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The perpetual avoidance of opportunity
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on January 11, 2008 199 Comments 14 min read
Book of the week Previous An Unimaginative Official Response to 2008 Next

My column yesterday was Charisma versus routines, which is a further attempt to explore themes I began exploring in this blog on December 9, in Charismatic expectations in noncharismatic times.

It will take some time before The Explainer on ANC blog will upload the full script, but many thanks to Torn & Frayed for his kind words and for sharing his thoughts my last episode, with Federico Macaranas as the guest.

In%20Pursuit
Below is reproduced the chapter I wrote for the book In Pursuit of the Philippine Competitive Edge: An Oral History of a Continuing Journey by 50 wisdom-keepers, which touches on some of the points Torn raised in his entry.

The perpetual avoidance of opportunity
Manuel L. Quezon III

(From In Pursuit of the Philippine Competitive Edge: An Oral History of a Continuing Journey by 50 wisdom-keepers, AIM Policy Center, 2007).

IN 1953, the Philippines Free Press published an editorial in which it observed that “The need to establish a regime above personalities, a government of law instead of men, cannot be exaggerated. In a rule of law alone lies social stability. Those who are for chaos may welcome a personal regime; those who are for order know the need for an impersonal government.” It said that while notable Filipino leaders in the past had a “private conscience drew the line beyond which it would be dishonorable for a public official to go,” the country couldn’t continue pinning its hopes on officials privately drawing “a line which only an impersonal law should draw.” The editorial writer couldn’t know how prophetic he was being.

That year, Ramon Magsaysay was elected in a landslide not seen in Philippine politics since before World War II; such was the charisma and integrity of the man that he almost single-handedly rejuvenated public confidence in government. But by 1957 Magsaysay was dead; and the country was left with the painful realization the editorial writer had expressed three years before: in the absence of a genuine rule of law, the restoration of public confidence was an impossible task.

By 1962, the Philippines had begun the decline that it continues to experience to this day. The decline has, at times, accelerated; at other times, it has slowed to the extent that it offered up hopes, though always dashed, of reversing that decline. And yet the decline has been inexorable: due to an inability, often bordering on an obstinate refusal, to embrace modernity. Because of that, the foundations of a cohesive, progressive, society -a sense of national solidarity arising from confidence in the law, and in government’s ability to mediate contending sectoral interests- has been absent.

Politics and government are all about competition -and competitiveness. The manner in which leaders and followers choose to compete, and the methods they adapt and permit to either foster, or stifle, competition, are reflections of the larger competitive abilities of society. The Philippine experience in the fifty years that the country has been said to be have been declining, has been that of a society’s refusal to compete.

NATIONAL solidarity, already brittle prior to World War II, fractured over the question of resistance to the Japanese and alliance with the United States. The national leadership prior to the war had been extremely attentive, and thus derived a strong legitimacy, to a limited electorate. The late 1930s had witnessed developments that had already begun to weaken the relationship between leaders and followers: the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1937; the gradual extension of suffrage from the propertied that had a monopoly on the vote prior to that point, thus increasingly injecting populism as a means of attracting the masses; an increasingly cosmopolitan, and radical, intelligentsia; and the impatience of young leaders to wrest political control from the leaders that had dominated government for forty years.

What emerged as the official response to these trends was a series of constitutional amendments approved in 1940: the restoration of a bicameral congress to replace the unicameral National Assembly, in order to forestall the radical infiltration of the legislature being foremost among them (just how inevitable this was going to be would only be demonstrated after the war, with the election of peasant leaders to represent certain districts in Central Luzon: the Roxas administration had to embark on evicting these leaders from their congressional seats). Bloc voting was introduced, both to enforce party discipline and as a means for ensuring dominant coalition control, which would also be fostered by institutionalizing a Commission on Elections, whose rules strongly favored the interests of the dominant coalition.

The carnage and virtual civil war that was the Philippine experience during the war not only laid waste to the country’s physical infrastructure, but took an enormous toll on the country’s leadership, young and old. The veneer of unity and statesmanship carefully-nurtured for forty years was stripped away by questions of collaboration with the Japanese and the struggles within the guerrilla movement.

In this book, Gerardo Sicat argues that “when we began as a new republic, we were on a competitive footing with the rest of Asia and the world. We had good resources and human resources. We had then the prospect of building a good future because we had financial resources, despite the destruction caused by the war.” But maximizing those resources required a sense of national purpose fostered by cooperation. Neither would be particularly evident in the postwar years: or to be precise, a divided national leadership made the effort; that effort, however, was hampered by developments already foreseen prior to the war, but accelerated by the trauma of the war: too many had had their faith in the leadership shaken, too many had operated in an atmosphere of lawlessness and unpredictability, to be satisfied with the restoration of the antebellum order.

And the onset of independence in 1946 also marked an unrecognized but important development.

The prewar elite, from that date, actually retreated; its ranks decimated, and displaced politically, it ensured its primacy in commerce through a kind of elaborate protectionist racket: since politico and businessman now increasingly came from different worlds, the camaraderie and common affectations of gentility of prewar days was untenable. Politicians gladly alternated between outright extortion and (increasingly) indiscreetly being on retainer to financial interests to fuel their campaigns; the old elite, still firmly entrenched in business, demanded protectionist policies in turn to protect their monopolies.

STILL, from the 40s to the late 50s enough of the pre-war political leadership survived to give the impression that pre-war solidarity had not only survived, but been rebuilt; but this was a case of old assumptions artificially supported by nostalgia and the old generation’s believing its own propaganda.

But with Magsaysay this all came clearly to an end: the old parties built on generations-old networks of leaders had been supplanted by his strategy of barnstorming and media manipulation. His election had been as much a referendum on the old ruling class as it was a validation of the vitality of a new generation. The means for political control and continuity put in place during the Commonwealth were systematically dismantled: bloc voting abolished; the power of the president to appoint mayors taken away; celebrity politics introduced (signaled, for example, by the election of matinee idol Rogelio de la Rosa to the Senate) and with it, the unstoppable transformation of both the standards expected of candidates by the electorate, and the manner in which candidates courted voters.

The Last Hurrah of the old cozy relationship between the politicians and businessmen was the Garcia administration: its election as the first plurality, and not majority, presidency in Philippine history again served as a harbinger of the fatally-divided and unresponsive political culture familiar to Filipinos today.

The Garcia government, however, nationalist as it was, presented an increasingly clear picture of an elite stripped of actual political power, but canny enough to continue fostering and pandering to a new grasping class, the guerrilla generation with its warlord inclinations. Macapagal’s election was the final repudiation of the prewar leadership, but his attempts at modernizing the political system foundered due to a combination of his own authoritarian instincts and his inability to counter the cunning of his opponents. They marshaled a coalition of landowners antagonized by talk of land reform, financial interests hostile to liberalizing the economy, and the guerrilla generation contemptuous of the New Era’s prewar pretenses to class.

WHEN Ferdinand Marcos, exemplar of that grasping class, came to power, he knew that the ruling class’s control of politics was fiction, and that armed with the populism and anti-elitism of the Magsaysay era, he could preside over the liquidation, socially, financially, and politically, of that class; he could, in turn, appropriate the Marxism of the youth more successfully than Macapagal ever could; he could turn it, at least, into a weapon to frighten his generation into supporting him in waging war not only against the Old Society, but the New Generation rallying in the streets. There was simply no line, written or unwritten, that he would not cross.

By the Marcos years, a middle class born in the American period had matured; educated and trained in the style of the ruling class, it shared many of that class’s biases and even pretensions. Among them was the illusion that it was the successor to the old landed and industrial families. They were not; they remained employees: the managers and directors comfortable in the new suburbs designed in imitation of the suburban communities of their bosses. They had homes, their children went to college, but in those colleges their children increasingly asked impertinent questions. Their reaction to impertinent questions and demonstrations was to express solidarity with the alarmed political and business leadership: after all, even as students established the Diliman commune, solidly middle-class residents of the vicinity established vigilante groups to assist the constabulary in flushing the rebels out.

FERDINAND Marcos mounted a coup after efforts to buy the 1971 Constitutional Convention failed; he was pleasantly relieved to discover that the country, on the whole, welcomed his “constitutional authoritarianism.” Democracy had proven to unpredictable; dictatorship was a more palatable approach, mirroring the preferred way for handling problems of the propertied and influential. It was, in more ways than anyone could imagine at the time, a deal with the devil.

Dictatorship demands conformity and conformity kills innovation. The systematic plunder of the country by Marcos and his cronies stripped the Old Society of its finances and thus, its political means; next came the looting of everything else. The middle class discovered itself defenseless, and without a champion in government: with the disgruntled old oligarchy it rebelled but lost to the old oligarchy as it, in turn, proceeded to loot the post-Edsa democracy to compensate itself for the losses of the martial law years.

The middle class, disheartened and disillusioned, clinging as it had to the romantic notion it represented something noble together with the old oligarchy, fled the country (and is now virtually absent from the scene). What’s left of it attempted its own Last Hurrah with Edsa Two, only to discover it was fatally divided over a residual romanticism towards politics, and the adoption of the Marcosian grasping class’s attitudes towards government. A society growing exponentially, and increasingly unexposed to the old institutional controls of education, religion, and civic organization, in turn has reduced the political, business, and middle classes to even more of a minority status, and thus even more fiercely dependent on the military as its protector and enforcer than even the Marcos government was.

TWO gentlemen in this book, one identified as having tried to mitigate the excesses of the Marcos years, and the other an eminent voice since the Edsa Revolution, have succinctly summarized the political call of the times. Former Prime Minister Virata said, “We need the concentration, we have to develop more other areas, we have to complete the communities.” For the Philippines has lost its sense of national unity, or feelings of solidarity, which serve to moderate the winner-take-all nature of politics and governance.

And Jesus Estanislao points to the perpetual failure of the country’s leadership to institute the real rule of law, and thus genuine modernity -and by extension, authentic competitiveness- when he asked, “The prospect depends on many Filipinos are willing to take up the cudgels for deep genuine reforms. This is where we begin thinking: ‘Where will these reforms come from?’ Reforms always come from a set of individuals who see the future or wanting to change or committed to doing something, and I think it can be done.”

But for it to be done requires an appreciation of the past; and how each time the country has been confronted with an opportunity to institute change, it has shrunk from the task.

The Philippines since 1962, faced several choices, each of which presented the opportunity to expand democracy, integrate the formerly marginalized into the body politic, and rejuvenate public confidence in its political institutions. Instead, protectionism, not just economic, but political, was the preferred choice. The 1971 Constitutional Convention ended up pandering to a dictatorship that sent an entire generation of Filipino professionals, stifled by the dictatorship, into exile; an entire political generation was deprived of power until it came to geriatric and greedy power in 1987, in a sense triggering a second exodus as devastating as that of the 70s: the middle class exodus from the 90s to the present.

A new Philippines, it must be said, is being born. Together with the academic and professional elite that migrated in the 70s went Filipinos of modest means who have only begun to establish themselves as a new, entirely different, middle class. Their influence in politics is only beginning to be felt, not in Metro Manila, but in the provinces. The increasingly cosmopolitan and entrepreneurial nature of such Filipinos is, at present, inspiring yet another effort to hold change at bay. It is a confusing, chaotic, even dangerous situation. But proof positive that the lost opportunities of the past needn’t represent an eternal regret, but only a means for reflection in order to more firmly, and daringly, embrace the future.

Bibliographic note

My thoughts on the trends in Philippine society were initially developed in two essays: “Elections are like Water,” and “Circle to Circle”, in i-Magazine (2004). The Free Press editorial, “Politics: Means and End” from August 29, 1953, has also influenced me greatly.

The relationship between Filipino politicians and businessmen is best explored in Amando Doronila’s The State, Economic Transformation, and Political Change in the Philippines, 1946-1972 and in Nick Cullather’s Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippine Relations, 1942-1960. Controversial and debatable though many of his assertions are, Lew Gleeck’s President Marcos and the Philippine Political Culture also makes for informative reading.

An over-reliance on the (at the time) trailblazing ideas and scholarship of Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino is, to my mind, unhealthy. State and Society in the Philippines by Patricio Abinales and Donna J. Amoroso incorporates the tremendous advances in thinking and scholarship in the four decades since, and makes for indispensable reading, particularly in exploring the evolution of the Philippine state.

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  1. cvj,

    “Anthony Scalia, from earlier discussions, i understand that you believe that the country can develop even with minimal participation from the State.”

    yes

    kung hihintayin pa ang State, eh wala ding mangyayari. ang hirap sa ibang mga tao, umaasa na ang pag-baba ni gloria ang susi sa development. tapos media will blow this notion up

    “It used to be that it was only communists who believed in the withering away of the State. It looks like you share this belief as well.”

    (sound of game bell) krrrrrrnnnnggg. wrong.

    “The foundation for a sound business environment is a State that looks after the interests of the population and not just a few.”

    true

    “If you leave the selection of its leaders to corrupt politicians and their allies in the military and the bureacracy, we undermine the mechanisms of governance that everyone, including entrepreneurs rely on.”

    hello? leaving the selection of its leaders to whom? who then caused the 10-2 opposition-admin ratio in the May 2007 senatorial elections? i told you so, the opposition is not beyond cheating as well!

    and sorry to say, but that statement was borne out of ‘legitimacy’ issues. have you quantified the economic damage directly caused by the whole ‘legitimacy’ thing? i think any quantifiable damage was caused by productivity losses and scaring away of foreign direct investment due to the constantly incessant airplay of “patalsikin na now na”

    and how many bills of national importance are not approved nor deliberated upon, due to the Senate’s nonstop investigations ‘in aid of legislation’, bills which, if they became law, will surely aid Pinoy entrepreneurs a lot?

    “As some big businessmen have found out, under the status quo, you run the risk of someone planting a bomb in your basement and then getting charged for negligence after the fact”

    that is, if you immediately believe the side of Ayala Land. thats no longer surprising, coming from you, as the present administration is of no good, that nothing good can ever come out of it. of course Ayala Land will deny any liability!

    how could you? your hatred of gloria has clouded your perception of the whole government machinery. can’t you make conclusions on a case-to-case basis? tsk tsk tsk

    since your mind is already made up on the PNP, just consider the foreign experts relied upon by the PNP and Ayala Land. the PNP was helped by the US FBI, Israel, Australia, etc, Ayala Land by just one, from the UK.

    i know, i know, that the number of foreign experts relied upon per se may not be determinant of the truth. but PNP’s resort to foreign experts will surely dispel any claims on the ‘incompetence’ and ‘bias’ of local experts

    let me ask you – how many blasts in the past have been attributed to accidents, and how many to criminal elements?

  2. “As some big businessmen have found out, under the status quo, you run the risk of someone planting a bomb in your basement and then getting charged for negligence after the fact.” — cvj

    I personally admire the Ayalas among the business elites who descended from Spanish landed aristocracy, for I perceive that their businesses and their cultural efforts show a real and deep commitment to showcase the best of the Philippines, past, present and future.

    However, after the PNP’s final report I am inclined to believe that Glorietta explosion was indeed an industrial accident. The only thing that seem to dispute the evidence that the PNP produced with backing from expert investigations from the Australian and American governments was the investigation produced by their own paid foreign expert who suggested that someone planted a bomb in the G2 basement.

    And anyway, Ayala Land indeed early on covered their bases early by giving financial aid to the tune of P5 million each to the families of every victim (see Inquirer reports).

    Methinks, the company owes the public an apology or at least the victims’ families. Wierd though that the government seems not to take its findings seriously by being solidly on the side of the victims, with the DOJ not filing a case against Ayala Land Inc.

    Shades of the rich getting scot-free again from wheels of justice?

  3. Sabi ni Jessica Zafra it won’t be hard to believe that the blast indeed occured because of shit under the posh Glorietta mall basement — that is, if one is not blinded by the beauty of Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

  4. Madonna, I do believe that the Ayalas are guilty of something. Either they are guilty of negligence, as the PNP asserts, and are liable to the public.

    If, on the other hand, they are telling the truth, then the Ayalas are paying for their apathy i.e. concentrating on creating more jobs while neglecting the underlying political health of the system.

    Either way, things appeared to have blown up in their faces.

    Before this political matters however, is the lack of convincing explanation (ala NatGeo Investigates) that establishes whether the sequence of events described by the PNP is even physically possible.

    Wierd though that the government seems not to take its findings seriously by being solidly on the side of the victims, with the DOJ not filing a case against Ayala Land Inc. – Madonna

    That lack of enthusiasm would be consistent with the dynamics of the elite dancing with each other. I would guess nagpapakiramdaman sila before drawing out their respective knives.

  5. Sabi ni Jessica Zafra it won’t be hard to believe that the blast indeed occured because of shit under the posh Glorietta mall basement — that is, if one is not blinded by the beauty of Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala. – Madonna

    As far as i’m concerned, having fewer rich, good looking men around works to my advantage.

  6. “we can call ourselves luzonians, visayans or mindanaoans but as long as we believe that we constitute one country and abide by the same constitution and government, we are one.”

    Problem is, we don’t.

  7. BenignO, Then this begs the question, what got to be done about it? The different Tribes to come into one solitary Unit to eventually call themselves Filipino with only difference in food preference, Bicolanos like it Hot, Ilongos like their Uric Acids rich beans and so on, but with common goals toward that elusive dreams of being in the First World this Generation.. I hope so…wish so…

  8. Anthony Scalia

    No point in arguing with CVJ, his mind is set in stone. Anything that will put the present administration down will be clapped and anything that will benefit this administration will always be suspect. Fairness will never be in their vocabulary.

    For them, what they want is a welfare state so that they need to work their asses off.

  9. “As far as i’m concerned, having fewer rich, good looking men around works to my advantage.”

    Never liked these brother dudes. they both look gay to me.

  10. silent, welfare state?

    yeah. look at the great US. that’s a welfare state.
    (and any rich nation for that matter)

    contrary to what you might like to believe, people don’t want handouts (well, self-respecting people that is)

    Anything that will put the present administration down will be clapped and anything that will benefit this administration will always be suspect. Fairness will never be in their vocabulary.

    if that is true, then the planned (i say planned bec anything not finished in govt will always be just that – not finished) computerized voting in congress would’ve been put down the moment it was announced.

    did that happen? good things will always be lauded by sensible people, no matter from what camp it comes from. the simple fact that so many criticize this admin’s policies (and many come from reputable camps) signify that people are not putting down this admin wholesale, good or bad. the policies are just that – BAD.

    so that excuse won’t cut. the power that the whole govt wields is awesome. you’d be surprised how the country can be turned around when this power is used wisely.

    and talking abt fairness? how abt you landed oligarchs pay salaries commensurate for labor? in 1st world countries, hard labor pays better than desk jobs…

    fuck fairness if you view fairness frm ur pov.

  11. talking abt the awesomeness of govt power

    look at the US and Bush

    there. you see how even the greatest nation in the world can be brought to ruin with bad leadership.

    worse. this nation touches every aspect of life of every other nation in the world.

  12. cvj, don’t be too literal. when i speak of the vanquished not dictating the terms of surrender, any person with average ability to comprehend would know that i was talking metaphorically.

    u.s.a. defeated our former masters, spain, occupied the country, and eliminated our resistance, brave though it might have been. the americans were our “conquerors” in every manner, shape or form. they imposed, we obeyed. it would have been presumptuous “to allow” them to set conditions for the grant of our independence. would you have preferred the japs occupying us for all time as part of its empire? do you honestly think they would have given us democracy and rule of law, right to free self-government and self-determination? how about spain? would you rather have it continued its rule that our ancestors suffered for centuries, and finally found the mettle to resist?

  13. The Sy’s, Ayala’s, Cojuangco’s, Gokongwei’s and the rest all have their safe havens abroad. Hence the middle class follows suit.

    that is why i see just one solution. classwar and a razing of the philippines to rubble. once the dust settles, whoever is the victor will have that sense of country.

    heck, they fought for it. they’ll die for it this time.

  14. Cvj,

    Well you’re right on using Switzerland’s neutrality instead of Holland or Norway since it didn’t work for them.

    But assessing the defense of his country; Swiss Colonel Eugen Bircher noted that with just a single tank regiment, the Germans would have advanced toward their capital Berne.

    Later in a meeting in the Rutli plateau; Swiss commanding General Guisan redefined the defense of Switzerland as the “Reduit concept” which reads a lot like Bataan (it seems they would not have done much differently from what happened to us).

    The economic concessions given by Switzerland to Germany(generous credits in clearing arrangements,uninspected large scale Alpine train transits, payment of insurance policies to the Nazi state instead of to policy holders, gold trade, etc…) however were of such value that it’s quite a compelling thought on why that neutrality was “respected”. There was a point wherein Swiss francs (1.2 Billion) was Germany’s only convertible currency as Germany’s national currency was no longer acceptable internationally. (Though some say that some of those Swiss actions break that neutrality)

    UPN had a lot of posts but I have an idea of what posts you are referring to.

    At which I think you are underestimating the Japanese Imperial Armed forces. They had to allocate soldiers and war material to take the Philippines. Soldiers and war material that could have been immdediately sent elsewhere. Maybe Australia or Hawaii, etc… Then it may just be a question of how long a victorious imperial Japan would be willing to accomodate a nominal ally.

  15. devilsadvoc8, you must be talking about a dictatorial, totalitarian “government”, not a democracy where policies are formulated by hundreds, if not thousands of different individuals, with different views of what is good for the country, and only after due process. in our current system, the president does not have the exclusive say so on things. not everything she wants can happen, and not everything she does not want can be prevented.

  16. “The problem is we don’t”. benigno.

    i think for the most part, we do. that’s why you still have a philippines and filipinos to kick around. for us sojourning abroad, we have a country to say we came from when ask, a country we can come home to (as long as we haven’t burn the bridges behind us when we left) when the going gets really rough, a country that shaped our childhood hopes and dreams, and most of all, a country that is ours to lose.

    we can spend most of our lifetime cataloging our defects, frailties and imperfections as a people but, when all is said and done, it is still within ourselves, collectively, to make our nation great. remember, we don’t become better than our brother by putting him down.

  17. and yet, that’s exactly what happens. it is all the S.C can do to curb this admin’s reach for total power

    you cannot escape the fact, that even if we have multi-faceted institutions, the executive still wields the most power in terms of instituting policy change. immediate change, i might add.

    the fact that the executive holds the appointing power to all institutions important in nation building should clue you in to this fact.

    and that the admin of today arrogantly proclaims exec privilege in this regard w/o even feeling the need to intelligently defend its appointments should tell you: are we really in a fucking democracy?

  18. Bencard, i’m amazed at how effortlessly you can switch between the extolling the USA’s “relative justice and civility” on one hand, and asserting that “beggars can’t be choosers” on the other.

    Justice League, in the case of Switzerland, the economic concessions they gave to Germany (as ‘carrot’) was worth it in that they avoided the worst violence of the war. An astute Philippine leadership would have done the same.

    As to the feasibility of us defending ourselves (aka the ‘stick’), the problem with the American occupation is that they did not have an incentive to let us industrialize. As Manolo said above, in 40 years that they have occupied us, our economy consisted of producing “sugar, coconut, tobacco, and cordage (abaca)“. Left to our own devices, we could have as a matter of necessity, embarked on a program of industrialization. An industrialized Philippines would have been able to produce our own weapons to defend against Japan.

    would you have preferred the japs occupying us for all time as part of its empire? do you honestly think they would have given us democracy and rule of law, right to free self-government and self-determination? how about spain? – Bencard

    The other option, which is to ally ourselves with Japan also has its attractions (apart from the one mentioned by UPn Student). As part of their war mobilization, Japan set-up factories in their colonies in Manchuria, Korea and Formosa (now Taiwan). This manufacturing base was then taken over by the locals after the war and gave them a headstart on their respective industrialization programs. This is certainly more than what the Americans have left us with i.e. it’s ‘right to free self-government and self-determination’ (with strings attached of course).

    BTW, ‘Japs’ is a derogatory term.

  19. i know! it is within exec prerogative. but cmon! the people are the constituents, and at least deserve that much. if you think that person is the best for that job, the least that you can do is show that they are.

    to hide behind exec prerogative gives people reason to doubt that the appointment is not so sterling, and may in fact be just a liability

    it’s simple really: people criticize. then show them that they’re wrong.

    but what does the govt do? people critize, they tell them to shut up bec as per their pr, only the executive knows what’s best for this country, and fuck it, we’re not beholden to explain or reveal whatever that is we’re doing. just trust us that it’s for da best…

    oh yeah. that’s really assuring.

  20. Cvj,

    Switzerland was just extremely lucky that its value as a neutral nation to Nazi germany outlived Nazi Germany itself.

    Plans were already laid down for the german invasion of Switzerland.

    And unless you are going to contend that an industrialized Philippines would have produced far better war material (ships, tanks, planes, guns) than Britain and America at the time; against a Japan that attacks first and tells later, it seems the intermediate outcome wouldn’t be so different.

  21. As far as i’m concerned, having fewer rich, good looking men around works to my advantage. ==cvj

    Wehehe cvj, you are in Singapore, right? I have worked with some Singaporeans closely in the past and I find some of them relatively good looking among Southeast Asians for they are taller and slimmer and, are incredibly healthy-looking, good skin etc esp those of Chinese ancestry, but have only encountered a few who could match JAZA’s looks, for instance. IMO of course.

    Re: “If, on the other hand, they are telling the truth, then the Ayalas are paying for their apathy i.e. concentrating on creating more jobs while neglecting the underlying political health of the system.”

    The Ayalas, on the contrary, are among those who are more politically involved among the old rich elite, though they have strictly stayed in business, and their scions never went after political or elective posts. The Ayalas channel their political involvement through the critical advocacy espoused by the Makati Business Club which was founded by Enrique Zobel in 1981. Check out the board of MBC and see that the Zobels and Ayalas are some of the prime movers of that business organization which had been instrumental in pushing for the economic policies of the Aquino, Ramos, and pre-Hello Garci Gloria Arroyo administrations. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the other hand, is relatively perceived to always play the role of syncophants to whoever is sitting in Malacanang.

    BrianB,

    JAZA and Fernando gay?
    Now, you break my heart and many others.LOL

  22. Finally I was able sit down and read my ever favorite pasttime and stress reliever, reading this blog and the different comments from the regulars.

    Walang kakupas kupas and blog na eto. I even feel its getting better and better.

    I have to give it to Benign0. The slide is indeed BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO!!!!!!!!. I believe that wour people and our nations badly needed a real PARADIGM SHIFT! that benigno is advocating.

    And benigno is right again with on his rebuttal to Bencard. The problem is we really dont consider our selves a belonging to one nation. Lets face we just dont have that One nation spirit. We focus more n regionalisms, divisions, we quickly label every one from move on crowds, anti gloria, Fil-Am. To me this is a very destructive attitude.

    Anyway guys, Ill be away again. Need to start the project in Jersey City tomorow and need to finish it by the end of the month Because I comitted to start another project on Feb 1. mmmmm looks like you wont be hearing much from me becuase Im fully booked till summer. But I will alway be reading this blog when ever I got the chance

  23. Madonna, yes Singaporean men are much slimmer than us Filipinos. I think it’s their diet and their compulsory military service (i.e. National Service or NS). Same goes with the women (although they don’t have to do National Service).

    After Hello Garci, i don’t think the Ayalas have done enough, although you’re right that at least the MBC are not as blatant bootlickers as the PCCI. It’s sad that the people who have the resources to stand up for what is right do nothing in the face of injustice.

  24. CVJ, Madonna. Singapore is bad: the men there are better looking than the women. Women probably the least good looking in Southeast Asia.

  25. cvj, america had the ability, and for those who believe that “might is right” (the prevailing truism until the 21st century) the prerogative to treat us as “beggars”, if not slaves, for a long, long time. they did not, not because they were forced, but because of their belief in “justice and civility”.

    btw, the “manufacturing base” that the japanese set up in manchuria, taiwan, and korea were meant to be for their own use perpetually and they would have, had they not been thwarted by the u.s. japan did not plan on being being defeated. they did not industrialized those territories out of the goodness of their heart, and if you think they did, you are not only wrong, you are naive.

  26. Women probably the least good looking in Southeast Asia. – Brianb

    That seemed to be true 18 years ago when i first visited Singapore, but now no longer. (Or maybe i’ve been here for too long.)

  27. Bencard, there you ago again with that effortless switch. It must be a Fil-Am thing.

    It’s true that Japan did not set-up manufacturing in its colonies for the sake of its subjects. However, once Japan was gone, its former colonies were able to take over these facilities and use it for their own industrialization efforts.

    Japan’s mobilization for war and invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s provided a lightning rod for the industrialization of its neighbors, colonies and noncolonies alike. Foreign investments in manufacturing began in Southeast Asia around the time of Wolrd War I, but manufacturing activity accelerated in the 1930s. Japan hastily adopted indistrial policies to promote manufacturing for war preparation in its colonies, Korea and Taiwan, thereby planting the seeds for their highly successful postwar industrial promotion systems. – Alice Amsden, The Rise of the Rest

    In contrast, the Americans kept us as suppliers of agricultural products and raw materials, both before and after they granted formal independence.

  28. just what are you referring to by your “effortless switch”, cvj? switch from what to what? didn’t i sufficiently point out to you that americans were both our conquerors and benefactors, maybe not to your own personal satisfaction, but who the hell do you think you are?

  29. “Btw, ‘Japs’ is a derogatory term.” cvj.

    oh yeah, i call it abbreviation or “text lingo”. just because the term was used by the g.i.’s to call their enemies (e.g., ‘krauts’ for germans, ‘chinks’ for chinese, ‘vc’s’ for vietcongs, ‘commies’ for the soviets, etc.), it’s not automatically derogatory. even allies got their nicknames, e.g., ‘doughboys’ or ‘brits’ for the british, aussies for australians, and ‘flips’ for filipinos. politically incorrect in today’s context maybe, for overly sensitive people, but definitely not a racial slur.

  30. Something does not add up regarding this picture of how badly the Philippines was in the years after WW2 in comparison to, say, Taiwan or Manchuria/Mainland China. My understanding, and I know that cvj, hillblogger, ramrod and others have mentioned it at least once, the Philippine economy was the envy of the rest of Asia when we obtained our independence. What I am leading to is, at some point, maybe we Filipinos have to drop this victimhood “it is not our fault, we are only victims!!!” sentence.
    Plus one has to pay attention to causality and randomness when connecting dots from the past to dots of the present, otherwise, what is to stop a Phlippine-Science-High student from saying that “… we, too, should have had a Mao institute a GreatLeapForward in our midst…. just look where China is today…” or a Philippine-Military-Academy student from saying that “… we should have remained under US-of-A, just look at where Guam is today.”

  31. taliba, your “seeds of greed” has biblical origin. eve, who coveted the ONLY thing she could not have, and persuaded adam to do the same; then cain, who had to murder his brother abel, thinking he would get what the latter had – the favor of God and his own father.

    in short, greed is part of man’s nature and which only he can overcome. modern man’s thinking did not change until the coming of the age of reason, culminating in the universal recognition and declaration of human rights.

  32. “BenignO, Then this begs the question, what got to be done about it? The different Tribes to come into one solitary Unit to eventually call themselves Filipino with only difference in food preference, Bicolanos like it Hot, Ilongos like their Uric Acids rich beans and so on, but with common goals toward that elusive dreams of being in the First World this Generation.. I hope so…wish so…” — anino

    We need to be recognised for an achievement or set of achievements that can be attributed to Filipinos AS A COLLECTIVE, not to Lea Salonga, Manny Pacquiao, Miss Los Angeles, or Juan de la Fluorescente.

    Take the 1986 1986 Edsa Revolution for example. That one-time act of random coming together put Pinoys on the map. No one person accounted for it (although being Pinoy, quite a few stepped up to that pedestal). To the rest of the world (at the time) Filipino = PeoplePower.

    Of course, history showed that like every other social, cultural, economic, and natural asset or resource in under the management of imagination-challenged Pinoys, that went on to degenerate into the pathetic joke that it is today.

    My point is that unless we have something OBJECTIVE to be COLLECTIVELY proud of, there will be zilch reason for the different lost tribes living in the islands known laughably as “the Philippines” to identify as “one”.

    And when I say something to be proud of collectively, I’m not talking about our adobo, our OFW “heroes”, our so-called “ingenuity”, our hollow-headed boxers, our beautiful women (mostly statuesque Tisays and Tsinays that are NOT representative of the average Pinay’s physical appearance, by the way), our no-results values and traditions, our “free” press (‘substance’ and ‘objectivity’ seem to be criteria that drops out more often than not in this instance), our happy disposition (cretins and morons go through life with silly smiles on their faces despite their handicaps), the perfect cone of Mayon (hello?), our English-speaking workforce (mostly working as lawyers, politicians, DJ’s and variety show hosts), and whatever cliches one reads in feel-good FWDed emails;

    I’m talking about WORLD-CLASS achievement that can be measured, sustainably exchanged for dollars at a premium above labour-added-value, and looked upon as a REAL contribution to human collective achievement.

  33. benigno, talk is cheap, but when are we gonna stop banging our head against the wall and calling ourselves the worst of the worst. the responsibility to be better is ours, individually, and no amount of self-flagellation and “loathing” can make things better for us. you can convince every one here about our flaws but can you, for a change, articulate something we could do as a people, and start doing it yourself? then maybe, just maybe, others will follow. don’t just wish it, do it!

  34. “you can convince every one here about our flaws but can you, for a change, articulate something we could do as a people, and start doing it yourself? then maybe, just maybe, others will follow. don’t just wish it, do it!”

    Well now, yet another person resorting to that all-too-typical “What have YOU done?” question. The typical result is an arms race of what one is actually doing in their personal time. Sound familiar? Of course it does. We’re surrounded by the very people who do that the best — Filipinos.

    But I’m glad you asked.

    It’s interesting though that you challenge me to “articulate something we could do as a people”.

    Me of all people. 😉

  35. BenignO, Thanks for the Reply. If I gather correctly, individually, a scattering few could be very successful as the example you gave the likes of Lea Salonga, Pacquiao or even some of significant achievements, but collectively is irrelevant if taken in the whole scheme of things..Maybe we need a very good PR or Incentives from the Governments to promote the Talents and Ingenuities of the people as they are given the constant disregard of even some of the World Class achievements that may have a chance to take off the ground with proper encouragements and promotions..Remember the development of Airbus 500 started with Wright brothers few meters flight and functional controls…

  36. BenignO gave his answer to the question of “how to get the tribes to be one”, but not only did he give a difficult answer (the country needs a World-Class Achievement, our own man on the Moon!!!!), I think his romantic answer is the wrong answer. Had he paused and thought about how his glorious US-of-A does it, he would have concluded that one does not have to turn everybody (sheep and cows and goats, leaders and followers and amuyong’s) to turn the country… you only have to turn its leaders. [This is why the Fulbright-Hays and other scholarships are given to… well… the bright ones, not the under-85 IQ crowd. This is why the American Embassy folks deal with GMA and the congressmen and the governors much more than they deal with the baranggay captains and why the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of the Evangelical-Crowd deal with Filipinos who already have pulpits from which they preach.]

  37. “Me of all people.”

    why not, you can bad-mouth, so you can make suggestions, too, i suppose. unless, of course, you have one-track mind.

  38. Then realpolitik slaps you in the fact very quickly, because the country has many (tribal) leaders, and these leaders include the primarily self-seeking (the amorals, as Q3 has earlier mentioned — those who follow the cult of the market), they include the religious intolerants (and I’d throw in Christians and Muslims in this lot, those whose goals mirror the interests of Rome, Riyadh, Damascus). And the circle becomes complete because as Q3 has earlier articulated, a key to getting the country moving towards “…the common good” is rule of law (no one cheats; those who cheat gets impeached) and elections (because the people who pass law are those elected; the people who have the power to impeach are those elected).

  39. Bencard, if you listen to yourself talk about the USA as both “conqueror and benefactor“, you’ll notice that you speak in the lingo of a battered wife or even that of a child-bride.

    UPn Student, that’s the conventional wisdom i.e. the Philippines was ‘second only to Japan in the 50’s etc. etc.’. However, that was more because our neighbors (just like us) were held back by their colonial masters (or internal warlords as in China) or war (in the case of Korea and Vietnam). Once they got their independence, they caught up simply because they chose the right policy mix to achieve industrialization while we didn’t because of class structure and geopolitics.

    Nevertheless, kudos to both of you for taking on Benign0. I think Lea Salonga and Pacquiao couldn’t have achieved what they have if their environment here in the Philippines didn’t nurture them.

  40. Devils

    Sorry mi amigo, FYI…I don;t even own any land. Maybe unlike you. Poor lang ako ….

    I don;t have a problem really with critics. The administration certainly have their share of blame. But just BE FAIR. Yun ang problema sa iilan sa mga tao rito. Wala nang ginawang tama ang tao. It’s really easy to be a armchair critic you know?

    Secondly, you are correct in saying that labor is paid a lot more than a desk job in the rich countries…but do you realize why? It’s because most people aren’t willing to do a labor’s work in these countries….so economics dictate that they get paid more. In our country, UNFORTUNATELY, a lot of people are willing to get paid a lot less because we have more labor than jobs out there. That’s why Scalia’s advocacy is correct, create the jobs first, then you’ll see labor’s wages go up. ANg hirap sa inyong do gooders, you don’t see that at all.

  41. cvj, may be you have been a “battered wife” or a “child bride” so you know their “lingo”. i didn’t, so i wouldn’t know.

  42. “why not, you can bad-mouth, so you can make suggestions, too, i suppose. unless, of course, you have one-track mind.”

    Dude, when I said ‘me of all people’ I was referring to the fact that you are talking to Mr. Articulation himself. If you look hard enough you’ll find what you are looking for. 😉

  43. “one does not have to turn everybody (sheep and cows and goats, leaders and followers and amuyong’s) to turn the country… you only have to turn its leaders.”

    Where exactly did I say that EVERY SINGLE Pinoy needs to be turned? Even Switzerland has its share of morons, but COLLECTIVELY they are an excellent society.

    On the other hand, a lot has been said about the INDIVIDUAL talent and brilliance of INDIVIDUAL Filipinos. Yet COLLECTIVELY, we are amongst the most impotent societies on the planet.

    Which is why I always highlight the word “collective”. Even if Germans are known for their brilliant engineering, not every German is an engineer and not all Germane engineers are brilliant. It is a collective virtue we are talking about, and in this argument about the excellence or imporence of entire societies, you have to be clear about the distinction between the qualifier “collective” and the qualifier “individual”.

    Taga UP ka pa naman. 😉

  44. Silent / Devils: It is not ‘…that labor is paid a lot more than a desk job in the rich countries…” it is that SOME laborer jobs are paid more than SOME desk jobs.
    So while a 55-year-old (twenty-years Union-member) messenger for the Federal government with a top-secret security clearance is paid more than a high-school-graduate word-processor or an oil rig “laborer” is paid more than a public school teacher, an Oracle database programmer is paid more than a election poll/survey canvasser.

  45. That’s why Scalia’s advocacy is correct, create the jobs first, then you’ll see labor’s wages go up. ANg hirap sa inyong do gooders, you don’t see that at all. – Silent Waters

    Yeah, Anthony tries to frame the debate in that manner. I’m sure though that you also notice that he takes time out from his own job creation endeavors to criticize those who oppose Gloria Arroyo.

  46. cvj, may be you have been a “battered wife” or a “child bride” so you know their “lingo”. i didn’t, so i wouldn’t know. – Bencard

    That lingo is the one that goes…”He [the husband] may be abusive, BUT he has been a good provider.” or “He may have kidnapped and forced me to marry him, OTHER THAN THAT, he’s ok compared to the other would-be kidnappers.

  47. cvj,

    “Yeah, Anthony tries to frame the debate in that manner. I’m sure though that you also notice that he takes time out from his own job creation endeavors to criticize those who oppose Gloria Arroyo”

    to ‘maximize’ limited time, i ‘criticize’ those who ‘oppose gloria arroyo’ during my rest/break time at the office and/or before going to sleep at home.

    and you just made a wrong conclusion – that i ‘criticize those who oppose gloria arroyo’. here’s how you should phrase it:

    i criticize those anti-gloria who

    (1) want gloria kicked out before 2010

    (2) are still romanticized by people power removing a sitting president

    (3) sincerely believe that kicking gloria out before 2010 is the magic pill badly needed by the country

    (4) do not mind any collateral damage to the economy done by another people power

    and ill say it again – if not for ‘patalsikin na now na’ (and its variants) uttered ad nauseam, much more foreign direct investments could have entered the country!

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