Old and new

The following will be my columns for Monday and Thursday, but I’d like to present them here, intact. They were remarks I delivered last night before the Rotary Club of Manila Bay. I am behind in other work (in large part because of two consecutive speaking engagements), and so this will be my entry for the next couple of days.

IT seems to me, more often than not, when a choir performs for professional gatherings their performance invariably includes a song or two from Les Miserables.

A musical Freudian slip? Are we living in “the best of times, the worst of times,” as dangerous, ominous, yet exciting, as Charles Dickens’ and Victor Hugo’s accounts of the French Revolution? I believe so. The Philippines is dying. A new Philippines is being born.

Which is which?

I recently had a conversation with a Filipino in his 70s, who spoke fondly of prewar optimism — the country had, alone of the colonies of the West in our part of the world, secured, prior to World War II, a guarantee of political independence by a fixed date, and was the envy of our neighbors.

The Japanese Occupation swept all of prewar certainties, even arrogance, away; national solidarity, even identity, certainly the economy, was shattered. Our leadership was divided; our political cohesion fractured; our youth decimated; and out of the cracks emerged the violence that has characterized our political life ever since.

Still, things were slowly, if not very neatly, put back together in the 50s, reaching a high point with the Magsaysay administration; but that era, along with Magsaysay’s leadership, was short-lived. The younger generation of guerilleros who catapulted him to power, in a vote of protest against their elders, were left politically orphaned; and sooner than they could imagine, they, who were once the young and idealistic, found themselves challenged by their own children, who no longer looked to Jefferson but instead turned to Mao.

The signs of those times was not, to my mind, the Diliman Commune, but a parallel effort overlooked because it’s inconvenient. When the Diliman Commune, the revolt by students in the University of the Philippines in 1971 took place, some residents of the area banded together and hunted down the radical students. They were defending order and their property rights. There’s a similar political vigilantism among the middle and upper classes today.

The virtue of democracy is it permits the transition from one generation to the next, with as little bloodshed as possible, and hopefully everyone feels they had a say in what happened. It’s not a numbers game or merely following rules. It’s protecting the minority so that when they inevitably become the majority, they aren’t dying to strangle those that led before. But when Marcos’s pomaded generation decided they couldn’t surrender power to long-haired hippies, they consigned the successor generation to limbo — and our country to an escalating cycle of violence, hate, and fear.

Defective as the period transfers of power before martial law were, even that cycle was stopped. Anyone with an independent mind had three miserable choices: shut up, ship out, or shoot it out.

As an academic recently told me, with martial law, the country lost an entire generation of intellectuals. It lost an entire generation, period. Some went to the hills. Others sold out. Still more shipped out, returning only now, to retire.

It’s no wonder that politically, most ideas seem to be frozen in time, somewhere in the 1960s, and these ideas were themselves questioned by those who to my generation seem the hopelessly unhip hippie crowd. The hippies of yesterday have grey hair today; but what’s worse is the increasingly hairless but still dominant generation that the hippies questioned continue to rule today.

An economist also told me recently that when the economy collapsed in 1983, a significant transformation also took place. It was, he argued, the first time corruption became endemic in Philippine society. More so than during the Japanese Occupation, when, as you can read in Agoncillo’s account, the pretensions of the ruling class were punctured by their having to pawn their possessions and scramble for survival alongside the poor.

The poor have always been called criminal by the rich, even though all the poor are trying to do is survive; but when the middle class and the rich either abandon, or are stripped, of all pretenses to public and private decency, you have a truly dangerous situation. No one is left with any moral authority over anyone else; what once served to keep everything cozy and looking good, proves as rotten and corrupt as those once considered moral, political, and social inferiors. So who has any incentive to worship anything except power and wealth? Why should anyone help or believe anyone else?

With martial law, Marcos secured the support of the middle and upper crust, who only abandoned him when he proved too greedy and then, incompetent; when Edsa I restored the premarital law leadership, who, lean and hungry from their exclusion from the rigodon of power, grew fat while the middle class allied with them discovered there was nothing for them; an entire generation of retired middle class professionals were stripped of their dozens of hectares of honestly-bought land, while the political class retains their thousand-hectare haciendas.

In Edsa Dos, in a last hurrah, the tired relicts of Edsa I were joined by the martial law babies, thrilling at the chance to reenact People Power, only to discover within weeks it was only Nani power, and Chavit power.

And again, there was Edsa Tres which failed, because it was not sincerely led, but which gave the downtrodden a taste of something they’d never savored in an urban setting before: they scared the daylights out of their social, political, and economic bosses. The end result was 2004, when I am sure many of your friends said to you what they told me: “victory at whatever price, rather than let the opposition come back to power.”

LEON Ma. Guerrero the great writer and diplomat, once wrote an apologia for martial law titled “Today began yesterday.” And he was right. The problems that horrify our middle and upper classes began yesterday, too.

The ability of showbiz personalities to steal the thunder of our traditional politicians didn’t begin with Estrada; it began with the election of movie idol Rogelio dela Rosa to the senate over half a century ago; about the same time that institutional supports for strong political parties began to be dismantled with the abolition of block voting.

The educational crisis we face today didn’t begin last year; it began under Ferdinand Marcos, when obedience was substituted for critical thinking. The old pillars of our communities — lawyer, doctor, dentist, engineer- cannot eat prestige today; and we already see a tomorrow in which our country will barely have a handful of them left.

The empowerment of places outside Manila didn’t begin last year; it began in the 1950s, when the presidency was stripped of its power of appointment over the mayors of chartered cities. It would have come sooner, if leaders like Raul Manglapus hadn’t been forced into exile. It was made inevitable under the present constitution, which abandoned the purely unitary state. It was given life with the Local Government Code, which remains underutilized to this day. It was delayed by Marcos who replaced the worst aspect of the urge towards autonomy, warlordism, with his dictatorship; and it is sadly being confused with a restoration of warlordism today. The autonomy too many of our local officials want, is entirely different from the autonomy their provincial constituencies actually desire.

Anyone whose been in a meeting run according to parliamentary procedure knows that before new business can be tackled, old business has to be dispensed with. If our problem is that there’s so much old business that needs to be addressed, at least we have the freedom to inquire into new business.

You and I have a lot more in common, not only with each other, but most Filipinos of our generations, than we do with Filipinos of subsequent generations. I am, what they call, a martial law baby; and we martial law babies in turn have more in common with those who grew up under martial law, than those who’ve grown up knowing only relative freedom after Edsa.

The reason for this is whether in Manila or elsewhere, the things that make for familiarity, for a common culture and thus, a similar frame of reference, were enjoyed by my generation but have been beyond the reach of the Edsa babies.

Church, club, school, and community perhaps accounted for a greater continuity between your parent’s generation, and yours, and yours and mine — but there was a sharp drop, like a plunge at top speed off a cliff, which is what took place during the war and again in 1983.

But there is hope.

It’s in Naga City, Roxas City, General Santos City, San Carlos City, new urban areas where partnerships are being built between officials and the citizenry; where technology is being harnessed effectively without waste and window-dressing; where what matters less is what an official’s family has done before, but rather, what they’re doing now — and how they’re doing it, without need of bribery, intimidation, or a new constitution.

Let me briefly describe something I saw in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. There’s a gated community there; but the homes being built in it aren’t being financed with inherited sugar money. These are homes built by nurses, seamen, contract workers, nannies and caregivers. People whose parents were sacadas told what to do by the hacenderos — or else. To have grown up in a feudal society, then, in one lifetime, to break that society’s shackles: the result can only be something new, unpredictable, and better. They did not go to the schools that tried to produce carbon copies of La Salle, Ateneo, UST or UP; they will never be Rotarians; but they will also probably never settle for a return to the old ways and the old obedience.

Add to their ranks the millions of Filipinos who have migrated within our country, breaking free of the old ties that bind; self-made people who can’t be expected to be as obedient to the local powers-that-be than they may have been from whence they came.

Add Filipinos who can’t continue schooling, or buy books, but who wear out display copies in the bookstores, and who seek alternative sources of learning. They do not obey the “no browsing” signs; good for them.

And yes, add the efforts of the clubs that do medical missions, not because an election’s due, but because it’s simply their civic duty; it’s in Gawad Kalinga that is building and rebuilding communities without asking anyone to be grateful. Though I do think a crisis is on the horizon, when newly-empowered communities start discovering they’re on a collision course with the traditional powers-that-be who hate empowerment. Today’s achievement — to get the comfortable and the poor working together- will become a tomorrow’s call to political action.

You know, the slogan during Edsa Dos was right, after all: “resign all!” But if you won’t go that far, consider what Winston Churchill once said. Explaining his view of his own role in World War II, he remarked, “the pomp and vanity must go; the old world will have had the honor of leading the way into the new.” Those of us who are comfortable, cannot afford the illusion that politics is a waste of time. You cannot switch off the political noise. You can cover your ears, to be sure, but it will only mean you will, one day, get hit by a truck. Neither bribery, nor force of arms, ever replaced noise with harmony -unless your idea of peace is the stillness of the grave. Noise only becomes music with practice and patience.

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    • Chabeli on September 1, 2006 at 2:01 am

    Beautiful piece, mlq3.

    • vic on September 1, 2006 at 2:23 am

    Politics is not a waste of time, never is and never will. It will always be a part of our existence whether we like it or not. Bad politicians as we had seen them, will set us years behind as good ones will propel as forward years ahead. Such is the case of the hapless politicians we have in the country. We had seen the unity the country has shown during the very short era of the Man we had known as the “Guy”, showing to the world , we were capable of uniting and moving forward ourselves even at that time. Sadly events abruptly “killed” that process. And we stuck since then. We never had a leader who has the noble purpose of serving the nation and its people sole interests ever since but their own. To this day, the same crisis after crisis mire the politicians who instead of working toward the nations and its subject prosperity, have only time to spend working out trying to get themselves out crisis of their own creation.

    In Celebration of my niece Bibs, and her two brothers “Lolo Munding” and my brother-in-law and my sister “uncle” 99 birthday anniversary, I wish the whole Philippines the Best to come..

    • Karl on September 1, 2006 at 7:50 am

    Beautiful,indeed.

    Hope that one day you will run for president!

    • andre on September 1, 2006 at 9:42 am

    i don’t know if you would appreciate me linking to the Singaw ng Bayan web site here 😛 but here’s a surprising new twist:

    http://www.sigawngbayan.com/042006/pages/0831c_story.htm

    it’s smear campaign time from the SnB group! para na rin nilang inamin ang katotohanan tungkol sa pekeng pangulo.

    • Carl on September 1, 2006 at 10:16 am

    “An economist also told me recently that when the economy collapsed in 1983, a significant transformation also took place. It was, he argued, the first time corruption became endemic in Philippine society. More so than during the Japanese Occupation, when, as you can read in Agoncillo’s account, the pretensions of the ruling class were punctured by their having to pawn their possessions and scramble for survival alongside the poor.”

    My father told me that, before WWII, Filipino politicians and bureaucrats were generally very conscientious and honest. People were law-abiding and there was a deeper sense of empathy. This was also confirmed by many who were of my father’s generation. In their view, WWII really turned values and perceptions upside-down. That was when black and white turned into different shades of grey. It became permissible to steal, even to kill, depending on the circumstances. The tendency to look out for one’s self and to try to get away with misconduct became more common.

    Magsaysay may have gone through WWII, but he was formed by the pre-war years. Marcos was molded by WWII. And the difference between both leaders is obvious.

    While I do agree that 1983 was historic in the transformation of our values, I am not sure whether it can approximate WWII as a milestone. I wasn’t around during WWII, but I was a teen, old enough to remember, in 1983. The economic meltdown, especially for the middle class, was truly unsettling. After the IMF default, when the value of the peso collapsed from P7 to a dollar to more than P20/dollar, the purchasing power of wage and fixed income earners eroded to only a third of what it was. Price increases of goods and commodities were almost a daily event. Hoarding was rampant. There was a great sense of anxiety about the future. And the reality that Marcos failed to look after the country’s well-being, only himself and his clique, dawned on the everyone. That was the powder keg that was ignited by Ninoy Aquino’s murder. That is why the middle class, more than anybody else, was at the forefront of the protest movement that ensued.

    Significant as 1983 may be, I still think that, based on the older generation’s take on events, WWII struck a deeper blow on our psyche.

    • justice league on September 1, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Manolo

    If you remember what I told you before and look at the last paragraph of andre’s sigaw ng bayan article; you’d see them practically the same. THose and other provisions make the ingredients for a bad parliamentary government.

    Though there are certain parts of the article that are puzzling. The last paragraph are for desynchronization of national and local officials. I thought the proponents are aiming for abolition of national elections since MP’s will be elected locally and there will be no more Senate, VP, and Presidential elections that are held nationally.

    BTW, I wonder why no one is willing to defend the specifics of the provisions of Chacha.

    • taipan88 on September 1, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Great piece, indeed!…as only mlq3 can muster….

    But the silence remains…..hanggang kailan kaya magtitiis ang taumbayan?

    • mlq3 on September 1, 2006 at 11:45 am
      Author

    Carl, the big difference I can see is that most people stayed home after the war, to rebuild and when they got pissed off, they demanded changes reflected in the elections. the only group that preferred to leave rather than stay, from what i heard, were the mestizos.

    during martial law people could leave and so many from the “best and brightest” left; then they were joined by people that until then, had no prospects of leaving -construction workers, etc. they leapfrogged over the local obstacles. it’s become a way of life.

    it seems to me the middle class had three waves in their exodus: during martial law, immediately after edsa 1, and over the past couple of years; from what i hear, there’s an even greater stampede for the exits going on right now. so the political and business elite now have a very big problem: where will their managers, etc. come from? SME’s are disappearing and the big players are at a loss as to who will staff their offices in the years to come.

    there’s no incentive to stay if you’re middle class and have middle class values: you are out-voted by the masses; you will never rise beyond a particular point because of the increasingly frantic stranglehold the bosses have; life’s no picnic overseas, but for someone raising a family or who is a professional, you can risk life abroad because it offers you more of a positive return for what you put in in terms of time, trouble, and talent.

    the french revolutionary danton explained his becoming a rebel in this manner: “the old regime drove us to it [revolution] by giving us a good education without opening up any opportunities for our talents.” though for us, instead of revolution, it’s emigration.

  1. MLQ3, I can definitely relate to your last comment. So true, emigration is a great economic equalizer.

    • cvj on September 1, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Singapore has a similar problem with getting skilled professionals and they address this by importing labor (like me). The Philippines should do the same. We need to complete the circle to sustain our momentum towards development.

    • juan makabayann on September 1, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    mlq3,

    “the slogan during Edsa Dos was right, after all: ‘resign all!’”

    I stood up and spoke at a forum at that time. My call then was ‘repent all’ — “mea culpa”, starting with one’s self. Then might have been the season for it. Is it still?

    Was EDSA II a choice (or a showdown) between an unrepentenant sinner and an arrogant self-righteous?

    Apathy is the harvest of a season of mutual animosity that was EDSAII.

    “But there is hope.” Indeed! In deed! (more than in words.)

  2. there’s no incentive to stay if you’re middle class and have middle class values: you are out-voted by the masses; you will never rise beyond a particular point because of the increasingly frantic stranglehold the bosses have; life’s no picnic overseas, but for someone raising a family or who is a professional, you can risk life abroad because it offers you more of a positive return for what you put in in terms of time, trouble, and talent.

    this is precisely the kind of reasoning that is enervating this country. there are too many of us who are too preoccupied with what we can get from the country, rather than what we can give to it.

    the middle-class is outvoted by the masses? then the middle class should stay to uplift the masses and teach them how to be more discerning. instead of being in competition with the masses, instead of giving up on them, engage them as fellow citizens with an equal burden to uplift society.

    lack of advancement prospects? this is nonsense. advancement favors those who work for it. not those who take millions from their parents, sink it into fancy business concepts aped from european or american models, and then sit back in a cafe and whine about the inefficieny of government. advancement is not the vested right of those educated in expensive schools or those who come from the moneyed middle class. advancement comes to those who are willing to work long and hard for their upward mobility. There are many of those, but maybe they don’t show up on the radar as much and so are left out of the reckoning of most analysts – when you’re hunched over with your nose to the grindstone, you’re easy to pass-over in favor of the whiny ones with their noses all up in the air.

    i spoke with a girl one time, who was going on and on about how terrible life was in the philippines and about how she couldn’t wait to get to america for good. i asked her if she was ready for the sort of hard-scrabble independent living america required. She answered – with amusing candor – not yet. but she was preparing for it. How? I asked. She replies:

    My dad has stopped giving me an allowance, I live alone in my condo and I drive myself to work. What she didn’t say was that her dad paid for the condo, paid for half the monthly bills and dues, bought her the car, gave her gas allowance every week, and paid for all necessary repairs. Oh, and her mother slips her 10thousand every week – for emergencies, she says.

    And she isn’t unique either. She is a clone of almost every girl in her batch at that hoity-toity school along taft; she is a clone of every girl in her batch at every other high-ticket university, including (and this is heartbreaking) the UP.

    This is the middle class that wants to leave the country and blames everyone else for it. The truth is, manolo, more middle class people are leaving the country now because this country just doesn’t quite match the glamor of living abroad. We have become a nation of sybarites and hedonists whose standard of success is how many hours one can spend doing nothing at Seattle’s best.

    Is there hope for the country? I would like to think so. But it does not rest on the shoulders of this merry-making generation that persistently inflicts its continued vacuousness upon our country; they should just go ahead and leave the country. Let others, less privileged and less complainy step up. Maybe then we’ll get somewhere.

    • mlq3 on September 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm
      Author

    antonio, i don’t disagree with you. i’m simply explaining how the current middle class sees it.

    my argument is (as far back as before the 2004 elections) is that the old middle class was created in the image of the old upper class. their eras are at an end. we’re simply figuring out what will replace them. i happen to think it’s a new middle class not as divorced from the majority as the old middle class always insisted they should be.

    i think a more democratic and thus unpredictable filipino is emerging.

    • cvj on September 1, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    manuelbuencamino, sounds to me like this is the essay on the new Filipino that you said you were waiting for Manolo to write about.

  3. Bravo Bravo

    • Carl on September 1, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for explaining, mlq3. Yes, from a purely middle class perspective, the 1980’s were indeed very harrowing. The prospect of economic stagnation or ruin stared many in the face. And the scarcity of opportunity at home drove the middle class to seek greener pastures abroad. WWII saw the middle class trying to rebuild from the rubble, but there was optimism and hope.

    What the old folk said about WWII, is that it was a “defining” moment because much of what was once thought to be sacrosanct, no longer was so. Hunger and deprivation led to rampant theft and crime. Respect for authority was eroded by calls to resist those who stayed behind to keep some semblance of order. Debate over who were collaborators or who were “patriots” was never fully resolved and caused a rift in the national psyche. Faith in the once Almighty America was shaken by her retreat and the subsequent Japanese occupation. Large-scale corruption was thought to have been kindled through the shenanigans with the post-war reparations and the war “surplus”, which were cornered by a favored few. Rebuilding after the war spurred world-wide demand in metal and lumber, leading to granting of money-making mining and timber concessions to chosen cronies or politicians.

    Aside from human casualties and damage to our values and beliefs, there was the destruction of many historical landmarks. Somehow, the disappearance of structures that bonded us to the past gave a new generation a less profound appreciation of our heritage.

    • cocoy on September 1, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    *nods* excellent piece!

    you said po: “i think a more democratic and thus unpredictable filipino is emerging.” maybe a smarter one.

    • Jeg on September 1, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    The new middle class: Born from the sweat of the deserts of the Middle East, the nursing homes in Boston and London, the kitchens and bathrooms of Italy, and the engine rooms of ships all over the world. I like it. I can talk to those people; sit down with them and have a beer. And if carlos celdran and leah navarro can sit and have a beer with them, too, so they can learn about the finer things… Hoo boy! Me like. 🙂

    • mlq3 on September 1, 2006 at 3:42 pm
      Author

    knowi ng both carlos and leah, i think they are the last people who would ever have a problerm having a beer and a heart to heart talk with anyone.

  4. Antonio,
    That condo girl you described is middle class? Wow, I thought that kind of living is not! That’s a rich man’s life having parents that can buy you a condo, car, and 10k weekly allowance…

    • Karl on September 1, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    Carl said,
    “Magsaysay may have gone through WWII, but he was formed by the pre-war years. Marcos was molded by WWII. ”

    I believe they only got 10-12 years difference between them and both were molded pre world war II,but the difference is indeed obvious.

    About the post world war II shocking change of values,I agree and I think the circumstances turned an anti Japanese revolutionary group to evolve to communism and this evolution contineued during martial law.

    About people leaving the country, what will happen if the geniuses pegged the dollar to let say 60 to one,will it result to growth in exports or more people leaving.

    • emilie on September 1, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    karl, if you go by history from P 7 :1 to its present level and nothing is done to change the economic laws of this country then you get the same result a small growth in export but more more people leaving because the level of opportunity for middle class to lower class people (aggravated by uncontrolled growth in population) remains very low. The size of any market in this country is very very low compared to our neighbors. Only the very rich Filipinos become richer and richer because they alone can exploit the opportunities be it banking..natural resources, media, public utilities, telecom name it even the quality of their service is despicable which is like ..the consumer is the sacada and they are the landlord and by golly even the cost of their failures in foreign exchange management and system losses have to be borne by the helpless consumer. Its not enough that they are incompetent Karl we helpless consumers will even guarantee their return!

    • cvj on September 1, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Good thing there is the One Voice position paper to explain why changing the economic provisions of the constitution is at most peripheral to attracting foreign investors.

    • justice league on September 1, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    Emilie

    Your reply comes across in a way that implies that you are in favor of the economic changes proposed in the revision of the Charter.

    Your statement “Only the very rich Filipinos become richer and richer because they alone can exploit the opportunities …..” says as much.

    Unfortunately, there is no current mode proposed by the proponents that will give you your economic changes without the “other provisions”.

    Even if your economic changes are supposed to uplift the country; those changes will not come about without the acceptance of the other provisions.

    The House resolution of their proposed revision w/c is being circulated in the House will be asked to be accepted IN TOTO. The so called People’s Initiative will first mandate “other” provisions before your economic changes are even acted upon. The ConCom recommendations also lump together the economic changes with other revisions.

    It is practically fruitless to talk about economic revisions without the other revisions since one will not come without the other.

    The other revisions are also likely to affect the benefits of the economic changes that economic uplift is unlikely to be attained.

    Last night during the “DEBATE with Mare and Pare”, Sigaw ng Bayan’s Atty. Lambino had a faux pas when he stated that the interim Parliament will have 3 years to debate the other amendments. He has therefore admitted that Sigaw ng Bayan stands for the deferment of the 2007 elections even though they continuosly trumpet that they are for the holding of elections in 2007.

    Should the people realize that Sigaw is fooling them, there will be hell to pay!

    But first things first, are you prepared to defend the other changes that will come along or even come befere your economic changes?

  5. hi jl. you seem real eager to debate charter change. care to post the address of that forum you mentioned? sounds like a lively place to visit.

    • manuelbuencamino on September 2, 2006 at 12:27 am

    “my argument is (as far back as before the 2004 elections) is that the old middle class was created in the image of the old upper class. their eras are at an end. we’re simply figuring out what will replace them. “- mlq3

    I agree and even more so now that ten percent of our people are out there learning, adapting, and adopting many different cultures.

    How much influence will returning OFWs have ? And which infuences will dominate – middle east. europe. southeast asiam. northern asian, north american? How will they grow when they are replanted or grafted here?

    We are turning into an america, a nation of many different cultures, except that the foreign influence or culture will be brought in by our own people and not by foreigners themselves. These new ways will be grafted not melted into our culture.

    Remember how those Filipinos who studied in Spain came back with ideas that changed our country? And those pensionados who were sent to study in america in order to change our country? They were the first bureaucrats etc. But in both cases we are talking about less than ten thousand people bringing home foreign influence, Now we have ten percent of our population out there and a tectonic change is unevitable except I don’t know what it will be.

  6. mb, are we getting better?

    • mlq3 on September 2, 2006 at 12:35 am
      Author

    i don’t think it will be the ones from america, but maybe i’m being biased (along the lines antonio walanglaban described above). the old middle class that goes to america does not come back, or if they do, their children don’t. again, it’s just my hunch, but a filipino middle class person who does well in america comes home to join the upper class at home, or begins to behave like the old upper class among filipinos in america.

    since those who go to europe and m.e. more likely end up coming back, they probably have a more enduring influence. thing is, there isn’t much that’s inspiring or that can be transplanted from the oppressive circumstances filipinos find themselves in the m.e. i think the main effect those from the m.e. and asia will have, is that they build up a new middle class in terms of property and aspirations, but it isn’t an imitation of america, but instead, the middle classes in asia and m.e.

    so my bet is for the ones in asia (but i do hear of filipinos, for example, in china, who become quite authoritarian in their attitudes), and the ones in europe, but that again may be my bias for the western european welfare state. i’d like to think filipinos exposed to benelex, france, the uk, etc. will have a more political influence…

    • justice league on September 2, 2006 at 12:45 am

    Mukamo forum= http://forums.mukamo.com/index.php?act=idx

    I could direct you to other fora.

    But those sites have admins and mods that do not appear to favor revison of the charter as it is proposed right now.

    Mukamo forum have mods that favor the present Charter Change who are active in the discussion. They will be professional in their job but pro chachas will at least feel secure that most of the mods who are active in that thread will be on their side.

    Pag sa iba ko kayo dinala ay baka mods pa ang makaargumento nyo and you might feel intimidated in one way or another.

    However, you must sign on as a member before you actually even get to read the discussions. Guests only get to see the topics discussed and the last poster.

    The thread for Charter Change is inside ISYU 101 discussion board.

    My arguments are already posted there. I’ll be waiting for you.

  7. whatever effect the european culture may have on the way filipinos think may be overwhelmed, manolo, with the all-pervasive trappings of americana.

    with regard to the welfare state concept, hasn’t that been discredited of late? I mean most of europe is in the economic doldrums owing to their youth not being too eager to work; germany in particular and some of the slavic states.

  8. don manolo et al,

    the multi-cultural filipino, the end product of filipino diaspora is an interesting phenomenon. it’s already happening…just look around. i just hope that something good comes out of this phenomena.

    • TalkIsCheap on September 2, 2006 at 8:51 am

    Oh my God! This essay is amazing. I bet GMA is trembling as of this moment. The IMF and World Bank are also now considering to forgive our loans! Such is the power of blogging!

    • Karl on September 2, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Nice to hear from you Emilie! Long time no see,I thought that iniduro was your OTHER ID but after looking at it,iniduro is a toilet seat, kaya imposible.
    I wanted to butt in when inidurio says that you are pro GMA,that you already mentioned that you are not,and you are against a parliamentary but open to ammendments in certain economic provisions.That cannot happen if the PI or conass succeeds ,the certain economic ammendments can only happen if the parliamentary trump card can be defeated.Having said that I think Justice League is correct.

    • Carl on September 2, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Regarding the Filipino diaspora most likely to influence the country in the future, mlq said: “i don’t think it will be the ones from america”

    My own experience with friends and relatives who have immigrated to the USA is as Manolo describes. Most will not come home or, if they do, it will only be as a second home when they retire, commuting back and forth with the US. Certainly, their children won’t come home. Most Filipinos who are raised in the US become totally Americanized and don’t exactly have a very flattering concept of the Philippines.

    As a matter of fact, and I don’t know if others have had the same experience, I am often astonished at how many Filipinos in the US have embraced conservative politics. While they may not necessarily be card-carrying Republicans, most hew along a conservative line of thinking. Some even evoke redneck attitudes, such as contempt for blacks, Muslims and Mexicans and, believe it or not, support racial profiling in order to wage the war on terror.

    On Marcos and Magsaysay, Karl said: “I believe they only got 10-12 years difference between them and both were molded pre world war II, but the difference is indeed obvious”.

    10-12 years can be a generation when it concerns a defining period like WWII. While Magsaysay was already a grown man with a family, Marcos was still a young man who could have been very much influenced by the circumstances during that period. The lack of clear moral guidelines due to the prevailing disorder, for example, permitted Marcos to engage in a lucrative business of selling scrap and other supplies to the Japanese while at the same time working for the guerillas (and manufacturing the stories that would award him medals for valor, post-WWII). WWII also presented Marcos the opportunity to use his legal skills to make big money. After the war, Marcos made a name and a fortune by falsifying documents so that he and his clients could claim huge compensations via the war reparations.

    Of course, it could be said that Marcos was naturally devious. But I also believe that the circumstances brought it out.

    • Karl on September 2, 2006 at 10:33 am

    Thank You Carl, for that WWII generation gap explanation.

    On another note….
    On brain gain from those coming back from the U.S. unfortunately did not do much for our country.Without naming names , I think We had many a finance secretary,trade secretary
    who had agood life in the states and went back only to be frustrated and finally decide that the private sector is much better.
    There seems to be may root causes for our problems some say its governance, but good people were made to lead and it is still a failure,some say it is education..our best and the brightest leaves..our best nurses leave,our best pilots leave.

    But I am not hopeless,but again the answer is not the public sector. Gawad Kalinga’s model is now to be adopted by a group of rich people to apply it then to education…

    So we do not need a foreign model to emulate to make our country better,the GK model even amazed foreign scholars who had a model of their own.

    • Karl on September 2, 2006 at 10:42 am

    I forgot to mention the bloated bureacracy…
    As to my question which was answered by Emilie on pegging our peso to 60 ,70 or even 80 to make our exports competitive is useless with our bloated bureaucracy … To be able to complete the export process,you need to pass through 35 or more signatories and that happens not only in exports…To have a business permit 6 months is a conservative estimate.

    There are many people in the public sector,so it is quite amazing that many people blame the government.
    We cannot solve our problems if we really do not have a clear unerstanding of what our problem really is.
    We have many ambiguous symptoms and our doctors give the wrong medicines.

    • Karl on September 2, 2006 at 11:27 am

    Antonio said,
    “lack of advancement prospects? this is nonsense. advancement favors those who work for it. not those who take millions from their parents, sink it into fancy business concepts aped from european or american models, and then sit back in a cafe and whine about the inefficieny of government. ”

    Everything is a case to case basis..the commeent above maybe right in many ways unless….

    You work your butt off but failed to advanmce because your boss is so young (even younger than you)and has a long way to go for you to bypass him or her…

    Getting money from parents to sink it to a fancy buisiness maybe good if that fancy business helps people get jobs and is useful to many.I know people who did get money from their parents and set up fancy businesses based on eurpean concepts who does well for themselves and the society…
    again antonio i am not disagreeing with you tatally,but everything is a case to case basis.

    As to the whining,even barbers and cigarette vendors do that,not only those who spend hours in Seattle’s best.

    • cvj on September 2, 2006 at 11:56 am

    Carl, on Filipinos in America tending to go conservative, i share your observation. One of my cousins in Texas is a member of the local Republican party. Back in 2003, around the time of Saddam’s statue was being torn down, he told me that he was confident that Iraq would open up a lot of business opportunities. My own guess on why many Filipinos in the US go conservative is because of the abortion issue. The racist attitude is probably a result of their (or their parent’s) upbringing over here as our culture tends to be racist under the covers. And maybe a lot of them also have pretensions of belonging to the upper class as touched upon by Manolo and Antonio above. What I find amusing is that many of these Filipino-American conservatives would look down on those who voted for Erap or FPJ only to end up voting for George W. Bush themselves.

    • Carl on September 2, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Karl, I agree that prospects for advancement are on “a case to case basis”.

    My younger cousins, who have recently graduated from college, complain that starting salaries are really very low here. Even for graduates from elite universities, the usual starting pay is around P15,000 to P20,000 a month. While that may not require Mom and Dad to provide a condo and a fat allowance just to survive, it’s really not very much when you consider the cost of things nowadays. For one, most have to travel to work. Depending on the distance, that could mean from P50 to as much as P150 a day in Metro Manila (in the provinces, it’s less). For those fortunate enough to have a vehicle, the gas bills can run up to anywhere from P4,000 to P6,000 a month. Board and lodging can cost anywhere from P5,000 to P10.000 a month, depending on the quality and comfort preferred. There are attendant expenses such as clothes, make-up (for women), etc. You add all expenses up and, unless you’re still living with your parents or were provided a condo, a car plus an allowance, it makes for a pretty frugal existence. “Gimik” will have to be few and far between. Savings is definitely out of the question.

    What makes these young people even more anxious is that, even if they get promoted or get pay increases in the future, it still won’t give them enough to save. For example if, after 5 years, they get their pay up 100% to P40,000 but by then they’re married and have a family to support, there still won’t be much left after expenses. If a person were to rely on salary alone, one would be hard put to buy a family car, let alone a decent home. Entrepreneurship, while it can be a solution, is not for everyone. It can be very competitive and there simply aren’t that many opportunities out there. Much more so when a big chunk of disposable income is diverted into the prevailing high cost of energy.

    The attraction of working abroad, especially the US, is that pay is much better. Salaries of $2,000 or more per month are quite normal. Nurses, physical therapists, computer technicians, chefs (or even kitchen assistants), and teachers can get much more. There is also the prospect of holding more than one job or doing more overtime. These people aren’t going abroad to have a ball. They’re going because that is the only prospect they have of being able to afford a decent way of life on their own. And they’ll sacrifice their leisure to at least earn more in order to save and provide something for their families in the future.

    • hvrds on September 2, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    The ADB came out with report recently that the country will not be able to solve its unemployment problems by depending on call centers and inflows from foreign workers. The report stated that we have to go through the evolutionary process of agricultural and thence industrial development.

    It is most interesting to note that Adam Smith pointed out that enclave city development that was the developmental story of Europe that preceeded the normal evolutionary process of agricultural to the developemnt in his words of manufactures was retrograde and very difficult to correct. Hence the continous periods of struggles. His basis of compairson then was real not theoretical. America.
    The Philippines unfortunately has the same model as of Europe being first colonied by Europeans then the new Empire by the Americans. Colonial enclave development that integrated Manila first with Europe then to the U.S.
    Hence the mix of Judeo Christian (Latin & Catholic- pre reformation and Vatican II)culture intermixed with tribal beliefs.
    The Philippines has a serious problem of underdevelopment of structures hence we see the effect which is structural poverty. Hence the perspective from the top fails to comprehend the problems of the country as a problem of economic, political and cultural development. (EVOLUION)

    The major bulk of the demographic portion of the Filipino people are those up to the age of 40. They unfortunately have no clue as to the historical origins of Philippines so called statehood and all it means.

    Hence the intellectual dominance of the post Keynesian (post 1972) age of neo-liberal theology combined with the push for liberal democratic regimes. All part of the new religion of empire. A part of the new creative destruction process instituted from the top. Others call it globalization.

    Hence you have a disconnect as the country slowly dis-integrates itself from the U.S. and starts a new integration process with Asia – (Greater China, China, South Korea and Japan.) Please note they are more advanced economies.

    The labor migration to the Middle East was mainly due to our lack of hard currency and we had to send labor to build up the development of the Middle East to pay our oil bills.

    The present push to change the form of government to solve the problems of development is a clear case in point. How could people be so stupid to believe that premise. Onli in da Philippines. I am not talking about the massa. But the so called middle classes in that demographic. They are lost.

  9. hi karl. salamat sa mga komento mo. i hope you don’t mind a few of my own. 1. If you have a young boss you can’t get past, find another job. makipagsapalaran ka. that’s what our parents did. instead of tryin fruitlessly to advance along the well-trodden path, they carved out new roads for themselves, blazing frontiers where they could be the bosses, and so helped society develop. 2.You are right Karl, most everything in life should be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. I guess I was speaking more of those people who go in and out of business depending on their mood: also known as dilettantes. 3. And yes, I hear the whining of barbers and vendors. But karl, they live a hard scrabble life where the days earnings are only enough to tide them over for a day or maybe less. I think they can be forgiven if they whine. Not so kids and young professionals who whine while enjoying luxuries the barber cannot even imagine affording. That’s the kind of whining I’m talking about.

    • fabian on September 2, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    thanks mq3 for the good piece

    • Sidney on September 2, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Congrats! A very intelligent entry!
    A lot to think about…

    • vic on September 2, 2006 at 9:05 pm

    In contrast to the Filipino-Americans as most analysis and they are all very impressive, my own observation about Filipino-Canadian ( we are discouraged to use hyphenated nationality) are somehow in the apposite side. As Carl et al, correctly surmised that they tend to become conservative, we in turn tend to become Liberal. Even our fellow Pinoy Americans are quite surprised of our easy and somewhat laid back and relax life style and sense of security. We don’t work as hard, although our rate of taxes is a bit higher. We don’t save as much, not because we don’t earn more, but because we spend more. Some would ask me why this is so.

    First, I’ll tell them that our Health Care is Universal, one less worry.

    Second, our social Security is also Universal. That even those who has not work all his life upon residing for l0 years at age 65 is entitled to social assistance to the minimum of Cost of Living with free medical and health coverage.

    That is one reason why most retirees will only make their original homeland as their second home at retirement. And also one reason why my sister and her husband don’t give up their Canadian Citizenship even they both are working in the U.S. (Just in case).

    Although the U.S. is our biggest trading partner and our closest ally, our foreign policy, our internal policy and our attitudes towards multiculturalism is of the opposite end. But we never let our difference hinder our relationship as good neighbors. Again more than half of my immediate family are Americans.

    • Paeng on September 2, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    Carl said “My younger cousins, who have recently graduated from college, complain that starting salaries are really very low here. Even for graduates from elite universities, the usual starting pay is around P15,000 to P20,000 a month. While that may not require Mom and Dad to provide a condo and a fat allowance just to survive, it’s really not very much when you consider the cost of things nowadays. For one, most have to travel to work. Depending on the distance, that could mean from P50 to as much as P150 a day in Metro Manila (in the provinces, it’s less). For those fortunate enough to have a vehicle, the gas bills can run up to anywhere from P4,000 to P6,000 a month. Board and lodging can cost anywhere from P5,000 to P10.000 a month, depending on the quality and comfort preferred. There are attendant expenses such as clothes, make-up (for women), etc. You add all expenses up and, unless you’re still living with your parents or were provided a condo, a car plus an allowance, it makes for a pretty frugal existence. “Gimik” will have to be few and far between. Savings is definitely out of the question.”

    P15,000 to P20,000 is low? panglimang taon ko nang nagtatrabaho, at nasa P20,000 level pa lang ako (net). and i am living just fine. ang sikreto nga siguro, sabi ni Gary Granada, ay mamuhay nang sapat.

    • cvj on September 3, 2006 at 1:42 am

    Vic, on Canada being more liberal, i remember a graphic that i saw in the Web after the shock of W’s reelection in 2004. It showed the ‘Blue States’ of the USA joining up with the rest of Canada to form the ‘United States of Canada’ with the remainder of the USA being renamed into ‘Jesusland’. I think that Canada, with its universal health care and social assistance is an example of a successful welfare state. Another example of the good that can come out of a welfare state is in Finland, the home of Linux, which has powered much of the Open Source movement. Linus Torvalds credited Finland’s socialized University System for giving him the opportunity to develop the Linux Operating System. In an interview, he said:

    I think the main thing is that education is essentially free in Finland. You have almost free education up to university level. It may not be MIT, but it certainly is a hell of a lot better than the average just about everywhere else. And health care is free. It’s fairly socialized there — by American standards that’s a bad thing! But if you come from that kind of culture, it’s not a big deal when you’ve created a program to just make it available to others, because as a student you don’t have to worry. You pay $60 a year for tuition. I think that’s important — the kind of freedom that gives you.

    This provides a counterpoint to Antonio’s valid observation above on the detrimental effects of the welfare state to the work ethic of the youth.

    Too bad we cannot replicate the welfare system over here as people cannot, as yet, trust the government with their taxes. That’s why the push over here is to make government (and politics) ‘irrelevant’ which in turn means that, as a society, we’re not really firing on all cylinders.

  10. not only that we cannot trust the government with our taxes, cvj, but also because we have shown ourselves not able to handle the concept of welfare pretty well yet. as a people – again with due acknowledgement of exceptions – we still have a mendicant mentality that loves the dole out. We often mistake the ‘hand-up’ – assistance – for a hand-out – charity – and end up worse than we started.

    Reading the subtext of Torvalds’ words (as quoted by you), one gets the sense of a person eager to use the advantages available in a welfare state in a way that will make him better than he is. In my experience however, there are far more people here who quickly develop a level of complacency corresponding to the charity they receive – no drive to achieve more, i mean. When we fix that, when we can make people see that welfare should not be seen as livelihood or a career, then maybe we will start getting somewhere.

    • Paenggoy on September 3, 2006 at 2:44 am

    To Vic, I always thought that Japan was our biggest trading partner, although I read recently that China has now taken over that role. Also, I’m not sure what our attitude is concerning multiculturalism, but we appear to be open to almost any culture.

    To Justice League, I suppose the problem isn’t the type of government but who will run it. If it’s the same people, then the change will not help.

    To Paeng, you should probably find out what “mamuhay nang sapat” means. For example, what happens if you become seriously ill or figure in an accident or become a victim of theft (and these can easily take place in a city like Manila, which has one of the highest crime rates, population density, and pollution levels worldwide, not to mention problems with utilities, police, etc.)? Will your salary be enough to pay for hospital bills, lawyer’s fees, and so on? What if a relative becomes sick and you need to support him or borrow money? Will a bank extend credit given that salary, or will you look for a loan shark or rely on friends and relatives to donate or lend money? Would you settle for public hospitals and public schools? If not, you will have to cough up some more cash, especially in an Asian country which likely has some of the highest rates for petrol, electricity, and medicine.

    • vic on September 3, 2006 at 2:49 am

    Cjv and antonio you’re both right on the effect of blanket ‘welfare’ to the work ethics of the youth and to some segments of society who are not accustom to working and just rely on dole outs. It create a “ ghetto” mentality to some group and it seems to perpetuate the culture among them. It also encourage some of our young women to stay unmarried and make avail of single mother allowances to avoid joining the work force. And able-bodied working poor to quit their low paying or part-time irregular job for a regular ‘welfare check’.

    But there are also positive sides to these negatives. Encourages the Govt. To initiate programs of developing skill and training for those on social assistance. Increase remuneration to discourage job quitters to rely on welfare. Re-training program for those under unemployment benefits to facilitate their return to work force in other fields. And available low interest students’ loans for all college students for their education needs for our already heavily subsidized colleges and universities. I don’t know, but we feel we really get more back from our government what we pay in taxes.

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  1. […] Let us see. Manolo Quezon has an interesting take on this, discussing our history since post war Philippines till today. Who knows how many more decades of disastrous the country will go through. Worst than an oil spill is the bigger crime of shoosing to neglect a problem, and hoping to awake one day to realize it was just a bad nightmare. Maybe that is why she is sleeping earlier these days. […]

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