May 21

Numerology and politics

This entry was all brought to mind by my postponing with several a-bloating entries still in draft form, and taking time off to read article by Lei Feng in the Asia Sentinel, China’s Disasters by the Number:

Like the US post-9/11 and my fellow office workers, many of China’s Netizens have been trying to find meaning in what it is being called the worst year in the country’s history – though none mention the famines in the late ’50s or the Cultural Revolution years.

There were the crippling snowstorms of January, unrest in Tibet followed by what is widely perceived here as international insult and humiliation heaped on the “sacred flame” of the Olympic torch while it made its journey outside the Middle Kingdom. A horrific train crash came next and now the earthquake the Internet is abuzz with material that is familiar in its own way to Americans who have pondered the coincidences of the John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln assassinations (“Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln; both had vice presidents from southern states named Johnson…”).

It is also reminiscent of the weird idea that a Nostradamus couplet foretold the attack on the Twin Towers, or that the word “Satan” could be seen in the smoke that rose above the collapsed building on 9/11.

In China, it’s about numbers: add up the dates of the snowstorm (1-25), the Tibet riots (3-14) and the earthquake (5-12) individually and you get “8” normally an unusually auspicious number and the reason the Olympics will kick off on 8-8-08 (and why it costs significantly more to get a phone number with multiple 8’s).

The five tooth-achingly cute cartoon character Olympic mascots called ” — I think of them as exotic, colorful Smurfs are also now seen by some to be harbingers of China’s recent miseries. Representing a fish, panda, swallow, Tibetan antelope and the Olympic flame, those seeking coincidence see the panda as an earthquake warning, since the ravaged area is also home to China’s endangered giant panda; the Tibetan antelope well, you can figure that out; ditto for the Olympic flame; the swallow is seen as emblematic for the “kite city” of Weifang in Shandong province where China experienced a deadly train crash last month.

The remaining one is a fish symbol, representing water, which online doomsayers suggest could indicate pending horror in the Yangtze River.

Some Taiwanese TV stations are also blaming the feng shui of Beijing’s massive new “Bird Nest” Olympic stadium, saying it has “interrupted the pulse” of a giant dragon said to lie beneath the country.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt died, Josef Goebbels whipped out an astrological chart and confidently informed Hitler that the tide had finally turned in favor of the Third Reich. Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers. Aguinaldo supposedly had a potent anting-anting, Time Magazine reported in 1944 that Quezon was somehow convinced he would never die in the daytime (he died in the morning) and of course Ferdinand Marcos adorned his room with mystical pentagrams and had a great faith in the significance of the number seven. President Arroyo has had the presidential palace exorcised several times, she consults mystical nuns (one independence day celebration involved little flags adorned with some sort of slogan being dropped from a helicopter, apparently upon the prophetic exhortation of one such nun), while Feng Shui principles are applied to the layout of the Palace and so forth. Former Speaker de Venecia decided to support the last impeachment because he was receiving letters dictated by his dead daughter from beyond the grave. And Romulo Neri, apparently, does nothing without consulting the I Ching.

If, as Randy David says, the real crisis confronting our country is what he calls A Crisis of Modernity, then you have to despair of a political class that determines its political actions not according to a pragmatic cost-benefit analysis or anything else, but according to omens and other efforts at divination. Not least because this prevents any real, rational, analysis of political events and trends. Or then again, if numerology and divination helps us cope with an increasingly complex world, maybe it’s no big deal?


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  1. benign0

    You failed to mention Jun Lozada and his posse of nuns — an image that at the height of his popularity was hungily lapped up by the masses. 😀

    Why don’t we give this “crisis of modernity” a word — primitivism, as in: The Philippines is a primitivist society.

  2. mlq3

    benign0, ask anthropologists why they reject the term “primitive.”

  3. Marck


    “crisis of modernity” is not “primitivism.” “crisis of modernity,” if i remember my social theory classes correctly (and please, correct me if i’m wrong), is more accurately translated into “disorientation.” modern society is faced with huge, unmanageable degrees and levels of change that mechanisms for rationality are either no longer responsive, or people seek alternatives to the order brought about by rationality.

    hence, “post-modernity;” ambiguity, interpretation, difference, change, absence, etc. rationality and order give way to a multiplicity of voices, against-the-discrete, against-the-order.

    in effect, we may all have experienced that anyway, that our lives as constantly-living, constantly-cognate, constantly-emotional, constantly-thinking, constantly-conscious human beings are in a state of constant crisis. so we go beyond reason and engage in resistance against an order established by rationality to constantly resolve a constant crisis.

    it’s more than “primitivism.” “crisis of modernity” itself is an intellectual debate, not an exercise in labeling…

  4. The Equalizer


    Those who know Chinese in this blog will tell you this SPELLS the real problem of Gloria Arroyo!

  5. benign0

    So kung baga, Marck, we’ve come full circle from primitivism to rationality (or at least access to but not appreciation of it) then pushed past it to go back to a new form of primitivism that we now call “post-modern” among other things?

    mlq3, just because the anthropologists reject it does not necessarily invalidate the concept it seemingly describes.

  6. cvj

    Don’t despair too much Manolo about superstitious beliefs. Even LKY is a believer in lucky charms. A local told me that early in its post-independence history, the Singapore government in one of its public works projects accidentally did something that would bring it bad luck (something to do with disturbing a ‘dragon’). LKY then approached a geomancer who advised him that in order to counteract bad luck, every Singaporean should carry a ‘ba gua’ (an octagon shaped lucky charm). That explains the shape of the Singapore Dollar coin.

    On the Crisis of Modernity, Randy David (who also cites Niklas Luhman) specifically describes it as the transition to a functionally decomposed (or in Marck’s terms ‘differentiated’) society. This is manifested in the ‘Elitist Mindset’ by the political class and its middle and upper class supporters (among others). This group is still stuck in the hierarchical paradigm of Pre-modern Society. I suggest you despair more about this.

  7. cvj

    Some Taiwanese TV stations are also blaming the feng shui of Beijing’s massive new “Bird Nest” Olympic stadium, saying it has “interrupted the pulse” of a giant dragon said to lie beneath the country.

    I suppose this means that we should expect ba gua shaped coins to soon become part of China’s currency.

  8. supremo

    ‘President Arroyo has had the presidential palace exorcised several times’

    I guess it didn’t work because she is still there.

  9. BrianB

    Crisis of Modernity? How about crisis of shallowness.

    Our elite are obsessed with the notion that their fate and their family’s fate are greater than the fate of the nation. History pale in comparison to their own domestic concerns. That’s why every time there’s a problem, they turn to the latest TV show they’ve watched for a solution. What’s worse is that they look upon the masses and the continuous generations that comprise the stagnating class with utter contempt. If they can put them all in a box they would. True democracy is antithetical to their way of life simply because one has to count the millions of poor and uneducated people that must participate too.


  10. supremo

    There is a need for an environment which can provide more opportunities for the lower class and more restrictions for the upper class to rig the environment in their favor. Don’t expect the government to provide this environment in the Philippines.

  11. Bencard

    “rig the environment in their favor supremo? it’s not nice to fool mother nature (LOL).

  12. Bencard

    speaking of nostradamus, the rise of the biblical anti-christ is, according to his prediction, starting right about now. his description of the beast, and the manner it captures the adulation of the multitude, are uncanny.

  13. benign0

    There’s a book titled Triumph of the Airheads.

    It’s one thing for shallowness to afflict societies that have the financial resources to indulge in it. But to be embraced by a primitive society like the Philippines is another.

    Wala na ngang pera, shallow and primitive pa. Patay kang bata ka.

  14. supremo

    Environment as in social environment Bencard.

    Thanks for the warning about the anti-christ. Is this somehow related to the latest Indiana Jones movie or you just got a memo from you know who?

  15. hawaiianguy

    it’s more than “primitivism.” “crisis of modernity” itself is an intellectual debate, not an exercise in labeling…


    I agree. You seem to espouse a post-modernist view (judging from your blog). The crisis of modernity that David mentioned has been floating around in academia for so long.

    In brief, the crisis is brought about by the failure of society to keep up with the gains of modernity (aka “progress”) that is built on science and rationality. As a consequence, it has disappointed many individuals who now seek for more viable alternatives to answer pressing problems in society that persist despite advancements in technology and communication.

    One such problem is the issue of property, which is rationalized by means of a document known as torrens title. Spain has bequeathed this legacy to its colonies like the Philippines.

    Its unfortunate consequence is, that it set aside the age-old tradition of property ownership based on communal values. Hence, ancestral domain is resurrected to protect tribal communities and other minority groups that have not “modernized” or embraced “rationality” that came with colonization.

    The rise to modernity is associated with people being disenchanted with charm, magic and even religion that we now call “orthodoxy.” They think that they can better answer life’s mystery by an appeal to reason and facts, rather than by clinging to faith and beliefs.

    This is why many are now tempted to use so-called post-modern approaches that may provide more meaning and vitality to people’s lives. Early thinkers like Locke, Hobbes, and even Marx have failed to see that man’s penchant for rational thinking is the same trap that imprisons him and causes his downfall.

    Question now is, shall we disregard ancestral domain because it runs counter to modern concept of ownership?

    This is basically the raging issue why the Bangsamoros call for secession. Their right to ancestral domain is ignored by legalists simply because their proof of ownership doesn’t come in the form of a signed document.

    The post-modern explanation is to essentialize the right of voiceless, marginalized communities – those groups of people who have not been colonized, or have little or no access to modern science and technology, or don’t subscribe to Hobbesian rationality that puts primacy on the literate citizens of a nation-state.

    I guess, what we should ask is: how do we deal with the “other”, rather than how we go along with our own kind? This is the most human thing we can do under these trying times.

  16. jude

    Right now, the most serious “numerology” to consider would be the escalating price of oil and its effects on the world economy. At over $130/barrel and rising, it raises the specter of high inflation and low growth. The dreaded “stagflation”.

    No less than Warren Buffett has indicated that the that the effects of an economic downturn could last for a while.
    “I don’t necessarily think we’re halfway through or necessarily a quarter of the way through the effects throughout the general economy,” Buffett said. “The initial effects are felt by the people who really did the silliest things, but you can have a whole bunch of domino-type effects that eventually can get to people who are doing fairly sound things.”

    And Goldman Sachs has predicted $200/barrel oil within this year. This, plus possible interest hikes to combat inflation, would bring about a “perfect storm” which would lingeringly snuff out consumer spending and production. Unlike recent recessions, this slump will take its toll slowly, but last for a longer period.

  17. anthony scalia


    This is manifested in the ‘Elitist Mindset’ by the political class and its middle and upper class supporters (among others). This group is still stuck in the hierarchical paradigm of Pre-modern Society, – cvj

    such an anti-elitist view is also a type of ‘hierarchical paradigm’ of pre-modern society as well.

    lets not make the mistake of thinking that a ‘hierarchical paradigm’ is non-existent in supposedly modern western societies.

    after all, having a form of ‘hierarchical paradigm’ is human nature

    its already the postmodern era. using terms such as ‘pre-modern’ is ‘so modern’

  18. cvj

    Anthony, you’re right that hierarchies still exist but that was not my point. As i explained repeatedly (most recently in the previous thread), while hierarchies still exist within each of Society’s subsystems, there cannot be a hierarchy for Society as a whole. A Caste System, especially one that is highly unequal, is inimical to the level of specialization and coordination needed in Modern Society.

    BTW, when you that Society is postmodern, what do you mean?

  19. Marck


    there is no such thing as a “postmodern” society. many postmodernists take exception to being called “postmodernists.”

    to echo walden bello’s term, i think the proper term would be “permanent crisis.” society, faced with the demands constant and accelerated change, is encountering a need to cope, but current paradigms are no longer able to resolve the anomalies (with reference to thomas kuhn; as an example, read dilbert). as such, the “postmodern” alternative would be to accommodate as many paradigms – voices – as possible and to look at things not from oppositions and presence, but in terms of difference and absence. that has many implications on society.

    i personally would recommend a reading/skimming of lyotard’s notions of “the postmodern,” or a slim volume written by derrida entitled “positions.” although i have to admit: i have problems reading and digesting them.

  20. hvrds

    For everyone deeply enamored by monism – the monetization of life itslef.

    A simple explanation of why a neutral medium of exchange like the value of gold tied to physical production of goods and service that benefit and sustain humanity (that means the planet) would be best and this would remove the power of politics to create inflation that ultimately destroys the productive value of labor.

    All major upheavals apart from natural calamities have been caused by government fooling around with monetary values and creating inflation. It has also created very few wealthy men for in the process those who own most of the means of production grwo richer from asset inflation that gets embeded to the detriment of the vast majority.

  21. hvrds

    “It consisted of twelve regional Federal Reserve banks nominally owned by private bankers, but in fact government sponsored, controlled, and supported. Credit extended by these banks is in practice (though not legally) backed by the taxing power of the federal government.”


    by Alan Greenspan

    An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense – perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire – that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other.

    In order to understand the source of their antagonism, it is necessary first to understand the specific role of gold in a free society.

    Money is the common denominator of all economic transactions. It is that commodity which serves as a medium of exchange, is universally acceptable to all participants in an exchange economy as payment for their goods or services, and can, therefore, be used as a standard of market value and as a store of value, i.e., as a means of saving.

    The existence of such a commodity is a precondition of a division of labor economy. If men did not have some commodity of objective value which was generally acceptable as money, they would have to resort to primitive barter or be forced to live on self-sufficient farms and forgo the inestimable advantages of specialization. If men had no means to store value, i.e., to save, neither long-range planning nor exchange would be possible.

    What medium of exchange will be acceptable to all participants in an economy is not determined arbitrarily. First, the medium of exchange should be durable. In a primitive society of meager wealth, wheat might be sufficiently durable to serve as a medium, since all exchanges would occur only during and immediately after the harvest, leaving no value-surplus to store. But where store-of-value considerations are important, as they are in richer, more civilized societies, the medium of exchange must be a durable commodity, usually a metal. A metal is generally chosen because it is homogeneous and divisible: every unit is the same as every other and it can be blended or formed in any quantity. Precious jewels, for example, are neither homogeneous nor divisible. More important, the commodity chosen as a medium must be a luxury. Human desires for luxuries are unlimited and, therefore, luxury goods are always in demand and will always be acceptable. Wheat is a luxury in underfed civilizations, but not in a prosperous society. Cigarettes ordinarily would not serve as money, but they did in post-World War II Europe where they were considered a luxury. The term “luxury good” implies scarcity and high unit value. Having a high unit value, such a good is easily portable; for instance, an ounce of gold is worth a half-ton of pig iron.

    In the early stages of a developing money economy, several media of exchange might be used, since a wide variety of commodities would fulfill the foregoing conditions. However, one of the commodities will gradually displace all others, by being more widely acceptable. Preferences on what to hold as a store of value will shift to the most widely acceptable commodity, which, in turn, will make it still more acceptable. The shift is progressive until that commodity becomes the sole medium of exchange. The use of a single medium is highly advantageous for the same reasons that a money economy is superior to a barter economy: it makes exchanges possible on an incalculably wider scale.

    Whether the single medium is gold, silver, seashells, cattle, or tobacco is optional, depending on the context and development of a given economy. In fact, all have been employed, at various times, as media of exchange. Even in the present century, two major commodities, gold and silver, have been used as international media of exchange, with gold becoming the predominant one. Gold, having both artistic and functional uses and being relatively scarce, has significant advantages over all other media of exchange. Since the beginning of World War I, it has been virtually the sole international standard of exchange. If all goods and services were to be paid for in gold, large payments would be difficult to execute and this would tend to limit the extent of a society’s divisions of labor and specialization. Thus a logical extension of the creation of a medium of exchange is the development of a banking system and credit instruments (bank notes and deposits) which act as a substitute for, but are convertible into, gold.

    A free banking system based on gold is able to extend credit and thus to create bank notes (currency) and deposits, according to the production requirements of the economy. Individual owners of gold are induced, by payments of interest, to deposit their gold in a bank (against which they can draw checks). But since it is rarely the case that all depositors want to withdraw all their gold at the same time, the banker need keep only a fraction of his total deposits in gold as reserves. This enables the banker to loan out more than the amount of his gold deposits (which means that he holds claims to gold rather than gold as security of his deposits). But the amount of loans which he can afford to make is not arbitrary: he has to gauge it in relation to his reserves and to the status of his investments.

    When banks loan money to finance productive and profitable endeavors, the loans are paid off rapidly and bank credit continues to be generally available. But when the business ventures financed by bank credit are less profitable and slow to pay off, bankers soon find that their loans outstanding are excessive relative to their gold reserves, and they begin to curtail new lending, usually by charging higher interest rates. This tends to restrict the financing of new ventures and requires the existing borrowers to improve their profitability before they can obtain credit for further expansion. Thus, under the gold standard, a free banking system stands as the protector of an economy’s stability and balanced growth. When gold is accepted as the medium of exchange by most or all nations, an unhampered free international gold standard serves to foster a world-wide division of labor and the broadest international trade. Even though the units of exchange (the dollar, the pound, the franc, etc.) differ from country to country, when all are defined in terms of gold the economies of the different countries act as one – so long as there are no restraints on trade or on the movement of capital. Credit, interest rates, and prices tend to follow similar patterns in all countries. For example, if banks in one country extend credit too liberally, interest rates in that country will tend to fall, inducing depositors to shift their gold to higher-interest paying banks in other countries. This will immediately cause a shortage of bank reserves in the “easy money” country, inducing tighter credit standards and a return to competitively higher interest rates again.

    A fully free banking system and fully consistent gold standard have not as yet been achieved. But prior to World War I, the banking system in the United States (and in most of the world) was based on gold and even though governments intervened occasionally, banking was more free than controlled. Periodically, as a result of overly rapid credit expansion, banks became loaned up to the limit of their gold reserves, interest rates rose sharply, new credit was cut off, and the economy went into a sharp, but short-lived recession. (Compared with the depressions of 1920 and 1932, the pre-World War I business declines were mild indeed.) It was limited gold reserves that stopped the unbalanced expansions of business activity, before they could develop into the post-World War I type of disaster. The readjustment periods were short and the economies quickly reestablished a sound basis to resume expansion.

    But the process of cure was misdiagnosed as the disease: if shortage of bank reserves was causing a business decline – argued economic interventionists – why not find a way of supplying increased reserves to the banks so they never need be short! If banks can continue to loan money indefinitely – it was claimed – there need never be any slumps in business. And so the Federal Reserve System was organized in 1913. It consisted of twelve regional Federal Reserve banks nominally owned by private bankers, but in fact government sponsored, controlled, and supported. Credit extended by these banks is in practice (though not legally) backed by the taxing power of the federal government. Technically, we remained on the gold standard; individuals were still free to own gold, and gold continued to be used as bank reserves. But now, in addition to gold, credit extended by the Federal Reserve banks (“paper reserves”) could serve as legal tender to pay depositors.

    When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve’s attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain’s gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates. The “Fed” succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world, in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market, triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed. Great Britain fared even worse, and rather than absorb the full consequences of her previous folly, she abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

    With a logic reminiscent of a generation earlier, statists argued that the gold standard was largely to blame for the credit debacle which led to the Great Depression. If the gold standard had not existed, they argued, Britain’s abandonment of gold payments in 1931 would not have caused the failure of banks all over the world. (The irony was that since 1913, we had been, not on a gold standard, but on what may be termed “a mixed gold standard”; yet it is gold that took the blame.) But the opposition to the gold standard in any form – from a growing number of welfare-state advocates – was prompted by a much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.

    Under a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support is determined by the economy’s tangible assets, since every credit instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset. But government bonds are not backed by tangible wealth, only by the government’s promise to pay out of future tax revenues, and cannot easily be absorbed by the financial markets. A large volume of new government bonds can be sold to the public only at progressively higher interest rates. Thus, government deficit spending under a gold standard is severely limited. The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit. They have created paper reserves in the form of government bonds which – through a complex series of steps – the banks accept in place of tangible assets and treat as if they were an actual deposit, i.e., as the equivalent of what was formerly a deposit of gold. The holder of a government bond or of a bank deposit created by paper reserves believes that he has a valid claim on a real asset. But the fact is that there are now more claims outstanding than real assets. The law of supply and demand is not to be conned. As the supply of money (of claims) increases relative to the supply of tangible assets in the economy, prices must eventually rise. Thus the earnings saved by the productive members of the society lose value in terms of goods. When the economy’s books are finally balanced, one finds that this loss in value represents the goods purchased by the government for welfare or other purposes with the money proceeds of the government bonds financed by bank credit expansion.

    In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

    This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.

  22. hvrds

    GSIS, SSS, Pag Ibig, Philhealth, Workmens Compensation are taxes collected for future entitlements. They are separte from income taxes, excise tax and duties.

    During the Estrada regime the government (SSS & GSIS) with the majority owners of Equitable bought PCI Bank. They bought the block of shares owned by Gokongwei and Geny Lopez at a huge capital gain for both parties. The buying price was Php 90+ a share.

    Banco De Oro then bought out these two government cheap. SSS took a capital loss on the sale. While GSIS got its purchase price back but had to give credit terms to the buyer. During the interim period from 1998 till last year no dividends were earned by both pension funds. The loss of income opportunity was huge. If they had lent that money to the government at least they would have earned close to 10 percent per anum compounded before taxes. Their principal would have doubled in the interim.

    When government somehow handles public funds they seem to neglect the basics of making money.

    Who profited from these gifts of the public treasury?

  23. cvj

    Thanks Marck, that’s what i thought so as well. Sometime back, i read Niklas Luhman’s essay ‘Why Does Society Describe Itself as Postmodern’ where he explained that the term is used to redescribe Modern Society. So, the underlying Modern Society is still there, only the second-level description has changed.

    I don’t know whether they’ve read Postmodern literature or not but i believe that Gloria Arroyo (or her handlers) have a gut-level appreciation of its ideas well enough to make it work for them.

  24. jude

    I think that the Filipino non-Muslim majority find the premises for ancestral domain questionable. One of the premises is that the Bangsamoro and their territories were never conquered and therefore not subject to the concept of land titles, or to treaties between colonial powers that concerned the Philippines. To many Filipinos, that is a stretch.

    I would like Mr. Quezon if, by the fact that Muslim leaders served as local and congressional officials in the Commonwealth and in the Republic of the Philippines, does that not signify that Muslims de facto accepted the governing power of both the Commonwealth and the Republic of the Philippines? Being conquered, to my mind, does not only mean being vanquished by force.

    And the sweeping Bangsamoro claim to “the entire Mindanao mainland, Basilan, Sulu archipelago, and parts of Palawan” is disputable because, even if there may have been scattered Muslim communities in different areas of these islands, the sovereignty of the Bangsamoro over these territories was not established.

  25. anthony scalia


    BTW, when you that Society is postmodern, what do you mean?

    maybe one characteristic of a ‘postmodern society’ is the noticeable tolerance of contrasting ideas, a willingness to dialogue

  26. KG



    I looked it up in mahjong tiles I can only decipher the red dragon character ,sino ba nagmamahjong dito?

  27. KG


    ZTE lang pala
    naghirap pa ako tingnan sa mahjong

  28. cvj

    maybe one characteristic of a ‘postmodern society’ is the noticeable tolerance of contrasting ideas, a willingness to dialogue – Anthony Scalia

    I see, thanks. I’m not sure though if that’s a distinguishing characteristic because openness to new ideas and willingness to dialogue has been there at least since the Enlightenment (i.e. liberty, equality and fraternity). You have a point though because as Hawaiianguy (at 5:49 am) has referenced above, postmodern thought makes explicit the concept of the ‘Other’ and the need to deal with them (whoever they may be).

  29. KG


    I remeber your Winston Garcia post that he might be the Warren Buffet or Carl Icahn of the Philippines.

    I just saw his once questioned move to buy the Luna and Amorsolo painting got dismissed by the ombudsman.

    Sa tingin ko buti nang sa atin mapunta ito,kesa sa foreigners, this became a hot topic in fiduciary duties ,during the time it happened.

  30. KG



  31. KG



  32. jude


    Winston Garcia isn’t the most likeable person. My first impression of the guy was that he was obnoxious, although I did think that his decision to buy the Juan Luna painting, in order to keep it in Philippine hands, was the correct one. This fellow’s track record shows that he dilligently does his homework and he has the guts to make tough decisions, even if they are controversial.

    He’s a tough cookie and doesn’t back down from a fight. He’s earned his spurs. He’s faced down taipans and political cronies and got the better of them.

  33. mlq3

    jude, as with any political position, a claim to an extensive ancestral domain makes political sense, you can be bargained down from claiming half the philippines but if you start by being scrupulous about your territorial claims you have nothing left to negotiate.

    and as a partisan claim the claim is of course selective about its arguments. it can afford be like that, because most of those on the other side haven’t even studied the claims as thoroughly.

    i do agree with your points about inclusion in the commonwealth, etc. being an implicit (and more likely, explicit) acceptance of the sovereignty of the national government, etc.

    the other side of the argument vis a vis the moro claims is that the same treaties they cite -because present-day moro leaders and the moro public they claim to represent view themselves as successors in fact of the old moro sultanates- involved repeated recognitions of spanish sovereignty over the sultanates; the sultans in essence turned themselves into satraps of the spanish. not to mention fairly extensive actual conquest and control over palawan and portions of mindanao by the spanish. that aguinaldo asked the sultan of sulu to accede to the newly-proclaimed republic and was rebuffed, only points to how embryonic the philippine state was in 1898. but that state was thoroughly destroyed and conquest by the americans established an entirely different sovereignty over the remainder of the philippines.

    and the moro claims of course ignore two things: the bates-kiram treaties and when those broke down (recognizing american sovereignty) actual conquest by the usa of the moro areas. and a new set of treaties which definitively established american sovereignty over the moro areas, retaining the sultan of sulu as a kind of grand mufti of muslim filipinos but without political authority.

    and if the present-day moro leaders are successors-in-fact of the old sultans, then their predecessors were the muslim leaders who participated in drafting the 1935 constitution, who had representation in the national assembly and who had representation in the first national senatorial elections in 1941. also, when the last sultan of sulu died, the commonwealth didn’t intervene and didn’t recognize a successor, since the political entity had been absorbed into the country under the americans; the result has been competing claims and no real successor as sultan, only many claims.

    where the social contract, if you will, with the muslims broke down, afterwards, was when the policy of sending settlers to mindanao, originally to unpopulated areas, began to result in land-grabbing by christians from muslims. the policy of settling mindanao had two reasons behind it, to serve as pressure valve for agrarian problems in luzon and the visayas and to solidify control over relatively-sparsely-inhabited mindanao, due to lingering distrust between national and muslim leaders because, after having been defeated by the americans, the moro leaders had at times preferred the american to the christian filipino side: support for the americans was strong in muslim mindanao even when christian areas went through an initial period of ambiguity because of the abandonement of bataan and corregidor.

    then the exposure of a new class of moro leaders not from the traditional nobility led to a challenge to those traditional leaders and their cozy relationship with christian politicians, and the adoption of a different, originally more secular idealogy of moro identity on the egyptian model under nasser; then the adoption of a pan-islamic ideology in more recent decades. but one criticism some moros have is that these new leaders ended up reproducing the old style of governance of the traditional nobility.

  34. KG


    Re: Winston Garcia

    I agree!

  35. KG


    The plan to have a Republic of Mindanao by the muslims:
    That was supposedly one of the assignments to be assigned to my father by FVR w,hen he was the ASEC DND for plans and policies (for a very brief period). before he can craft any plan or policy, Erap took over and removed all the asecs and usecs with any military background in the DND,well he got his all out war, which accomplished nothing.it was an irony, the usecs and the asecs with no military background suggested that. So The military does not have the monopoly of having “utak pulbura” in that case.

  36. jude

    “the muslim leaders who participated in drafting the 1935 constitution, who had representation in the national assembly and who had representation in the first national senatorial elections in 1941” – mlq3

    Thank you for the explanation, Mr. Quezon. That makes it very obvious that the Moro leadership was very much involved with the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

    And the fact that they have energetically participated (even acquiring a notorious reputation for “extreme” voter turnouts) in elections under the Republic, that would certainly qualify as recogniton of sovereignty in my book.

  37. UP n student

    It is the will of the people residing in those pieces of territory that is the biggest roadblock to carving out large chunks out of land from Mindanao. As example, the results of a plebiscite in 2001 that proposed to expand the ARMM from four to 14 provinces — “NO” to bangsamoro expansion.

    Luzon- and Visayas-Filipinos should be alerted that Bangsamoro now wants to include more than a thousand non-Muslim communities into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, including hundreds of Christian communities (and hundreds of lumad communities). The MILF is very active — just in past months, there were again instances where heavily-armed men forced villages to vacate their homes. Maybe it is not ethnic cleansing yet because lumad- and Christian-villagers are not dying, but there is “land purification” going on.

  38. supremo

    The Mindanao problem will not go away even if the GRP agrees to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as proposed by the MILF. The MILF will probably split into 2 as soon as the papers are signed. The new group will inherit the weapons of the old MILF and continue the fight.

  39. supremo

    from atimes.com
    ‘To weaken the Tamil demand for inclusion of the Eastern Province in the “Tamil homeland”, successive governments have sought to alter the demographic composition of the Eastern Province by encouraging Sinhalese settlements here – and they have succeeded. Today, the east is equally divided between the Tamils, the Sinhalese and the Muslims. It has become multi-ethnic. And Trincomalee has become overwhelmingly Sinhalese, which means the government has been able to break the contiguity of Tamil-dominated districts as well.’

  40. UP n student

    As late as December 2007, an Indonesian media company correctly describes Mindanao:

    The MILF has demanded the creation of an autonomous Muslim region on the island, where Shariah Law would be enforced and they would have control over security and natural resources.

    But Mindanao is largely a Christian Island with Muslims just 18 percent of the population. There are concern that if an agreement is not implemented carefully, inter-religious communal violence could erupt.

    — from Mindanao Muddle : Fighting the hidden war in the hearts of the people -ASIA CALLING December 11th, 2007

    MILF asks — Shariah law by the minority Muslims over the majority of Mindanaowans island population? But they do have practice of rule of the gun.

    GRP (government of Republic of the Philippines) is correct. The Constitution of the Philippines has jurisdiction over all territories of the country.

  41. UP n student

    A cut-and-paste from ASIA CALLING article :
    December 11, 2007

    Mindanao Muddle : The child fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

    The MILF, the largest rebel group in South-East Asia, has been fighting for decades for an autonomous Bangsamoro homeland on the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines. The MILF has around 12,000 armed mujahadeen, or holy warriors, who say they are fighting for a return of ‘their land’.

    Rebecca Henschke went inside one of their camps outside Cotabao City to find out what these men will accept as peace.

    We have just arrived at one Camp Darapanan, set in a grove of palm trees at the foot of a mountain. We have passed around 100 rebel fighters on either side of the road leading up to the camp.

    Many look only about 15 or 16 years old. They are dressed in military uniforms and carry semi-automatic rifles.

    Rex, now 45 is a veteran of this battle. He became a rebel solider when he was just 13 years old.

    “This is the true jihad. It started during the time of Marcos. We were attacked by the military during the time of President Estrada. Many of my comrades were killed. It’s very difficult to live away from my family but this is a sacrifice we have had to make.��?

    Walking next to him is a young soldier, Abdul.

    He says he joined the movement when he was 12 years old. He is now 23 but looks much younger.

    He carries his Russian AK 47 weapon like a professional soldier and follows his commander’s orders with ease. However he is shy and withdrawn when it comes to talking about why he took up arms.

  42. hawaiianguy

    MILF asks — Shariah law by the minority Muslims over the majority of Mindanaowans island population? But they do have practice of rule of the gun. UPnS

    I think the MILF doesn’t refer to or ask for the whole Mindanao in its Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, but some 1000 communities only. It was the MNLF under Misuari in 1986 that this claim for the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Palawan was made.

    Maybe you’re right on the “rule of the gun” practice, which is what makes most people there esp. Christians apprehensive of being placed under a Moro autonomous (or independent) govt.

  43. jude

    “Maybe you’re right on the “rule of the gun” practice, which is what makes most people there esp. Christians apprehensive of being placed under a Moro autonomous (or independent) govt.” – hawaiianguy

    I also think that the prospect of an Islamic government under Sharia laws is repulsive to most Filipinos. We have been used to freedoms under a secular environment. There is no desire for Theocracy, whether Christian or Islamic. Most Filipinos, including Muslims, have no desire of seeing religion meddling with politics and running their daily lives.

  44. hawaiianguy


    You’re right. Many Christians are repulsed being placed under the Islamic shariah, which in some cases imposes more severe penalties (e.g., death penalty for most heinous crimes, stoning to death infidel wives, cutting the arm/tongue of thieves/liars, etc.).

    Iran is an example of theocracy, which is anathema even among many Philipine Muslims, who are Sunnis. However, most Muslims would favor religion and politics coming together as one, under the Islamic concept of tauhid (roughly, Arabic for unity). Tauhid is not necessarily theocratic. In Islam, religion and politics are inseparable facets of social life, unlike in western secular societies which put premium on specialization and compartmentalized knowledge. Islamic scholar Ali Shari’ati said this:

    (tauhid)…”is to be interpreted in the sense of the unity of nature with metanature, of man with nature, of man with man, of God with the world and with man. It depicts all of these as constituting a total harmonious, living and self-aware system.” In other words, it is essential for man to know not just the parts or the whole but also to understand what relationship exists between the two. (Shari’ati, 1979)

  45. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    I have no problem living with Muslims in my community. It is only the possibility of having terrorists/extremists for neighbors that is unsettling. This, I assume, is shared by many if not the majority of non-Muslim Filipinos. But back in 1909, General Black Jack Pershing already had discovered the solution:

    “In 1909, before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the United States forces in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, by Muslim extremists. General “Black Jack” Pershing was the appointed military governor of the Moro Province. He captured 50 terrorists and ordered them to be tied to posts for execution. Since all the prisoners were Muslim, he asked his men to bring two pigs and slaughter them in front of the prisoners. He then proceeded by dipping bullets into the pig’s blood.

    In the process he executed 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. Then, the soldiers dug a big hole in the ground and dumped in the terrorists’ bodies and covered them in pig’s blood and viscera. The last man was set free. For 42 years there was not a single Muslim attack anywhere in the world.”


  46. cvj

    Tounge, it can work both ways. A similar act of disrespect in India led to their first War of Independence against the British.

  47. TonGuE-tWisTeD

    Ah, the use of bovine (or was it porcine) fat to grease their guns, right? AsianCiv 101. That’s as far as my History goes, heheh.

  48. cvj

    Yes, i came to know of it by watching an Indian movie shown on TV here in Singapore (Mangal Panday).

  49. KG

    Nakireseatch na din po .
    They used lard (unclean for muslims) and or tallow which was sacred for the hindus.

  50. KG

    Jologs ko talaga
    bovine is for cow,porcine for pig,sorry ha

    eh basta sana sebo de macho na lang ang ginamit nila, i tried looking for any porky or beefy in it wala akong makita sa web.

    pero malamang it either is from pig or cow kaya di rin pwede

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