How can the Philippines get out of the mud?

Analysis and Opinion

By Irineo B. R. Salazar

Will Villanueva figuratively struck me with his comment to my article “Towards FILIPINO modernity”:

“The Philippines is next-door neighbor to the Garden of Eden, what we may call Ayala Alabang Gilid, not Village, a cardboard and tape settlement that amazingly has a long shelf life, unable to live and unable to die.”

The ancient Philippines was on its own even if not rich by modern standards (though rich in nature’s endowment) anddeveloped over centuries into an international equivalent of Ayala Alabang Gilid, dependent on mainly on overseas money and nearly everything is makeshift even at highest levels.

Probably even around 1910, when most Filipinos lived in bahay kubos and the wealthy lived in their ancestral homes, there was more of a symbiosis and equilibrium within Philippine society, “feudal” as it was. Even UP Area 1 where I lived and UP Balara close by had a bit of a symbiosis back in the 1970s.

Manolo Quezon wrote that the major moment of separation between the upper and middle classes and the lower classes was the time of Edsa 2/3. The first decade of the 21st century might have widened the gap between rich and poor most strongly, but it also created a new middle class.

The OFW boom started in the 1970s, POEA was founded in 1975. It never really stopped and had reached the point where around 10 million Filipinos were abroad. How much that has been reduced by Covid is a good question, and Covid could be a lesson not to depend too much on foreign money.

In the international scene, those who are able to at least produce a major part of their own food and have value-added, high-quality products are less dependent. Karl has written about agriculture and industry in previous articles. Regenerative development is significant for health and agriculture too.



Many blog commenters have mentioned a lot of reasons why things don’t get done that easily:

  1. An inefficient and not exactly service-oriented bureaucracy
  2. Leakage of funds and inadequate controls, lack of accountability
  3. Lawmakers who do not seem to have the right priorities or big picture
  4. Citizens who are often not well-informed and/or with hardly any true voice
  5. Very few thought and opinion leaders looking at the big picture of major issues

Add to that a society that seems to lack focus, drifting from one “Flavor of the Week” topic to the next, even its best unable to find at least common ground, quarreling about actually minor matters.

Add impunity in two forms: actual violence as well as legal impunity of the sort committed against Senator Leila De Lima, ABS-CBN and possibly soon Maria Ressa of Rappler, and you have many who will not stick their neck out. The not yet resigned young are caught in a system that wants obedience: personal obedience, not necessarily obedience to the principles that supposedly define the system. During the 1989 coup against Cory, which side soldiers were on allegedly depended on their officers.



Alexander the Great allegedly did not try to untie the impossibly tangled Gordian knot, he just took his sword and cut through it. Those who dream of revolution from below like the Katipunan in 1896, revolution from the middle like EDSA in 1986 or revolution from the center – a book by Ferdinand E. Marcos and his nice word for dictatorship – are looking for an Alexander-like solution to a huge mess. This is like hoping an alcoholic or drug user will be able to get rid of his habit by snapping his fingers, or for a bombed-out city like Marawi to be fixed in a day – or massive drug use in society to just end by killing all those who seem like addicts and dealers and hoping the rest will be scared into stopping – the failed principle of tokhang, which by all indications is presently Philippine government policy.

You have to start somewhere and patiently untie the knot, as a society and its institutions are like living organisms and just cutting through can cause more damage than anything else. Even if one “kills” the old society – Marcos’ term for what came before him – building a new society isn’t so easy.

“Rama Dama” was the word given out by Munich’s Mayor Thomas Wimmer in 1948, in a city that was heavily damaged by WW2. The clean-up drive resulted in a hill north of Munich which now has the Allianz Arena facing it on the other side of the Autobahn built after the war as well. To give an idea of how damaged Munich was, one must look around the Munich train station. All the houses up to three blocks away from it are all new. It was bombed to the ground during the war, old people say one could see the orange glow of bombing from 60 kilometers away. Even current construction sites in or around the Hauptbahnhof have to hire bomb experts in case they accidentally excavate unexploded ordnance. It took 15 years before the station got a new roof, a huge Krupp steel structure. The rest of the station seems to have been built on the cheap; it isn’t much of a beauty.

The first Oktoberfests after the war in 1946 and 1947 were sad, reduced events, the first full Oktoberfest in 1948 was when Mayor Wimmer created the new tradition of “O’zapft is!” where the Mayor opens the first keg and gives the first stein to the Bavarian Prime Minister – a new ritual to show people “we are still here and always will be”. Meanwhile in this time, the Philippines drags its feet in the reconstruction of Marawi and puts white sand instead of cleaning up Manila Bay waters.



There aren’t any easy recipes, and I don’t even presume to know how to exactly fix the Philippines. But there are just a few major things to watch out for I think, in fixing any major catastrophe:

  1. Clean Up First. Commodore Plaridel Garcia, Karl’s dad, in his interview where he said maritime awareness is important, said the first priority should be to clean up Manila Bay. Military after all always make sure their beds are made, their shoes tied, their uniform neat and on FIRST. Even in home office making sure one is dressed somewhat neatly, is washed and optionally shaved makes a difference in the seriousness of one’s attitude. Another example: even litterbugs are usually reluctant to throw trash in places where it is clean.
  2. Get Morale Up. Vice President Leni Robredo in one of her recent speeches during the pandemic said the Filipino is NOT undisciplined. Tough love approaches work with Marines or maybe even with my father’s students. People who chose what they do. Not with citizens. Order is certainly necessary but not what seems to pass for discipline in the Philippines, which is more of treating those at the lower end of the food chain as potential violators. Surprising how little anger the authorities get in return. Even discipline should be civil, people with authority should act firm but restrain their dominance to earn real respect.
  3. Don’t Micromanage. Mobilize common sense and local knowledge as well as own strengths. Covid in Germany was dealt with at first on a state level and now it is dealt with locally. Based on the so-called 7-day-incidence (for NHerrera and other numbers people, this is the seven-day average number of new cases per day per 100 thousand population) towns and counties decide locally on which measures to take. Munich has a drinking ban only in certain parts of town heavily frequented by young people who gather outside as clubs are closed. Masks are mandatory only in the town center where people tend to cluster in the streets. This is like modern management by objectives which of course requires honesty with data.
  4. First Things First. Grand master plans work only in situations where stuff is well-established. Many Filipinos are into BPO and IT. IT service shops prioritize their hardware and software purchases and upgrades as well as fixes based on what is causing the most issues and/or what will bring the most benefit. Cleaning house starts with the biggest mess and/or what can be quickly sorted out. Cleaning Manila Bay doesn’t have white sand as a priority.
  5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – but try to learn from them. I am aware that my using examples from other countries can be demoralizing to some. But what I am trying to show is that “everybody just cooks with water”which is a German saying. There are no miracles.

Every society develops according to circumstances and possibilities, so the fact that the archipelago was just starting to form what could have become more urbanized areas and a robust trade with others, something the Greeks achieved millennia earlier, is just because it was at the edge of Asia, with contact and trade to others only slowly growing. The fact that it was colonized the earliest and stayed colonized the longest is because those who came had developed sophisticated technology and organization due to competition with one another.

My article “From the Edge to the Middle of Things”illustrates this process in fast forward. That the Philippines didn’t make enough out of its independence has to do with attitudes whose development I described in Widening Philippine Horizons and The National Village. The others weren’t and aren’t smarter and Filipinos aren’t stupid. Others just confronted those who were a bit more developed and caught up after a while. Indonesia and Malaysia for instance had more centralized forms of authority earlier, being closer to mainland Asia.

The West and the Islamic world developed due to competing neighboring cultures in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Europe copying from and outdoing each other, sometimes preserving old knowledge like the Arabs did when Europe was in the Dark Ages.

The East had similar patterns and of course trade with the West and the Islamic world via the Silk Road and maritime trade routes. But history was to have the West get an advantage by being able to seize the Americas with their vast resources. The rest is known world history.

Fortunately people are an adaptable lot, and Filipinos HAVE adapted quickly to many new and different ways of doing things in the past century. Manila in the time of Bonifacio had some people – many of them secretly members of the Katipunan – working for foreign companies based there. Manila after WW2 had massive urban migration, and people who formerly had simple lives in their respective provinces adapted and formed an urban culture which is still changing and adapting, as the rapid development of urban lingo, spread by TV across the nation, very clearly demonstrates.

Where Filipinos even in the 1970s knew little (except from books) about their Asian neighbors, it is very different today. K-Pop is popular and now there is even P-Pop. Singapore is seen as a model by some, though that might not be applicable as it is a small city-state. Karl has mentioned the approach of Dr. Habibie in Indonesia as a potential template for Philippine industrialization. There might have been the postcolonial thinking before that “only white men can do certain things”. But knowing that one’s cousins can do it motivates. I have seen that motivate Romanians within Europe, for instance. The West isn’t that simple as some might believe. A lot of Eastern Europe has its own hang-ups from having been colonized or controlled by either Russia, Austria-Hungary or the Ottoman Empire. Romania has 20 million people at home and 5 million abroad – mostly in the rest of Europe, and has a lot of BPO outfits, both due to their great adaptability, an acquired strength of underdogs. Filipinos often succeed abroad, especially those in English-language countries. The son of a former Senator is in a very high position at Bain & Company, for instance. What is holding back the Philippines then?



Someone working in Philippine BPO wondered recently why there are so many firms in different developed countries owned by Indians and employing people in India and elsewhere – and seemingly no Filipino firms. Well, I once met a Filipino couple who owned or maybe still own a biotech firm on the outskirts of Munich, in Martinsried which is a place teeming with biotech startups. But I wonder if they would employ people in a Philippine subsidiary. There could be some reasons for this. I also know a German midsized IT firm owner who employs not even 20 programmers in Vietnam. Could it be that the legal system of the Philippines is one factor? It is after all notorious for its lack of legal certainty (see NAIA3 and Dengvaxia which made hell for large European firms) and nowadays even associated with mystical Latin phrases like “quo warranto” and “ab initio” that could strike fear in the hearts of businessmen, who want manageable risk and predictability. Much red tape could also be a deterrent. It is easier for big companies to hire the lawyers needed to keep out of trouble there.

But there could be more than that. A German entrepreneur who spent some time in the Gulf States noted that most Filipinos on international ships are sailors but he knew of no captain. I told him I know one but he is a permanent resident of Germany and probably became a captain over here.Exceptions like Manny Maceda prove the rule that Filipinos are mostly employees, rarely business leaders or entrepreneurs. There are indeed many managers but it might not be many at top level. Definitely nothing in the size and scale of Indian-led software firms based in developed countries that serve as career ecosystems for managers, for employees in India and even going abroad, some for good but many returning. Indonesia for instance might not have its people leading corporations abroad, but its Embassies are known to take care of students abroad – possibly even placement of graduate when they return home. My hunch is that Filipino in-groups, known to usually be small and tightly knit, are not conducive to bigger joint ventures abroad, or to accepting returnees easily. Scientists returning to the Philippines may often encounter a toxic culture of subservience, I heard.

Haven’t heard yet either of tech firms based in the Philippines going for contracts on their own abroad, or marketing their own products. Seems the fashion industry is a bit ahead in that respect. Seems the incipient trading hubs of the archipelago were captured too early, its people conditioned to work for others, and mainly the few who belong to the groups that run things at home like Manny Maceda – or locally, biotech entrepreneur Maoi Arroyo – have the moxie to get own things going.

Major Philippine firms are often rent-seeking oligopolies with little incentive to be truly innovative. UP Ayala Technohub is one exception that seems to prove the rule. An attitude to learning that is either very status-conscious and/or just a way to get a job might also be a hindrance over there. There is a lot to do and I really wouldn’t know where to start. This could be an entire article, but I lack local and current knowledge of the scene over there so this isn’t my call. I just know that innovation needs clusters of innovators, like Silicon Valley, Martinsried biotech near Munich or the newly vibrant Berlin startup scene.  It needs venture capitalists, business angels and other enablers.

A Filipino (now retired) software entrepreneur once told me the Filipino way is not innovative, it is bureaucratic. But he himself never went beyond the small scale of business, basically. Some young and ambitious Filipino managers from his firm once founded an own firm and tried to steal clients. The famous inability of Filipinos to exploit synergies and think win-win, also manifested in how Filipino overseas organizations (or even federations of organizations) tend to fission after a while.



What can be done, finally? Maybe start with what is already being done in certain areas FIRST and find ways to add to it. SECOND find what one can do and do it. THIRD find out what recipes (like Karl’s collection of articles) or links to recipes one has and what is quickly doable, locally – then persevere, build, repeat. The 5 issues I mentioned at the startmight be among the priorities. The 5 major aspects I mentioned in the middle can also be guideposts for slowly getting stuff done. Also, a way certainly has to be found to ignite the energy of entrepreneurship, creating opportunity as well.

Ambition and opportunity tends to be seen with suspicion in the Philippines, more like cutthroat mentality and opportunism – often it is. That kind of mentality isn’t healthy as it tends to leave too many people behind, which is in the end bad for well-being, which isn’t all about money after all.

Meanwhile there is a lot of learned helplessness and mendicant attitude among the poor, something that Vice President Leni Robredo is countering with her Kaya Natin initiative which is a form of “Yes We Can”, igniting untapped energies of opportunity. The opposite of that is the Marcosianway where the VIPs sit on stage and the people below cheer and are each given a sack of rice for that. Utang na loob, debt of gratitude, is perverse when one party involved stacks the cards in its favor.

But the recent Pulse Asia survey showing high approval ratings for President Duterte suggests that low expectations have become normal among many poor Filipinos. And what can we really do if that it is the kind of society both rich and poor Filipinos want, with part of the middle class not agreeing?

One can of course wallow in the mud or be on top of those wallowing in the mud, if one wants. Upgrading resilience to real entrepreneurship, artisanship to real innovation and the heritage of smallness to large scale might be the better way.The choice rests with the Filipino people of course.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, Munich, 6 October 2020

Thank you to Will Villanueva for inspiring this article.


101 Responses to “How can the Philippines get out of the mud?”
  1. That’s my favorite military history book, Ireneo. I thought Part II of said book is especially relevant to your blog above,

    • I’ve hammered on about psychedelics on here as path to national improvement, Silicon Valley is the product of psychedelic LSD. Plenty of magic mushrooms (native) to the Philippines, karl knows.

      But another means of improving national thought is also thru wargames.

      Or just games in general. People that’s us humans like stories and games, the two are connected. Chess came from India, then spread west and eastward, all of those nations that have played chess, at some critical mass reached, tend to develop.

      China came up with Go, then it was just Japan that played it. After WWII, Japan encouraged Korea and China to play Go again. Is it a wonder why East Asia, Japan/Korea/China are coming up? Even if you just play Chinese chess or Shogi Japanese chess, both successors of the original Indian chess, i’m sure minds will be improved.

      So yeah play chess and Go. don’t watch Wowowee, or whatever that new show Willie’s got now. Kills brain cells, i’m sure.

      But for Ireneo’s blog I wanna talk about wargames. And Filipinos should focus on wargames about the Falklands war, because that is the type of scenario likely to happen. I was talking to Joe about Joe jr.’s skills in “Among Us” thought not really a wargame elements of said game is also found in wargames.

      For example, Europe Divided is the most relevant right now.

      My point here is karl’s Dad, he’s absolutely right, if there’s love geographically speaking for a nation, like in “Red Dawn” (the one with Patrick Swayze, not the remake) or in Israel, where you really get to know the contours of your country, like when John Mayer sang “Your Body is a Wonderland” (that kind of geographic love), then wargames because of its stress on maps is the type of game that Filipinos should play.

      Sadly, if you Google Philippine board wargames, not much exists. The good news is Filipinos can start designing said wargames for themselves, again look into the Falklands war board wargame for some clues.

      Now i’m no game designer but if you could get the gameplay from Friedrich and Maria wargames to be used in the Philippines as island hopping mechanics, there might be something there.

      Again, my point here is simply geographic love of nation. And IMHO this is one way of inculcating, while also readying the Filipino populace for war.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      I could see the connection that Marines get themselves out of muddy situations all the time.

      • Also about being light and agile, nimble and precise. When you go to a war zone, you’re not suppose to see Dominoes pizza or Burger king there. In essence its being weighed down, not so much mud but the stuff you bear on your backs needlessly, or bring with you.

        So don’t get stuck in the mud because you’ve overloaded and brought luxurious items

        where uncalled for really. That’s your white sand beach in Manila bay analogy , karl, that kind of thinking– I think there’s a bisayan or Tagalog phrase roughly translates to Big Thinking (connotation, biting more than you can chew, putting carriage before horse).

  2. Karl Garcia says:

    It is just mud not quicksand.

    • It depends on whether what is stuck is a car or a carabao.

      A car stuck in an uphill mud road in the rainy season is in trouble.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        We could always leave our cars and ask for help,just cross your fingers thst your car is still there when you come back.

      • sonny says:

        Two pictures of what defines a nation: a soldier and Juan de la Cruz getting out of the mud during rainy season.

        A soldier, an everyman who settles and defends a piece of real estate for which he has spent blood, sweat and tears.

        Juan de la Cruz trying to extricate himself from what Nature deals him.

        There is something that is passive and active in either situation. It depends on the WHY one is soldiering or WHERE is the destination one/Juan is trying to get to. So the WHEN, the WHO, and the HOW will have meaning.

        I really dunno.unless I have the answer to each question. 😦

        • I don’t really have the answers either, but I shall venture a bit of a conjecture:

          1) Juan Dela Cruz has a bit of learned helplessness due to the conditions that came up during and after colonialism: exceptions could be the relatively small peasant holdings in places like the Ilocos region and Cagayan, the small to medium abaca planters of Bicol (before abaca went down), and of course the builders of the rice terraces in the highlands, where every man was both a farmer and a warrior defending his land, his harvest, his tribe.

          2) The Alpine way that I have come to know is similar as these are also highlanders with small farms, never under big landlords due to the topography and with farmers also defenders of their land and harvest – sometimes of their turf like Wilhelm Tell (whom Rizal translated into Tagalog, probably wanting to imbue some of that spirit into his people) or the 1705 Bavarian highland rebels against Austrian Imperial rule. The spirit of self-defense of Wilhelm Tell is found today in Swiss self-defense, where every military reservist has a rifle in his closet and knows where to go in case the code for invasion is given out on the media (the latter I have just heard), in Bavaria it is now folkloric in the traditional shooting clubs, in Austria an owner of land may still apply for a gun license and I think may shoot plunderers.

          Though I consider the US 2nd Amendment obsolete in todays world – possibly only in the context of forming an self-defense Army like the Swiss, who learn to shoot well as always but have so much self-control that shootings like in the US alsost never happen – there is something about that independent spirit that I like, it leads to more results than the typical palamunin waiting for a sack of rice from the trapos mentality I mentioned in the article.

          Juan Dela Cruz can be active if the spirit of BAYANIHAN (a la Magsaysay and VP Leni) is mobilized and the Marcos/Duterte spirit – give people a sack of rice or ayuda and expect utang na loob while crippling own initiative – is reduced. Overcome learned helplessness.

          • sonny says:

            Partial reaction:

            Marcosian paradigm is endemic wherever and whenever economic need superburdens the collective constituency; the utang na loob must be doled out reasonably by problem solvers and has a shelf-life.

            • kasambahay says:

              so agree po, sonny. utang na luob should not be habang buhay na pagbabayaran. largely, there’s one proverb fave of evil padrinos “ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggagalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paruruonan. hence, minions are forever grateful and try to appease evil padrinos, via thoughts, words and deed. else padrinos have them minions kneecapped, and so failed to reach their destination.

              our kababayan learned to be helpless early on, why? because it works for them, got themselves rewarded and given alms; on bended knees at nagmamakaawa, who would not fall for that? even imelda marcos fall on bended knees once in a while and gotten sympathy.

              lot of our kababayans dont show strength, stick their necks out, and their heads got cut off. so they bid their time. in the meantime, it’s back to looking helpless again and on bended knees. for a purpose.

            • Karl Garcia says:

              Watching re-runs of Madam Secretary tells me that utang ng loob can be used as a tool or a weapon.
              Did not know it was Haiti who drove the French away from the Americas.Maybe not many people remember that if the French stayed put, the US would be half the size it is now.

              • kasambahay says:

                I think the frenchies lost the revolucion, got rounded up, went back home to france though some stayed and intermarried with haitians.

              • Karl Garcia says:


              • Karl Garcia says:

                If the seven year war was about the Brits vs the French so who won? The Brits were thrown out later by Washingtom et al.
                After the French Revolution came the expansionism of Napoleon neighboring Belgium proved to be his Waterloo.

                Napoleon should add Haitee to one of his weaknesses.

                That seven years war had the Brits invade the Philippines, because of events in the Americas, thd Brits pulled out.

              • The French gave all their colonies full rights as provinces, with democratic representation when they had their own revolution, but Haiti wanted more and the French could not stop them. This is a painting of the Haitian revolution, with uniforms of those days:

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Did the French revolution and the Haitian revolution result to lasting change? As with the song of Jose Mari Chan, it only gave them constant change. That is how Irineo described change in the Philippines, ever changing change of minds.

  3. Karl Garcia says:

    Indians have CEOS around the world. As younsaid se should not compare our selves but learn.
    So there is still comparing involved just leave iut the self-pity part.

    Jollibee hires Filipinos. Sad that they closed shop here in some branches, but abriad they are trying to expand.

    • sonny says:

      Great observation, Neph.

      Here, the closing branches must overcome the obstacle of poor infrastructure to create the product, absent the personnel due to Covid19. There, good infra, personnel slowed down by Covid19; cash flow available from reserves.

    • Thanks for the Jolibee example, which is like the Philippine fashion industry one example of a success story in enterpreneurship.

      I have also mentioned in the article building on successes that are already there and expanding them – I also see Maoi Arroyo’s biotech startup initiative, DOST innovation etc. as examples to show that all is not lost.

      Early 20th century Bavarian enterpreneurship was artisanal and in the area of foodstuffs (I mentioned the central Munich abbatoir where farmers used to bring their animals – now it is wholesale firms – and wholesalers prepared and prepare them for delivery to entire Germany – and the wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market where food comes from all over and is sold to retailers and restaurants) but successfully was extended to industry (from the 1920s onwards), to aerospace from the 1950s onwards and high-tech/biotech etc. after that.

  4. kreativguy says:

    A good piece, hope this gets better exposure and platform. Ex. youtube and facebook.

  5. Karl Garcia says:

    As mentioned recently our agriculture sector has been neglected, manipulated, and whathave you.
    The build build build left the most agri-infra out.
    What good is productivity if your produce would not reach its target? Here the last mile is paramount.

    Anyways it is good that Israel is here to help, if we just get knowledge on desalination, agri with little help from irrigation, etc.

    Japan has been helping in our infra development ever since.
    They also have a program for our SMEs.

    Hope springs eternal, if you are stuck in the mud you get out.

    the Alabang Gilid or Ayala Alabang Gillage may actually refer literally to the New Bilibid Prisons and the surrounding neighborhoods or the Sitio near the Ayala Mall.

    • I think figuratively Will may have meant the entire Philippines, as in poor barangays there are also lords of poverty who often are dynastic barangay captains. Most of those in the SOH are the national lords of poverty, one could say. Ayala Alabang Village would be the richer countries where many people go to work and which the Philippines as Ayala Alabang Gilid needs a bit too much to stay somehow afloat – “unable to live and unable to die” and a lot of Philippine institutions are somehow as makeshift as huts in a slum. A very grim picture.

    • arlene says:

      Is there anything happening to that build, build, build Karl? I don’t see any change. They are just happy with ribbon-cutting to those initial projects by the previous administration.

  6. This is a FB comment from a Bavarian enterpreneur married to a Filipina:

    Nice read and food for thought. My experience was exactly as you describe it. A mix of red tape – short term thinking and lack of stability made it all but impossible to run a business even in a PEZA area.

    Yes the resources are all there, the markets are there too but it needs a lot of work to change peoples minds.

    As you say….”Ambition and opportunity tends to be seen with suspicion in the Philippines, more like cutthroat mentality and opportunism – often it is. That kind of mentality isn’t healthy as it tends to leave too many people behind, which is in the end bad for well-being, which isn’t all about money after all……”

    I will have a major push on this and will see if something can be moved in the heads and if people can do the changes for themselves as soon as this Covit mess has become manageable rather then the mess it is at the moment. Coz in the end it is the people who need to want to do these things. Being an Entepreneur and changing societies is not an easy thing… as the Major of Munich knew. Coz that term Rama Dama ..”cleaning up we do”….means working hard and doing it now, not some feable halfhearted approach. As you know we Bavarian’s are a bit ….well rough and brash often misstaken for arrogant. 😉

    [Irineo again: I see the aspect of doing stuff properly – but not falling into the formalistic pseudo-perfectionism of much Philippine bureacracy that just hampers stuff – as significant. Also the aspect of being able to take feedback well, not to be too sensitive – I had to lay off a lot of Filipino hypersensitivity over here in Bavaria. At the same time, I don’t believe in the supposed “tough love” of some Filipino bloggers who merely look down on Filipinos and act like Spanish friars in describing their faults – though I have been mistaken for that kind of blogger I do prefer to go for what can be changed and improved, as the criticism alone has been there and won’t really help. Kudos also to Filipino and foreign enterpreneurs trying to get stuff done over there – it isn’t easy!]

  7. Karl Garcia says:

    Last Mile… to reach its destination.

    We have learned that Travel and commerce is done via boats using the river networks and seas that is how the last mile is achieved. As time went by, things are no longer simple, supply chain and logistics have to to go through a maze before achieving last mile.

    We now have road networks instead of river networks, etc,etc

    Farm to market roads, Logistics, in this pandemic delivery was king except the incident where a prankster pranked all of them and sent the delivery services to the wring address .

    • sonny says:

      The Last Mile:

      Seems to be that in the PH we are due for a deluge of breakthroughs. What we have for now are DOTs, SEGMENTs, DASHes, Broken lines. What we lack are continuities, connections, separated complementaries, tails looking for heads and vice-versa; strands waiting for strengthenng binders.

      Abaca became king when rust attacked chains of iron to bind ship to docks; its strength and pliability kept riggings of ships and clippers fastened together; kept bales of midwestern harvests till the manufacturing trucks came to gather for the industrial machinery to do their things. Keep recalling those glory days and visions will come again.

  8. Juana Pilipinas says:

    “Rama Dama,” literally means “We are cleaning up!” It required the voluntary involvement of the Bavarian citizenry to act as a responsible and caring community. PH could use more programs that will empower every Filipinos to act, out of pride and civic accountability. Instead, we have “Drama Rama.” We are constantly inundated with all forms of corruption, petty sniping and brawls by the very people who are supposedl to model honorable behavior and statesmanship to the masses.

    • “Rama Dama” in Bavarian dialect (which is very high-context unlike English or High German) can mean slightly different things depending on the situation and persons saying it. A community leader like Mayor Wimmer saying to the people means “Let’s Clean Up”. People cleaning up and talking to an outsider will mean “We are cleaning, come back later if you need anything”. People cleaning up and talking to someone who came late to the cleaning mean “We are cleaning, make sure you join us”.

      Of course the aspect of voluntary involvement is very important. Though Mayor Wimmer as the still very much remembered great community leader that he was complemented the imperative to clean up with two things: “O’zapt is” (the keg is opened) where the Mayor opens the first ceremonial keg at the Oktoberfest, a tradition he started in 1948, which was then a signal to the people “we are working hard and will continue to, but now let’s party” AND the visiting hours for the people he had the entire morning before lunch. A people who weren’t used to mayors just talking to them like that AND who had just years ago gone for the wrong kind of leadership were happy to have their needs heard and dealt with. An ex-Mayor of Munich, the late Georg Kronawitter, still acted as a kind of people’s attorney after his term, meaning people could approach him with their issues and he helped – a civilized form of what Tulfo does, one could say. His traditionalist group even won against the incumbent mayor (same political party) when it came to limiting the height of tall buildings.

      On the other hand, the cooperation between the state and the city here goes across party lines when it comes to common causes. There are conflicts like anywhere but there is a better culture of dealing with them and resolving them – and rarely vendettas or grudges.

      What can happen is that their is a certain distance and formality towards those who go too far and bite too much, figuratively, or a form of cancellation for those seen as not dealing straight. “I’m done with that person till the Stone Age and back” is what they say over here.

      Being a drama queen over here can mean you won’t be taken seriously for quite a while. People here are very well grounded, probably having to do with the agricultural and artisanal tradition over here, and don’t see drama as a way of handling conflicts or solving problems.

  9. RE using what is already there (or was for a while) and building on it: I neglected to mention the performance metrics for LGUs that Jessie Robredo instituted when he headed DILG and Mar Roxas continued. Don’t know if they are still in place, as I heard many mayors hated them.

    This would fall under the item mobilizing local strengths, where I mentioned that the present German approach to Covid is based on numbers and the goal is to get down the Covid incidence rate, NO central authority dictates ECQ, MECQ or BBQ – it is like LGU metrics a form of MBO.

    • In a similar vein, another FB comment: “We can take pride with the Pasig River clean up. I believe it was spearheaded by Gina Lopez ( true Filipina spirit). Started with actual heavy work of removing trash and unintended aquatic growth of water lilies. But the success relied on the people who live on its banks who protect it. By themselves not polluting it, and in doing so suggesting to would be careless polluters not to dare so. Simple lesson in what a group p, a community of people showing others that we can achieve a goal..”

  10. Karl Garcia says:

    From MLQ3: The Barrio vs Modernity


    We have been trying to be a modern nation since 1935 (after the stillborn efforts of 1896 and 1898), but our collective attitudes still hark back to the barrio (not the barangay — at least if you adopt, as I do, Damon Woods’ argument that the barangay is a myth due to an American scholar’s intervention in translating a friar’s report). And so, however increasingly complex governance for an ever-growing population gets, our expectations are simple. And the more things get complex, the more we hardheadedly insist on simple approaches to complicated problems.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

    • kasambahay says:

      suburban vs urban vs rural, the old vs the new. in the city there is modernity in the barrios there is remnants of the past, people quite happy to live the old ways, still using cash instead of cards, still washing their hair with soap and not shampoo and rarely using hair dryers too, meager and simple affordable living. and not living beyond their means at mabaon sa utang.

      the adventurous ones go to the city and with barely any skills to hold down city jobs, ended up mostly in slums and joining gangs, or go begging to survive. self sufficiency and being modern is quite expensive, difficult to maintain and stressful. what is modern today is obsolete tomorrow. modernity is always being updated and upgraded and the effort it take is costly, stressful and humongous.

      our county is big enough for both traditional people and the moderns to live. people who cannot afford or refused to live by the standard set up by social engineers ought not be shamed and looked down and made to feel they dont belong to this planet.

      there will always be people living on the fringes the world over. viva la difference.

      • You would be surprised how many people in Germany still use cash and not cards – or how many small eateries like the Indian place I go to only accept cash.

        Direct democracy in Bavaria has prevented many excesses of modernity, for instance:

        1) I was among the modernizers in the skyscraper referendum of 2004. The traditionalists won, limiting the height of new skyscrapers to the height of the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady – 99 meters. I now see that it has kept Munich from losing its traditional beauty.

        2) I was among the conservationists / ecological folks when I voted against the third runway for the Munich airport. Of course it would have been good business but the airport already is now – the third runway would just have made the airport more of a hub for passengers changing planes and not even going into town to spend their money there.

        3) Unfortunately, the people’s initiative (by the Greens) to put clear limits on urbanized space, thus better preserving fields and forests being slowly eaten up by suburban growth especially around Munich (inspite of land use laws and zoning it is still happening) was stopped by the Bavarian Supreme Court as it was too imprecise – people’s initiatives and referenda have to have a precise definition and yes/no question. But I expect something similar to come up again, as people do NOT want Munich to become like Los Angeles.

        Bavarian farmers like having tractors and driving BMWs, and having high-speed Internet. They still love the fresh air of the countryside, the clean water of the rivers, the view of the mountains when opening their windows. Munich PAYS towns to its south to keep certain areas free of buildings so that the “fresh air” avenue that sends down cool air from the Alps every evening even on hot summer days stays the way it is. That is traditional modernity.

        • BTW the bahay kubo is still the best technology to deal with Philippine conditions – it automatically cools, needs no aircon, dirt falls through the slats under the house when you sweep, and it is on stilts so your stuff doesn’t get damaged when flooded. The only caveat nowadays is that unlike before, there are storms like Yolanda nowadays. And the old way of just hiding upcountry (some Bicolanos practiced that not too long ago) and rebuilding the hut after aren’t feasible if you have expensive appliances that you don’t want to just lose.

          • BTW there were plans to build elevated highways through the center of Munich just after the war had practically destroyed the old city. It was one achievement of the famous Mayor Wimmer who had the rubble cleared NOT to give in to such wrong modernity.

            Instead, old buildings were restored were possible, my brother once said Munich in some places looks like a Disneyland of the 19th century. It is true, because some buildings were almost fully rebuilt according to old plans and look much newer than they should. There are cities with tunneled roads through their centers in Germany, the most extreme is Essen with a freeway tunneled right under its main train station, but they are less comfortable places.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        KB, you are a genius.

        • The present kind of progress is not sustainable anyway. If everybody had the same living standard as Germany, for instance, we would need three Earths to maintain it. The old Filipino idea of kaginhawaan, or Latin American buen vivir, are more sustainable.

          The Byzantine Empire survived for so long after the fall of the Western Roman Empire by living mainly of the Bosporus trade, taxing the agriculturally communities it controlled only lightly and mostly letting them take care of themselves, I read somewhere. Better maybe.

            • “For instance, one of the best case studies on IW was the success of Edward Lansdale defeating the Hukbalahap Insurgency during the early 1950s. His success was not through bombs and bullets; it was brains. Lansdale was a rabid student of Filipino culture, and he used it to his advantage. He exploited vulnerabilities in target audiences by using the folk stories of the barrios, lore, myths, and taboos (Currey 1988, 101). Lansdale utilized the “Eye of God” in villages causing villagers to distrust the rebels, broadcast false aerial messages about “friends in the rank”[vi] (Currey 1988, 101), painted night graffiti of the “Eye of God” in Huk camps, fostered rumor campaigns, employed a respected mystic to predict doom for the rebels, and re-enforced the belief of Aswangs (Filipino Vampire) among the enemy (Currey 1988, 102). This combined psychological warfare campaign coupled with a simultaneous civil military effort led to Hukbalahop’s demise and irrelevance by 1954. Lansdale was successful, because he understood that basic primordial cultural beliefs and superstition carry deep resonance. Hukbalahap members were undoubtedly Marxists and rejected religion, but they still were frightened by the supernatural tales of the Aswangs told to them by their trusted Lolas and Lolos. Successfu, IW campaigns address these cultural and psychological issues. At present, Pineland unfortunately does not have a wealth of material that aspirational Lansdales could use to address culture and psychology.”

              Ireneo, in that article i was toying around with superstition as controlling process. In a way, this COVID19 stuff, is kinda like Aswangs, controlling peoples urges to consume or simply get out of the house. For those who are predisposed unhealthy, its a real scare; to control the other 99% of the population you have to scare ’em in different ways.

              But the result is less movement, less buying superflously, and more interaction virtually, even if only 6 months we’ve already proven Salvation by Austerity, no? But so long as 99% of the population will only get the sniffles and sore throat, its not sustainable. I guess Armenia/Azeris haven’t heard that wars are obsolete now as well, viruses will do the culling for us.

              • i7sharp says:

                “A Baconian Cypher?”
                [ ] is another article
                from a work temporarily(?) discontinued in 2017.
                I was able to get in touch with the author about a month ago.
                I pointed out to him what seemed to be an error
                (that “are” is not the last italicized word in the KJV)
                but I have yet to hear again from him.

                [Sorry for the digression.
                I hope to be able to share some ideas on how the Philippines can “get out of the mud.”]

            • Dido Miranda says:

              Irineo, that article (“Salvation by Austerity” by Lance) was written on 10/10/2015.
              Exactly five years ago to the day, according to my calculator.

              I browsed through it and realized I “contributed” about 40 of the 346 postings there.
              Some of my postings there … I had almost completely forgotten about.

              In just over a month from now,
              on 11/11/2020
              will be exactly 400 years (on the selfsame day)
              of an “event.”

              To all:
              Any guess?

              • Google knows all. Democracy was founded off the shores of the US:

              • i7sharp says:

                At least, Wikipedia made mention of a John Alden
                who was listed as 7th in one of six short columns:
                1. Mr. John Carver
                2. William Bradford
                3. Mr. Edward Winslow
                4. Mr. William Brewster
                5. Mr. Isaac Allerton
                6. Capt. Myles Standish
                7. John Alden

                The Mayflower Compact & An Unlikely Bible
                [] provides more details
                “… but little is known about John Alden
                and his mysterious appearance on the Mayflower.
                He was not a Puritan and appears to have been hired as a carpenter and cooper for the Mayflower at the last minute,
                but is that the truth? John Alden was very intelligent and held several leadership roles in the colony.
                He was the seventh signer of the Compact and some credit him with being
                the first to step off of the Mayflower in Plymouth.”

        • Re simple living but happy:

          There is no single definition of Buen Vivir. Collective well-being comes close. It is germinating through a range of perspectives and social actors across South America.

          Buen Vivir is still a concept and a lived practice under construction. To give a clue to what it is not, it’s the opposite of the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Wellbeing Index, which puts a dollar figure on national wellbeing using a range of indicators.

          Unlike any index based on logarithmic economic indicators, in Buen Vivir the subject of wellbeing is not the individual, but the individual within a community in relation to a specific cultural-natural environment.

          Buen Vivir is foremost a decolonial stance. According to leading proponent Eduardo Gudynas, executive secretary of the Latin American Centre for Social Ecology, it calls for a new ethics that balances quality of life, democratisation of the state and concern with biocentric ideals.

          This is much more than an emergent discourse of engaged intellectuals and Indigenous cultural activists contributing to the sustainability debate. It’s a strong criticism of the discourse of sustainable development itself. Drawing on the wealth of the region’s indigenous cultures, it has emerged as a lived practice against commodification, a way of doing things differently.

          Gudynas sees Buen Vivir as a new paradigm of social and ecological commons – one that is community-centric, ecologically balanced and culturally sensitive. It’s a vision and a platform for thinking and practising alternative futures based on a “bio-civilisation”.

      • One example what could be the wrong kind of modernity in the Philippines is concrete houses that need aircon – there is huge energy being used I guess especially in Metro Manila and the surroundings get hotter as aircons are heat pumps.

        Moderniized nipa huts would be within the trend for more energy-efficiency, though I doubt they would be viable in the horribly bad air of Metro Manila.

    • MLQ3: “however increasingly complex governance for an ever-growing population gets, our expectations are simple. And the more things get complex, the more we hardheadedly insist on simple approaches to complicated problems.”

      1. more personal than institutional. Lots of Filipinos feel uncomfortable with formal institutions; feel more comfortable with personal arrangements like utang na loob and patronage. The President acts personalistic, like a village chief. Misuari seems to be good for him while peaceful critics aren’t. Revolutionary Government is OK with some of his followers if it isn’t against the President. Plenty of officials act as if his word is law, even if it is against written law. Barangay captains deal with petty neighborhood quarrels. Rules seem to need a person behind them to be enforced. “The Mayor doesn’t like this” or “the President doesn’t”.

      2. more high-context than low-context in its language. Newspapers in the Philippines often refer to current events in a high-context way, often like the he-said she-said gossip in small communities across the world. Lots of politicians are referred to be first name, like “friends”. I find Filipino more emotionally “loaded” and have the impression that a lot of Filipinos use English, a low-context language, to discuss dispassionately. German is a high-context language while German dialects are not, they are more personal and emotional – I feel.

      3. Run by many unwritten rules. A DDS on the Internet explained to me in 2015 that there was a kind of three-strike rule for tokhang, and found it just that drug addicts were given two chances to rehabilitate and the third strike – well our context knows what that means now. Manila traffic had unwritten rules which I feel still worked even into the 1980s, I feel. Now MMDA is trying hard to corral traffic via barriers, as if rules had to be cast in stone.

    • i7sharp says:

      “Even before Damon Woods said the barangay as a political unit was a Spanish invention since it was absent in the original accounts of the Spaniards about our ancestors (but the word was used by the translators of Blair and Robertson, in one such account by Father Alcina), Filipino historians Zeus Salazar, the father of the Pantayong Pananaw school of thought and the New Filipino Historiography, …” manilatimes 2019/11/09 opinion

      The name “Zeus Salazar” rang a bell so I checked on entries at TSOH.
      One particular posting caught my attention. Frankly, I had forgotten about it
      but checking with bitly I found out I had created on 11/01/2015 11:30AM
      “Many others quote the 1987 Constitution like i7sharp likes to quote the Bible – by rote.”

  11. Karl Garcia says:

    I beg to differ from one FB. ommenters that we like to stay stuck in the mud.
    We just decide to do that we thought that will brings us out, but only to remained glued like voting the same dynasts, keep on having a crab mentality and personality, doing same insane mistakes over and over.
    Well maybe I do not differ afterall, but I still beg to differ.

    • kasambahay says:

      I like being stuck in my own mud, hehe. okay, must be hard for people to unstuck themselves from mud only to fall into another mud of someone’s making.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Carabaos dont play in the mud, but pigs loved to be. hased there where they delay their death for a few more minutes.

        • Carabaos actually discuss with one another like the SOH, they need mud to stay cool.

          When people pass by they stop because they don’t want to be smart-shamed – or asked where they got their expertise. Never underestimate what carabaos are capable of.

          • kasambahay says:

            kalabaw po dont have sweat glands yata and tend to overheat on hot days working on the farm from morning to sunset. our beast of burden works hard without complaining. kalabaws are often taken to mud pool to cool off, the dried mud on their bodies protect them from the hot sun and from those nasty biting mosquitoes and other annoying insects.

            and what I mean about falling into another mud of someone’s making is . . . so many people complained about ex president Noy, his austerity measures, tightening of belts and saving money, paying off govt debts, public officials brought to account, tight scrutiny of where public funds are spent, presumably all such bred ill will and malcontent and PNoy was heckled.

            people could not wait to get out of the ‘mud’ of PNoy’s making only for them to fall into the mud of Duterte’s making: from mud to mud is what I mean. did not mean for mud as game but as political game.

            p.s. the current mud of today is unmindful of accountability, never mind about credibility and integrity is as fickle and as questionable as survey results. and since I’m yapping about survey, might as well say the prof manning the survey is starting to sound like roque.

            sometimes po. I have poor choice of words and mud for brain, hehe.

  12. Karl Garcia says:

    Who could be worse than R Duterte?

    Go? Paquiao? Sara? BBM? Imee?

  13. Karl Garcia says:

    I do not want to hit madlanglupa for his or her despise of those who leave the Philippines. All have their reasons even unreasonable sounding are still reasons.
    Irineo, you have provoked Micha in that skin on the game arm chair brouhaha
    pareho lang kayo abroad pero sabi nya mas madalas syang umuwi dito sa Pilipinas kesa sa iyo.

    O parang ganun na nga siguro dahil ikaw sabi mo matagal ka ng hindi umuuwi.

    But we have here the likes of ML who hates people leaving the Philppines but whatever hugot there is, he or she may want to expound on that if he/she reads this.

    Skin on the game, armchair analysis, outside looking in is fine with me.

    • What I wrote was that I respect Will because he has more skin in the game than Micha and me, actually marching in rallies with the flag in hand.

      Of course what I am writing is theory and analysis but I try to make it understandable to laymen so it can help them find some kind of orientation. Being like a drone, as Will says, allows me to see the big picture though others fill me in on the ground details.

      What I dislike is experts of any kind being condescending to interested laymen. I have even been told “SHOO” by Micha before, I do not forget such stuff. I also noticed the implied name-dropping of Micha in the debate with Chemrock, implying Washington connections. Those kinds of birds on top of carabaos disgust me. Well, I am a bird on top of a plateau at 500m above sea level. But my feet stand on solid ground and damn I am proud of that.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Now I am missing popoy whom she also told to Shoo!
        Man, if she does not want to read you or popoy scroll down, that is what I do with posts of LCX 😉

        • LOL! that is why I post pics, karl! No scrolling down w/ pics. Plus they are relevant too of course. Hahahah…

          • As for Micha, i dunno about you guys, but I’m sure Leni reads this blog, and probably started out a neolib from her UP days, now after reading all this MMT stuff, is now about to make MMT happen in the Philippines. There s no other way with COVID19, and this is just the least deadly but really contagious stuff, what happens when we get the really deadly and really contagious virus???

            It has to be MMT. In the same breath American Airlines et al, need to be cut , only business strong enough to survive a pandemic should be considered for tax payer bail out. I can cut my own toe nails and finger nails, teach myself and others via Google, those are the only important industries worth subsidizing. IMHO.

            So I hope VP Leni has read all of Micha’s postings here on MMT.

            • Karl Garcia says:

              With how the budget is being gamed here as demonstrated by the house leadership drama which did not happen for the first time, MMT would not work here where everything just about everything gets bastardized.

            • Will’s article about VP Leni says she was SCA (Student Catholic Action) which is nearly social democratic in its thinking and actions.

              As I am the same generation, nearly exactly her age, I know that SCA is where those people went who wanted to change things but didn’t join the activists as their Catholic upbringing and beliefs made them shy away from it.

              She has been walking her talk, barangay to barangay, even since college.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Medyo sickbay si Will, but almost fully recovered na sana.
                Si Mary Grace kahit socmed break muna dahil sa lingering health issues, sumali pa slip disc.

      • RE “skin in the game”, I remember lauding a singer (i forgot his name) who you guys celebrated as having skin in the game on here way way back. And I commented on his taking his whole family to Australia before returning. So his kids are Australian.

        Of course, people as people since the humans first left Southeastern Africa will take risks and hedge bets for love of kids and others (ie. more bisons here, more mammoths there, more fruits/veggies over there). Not judging that.

        But when comparing skins in game, I think Joe as ex pat, choosing to stay and having a family in the Philippines is the biggest gamble. Now he’s not a fan of revolutionary action, or action hinted in the blog per se, but he reminds me of Thomas Paine.

        I’m sure someone in the Philippines is seeing expats and thinking why is this dude fighting for me? He could be in Colorado right now enjoying or the Cascades enjoying some fresh air. Chempo too when he was in the Philippines.

        It salways a gamble in the 3rd world, with real powered politicians and religious nuts like Quiboloy, who I’m sure is QAnon.

        • Karl Garcia says:

          Are you talking about Jim Paredes.
          FYI he is my second degree cousin.

          • I think that was him, karl. But i just looked thru Wil’s Jim Paredes article and I didn’t even comment, but I do remember a debate similarly about “skin in game” where i presented for compare/contrast a singer whose family is in Australia who returned to the Philippines.

            Maybe a different blog but input from Wil’s blog. No worries. My point is that “skin in game” or not, I think people are reading what we’re writing and taking whatever ideas presented and running with it. For example, my population control/nutrition idea I’m very hopefully will come to fruition eventually.

            As i’m sure Ireneo’s and your anthology of various public good good ideas re environment. Micha’s MMT i’m sure is one idea that has infected more via this blog i think. Sure Micha’s somewhat of a one trick pony, but MMT is something i myself have championed off line. Micha would be proud.

  14. Karl Garcia says:

    One big wish list on how to get out of the mud: Rethinking National Interest Towards Calibrating National Policies

    Click to access Rethinking%20Philippine%20National%20Interest%20Towards%20Calibrating%20National%20Policies.pdf

  15. Another very interesting FB comment: “A population of hard working individuals need organization. Not a secret to any industrial success. We do not naturally gravitate to one another for fear of intrusion or selfishness. We need a “Leni “ to gather us together and make us feel safe with one another. Trust in each other…”

    [my comment: it suggests that the social contract especially nationally is not yet really there]

    • kasambahay says:

      I think, it has already been there, done, matagal na po. the gravitating to one another, see how they gravitate towards duterte? people gravitate towards power and duterte not only perpetuate but propagate it too. onerously, long been called tatay and he rewards them with good paying jobs, heaped them with added benefits too, and trusts them the way he trusted duque, et al. and they are all hard working people, hard work yan to divert and hide funds, hard work still to misled and misinformed, buying up influences, keeping up falsehood and trying not to get caught in their own fallacies.

      come as one, but I think, in politics, what is needed is majority to run the country. not all need to be in.

      * * *
      and not wait for leni to gather her like minded people, them people ought to show interest and approach, show willingness. leni is already moving, so make a move, gravitate to leni, be ready to support her in case she runs for presidency.

      • Yep, the Filipino way is often “mauna ka” – and if the one who goes first is killed or maimed everybody goes back and hides. It is like in most Filipino parties I know where people don’t dare to be the ones to start dancing. When a few are out everybody dances though.

        Same thing with EDSA 1 and 2. But nowadays everybody is in socmed and nobody dares be first on the streets, so no spontaneous gathering and no dancing in the streets after.

        Will BTW is continuously meeting and sometimes marching with like-minded people.

        • kasambahay says:

          time has changed po and with the advent of technology, tambayan has beceme online na, same with ‘plaza miranda’ online na rin po. saves time, quick and fast yang assimilation of info, interconnectedness just as fast, comes rain or shine and highwater, ika. pero as we all know may downside po yang online activities natin, but.

          I dont know Will, but he seems a nice person. hopes he gets well soonest.

  16. cha says:

    How many lightbulbs will it take to change the Philippines?

    Answer: No amount of lightbulbs can change the Philippines, the Philippines will want to change first.

    When you have 9 out of 10 Filipinos supposedly trusting in the supreme being that is Rodrigo Duterte to lead them through this crippling pandemic despite all evidence and even his own admission to being inutile, you can only really pray that the 1 ‘woke’ Filipino left of those 10 can at least make it to 2022. Or whenever it is that at least 4 more of the 9 rise up from the cloud of darkness that’s engulfed our poor godforsaken country.

    Sorry for being so cynical.

    • I tend to think and feel this way too, in worst moments.

      And a lot of those who want a better Philippines feel caught in a maze.

      This I write to give some coordinates and a big picture of what is possible, if WANTED – this is what I mean with the following passage in the article:

      “the recent Pulse Asia survey showing high approval ratings for President Duterte suggests that low expectations have become normal among many poor Filipinos. And what can we really do if that it is the kind of society both rich and poor Filipinos want, with part of the middle class not agreeing?

      One can of course wallow in the mud or be on top of those wallowing in the mud, if one wants.”

      • sonny says:


        “… what can we really do if that it is the kind of society both rich and poor Filipinos want, with part of the middle class not agreeing?”

        I say:

        The rich have the capital, the poor have the muscle and the need, the thin middle class has the intelligentsia WHO will find the means and creativity to broker the complementarity of OUR rich and OUR poor. Triple win with enough GOODS to go around. Diasporic PH has its heart grounded to Island PH and can back up with resilience in the strong sense of the word and often times the FOREX to make things happen.

        • The question is, how to make that quadruple win (if one includes the diasporic Filipinos who look back in quiet desperation, but would help if they wouldn’t fear being swallowed whole by a system that, after all, is now out to destroy Maria Ressa who dared to come back and try to change something) in a country where most are still playing zero-sum games? The country has a history of petty vengeance and betrayal that makes it VERY VERY HARD.

          We have watched VP Leni try to find a common ground and work constructively with President Duterte TWO TIMES ALREADY (her first stint where she was unceremoniously thrown out all of a sudden, then the phase where she was tasked with the drug issue, gave out an analysis the President didn’t like and was thrown out again) – so there.

          FVR was a good aggregator and integrator but he was an exception. PNoy tried to integrate the likes of Grace Poe and Alan Peter Cayetano but was betrayed – just like his mother was betrayed by some she tried to harness in rebuilding after Makoy – see JPE. Even though PNoy was more realistic than his mother was and mainly relied on HIS OWN CLIQUE because in a low-trust society, they are often the only ones you can trust.

  17. This study evaluates evidence pertaining to popular narratives explaining the American public’s support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. First, using unique representative probability samples of the American public, tracking the same individuals from 2012 to 2016, I examine the “left behind” thesis (that is, the theory that those who lost jobs or experienced stagnant wages due to the loss of manufacturing jobs punished the incumbent party for their economic misfortunes). Second, I consider the possibility that status threat felt by the dwindling proportion of traditionally high-status Americans (i.e., whites, Christians, and men) as well as by those who perceive America’s global dominance as threatened combined to increase support for the candidate who emphasized reestablishing status hierarchies of the past. Results do not support an interpretation of the election based on pocketbook economic concerns. Instead, the shorter relative distance of people’s own views from the Republican candidate on trade and China corresponded to greater mass support for Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012. Candidate preferences in 2016 reflected increasing anxiety among high-status groups rather than complaints about past treatment among low-status groups. Both growing domestic racial diversity and globalization contributed to a sense that white Americans are under siege by these engines of change.

    Click to access e4330.full.pdf

    For reference. Something I keep shouting about.

    ABC was Digong vs Grace

    • D and E was a battle between Mar and Digong

      • sonny says:

        Gian, the Dutz won ABC for different reason than he won DE? Very interesting perceptions of what Dutz will bring about. Galing, pogi talaga.

        • Yes. I am beginning to see the parallels with the status issues. Ill post an excerpt here:

          This study evaluates evidence pertaining to popular narratives explaining the American public’s support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. First, using unique representative probability samples of the American public, tracking the same individuals from 2012 to 2016, I examine the “left behind” thesis (that is, the theory that those who lost jobs or experienced stagnant wages due to the loss of manufacturing jobs punished the incumbent party for their economic misfortunes). Second, I consider the possibility that status threat felt by the dwindling proportion of traditionally high-status Americans (i.e., whites, Christians, and men) as well as by those who perceive America’s global dominance as threatened combined to increase support for the candidate who emphasized reestablishing status hierarchies of the past. Results do not support an interpretation of the election based on pocketbook economic concerns. Instead, the shorter relative distance of people’s own views from the Republican candidate on trade and China corresponded to greater mass support for Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012. Candidate preferences in 2016 reflected increasing anxiety among high-status groups rather than complaints about past treatment among low-status groups. Both growing domestic racial diversity and globalization contributed to a sense that white Americans are under siege by these engines of change.

          by Diana C. Mutz,

    • I believe this is related to mlq3 modernity views. Modernity being a threat to the current high status individuals.

      • Some additional material:


        Hans-Ulrich Wehler, a leader of the Bielefeld School of social history, places the origins of Germany’s path to disaster in the 1860s-1870s, when economic modernisation took place, but political modernisation did not happen and the old Prussian rural elite remained in firm control of the army, diplomacy and the civil service. Traditional, aristocratic, premodern society battled an emerging capitalist, bourgeois, modernising society. Recognising the importance of modernising forces in industry and the economy and in the cultural realm, Wehler argues that reactionary traditionalism dominated the political hierarchy of power in Germany, as well as social mentalities and in class relations (Klassenhabitus). The catastrophic German politics between 1914 and 1945 are interpreted in terms of a delayed modernisation of its political structures. At the core of Wehler’s interpretation is his treatment of “the middle class” and “revolution,” each of which was instrumental in shaping the 20th century. Wehler’s examination of Nazi rule is shaped by his concept of “charismatic domination,” which focuses heavily on Adolf Hitler.


        In his seminal book Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernisation of Rural France, 1880–1914 (1976), historian Eugen Weber traced the modernisation of French villages and argued that rural France went from backward and isolated to modern and possessing a sense of French nationhood during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[13] He emphasised the roles of railroads, republican schools, and universal military conscription. He based his findings on school records, migration patterns, military service documents and economic trends. Weber argued that until 1900 or so a sense of French nationhood was weak in the provinces. Weber then looked at how the policies of the Third Republic created a sense of French nationality in rural areas.[14] The book was widely praised, but was criticised by some[15] who argued that a sense of Frenchness existed in the provinces before 1870.


        Modernisers in South Korea in the late 19th century were torn between the American and the Japanese models. Most of the Koreans involved were educated Christians who saw America as their ideal model of civilisation. However, most used Japan as a practical model – as an example of how a fellow East Asian country, which 30 years before was also backward, could succeed in modernising itself. At the same time, reformists’ nationalist reaction against the domineering, colonial behaviour of the Japanese in Korea often took the form of an appeal to international (Western) standards of civilisation. The Western-oriented worldview of the early Christian nationalist reformers was complex, multilayered, and often self-contradictory – with ‘oppressive’ features not easily distinguishable from ‘liberational’ ones. Their idealised image of the West as the only true, ideal civilisation relegated much of Korea’s traditional culture to a position of ‘oriental’.[34]

        The self-image of Koreans was formed through complex relationships with modernity, colonialism, Christianity, and nationalism. This formation was initiated by a change in the notion of ‘civilisation’ due to the transformation of ‘international society’ and thereafter was affected by the trauma of Japanese colonisation. Through the process of transition from a traditional Confucian notion of civilisation to a Western notion of acceptance and resistance, Koreans shaped their civilisation as well as their notions of the racial, cultural, and individual modern self. Western Orientalism, in particular, accompanied the introduction of the Western notion of civilisation, which served as the background for forming the self-identity of Koreans. The fact that the Japanese version of Orientalism emerged from the domination of Korea by Japan played a critical role in shaping the self-identity of Koreans. Consequently, Korea still maintains an inferiority complex toward Western culture, ambivalent feelings toward Japanese culture, and biased – positive or negative – views of their own cultural traditions. Thus both modernisation and colonisation have shaped the formation or distortion of self-consciousness of non-Western peoples.[35]

        The US launched a decades-long intensive development starting in 1945 to modernise South Korea, with the goal of helping it become a model nation-state and an economic success. Agents of modernisation at work in Korea included the US Army, the Economic Cooperation Administration, the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency, and a number of nongovernmental organisations, among them the Presbyterian Church, the YMCA, Boy Scouts and the Ford Foundation. Many Koreans migrated to California and Hawaii, and brought back firsthand accounts of modern business and governmental practices that they sought to adapt to Korean conditions.


        Turkey, under Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s and 1930s, engaged in a systematic modernisation programme called “Kemalism”. Hundreds of European scholars came to help. Together with Turkish intellectuals they developed a successful model of development.


        Modernisation through development has led to problems in Nigeria by bringing in private, foreign owned oil companies that have been exploiting the natural resource wealth of the country. Because the oil companies are generally owned by a different nation, the profits are mostly being exported from Nigeria with only one fifteenth of the wealth produced in the region returning to it. Shell, the oil company operating in Ogoniland, Nigeria has helped the country develop and industrialise on a small scale, but it has primarily challenged the sovereignty and autonomy of Nigeria.[51]

        A lot of scholars view modernisation as a sort of westernisation where western institutions such as national parks and industries are brought into existing cultures where their use does not make as much sense. Along with modernisation comes a loss of culture and society, and the individual is strengthened. An African tribe known as the Ik was forced to change their habits due to modernisation and the creation of individual countries caused by colonialism. Nationalisation, as a tool of modernisation, was imparted on Africa by colonialists who wanted to westernise and modernise tribal Africa. The creation of individual countries made life for the tribal Ik more difficult because they were forced out of their nomadic lifestyle into a settlement based around a newly founded national park that practically destroyed their livelihood by restricting their hunting grounds to specific non-park areas. The creation of national parks have increased cultivation, which can be seen as good development because people no longer depend solely on livestock. This creation of a new sort of livelihood has mixed improvements, because the tribal setting is not removed, but is put into a single place.

        The Ik BTW are a warning about how a displaced culture can become very damaged, even if Turnbull’s observations are seen as somewhat extreme nowadays:

        There is some kind of displacement and damage in the culture of the urban poor, as opposed to the more intact culture of the villages in the Philippines.

        Between Hobbes who believed that humans are naturally mean and Rousseau who believed that humans are naturally good, I think it depends on whether people grow up and live safely and securely, with an intact immediate community.

  18. i7sharp says:

    “The son of a former Senator is in a very high position at Bain & Company, for instance. What is holding back the Philippines then?”

    It seems the Philippines is not included here:
    Asia & Australia
    Hong Kong
    Kuala Lumpur
    New Delhi

    • i7sharp says:
      Leading through a Global Crisis: A Conversation with GOJO CEO Carey Jaros
      Bain’s Manny Maceda welcomes Carey Jaros, whose company makes Purell hand sanitizer, to discuss how the business quickly pivoted its operations as the Covid-19 pandemic surged.
      By Manny Maceda
      October 08, 2020

      • i7sharp says:

        MACEDA: And so for something that dwarfs anything you’ve done, would you be willing to share some examples of what did you really have to do differently this time in supply chain or go-to-market in some way?

        JAROS: Sure. So I think the single biggest learning for us is that when a surge lasts this long, it wears through all of your surge inventory, not just in finished goods but also in components. And so the surge actually reaches back into your supply chain in a way that we had not, frankly, seen to this degree in the past. I think that led to us being very creative.

        “… us being very creative.”

        In every barangay (nay, in every sitio or purok), is at least one individual who is creative (nay, very creative).

        Each one can help the Philippines “get out of the mud”?
        There is sitio called “Dalan Malati” in Barangay San Vicente, Bacolor, Pampanga.
        It was literally buried in mud (lahar) in the aftermath of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

        What kind of creativity can come out of a miniscule 684-sqm piece of real estate there?

        Time will tell.

    • i7sharp says:

      Perhaps “Kulas” (Canadian) and “Kumander Daot” (Welsh) and their activities
      will somehow give ideas to Manny Maceda?

      Here are the two and their Pinoy companions in
      Barangay San Antonio, Cateel, Davao Oriental

  19. Karl Garcia says:

    In my coming institutional people power article, an attempt to explore how to give back power to the people ruled by self dealing legislators
    who cant pass certain bills for decades like a land use law because of land owner legislators like the Villars.

    People can put a stop impunity if they want to and they choose to.

    Are we really morally bankrupt thst we are stuck in the mud.

    Money seems to be paramount, the piece of the pie
    I was right ehen Insaid that Money makes the world go round, no matter how Congress men and senators say that the budget is pork free, we all know that is not true, call it any other name it is still pork.

    A city like Taguig to have infra spending budget higher than Calabarzon?
    Sure the Senate and the Supreme court are moving to Taguig, there is C6 there, but how can you justify that to the public.

    Micha said deficit spending is good, how come, I do not see an end to our increasing national debt, 10 Trillion and growing, is it enough to be Monetary Sovereign and apply MMT in practice?

    We have not yet reached the tipping point, we can get out of the mud.
    I have proposed community development, call it barrio or barranggay.
    Also regenerative development for our agriculture and the industries.
    If growth will really be inclusive it would not have to be bayan vs the elite or barrio vs modernity.
    Modernity can be achieved without throwing away our traditions.
    In keeping our traditions we preserve our identity, our history and our culture.

  20. Karl Garcia says:

    Long, but good read

    Democratic Deficits in the Philippines: What is to be Done?

    “The purpose of this study is to identify areas where democracy in the Philippines has failed us—the democratic deficits that confront us today. We shall describe the basic features of those deficits, enumerate the major challenges, and outline what is to be done as culled from previous studies, including our own recommendations, which we think will reduce, if not totally abolish our democratic deficits. While these deficits are presented as segments, they are interrelated and are linked to each other. In the end, what is crucial in overcoming these democratic deficits is strong political leadership from the top among the three branches of government, and collective political will that can be harnessed from the citizenry.
    The democratic deficits and our recommendations in the area of Democratic Institutions are the following:

    Democratic Institutions
    A. Political Parties/Electoral Reform
    B. Political Dynasties
    C. Rule of Law and Justice Reform
    D. Corruption
    E. Local Government-National Government Relations
    F. AFP/PNP Reform
    Social and Economic Systems
    A. Education System
    B. Health
    C. Environment
    D. Population
    E. Public-PrivateSectorPartnership
    Special Concerns
    A. Insurgencies
    B. Food Security”

  21. (by Gideon Lasco)

    ..we need a renewed sense of history – or perhaps a retelling. Alas, much of our national narrative paints ourselves as objects of colonialism. Without denying the sufferings and betrayals we endured in the past (there are too many to mention), we should also be reminded of how throughout our history we have forged bonds with people from all over the world; and that oftentimes, these bonds have shown the best of humanity.

    We need to be reminded that 15 US soldiers actually defected to the our side during the Philippine-American War, believing in the righteousness of our cause; and that Americans like Mark Twain denounced their own government’s colonial ambitions. By adding nuance to the way we regard other nations, we avoid generalizations that lead to hate, conflict, and suffering.

    We need to be reminded that 112 Filipino soldiers died to fight for the freedom that South Korea enjoys today; and that we have always opened our doors to refugees, from the Jews during World War II to the Indochinese during the Vietnam War.

    When we realize that we Filipinos, far from passive victims of history, have always been active in making not just our history but that of the world, we begin to overcome the feeling of smallness that sets back our geopolitical imagination. What our past should give us is not an enmity for those who oppressed us, but an empathy for those who experience oppression.

    What our past should give us is a not a feeling of victimization or entitlement, but a dignity of a people that has suffered much – but has overcome more.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] How can the Philippines get out of the mud? […]

  2. […] Applied knowledge properly used by decision-makers who consult experts is also key to getting the Philippines out of the mud, as the challenges of today are more than bayanihan moving a nipa […]

  3. […] live in the Philippines AND have been away for very long, I don’t presume to make too many suggestions. Filipinos at home will figure out the right balance and the country will go through its own […]

  4. […] We try to be perfect but often when we fail to be, we revert to doing things in a messy way. Karl says that until now we are masters of disasters – disasters of our own doing. I ask could that be because we are not only impatient but also too perfectionistic? Karl has found a lot of planning roadmaps that are top-quality and posted them in comments. Somehow they are never used. Probably VP Leni’s talent is in finding pragmatic but still systematic solutions to pressing issues. Some say she lacks vision, but we don’t know that yet. Paolo Coelho said “dreams mean work”. What I could add is that the road to Rome is long. It can literally be walked from Bavaria; people from here have done it. Really or figuratively, it involves both small steps and the right direction. […]

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