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Jan 22

Welcome debate

Last Monday, the Inquirer editorial tackled the question of whether “they are all the same, anyway.” Recent news, economics-wise, brings to mind a recent column by Tony Abaya.

First, the economics-related news: we’re seeing Won, peso slide on equities rout, risk aversion as Stock rout deepens; the panicked flee to bonds, with this, shall we say, being the money quote:

“I am sure we are in a bear market, because the mood is very negative. People no longer believe that stocks are the road to riches,” Cannae Capital Partners managing director Hugh Giddy.

“This may be a long slow grind down because earnings expectations will start to fall.”

See also Stocks mark 7th day bloodbath (in light of the above, it will be interesting to see what bloggers like stuart santiago, who’s been keeping tabs not only on the implications of the appreciating peso, but also, what economists think should be done, will have to say about this). Now I’ve heard it said, that goings-on in America are less relevant to us, than they used to be, because our economy is now more closely aligned to China’s than the USA. But even in China, all doesn’t seem to be well. See A Recipe for Disharmony:

An Asia Times article by Martin Hutchinson paints a very sobering picture about China’s bad debt situation. The latest estimate is reported to be between US$1.2 trillion and US$1.3 trillion, which would make the often touted sovereign wealth fund of US$200 billion look almost paltry, not to mention that one-third of this fund is slated for the purchase of bad loans from Chinese banks and another third to recapitalize China Agricultural Bank and China Development Bank which are destined for privatization. What is even scarier is that, according to Hutchinson, all of China’s foreign exchange reserves, to the tune of US$1.4 trillion, might be needed to plug holes in the banking system when the inevitable liquidity crisis occurs. The article also says that China’s banking system bad debts account for about 40 percent of her GDP and are in real terms about five times those of the United States, given her economy is around one-fifth the size of the latter’s.

The article then goes on to draw parallels between Latin America and China in terms of very high inequality, persistently high inflation and rampant corruption, highlighting the fact that China’s government lacks any genuine understanding of the free market and her economy is increasingly dominated by special interests, with a small entrenched elite gorging themselves (immorally and illegally) with the fruits of economic growth at the expense of the disfranchised masses.

Which brings us back to the Inquirer editorial and Tony Abaya. In his column, GMA’s Successes, he writes:

Under Cory, the Philippine GDP grew 3.5 percent in 1986. 4.3 in 1987, 6.8 in 1988, 6.2 in 1989. The coup attempt in December 1989 by then Col. Gringo Honasan and then Capt. Danilo Lim dragged the GDP down to 4.4 in 1990, and subsequently to negative 0.6 in 1991. The average GDP under Cory was 4.1 percent.

Under President Fidel Ramos, GDP grew 0.3 percent in 1992, 2.1 in 1993, 4.4 in 1994, 4.7 in 1995, 5.8 in 1996, and 5.2 in 1997. The Asian Financial Crisis that started in July 1997 dragged the GDP down to negative 0.6 in 1998 as it devastated economies all over the world. The average GDP under President Ramos was 3.1.

It should be mentioned that the low GDPs in 1992 and 1993 were due, not just to the coup attempts of Honasan-Lim in December 1989, but also to the daily power outages of up to 8-hours that plagued the economy.

And the power outages were due largely to the mothballing by President Aquino of the 620 mw Bataan nuclear power plant just before it was to be commissioned, a concession to the anti-US bases and anti-nuclear agitation of the Communist movement. The slack would have been taken up by the 300 mw Calaca plant and the 300 mw Masinloc plant, both coal-fired, but the commissioning of these plants was blocked by environmentalists.

The net effect was that thousands of businesses and industries, and tens of thousands of families were forced to buy and operate their own generators, thus creating as much pollution as, or even more than, Calaca and Masinloc put together. There is a lesson to be learned here, but I doubt if Filipinos have learned it. But I digress.

Under President Joseph Estrada, GDP grew 3.4 percent in 1999 and 4.0 in 2000, until he was deposed from office in January 2001 by a military coup d’etat pretending to be people power. The average GDP under President Estrada was 3.7 percent.

Under President Arroyo, GDP grew 1.8 percent in 2001, 4.3 in 2002, 4.7 in 2003, 6.0 in 2004, 5.1 in 2005, 5.6 in 2006 and 7.1 in 2007. The average GDP under President Arroyo was 4.94 percent. Forecasts for 2008 range from 5.0 to 6.7 percent.

(It takes GDP growth rate of at least 8 percent per annum for 20 years for an economy to reach First World status. This is the level of the achievement of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, from the 1970s to the 1990s.)

Having compared the economic performance of recent administrations, he goes on to point out that,

Under President Arroyo, the economy has developed an upward momentum. And the biggest element in this upward momentum is the remittances from overseas contract workers, which will reach $14 to !5 billion in 2007, compared to practically zero in the 1970s..

The corollary is that if Presidents Aquino, Ramos and Estrada enjoyed a $10 to $15 billion annual OCW windfall during their watch, the GDP during their presidencies would have been substantially higher. (If any reader has the annual figures for OCW remittances staring in 1980, I would appreciate receiving them.)

The other corollary is that if President Arroyo did not have this $10 to $15 billion annual OCW windfall, the Philippine economy under her management would not have grown as much as it has in the past five years.

Which is not to say, as Abaya points out, the President’s taking credit for things not entirely of her own making:

Whis is not to say that President Arroyo did not make any substantial contribution to economic growth from her own initiatives. Far from it. Her biggest success, in my opinion, is the growth of the call center-business outsourcing industry, which now employs more than 200,000 young, urban middle-class Filipinos, and is still growing fast.

If one were to revisit her Mid-term Development Plan, which was drafted at the start of her presidency in 2001, one would note that it had three major foci: agriculture, tourism and information technology or IT. So the call-center phenomenon was an Arroyo initiative and it is a major success, for which she deserves full credit.

The passage and implementation of the EVAT. is also an Arroyo success, which substantially increased government revenues, enabling it — theoretically at least — to invest more in infrastructure and social services…

….President Arroyo has also achieved moderate success in tourism, one of the three foci in her Midterm Development Plan. Tourist arrivals topped three million in 2007, for the first time ever. I say ‘moderate’ because Thailand drew 13 million tourists, Malaysia 16 million, in the same period.

In 1991, Indonesia and the Philippines drew more or less the same number of tourists: one million. Since then, Indonesia’s tourist arrivals have reached five million, despite the Bali and Jakarta bombings, while we are celebrating only three million. Don’t look now, but tiny Cambodia just topped two million in 2007, and Vietnam is investing heavily to develop its entire South China Sea coast into a tourist magnet..

President Arroyo’s third economic focus: agriculture is, in my opinion, a mixed bag. Even assuming that production has increased in some sectors, the stark fact remains that we are not self sufficient in such staples as rice, corn, sugar, poultry, etc and must import several billion dollars worth every year to meet domestic demand.

This by the country that set up the UP College of Agriculture in Los Banos (when the Americans were running this place), and hosts the International Rice Research Institute (also established by the Americans), both of which trained the agriculturists of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia etc, which ironically now surpass us in agricultural production.

Perhaps the weakness of our agriculture is not a paucity of modern technology, but an oversupply of people, because of a galloping population growth rate. In the 1970s, the Philippines and Thailand had more or less the same population size: 45 million.

Because it had a population management program all these years, in 2007 Thailand had only 65 million people, while the Philippines had 89 million. By any yardstick of commonsense, it is easier to feed, clothe, house, educate and find jobs for 65 million people than 89 million.

For this, President Arroyo must share the blame with Presidents Marcos, Aquino and Estrada, for their wishy-washy attitude towards population management and their fear of offending the Roman Catholic bishops. (Only the Protestant President Ramos dared to defy the bishops on this issue.)

But, Abaya argues, the policies for which the President deserves credit have reached their own limits:

But this has its limits, which may have been reached already, judging from the frantic efforts to sell government assets, such as those in the power sector. Without the sale of government assets, the government seems to be running out of money. Economists tell us that a government’s tax collection efforts should amount to at least 16 percent of GDP.

Even with his dictatorial powers, President Marcos could manage only 9 to 12 percent. Presidents Aquino and Ramos were able to raise it to 13 to 14 percent. President Arroyo may have been the first president to raise that percentage to 15-16 percent, but apparently not much more than that, which suggest unresolved problems from chronic tax evasion and smuggling.

And so, his conclusion?

In summary, it can be said that President Arroyo’s relative success in managing the economy can be credited largely to the $10-$15 billion windfall from OCW remittances.

Therefore it is not accurate to claim that there is no alternative to or substitute for her. In fact it can be said that the increase in workers deployed abroad — about one million a year — is due to her failure, and the failure of her predecessors, to create enough jobs in the domestic economy, forcing millions of Filipinos to seek employment abroad.

This means that she can be replaced by such reasonably qualified wannabes as Mar Roxas, Manuel Villar, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, or Panfilo Lacson — even by Governor Fr. Ed Among Panlilio or Antonio Meloto — and the economy would still chug along at least at the same pace as it does today, as long as whoever succeeds her enjoys the $10-$15 billion windfall from workers’ remittances.

The consequences of a recession in the USA at the start of an election year, are tackled in Economic crisis, political rebirth? in History Unfolding:

The week’s economic news makes clear that a new flock of chickens–not perhaps as large as the one that appeared in 1929, but large enough–is finally coming home to roost. The credit collapse that has begun in the housing market (and, the papers tell me, threatens to spread through unpayable credit card debt) is lowering employment, and it may get much worse. Like the two previous crises in our national life (1860-8 and 1929-45), it has been largely brought about by the unbridled ideological or economic excesses of a Prophet generation–the Transcendentals (b. 1792-1821), the Missionaries (about 1863-1884), and now, the Boomers (1943-1960.) Born into as secure an environment has humankind has been able to create, such generations begin disrupting it in young adulthood, have eaten away the foundations by mid-life, and, as they reach elderhood, have to try to find a few surviving members who can help build a new order with the help of the younger generations.

His generational approach to American politics is one that I find very attractive, since I’ve taken a similar (though far from as highly developed) one concerning our own. This is how he connects the past to the American present:

We should keep in mind that this relentless drive by people who are already rich by any standard to gain yet more money is behind our present predicament–and that it will be harder to climb out of it because the mass of people who really need more money have been getting less and less of it. The Boom generation of managers has also avenged their missionary grandparents by finding new weapons against organized labor–most notably, the weapon of outsourcing.

It is not clear that the political process is ready to deal with the crisis. Last week, Boomer Mitt Romney, who fallaciously claimed that he would bring manufacturing jobs back to Michigan, defeated Silent John McCain, who courageously recognized that those jobs are not coming back. On the Democratic side, as John Edwards fades, identity politics have taken the place of any serious discussion of issues. The question I have been pondering is whether Barack Obama, who will turn 47 this year, is really the counterpart of Abraham Lincoln (who was 51 in 1860 when he was elected), or of John Charles Fremont, the 43-year old Republican candidate in 1856, who was defeated by Compromiser James Buchanan. (If McCain should beat Obama, the parallel would be exact.)

On to other things…

Tonyo Cruz once again takes exception to my response to his comment/entry: see The difference between discreet and central. Let me work backwards and answer his question, what do I mean by “public acceptance” of the Left? Very simply: public acceptance is the refusal to condone the killing of a civilian, simply on the basis of the person being accused (and not even self-proclaimed) by the authorities of being a Leftist.

The constituency of the Left is large, indeed, per official party-list election figures for winning parties (the inclusion of Akbayan won’t go down well with some groups, so the total without it is in parenthesis, for comparison):

Bayan Muna 976,699
Gabriela Women’s Party 621,086
Anak Pawis 369,366
Akbayan ! Citizens’ Action Party 466,019

Total: 2,433,170 (1,967,151)

Comparable national election figures (NASSA-NAMFREL quick count):

Left > Gomez, Richard Independent 2,308,620
Left < Singson, Luis Lakas-CMD 3,468,039

If you use Comelec figures (PDSP is the party of Norberto Gonzales et al., you could argue also technically part of the Left):

Left = Sultan Jamalul D. Kiram III TEAM Unity – PDSP 2,488,553

Let’s argue the Left had only 1 out of every 4 votes cast for it actually counted, a potential constituency of 9,732,680. That puts it on parity with: Prospero A. Pichay, Jr. TEAM Unity – Lakas-CMD 9,798,355

The dictionary says,

dogmatism |’dôg-ma-ti-zem|
noun
the tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others : a culture of dogmatism and fanaticism.
DERIVATIVES
dogmatist noun
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via French from medieval Latin dogmatismus, from Latin dogma (see dogma ).

Which suggests that even if contrary evidence were presented, the assertions of the incontrovertibly trueness of essential principles, would continue, anyway.

Let me just point out that “revisionism” is not just any word, but a word rich in meaning for the like-minded:

revisionism |ri-‘vi-zhe-ni-zem|
noun often derogatory
a policy of revision or modification, esp. of Marxism on evolutionary socialist (rather than revolutionary) or pluralist principles.
‘ the theory or practice of revising one’s attitude to a previously accepted situation or point of view.
DERIVATIVES
revisionist noun & adjective

The Master Storyteller and thus, the living magisterium of the Left, demonstrates ther rigorous use of such words in intramural Left debates (and more) and extramural debates with those who aren’t affiliated in the party.

312-317-1-Pb(2)

Essentially this is arguing apples and oranges but this is one statement that, again, belongs to the Q.E.D. department:

Public intellectuals should also take note that attempts to airbrush the Left out of Edsa 2 and the body politic has resulted in an ongoing massacre (nearly 900 extrajudicially executed, and another 200 involuntarily disappeared), in the arrest and detention of Satur Ocampo and Crispin Beltran, and in the filing of spurious charges against the legal Left which Arroyo considers a considerable threat. In the official script, the airbrushing is most intense. As if no legal movement exists, and as if Arroyo did not work with, sat with, conferred with, cooperated with the same movement she now wishes to kill after airbrushing operations.

Now that is revisionism. From culpability fully belonging to the administration, now even those opposed to it but who aren’t part of the Left, are assigned responsibility for the murders of members of the Left (or those merely suspected of belonging to the Left, particularly as the state definition is broader than some Leftists would admit the Left to be). It ignores the non-Left voices raised in indignation and protest over the killings, the efforts of those who tried to bring the situation to the attention of the world, since Filipinos were proving pretty much unmoved.

And this is what I mean by dogmatism. Tactical considerations aside, much as the Left will criticize those it considers non-Leftists for branding them with certain names, it is something they do so, all the time: distinctions are only to be made by the Left but non-Left-originating distinctions on the other hand, are simply unacceptable. the underlying message is pretty much the same as the administration’s: same-same (and I won’t go into the public support given by some members of the Left for Joker Arroyo’s senatorial reelection in 2007).

Now what did I mean when I said, “Since 2001, however, the Left has found itself unable to really find a place for itself in legitimate politics”? First, legitimate politics for me are obviously non-revolutionary politics, that is, participation, without molestation, in electoral politics; and as for not really finding a place, by this I mean that the government has, with some success, mobilized public opposition to the Left by calling all Leftists communists, and by generally showing itself unmoved by local opinion in contrast to the way it’s been disturbed by foreign concern over the liquidation of Leftists. And again, in the absence of a nationwide poll specifically asking people how they feel about the Left, one can only go by what one hears and reads, and that has been on the whole unsympathetic to the Left.

What is my factual basis? The murders. The indifference far too many, and outright delight far too many, have shown; the concern far too few have demonstrated. the support, tacit or overt, for the “all-out war” policy.

Again, this is a question of interpretation, not of “truth.” The truth is obvious. Civilians are being killed, on the pretext that it is justifiable to kill them based on their ideological beliefs. This is wrong; those who justify it, are wrong.

Tonyo ends with,

I hope Manolo will be kind enough to recognize the advances made by the Left not just in mobilizing “warm bodies” for elite-led mobilizations, but also in public discourse, in reframing the public debate, in offering the public some alternatives to the status quo, among others.

This is not mine to recognize, out of the kindness of my heart; it’s to be assumed. My criticism of where we are, now, is that we’re far off from assuming what Tonyo wants recognized. But it is a wonderful thing that he takes the time to painstakingly point out where my assertions may be too sweeping, or demanding that they be clarified. It is an exercise not only in public debate, but in fraternal correction; certainly, our exchange is something the administration, for one, would rather not happen at all, and most certainly wouldn’t want repeated by members of the public.

In his blog entry Death of a cycling companion (and the latest activist killing), Howie Severino describes how a statistic for officialdom is a tragedy, for him. And points to what separates Tonyo from those he disagrees with: it is his comrades who are being killed.

Philippine Politics 04 reiterates his disagreement with my views concerning the victory of Joseph Estrada in 1998.

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131 comments

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  1. supremo

    TonGuE-tWisTeD,

    A deteriorating peso ALONE is a disaster in the making. The price of oil must go down also to give the proper breathing space for the OFWs and everyone in the Philippines.

  2. hawaiianguy

    supremo, are you based at NJ or NY?

    On remittances, expect a continuing rise on the horizon. Considering that a typical Filipino family is large and extended, the flow of dollars to the homeland will continue. Others in the social network of those OFWs will follow later, and continue the sending of money home.

  3. benign0

    Inflation is already something to contend with. Unfortunately for Pinoys, forex is also now relevant even on the pristine slopes of the Payatas as the economy gets ever more dependent on OFW remittances.

    Kawawang Pinoy. Dobol whammy palagi ang kapalaran..

  4. cvj

    Nash, nominally, Norberto Gonzalez and (Fr. Intengan) are Socialists of the ‘SocDem’ variety which would put them in the same location of the political spectrum as Akbayan. The difference is that the former is in power while the latter is not.

  5. Fanny Barnham-Smythe

    yes dear ,what trivial matter are we on today dear (snorts ,gulps gin ,rings bell for refill) oh socialism ,well if its anything like here dear ,where aunty Helen spends her days skulking around the back of the beehive and drinking sherry out of the bottle while texting her UN cohorts its all very cheap! how is Glor these days ,I did not get to meet her on her last visit here I was incapaz as in I had some dealings with some russian sailors involving vodka it was all very messy and sordid !

  6. nash

    Dear Fanny, we missed your insights from the upper crust. Glor is in Davos right now checking her bank balance along with a phalanx of 90 hangers-on. That’s why if I were you, I’d stay clear of the pistes…

  7. Rob' Ramos

    I saw your responses to my post about apathy and the youth. My response is: I rest my case.

    Honestly, I don’t know why I bother. Di rin naman kayo nakikinig eh. And you wonder why the critical mass against Gloria is missing?

    @rom

    First, you don’t know me. I would love to make you eat crow about your statement of me being in a “self-indulgent, hedonistic, comfort zone.” Dude, if I had stayed inside that, I wouldn’t be bearing with my small salary trying to do my part in fixing the problems of this country.

    Ok ka rin ah. Who died and gave you the monopoly on sacrifice and caring for the nation?

    And you’re denying the role the young played during PP2? Matanong ko lang, asan ka ba nun? Ako, bago pa dumating sa EDSA andun na ko eh. When it wasn’t “cool” going up against Estrada right after Guingona’s “I accuse”, we were there already. I saw the development of the RIO from a couple of civil society groups calling for the removal of Erap to an action involving the general citizenry, and anyone who denies the important role the youth played in it either wasn’t there or doesn’t have their facts straight!

    One week before the Craven 11 did their stupid little mistake, KOMPIL II met in Ateneo for the All-Leader’s Conference and all I was hearing there were defeat Scenarios. “Civil disobedience” was the word, in fact.

    Yet not one week later, ano ba nangyari? Craven 11 votes down the move to open the Second Envelope. TAO dances on the hallowed halls of the Senate.

    SINO BA UNANG LUMABAS, HA? Who had the anger and the indignation to go out and begin what would be People Power II? Sige nga, pakisagot.

    And what gives? What’s with all the hits against GK? Kakaiba rin kayo, ano? Go there for the babes? Sino namang poncio pilato yun and why the hell is that one person’s statement sound as if its indicative of the whole?

    Good Lord. I just used it as an example as to how the young express their desire to do SOMETHING. I was hoping that the supposedly intelligent and liberal people commenting in this blog would GET what I meant with that example. Di rin pala. Na bira pa GK. My apologies to Tony Meloto and all of the people who, in their own small way, for whatever the hell their reason is in the first place, made a difference in someone’s life.

    So what if it gives these young people instant gratification? Di ba minsan dun naman nagsisimula yun? Why would you people belittle that? If that moment of instant gratification is the cause of even one person’s lifelong commitment to making people’s lives better, di ba maganda yun?

    O talaga bang sa isip niyo eh ang pagbabago at pagiging aktibo sa kapakanan ng Republika eh kinakailangan ng sigaw sa kalye at dugo sa kabukiran? Hindi lahat ng tao eh nadadala ng agit sa lansangan o kaya eh gustong mamundok para lang makakita ng pagbabago. Mas madalas pa nga, di ba, na ang tao eh gusto lamang mabuhay ng “tahimik”? Ano ba ang mithiin ng isang ordinaryong tao? Di ba ang magkaroon ng disenteng buhay, isang pamilya, at kahit konting katayuan sa kanyang komunidad?

    When faced with that… do you shout at them with slogans? Do you thrust your placards in their faces? What do they care for slogans and banners? And when thousands of your youth dream only of getting into a call center that gives the best salary and perks, or whose parents moved heaven and earth just so that young person can get a nursing degree (no matter if the kid has the aptitude for medicine or the genuine desire to serve), what do you do then?

    How do you reach out to them, then?

    But then again, why do I even bother? Mali naman ako sa tingin nyo eh, since I don’t seem to subscribe to your worldviews.

    Sakin lang, sana makinig muna. Nagtataka kayo, di ba, bakit sa kabila ng mga survey eh andayan pa si Pandak? Bakit kaya, di ba? rom, yun yung ibig kong sabihin sa “the questioner should ask him/herself”, in case di mo na-get the first time around. Konting self-reflection, kung baga. Baka kasi sa sobrang taas ng tore, di niyo naririnig ang boses ng ibang tao eh.

    Rom, No one’s looking for an Atreides to lead them in a charge against a corrupt Emperor and his Sardaukar and a fat monstrosity of a Count. They don’t need it. People just need to be shown that there’s something to believe in and they’ll work for it, even defend it. Isn’t that what the first People Power was about? And, in case you’re working from second-hand information – since you deny the role the youth played in PP2 – no one led the people in expressing their indignation over the Second Envelope. Just indignation, and a basic sense of what was right and enough anger in the people to show their leaders what they think when what was right was transgressed.

    You’re right, we’re not Fremen. They followed Paul because he was the Messiah to them, Muad’dib, the Kwisatz Haderach. I’d like to think people are more like the troops of House Atreides, loyal because their leaders treated them well, and because of the ideals the House stood for.

    MLQ, my apologies if I offended anyone. I just had to say my piece, sobra na kasi. I did get your point in your reaction to me, and like our debate on Libel and Press Freedom, you make the point come across quite well. Thank you. That’s something to ponder on.

  8. mlq3

    rob, no need to apologize. you’re giving as good as you’re getting. people change, things change. for those confused and yes, frustrated by the change, easy to shoot the messenger.

    i’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the points you raise and have been raised by many others. we have what we have. glass half empty or half full? half full, always, is what you’re saying and i tend to agree, and i tend to agree more when i go outside manila and talk to people elsewhere.

    i think a good way forward is to ask you, what changes do you and your generation want to see, and what are the ways and means your generation prefers to achieve them?

  9. AFD

    hello, just a few points. i’ve been an avid reader and this post finally gave me the urge to fill in that comment box.

    @vic

    I heard the TSX was able to pull out of its nosedive. How are things back home? 🙂

    @cvj

    you are the proponent for radical sociopolitical change in this country. yet, i haven’t really seen how can people go about doing that here. there are far too few people who are Filipino in my reckoning, to take up arms and do a Cultural Revolution-style change in this country.

    @rom

    very good points. many people tend to lump the youth into some formless apathetic mass, preferring to set them aside, seeing them as useless, or finding ways to hook them on some new gimmick that will mobilize them towards some group’s narrow agenda. i’ve met many younger people who continually amaze me with their insight. (all the while leaning back in a chair at the local starbucks sipping a frapuccino, wearing clothing from Mango, a pair of Havaianas, an iPod hanging from their necks and an N-series phone in their hands, and a MacBook in their bag…)

    i think the youth know where they are and what they need to do. i think the youth are smarter than their elders. and i think that when the time is right, the youth, the Filipino youth will reclaim their country.

    @benign0

    i did all of my growing up in Canada (we moved there when i was 2). after university, a bunch of us went back to Philippines all high on idealism and doing something for the “old country”. i even became Filipino again, as did some of my buddies, just to show our commitment to this place.

    i went to the rallies, joined some groups, wrote letters to the people in Congress, even tried my hand at municipal-level provincial politics. all i realized is that if you happened not to be friends with the people on top, you’re not going anywhere. and neither will your family support any moves that will give an edge to the “other guys” who will always want your place at the head. and that while you may not admit it, you have an uncle so-and-so with a few of his submachine gun wielding ex-military drinking buddies your grandfather can slip a note to in order “take care of things”.

    so now, i’m stuck in a job that just gets me by, living out of a small flat and commuting every day. and my participation in the public life has gone all the way down to reading the discourses of you guys here on Manolo’s blog and voting when the elections come.

    i’m tired. i’ve been here for a long while. and it took me this long to realize that this place may not be all it’s cracked up to be. it’s breaking my heart to admit this, but i don’t think i can do squat.

    i’m fixing my papers in the morning and going home.

  10. AFD

    @mlq3

    i think that last bit came out wrong. i didn’t mean it to sound like commenting on your blog is the lowest rung on the ladder of political participation.

    but i’m glad you’re here to give people a forum for their views. it may only matter to a few people, but hey, we can’t save everybody, eh?

    @rob

    yes, you’re right. many times i’ve had this distinct “ivory tower” feeling about the discourses on Manolo’s blog, what with so many of the commenters not even being here, on the ground, in the muck.

  11. mlq3

    afd, welcome, even if under rather depressing circumstances.

  12. cvj

    afd, just to clarify, i’m not advocating Cultural-revolution-style change (rom can attest to that in my discussions in her blog). If anything, cultural change is Benign0’s advocacy. I believe that radical change can come about naturally (and relatively peacefully) if we just have fair elecions (just as in Latin America for example).

  13. tonio

    afd:

    good luck with that, sir. though i hear Canada’s has it’s own share of problems. don’t all places do?

  14. vic

    AFD, Yup, TSX bounced back the Next Day and after losing 608 points Monday gained back 508 back…in the latest subject, Arroyo’s Ghost, I posted the message of our Premier there and he is rather optimistic that our economy will ride out the downturn..Overall, the Federal Government has a Trade Suplus and also a huge Budget Surplus thas was able to cut taxes substantially starting with 2 percentage points on Goods and Services Tax (1 % last year, one this year) from 7% to 5 %, and also cut Personal Tax, that alone will stimulate consumers spending…thanks…

  15. vic

    And if you are coming back home, you are always WElCOME!!!

  16. rom

    rob:get a grip. you think working for peanuts is a big deal? Welcome to the club. However, you do sound like you’d rather be elsewhere … you sure you’re staying with that small salary because you want to ‘fix the country’?

    Who said anything about denying the role of the youth in E2? Of course there were youth there, but were they there as youth or as Filipinos disgusted with erap? Passion isn’t a monopoly of any age bracket. it is the immature posturing of youth that insists that it is. We were there as Filipinos, rob. Not as youth charging in to save the oldies from themselves.

    Hits against GK? Maybe you mean hits against people who hold up participating in GK build as some sort of example of social awareness. Nothing wrong with GK, but not everyone goes into a build with such noble aspirations. I think the people who labored long and hard to make GK what it is now are entitled to say they’ve done something tangible for the country. I’m not quite ready to say the same for every single individual whose gone to a build. Some do so for the right reasons – heck, maybe even you – but there is simply no denying that not everyone who ever picked up a GK hammer did so for any noble cause.

    Nothing wrong with instant gratification either, except when you stop there and imply that building a house for the poor is better than working to fix our broken democracy. More people work at a GK build because it is easier than following through on all the sloganeering against GMA. And, as MLQ3 said, it’s also safer. That was your question, wasn’t it? Why people go to GK and not oust Gloria? Well, there’s your answer.

    Really lame, btw, to misrepresent my reply as an attack on GK.

    Rather than call the young apathetic, perhaps the young should be convinced why it should care in the first place.

    And if no one is looking for an atreides, why are you asking for someone to convince you that you should care?

    As for that extended treatment on fremen, maybe i should make clear to you what others seem to have understand: the youth should not be considered anyone’s (that hypothetical someone who will convince you that you should care) army. the lack of a rallying point (or person) is no excuse for doing nothing, just as the failure of E2 to produce the changes we all hoped for cannot be used as an excuse for the youth to sit back and do nothing (“Don’t blame us for not acting or believing. Don’t blame us for being quiet. Don’t blame us if we don’t do another EDSA. We gave you a chance that second time around”).

    The youth should see themselves as what they are: filipinos. And as filipinos, we don’t really need any specific reason to care for our country, or to act for its welfare.

  17. rom

    PDub:I’m afraid that not everyone approaches GK the same way you did. It shouldn’t be a surprise for you that for some, it is the new ‘cool.’ I’m not slamming GK. I’m criticizing those who parrot it’s principles without really meaning any of it.

  18. rom

    i think the youth know where they are and what they need to do. i think the youth are smarter than their elders. and i think that when the time is right, the youth, the Filipino youth will reclaim their country.

    AFD: i loved your king-under-the-hill conception of the youth. but, y’see, it implies that now is not the right time. and that i disagree with.

  19. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    Amen, rom. I guess if we can get Nintendo and Nokia to sponsor a rally, it would beat the 3 EDSAs altogether in terms of attendance. Aray!

  20. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    Benign0: “For that matter, this idea of OFW-ism as an “achievement” is utterly meaningless because the OFW, her place in Pinoy society, and her role in the economy are, together, what stand for EVERYTHING that is wrong with Philippine society.

    Go figure (if we can).

    Can’t help it but I will have to agree with you, Benign0 (now, I hate myself). But don’t tie that noose around your neck just yet (I know you won’t, it ain’t class and it’s messy, but you can always prove me wrong) but OFW-ism is gonna be the last thing, perhaps the only thing that could end all these. 8 million Pinoys with the resources, experience and education and their dependents preparing for the same status make roughly half the country’s population. It’s a formidable force.

    Just like in the days of Rizal, the revolution was started by OFWs – in Barcelona and Madrid. Physical presence was not a requisite to begin change two centuries ago, definitely not in the global present.

  21. benign0

    “I believe that radical change can come about naturally (and relatively peacefully) if we just have fair elecions (just as in Latin America for example).” – cvj

    To make out ‘fair elections’ as the Silver Bullet to the chronic dysfunction that is Pinoy society is not advocacy. It is plain idiocy. You know why? Because it can be argued that “fair” elections can get equally moronic politicians elected into office. Last I heard, fair elections got Erap elected president. Fair elections in 2004 would have gotten FPJ elected as president.

    Whether elections are fair or rigged does not seem to matter in a society of foolish consituents.

    “8 million Pinoys with the resources, experience and education and their dependents preparing for the same status make roughly half the country’s population. It’s a formidable force.” – TonGue-tWisTeD

    They’re a force NOW but what makes you think that they will be a force in the future? An entire generation of half-parented Pinoys is growing up because of the “heroism” of these OFWs.

    Go figure (if we can). 😉

  22. benign0

    “Just like in the days of Rizal, the revolution was started by OFWs – in Barcelona and Madrid. Physical presence was not a requisite to begin change two centuries ago, definitely not in the global present.”

    You forget though that unlike the time of Rizal, today’s OFW’s are composed mainly of semi-skilled and unskilled workers — valued more for their cheap muscle rather than for their moon-buggy designing brains and Miss L.A.-winning bodies.

    So expecting some kind of collective epiphany out of these OFWs that might usher the Philippines into some kind of imagined new era of prosperity is quite a leap of imagination.

    And besides, don’t you think we’ve already had one “revolution” too many?

  23. cvj

    Whether elections are fair or rigged does not seem to matter in a society of foolish consituents. – Benign0

    That belief is at the core of the Elitist mindset which is shared by many in the Middle and Upper class and explains their nonchalance towards electoral fraud.

  24. benign0

    “That belief is at the core of the Elitist mindset which is shared by many in the Middle and Upper class and explains their nonchalance towards electoral fraud.”

    You say it is a belief. But you seem to shy away from categorically asserting whether you think this belief to be true or false.

    What say you? 😉

    It seems that the crux of your argument against (or is it FOR — even THAT is unclear) my assertion is that said belief is “shared by many in the Middle and Upper class” from which you derive the conclusion that this is the source of “nonchalance towards electoral fraud”. Pretty slick play with words. Fortunately for you not too many people can readily pick up the utter lack of substance of what you wrote there. You should be in politics. 😉

  25. cvj

    You say it is a belief. But you seem to shy away from categorically asserting whether you think this belief to be true or false. – Benign0

    I have written about the flaws in the elitist mindset in my blog:

    http://www.cvjugo.blogspot.com/2007/05/philippine-society-and-elitist-mindset.html

  26. PDubSpEditor

    @Rom

    Thank you for clearing that up… I kinda went overboard with it, I guess, since I think I had the right reasons for joining it and making it grow in my seemingly apathetic campus.

  27. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    Benign0: “You forget though that unlike the time of Rizal, today’s OFW’s are composed mainly of semi-skilled and unskilled workers — valued more for their cheap muscle rather than for their moon-buggy designing brains and Miss L.A.-winning bodies.

    Unskilled? Do you mean even nannying or “DH-ing” doesn’t require any skill? And I thought English was a skill, too. And cheap no more. If you want cheap, go Chinese or Indian. My point is, the Solidarity movement began with just a few intellectual OFWs even while they were abroad. That could be you. And that will be the day – when a DJB-clone starts calling himself Benign0ist.

  28. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    Benign0: “They’re a force NOW but what makes you think that they will be a force in the future? An entire generation of half-parented Pinoys is growing up because of the “heroism” of these OFWs.

    Like all living organisms, the homo sapiens philippinensis WILL evolve and survive at the very least, even at THAT condition. Survival begins with recognizing the threats, then learning to deal with them, until the menace ceases to be.

    Look, half- or unparented Pinoys in the future may just be what we need after all. In your advocacy for cultural change, you have also been blaming our past for our mendicant dependency on the generosity of others. Physical separation from the providers could stimulate independence. Philosophical, spiritual, political, even financial independence. These, combined with the resiliency of the Pinoy, given his natural survival instinct, WILL promote change.

    That is out-of-the-box.(wink)

  29. Karlo Mikhail

    “…nominally, Norberto Gonzalez and (Fr. Intengan) are Socialists of the ‘SocDem’ variety…”

    The operative word is nominal, hehehe.

  30. cvj

    Karlo, the PDSP belongs to the Socialist International, an international umbrella organization of which Akbayan is a member as well. To deny that they are Socialist because of their actions is to fall under the No True Scotsman fallacy. BTW, back in 2006, i sent an email to the Socialist International asking the PDSP to be censured for its leaderships’ complicity in the killings and disappearances but i got no response.

  31. Lester Cavestany

    Dear cvj, Carl, Manila Bay Watch, Vic, Deviladvc8 and BrianB,

    Thanks for enlightening me with your insights on the definition of “the left” and “Leftists” in the Philippines. As usual, answers lead to more questions. Maybe we need to be careful with how we use the label “Leftist” especially because we have different views about what it means in the local and global context.

    I took the Political Compass test as recommended by cvj and I found out that there are two kinds of leftists: left-authoritarian and left-libertarians. Left-authoritarians are those who align themselves with socialist and communist forms of government and left-libertarian are obviously less authoritative.

    According to the test, I belong to the left-libertarian quadrant. So, I’m a leftist too, but the libertarian type. I was also very happy to know that left-libertarians are in good company; we have Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama in our group 🙂

    Mabuhay ang mga kaliwete hehe!

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