agree 1 and 2 work for Imee and Bong, although I am not so much aware of the latter’s projects. These two are about the benefits of patronage.


          1. What is the attraction of Jinggoy?
          2. Why did Binay lose despite his wide network of patronage?

          The 3rd point is powerful and partly provides an answer to the second question. It is about identification with the politician. It is the fifth passion in Paxton’s study of Fascism.

  10. caliphman says:

    Whether one can rationalize or make sense of why most Filipinos continue to support Duterte is moot and pointless. If the object of that exercise is to show they are neirher crazy nor stupid, then it does not change the fact that they will likely continue to support a tyrannical dictator abd vote for candidates that will support his regime. Proving they are crazy, stupid, or not imay win brownie argument points but is likely not inconsequential to the effort of averting Duterte from completely controlling the senate and all three branches of government .

    • averting Duterte from completely controlling the senate and all three branches of government .”

      “averting” is the point here, caliphman. calling Filipinos stupid, is not (I repeat is not) averting DU30 from completely controlling the senate and all three branches of the gov’t. it’s the opposite.

      begin by acknowledging that these are legitimate choices espoused by Filipnos (not stupid).

      I don’t know about “quiet streets” (chempo) I don’t live there; “Agila tire company” (Ireneo) i’ve just heard and know less ; but I know for sure that if a bridge from Mactan island to Bohol is constructed, the fate of Sara DU30 is sealed. because they’ve been talking about this bridge as late was the mid-2000’s, i’d surmise even way before that.

      it’s possible to debunk ‘quiet streets’ by way of polling; but Agila tire company and Bohol bridge need to be dissected closely, not by saying ‘rubber farmers are stupid’ or ‘Cebuanos & Boholanos are stupid’ for supporting said projects,

      but understanding why that tire company was needed and that bridge is needed. and why it’s being done under DU30. why are we now still even rationalizing and/or justifying “Filipinos are stupid”, that should’ve been an easy call.

    • Haha, the thought struck me that Lee Kwan Yew had similar sway over Singapore’s civic institutions. But his values were 180 degrees away.

    • edgar lores says:

      I think we need to understand. The unconscious needs to be brought into the conscious, the darkness into the light.

      • That gets into the emotional fabric and is both close to impossible, yet it is the real, enduring solution because parents would want to pass along ‘hope through togetherness’ (passion of aspiration) to their kids.

      • There are those who have tried dialogue, and there are those who find it frustratingly hard:

  11. caliphman says:

    Edgar, I also would be naturally curious to figure out the many and diverse reasons why Filipinos smart and stupid, rich or poor, etc. continue to support Duterte. But I disagree that it should be a necessity. Certainly not if its mainly a matter of historical or academic interest or to satisfy ones natural curiosity. It would be different if acquiring that understanding can help prodemocracy advocates formulate a strategy that would help their candidates win in the impending senate or other critical elections. More likely these reasons have to do with who is running as well as whats in their narrow self-interest and less their competence, character, and their campaign platforms. As has been thoroughly discussed before, changing their ballot preferences and behavior is at best a generational behavior. Given that the Philippines is teetering at the brink of a political precipice, there should more pressing concerns than to try make sense , justify, or disparage a big chunk of the Filipino people wcriteria, thinking, and choices unfortunately differ from ours. I think I have written what I needed to be said and have nothing more to add.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thanks, Caliphman. Point taken.

      • I do think some insights gleaned from here MAY help those trying to convince a relative, a neighbor, a friend in the current election. MAYBE of course those on the ground get it way more than we all do in this ivory tower of ours – but may not be able to articulate it, like us.

        What I would like to understand, eventually, if this continues, is WHY the country I once knew became a totally alien place, one I no longer get. This WILL be especially true if the things happen that many fear will happen if Otso Diretso loses: that I won’t spell out HERE.

        • On a positive note. If you look at all the surveys it is very clear that the problem is how long the campaign is.

          Samira, Erin, Chel, Hilbay, Alejano (ACHES) have excellent conversion rates. If they could go to ALL palengkes in the Philippines they are a sure win.

          Roxas and Bam has almost maximized their awareness. This is specially true of Roxas having a 99 percent awareness.

          What this means for both of them is that they have to battle the tide of Fake News and deserved or undeserved dislike of the PNoy admin.

          Go and Bato both have near 90 percent awareness which means that any fake news or negative news item would surely just weaken their position. This is the same for all the candidates with 90++ percent awareness. For them to have higher ratings they have to win over people who they have yet to win over.

          VP Leni has shown how to play this game. Being a relative newbie.

          I have observed although purely anecdotal I have observed for at least 20 people I’ve talked to.

          An ordinary people getting a simple handshake and assurance of their hinaing willl be heard in the senate is enough to convert a vote from no to yes.

          The young ones are at an advantage because Pilo, Samira, Alejano can go 20 hour day campaigns. The problem with Hilbay is that his campaign does not have enough funds.

          I suspect Alejano can go no sleep the last 30 days.

          Malacintao has to convert the young people and build a solid senior citizen base. If you go demographics 50% of the population is I believe below 24 years old. So his focus in senior citizens are limiting his appeal. For it to be useful he has to find a way for them to exclude the popular ones.

    • I think each person is entitled to decide for himself whether to engage, discuss, or check out, or even to agree or disagree on the point of being on the brink. Pro-Duterte people are free to comment here, in fact.

  12. caliphman says:

    Irineo, I share the same feelings of dismay and alienation. This is not the homeland I remember leaving and had hoped to return to. I do not recall if there were reliable trust and support surveys after the honeymoon years of Marcos’s martial law. But after the realization dawned that the sweeping change meant brutality, loss of liberty, centralized corruption, economic hardship , and fear of the regime most people were free to talk did not support the dictatorship. How times and Filipinos seem to have drastically changed and yet my biggest fear is this has been their core nature all along for hundreds of years.

  13. karlgarcia says:

    It IS better late than never in my neighborhood, before there were less than five houses with Otso Diretso posters and Streamers, now there are more than 10.
    I hope in other places that is also the case.

    I stand by what I said that surveys are not supposed to be our cheat sheets for the elections.

    As for incompetence-make everything measurable.
    As they say, You can not manage what you can not measure.

    We have done lots of mistakes and good leaders must ensure to make steps not to repeat them.

    Micha is wrong to downplay Irineo’s anecdotal evidence, reminiscing on values in the 50s is never wrong, you learn from mistakes and you must also learn to repeat the right things we have done.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    We know the blog only reaches a certain number of people and it is up to us readers to find
    time to relate to others what we have learned here.

    Moving on, here is a good read on electing leaders.


    • sonny says:

      “All 62 candidates passed the “belief in God” criterion. …”

      Karl, here is an article that further unpacks the “belief in God” criterion:


      • karlgarcia says:

        Sorry, I typed in the wrong box.

        • sonny says:

          I understand, Neph. 🙂

          The article is sectarian (Catholic) in context but I hope it is read focused immediately to where it says: What are the marks of God’s work in the world? where God-driven would-be senators can reflect upon.

    • “Firstly, it is secret.

      The second mark of God’s working in the world is linked to the first. He works with individuals.

      The third mark is that his work is small.

      The fourth mark of God’s work in the world is that it is unexpected.

      The fifth mark of God’s work in the world is that it is real. It is local. It is concrete.

      The sixth mark of God’s work in the world is that it is always about people.

      The seventh mark of God’s work in the world is that it is about spiritual warfare.

      The eighth mark is that God doesn’t give two hoots about all the wonderful stuff we treasure from our Western Catholic heritage. (I thought this one was particularly timely)

      Ninth: God plays a long game.

      Tenth: God has a sense of humor.”



      I don’t mind so much the “belief in God” criterion, it is a Catholic nation after all. but I would prefer them to have read “the City of God” by St. Augustine, very relevant to the Philippines pragmatism-meets-spiritual;

      with that said, marks of God’s working in the world is very on-the-ground typa stuff. thanks!

      the last IMHO is the most important, as one should be a “happy warrior”. Bear Grylls embodies this in all his shows, and in life I’m sure. so, 10 goes perfect with 7.

      1-6 is all related, secret-personal-small-serendipitous-tangible-community ;

      I’m more of a Spinoza God guy, but those 6 I’d recognize as marks of God’s working in the world. hence when I watch say Joel Osteen or TBN, it’s not the 6 i’d recognize if there are any marks at all, none, thus the Devil’s… loud-impersonal-big-scripted-fluff-self-serving.

      8 is a given, spiritual does not = material. but Filipinos always seem to mix the two up, so good for reminder.

      9 is the most important, sonny and I have to Wiki link it to stress its importance, and that is…

      • oooooops, there are 2 “most important”s there.

        clarification: 1st one should be personal to external; while 2nd should be external (ie. eternal) to personal. for sure both are related, both are “most important” i suppose. 😉 Quantum mechanics?

        • sonny says:

          I like the analogy, LC. The 10 marks of what is God’s work shows how to bridge the identical realities expressed in classical and quantum terms.

      • sonny says:

        “… 8 is a given, spiritual does not = material. but Filipinos always seem to mix the two up, so good for reminder. …”

        LC, Filipinos are tropical people, i.e. tropics = exposure to more life forms literally than temperate-zone people. This difference makes for the Filipino lens of degree-of-unity in reality as opposed to the split/analytical lens of the western view of reality. This can be seen in, for example, in the lower number of words (high-context) in the Filipino dictionary as opposed again to the larger volume of English vocabulary (low-context). My take, of course.

        • sonny says:

          But then again Filipinos are a hybrid of animists and American consumers.

        • Interesting.

          Christmas and Easter of course are just solstice celebration… the first, we’ll make it thru this winter just be happy; the second, see we made it , now its spring, let’s be more happy.

          W/out 4 seasons (i know wet/dry seasons), both Christmas and Easter become pure Christian celebrations in the Philippines, whereas they still take-on pagan aspects in the West.

          Are you familiar with “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, written in New York by some French dude who flew recon flights for France before the Nazis invaded. So he escaped to NY, and wrote the book. it’s not really a children’s book, its for adults.

          but like so many stories in the Bible, in this book, the process of enlightenment takes place in the middle of the desert— and outer space (but that’s more metaphor). the author himself was one of the original aviators of France, delivering mail to Dakar, crossing the Sahara, back and forth.

          he flew in South America too, but returned to France for the beginning of WWII; he did catch the end of WWII though, flying recon flights and crashed and died in the Med, south of France in his P-38. good thing he wrote “the Little Prince” already.

          To really understand Christianity, you’d have to spend time in the desert is my point, sonny.

          • All Saints and All souls day coincide with the Fall equinox.

            Why doesn’t Christendom have anything to coincide with the Summer solstice?

            I think it’s too much reminder of the the desert, sonny.

            • sonny says:

              Good question. Will report when I find out. 🙂

              • sonny says:

                From Catholic Answers:

                “For many centuries Christians have sanctified seasons and, by extension, created time, by prayer, fasting, and festivity. For example, in Catholic Europe bonfires were lit around the time of the summer solstice in honor of summer. In fact, the feast of St. John the Baptist, which falls on June 24, was sometimes considered the Summer Christmas because of St. John’s relationship with Christ who was born six months later.”

                Eastern Churches celebrate All Saints Day during the time of Pentecost, this is close to the summer solstice.

              • I love St. John the Baptist, sonny! Very fitting that he represents the Summer solstice! Thanks!

                Mark 1:4

                “4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

                my kinda guy, sonny. 😉

              • sonny says:

                He is indeed special, LC – cousin to the Lord, the last prophet of the Old Covenant.

          • sonny says:

            LC, there is the desert (St. Anthony and the desert Fathers) and the mountain tops (the Carthusians) and the in-between (St. Benedict of Nursia). I guess the solitary life (hermits, monks) is behind these. An imitation of Christ’s life in the desert with fasts was necessary for some but a more moderated state of life, like St Benedict, is just as good. De Saint-Exupery had a more unique take. (I heard of him but didn’t read The Little Prince.

      • sonny says:

        “… I’m more of a Spinoza God guy, but those 6 I’d recognize as marks of God’s working in the world. …”

        Spinoza would be a pantheist to a Scholasticism-trained guy like me.

        “… but I would prefer them to have read “the City of God” by St. Augustine, very relevant to the Philippines pragmatism-meets-spiritual;”

        If Filipino politicians had the “City of God” in their minds, the Philippine political problems would be of a different face altogether. Baptized barbarians at the Philippine gates perhaps?

        “… 9 is the most important, sonny and I have to Wiki link it to stress its importance, and that is… sub specie aeternitatis”

        Amen to this.

        • I think Spinoza was more of a Yeshiva trained guy, although after getting booted out of the Jewish community, his tutor was a former Jesuit (turned Calvinist?). But Yeshiva was his foundation, sonny.

          My point with St. Augustine, sonny, is that there were no barbarians/pagans, they were already subjects of Rome and Arianists. same with Philippines, whether INC, Aglipayan, Brother Mike, Catholic, Quiboloy, all same-same.

          thus, be pragmatic.

    • sonny,

      I just realized your ‘marks of God’s work in the world’ list , weirdly relates to Hare’s psychopathy test/check-list.

      Two check-lists to reflect upon, for sure.

  15. caliphman says:


    Heydarian’s latest opinion piece . I read it carefully given the negative feedback from his tweeter encounters with TSOH regulars here re his support, intentional or not, of the Duterte regime.My take is that quite to the contrary, he sees a country where its democratic institutions are dysfunctiontional and probably incompatible with its societal structure. That it is not surprising that its people frustrated with its inherent contradictions and lacking in innate democraric values and traditions are now placing their faith and trust and electoral power in an autocratic regime and possibly a dictatorship. That he rues this development and instead favors reforms presumably addressing the concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of a socital elite. What am I missing and is this not similar to many of the views being discussed here? I am not talking about Heydarian’s character or moral integrity which I am ignorant of but the quality of his analysis and ideas. On that, my concerns have to do not whether I agree with his assessment of fundamental situation and problems but how these can be resolved within the context of some form of a constitutional and truly representative form of government.

    Its not clear that the above ideas have much operational sgnificance or even relevance to how democratically progressive candidates xan prevail in the forthcoming elections. The hope perhaps is that a leader will emerge from the country’s flawed electoral process and perhaps for the wrong reasons who can begin to institute governmental, political, and constitutional reforms that will address these fundamental contradictions. Obviously the 1987 Cory era constitution was merely a legal bandage with its anti-dynasty and anti-dictatorship provisions which has failed or is failing to prevent both.

  16. caliphman says:


    In case it is asked if Heydarian’s ideas articulated above predate Duterte’s presidency. It does. His article at the Huffington post expresses the same themes. The disaffection with democracy in many developing countries and increasing preference for strongmen candidates with questionable promises to deliver changes the status quo have failed to do. The article was written near the height of Pinoy’s economic success and popularity when Duterte and Bongbong were growing blips in the Philippines political radar. The essay provides some answers raised in this blog why the majority of Filipinos across a broad social spectrum continue to trust and have faith in his leadership. Not because of any successes in faux national crisis i.e. drugs ( strikingly equivalent to Trump’s war on immigration) but because of what Duterte continues to represent, a powerful leader cast from a different mold. The shortcoming of this essay is it may identify the factors that swept Duterta and to some extent, Trump, intp power but falls far short of suggesting viable answers that might take less than generations to realize, if at all.

    • I think the two links are switched, but your assessment is clear. Heydarian is a very bright analyst and characterizes the issues well, and, like the rest of us, is unable to chart a way out of the social dilemma that a people punished by authoritarian dynasties would prefer an authoritarian leader . . . because they can’t grasp the promise and ‘method’ of democracy that requires self-awareness and a love for self development and accountability.

      Where he got into trouble was two acts that took him out of the realm of analyst and into the realm of playing politics. 1) He began to work on setting up a debate/discussion with Sass Sarasot, a vile, mean, untruthful DDS troll influencer. The Marcos DDS forces took over the planning for the event and turned into political diatribe that tarnished both Heydarian and the well-respected Miguel Syjuco, both of whom started backpedaling as fast as their trikes would go. 2) He labeled the opposition as elitist, self-involved liberals who can’t speak to the masses, and are therefore a big part of the problem. Upon getting bashed on social media, he went to the defense of only meaning ‘some’ liberals rather than grasping that he was engaged chopping down a pillar of democracy, the defense of it by people perceived as elitist because they reject everything Duterte. So people blamed him for going to the Duterte side, and lost respect for him.

      As the recent article suggests, he is back to building himself up, and defending democracy. And he sees things well. He got into trouble by going political rather writing about it . . . I think because he is ambitious. How does a decent person who respects democracy thrive in a world that is going stupid and authoritarian? He has not yet found that path.

    • kasambahay says:

      I look forward to heydarian hitting the campaign trail and maybe see for himself at close range, the all encompassing voters, the maligned, the marginalized and the oppressed, the lords and dames in their ivory towers, the haves with their oveflowing coffers, the powerful and the influential, etc. walk the talk. else heydarian is just gaslighting. pardon my being blunt.

      pinoys are fatalistic by nature, heydarian should know that. and talking about voters, is heydarian a voter? he must have candidates in mind. surely, he can be a player and be supportive of his candidates. show how deeply he cares, burn holes in his shoes and hit the campaign trail. and face the faceless voters he so loves to harp about.

      voters have been spoken to above their heads and been similarly analyzed to death and insulted even!

      maybe it’s time for heydarian to get down his high horse, get out of his comfort zone and be in the thick crowd. shout and be shouted down, it’s exhilarating, humbling at times. and for someone of heydarian’s caliber, that could only be water off the duck’s back.

      again, pardon my being blunt. I’m a kasambahay and as fatalistic as the next pinoy.

      • Are you suggesting Heydarian is elitist by remaining intellectually aloof? Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I appreciate your clear-speak, myself.

        • caliphman says:

          I am not sure what you mean saying the links are switched with the 2016 Huffpost poece predating Duterte’s election and the 2019 Inquirer essay. In any case, politics is a dirty business and whichever side he is mixed up with should not detract from the quality and veracity of his ideas. Whether coming from the Dutertard, yellow, elitist, liberal or other camps or labels, ideas that can explain how leaders like Duterte and Trump can rise and stay in power with rhe support of a large chunk if not the majority of their electorates are still well worth listening to. Poisoning the well is a tactic lawyers and politicians use when they cant or wont contest credible testimony based on logic or evidence. Unfortunately its the most common tactic for dismissing whatever truth anyone associated with the opposing camp has to say.

    • distant observer says:

      caliphman, you mention the “disaffection with democracy in many developing countries and increasing preference for strongmen candidates”. To be fair, this phenomenon is not only observable in “developing countries” (mind the euphemism). The research project “Varieties of Democracy” which tracks the political development of more than 200 countries concludes in its newest report that “the global trend of democratic declines continues in 2018. By end of 2018, liberal democratic institutions are eroding noticeably in 24 countries. Many of these countries, such as Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Hungary, Poland, and the United States, are established democracies, and populous. They are home to one third of the world’s population.” (https://www.v-dem.net/en/data/data-version-9/)

      As for the “strongman syndrome”, let’s ask the Germans about the consequences of a fulfilled “Führersehnsucht”. Not too long ago they demonstrated convincingly what could happen with a democratically elected strongman.

      I guess, once again, that education is key. Populism always works better with the – in Trumps words – “poorly educated” who he also truly “loves”.

      • kasambahay says:

        education is key and yet a lot of pinoys are educated, some highly educated but oh so badly taught. often, the educated ones left the country and become citizens of another country and those that stay . . . well, perpetuate their own dynasties, grab riches for themselves and monopolize the polictical scene time and again. now educating the masses like education for all, I dont know how that work. water seeks it own level and smacks of indoctrination.

        those educated but lack the opportunity to advance and further their ambition tweak their moral compass and become lackeys and allies of dubious strong men, is what I think.

        and behind those supposedly poorly educated are the very educated.

        and what I like most about trump is that he stands up to china, rightly or wrongly.

  17. caliphman says:

    Sincerity has to do with intention of the messenger.Its preferable to judge a message based on its content and how it conforms with ones own objective perception of reality. Morality or lack of it is only relevant when messages or ideas cannot be judged independent of who delivered or originated them.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Some people hate anonimity.
      That is the purpose of anonimity, to read the messages and ideas with out reading the byline, the avatar and the lifestory of the author

    • Morality is the reason for doing right. I’ve never known a important political argument that can stand free of such judgment, or a person detached from morality who is engaged in political discussion. Amorality is a morality. Does it serve the Philippine well? I think not. It is the root of corruption and the foundation for never being accountable for anything. Amorality is what allows Catholics to support killing of the poor. Seems important to me. The Church is doing a poor job of getting buy-in to Christ’s moral teachings. I tend to think His teachings are highly relevant.

      • sonny says:

        “Amorality is what allows Catholics to support killing of the poor. Seems important to me. The Church is doing a poor job of getting buy-in to Christ’s moral teachings. I tend to think His teachings are highly relevant.”


        • sonny says:

          The larger picture to the Catholic Church:


          France is the oldest daughter of the Catholic Church, the Philippines – her youngest.

          • “France is the oldest daughter of the Catholic Church, the Philippines – her youngest.”


            I just wanted to add to this thought. Historically, yah I suppose. But the closest to old Catholic Church right now IMHO is the Philippines.

            St. Augustine’s time to be precise. not yet all powerful, but starting to consolidate flocks. Though it was all powerful in the Philippines during the time of Spanish rule, they essentially transplanted 1500s Catholicism , from there it devolved (or evolved differently).

            Where French Catholicism is more like the Louvre. A museum. Filipino Catholicism is the streets.

            The folks that sacked Rome, and the reason St. Augustine wrote “the City of God”, they were Christians too, Arianists to be exact. Christian vs. Christian. just differing Christologies.

            I think, and this is now to Joe, you’re thinking of Christ’s teachings vis-a-vis American Christian traditions, more like a Quaker or Shaker. American Christians when dealing with ethical issues, never had to use their identity/belief to justify whatever action they had to justify (institutionally speaking, not individual).

            sure sure, Thou shalt not kill, etc. But the stuff that St. Augustine had to wrestle with, American Christians when dealing with wider ethics always followed the secular route, they had that luxury, hence abortion and nation-building type wars (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.).

            I don’t believe Filipino Catholics are going against Christian precepts necessarily, they are doing something similar St. Augustine was doing, and because Christianity in the Philippines came from 1500s Catholicism, and not from Puritans and Pilgrims as in America,

            they have this tradition of applying cost/benefit analyses that American Christians never really had to institutionally. So there’s more pragmatism found in Philippine Catholicism,

            French Catholicism is, though probably its “oldest daughter” , is not as worldly as Filipino Catholicism, is my point. I can tell you right now, Filipina prostitutes are probably going to mass this week, but at night they are still making money. that’s a metaphor of my point.

            here’s a good read on this, if TL;DR then just scroll the pdf to the last 2 pages:

            Click to access langan_-_the_elements_of_st._augustines_just_war_theory.pdf

            you’ll appreciate the list on this one, yup another check-list, this time A to H.

  18. caliphman says:

    The question of why and how someone behaves a certain way is entirely different from judging whether they SHOULD behave that way. The former is descriptive and the latter prescriptive based on one’s moral values or lack of it. We are talking about apples and oranges so there is no argument.

    • “Not because of any successes in faux national crisis i.e. drugs ( strikingly equivalent to Trump’s war on immigration) but because of what Duterte continues to represent, a powerful leader cast from a different mold. “


      There’s nothing faux about the two crises drug and immigration, here and over there. they are both expressions of the same thing, namely that we are fast approaching 8 billion.

      Climate change is essentially just the world expressing itself, saying “Hey! there’s waaay too many of you guys now !!!!“.

      ever since steam power (in the 1800s) made everything easier and easier, then electricity, then gas, then transistors, etc. allowing us to have more and more kids survive and procreate themselves, etc. etc. to now nearing 8 million, fast approaching.

      the culmination will be A.I. also fast approaching, but we needn’t wait, the gig economy of non-A.I. but close algorithms, of diffused workers, sans unions and protective leagues , guilds and civic groups, everyone’s disintegrating and diffused. been that even before the gig economy.

      But it’s NH‘s entropy metaphor all over.

      the more the entropy, the easier it will be to render one or two or thousands of individuals as worthy of being subtracted. Culled.

      All the stuff going on in Europe, over here, over there, all IMHO are related. 8 billion people is just not sustainable, but as humans though we are unable to cull ourselves efficiently, hence all the varying ways in our selection right now, ie. drug addicts, illegals, Us not Them, etc. etc.

      Once A.I. is up , true A.I. then there will be a better means of selection. More efficient, rendering our argument on the ethics of killing a drug addict, or them or those, etc. totally obsolete. I don’t know what criteria used would be. but it’ll surely be less arbitrary as now.

      True A.I. will be able to tap into, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub_specie_aeternitatis which we’re unable (will never be able) to comprehend. But it’s about entertaining all counter-factuals, which Dr. Strange did in the last Avengers movie:

      Dr. Strange: I went forward in time, to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict.

      How many did you see?

      Dr. Strange: 14,000,605.

      How many did we win?

      Dr. Strange: 1.

      (and that is the “Endgame”).

      • Three links sends a post to moderation.

        • I miscounted. thanks, Joe.

          But would like to add a follow-on idea, that is if you really think about A.I.

          it’s worst case and best case scenarios are actually very very similar.

          Worst Case:

          A.I. EJKs for everyone. Everyone dies.

          Best Case:

          A.I. does the work for all of us. Everyone lives. But what are we gonna be doing??? what’s the point of life without work? thus, everyone dies (of boredom this time).

          Same-same, you see.

          The best-case scenario needs to be imagined more, worst-case is easy.

  19. caliphman says:

    It may appear that Heydarian is the only one presenting an analysis and theory of how authoritarian leaders like Duterte, Trump, Erdogan, etc. have risen and maintained power in settings where widespread public dissatisfaction with liberal democratic governance and traditions. He is not.

    There is a growing body of political science research and literature that have influenced and shaped his views. That these ideas have been applied to rhe Philippines and to Duterte is of particular interest here and internationally as the Aquino administration had achieved significant economic progress and embarked major anti-corruption abd other reform prograns. In addition. the Philippines has always been presented as America’s poster child for its brand of liberal democracy and to see creeping dismantling of its democratic institutions after going thru a disastrous Marcos dictatorship us perplexing to most Philippine observers.

    The article linked below is a Carnegie-sponsored piece which is good follow-on reading to the two Heydarian essays I have posted above. It builds on the same analytical framework to examine where things are and where it might be headed almost midway through Duterte’s presidential tenure. Of particular note is the writer pointing out the use of a creeping dictatorship approach in which the Duterte regime coopts institutional and constitutional checks to limit authorirarian rule as a weapon to suppress critics and any opposition. His fear as well as mine is if and when the senate succumbs to his dictate as well, then the regime can reshape the constitution so the last legal obstacle to a legal dictatorship us removed.

    If its ones object to understand the dynamics of Duterte’s strongman rule and the public’s support for it, then this article might be of interest.


    • institutional capture = http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/gleichschaltung/ in German.

      The Nazis took from 1933 to around 1937 to fully consolidate their power.

    • A superb article. He describes the skill of Duterte at controlling the opposition, and writes:

      “The emergence of an appealing alternative. To date, the opposition to Duterte lacks a leader (or group of leaders) who offers a compelling alternative to the president and his policies. The government’s targeted assault on opposition leaders, including the arrests of Senators de Lima and Trillanes, is partly to blame, but the opposition’s weakness also stems from its limited pool of potential leaders.”

      He does not lay culpability on self-involved, elitist liberals, and one finds it hard to imagine him engaging in a showmanship style debate with one of the Duterte propaganda machine’s main players in the interest of ‘listening to both sides’. Heydarian became a political player and left the realm of analysis, I suspect in pursuit of his own political ambitions. One MUST read him with that understanding, just as one looks at legislators playing the middle ground, for self-interest. He admits his mistake at name calling and excessive passion. Maybe in time, he’ll find his way back to analyst, where he is very good.

      A far as analysis goes Timberman is objective, thorough, and puts the pieces together very well.

      • Joe,

        i gotta feeling this Timberman fella peruses your blog and its comment section,

      • caliphman says:

        Not sure about Heydarians political leanings or ambitions, but I sure hope he returns to analysis which he is really good at. Much of what he and Timberman does echo things we have covered here but more importantly their analysis fills in the gaps as to why Duterte is where he is and what may lie ahead given the socio-political dynamics which swept him to power. I am not concerned with America intervening in Philippine politics because that is unlikely under Trump. The US foreign policy record over the decades has been rather dismal and is more notable for their ineffectiveness and bungling rather than their successes. If anything, they are more likely to prefer a stable dictatorship eather than a shaky democracy. But then again I am not gifted with Heydarian’s or Timberman’s analytical skills in this field.

    • Micha says:


      While the author’s analysis is more or less spot on (think tanks, afterall, make their living by being experts on that area), it’s his prescription to intervene that is troubling.

      Given Carnegie’s political color though, it’s doubtful if the Trump admin will heed its advice. Penny Pritzker will have to wait for a centrist Wall Street Democrat taking the White House before her think tank can exercise some heft and influence in policy making.

      • Micha,

        by definition, think tanks and endowments, etc. write policy papers. they are supposed to be prescriptive.

        Usually they present 3 ideas, and one is usually about keeping the status quo, then push for something small and then something big— you can do 5 too. But you look at the intended audience, and you adjust accordingly.

        so some sort of intervention is usually in that list. I guess you can advice , ex. the US should continue its current position in the Philippines of not giving a fuck. but that would undermine the whole point of a policy paper.

        i’ve written to both Heydarian and Timberman and adviced them to focus on rubber and rubber trees (i don’t think they’re ready for my solution to solve malnutrition and overpopulation over there yet, in one stroke). BUT,

        You should do the same for MMT. 😉

        • Micha says:

          1. Depends on what political color your think tank is carrying. There are several dozens of these tanks out there. A conservative one like the Heritage Foundation will of course get more policy traction in a conservative congress or White House. Ditto for a liberal/democrat leaning like the Progressive Policy Institute. Carnegie is basically centrist with highlighted advocacy for international peace. Named after the squillionaire industrialist who fleeced and brutalized his steel workers and who, ironically enough, tried but failed to broker a peace at the outset of World War 1.

          2. Timberman justifies his prescription for intervention in the name of human rights and democracy. Fine and dandy on the surface but there’s a lot of hypocrisy there too, not to mention hard to strip skin of imperial smug and swagger.

          3. Most analysts from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) chaired by Adair Turner are MMT enlightened.

          • 1. Agree. everyone’s pushing an agenda. RAND in Santa Monica, i’ve always thought balanced. but they’re more dragnet typa think tank, ie. we have all types of policy solutions for whatever political color.

            2. Yup, the road to hell is paved with good intentions , look at Iraq , Afghanistan, Libya… that’s why I prefer Trump’s foreign policy, ie. you guys do you, and we do us. leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone.

            3. Are they pushing anything in the Philippines? thanks, will check these guys out, Micha.

            • Micha says:

              “that’s why I prefer Trump’s foreign policy, ie. you guys do you, and we do us. leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone.”

              Abrams, Pompeo, Pence, and little Marco are not doing that in Venezuela. They are so gung-ho to regime change Maduro.

              • Trump already asked, Can we keep the oil??? they all said, No , Sir, we don’t do that anymore, as policy we just promote human rights and democracy and dignity for everyone.

                If there’s nothing in it for us, why involve ourselves. Unless those folks can convince Trump there is something to be had. Nope. No Venezuela for us, Micha.

                Trish Regan for sure too wants America to go (Lou Dobbs too). A bunch of them wanna go, but if they can’t convince Trump that we’re keeping Venezuela’s oil, no ones going anywhere.

                You gotta love that kinda pragmatism.

              • Micha says:

                It’s not just about oil or the Monroe Doctrine as the mustachioed walrus Bolton categorically admitted. It is, above all, dismantling the socialist project of Chavismo. They’ve been at it since the early part of Chavez’ term. A viable or successful socialist state in Latin America cannot be tolerated. They did it in Lula’s Brazil as well as in dozen other countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, etc.

                The reality tv show president don’t have much nuance when it comes to this. It’s the neo-liberal hawks and skunks that are running the policy direction with all options on the table including, presumably, a military strike.

                Don Donald will just rubber stamp the whole thing.

              • They did leave old Pepe alone, Micha.

  20. Jetty says:

    Your article is misleading. The title says, ‘Why incompetence is the norm of the Philippines’ when in fact you’re talking about Philippine politics / public agencies and private businesses. You are on point for that matter but generalizing why incompetence is the norm of the Philippines makes you an incompetent writer yourself for that matter. Highly irresponsible and insensitive. You can still do something about it or redeem yourself but changing the title to Why incompetence is the norm of Philippine politics. With your article, you’re simply implicating a lot of people who give their best and those people who are excellent at what they do. Incompetence by the politicians and those who are in advantageous positions are spot on for that matter You’re implicating a lot of Filipinos who are excellent in many different fields who are doing their craft well here and abroad and those Filipinos who always gives their best. It is very unfair to say incompetence is the norm in this country. I believe it is not incompetence that impedes this country’s progress but it is the lack of real love by its citizens to its motherland. If its citizens truly love this country, there’d be no selfish and corrupt politicians who always bags down huge project funds for themselves, education will be a right esp. to those who can’t afford, and laws will be strictly implemented. People will not litter or throw their trash anywhere, a lot will not work abroad for greener pasture resulting to massive brain drain but rather enrich more local businesses, local industries / exports, providing more jobs to locals esp those from far off places, everyone will have fair chances of succeeding resulting to less crimes, good economy, etc. No more crab mentality. Filipinos can’t be blamed completely though if they lack real love to their country, esp the constant negativity being thrown at us constantly, it was somehow absorbed by the Pinoy’s mentality, also after being colonized 3 times ( Spain, U.S., Japan ). Most of my countrymen may have like felt they’re 2nd class citizens in their own country and have lost love, which probably became the norm. Incompetence by its politicians to manage this country well and lead its people well and how it went on a downward spiral from the 2nd richest country in Asia back in the days to a 3rd world. Nothing is permanent though, one day Phils. will soar unstoppably. With great and talented people and very rich natural resources, a very beautiful country,m it has no reason why it cannot reach the status of Singapore and Japan, etc. Compared to some other countries, still Philippines is a lot better, way better in term of its overall performance and its massive contribution to the world esp behind the scenes, but my fellow Filipinos shouldn’t be complacent enough to rest on its laurels. Filipinos are very adaptable though like how they can adapt to new environments and new culture being instilled in the past society. It just a matter of good leadership and good fellas to lead the right country in a great way, eventually making this country a stellar.

    • I’ve placed you on moderation. This is a discussion forum, not a place of insult and one-way opinion. Of course I won’t change the title and of course I will do nothing to redeem myself, in your eyes. You are saying the same as me, every other sentence. Lack of ability to love is incompetence, is it not? I hope the Philippines does soar someday and the talented and competent people will develop the ability to put the crooks in jail and keep them there, as a new competence.

      Here’s an idea. Read the blog regularly. Pick up on how the article is not the center of the blog, the discussion is. And that discussion is typically intelligent, courteous, and straightforward. Clean up your act, you can participate. Come storming in to lay down the law of the land as a newbie, well, just get lost.

  21. Realistic Average Joe says:

    Hi there. I admit that I’m not very positive about the future of the Philippines because of the way people think. They don’t accept the reality and what’s going on in their country, culture and mindset. It’sv very hard to discuss about these topics with Filipinos. It’s a huge taboo. I’m white and when I try to reason Filipinos they systenatically perceive what I say as personal attacks. Filipinos take the opinions of white foreigners very seriously. They are looking for our approval. I’m making a caricature here but basically the way they think is: say good things and they’re happy, but say the truth or say what you think and you will assist to the F. S. The ‘Filipino Strategies’. These are the Modus Operandi in the Philippines. It’s the number one norm. The average Filipino is an expert to deny the reality, his own actions, his responsibilities, mindset etc etc etc… Everything! You better wear some white gloves and a $10,000 tuxedo before arguing with a Filipino because he will desperately use all his cheap little tricks to deny and to make you pass for the had guy. 10 entire lives won’t be enough to know all the strategies Filipinos use but here are the most common ones: lying, confusing, tweaking the truth, changing topic, accusing others, calling you immature names, finding grammar mistakes, intimidation and if you’re unlucky they use violence. They can even pick a knife or a gun if you insult them or tell them some sarcastic remarks. You better rub them the right way because Filipinos are among the most emotional people in the world. The biggest question about Filipinos is;Do they believe their own lies? They collectively lie so much and repeat the same crap that maybe they believe what they say. For example, there’s nothing tangible at all in religious books like the bible but religion is omnipresent in every government and private establishments. There are huge statues and religious icons in banks, hospitals, schools etc etc. Lies are everywhere. If you’re religious I respect this but why do you need to bring it at work with you and impose it to everyone? Do they believe they will burn in hell for not having their huge statues of Mary and baby Jesus? There’s nothing scientifical in religions. They only devide people. A religious society is a handicapped society. A tradition is something that is completely stupid and backward that you absolutely don’t want to do but you do it because the tradition is “forcing” you to do it. Filipino traditions are not adapted to the 21st century. They keep people dumb, primitive and backward. Look at the salibatbat thing. How progressive is this supposed to be? There’s a tribe who practices a tradition called ‘the kutkot’. I saw it on youtube. They keep the bones of their ancestors buried in the garden and once in a while they unearth them to offer them some gifts lol. Read the comments of Filipinos saying they’re proud of this and respect that. How cute! How can we move forward and evolve playing with some bones? Maybe I’m an asshole but NO I DON’T I DON’T RESPECT TRADITIONS! There’s nothing respectable in this. I know I’m just wasting my time writing this because nothing will change. All the so called leaders of the Philippines only care about themselves and their huge ego. They never try to lead people in the right direction. They never try to civilize them. They want them to remain stupid, ignorant and primitive so they can have a better control over them. A Lawyer Leader who encourages rape and street justice loll. Woow!! How funny is this! And most people believe this loll. I’m really curious to know how people raise their kids in this country. It should be re-evaluated. We often hear that Filipinos have been colonized by the Spaniards and by the Americans, but come on. Filipinos have nothing in common with the Spanish and Americans except for few things they’ve copied. Spanish don’t play coqfight and don’t wear their silly huge sleeves dresses anymore. The Filipino mentality is more similar to the Chinese mentality. There are many points in common. Both don’t kiss their kids and don’t show much affection to them, the thing of saving the face, lying and hiding things etc etc. The best way to interact with Filipinos is to never take their words seriously. If you do you will always end up very disappointed. Take everything they say with a pinch of salt. Please forgive me for saying this but to be honest I have more trust in a gas station white employee in Burlington Vermont than a Filipino judge or doctor in Pangasinan or Cebu. If I’m lost, the white guy will help me. If he doesn’t know, he will tell me he doesn’t know. The Filipino doctor and judge is lazy and full of malice. He will try to make a dollar or getting rid of me sending me in the wrong direction because his ego is to big to admit that he doesn’t know. If he made a mistake DON’T TELL HIM or he will take it as a personal assault.

    • Thanks for the rant, which is a perspective shared by many, I suspect. I don’t share it. Cultures grow over centuries, they have legitimacy, and they do not change on a wish and a prayer. They have good and bad if one needs to moralize about it. One can either respect the difference and appreciate where it came from, or reject it and move on. I trust you will move on and not populate my blog with further negativity. I arrived with a similar mindset, listened to people here, grew out of it, and don’t want to return. I stay away from most whites here because it is impossible to speak with them. Contrary to your view.

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