The problem when voters don’t accept accountability for their votes

Analysis and Opinion

By Joe America

Although I agree that any successful political candidate must be able to connect with voters, I’m struggling with the idea that one ought not criticize voters for electing Trumps and Dutertes. Rather, you should respect their choices, made sincerely given the condition of their condition.

Isn’t that seeing voters as nothing better than subjects of the realm with no accountability for their choices? It fits the Philippine model where voters are there to be captured by the loudest voice, not the best, and then they spend six years shrugging as lousy leaders make off with the loot.

“Not my fault.”

In otherwords, there is no “ownership” of the nation by voters.

That to me seems to be exactly the problem. President Aquino tried to correct it by calling citizens his ‘boss’, but citizens didn’t want the job. They didn’t want any accountability for decisions he made that they disagreed with.

And today voters believe they had no hand in thousands of police killings, China in Philippine seas, or 25,000 covid deaths.

That’s wrong.

Voters should be held to account.

“They did it!”

Then maybe they’ll be able to grasp what being a democratic nation means. And choose better.

To get there, Filipino voters need to get over the childish view that a President has to be perfect so they don’t have to explain themselves when he gets it wrong. When they can explain, and accept, a president’s disagreeable decisions, they’ll be better able to figure out which candidate will give them the most good decisions, and the fewest “bad” ones.

And they will feel a sense of nationhood that today is completely missing. The nation “I helped build”.


Photo source: Rappler

100 Responses to “The problem when voters don’t accept accountability for their votes”
  1. Yes. They are infantalizing the voters by doing this. Voters were over emotional and voted according to their emotions. People should own up to it and grow.

    • kasambahay says:

      I think po, political candidates should also be held to higher standard as much as voters, with candidates also owning up to their promises and lack thereof.

      how are voters to know candidates will turn around and not keep their promises once voted in? voters got caught with the hype of the day, up against well oiled machinery of politicians that took months of logistics and planning, experts and consultants hired to oversee the minutest of detail, favorable opinion polls and repeated media coverage: all done to convince simple voters who are the best persons for the positions advertised.

      it’s jungle and cacophony out there! the constant barrage, and voters are supposed to be not overwhelmed but collective, calm and poised and not emotive? I can barely meet the prescription, dahil I’ve been known to heckle candidates, lol! wagged my tongue at them, rolled my eyes to the high heavens and swear! during election, voters are monarchs, have the power and their votes are thusly courted.

      as voter, I voted candidate who made me feel secure and valued. I stand at flag ceremonies and put my hand where my heart is, and if I look emotive, that’s not really my problem. looks can be deceiving.

    • LCPL_X says:

      gian, here’s the opposite of infantalizing voters, more wisdom of crowds take on how things change macro level, by looking into a micro example. I’ll just copy/paste on the blog’s point about intentionality ie. propaganda but de-centralized. But pls read the whole blog, really good reading, and read her about page as well.


      “Now I’m going to zoom in to my most micro example. So. The least interesting set of texts that I can think of, and I’ve been trying to look into this, were editors’ prefaces at the beginnings of copies of Epictetus (aka. my article “Humanist Lives of Classical Philosophers and the Idea of Renaissance Secularization” in Renaissance Quarterly Vol. 70, No. 3 (2017), pp. 935-976). Epictetus’s manual is a set of Ancient Roman moral maxims about how to be a virtuous person, and it’s short, so people liked to teach it at school, and a lot of it sort of lines up with Christian virtues, so it’s very compatible with teaching in a Christian context, so it was a super popular textbook. It was a super popular schoolbook, the equivalent of making kids read Dickens or making kids read a Shakespeare play as part of High School English class. So there are many, many dozens of editions printed pretty much as soon as printing is invented—from the 1490s, and all the way through the 1500s, and the 1600s and the 1700s there are editions of Epictetus, and every one has a preface from the editor explaining why Epictetus is a great text to read, and usually trying to seem more awesome than the previous edition of Epictetus, so that you’ll buy that edition for school instead of the other edition, or so that the teacher will recommend that edition instead of the other edition. Publishing, as we all know, is very competitive, and you’re always trying to have the blurb that makes it attractive — if someone walks into the bookstore and there are four books with dragons on the cover, something is going to make the difference to which one they pick up, it might be the copy on the back, this is the equivalent of that.

      So when you look at the prefaces, which are being written by scholars who aren’t very important and aren’t very famous and nobody has heard of or cares about any more, but they have a job and the printing house has got them to edit this thing because this is their job. Those guys who are doing that, that you’ve never heard of, are reading the guys you have heard of. They’re reading Pico, or they’re reading people who are talking about Pico. They’re reading all these dozens of bizarre strange ideas that are going on. Most of them definitely don’t agree with it, or if they agree with it, they only agree with one thing, because there are dozens of different ones, but there’s the milieu. And they notice the arguments that are big and all over the place, and one of them is, Renaissance people were very interested in the fact that the sayings of Epictetus were remarkably similar to some of the ethical teachings of Christianity, especially in the letters of St. Paul. In fact in the Middle Ages there was a rumor that Seneca and St. Paul knew each other and wrote letters and Seneca was associated with Epictetus, and Epictetus was supposed to have secretly converted. None of this is true, and in the Renaissance they had pretty much figured out that it wasn’t true. But it was very interesting to note that Epictetus’s moral maxims were similar to St. Paul’s. So if you were writing a preface to Epictetus, you would write a preface that said “He was a pagan, but he was almost as good as St. Paul!” And then ten years later when there was a new edition and someone wanted to make that edition sound better, and I have all of these editions in Latin and I have the article version of this where you can read the translations of all of these, they’ll say they want to make a stronger claim, so they’ll say “Epictetus’s moral maxims are barely less good than St. Paul’s.” And the next one will say “Epictetus’s moral maxims are just as good as St. Paul’s!” And the next one will say “Epictetus’s moral maxims, even though he was a pagan, were even better than St. Paul’s, because they are simpler and clearer and more effective at teaching ethics.” And by the time you get to the 1700s there’s an edition, which you can tell is copied from these earlier editions, they even plagiarize sentences from each other’s prefaces, it’s direct evolution, that says “Epictetus by the light of Reason alone and without the necessity of scripture or revelation arrived at better ethics than St. Paul.” And that is the kind of book that Voltaire owns when he is a kid.

      So, who is transmitting this radical idea? Gradually of the idea that Scripture and Christian revelation are necessary for ethics? Who is transmitting that? Is it the big famous people? No. Because there are thousands upon thousands more copies of these classroom Epictetus volumes than there were of Machiavelli in this period. Machiavelli is banned in most places. You can’t even get it without hunting hard, you can only get digests of it, and it’s not printed nearly as often. People have it but it’s extra work, like how there are people around who use Linux instead of Windows or Mac but it’s extra work and you have to work at it and not a lot of people do it. But Epictetus? He’s as ubiquitous and default-accessable as Windows. So for every one person who’s actually reading Machiavelli in that era, a hundred people at least are reading this Epictetus preface that says you don’t need Christian Scripture to arrive at a good system of ethics. Who spread the radical idea? Thousands of people you haven’t heard of, dozens of editors who wrote these editions, most of them not intending to make anything radical happen but just intending to sell a copy of a book, in fact most of them genuinely believing that Epictetus was an author who would advance Christianity and make people believe in it more, they, nonetheless, unknowingly and unintentionally transmitted the radical ideas that turned into Deism, and that turned into that secular turn that we associate with the Enlightenment, and that we falsely associate with the Renaissance. So you see it is the Renaissance seeds that lead to it, but it some genius list of special radical people who thought the way we do that made it happen, it’s thousands of people who had dozens of different worldviews, some very orthodox, others very radical in ways that don’t resemble us, but all these ideas discussed and wrote and published and debated, and those debates influence textbooks written by nobodies who get left out of the kinds of history that focus on big names, but it’s those small names that have so much deeper broader reach than the treatises of the people who are the most famous today, largely because our canon of who’s famous was cemented by nineteenth-century people who were looking into the past and cherry-picking people to celebrate whose ideas they thought resembled their own, in order to legitimize themselves (and prop up their belief that they had a right and duty to dominate the world and ‘elevate’ ‘lesser’ cultures with their ‘right’ ideas and ‘right’ path of progress).

      So, what this example and other similar studies shows us is that we overestimate how much intentionality we think individual special people have. So every time I see a cover of a tech magazine that has a new tech start-up billionaire that says “Will this man be the first man to live for two hundred years?” or “die on Mars?” or whatever, and in the article it claims “This person has a vision for the future and knows what the future will be like, and it’s this, and he’s working on building it!” (or occasionally “she”, but usually “he”) and “the future is in the hands of these geniuses.” That idea, that the future is in the hands of people whose mindsets somehow already match the future, that makes us feel powerless, makes us feel like our job is to sit back and wait for those geniuses who can already see the future to bring it about the way we imagine Machiavelli did. I remember when I first realized this it was watching the first Iron Man movie, where Tony Stark, after inventing pollution-free green energy, and saving stuff with the iron man suit gives this press conference statement “I have successfully privatized world peace,” and that is the line that gets pushed, that the solution to our strife, or climate change, is waiting for the genius to appear like a superhero with the special power to reshape the world, while everyone else sits back and gets rescued. Why do we get drawn into the rhetoric that claims this? Because our textbooks tell us that’s how we got to where we are now, that the present came about because historical figures who were geniuses and could foresee the wonderful, liberated, rational modern era that was coming then sat down and intentionally tried to make that era come. Well, they didn’t. This world is nothing like anything that people in the Renaissance tried to make. They tried to change what their world was like, but the things they were aiming for were not what actually resulted.”

  2. steve says:

    What do we expect to accomplish by criticizing the voters? Is it going to change minds, or win votes? The question is not whether the criticism is legitimate, but whether it accomplishes a useful purpose.

    • I’m not criticizing voters, exactly. I’m trying to figure out why the Philippines (and US) vote badly. How to get better is important, I think. Education is important, and so was President Aquino’s ‘boss’ perspective. It needs to be explained differently by a candidate, I suspect. Democracy needs to mature in the face of the dirt social media churn up. Filipinos need to figure out why there is little nationalism here.

    • kasambahay says:

      voters po mostly see candidates during campaign, the gloss up image all smiles and generous handshakes, polished product of kingmakers and public relation practitioners, taught and finely schooled in the art of persuasion how to win votes and influence people.

      poor voters dont know what hit them, no wonder there are those that vote in blocks. candidates recommended got voted in, never mind what sort of persons candidates were.

      the constitution is quiet about block voters, dumb voters, swinging voters, etc. most important is they all do their civic duty and vote.

  3. Somewhat related:

    ..This difficulty in achieving proficiency in the subjects taken up in school stemmed from a lack of understanding the languages in which they were taught — in the case of mathematics and science, the English language.

    “Overall poor performance across grades and subjects are deeply rooted in students’ limited proficiency in the language of instruction,” the World Bank pointed out.

    Of special concern was that the three assessments showed that bullying was particularly prevalent in the Philippines across different grades. Among all participating countries, TIMSS found that Grade 4 students were most frequently exposed to bullying in the Philippines. Similarly, of all participating countries in SEA-PLM, the proportion of Grade 5 students who agreed that they felt safe in school was lowest in the Philippines. In Pisa, the magnitude of bullying as reported by 15-year-olds was higher in the Philippines than in all other participating countries..

    ..Another problem was the low “growth mindset” among Filipino students. The World Bank said only a third of students in the Philippines believed “they can become more intelligent” and develop abilities and intelligence over time.

    “In Pisa 2018, the Philippines had one of the lowest proportions of students believing in a growth mindset, with only 31 percent of its students, as opposed to the OECD average of 63 percent agreeing that their intelligence could be changed,” the World Bank said, referring to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development grouping of developed countries.

    If students had a higher growth mindset, the World Bank said they could have had a better reading performance.

    The World Bank also noted students’ poor health and nutrition conditions that could have likely hindered their readiness and ability to learn.

    “One in three children under the age of 5 is stunted, which is a principal marker of malnutrition,” it said. Stunted kids are smaller in height compared to healthier children of the same age.

    The Washington-based multilateral lender earlier described childhood stunting due to undernutrition as a “silent pandemic” in the Philippines..

    • Absence of real opportunity. Huge. No ‘growth mindset’.

      • LCPL_X says:

        On malnutrition , I was just observing a baby and its mom the other day, and a bunch of times the baby was attempting to explore and move around, and 9 out of 10 times the mom prevented some really potentially serious falls like head trauma stuff, the ones that did go un caught were lesser falls. Meaning the mom had a 6th sense or so.

        But on reading the above post, I’m wondering, having seen 5 yr olds carry >1 year olds over there, how often do babies in the 3rd world actually end up falling on their heads? I’m gonna assume more often than less here, but how to undertake said study, when that 5 yr old or less than responsible adult, would simply pick up said fallen baby , dust off and no one the wiser.

        NFL has recently taken this issue seriously, now documenting each head trauma.

        As an aside and related to this, since there seems to be more cases of homosexuality and trans, over there, I just read this article which although related to possible effects of malnutrition and/or head falls maybe or the water , is also a good article on small voices becoming big and the pros and cons, ie. cancel culture and doxing, etc.

        p.s. — I read the short story, and thought it was really good, captured the military really well, i thought. I think i would sexually identify as an A-10 warthog.

        • Seems conspiracy theory to me. I’m not interested in anything but authoritative findings.

          • LCPL_X says:

            No conspiracy here, Joe.

            I’m just making a presumption here that western babies tend to be doted on, and

            there’s some semblance of protection, thus the opposite has to be true that babies over there, especially in the low C, D, E folk babies are being taken cared of by other children or adult that are stuck with babies, like the GRO’s bargirls working in the city and sequestered their babies to mom and/or pop in the province, thus burdened rather than doted upon.

            But my point is simply that babies tend to fall alot on their own, add more obstacles (for example here a bunch of regulations for babies car seats, baby crips, etc. etc. hence even the state protects babies). The assumption should be that babies are prone to falling on their heads,

            now tack that on to Ireneo’s malnutrition, and I gotta feeling on top of malnutrition, but even maybe more so than malnutrition (my point here), head falls will be a big part of all this that which you’re trying to understand. why in the Philippines people are so stunted, per Ireneo’s article above. Add that to Ireneo’s demand by low C, D, E s to be respected (which they got due to DU30), then its like what happened when Iceland announced they’ve gotten rid of down syndrome,

            and a bunch of down syndromes and parents protested said achievement calling it Nazi-ish.

            • Feelings don’t equal facts other than for the person experiencing them. Health care here, parenting, all poor by modern standards. Dropping babies? I’ve no idea.

              • Feelings can be used as a teaser to make people curious. Big statement by the German Green candidate for Chancellor Annalena Baerboeck I saw in the subway today on the video walls: “Mr. Laschet’s tax policies are back to the 90s and for the privileged”.

                That is more interesting than the classic public TV discussions of yore about whether the better rate for social security is 18.7% or 19.1%, which was about the long-term actuarial viability of the German pension system but most then including me yawned.

                On the other hand, a lot of us “new middle class” folks in the late 1990s (mostly of migrant and working class origin) fell for the tax breaks of Chancellor Schröder and his chummy ways, as opposed to the stuffy ways of Helmut Kohl and some other “oldies”. We didn’t realize then that he would raise VAT and other indirect taxes, thus making our lives no different than before and the lives of the poor here worse even until now.

                Merkel kinda got the sympathy of some of the crowd Schröder was able to fool because she also gave out that vibe of being a newcomer in an entrenched establishment – in fact she has on occasion joked about her once having been the classic double minority representative as a woman and an East German. Her much-mocked frumpiness a contrast to the somewhat sleazy glamor of Gerhard Schröder many were tired of.

                What I’m saying is feelings do matter, facts also matter for those who have realized how they can be personally affected, and feelings can change, one just has to know how to tap them in politics. Merkel’s party got back into power with a candidate who understood how times had fundamentally changed. It might lose power this year with a candidate who stands for a lot of things people disliked about them in 1998. Lots of lessons there.

              • Feelings are good guides, I agree. I’m making a concerted effort to wade away from conspiracies as argument. There is so much belief attached to guesses and feelings that they become biblical for some. We see it here. It’s anti-intelligence. You can’t argue against it. So I avoid it, favoring a narrower range of information that can be reasonably certified.

              • LCPL_X says:

                “Dropping babies? I’ve no idea.”

                This is more a probability question really , i suppose, Joe.

                One needs only to recall stories of when you were a baby, then from there, transpose that probability when there are less protections, health care, parenting , etc. The question is should there be some sort of public service announcement towards prevention of dropping babies on their heads.

                Malnutrition is tricky because one cannot really do much if poor, and if one was educated on the efficacies of nutrition, then there’s economic barriers too. But dropping babies can be prevented. Head injuries is easier to understand. Simply circle that consciousness of baby protection and prevention, to malnutrition.

              • I’ve seen malnutrition here. I’ve never seen a baby dropped. I’ve seen adults with guns. I don’t believe elephants can fly.

  4. NHerrera says:

    On an average basis, the last three paragraphs and “low growth mindset” explain a lot — a big portion of the voters having come from those kids.

    • NHerrera says:

      If one can get these voters to listen — away from their daily grind — there is still the difficulty of the language to use, not even with the written Pilipino, with its over-lengthy words (as lengthy as German words, haha). However, they can relate with the language of images — the remembrance of the good that Pnoy, Cory, Ninoy, Jesse Robredo have done when they died, especially in the circumstances they died in. The WPS issue in the language of fishermen and food rather than in the concept of the country’s sovereignty.

  5. Chit says:

    But JoeAm how do we translate this to the 16m voters?

  6. madlanglupa says:

    A mutual friend said politicians at local level and when allied with a political party to serve partly as salesmen for national candidates, are using lower-class voters as what he describes as “chattel for which to harvest votes from”.

    Next year shall be the most dirtiest elections in our existence, as politicians will be throwing a lot of money to get votes so as to keep the people ignorant and undeveloped while they rule, but I also fear that may be the last of its kind because those politicians are all too happy to shut up anyone who objects — a literal tyranny of the princelings.

    • kasambahay says:

      you got that right, madlang. voters can be uberly fickle more so during election. it’s post election that common sense comes back, it’s pintakasi before then.

      candidates know they have to have permit from barangay captains at sa kapolisan before they can come and campaign to ensure there is no other political campaigners on the day. baka magkasagupan pa sila, may gulo harap harapan, may barilan at may patayan.

      and to attract large crowd, candidates come prepared with handog mostly free gifts, have loud parties complete with mga sikat na artista to entertain the crowd, etc. there is food, drinks and plenty merriment. then comes the speeches and the promises as wont every election. do voters listen? candidates have better a good jingle easy to remember, catchy and one that stays with voters long after candidates are gone.

      such activities are repeated each time candidates go from district to district. and that cost money and big budget is needed. candidates on a budget with less to give are looked upon as not generous, selfish, kuripot and unprepared. voters feared such candidates will be even less generous once voted into office, ayaw mamigay at walang maibibigay.

      candidates policies? all candidates have policies and some are copied and paraphrased. if policies run corollary to voters, candidates may will get a look see, maybe not. voters come as fickle as they like.

      • sonny says:

        “… voters come as fickle as they like.”

        This is the fatalistic reality of many Filipinos: no one can promise let alone guarantee tomorrow; most specially in politics where promises come cheap.

        • LCPL_X says:

          In the end, the question is are votes there anonymously cast?

          Sure we can talk about fraud and recounts, etc. but all the above hinges on anonymity of votes. So long as that’s guaranteed, fickle voters, stupid voters, speeches pro con, under the table over the table plus the table dealings, is all moot.

          What the voter votes is the point. So long as theres no way to see their vote, they are safe from said vote, that means the can vote to their hearts content. What’s in their heart is the whole point here.

        • kasambahay says:

          ah, sonny, kaming mga pilipino ay future proof na, and can die only once, lol! not funny but laugh anyway kami. best medicine yan.

          we have a wannabe vice presidential candidate that wanted taal volcano capped to stop the damn vol spewing ash, I was so ready to film said candidate taken to taal and see for meself how in the name of the candidate’s dead ancestors can the candidate do that! yes please! take him to taal pronto!

          and what a let down, taal citizens are in evac centers, wearing mask not bec of covid but bec of the irritating ash. methink, it’s the candidate’s mouth that needs capping.

          I hope taal voters wont forget this and deny the candidate their votes.

  7. KatarHol5 says:

    Filipinos should learn to be accountable for their choices.

    • Indeed, everyone, every place.

      • kasambahay says:

        accountable for thier choices? informed choices, informed decisions, sometimes we dont have that luxury po. it’s denied to us and to many.

        fate is kind though and has a team of people who seem to be constantly making the right choices and the right moves for the good of all not just for their own party but for the country as well. they have track record of being prudent and wise, and not virulent and harsh and full of vitriol. the key to the nation should be given to these good people, and the votes as well.

  8. LCPL_X says:

    “Formalism is focusing on everything inside the “borders” of the text and does not take into account external factors as said already. This means that it is not within the analysis any comparison with other works, of the same or different author. When analyzing a text under the light of formalism, basically, you get into this world that you break into pieces, but you first agree that there is nothing before the first word and the after the last one.

    In structuralism, you care about the structure of the world you are analyzing, that is the text in front of you; but the structure has to do with more things than just the form. You have to understand the reasons behind the formation and the purpose of the choices that were made on behalf of the author. So the structuralist cares about authorship, his influences, the era/epoch, the metalevel of the text, the comparison with other works, and also about the reader > the participation, involvement, interpretation etc.”


    Joe, in reading up on Paul’s authorship of Ephesians. I came upon these two competing theories or models, there’s newer ones now, but I thought your blog encapsulated this whole French structuralism vs. Russian formalism tug and pull.

    “Not my fault.” That’s the assumption on your part. As one who voted for Trump, I’m very vocal here and in the real world about why I voted for Trump, and my proof is that there were no wars. Nationalist vs. globalist (to which I might add that Biden is touting more of Bernie’s nationalist as well as Trump’s policies). So at least for me, my Never Hillary stance paid off big time.

    I surmise that Filipinos who voted for DU30 would be as equally proud of their votes, thus “not my fault” would be the farthest from their minds, “it’s totally my fault”, they I think will be thinking yup all this is because I voted in 2016. I’ll concede there will be confirmation bias like focusing on how “safer” it is vs. less economically sound, DU30 voters will take credit for that which is more tangible.

    To connect this to your structuralism argument, blaming the voters; I’m gonna say focus on why voters elected DU30 in 2016, be formalist in a manner of speaking just read then between what is written, not go into too abstract a notion such as economy, ethics, etc. Does the whole safer streets, crime and punishment still come into play in 2022? So from a formalist perspective, the answer should be of course, sure you can argue well DU30 made it less safe!!! that’s reverting to structuralism,

    formalism would be attacking their definition of safety in the streets in 2022, say by way of polls, police reports, sense on the ground, etc. The economic argument doesn’t trickle down the same as law and order does, especially because DU30 voters can easily point to other countries and say hey look they’re not so good economically speaking either!!!

    Be more Russian formalist. French structuralism is too abstract. At least when winning elections is concerned. 😉

    • My mind is weary. No one in the Philippines is ever responsible for any thing at any time if the results are bad. Voters, too. They either blame, make excuses, or adjust the results so that bad becomes good. Saying that is not a criticism of voters. Only the insecure would find it so. It is a description of the dynamics of social discourse and decision-making. This ‘absence of accountability’ is the main reason why the Philippines never progresses and, as a ‘model country’ on the virus fight, is ranked 52 of 53 evaluated countries on Bloomberg’s study. What you call it is irrelevant. Fixing it requires education, leadership, and awareness. Using semantics to chase people away from awareness doesn’t help, I suspect.

      • Accountability presumes some degree of control and empowerment, something which many Filipinos feel they don’t have, as Sonny has noted in his comment on fatalism.

        Indeed a certain sense of control is probably the main difference between backward and modern, modernity being according to Nick Joaquin and Manolo Quezon what eludes the Philippines until now, even more today than in the 1930s.

        The Serum Institute in Manila of the 1930s made vaccines and donated some to China, and according to MLQ3 his grandfather’s Philippines was modern with a nod to tradition, Marcos was traditional with a nod to modernity (Marcos believed in technocratic stuff like vaccination, I still have the smallpox vaccination stamp and the DOH official receipt from 1978 in my WHO vaccine passport) while 2016 was “the periphery taking over”. Sonny and NHerrera are rational and avoid the occult while millennials.. embrace it?

        Of course as kasambahay wrote it is important to have leading groups that forge ahead and show that rationality can lead to solutions – indeed throughout history it was never the common people who started off with that as they lacked the means to get it done. Often even the means to understand how it gets done, the way systems of government work beyond their little barangay, how major projects are funded, planned and executed.

        The result being scapegoating instead of accountability. PNoy and Mar were scapegoats. And of course the Grand Warlock magically made bridges and roads appear from 2016.

        • Yes, I wonder how it’s possible to teach a sense of accountability, short of war. It would take a very wise, charismatic leader I’d imagine. Low probability.

          • Yes, and in addition to that Filipino quarrelsomeness is something which often bursts out when a unifying figure dies. Lots of family quarrels there happen during wakes.

            The political equivalent of that: the Carpio-Hilbay quarrel, with Marites Vitug chiming in.

            • isk says:

              Hilbay was mentioned but I believe Jardeleza may have initiated the SOG position at that time.

              • Team Philippine won the case.

                Is this trying to find out who shot the most goals or what?

              • isk says:

                @ Irineo- No it’s not, its just the “wording”, quarrel vs, disagreement.

              • Disagreements happen within the same team, even within corporate boards or cabinet meetings of governments. Why the rehashed old controversy?

                If the Philippines had LOST, finger-pointing may have been more “normal”.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Yes, we already won. We do not need to know locker room drama where the coach blames the weakest link even after winning.

              • isk says:

                @ Irineo and Karl: Agree, we won. No need to discuss the backroom drama.

              • kasambahay says:

                history, wasn’t all smooth sailing and that’s the beauty of it: two sides passionately airing their views and a leader who sees through it all, weighs all the pros and cons and was decisive and final in his decision. he had decided for the people that weren’t in there, for the nation that was about to be carved up, and for a future he no longer has part to play. his last shout, shouted loudest. may he rest in peace. truly.

          • sonny says:

            “I wonder how it’s possible to teach a sense of accountability, short of war.”

            Very sagacious words, Joe.

            My short answer is: SPORTS. The sense of accomplishment, the experience of struggle (cause & effect), the reality of resource limitation, the pivot around a single goal, cooperation in diversity, etc. These, everybody can identify with – spectator or participant, major & ancillary resource.

            This legacy from American culture is one Filipinos have not fully understood or utilized.

            • Ahhh! Very good, sonny. That indeed promotes the bonding. A conscientious effort at developing and cheering athletes. That would teach the FEELINGS attached to unity. Thanks.

              • kasambahay says:

                filipinos sportpersons are not there yet, and not doping themselves to win compared to americans, lol! lance armstrong, track and fielder marion something, etc. what filipinos have is pure guts and not performance enhancers as steroids.

                maybe given time, still, filipino sportsperson are not big on steroids.

    • Hmm.. a DDS I know said “the poor are more respected now in the Philippines”.

      Now what if she doesn’t literally mean the “poor” but those who act, think and speak similar to average OFWs and migrants that are now in power – Pacquiao, Bato etc.?

      The Cultural Divide in the Philippines is real, the place isn’t yet like the Western Roman Empire some decades after the Visigoths toppled the last Emperor, when a Visigoth King noted that “rich Goths now act like Romans, while poor Romans now act like Goths”.

      Acting decent especially in terms of GMRC is discredited a bit as even Marcos was good-mannered aka disente in the old sense, just like all the old elites used to be. Roughness aka being brusko is now a badge of sincerity it seems, like it or not.

      A way to recapture the narrative, which I guess is the point you wanna make, is for instance to weave a strong narrative around VP Leni’s Kaya Natin as Bayanihan and Yes We Can, of Angat Buhay as Ginhawa and a Filipino New Deal. Imagination is needed.

      • LCPL_X says:

        I gotta feeling also Ireneo, that in addition to that sentiment, the Bisayans are saying the same, then also Mindanaoans.

        “A way to recapture the narrative, which I guess is the point you wanna make, is for instance to weave a strong narrative around VP Leni’s Kaya Natin as Bayanihan and Yes We Can, of Angat Buhay as Ginhawa and a Filipino New Deal. Imagination is needed.”

        Or really drill down if poor = more respect, or if Bisayans are really doing well, if they are say in Cebu, is DU30 the reason for it; or in Mindanao are they really doing well. my point, the opposing propaganda has to be more convincing. not necessarily true. So VP Leni with slippers, I don’t think the poor will say hey she’s one of us let’s vote for her; she has to be really seen “fighting” the system.

        • LCPL_X says:

          “So for every one person who’s actually reading Machiavelli in that era, a hundred people at least are reading this Epictetus preface that says you don’t need Christian Scripture to arrive at a good system of ethics. Who spread the radical idea? Thousands of people you haven’t heard of, dozens of editors who wrote these editions, most of them not intending to make anything radical happen but just intending to sell a copy of a book, in fact most of them genuinely believing that Epictetus was an author who would advance Christianity and make people believe in it more, they, nonetheless, unknowingly and unintentionally transmitted the radical ideas that turned into Deism, and that turned into that secular turn that we associate with the Enlightenment, and that we falsely associate with the Renaissance. So you see it is the Renaissance seeds that lead to it, but it some genius list of special radical people who thought the way we do that made it happen, it’s thousands of people who had dozens of different worldviews, some very orthodox, others very radical in ways that don’t resemble us, but all these ideas discussed and wrote and published and debated, and those debates influence textbooks written by nobodies who get left out of the kinds of history that focus on big names, but it’s those small names that have so much deeper broader reach than the treatises of the people who are the most famous today, largely because our canon of who’s famous was cemented by nineteenth-century people who were looking into the past and cherry-picking people to celebrate whose ideas they thought resembled their own, in order to legitimize themselves (and prop up their belief that they had a right and duty to dominate the world and ‘elevate’ ‘lesser’ cultures with their ‘right’ ideas and ‘right’ path of progress).”

          that’s from the same copy/paste from a blog I shared w/ gian above, which answers Joe’s

          “Yes, I wonder how it’s possible to teach a sense of accountability, short of war. It would take a very wise, charismatic leader I’d imagine. Low probability.”

          No, it’s about propaganda, the low grade kind, word of mouth, and who gets to propagate theirs wins!

          • Propaganda and education are cousins.

            • LCPL_X says:

              Agree, but here the difference is it has to be people you listen to and whose opinions matter; I doubt kids today especially in the Philippines hold their teachers in esteem, Joe.

              Propagate thru word of mouth. Education too bookish when considering the electorate. This is the “feelings” part, that Ireneo is talking about above.

              • There are periods in a nation’s history when teachers are held in high esteem – in the Philippines that was probably in the times when my father, NHerrera, Sonny and Edgar Lores were young. The first batch of teachers that had started in the Commonwealth hadn’t retired yet and pretty much held sway over still well-funded public schools. Duterte’s mother was very much the old, strict teacher type – one could see Duterte’s submissiveness to that in the way he treated “The Principal” Miriam Santiago in 2016.

                The curriculum didn’t sufficiently progress, nor did old methods of teaching, plus underpaid teachers left to be maids in HK like one I know – she still commands instant respect in her family with her teacher’s ways. But that all has thinned out over decades. Let us also remember how urban migration from places that didn’t even have electricity in 1968 has deeply changed things. As the literacy requirement for voters was dropped in 1973 many voters today may not have the same deep civic roots as their parents or grandparents may not have been among those who read in the pre-Marcos period. They somehow felt politically at home suddenly with Duterte. Still VP Leni is the one best poised to GET how people of such backgrounds feel. Give them a new, better “home”.

              • kasambahay says:

                tsinelas! never. I’ll never part with my high heels, not for all the tsinelas in china, lol! I can live without jewels, never the high heels.

                seriously, I think, it’s okay to give tsinelas, but ‘tsinelas’ as policy? to mean synonymous as humble servitude? por bida, that is so low, I might as well crawl, lol! humility is good but not during election. election is reckoning time, party time, time to be gorilla and beat one’s breast, this is me! this is what I’ve done! this is what I will do and how you’re all be better off with me!

                give tsinelas by all means, but leni should not limit herself to just tsinelas, or be defined by it. though she can use tsinelas to kick the well heeled, or whack them on the head, for she has got what many top and not so top govt officials seriously – lack.

                leni has got it! by jove she has got it! audit on expenditure. she topped the audit, her office is accountable, always on time and never absent, never a missing page, applauded by coa, always. so many govt agencies failed at audit, cannot submit an audit. funds missing and unliquidated, gone to china, p’haps!

                leni is the gold standard when comes to audit. not one to squander the people’s money too. when comes to audit, leni is unbeatable.

              • kasambahay says:

                when comes to money, leni is disciplined. her kabuhayan lugaw is nationwide na, more respected na. her lugaw bakuna up and running at nationwide na rin po. so comforting.

              • I never held half my teachers in esteem. Well, Miss P was a babe, Miss R had big jugs, Mr. Z was a total nutcase, the shop teacher had an affair with the English teacher, but I learned from them all. My classmates had absolutely no new knowledge to impart, except when there was going to be a fight across the street, or cheating on Mr. F’s chemistry quizzes and leaving the bunsen burners on to get a whiff.

              • Here’s a new application for block chain emerging in the Philippines. Gaming tokens. Joe Jr’s gonna be a zillionaire!

                Click to access YGG-Whitepaper-English.pdf

          • LCPL_X says:


            Joe, I don’t really know what to make out of that gaming token stuff, but kinda like what gian said on the other thread w/ Micha on tokens. De-centralized is key here. But see if Joe jr. will take to pico CTF website, hacker education modularized.

            “The cybersecurity workforce, which is currently struggling to fill seats with qualified talent, may have some newfound optimism. Over the past two weeks, upwards of 18,000 middle and high school students from across the United States learned and honed computer security skills in this year’s picoCTF online hacking contest, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Security and Privacy Institute. The competition officially ended Friday, April 14, 2017.

            “I am very impressed by the amount of effort the participants put in and how much they accomplished over two weeks,” said Marty Carlisle, picoCTF’s technical lead and a teaching professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Information Networking Institute. “I’m hoping these students will continue to pursue computer security and that I’ll get a chance to work with some of them here at Carnegie Mellon.”

            The winning team, “1064CBread,” from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA, will receive their $5,000 cash award at an awards ceremony next month at Carnegie Mellon University’s campus in Pittsburgh, PA.”

  9. i7sharp says:

    It has been quite a while since I have visited the “library”:
    Here you will find links to literary treasures, historical resources and other worthwhile readings about the Philippines and how we treat one another.

    How We Communicate

    Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions

    Philippine Characteristics vs. Other Nations

    Transformation Index (Change)
    Geert-Hofstede Profile (Culture)
    Social Progress Index
    Transparency International (Corruption)
    Global Competitiveness Report
    Index of Economic Freedom
    Global Firepower Index (Military Strength)
    Pew Research Global Attitudes
    WEF Global Information Technology Report


    The very first link I tried (“Geert-Hofstede Profile”) happened not to work.

  10. Micha says:

    When voters cast their ballot, they are making a bet. There’s no guarantee that the candidate they’re voting for will fulfill promises and campaign platforms that swayed that particular subset of voters. The act of voting is, in a sense, a gamble.

    The accountability part should be held exclusively (and may I add, doggedly) on those who managed to secure positions of government power – not the voters.

    • kasambahay says:

      those that claimed to be malasakit, accountability must fall on them, their budget humongous and 2nd to none.

    • Maybe accountability is the wrong word. “Caring” about what voting means, or “Knowledge” about good choices. Holding the right to participate as “Precious”. Somehow voters here need to get some of that stuff so their probabilities are not attached to tyrants and actors or votes sold cheap.

      • Micha says:

        That brings us to the question of intelligence. Do we have smart intelligent voters able to make smart rational choices in the polling booth?

        The answer, it would seem, is depressingly obvious.

        Next question would be, why is that the case? How to break the lurid cycle of political madness? Are there actually forces or principalities that prefer to keep the general voting population un-smart and un-intelligent?

        Is the socio-economic and political system fundamentally rotten or simply Darwinian? A case of the strong ruling over the weak, and that what determines strength or weakness depends, most often, on pure random chance.

        • It’s a vicious cycle for sure, greed and incompetence feeding poverty and disenfranchisement feeding greed and incompetence. It would take a striking leader to break the cycle.

          • kasambahay says:

            pls lang po, dont forget the very vital role lgus played during election. barangay captains can very well limit and sometimes deny opposing candidates access to voters in the district. not allowed to campaign, dates being unsuitable, often changing dates to days when most voters are out at work or otherwised engaged, and wont be present to meet and greet candidates.

            and if opposing candidates do managed to snag a campaign, their time is severely limited say from 5hrs to just 2hrs. candidates are often rushed, cramming as much as they can in such a little time allotted. worse, there are barangay captains that demand to see speeches before hand, maybe to censure, to ensure there are no subversive matters, or just to make it harder for opposing candidates to gain and sway voters to their side.

            and when candidates walkabout sa palengke and places where crowds are, they are often accompanied by watchful barangay captains, their faces hostile amid the smiles.

            and for poor election resutls, it’s the voters that often got blamed, their fault for not being rocket scientists, lol!

            • kasambahay says:

              sometimes, I envy the block voters, the 7million strong block voters. all the guesswork is taken from them. the iglesia ni kristo, el shaday, etc. voters voted the candidates their leaders recommended, no questions ask.

            • Barangay elections are where the ego meets the gun. I understand them well, having once known a candidate who challenged an old, decrepit 30 year incumbent with goons for sons.

  11. i7sharp says:

    And they will feel a sense of nationhood that today is completely missing. The nation “I helped build”.

    Can you name (up to three persons) who today can give the Filipinos “a sense of nationhood”?
    From what little I know, I believe Manny Pacquiao can best do the job.

    What do you mean by “The nation ‘I helped build'”?


    • Leni Robredo, Manny Pacquiao, Angel Locsin

      ‘The nation I helped build’ attaches ownership to the vote and recognizes that unity is what we all give to the nation, not what we take from it.

      Thanks for asking.

  12. – Manolo Quezon

    “..Personally I’ve come to believe we tend to put appearance above substance which is why August 1896 isn’t even a contender but thats when it began; or why we ditched July 4 less than 20 years after because we were getting depressed over how it turned out. So we fixated on 1898 which has the benefit of being dramatic but which was short-lived so we can blame others for our misfortune since we have proven incapable in many ways of resolving the harsh problems in our state and society. When the country moved independence day it stopped looking forward and turned to looking backwards permanently. Ignoring what was most recent and by so doing eliminating cause and effect in preference for blame and effect: we have been looking for supernatural cures and solutions instead of doing the hard work of being citizens..”

    This of course might explain the mindset of scapegoating versus accountability, maybe also the backward evolution of Philippine state and society. I don’t know..

    • Micha says:

      The problem with Pugad Lawin 1896 was that it never took off as a revolution that was eventually won. It was superceded by events of the Spanish-American war of 1898. The Katipuneros never managed to declare victory over the Spaniards.

      The fact that our independence was “granted” instead of having “earned” it might be the reason why there’s really not much passion or earnestness on both our leaders and our people in the task of nation-building.

        • It wasn’t always seen that way, as this article clearly shows:

          ..A few days before the end of U.S. rule, President Manuel Roxas delivered a speech summarizing Filipino history since 1898.

          “We did not attain our full freedom then. The United States, feeling a deep sense of responsibility for our enduring welfare, and an international obligation for our security, took upon herself the task of gradually training and preparing us for self-government. Our forces valiantly resisted the forcible imposition of this strange benevolence. We had no way of knowing that those professions of good intention were sincere. Our resistance was overcome and we laid down our arms, but in the act of acquiescing to American rule, we accepted American protestations of good intentions. We put our faith in the American declaration that she had come not as conqueror, but as liberator, not to exploit but to help us husband our resources and to develop them for the benefit of our countrymen. We soon discovered that that faith was well placed …

          At first our country was governed by Americans with the help of Filipinos, later, by Filipinos with the gradually diminishing intervention of Americans. Today our government is practically in our own hands …

          As we are about to reach the end of the road we have traveled under the guidance of the United States, and to attain the fulfillment of our aspirations, there is nothing in our hearts except gratitude to America and the abiding hope that she will continue to assist us in the trying days ahead.”

          Roxas’s statement was surely influenced by his country’s desperate need for continued U.S. assistance. The city of Manila had been smashed to pieces in house-to-house fighting in January 1945. The newly independent Philippines state faced food shortages and a financial crisis. Six weeks before Roxas’s speech of gratitude, U.S. President Harry Truman had signed a bill that granted the Philippines $620 million in aid to restore war-damaged public and private property. (Per person, that’s more U.S. aid than the Marshall Plan delivered to West Germany, the single country most essential to U.S. postwar economic and security goals.)

          In return, the United States was accorded military basing rights and a trade agreement by which U.S. corporations were assured equal access to local markets and resources with domestic-owned concerns. In 1951, the two countries signed a mutual defense treaty, the basis of U.S. assistance to suppress the Hukbalahap communist insurgency on the island of Luzon. (The success of the anti-Huk effort in the Philippines biased the U.S. to dangerous overoptimism in South Vietnam. The chief adviser to the Philippines government, Edward Lansdale, was transferred in 1954 to head the U.S. mission in Saigon, with instructions from CIA Director Allen Dulles to repeat in Vietnam what he had previously accomplished in the Philippines.)

          Yet Roxas’s words cannot be waved aside as flattery only. The approach he took in 1946 expressed a broad and lasting national consensus. The postwar U.S.-Philippines relationship was obviously not an equal one. The U.S. was the senior partner, as it was in all its Cold War alliances. Yet a nimble and astute junior partner could maneuver for crucial benefits for itself and its people. In addition to providing direct aid, the U.S. extracted $550 million in Japanese reparations to the Philippines under the terms of the 1951 peace settlement between the Allies and Japan. The relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines also continued to evolve. The economic agreements of 1946 were revised in the Philippines’ favor in 1955, then allowed to lapse altogether in 1974..

      • The official start of the Revolution on August 30, 1896 had Aguinaldo in Cavite – and a lot of local leaders from outside Manila who all had only joined the Katipunan in early 1896 – standing aside and biding their time. Filipinos rarely did well in going for a unified cause.

        So the rest is history: Bonifacio charging at Manila from Caloocan, losing in San Juan and retreating to Balara which still was up the hills in those days, regrouping with some newly made native lantakas (cannons) that had insufficient thrust against modern walls; hoping for Japanese arms that never arrived; then the separate offensive in Cavite and the power struggle which ended up with the Tejeros convention and Bonifacio executed by Aguinaldo’s men; Aguinaldo’s own deal with Spain including money at Biak-na-Bato..

        ..Aguinaldo returning on an American ship, hoping for American protection; a rekindling of the revolution Phase 2; the Republic declared; Visayans recognizing Aguinaldo but insisting on their own autonomy; Moros standing aside; different groups within the army of Aguinaldo bearing own flags and uniforms until Juan Luna designed the one uniform revived for Independence Day parades during the 1998 centennial; and the one flag designed in HK; business elites mostly standing aside and preferring US rule to Emilio..

        ..and then the ragtag rests like Sakay who insisted he was continuing the Tagalog Republic of Bonifacio; the colorum and Sakdal peasant rebels of the 1920s/30s; former revolution General Ricarte who preferred a more “Asian” model and pacted with Japan, numerous Filipino nationalists who also liked Japanese rule more until atrocities were to destroy sympathies; the Communist Huks who soaked up Sakdal elements under a new ideology and continued after the war; Marcos copying many aspects of Japanese rule.

        And even now there are those who maintain – some of them intellectuals unfortunately – that a Constitution and democratic institutions are imported ideas, not “truly Filipino”. Even if by now there are two common languages spoken by most – Filipino and English. There are also some who say “elites” aren’t truly Filipino, and the likes of Carmen Navarro-Pedrosa who wrote in 2016 that Duterte’s rule marked the true end of the colonial period are symptoms of a certain unease of Filipinos with their own nation.

        • Micha says:

          Never mind the factionalism of our anti-colonial revolutionaries, let’s zero in on the post-1946 period. Those were crucial years, for while we were already an independent nation on paper, the Mericans were still breathing down our necks teaching us how to ride the bike.

          What did Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, and Macapagal do before the appearance, a little less than 20 years later, of the Marcos tsunami?

          Was there a sense of let’s-make-this-thing-work because we’re-all-in-this-together or was the zeitgeist of the time rather went along the lines of what’s-in-it-for-me?

          Of the three major forces arrayed against the republic, which one is the most destructive?

          • Good question I don’t have enough of an answer for yet, the big picture isn’t complete.

            If we are talking about Zeitgeist, spirit of the times, let us ask real Zeitzeugen, witnesses of the times, what they think about the five leaders Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia and Macapagal. The likes of NHerrera and Sonny for instance.

            What I have heard from different Zeitzeugen was that Roxas was well-meaning but totally overwhelmed (I put that together based on his having to deal with Huks and provincial warlords at the same time), Quirino was a corrupt self-dealer, Magsaysay did an excellent job but died to soon, Garcia did try to continue Magsaysay’s legacy while Macapagal was weak, his rule plagued by the Harry Stonehill scandal.

            One could also put in the preferential 2:1 peso-dollar exchange rate as a comfortable trap that lead to American goods being cheaper than Philippine goods while it became highly profitable just to export natural resources to the United States. Those who were well-off in those days were much better off than other Asians, Manila full of big US cars in the 1960s. Urban migration led to winners and losers, the latter becoming a peace and order problem that Marcos ventured to solve. The middle class then voted for him.

            By contrast, Japan and Korea tactically used low exchange rates for their currencies to keep their populace buying local while keeping their exports to the United States cheap. More modest way of life at the outset with more lasting gains in the long run. Maybe the one day millionaire disease, or what was called prosperity without progress in relation to the Bikol abaca boom of yore, afflicts a lot of levels of Philippine society not just elites.

            • MLQ3 commented on Twitter today that continuity only really worked in the Philippines when the predecessor died.. Roxas after MLQ3, Quirino after Roxas, Garcia after Macapagal. Some continuity between Cory and FVR but that’s it. Probably one constant sickness of Philippine democracy is that a new admin usually means many things start over again even the government apparatus freezes unlike in countries where there is a strong civil service machinery. Some have said Thailand has managed to have continuity inspite of all the political instability as its career civil service keeps on working all the time.

              • kasambahay says:

                dati, thailand has a much loved king, well respected and revered, sometimes presiding over bickering politicians and calling them off, putting the nation’s peace and harmony as topmost agenda. he was much loved monarch, whereas the current king, the richest of monarchs, apparently does not have the political savvy of the old king, privileged and sheltered.

                methink, habits die hard, what the old king had instilled in public servants still hold sway.

            • sonny says:

              ‘… If we are talking about Zeitgeist, spirit of the times, let us ask real Zeitzeugen, witnesses of the times, what they think about the five leaders Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia and Macapagal. The likes of NHerrera and Sonny for instance.”

              Looking back (this was the state of RP when I left the Philippines for good or ill):

              The black-box that was 1969-71, in Edgar Lores form:

              o- The events within this period created/clarified the ABCDE boundaries of the PH-bodypolitic: A – old money/undifferentiated, B – oligarchy/undifferentiated, C – middle-class/undifferentiated, DE – poverty caste;
              o- The Marcos-martial-law polarized across each level of the PH-politic;
              o- My concrete recall of the players: A – (Ayala, Aboitiz, Ysmael, Elizalde, Soriano, Palanca, Madrigal, Delgado. etal.); B – (regional political dynasties e.g. Laurels, Aquinos, Cojuangcos, Lopezes, Roxas, Osmenas, Cuencos, judicial-military elite e.g. Ramos, Munoz-Palma, Paredes), C. petite bourgeoisie ; D&E(tenant farmers);
              o- undefined feedback cycle for each level: in economics, population, & sustainability;
              o- This suggests a de facto federated “region-state” form of governance is most appropriate i.e. each region-state like a Singapore;

              • – by “Quijano de Manila” (Nick Joaquin)

                Anatomy of the Republic as a plutocracy. 
                August 29, 1970–THE RICH are different,” said the American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent his youth singing hooray for the difference and the rest of his life suffering from it. Though a great writer, Fitzgerald was a naïf. He knew the rich had the power to escape the usual penalties attendant on living at all in this world, but he thought the power to be a special quality bred in the rich by their money—a special strength or glamour, or magic even, that made them able to charm their way out of the consequences of what they did.
                This, of course, is bull. As the Ted Kennedy drowning case showed, the rich can get into a stupid funk just like you and me. They get away with it because they are indeed “different,” not as Fitzgerald mystically thought but as Hemingway bluntly put it when fed that line about the rich being different. “Yes,” said Hemingway, “they have more money.”  Because the Kennedys have more money, son Ted could be given the benefit of the doubt—though it would be hard to say whose doubt that was.  Not the American public’s to judge from the polls.
                The Kennedy case did dent a Philippine superstition about the United States: that there, unlike here, rich and poor are equal before the law. But the larger superstition that implies still persists, which may be put this way: if money is power, then the American common man has more power than, say, the Latin American, not only because of the greater amount of American money but because of its more general distribution.
                In a densely documented exposé entitled The Rich and the Super-Rich, the American economist Ferdinand Lundberg explodes that superstition.  More than 30 percent of American wealth, he found out, was owned by only 1.6 percent of the adult population of 103 million. Since the government owned 20 percent of the wealth, that left less than half of the wealth to be divided among some 98 percent of the population, as of figures for the 1950s.
                Of the top 1 percent who are rich, a fraction (0.11 percent) are super-rich; they own 45 percent of their group’s concentrated wealth.
                The rest of the American people may be considered poor, and not just in comparison with the rich and the super-rich.
                Of the have-not majority, 21.89 percent have gross estates averaging $ 15,000— “just enough to cover a serious personal illness.”
                Another 18.4 percent of the population were “worth $6,000 on the average, which would probably largely represent participation in life insurance or emergency money in the bank… or two or three shares of AT&T.”
                The remainder of the have-not group form the super-poor and they are the 50 percent of the population that own only 8.3 percent of the wealth. “They had an average estate of $1,800—enough to cover furniture, clothes, a television set and perhaps a run-down car.  Most of them had less, many had nothing at all.”
                Half of the US population are composed of the super-poor while a fraction of 1 percent are super-rich!
                Even if we regard the group in between as “middle class” we are still without an argument for the United States as a popular democracy—that is, where the people have the power. Money is power, but the American “middle class” don’t have that kind of money. They may have two cars in the garage, a TV in every room, insurance and savings accounts—but all that doesn’t make them the ruling money. Of a population of 103 million, says Lundberg: “We see that 1.4 million households own 65 percent of the investment assets, which are what give economic control. Automobiles and home ownership and bank deposits do not give such control.”
                So, there goes the picture of the United States as a “people’s capitalism” with a widely diffused ownership of industry. The statistics are indeed impressive: in 1962 more than 17 million Americans owned shares in business enterprises and the figure was believed to have swelled to 20 million in 1968.
                But: “Most stockholders own trivial amounts of stock; anybody would qualify as a stockholder if he owned only one share worth 10 cents. We are already aware that 1.6 percent of the population own more than 80 percent of all stock, 100 percent of state and local government bonds, and 88.5 percent of corporate bonds.”
                And the “people capitalists,” how much do they own?
                “Less than 20 percent of all stocks in 1963 were owned by some 15.4 million people.”
                And the rest of the 103 million Americans had no share at all in this “people’s capitalism.” The gap between rich and poor that’s supposed to be narrower in the United States turns out to be a Grand Canyon.
                But at least, surely, the American masses do have political power?  Lundberg says that this, too, like the “Affluent Society,” is a delusion. Without economic power there’s no political power; and the American masses are either too cowed or too indifferent to exercise even what power they have.
                “Officials nominated by either one of two major parties are periodically elected at local, state and federal levels by a largely inept electorate that in most elections fails to participate to the full and in general turns out far below 50 percent. Whether the electorate fully participates makes no difference because most of the candidates are handpicked by nominating caucuses of the two major parties rather than of one party as in Russia. The caucuses function in default of popular activity; the populace simply has no political drive of its own. If Russia permitted a Socialist Party and a Communist Party (joined behind the scenes) it would be on all fours with the United States in respect of parties in the field; the candidates in the field might be politically identical twins, as is often the case in the United States (Johnson versus Goldwater).  Money plays a large role in the manipulation of this system—much larger than is usually conceded.”
                Not the people but the super-rich finance the “system” and the financing is “down payment on future influence in government.” Since the people cannot or will not actively participate in government, Lundberg calls the set-up in the United States an “oligarchy by default.”
                “Writers, focusing attention on Central America, refer caustically to the ‘banana republics’—those countries, economically dominated by the United Fruit Company, whose political leaders are bought and sold like popcorn. Conditions in the United States, mutatis mutandis, are not nearly so different. Even in such a presumably distinctive Latin American feature as the intervention of the military, the United States now clearly overshadows anything in this line the Latin American republics are able to show. Except that the United States has such large numbers of industrial and office workers, rather than landless peasants, it has few features to which general descriptions of Latin American society do not apply.  It might almost be said that there’s a growing tendency to mold the United States, apart from its industrial features, upon the ‘banana republics,’ this making it the Banana Republic par excellence.”
                On top of the pile is a “well-established hereditary propertied class.” It’s the ruling money, the privileged oligarchy, the super-rich one percent. And it didn’t even earn its money or privilege.
                “Great wealth in the United States is no longer ordinarily gained by the input of some effort, legal or illegal, useful or mischievous, but comes from being named an heir.  Almost every single wealth holder of the upper half of 1 percent arrived by this route.”
                No more room at the top.
                The rest of the Americans find how insecure “affluence” is when they lose a job.
                “As was shown in the 1930s, Americans can become destitute overnight if deprived of their jobs, a strong support to mindless conformity. As a matter of fact, many persons in rather well-paid jobs, even executives, from time to time find themselves jobless owing to mergers, technical innovations or plant removal. Unable to get new jobs, they suddenly discover, to their amazement, that they are really poor.”
                Ability, skills, talent, merely personal qualities, cannot be depended on as assets in the exploitative society.
                “The incandescent Marilyn Monroe, as big as they come in filmdom and a veritable box-office Golconda, died broke.”
                For that matter, so did poor Scott Fitzgerald, his talent worn out and wasted in the Hollywood dream factories, in the service of the big money that awed him when young.
                Insecurity—Thoreau’s “quiet desperation” —is the American way of life.
                How is the Philippine picture similar and different?
                “FANTASTICALLY LOPSIDED” is how Lundberg describes income distribution in the United States. The Philippines money graph would provoke the same exclamation.
                In May, 1969, the Senate committee on economic affairs issued a report on the country’s development from 1955 to 1968.
                The most depressing finding was that, in a period of 13 years, “there has been no substantial change in the structure of our economy.” We were still an agricultural country of low productivity, with 58 percent of the labor force tied up in food production, only 11 percent engaged in manufacture. We had no capital-goods industry to speak of; our industry was more assembly than manufacture; and our manufacture was limited to durables like furniture and non-durables like cigarettes, had remained static since 1958, was heavily dependent on imported raw materials.
                As a result, our foreign-trade deficit rose from over $147 million in 1955 to over $301 million in 1968: “The deficit in the last two years alone [1967-68] is greater than the combined deficit from 1957 to 1966.”
                The national income had increased by 94 percent during the 13-year period, from almost P8 billion in 1955 to almost P15 billion in 1968. But again, this was partly a depressing finding. Despite an increase in average family income, and a shrink in the bottom group of society, the income structure had not changed either. The gap between rich and poor remained just as wide, or had widened further.
                “In 1965, as in 1957, the 10 percent of our families who comprise the highest income bracket received 40 percent of the total income, leaving 60 percent of the income to be divided among 90 percent of the families.”
                The figures for 1957 may be broken down thus:
                2.8 percent of Filipino families earn over P5,000 a year.
                17.1 percent earn between P2,001 and P4,999.
                This 19.9 percent of Filipino families may be regarded as our “middle-class”—and it’s as meager as the incomes that make it comparatively well-to-do.
                78.12 percent of all Filipino families earn less than P2,000 a year.
                These are our poor and they comprise almost 80 percent of the nation’s households.
                In this group are two subgroups that may be called the super-poor, because the figures on them are:
                17.7 percent of Filipino families earn less than P1,000 a year.
                11.6 percent earn less than P500.
                Or almost 30 percent of the nation’s households living in stark misery.
                Now for the other end of the scale.
                1 percent of the nation’s families earn over P25,000 a year. These are the rich.
                And one-tenth of this 1 percent earn over P100,000 a year. These are the super-rich.
                So, in a country where 50 percent of the households live in poverty and 30 percent in utter misery, 1 percent of Filipino families live in affluence and a fraction of them live in super affluence.
                Do these happy few constitute, as in the United States, an oligarchy?
                Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who helped prepare that Senate report, thinks so. The 1 percent on top are the ruling money not only because they monopolize the wealth but because they control the sources of wealth (land, industry) and the forces of wealth (banking, politics). But the Philippine picture differs from the American in that we are still, more or less, in the robber-baron and nouveau-riche stage.
                There’s still room at the top.
                THREE LAYERS of wealth have accumulated since the turn of the century and Senator Aquino identifies these layers with lands, politics and banks.
                “When the Americans came, a group of young lawyers started titling lands: this was the beginning of the big estates. Gregorio Araneta, for example, became the lawyer of the Tuason family that claimed this tremendous tract of land from Sampaloc to the Marikina Valley. The original source of the Philippine fortunes was, therefore, land—either Spanish grants, like the Ayala estate, or the acquisitions titled during the 1900s.
                “The second generation of Filipino wealth came from government connections.  In the 1920s when Quezon was financing his independence missions, certain people got choice contracts from the government, like the Teodoros of Ang Tibay, the Madrigals of the shipping line.
                “Then we have a third generation of millionaires: those who got concessions from government financing institutions, like the sugar barons. The Philippine National Bank was set up and it financed practically the entire sugar-mill construction of the period.  The movement was from Negros Occidental to Iloilo and the sugar barons—the Lopezes, the Javellanas, the Aranetas—started taking over virgin forest.”
                The PNB marked an important development: Filipinos—or, at least, some Filipinos—began to have access to capital. Previously, all banks in the country were foreign-owned.  Not until 1938 was the first Filipino private commercial bank founded: the Philippine Bank of Commerce. And only after the war, during the Garcia era, did the native entrepreneur really understand why he should have his own bank.
                “This cue was Garcia’s Filipino First. The Americans in the Philippines, the British, the Chinese—they had their own banks. But Filipinos had only the PNB to rely on and even there they were not, so to speak, getting the lion’s share, because the Chinese were more adept in the lagay system. So, we began putting up our own banks. The Rufinos set up the Securities Bank, the Santos family, their Prudential Bank; a group of sugar planters (Sarmiento, Antonino), their PCI Bank; and young professionals, graduates of foreign schools, came back and put to use what they had learned by establishing a bank of their own : the Far East.
                “There was this proliferation of banks because the Filipino had suddenly realized that money begets money and that he who holds capital can control the economy. The development of native banking system spurred activity in all directions. Now, for the first time, the Filipino had his own capital. On it, he could borrow foreign funds to use for his own development. So, you had the opening of subdivisions, another source of funds, of capital, and you had the rise of local manufacturing industries, all financed by local banks. This is a healthy sign: the Filipino is becoming the master in his own house.”
                But Senator Aquino sees one great danger: the Filipino who becomes master in Juan’s house may not be Juan de la Cruz himself. Juan may find that the foreign exploiter he kicked out has been replaced by a native one. “The Spanish exile, Salvador de Madariaga, warned that a country can become the colony of its own people.” And the hurt is that it’s Juan’s money that will be used to make him poorer and his master richer. As the taxes that Juan pays to the government too often are used merely to enrich a few politicians, so, in the banking system, the money of the depositors, of the people, may be used merely to capitalize the owners of the banks.
                Senator Aquino says that this is already happening.
                “That’s why when Licaros became governor of the Central Bank he came up with the controversial Circular No. 306. This circular makes it official, in writing, that there are tremendous arrears (unpaid debts) in private banks—arrears accountable by the majority stockholders, officers and directors of private banks. In other words, they borrowed money from their own banks, they used the money that people had deposited with them—and they are in arrears. So, according to Licaros, the entire private banking system must never have more than 5 percent in arrears. [The present rate is at least 10 percent.] And he has suggested to us in Congress an amendment to the General Banking Act to penalize bank directors, officials and stockholders who borrow more than their equity in their bank.”
                Such a curb, if imposed abruptly, would, thinks Senator Aquino, result in financial chaos: the rich who have been growing richer through two decades by using the depositor’s money would have to be given time to restructure their loans; and the senator also sees how these rich folk who compose a “syndicate” that controls the banks might evade the curb by lending their banks’ money to one another.
                “But Licaros says that the moment you go from your bank to another, the application for a loan will have to be examined by two sets of people; it becomes an arm’s-length deal; you will have to put up some collateral; and if there’s somebody on the board of directors who’s not a member of the ‘syndicate’ he could raise hell if the loan is not aboveboard. Licaros maintains that, while this may not completely eliminate the practice, it would minimize it. My contention is: unless we restructure the banking system to break the stranglehold of a small elite of the affluent, this country will definitely become a colony of its own people.”
                Already, warns the senator, around 50 super-rich families have become, in effect, the oligarchy that rules our lives.
                “These 50 families or so control the private banking system and they now control about 50 percent of the total money in circulation. They are interlocked among themselves through marriage; they join together to buy up foreign corporations. So, already in control of capital, they end up owning the sources of capital. And this new breed of colonizers is sometimes more rapacious than the old ones.”
                A public-utility firm previously foreign-run is taken over by the super-rich Filipinos—and what’s the first thing they do? Raise the rates. The service remains just as awful, or gets worse. This, grimaces Senator Aquino, is the fulfillment of Quezon’s wish: a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos.
                And it’s not only in the private sector that the 50 super families are taking over.  They have also become the State; at least, they alone seem to know how to use it. For their own profit, of course. A good illustration of this is the priority they enjoy when it comes to loans of government funds. Those funds are supposed to be the people’s money. Do “the people” ever get a crack at it?
                COMPOUND INJUSTICE it cannot but seem that the elite 10 percent who get 43 percent of the nation’s income should also monopolize the State funds available for capital.
                The monopoly, as exemplified during the Marcos era, has been examined by Senator Aquino.
                “We cannot get complete solid detailed data, but this much we know. The government has granted around ₱4.5 billion in loans during the Marcos administration. Of this, from 40 to 50 families got 2.3 billion, either by borrowing directly from, or getting their foreign loans guaranteed by, government financing institutions. In other words, some 40-50 families got almost 50 percent of the total loanable funds of the government.
                “One family got a loan guarantee for ₱300 million; another, for ₱263 million; a third, for ₱178 million. Sunod-sunod na ‘yan.”
                Just the names of those families betray their political connections; those actually—and eminently—in politics enjoyed even larger drafts.
                “Two senators each got over ₱400 million; a congressman got ₱180 million. Now what could you possibly say about that?
                “It’s true the loans may be not money given out by the government but money borrowed from abroad, on guarantees of the Philippine government—but if the borrowers fail to pay it’s the government that will have to pay.”
                In snide terms: to favor 40 or 50 families, the government is willing to risk bankrupting 38 million Filipinos.  And these favored families may not even have to risk a signature. A joke in banking circles is that if you belong to the elite just the sound of your name (and the proper amount of kickback, of course) will suffice to get you a government loan. Once the deal is set you can line up your housemaids, chauffeurs and gardeners and make them sign the deed; you’ll get the money just the same.
                One gigantic loan being negotiated by a top favorite of the regime had Senator Aquino worried because it looked at first like a direct loan from the government—which is supposed to be lean on funds.  Though even a government guarantee for such a huge loan still seems too great a risk, Senator Aquino is more or less resigned to letting the favorite get it— “as long as he himself signs for it.”
                Making the State’s fiscal machinery exploitable by an elite is not peculiar to the Marcos administration. Every Philippine president, says Aquino, spawned his own set of millionaires. Quezon did it, to fund his own political machine, and the millionaires he created repaid love with love. “When the T-V-T became obnoxious to Quezon he called in his group of millionaires led by Madrigal and told them to put up a newspaper chain and they came up with the D-M-H-M.” Even the “freedom of the press” depends on the requirements of the ruling money.
                Under the Republic the successive sets of millionaires have been identifiable with their respective gold mines.
                “The first set was the surplus-property millionaires under Roxas. Then you had the immigration-quota millionaires under Roxas.  Then you had the immigration-quota millionaires under Quirino; the import-control millionaires under Quirino and Magsaysay; the reparations millionaires under Garcia; and Macapagal’s government-financed millionaires: the Todas, the Delgados, who put up the Hilton. Under Marcos we have the money-manipulators, the quick artists who dabble in stocks and make money on such manipulations as the devaluation of the peso.”
                Of each new set, a few millionaires will survive the passing of the regime, the rest will sink back to obscurity, as a Tony Quirino fades away with the passing of his brother.  Those who survive “institutionalize” themselves; they can still be tagged according to their respective eras—a Dindo Gonzalez from Quirino times; a Chiongbian or Antonino or Rustia  or Tantoco or Durano from Garcia days; a Toda from the Macapagal era—but where, before, they were identified with a specific administration, now they can influence any administration. They can join the “syndicate” of the super-rich who control the nation’s wealth, the money supply, the banks and the State funds; and it’s this elite, says Senator Aquino, who really control the economic and political destinies of the country.
                “Why do I say political? First: these bankers who control 50 percent of the total money in circulation can gang up against any political candidate, or, for that matter, can meet together and agree among themselves to support a particular candidate. Now, big politician needs big money. Big money only comes from big businessman.  Big businessman gives big money to big politician. Then big politician repays the favor.  That’s the cycle of corruption.
                “Second: big businessman gets to feeling it’s more economical to seek public office himself instead of funding candidates who may become unreliable or recalcitrant.  This is the beginning of the businessman turned politician.  So now we have millionaires and bankers and industrialists going into politics to protect their interests. Not content with economic power, they want it combined with political power. And if they can’t run themselves, they make their wives run for office. This is the development of the dynasties.”
                The senator thinks this “pyramiding” of wealth and power unhealthy.
                “When the wealth of a country is used by a handful to make the rest of the population virtual slaves, that is unhealthy because it’s no longer a democracy. This is what the young activists denounce as feudalism: a small group of families controlling the destinies of the bulk of the population.”
                Moreover, by controlling the politicians, or by being in politics themselves, the elite families ensure that no attempt to reform them out of power can ever succeed.  How impose tax laws or inheritance laws to redistribute the wealth when those whom these laws would hurt control the Palace and the Congress and the courts?
                Nevertheless Senator Aquino insists that a beginning can be made.
                “For example, in the matter of the government loans, I propose that any such loan over half a million be granted to a corporation only if 40 percent of its shares are offered to the public. A corporation not open thus to the public should not be granted a government loan. Why should the money of the people go to one rich family to make that family super-rich?  Only public-held corporations should enjoy priority.
                “Another thing I would propose: rigid anti-trust laws. In the United States you can’t have what are called ancillary businesses. For example, you are General Motors, you have to purchase tires. You can’t set up a tire company because that would give you undue advantage. Nor a battery factory, because that’s also related to your main line.
                “Now the Meralco: it generates 90 percent of the total power in this country. It’s putting up a transformer company. So, that new company will have a 90 percent captive market. If you were an individual wanting to put up a transformer company of your own, how can you compete? You would be fighting only for a 10 percent free market. But Meralco, which, under the law, may not make more than 12 percent profit, can pass all its income to that ancillary transformer company.”
                That’s how the rich become richer.
                And that’s why they will block anti-trust laws, anti-monopoly laws, inheritance-tax laws, land reform, tax reform, and every attempt to diffuse and equalize wealth.
                But the situation is not entirely hopeless. The ruling money is also a built-in bomb.
                “Divine Providence,” says Senator Aquino, “has provided for certain checks to self-perpetuating royalty, as can be seen in what happened to European royalty.”
                The built-in bomb is in-breeding.
                “Sila-sila ang nagasawahan,” laughs the senator.
                THE INCESTUOUSNESS of ruling money ensures its downfall better than any socialist law—especially in the Philippines, where energy seems to drain out of a family in two or three generations.
                In two generations the Quezon, and in three generations the Legarda, family is faced with extinction. The Castelvi were authentic bluebloods but in barely a century slid from top drawer to déclassé. The Ayala-Zobel business empire rides the impetus brought in by two outsiders, McMicking and Soriano; the direct heirs have turned to art and culture. Of the two boys who inherited the Cojuangco hacienda, neither is running it; authority has passed to those who married into the family. The department-store Aguinaldos were a tycoon family before the war; the third generation has run out of steam. A similar attenuation of spirit imperils every big business family in the country, whether it be the Elizalde or the Yulo or the Roces, and the trend is to bring in outsiders: the family itself can no longer supply the talent. The Madrigals have to employ professional managers to run their businesses; so do the Lopez brothers, who own the biggest fortunes in the country but, alas, cannot count on their sons to take over and carry on.
                This is our protection against “dynasties”: that they don’t last long enough to be a dynasty.
                “Therefore,” says Senator Aquino, “you really cannot talk of old fortunes in the Philippines.  The oldest fortune today would not be more than a hundred years old. It’s money without pedigree. All of it started, somehow, somewhere, in corruption; then the children gamble it away.
                “It’s a phenomenon: how the children of the rich tend to backslide. They join the jet set, or they go into art. It’s very rare for the children of the founder to take over the business and improve it. By the third generation you get the young heirs stricken with guilt and social conscience, and the rich hippies rebelling against their own Establishment, and the alienated young who take pot because they have so much money.  The rich plant the seeds of their own destruction.”
                Even if there are competent heirs to take over the family business, outsiders must still be brought in and allowed to occupy positions of power.
                “You are a millionaire with 20 industries and three sons. How can they run all those industries? The era of the individual swashbuckler, the one-man show, is passing; Gonzalo Puyat, Amado Araneta—they are a vanishing breed. Modern industry demands so many different special talents you can only be chairman to a board composed of those talents. And whereas, before, a family could raise a million and start an industry, today capital is in terms of tens of millions. You would have to invite 20 or 30 other families to join in—and the diffusion of wealth begins. It’s no longer a closed family corporation, a tayo-tayo outfit where father is the president, mother is the treasurer, and the children are the directors. You have to hire professional managers.
                “This is the new development. An elite is developing which Adolf Berle calls ‘the powerful without money.’ Before, you could have power only with money. Now, you can have power without money, by becoming the professional manager of a giant corporation, not because you own stock in it but because of sheer talent. For example: McNamara of Ford, Lyn Townsend of Chrysler, Knudsen of General Motors. They are technical people who rose from the ranks to wield tremendous power without money.  The same thing, I submit, is happening in our country: the rise to power of technical talent who do not come from landed families. A classic example is Leo Virata.”
                The trend is most visible in the Marcos cabinet.
                “To the credit of Marcos, no other administration has given so much opportunity to the technocrats. The President has realized that to come up with a government for the 1970s he can no longer rely on the old political talent; he has to backstop his political organization with an army of technocrats. That is why he brought in management experts like Ponce Enrile, Alex Melchor, Cesar Virata, Gerry Sicat, Placido Mapa. The age of the technocrat has come.”
                What this means is that technical talent is becoming a counterforce to the ruling money. If they should put up a candidate for president against the candidate of the plutocrats, the technocrats could change Philippine society without a revolution—because, says Aquino, the presidency is armed with revolutionary power. “I have always contended that the successful Philippine revolution will be a Palace coup.” A young president elected to power by the technocrats, should he wish to destroy the Establishment that opposed him, has only to use the laws that empower him to take over all public-utility and communications companies, seize their assets and equipment, recall the franchises. With one stroke he could raze the Establishment. No president has yet dared use this power of his against the plutocrats because every president has owed his position to them.
                “But the elite have now realized the implications of this terrible power concentrated in the hands of the chief executive and that’s why they’re going to make their influence felt in the Constitutional Convention, to have that power diluted. This is one of the current moves of the elite.”
                The senator is strongly against such a dilution of presidential powers, even if, ultimately, he is not so despairing of the elite as he may sound.
                “The advantage of the money establishment in this country is its resiliency. It is not rigid, you can move it; it is not impervious to public opinion.  Look at the Church:  it is changing. The Filipino elite may not even have to respond to the challenge, because they will do the challenging. They will grab the leadership again, this opportunistic elite of ours. And they are pragmatic, they are innovators. They will lead the Revolution. They realize that, if the old system is not changed, their hard-earned money will go.”
                THIS OPTIMISM may be justified. Ours is, after all an Establishment that hardly deserves the name, so barely founded is it;  and many of the plutocrats can remember the days when papa rode the buses and mama was the neighborhood usurer. Money itself upstart has no nose to turn up at upstarts, nor can “society” crystallize in a country where each change of regime brings on a crop of parvenu.
                Despite the great distance, the view from the bottom is still of room at the top.  McMicking and Soriano began as accountants for the Ayalas; and Gregorio Araneta, as the Tuasons’ attorney. With the rapid attenuation of blood, today’s plutocrat, when considering an applicant, whether for manager or son-in-law, may not be so concerned to ask what family he comes from as what business school: Harvard? Wharton? Since it’s talent that counts in such schools, their Filipino graduates today are apt to be poor boys who made it aboard on fellowship or grant. If, says Senator Aquino, we spent as much effort searching for such talent to send to good schools as we spend searching for shapely girls to send to beauty contests, we would be hastening social reform.
                That the rich can be scared into conscience was proved by the number of balls canceled in the wake of the riots and by the sudden swell of the Christian Social Movement, at whose meetings, one hears, Mr. Manglapus has only to shake a warning finger to get, like another Savoranola, the greatest ladies stripping off their jewels to cast at his feet. But even apocalypse may at last come to feel like something one can live with; and the latest communiqués from the front—Bantay and Cadiz and Cotabato, Expo and Customs, ballroom and fashion salon—indicate that the powerful have recovered from shock and it’s business as usual. Optimism over their voluntary reform should therefore be tempered by the thought of the Bourbons who came and went, and came back again, having learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
                If one has any doubts about who rules and owns this country, one has only to consider the curious upsurge of violence by the “forces of the law,” as if the Establishment, having got over its scare, would have us remember who holds the fire power. Polcom is supposed to have reported an increase of violence but most probably didn’t say if the increase was of violence done by the people or done to the people—and included the burning of that barrio in Bantay, the massacre of those barrio officials in Tarlac. One could then go and ask on which side the police always are during labor strikes; or the PC, when peasants are being burned out of their property or being shot down in cold blood; or the courts, when the question is the defense of Establishment property. Since ours is a plutocracy, they rule the country who own it—and the police agencies are their private security guards. That’s the best index of where power resides—and how uneasily.
                In Canton, an island on the river served as castle for the ruling of money, which was foreign, in the days when such enclaves in China could keep a snigger at the gate: No dogs or Chinese allowed. There were tycoon of taste in Canton and the enclave they built was beautiful—tree-shaded lanes, a splendid mall, lordly manors spaced by lawn or garden—but they didn’t know whom they were really building for. They are long gone now and, in what was their Forbes Park, Chinese workers share the houses from which, before the Revolution, money ruled.
                In Havana, there are similar relics from the days of the ruling money: elegant villages, a yacht club, a polo club, exclusive beaches. Again, the tycoon, both native and foreign, of Batista days didn’t know for whom they gilt a ceiling or marbled a floor.  They couldn’t take it with them—and the people have taken over. In the stylish villages, the great houses are now clinics or colleges or rest homes for workers. The yacht club is a fishermen’s cooperative and on weekends turns into a rendezvous for proletarian boating aficionados. On the beaches once exclusive to those who had the color of money now swim every shade of sepia, every kind of black. The polo club has been turned into a boarding school for young talent and on the grounds where the jet set gamboled teenage Cubans paint, sculpt, dance, compose music, stage dramas, put on concerts—and all as wards of the State, which scouts for talent.
                “For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”
                Next time you ride past Forbes Park, remember: the ruling money never knows for whom it builds a Versailles.

              • Tremendous reading. The Philippines is a nation colonized by its own people.

              • i7sharp says:

                Thanks for the looong read. 🙂

                “[Nick Joaquin] has been considered one of the most important Filipino writers, along with José Rizal and Claro M. Recto.”

                Theology of culture

                Critics of Nick Joaquin’s works mention the presence of theological dimensions in his writings. These critics, such as Lumbera, referred to Nick Joaquin as the most stimulating lay theologian, 1968. Such examples of works containing theological dimensions include “”Doña Jeronima”, “The Legend of the Dying Wanton” and “The Mass of St. Sylvestre” whose themes are said to be drawn from Spanish traditions. Stories from Tropical Goth, although not as obvious according to critics, possessed a Christian background but there were arguments made that what is Christian is not necessarily theological. Different analysis of Nick Joaquin’s works on these stories found in Tropical Goth reveal the use of primordial and pagan symbols. There is a fixation towards brute and the cult. Critics mention that while there are theological levels present in these stories, these were more at the folk level than dogmatic and were more reflective rather than perspective. These were then referred to as reflections of the theology of culture.[9]


              • Micha says:

                This is gold. Will bookmark this and read it again. NJ is a national treasure.

              • sonny says:

                Irineo, the book of Lundberg on the rich & super-rich was one of the first volumes I came across and bought from a 3rd-hand bookstore in the ’70s – very thick reading, my recall around 600+ pages. Couldn’t relate to the money being talked about. It has gathered lots of dust in my collection … I still have it. Regret not having followed Nick Joaquin in the ’60s. It was Napoleon Rama for me.

          • LCPL_X says:

            I doubt work like this will see the light of day in schools here, as the bad guy(s) isn’t white, Ireneo. Critical race theory, insists that whites are the root of all evil. The notion that non-whites are also cause of their own misery is no bueno.

            good read. thanks.

            • Well, many of those mentioned are in the Philippine perspective “whiter”, essentially those in the beginning of the names mentioned (like Madrigals, Sorianos and Aboitiz) are indeed MRPs peeves, Spanish mestizos “ruling over the brown-skinned and flat-nosed’.

              This applies less and less after the war, though in that time my father’s somewhat peeve, the English-speaking Westernized elites lording it over those who don’t speak English does apply, as English was indeed more needed than today to access certain things.

              From the 1960s, you will have more “brown-skinned and flat-nosed” moving up while post-1986 with actors going into politics had more who didn’t mainly speak English or hardly spoke it at all moving up, now Cynthia Villar is truly native but still a “haciendera”.

              “The National Village” article of mine kind of “deconstructed” all that and implied that the dimension of power and access is what matters in a severely split/segregated society. Slaves of today becoming tyrants of tomorrow was Rizal’s very important warning.

              People who have gotten used to the roles of masters and servants will just put new masters into the roles whichever once hated group vacates. Getting a society out of a mindset isn’t impossible but old habits die hard so it isn’t that easy to change either.

              • LCPL_X says:

                The danger of Critical race theory is just that, that in the end all evidence points to Whites being “superior” whatever that means. in the bell curves of IQ tests, dominance in the domination game, power over non-white cultures, like what France did to Haiti in the 1820s, I mean reparations for the slave owners?!!! that’s nuts!

                I’m not espousing white supremacy here per se, but essentially critical race theory will beg the question of why it is that non-whites always get dominated on by whites. And that’s a dangerous road to go into, because the answers will be less than ideal, Ireneo…

                where social sciences have essentially molded the reality that theres only one human race, these ethnic studies knuckleheads in the US will up end alllll that for the whole notion of whites are evil. And there is the whole politics of mixed race, which you are talking about, also mixed Chinese, who too are light skinned.

                best not to open that pandora’s box, but hey that’s what they want here now. I hope the proponents don’t mind unintended consequences.

              • I don’t think we are the place to debate it, in public space. It is more suitable for doctoral level seminars where all the top studies can be brought into the conversation. The public conversation would degrade fast.

              • LCPL_X says:

                That’s my point , Joe. Critical race theory is counter productive to the progress we’ve made, since Darwinism was applied to human intelligence, etc. why go backwards. The social sciences have countered all the stuff that came out of the 1800s, now critical race theorists wanna return us there? Where in one race is pitted against the other, albeit this time for victimhood’s sake. just doesn’t make sense.

              • Not much makes sense these days. I’m going to research the psychology of conspiracy theorists today. After the basketball game, of course, haha.

                By the way, just saw this. Haven’t viewed it. Wyoming is going crypto . . .


              • LCPL_X says:

                From an economic stand point, makes sense, like diversifying. But from a migration perspective, it doesn’t WA, OR and Idaho are states reeling from Californians moving out there, its been disastrous to the local populations, culturally plus prices going up.

                So why invite Californians?

                Also, you gotta remember that Jackson hole and the west side of the Snake river, is where Silicon Valley millionaires/billionaires have bought property. I’m sure the tech folk who have property up there have a hand in all this.

                Alas, this is the first i’ve read of this as well, will look into it further.

                P.S. — read Q , if you’re gonna read a blog on conspiracy theorists, Q is a good novel.

                ‘An intricate pageant of ideas and their violence would be enough to justify enthusiasm, but Q is much more than that. Among the plates is an almost unobtrusive quote from a press release by the authors against the Nato bombings in the former Yugoslavia.

                Refugees, ethnic cleansing, the global appetite of capitalism, disillusioned protestors, state terrorism, millennial anxieties: twist the prism and the novel switches from the 1520s to the 1990s. At the end, one character foresees shops on every street corner selling a drink made from the quhavé (coffee) bean.

                This is a story which is not only “about” the politics of the past, but is aware of itself as a political statement. Since Sir Walter Scott (another devotee of anonymity), the historical novel has been used to promote particular ideological versions of the past. The authors of Q unite this tendency to the radicalism of a Houllebecq. As they say in their manifesto: “To write is part of production. To narrate is politics.”

                Whether or not the Wu Ming Foundation will outlast the oodles of isms already sprouting like mushrooms is immaterial: Q is a great novel, one that tells us about ourselves and how we came to be here.’

              • LCPL_X says:

                oooops , if you’re gonna *write a blog about conspiracy theorists.

  13. Sonny, I am sure Senator Pecson of Pangasinan will ring a bell to you: (as postings are of course now surfacing all over about the Third Republic)

    Ngayong araw ay inaalala natin ang pagpapasinaya sa Ikatlong Republika ng Pilipinas kung saan hinarap noon ng pamahalaan ang muling pagtatayo at pagsasaayos ng ating bansa mula sa pinsalang dulot ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig.

    Makikita sa larawan ang isa sa mga nagkampanya upang mabigyan ng karapatan ang mga kababaihan na makaboto sa isang plebesito noong 1937 at kauna-unahang babaeng naging senador sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas na nahalal noong 1947 — siya si Geronima T. Pecson o mas kilala ng mga malalapit sa kanya bilang “Imay”, tubong Lingayen, Pangasinan.

    Si Imay ang pangunahing atraksyon noong kampanya ng kanyang partido sa iba’t-ibang dako ng bansa dahil hindi pangkaraniwan noon ang magkaroon ng isang babaeng kandidato. Sa kabila ng tangkang paninira sa kanya ng kabilang partido at mga nagdududa kanya, si Imay ang nakakuha ng pangatlong pinakamataas na boto noong 1947 halalan.

    Bilang senador, tatlong komite ang kanyang hinawakan — ang Committee on Education, Committee on Health and Public Welfare, at Joint Congressional Committee on Education. Mula rito ay marami ang kanyang mga nagawa bilang senador.

    Siya ang may-akda ng mga batas na magkaroon ng mga silid-aklatan sa bawat bayan sa bansa, pagtaas ng antas ng nars at guro bilang ganap na prupesyon, at pagtaas ng sahod ng mga manggagawa kabilang na ang mga guro, doktor at nars.

    Inilaan niya ang kanyang pork barrel allotment sa nasirang teachers’ sanatorium sa Quezon Institute na pinangunahan niyang ipatayo bago ang digmaan bilang tulong sa mga gurong tinamaan ng tubercolosis.

    Sa kanyang pagsisikap ay naitatag ang National Children’s Hospital at nagkaroon ng pondo para sa BCG vaccines laban sa TB at dagdag na pondo para naman sa pag-aaral sa sakit na snail fever na umuusbong pa lamang noong panahong ito.

    Inilaan niya ang kanyang unang sahod bilang senador sa United Nations Appeal for Children (UNAC) upang masimulan ang kampanya laban sa malnutrisyon sa mga bata na nagbunga sa pagkakatatag sa United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines.

    Sinuportahan din niya ang ngayon ay mas kilala bilang “Magna Carta of Labor” na siyang nagpisan ng lahat ng mga panuntunan at regulasyon na siyang naggagarantiya sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa, pumuprotekta sa kanila mula sa pang-aabuso at pagsasaayos ng mekanismo kung saan sila maaaring magsampa ng mga hinaing.

    Dahil sa dami ng kanyang mga nagawa sa Senado, siya ay ibinoto ng press reporters noong 1951 bilang “One of the Ten Most Useful Senators.” Siya rin ay napili ng Senate Press Club, isang asosasyon ng press writers na kumakatawan sa mga pahayagan na may sirkulasyong pambansa, bilang isang “Outstanding Senator” noong 1952 at 1953. Nakalulungkot lamang na hindi siya muling nahalal para sana sa kanyang ikalawang termino dahil sa hindi pagbalimbing sa mas malakas na partido noong panahong ito.

    Siya rin ang kauna-unahang naging babae at Pilipinong miyembro ng UNESCO Executive Board noong 1950, isa sa tatlong konstitusyunal na sangay ng UNESCO.

    Bilang isang guro, batid ni Imay ang mga kinakailangan ng edukasyon sa ating bansa. Mahalaga ang kaalamang ito sa desisyon ng UNESCO na magtatag ng educational facilities sa mga piling lugar sa Third World kung kaya’t isa ang Pilipinas sa napili upang itatag ang Fundamental Learning Center sa Bayambang, Pangasinan, kauna-unahan sa dakong Silangan ng mundo na pormal na pinasinayaan noong 1953.

    Layon ng nasabing center na magsanay ng mga magiging eksperto at lumikha ng mga teaching materials para sa fundamental at adult education. Ang pagsasanay sa mga guro ay mahalaga upang maging sensitibo ang paaralang pangpamayanan (community school) sa mga pangangailangan at suliranin ng mga tao sa komunidad na pinaglilingkuran ng paaralan.

    Marami pang nagawa si Imay bilang senador at miyembro ng UNESCO Executive Board ngunit hindi sasapat ang espasyo sa post na ito. Sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, masasabing hindi siya isang perpektong tao, mayroon ding maipipintas sa kanya.

    Magkagayunpaman, ang aking natitiyak ay malaki ang ambag ng aking kapwa taga-Lingayen para sa Ikatlong Republika ng Pilipinas na bumabangon pa lamang noon mula sa digmaan.

    Mga Batis:

    Aluit, Alfonso J. Geronima T. Pecson 1896-1989: Portrait of a Filipino Patriot. Manila: Galleon Publications, 1998.

    Andaya, Linda R. “Geronima T. Pecson: Pangasinan’s Foremost Woman Achiever.” PhD diss., Baguio Central University, Baguio City, 1991.

    Flores, Gerardo. Geronima T. Pecson: A Biographical Sketch of the Philippines’ Foremost Woman Leader. Manila: Bookman, 1953.

    Tarlit, Rodolfo Y. “The Life and Works of Geronima T. Pecson.” MLS thesis, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, 1985..

    • sonny says:

      Silly of me, Irineo. How could I forget. Senator Pecson was the uber-patron responsible for my mom’s professorial tenure at the Philippine Normal College. My mom was then a newly minted Guidance/Counseling MA from Northwestern U, Evanston.


    These two articles by John Nery show what Filipino politics has evolved into since the fractious times of chieftains, or revolutionary leaders, or trapos.. into something equally fractious and at times simply incomprehensible or crazy.

    • kasambahay says:

      it’s party time! election 2022. loved, loved, loved about pakyaw, finally turning around and biting the hand that give him tax freedom! tax exemption. dati, I was being quiet kasi, it might be like trillanes’ amnesty na binawi at baka bawiin din po ang tax exemption ng pambansang kamao.

      if so, kamao would have to pay humongous tax in arrears, draining his election coffer but patriotic at the same time, finally giving back to the nation what was owed. nationalism to the front, patriotism to the fore, past mistakes corrected, election slogan coming up.

      state of being so very incomprehensible and yet so very comprehensible, that road been played and traversed too many times it’s getting comfy like a much loved pair of old shoes only a filipino can well and truly love. logic defying kilig and much anticipated.

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