It doesn’t compute (revised)

My column for today is An unnecessary breakdown in distribution. I have been trying to keep up with The Rice Problem ( has a microsite going, too, The Price of Rice). See in particular, Long lines for rice not the first time in RP history.

But (as an unpublished entry for this blog, postponed and repeatedly revised indicates) it’s tough going. Maybe mañana! For now, what puzzles me is that the government, according to some people who formerly served in it, engaged in mapping the poor areas of the country, with food and patronage in mind. Why then, has government been stumbling around since the Rice Problem began?

Right now, as the Inquirer editorial for today, Immediate need puts it, the political pressure’s increasing for wages to be raised, in response to the Rice Problem.

At the sidelines of the conference I attended, people were quite curious about the Philippines and quite surprised to hear such a big percentage of the population was abroad.

“Why?” they would ask.

“Poverty and the absence of social mobilty,” was my short answer, which would then lead to a longer answer (if there was time).

On to something that occured in my absence.

I read with interest in Ambeth Ocampo’s column, that Rizal translated Déclaration des Droits de l’homme et du Citoyen de 1789 (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) into Tagalog. This is of course one of the great historical documents of Western (and World) civilization and brings me to a question asked by in frustration in reaction to my recent column, Resistance isn’t futile.

In his entry Because We Can in, cocoy (big mango, a blog I’ve often referred to), speaks of the need for a “New Political Party.”

This is, to my mind, actually the formation of a Reform Constituency, which I’ve discussed at some lengths in my March 4, 2008 entry Dodging concrete demands, (see, in addition, Minimum and maximum from February 20, 2008) to wit:

I believe, in light of the above, the urgent need is for:

1. The middle forces to consolidate and pursue a consensus;

2. And having forged that consensus to consider that while some are more focused on the President, and others on longer-lasting and more wide-spread reforms, the two are not incompatible if their goal is a Reform Constituency that can challenge the Right and the Left not just now, or 2010, but beyond.

(And reference to John Nery’s column, as to the role protest, etc. plays in building this constituency; as well as links to the constituencies other people have identified; see also Randy David’s What Among Ed’s victory means -and it did not mean a grassroots revolt; the danger is it might represent the Last Hurrah of the old elite and middle class of Pampanga).

I mentioned the need for a Reform Constituency in my column, The civic imperative: a reflection (which appeared during Holy Week, oh well) on March 19, 2008:

The challenge proposed in the pastoral letter of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales is whether citizens can cultivate the kind of civic spirit that keeps up the fight day in and day out, and turns a temporary victory in the streets into a triumph of the public good.

In other words, the cultivation of a Reform Constituency, which helps officials by keeping them on their toes, protects gains achieved for the public good, and offers up prospects of preserving what has been built, but extending and enlarging those gains, as well…

The clarion call of our times, then, unites faith with reason. To rebuild a civic culture. To have a common ground in shared values based on a shared belief in how the system ought to work. Our particular political objectives are secondary to this. It is our generation’s mission.

And as I discussed in a reply to a comment also on March 19, 2008:

those who want the president to go, but do not accomplish it before 2010 -but along the way, make it impossible for her to perpetuate herself in office beyond that, then that is an achievement that makes the vigilance from 2005-2010 worth it. if it results in lakas-kampi being trounced at the polls, better yet, come 2010, or if it results in the beginning of the end for them, politically, and the rise of a reform constituency that may not win in 201[0] but begins to flex its muscles and does even better by 2016, then that’s great, too.

If this requires refighting old battles and re-stating old issues again and again, even if it drives some people up the wall, because some things have to restated until properly internalized, then so be it. One big difference in perspective: in his April 18th, 2008 5:42 pm comment, cocoy speaks of “aging 20th century playbooks,” and if your perspective believes a mere 100 years is, indeed, enough to make ideas obsolete, then of course the frustration will be intense. But a few centuries here or there don’t invalidate ideas, to my mind, just as generations passing serves to underscore certain basics about human behavior -including the behavior of those with power and those challenging power and the way it’s wielded.

But it may be that the battles that need to be fought today -and they need to be fought, sometimes along tried and tested lines but also, recognizing that people change and what worked yesterday won’t work today, I’ve also pointed out often enough why this is happening- make some people think that the Reform Constituency isn’t coming together.

It is, and there are tangible signs.

The most tangible of which is Anti-graft bloc, law schools to catch big fish (this effort goes beyond catching big fishes; it’s also establishing the good will and sense of a common cause that will bear fruit in other projects, too; I’m involved in a sub-project that aims to produce charts and diagrams that will help make sense of evidence as its gathered, and also, help illustrate to school kids and citizens how government institutions and procedures ought to work, and show cases where they haven’t worked, or have been subverted by officials).

The Jester-in-Exile has more about it (well, the launching activity, at least) in The Right to Know - Shall We Exercise It, or Shall Our Blindness be Voluntary? and with videos, too, in Filipino Voices — Speak Up. Be Heard. (Else, remain silent and be damned yourselves thereby.)

Responses to my column include The Marocharim Experiment writing of “hinanakit,” but it’s cocoy who really got people thinking: see The Jester-in-Exile’s Because We Must, and Rom’s (aka smoke) Must we? Which, in turn, led to a riposte by cocoy in Because We Can Change the Dynamics of the Game. cocoy expands his views on a New Political Party in Empower Tomorrow (essential, accompanying reading in this vein is A Comprehensive Proposal for an EDSA Reform (edited) by Writer’s Block). As a side note, perhaps we also differ, deeply, in our attitudes towards parties. By instinct, I oppose the idea of political parties, period, because I believe by their nature parties exist to secure jobs for their members, and you have centuries of human behavior and party histories to prove this. In the Philippines’ case, see my Arab News column, The Same Mistakes Eventually. I am more inclined to Making political parties obsolete and exploring Partyless Democracy as a concept (as some people from India are doing), and tying it all together as much as possible, see Politics is a continuum:

1. Politics is a continuum.

2. Politics is about both issues and personalities.

3. When an government is subjected to a referendum the totality of its actions are what’s being judged.


The differences in opinion, I’d suggest, boils down to whether cocoy’s belief that old methods must simply be scrapped, or whether the reason they exist points to their efficacy and efficaciousness; and whether the priority can be binding the nation’s wounds, on the basis of letting bygones be bygones because a larger, more abstract, problem needs to be attended to. The abstract problem, after all, has a pretty big consensus behind it: that it exists, and that what exists is a political system out of whack because society’s out of whack. Can you nudge it back into shape? There’s the rub. Of course the most extreme view, and a large part of the problem, are those expounded by New Philippine Revolution: that elections are a sham, that no change has taken place; the justification for revolution by insisting there’s no such thing as evolution.

Or we can simply Blame it on the heat.

In other matters,Conrado de Quiros calls attention to Chess prodigy Wesley So, and how we do well in only three sports: boxing, billiards -and boxing. So three cheers for Wesley! Note how Chess is a popular pastime among many Filipinos, even if public attention isn’t paid to that fact. I admire Chess players, particularly since I’m extremely lousy at it.

Why the Pope wears red shoes was quite unsatisfactory. An infinitely better read is Vintage Vestments: The Philosophical Threads Woven Into Papal Garments or From the House of Benedict, Tradition as Chic in The New York Times (2006) and the full summary of the source, The House of Benedict: The Full Summaries (see older entries still, like Camauro Here Often?) from the must-read blog on everything Vatican-related, Whispers in the Loggia.



Skip to comment form

    • JD Cruz on April 21, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I wish I an say something on the contrary just to provoke a discussion. But since I can’t, I might just congratulate you for this nice post.



    • UP n student on April 21, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    On the rice-crisis, below is a cut-and-paste from The Washington Post:
    In recent weeks, public alarm in the Philippines over the soaring price of rice has focused attention on the fast-growing population and its dependence on rice imports.

    Despite steadily increasing rice harvests, farmers here have been unable to keep pace with domestic demand. Economists here have calculated, though, that the Philippines would not need imported rice if it had managed to control population growth — like its neighbor Thailand.

    In 1970, the population of each country was about 36 million people and growing at about 3 percent a year. But with an aggressive family planning program that provides the poor with free contraceptives, Thailand has since reduced its population growth rate to 0.9 percent. In the Philippines, the rate has declined sluggishly to about 2.1 percent.

    There are now about 26 million more people in the Philippines than in Thailand.

    “It’s a no-brainer,” said Ernesto M. Pernia, professor of economics at the University of the Philippines. The Philippines now produces 16 million metric tons of rice a year — and needs to import 2 million tons more to meet local demand.

    “If the Philippines had pursued what Thailand has done, the Philippines would be only consuming 13 metric tons of rice per annum,” Pernia said. “We could be a net exporter of 3 million metric tons.” Besides increased food security, the Philippines could have lifted 3.6 million more people out of poverty if it had followed Thailand’s population growth trajectory, according to Pernia’s analysis.

    “Even when there is widespread corruption, insurgent violence and other powerful reasons for poverty, the evidence from across Asia is that good population policy by itself contributes to significant poverty reduction,” he said.

    The CBCP’s stance ….. that they would refuse Communion to government health workers who distributed birth control devices…. that, and for women to get a thermometer.

    • mlq3 on April 21, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    upn, this brings up the question, if we begin finally pursuing a serious population strategy, when will the population plateau? and what will be the effects of that policy until then?

    • UP n student on April 21, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Public opinion surveys in recent years have consistently found that about 90 percent of respondents supported government funding of contraceptives for people who cannot afford them. Surveys by the government also show that poor families have significantly more unwanted pregnancies than richer families — and much more difficulty finding affordable contraceptives.

    The problems the poor face in finding contraception products will increase sharply this year as the Philippine government and USAID end the distribution of donated contraceptives, according to Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative for the U.N. Population Fund.

    A reduction in the use of contraception — which is now about 33 percent among women of childbearing age — will lead to an increase in abortions, Mukherjee predicts. A 2006 study found that there were about 473,000 abortions in the Philippines a year, which accounts for about a third of women with unwanted pregnancies. The study also found that 80 percent of abortions had complications requiring medical treatment.

    • XAX on April 21, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    @ MLQ3, UP n student

    I’ve read somwhere that some of the contraception products distributed don’t get used. The article said that the in the thinking of some of the poor families, the children are like a psychological crutch. The more kids there are, the more hands who could help feed the family. It’s a little disturbing. What do you think?

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 10:44 pm


    This should serve as a warning to federalists: I come from a rice-producing province and word there is that we have stopped sending rice to Manila. Not one grain more. We are keeping it for ourselves.

    • mlq3 on April 21, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    xax, you’re seeing how that world view operates, right now, with regards to the rice crisis. since the amount of rice being handed out per person in some areas is limited, parents are bringing their children to line up to receive rice. the more children you have, the more rice the family gets -to the extent that families then sell off the surplus at a profit to other people who want rice.

    and we see it all the time of course in how children support their parents and siblings and the tremendous pressure to repay the investment in time and resources of their parents in their education, etc.

    • mlq3 on April 21, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    brian, a warning, yes. of course a community’s first duty is to feed itself. but it’s also in the interest of that community to profit from its surplus: it says volumes that areas having bumper crops are hoarding.

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    So you think it’s for profit? I’m saying the entire province isn’t shipping rice anymore. This is a concerted effort and I am not aware of rice cartel operating in my province. Seems impossible there. If you haven’t heard Eastern Visayas is suffering from rising rice prices and they are rice producers too. My parents tell me rice back home is cheap.

    • vic on April 21, 2008 at 11:14 pm


    If Federalism is the Solution, (nobody as yet can figure how will it work)the disparities and inequities could easily be remedied by making it part of the Charter..

    It can be provided in the Charter among the provisions the Equalization downloading where Federal funds are geared towards investing in poorer Provinces or Regions to make as possible the equalization of quality of life of all citizenry. The Federal government may not be able to force one particular province to export its product to another, as your post, but it can do what it can by providing more funds to the poorer provinces and extending more benefits..


    Commitment to promote equal opportunities

    36. (1) Without altering the legislative authority of Parliament or of the provincial legislatures, or the rights of any of them with respect to the exercise of their legislative authority, Parliament and the legislatures, together with the government of Canada and the provincial governments, are committed to
    (a) promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians;

    (b) furthering economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities; and

    (c) providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians.

    Commitment respecting public services

    (2) Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. (96)

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Those who oppose population controlare getting stupider every year. It’s inevitable that we’re going to have one sooner or later. Better now that we do not have to resort to more desperate measures and government can still protect civil liberties.

    • UP n student on April 21, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    to BrianB: On this “…from a rice-producing province … word there is that we have stopped sending rice to Manila. Not one grain more. We are keeping it for ourselves.” This is nonsensical because a trader is a trader is a trader. In other words — money talks. If an extra 5% bonus does not do it, then 7% may… or 15%… or 20%.
    GMA does not need to send a detachment of marines to obtain from XYZ-province rice for the NCR-area; she needs an accountant with a Purchase Order.

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    vic, but Canadians only have to worry about the French-canadians. The Philippines have to worry about several powerful groups, many of whom are resentful of Manila and some of whom are frankly secessionists. A charter or constitution thus amended may look good enough to prevent animosity between states, but let us be clear: will it include a law to preserve Tagalog as a national language? And how is Manila going to be divided? Many provinces have invested significantly in Manila. My province practically spilled all its wealth Manila’s way. And how is the army going to be divided? Will each state have its own National Guard? Imagine that.

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    UP n, a trader isn’t everything. Our traders happen to be natives and very well-rooted. I’m not sure about this but rice is really quite low there. Just how low. I’ll ask and I’ll tell you tomorrow. I think some relatives farmlands though I forget if we’ve sold them yet. A relative even has a granary, so stay tuned. Just don’t take it as an official statement. I’m not very tsismoso and I don’t keep my ears pricked up for rumors.

    • BrianB on April 21, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    I mean, money isn’t everything for rice producers and traders.

    • vic on April 21, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    BrainB, not just the Quebecois, how about the Albertans? They are swimming in Oil?

    The languages, be it Tagalog or English or dual can be ironed out during deliberation and debates and don’t worry about Manila, soon it will be just some kind of Tourist attraction. If resources are carefully invested in other provinces the progress will spread all over and lot of people won’t even flock to Manila except for a visit.

    As for the Military, it will be of course under the Federal government..same with immigration and monetary policy..once everything is in order, you can easily defined which power belongs to which, there is no confusion at all, unless is is still ruled by warlords…

    • mlq3 on April 21, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    granted, a merchant will not always operate with instant gain or even medium term gain mind, and there are other things to consider such as prestige, influence, personal ties.

    i’m not one to pin blame on the president for things like the weather, crop failures outside the country, higher oil prices, etc. but it does seem fair to take the admin to task for the things it prides itself in: logistical ability is one; a certain amount of political will is another; third is, the cultivation of the provinces and in particular, provincial leaders. if there’s a time when she ought to cash in her chips, it’s now.

    my column today focused on the first: that for an admin that takes pride in being a step ahead of the rest, and which we know engaged in mopping the population, something went awry in the mobilization of rice stocks -and is still out of kilter. on the second point, announcements by duterte (admittedly, no fan of the president) that he will focus on keeping his people fed and similar announcements or news of such announcements in other rice-producing areas, is either cunning marketing (verging on profiteering, which the president says she will stamp out, as every admin has to attempt to stamp out under such circumstances), or it’s a slap on the admin showing it got fleeced but can expect no good will from its allies. a sad state to be in. rice stocks are being mobilized to be farmed out to the armed forces, which will make the police complain, and then after they complain, the civil service will complain, and then … so on down the line and no reservoir of good will for the president to appeal to people to pull together.

    it is, of course, no consolation for anyone to say this was what was in store, that the juggling act could be maintained in times of relative prosperity or at least, with no major international disrpution to our ofw lifeline. it’s interesting the traditional opposition has been a little more circumspect than one would expect -but then, all the political leadership from the traditional parties are cut from the same cloth so it’s suicide to rabble-rouse too much at this point. Estrada is scoring points by distributing relatively high-quality rice compared to the NFA blend, but that’s just insurance for himself but not much more than being of nuisance value.

    the only thing the whole thing has proven is how very little anyone can actually say with certaintly, about conditions in the country, particularly outside the capital. it means everyone is stumbling in the dark and the murky nature of things serves to spook people even more.

    • mlq3 on April 22, 2008 at 12:01 am

    brian, what exactly is your understanding of federalism? or the purposes of a national capital, or why capital cities have evolved?

    • BrianB on April 22, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Manolo, don’t know what the question is for but isn’t it obvious that if the Governors want more control of regional taxes and have it, the populace is going to look up to the governor as their own president or as someone who is co-equal to the president. Then wouldn’t a governor try to plant himself in firmer ground politically by appealing more to the specific culture of that region, and maybe encouraging that region’s prejudices in the process?

    In theory governors are higher than congressmen, but who do the people look to in times of need? The governor is practically invisible. The wishes and complaints of the populace is not processed by the governor but through congress and the presidency. In a Federalist government, the situation will change and governor will take much of the role of Congress and the Executive. Am I correct? We’re talking Philippine psyche here. Democracy has a history too but do you see that history in Philippine democracy?

    • BrianB on April 22, 2008 at 12:19 am

    In the US, governors can be presidents, like Clinton. Here Mayors have a far greater chance than a governor in winning a national seat. And against a congressman or a senator, a mayor has no chance at all. Now imagine if a public official who is theoretically the most powerful man in a region or province acquires the psychological impact proportional to his theoretical power. The HEAD of the province. Right now, this provincial HEAD only exist almost as a formality. In a federalism, this provincial or regional head will be a true leader in form and in spirit.

    Sure, I am not fully informed on how you view a future Federalist Philippines but this is my fear.

    • mlq3 on April 22, 2008 at 12:36 am

    brian, that evolution is beginning, has been since the local government code’s been passed. congressmen are becoming less important, governors have gained in influence and mayors, too. to a certain extent people are also discovering the presidency is an office more powerful in the obstacles it can put in the way of opponents but less important in a positive sense.

    what is happening at present seems to be the worst combination: local leaders are growing in power with regards to their own populations but less able to work together with those from other localities, and the presidency as in institution has lost or is losing its historical powers of getting people to toe the line.

    there are three models of federalism, the american-mexican-brazilian presidential model, the european (e.g. german, swiss, etc.) parliamentary models (malaysia, too, and briefly, indonesia but then abandoned), and the perhaps more relevant one, that of spain. very few filipinos have studied them accurately and you are correct in pointing out most people describe federalism according to what they don’t want -but not what they want or are willing to give up in exchange for it.

    • BrianB on April 22, 2008 at 12:43 am

    You fancy federalism because you believe the governors can address the problems in their respective regions better? You mention Spain as more relevant but you never mentioned the Basque problem. Even Cataluna wants to secede. This is my argument, and I will not even argue which type of federalism you entioned best suits us: that the PSYCHOLOGICAL impact will be more significant than the legal and logistical impact. This isn’t just the immediate psychological impact but the long-term as well.

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 12:54 am

    mla3: I agree with one of the items in your article on the rice crisis. Just as there is a need for a strengthened infrastructure (roads, sea transport, e.g. to get the rice from Panay farms to Divisoria) there is a need for an elevated performance (more efficiency, more self-initiative) by Filipinos in civil service.

    • Bencard on April 22, 2008 at 12:57 am

    in the philippines where everything, yes everything, is politicized, the current rise in the price of food worldwide, especially rice, is yet another subject for cheap political gimmickry. already, a disgraced politician is doing what he does best, exploiting the alarmists’ scenario of rice shortage and looming starvation and blaming the government (who else?) for it to get attention.

    if there is one problem that the whole country, including both sides of the political and ideological divide, should be united in finding a workable solution to, this is it. the usual blame game and finger-pointing (except to identify, prosecute and punish the illegal profiteers and exploiters) must be held in check. starvation is an equal- opportunity menace. the poor will perish with eyes open, and the rich will be overwhelmed by the irresistible force of rampaging multitude, crazed with hunger and despair.

    • manuelbuencamino on April 22, 2008 at 1:39 am


    How will giving Gloria a free pass because of the rice crisis lead to any kind of solution? If anything, a free pass will be an incentive for Gloria to keep the crisis going but a “manageable” level i.e. just below the food riots point.

    We pay through the nose for our food, why shouldn’t Gloria pay for her peace?

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Below, a paragraph that illustrates how some Filipinos think of their fellow Filipinos in the civil service and from the very poor:

    A debate is now going on among high government officials as to whether setting aside a P20-billion price subsidy for 2 billion kilos of imported rice would be better than just allowing the price to seek its commercial level and distributing the P20-billion subsidy directly to the 4.7 million poor families, to help them in their rice needs. The difficulty with the second option is that this huge amount would have to be coursed through local government units; there’s the danger that these funds won’t get to their real targets, especially with the 2010 elections approaching. Besides, there’s no guarantee that the poor will spend these funds wisely.

    • Bencard on April 22, 2008 at 2:22 am

    mb, nobody is giving anyone any “free pass”. if it’s really a “crisis” that you say it is (and i agree because my wife says the price of rice in the oriental store here has gone up a lot too), gma could not single-handedly find a lasting solution, free pass or not. she would need the cooperation of everyone even just to make the problem “manageable”. afterall, she is only a president, not a god nor an alchemist.

    but if your objective is to starve the whole nation just to get at gma, then shame on you, not on her.

    • supremo on April 22, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Asian rice in NJ is now $16 from $11 per 25 lb. bag. So we are switching to the American variety.

    • supremo on April 22, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Why is GMA prioritizing the AFP rice supply? That’s the same tactic use in North Korea. The Army gets more food than the rest of the population.

    • mang_kiko on April 22, 2008 at 4:50 am

    supremo ang sagot sa tanong mo ay ang AFP ay Armado at ang manga yon mag alsa lagot sigurado ang administration at pati ang manga “high command” nang Militar. kaya inu-una kahit libag sa tinatawag na pareho pareho dapat. ganyan dito sa Bayan natin, hindi pa na-uso yon tinatawag na “Equal Treatment”. malungkot pero yan ang katotohonan..

    • jakcast on April 22, 2008 at 5:51 am

    @ Supremo, Mang Kiko

    History replete with such rulers. Not sustainable, according to Machiavelli:

    ‘Hence it arose that those emperors were always overthrown, who…were inclined to give satisfaction to the soldiers, caring little about injuring the people.’ – The Prince, Chapter XIX

    • rego on April 22, 2008 at 8:36 am

    “but if your objective is to starve the whole nation just to get at gma, then shame on you, not on her.”—


  1. It seems that rice is not only known as the staple food of the Filipinos, it is also a political commodity.

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

    to jakcast: Not sustainable, true. That the practice stops, not true.

    While it is true … “… that those emperors were always overthrown, who…were inclined to give satisfaction to the soldiers, caring little about injuring the people’…. it is still the case that the population would periodically choose from among their ranks new leaders who would again, as new emperors, become inclined to give satisfaction to the soldiers (or to their cronies).

    It is the economy, stupid!!!! A population 85% or more are gainfully employed will be less susceptible to being fooled into electing wolves as emperors.

    • benign0 on April 22, 2008 at 10:34 am

    afterall, she is only a president, not a god nor an alchemist. – Bencard

    Unfortunately most Pinoys can’t tell the difference.

    When times are bad, it’s the President’s fault. When times are good, it’s because a good president rules.

    It’s kind of like the primitive mind’s regard for religion:

    When times are tough, it’s “God’s will”. When times are good it’s “by God’s graces”.

    See the implication here? The individual or the self does not figure in either equation.

    That’s a typical PRIMITIVE mind at work.

    A society dominated by primitive minds manifests itself as a BACKWARD society where EVERYTHING that makes the news are nothing more than reactive RESPONSES to the ebbs and flows of its environment.

    One moment it’s street circuses in RESPONSE to the latest “scandal”, the next moment it’s food queues in RESPONSE to fluctuating commodity prices, then on another day, it’s free condoms being distributed in RESPONSE to a sudden realisation that too many unproductive people populate the land.

    Backward societies are a big waltz to the tune of an orchestra made up of Mother Nature, Religious Nuts, its local Oligarchs, and the global economy.

    • mlq3 on April 22, 2008 at 10:51 am

    benign0, why then did the former ruling party in australia become that -the former ruling party? what were the reasons australians voted it out of office recently?

    • benign0 on April 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

    benign0, why then did the former ruling party in australia become that -the former ruling party? what were the reasons australians voted it out of office recently? – mlq3

    mlq3, you are right of course. There was a change in government here because people were not happy with certain policies and approaches that impacted their personal wellbeing.

    But that does not mean that people here generally see the government — or God — as the primary driver of their fortunes or misfortunes. You don’t har Rudd’s or Howard’s name mentioned after every other word whenever the fortunes or misfortunes of the land are being discussed and evaluated.

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I doubt that there will be much cheering, but people should be forewarned that the days of the strong peso are about to end, and end fast. Those with euros and dollars (whether US-, Aussie- or Canadian) will be able to buy more pesos soon. The evidence are in the links that MLQ3 had pointed to, e.g. (a) scheduled increases in salaries of government employees; (b) renewed and even stronger calls for hikes in the minimum wage, (c) even the NFA uses the words “May perang pambili, pero walang mabili”.

    In other words — INFLATION.

    • watchful eye on April 22, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Benigs, do you think the following letter is addressed to the peasants and the Payatas people or to GMA and the elites of the Philippines?

    The missing piece in Philippine devt

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    This refers to Romeo Encarnacion’s letter titled “With so much talents and skills, why is RP a basket case?” (Inquirer, 4/17/08)

    I come from another developing and equally corrupt country, but allow me to put in my two pesos’ worth of opinion on this question.

    I am writing this letter because I lived in Manila for about six months in 2005. I was born and raised in India.
    For the past 10 years I’ve been living in North America.

    While in the Philippines, I would start my day with a hearty breakfast. I would usually have some toast, butter (made in New Zealand), jam (made in Australia/United States) and some juice (made in United States/Thailand/Brazil). I assumed the bread for my toast was made in the Philippines.

    Compare that with my similar breakfast in India. There I never came upon a breakfast item that was not made in India. The point is, daily needs—be it jam, juice, butter or rice—should be homegrown.

    Just like India, the Philippines has a huge pool of cheap labor. The government and the people should insist that basic goods be produced locally. That will create jobs, save precious foreign exchange and protect the nation from external dependencies and threats. So with cars, electronics and household products. The Philippines must set up more manufacturing facilities—with the help of foreign experts if needed—but the country should make sure that the units and parts are manufactured in the Philippines, not merely “assembled” here.

    Another thing I noticed, which was so glaring and evident in Encarnacion’s letter—more specifically when he compared the Philippines with America—is the entire Filipino nation’s low self-esteem.

    Having lived in India until the age of 26, I could feel the Indian people’s high national pride. Yes, India is as poor as the Philippines; yes, we do have tall, shiny buildings and malls but they are right beside shanties.
    Indians are complaining all the time about our government agencies but seldom or never do we compare ourselves to America.But in the Philippines, you open any local newspaper and almost every day you read at least one article singing hosannas to America.

    Every country has its own culture and way of doing things. There’s no one cap that fits all situations. I believe the Philippines can develop and do things its own way. If China can do it as a communist, if India can do it as a socialist, so can the Philippines, Filipino style.

    Many Indians, just like many Filipinos, are going abroad every day, but the Indian exodus has not hampered India’s progress. The Philippines has better infrastructure than India, arguably better quality of English speakers, fairly fertile lands and a vast pool of human resources.

    I believe that the day the Filipinos wake up and take charge of their situation and take less pride in being a “balikbayan” [visiting overseas-based Filipino] than in being Filipino, that day when the Philippines will become another “Asian tiger” won’t be far away.


    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 11:03 am

    News report : Nograles and Mitra just filed a bill requiring the country’s corporations to engage in agricultural production to supply the food needs of their employees.

    The bill requires firms to produce at least 600 kilos of rice per employee per year and any excess will be sold by the firms.

    • leytenian on April 22, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Our leaders lack the knowledge of calculating and predicting risk. Why do we need so many senators and congressman if most of them cannot perform? Rice inflation must always be assumed as an economic risk. Population and consumption are basic statistical data that will help our leaders to balance supply and demand.

    Over population in our country is not a result of lack of contraception or education. It is a result due to lack of employment. If people are employed and busy with their lives, they will have a sense of what money is all about. They will have short period of time to spend in bed. ( smiling)

    Too bad majority of our population are unemployed and most of them are in the provinces. Secondly, our leaders live in Manila and they don’t know how the people in the provinces live. Our leaders cannot relate to the needs of the poor because they were never been poor. How can these people understand the other side of the world? This is basic humanity.

    In short… we only need one senator in Luzon, One senator in Mindanao and 1 in the Visayan island. We only need less than 10 congressmen and governors. Our economy cannot sustain to pay for labor costs. Imagine how much pork barrel these senators, congressmen and governors receive in a year… For what purpose? These money should have been spent not for their own useless project agenda but truly for our farmers, healthcare, education and basic needs of our people. Philippines has a small economy. We are employing too many useless, incompetent leaders. We are wasting money. Cutting labor costs will help reduce liabilities in our balance sheet. This change will help improve the overall economic health of our country.

    I think our leaders are confused about how infrastructure can affect employment. Sure, it will affect employment if we don’t have the infrastructure in place. But money spent towards those projects was not transparent. Expenses are not legitimate. You see, our economy is a close economy. We do have principles of accounting but what kind of principles are we practicing?

    Our balance sheet and income statement is not open for public scrutiny. It is not transparent. Our judicial branch cannot function because of lack of financial transparency. You cannot find evidence if actual data is hidden. Most of our issues are all about money. There is a code in our Constitution that must be changed and only the people of the Philippines can demand such change.

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    watchful eye: that letter from Sandeep who said “I believe that the day the Filipinos wake up and take charge of their situation” is addressed to Filipinos who can read and understand English.

    • benign0 on April 22, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Mr. watchful eye, I think this passage highlights the point of that entire article:

    Every country has its own culture and way of doing things. There’s no one cap that fits all situations. I believe the Philippines can develop and do things its own way. If China can do it as a communist, if India can do it as a socialist, so can the Philippines, Filipino style.

    The only reason i attack Pinoy culture is because our aspirations are Western. Therefore it is foolish to aspire for Western achievement whilst applying Pinoy approaches.

    Democracy — a Western concept — obviously does not work because we are a superstitious and non-self-reliant, people who prefer to defer to higher powers than hold one’s self up as the only real reliable entity in one’s life.

    Catholicism continues to imprison Pinoy minds with its age-old derivation of power through a conintuous effort to crush individualism, free/independent thought, and self-actualisation.

    Yet the above two — Democracy and Catholicism — are immense pillars that prop up our demented sense of national pride.

    See what is wrong with this picture?

    There are so many hollow-heads who make quaint calls to be proud of our culture, who also fail to see the irony of how that very culture is grossly mis-aligned with our development aspirations.

    – (a) You either change the aspirations to suit your capabilities;

    – (b) Change your capabilities to suit your aspirations; or,

    – (c) Do both (a) and (b).

    Western European levels of development were built on ethics of long-term planning, a rich tradition of critical thought and scientific/technological achievement, and a hard stomach for conquest.

    None of these traits describe the laid-back, wishy-washy, God-will-provide, manana, let-it-be, pwede-na-yan comfort zones of Pinoy society. So no one should really be surprised why we continue to muddle along in mediocrity.

    • cvj on April 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Watchful eye, that makes it two letters pointing to love of country, national self-esteem and national pride as the key to development (the previous one coming from a young Korean). That’s something that the Benign0-types will not be able to comprehend. Love of country precedes development, not the other way around.

    That letter from Sandeep is well taken. I have very high regard for the Indian civilization.

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Belinda Olivares-Cunanan : Philippine Daily Inquirer, in an article on the rice crisis, has this suggestion : The sensible suggestion from housewives, including this one, is for the management of the various hotels, restaurants and cafeterias across the nation to help the rice crisis by lessening what they serve. We could also cut down our rice intake at home by a spoon or two; after all, many of us are overweight.

    She also reports that Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has an important trip to Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan province to push the planting of hybrid rice in the vast lands being tilled by inmates there. Maybe there will soon be a proposal that tuition-aid to Iskolar ng Bayan recipients will be conditional on these students spending a planting season to either shore up the irrigation ditches or even to learn how to control the hand-tractors and/or the carabao-driven implements.

    Who says we have to wait for a revolution to start implementing Year-Zero changes?

    • cvj on April 22, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    It is the economy, stupid!!!! A population 85% or more are gainfully employed will be less susceptible to being fooled into electing wolves as emperors. – UPn Student

    As the case of George W. Bush shows, not necessarily.

    • rego on April 22, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    People here dont realized it but actually benignO is actually raising a very very important concern. No one will waste his/her time doing that if you dont care or love your country.

    CVJ, ha dugay ka sa na sa blog eto…Grow up man!

    • UP n student on April 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    cvj: You really don’t think a Pinas with 85% gainfully employed will not be better than Pinas of today?

    • cvj on April 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    UPn Student, that’s not what i wrote. Of course an 85% gainfully employed Philippines is an improvement. What i wrote was that even if we achieved that level of development, the example of George W. Bush’s election to the Presidency, shows that it is not true that such a society would be as you claim, ‘less susceptible to being fooled into electing wolves as emperors‘.

    • cvj on April 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Rego, i guess the difference is that what Benign0 is advocating is Conditional love which is contingent on success. This is what Benigno wrote previously…

    …So why waste one’s precious time on a a society whose track record of delivering mediocre results has been more than obvious for DECADES…Benign0, March 28th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    …which is the opposite of the message of Unconditional love [for Country] from the letter writer from India (and the previous one from Korea).

    You can read his whole comment here:

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