Thoughts on stillborn revolutions


What, Apolinario Mabini asked, is a revolution?

By political revolution I understand a people’s movement aimed at producing a violent change in the organization. and operation of the three public powers: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. If the movement is slow, gradual or progressive, it is called evolution. I say people’s movement because I consider it essential that the proposed change answer a need felt by the citizens in general. Any agitation promoted by a particular class for the benefit of its special interests does not’ deserve the name (of political revolution or evolution).

But let me suggest that it is equally valid to define a revolution as simply the replacement of one government, with another, against the will and in defiance of the institutional processes, of the government that falls. This means that whether that forced change is peaceful or violent, the process is the same: a the government that falls and by so doing, has its institutions repudiated.

Mabini said that by instinct and temperament, most people prefer change through evolution rather than by revolution, but that if development is blocked by the government, then a revolutionary situation arises:

But evolution is not possible where the social organization is not adjusted to it, just as a plant grows and flourishes only in suitable soil. When the government takes measures for the stagnation of the people, whether for its own profit or that of a particular class, or for any other purpose, revolution is inevitable. A people that have not yet reached the fullness of life must grow and develop because otherwise their existence would be paralyzed, and paralyzation is equivalent to death. Since it is unnatural for a being to submit to its own destruction, the people must exert all their efforts to destroy the government which prevents their development. If the government is composed of the very sons of the people, it must necessarily fall.

There continues to be a debate concerning public approbation of martial law. It is said Marcos himself was surprised by the docility of the public and the manner in which he successfully rounded up the opposition, padlocked the legislature, and cowed the courts. Metro Manila -his own political creation, a throwback to the Greater Manila established as a temporary wartime measure- erupted in protest by 1978, the famous noise barrage on the eve of the elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa; yet 1981 would mark his apotheosis as dictator and his proclamation of a New Republic, officially burying the old Third Republic; by 1984, however, close to a third of the Batasang Pambansa was oppositionist, with bailiwicks in Batangas, Cebu, and places like Cagayan de Oro City. He was unpopular in large swathes of the sugar-producing regions, and the coconut-producing ones, where his efforts to establish monopolies under Benedicto for sugar and Cojuangco for coconut had spectacularly ruined those once-lucrative industries.

Still, opposition, perhaps, percolated upwards and not downwards until Marcos’ economic mismanagement eventually led to a pincer movement, with the majority and the elite both edging towards the same conclusion: the dictator had to go.

Marcos’ mistake was to galvanize opposition among those with a means to oppose him, by eventually seizing and engaging in extortion, the property of those who left well enough alone and had never engaged in politicking in the manner of his wealthy opponents.

To be sure, he’d already alienated the majority of people much earlier than that, as demonstrated by the noise barrage in 1978; but in 1983 he finally lost the middle class and in 1984, when he famously threatened the Makati Business Club, he finally lost the upper class as well. He lost major urban centers, too: Baguio, Cebu, Davao became even more firmly esconced as anti-Marcos bailiwicks of the opposition.

Over the past few years, I heard veterans of the Marcos era express the firm conviction that sooner or later (and sooner rather than later) it would duplicate Marcos’s mistake and start muscling in on the corporations of its enemies, then muscle in on the corporations of its critics, and finally, start gobbling up the corporations of the uninvolved; at which point, the tide would turn against the government. This is, incidentally, a mistake Estrada made, surrounding by many of the same crowd that had porsued similar tactics during the Marcos era.

This is significant because of how tightly intertwined our society is; the upper class relies on the middle class for its mananers and they manage the masses who are employed; and all are tied, up and down, by ties of church, club, and school, the whole compadrazgo culture strengthened by the rituals of births, graduations, weddings, and funerals. Declaring war on a so-called oligarch is a declaration of war on a cascade of families belonging to the middle class and the masses. Which is why the goings-on among the higher political and business echelons of this country are avidly followed by everyone else -each one having a stake, major or minor, in the outcome.


This administration hasn’t engaged in Marcosian engulf and devour tactics with one exception, the Lopezes; with all others, it has bared its fangs in public while showing every inclination to reach a mutually-profitable accommodation in private. But what sets it apart from the dictatorship is that instead of engulfing and then devouring, it seems to have hit off on a novel scheme: to leave everyone pretty much alone, and instead, carve out new financial territories for itself and its friends. In this case it left only one traditionally entrenched opponent, the Lopezes, while leaving everyone else, hostile or not, alone. Transco, for example; and even its assault on Meralco has been better camouflaged by restricting most of the action to the boardroom, the use of government shares as a battering ram and when that was thwarted, the sale of those shares to San Miguel Corporation which then floated, for public consumption, the rather tantalizing possibility that San Miguel can lower electricity costs by engaging in data transmission through electrical lines: establishing a new monopoly on virgin commercial territory and incidentally, driving a wedge in the otherwise united front presented by the existing telecoms companies.

History is never repeated; circumstances neither emerge nor combine in the same way at different times; for this reason, one argument perpetually put forward as some sort of mitigating factor in judging the present administration’s political maneuvers has always left me skeptical: the President is no Marcos, the times aren’t at all like Marcos’s time, you do not see, for example, the outward manifestations of the New Society and its methods for thought and crowd control.

But of course. Every generation learns from the one that came before. And even the same players learn from the past.

According to some accounts, the Palace is hedging its bets and going slow on Charter Change, because of the public perception that it is in bad odor in Washington; one interpretation goes as far as suggesting the Palace is spooked by the possibility of Washington tacitly blessing a coup should any effort to prolong the President’s stay in office proceed. Others suggest that the Palace all along prefers to be in “legacy mode,” all the better to improve its chances in 2010, while maneuvering for a succession it can control.

The same accounts suggest that a modus vivendi between the President and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. was ratified in Qatar, and that the President’s visit to San Miguel Corporation’s headquarters was the public manifestation of this agreement. At the very least, it kills two birds with one stone (knocking the Lopezes off their perch in Meralco, and placing the capstone in the carefully-built electric, power, and energy fiefdoms the administration’s made possible), while keeping all others, including Charter Change, at the very least on the back burner and in play.

Some links to past readings by way of a backgrounder on the Marcos years and the anniversary of the Edsa Revolution: Marcos in retrospect, part 1 and part 2; the enduring strength of the idea that one can create a New Society; and some observations on the Philippine political culture.

To come full circle, though, as the Inquirer editorial Veto power suggests, the ultimate lesson might be, that if a revolution, and its acceptable manifestation in our country, People Power, is to succeed, it requires, at the very least, the repudiation both of the government People Power topples, and of its institutions including its constitutional rationale.


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    • Madonna on February 26, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Revolution or evolution? As per Mabini’s explanation of evolution — the Philippines is not evolving, it’s regressing. With how things are going, it is not hard to come up of a scenario of a Philippines in the future where only two classes of people remain in the country: the rapacious elite in the minority and the teeming and impoverished masses in the majority. Who wants to belong in either group?

    The masses are powerless true in terms of social mobility, with only OFW-ism as a remaining choice, which in itself has been a failure as a poverty-buster. But does the decent segment of a the uppermost classes in fact want to be lumped as also a preying, thieving gang as most of the oligarchs are known for? Structural change should something to them and they have a stake in its results.

    The way I see it, most Pinoys with a modicum sense of decency are virtually being driven off this land by a gang of thieves and degenerates.

    • UP n grad on February 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Does the reference to Mabini then imply that the only valid revolution of recent years was that by Polpot where he nulled out the executive, judiciary, legislative as well as the classes A-B-C of the population? the same metrics suggests that Marcos did it too, then, when he castrated the Supreme court, the legislative and the rules-of-succession for the executive.

    Another more recent, of course, is when USA invaded Iraq. Maybe that is an action worthy of consideration — to ask Uncle Sam to execute a revolution in Pinas. But surely, Filipinos by now can manage its own destiny, wouldn’t we think?

    • ramrod on February 26, 2009 at 9:21 am

    “People Power, is to succeed, it requires, at the very least, the repudiation both of the government People Power topples, and of its institutions including its constitutional rationale.” – mlq3

    Manolo has spoeken.

    I don’t know with everyone else but I don’t see this happening at all. The semblance of “repudiation” we see around us is more like sound bytes, exposes (which crash and burn due to lack of solid evidence) and statements from otherwise mobility-impaired leader types. This would mean that as long as Gloria keeps her Oligarch friends close and the Lopez’s in a short leash…she definitely holds the upper hand.
    On the other hand, what if all this is really just that, sound bytes and personal political ambitions from the divided opposition? What if by deciding not to decide, deciding not to act – the people have shown their mandate…allow Gloria to lead us through the recession and beyond?

    Just a thought…

    • ramrod on February 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

    “But evolution is not possible where the social organization is not adjusted to it, just as a plant grows and flourishes only in suitable soil.” – mlq3

    I will beg to disagree with this. If we consider Darwin’s theory of natural selection – the organism will evolve to adjust to its environment, the weak of course will perish but the strong will survive and flourish.
    If we have an adverse environment (political, social, economic, etc), the Filipino will bear the brunt of its force, survive, and evolve into a stronger, more determined and deliberate organism with a purpose of becoming more empowered to make or find other constructive options better than destroying institutions or more graphically described as “burning the house down.”

    • ramrod on February 26, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Suitable soil may not mean providing the right physical environment only but may also refer to the mind. If the seeds of evolution fall on suitable fertile minds (not necessarily us) of perhaps the youth and the generations to come, we may yet find changes in the future.
    of course theres always the possibility that we may not live to see these changes but even Moses didn’t live to see the promised land…

    • J_AG on February 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Great piece by MLQ3. As long as the economic supply chains are kept running. The mechanism of the markets are kept going there will be no revolution. Civic groups keep the country evolving. It also helps that we do have a de-facto church state link up. It sucks but it is the reality on the street.

    The almost revolution of Edsa I and Edsa II happened simply because credit simply dried up in both the formal sector and informal sectors of the economy.

    It happened almost overnite for most people. The problem started to brew as early as 1981 and burst into the public space only in 1983.

    The same with Erap… The migration of the failure of the worlds bond markets went into a deep tailspin right after the Asian crisis which was followed up by the Russians defaulting on their debt then Argentina’s problems started to stew.

    It did not help that Erap was seen to be almost completely asleep at the wheel.

    That more than anything else convinced the Americans that he had to go. Erap had political will for all the wrong reasons. He felt he could bypass institutional frames just like when he was a mayor.

    • mlq3 on February 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    UPn, I’d go back and read Mabini in full if I were you, before jumping to conclusions. In my personal opinion he remains the best guide to the pitfalls of government and the challenges of keeping a nation-state on a firm ethical footing. By his own definition the New Society was not a revolution, since it was plotted, and accomplished, by one man.

  1. “We have long accepted the need to level the playing field in business and economics.”


    The real Pacman now owns:SMC,Petron,Meralco

    • Carl on February 26, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I agree that it was a combination of the behest loans going sour, the collapse of the coconut and sugar markets, the debt moratorium, which resulted in very severe remedies prescribed by the IMF (which the government and the Central Bank had to meekly accede to because they were held by the scrotum) that conspired in bringing about the discontent and unrest that eventually did Marcos in.

    And, even if it first broke out during the last year of Ramos’ term, it was the Asian financial crisis that also eventually brought down Erap, because the full effects of that crisis were felt well into Erap’s first years in office. I also agree that Erap’s reckless and incompetent bumbling didn’t help.

    Without those harsh economic conditions to fan the flames, I would be bold enough to say that EDSA I and EDSA II wouldn’t have happened.

    So, since by most accounts, the Philippines has managed to dodge the worst of the present economic crisis, would this portend favorably on those presently in power?

    • Phil Manila on February 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    ‘It’s all about markets.’ Ummmm.

    Not to forget that the Boston Tea Party was a major catalyst of the American colonies revolution against Great Britain.

    • ramrod on February 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    If we believe that Filipino is just a product of the environment and circumstances ie markets, money and food deprivation as well as its satisfaction (carrot and stick), we are saying that we are less than human but beings no different from Pavlov’s canine subjects or Skinner’s products of radical determinism and that we have no actual control of our lives and no hope of ever charting our own destiny. If all this is true, then by all means we must throw away all our copies of Og Mandino’s books because they don’t apply to us.
    There is another school of thought though, based on the experiences of Viktor Frankl, someone who survived the Nazi concentration camp – a place where the environment is designed to break down every vestige of humanity and by all intents and purposes should turn men into automatons or regress them into animals…but something else happened…

    “ If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life – an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival. ”

    Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 123

    • BrianB on February 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    The only relevant question: what do the people want and what are they willing to do?

    Easily answered if you’re American, European, Chinese, Mexican, Chilean, South African, not so easy when you’re Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, etc.

    • ramrod on February 26, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Even deciding to do nothing, or not to decide, is still a decision…

    • supremo on February 27, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Don’t expect a revolution in the Philippines any time soon. Filipinos will not revolt as long as some of them can get jobs overseas and remit some money home.

    • UP n grad on February 27, 2009 at 12:46 am

    You know what will be revolutionary — that in 2012, Filipinos look back to 2010-elections and say “… Wow!!! That went well. The new Malacanang resident and the members of Congress are great at their jobs!”

    • UP n grad on February 27, 2009 at 1:04 am

    It is not the drama surrounding the upheaval that defines “revolutionary”, the effect on the lives of the citizenry should be the measure of success. And in this regards, a large enough proportion of the population having seen Filipino “surge-the-gates” upheavals don’t look kindly at that instrument for bringing positive changes to the lives of Filipinos.

    • bpga on February 27, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Agree, it is the election results in 2010 that will bring about the revolutionary changes- a la YES WE CAN. But first we should stop doing orchiectomies on new voters. The older ones? They are questionable if they will deliver the true calling of our nation. Most of the old ones have been there, done that and most probably will do it again. Matigas na ang mga ulo, kumbaga malonak na ang mga utak.

    • Carl on February 27, 2009 at 8:44 am

    We are actually witnessing a revolution of sorts in the U.S. It’s being done in a very peaceful and democratic manner. Via debates and wranglings in congress and the media. No guns are being fired, but lots of verbal shots and upheavals.

    In barely a month in office, Barack Obama has changed government radically. From the Republican-era government geared more toward rich, white, Christians who don’t want to share their wealth with the less fortunate, into a pluralistic, compassionate government.

    This is no easy task, given that Reaganomics created a sense of entitlement for America’s rich folk through the “magic” wand of tax cuts for the wealthy and that Greenspan’s easy money policies created a false sense of wealth that turned out to be bubbles.

    But Reaganomics fooled most Americans into having delusions that anyone could become a Bill Gates or a Donald Trump. That is why Republicans could create a clown like Joe the Plumber who, while hardly a top-income earner, would vigorously attack Obama’s plan to tax the wealthy. While that looked foolish to most observers around the world, it actually resonated with many of the redneck Republican constituencies. America is actually a very ideologically divided nation. That Blue and Red divide is very real.

    But Obama has seized the bull by the horns and has immediately pressed his advantage to create tremendous changes in the way America governs. He has audaciously front-loaded his agenda and is really transforming U.S. government in ways that were unimaginable just a few months ago.

    Obama is fortunate to have had a clear-cut victory in the last elections. He clearly has the mandate and is not wasting time capitalizing on it. This is true leadership.

    It doesn’t mean that Obama is not running risks. Nobody can say for sure whether his programs will work. But he has evaluated the risks and thinks it’s worth taking bold steps to change the way things are done. In the end, the electorate will decide and he’s prepared to take that risk.

    Our problem in the Philippines is not only the choice of candidates. Even if there may be an Obama out there (I’ve noticed how some Presidentiables have already copied some of Obama’s campaign lines. Binay was among the earliest.) It’s also the number of Presidential wannabes. If six or seven candidates run for the Presidency in 2010, the victor will not have a majority to claim as a mandate. He or she will be hampered by too much horsetrading and dealmaking.

    Manolo has long advocated run-off elections. That is worth considering, if we want to have determined and decisive leadership. We must also have parties that present clear ideas and ideologies, so that programs are well-defined and not just done in an ad-hoc and arbitrary way.

    • UP n grad on February 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Binay and the others may mouth Obama-ism’s, but will he follow-through? I have this impression that none of those elected into Malacanang actually followed through (in their first 3 years in office) the promises that got them elected. I can’t be right. Filipinos could not have been consistently fooled by the presidential candidates.

    What was Dadong Macapagal’s top-three issues, and did he deliver? What were Erap’s top three issues, and did he deliver? What about Makoy?

    • ramrod on February 27, 2009 at 10:51 am

    “It is not the drama surrounding the upheaval that defines “revolutionary”, the effect on the lives of the citizenry should be the measure of success.” – UP n student

    Bravo! I couldn’t agree with you more. Thats it, there must be an IMPACT in our lives, a change of heart, paradigms, empowerment, and behaviour – otherwise all those pain, suffering, kapit-bisig getting hosed, tear gased, clubbed, arrests, summed up as “learning experiences” would have been for nothing and we still “won’t get it!”

    • ramrod on February 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

    UP n grad pala, sorry…

    • ramrod on February 27, 2009 at 11:09 am

    “Our problem in the Philippines is not only the choice of candidates. Even if there may be an Obama out there (I’ve noticed how some Presidentiables have already copied some of Obama’s campaign lines. Binay was among the earliest.) It’s also the number of Presidential wannabes. If six or seven candidates run for the Presidency in 2010, the victor will not have a majority to claim as a mandate. He or she will be hampered by too much horsetrading and dealmaking.” – carl

    I can’t for the life of me understand why everytime my friends and I get the time to discuss presidentiables, pros and cons, the cons outweigh the pros. Not one of the presidential hopefuls makes the grade, if its not corruption, its heavy handedness, or questionable motives, or associations, even “un winnability?” So after a long debate and 2 cases of beer later, someone would give up and jokingly mouths “coup” na lang and start a new order, cleanse the system…etc…and then we give up…and just enjoy the night…maybe its just us…

    • ramrod on February 27, 2009 at 11:13 am

    “So, since by most accounts, the Philippines has managed to dodge the worst of the present economic crisis, would this portend favorably on those presently in power?” – carl

    I believe most people don’t see the difference between economic crisis and no crisis at all, Filipinos have been in a recession-way-of-life for an eternity.

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm


    Edsa 1 brought back the rule of law as the bedrock of our system. That is why it is revolutionary. It was a 180 degree turn from a system based on decrees.

    The issue about Edsa 1 being a disappointment comes from the perspective that it should have brought about an economic upheaval as well, an overthrow of the feudal system as it were.

    Here we can see a divergence of political philosophies or approaches. Those who believe that the rule of law precedes all development see things as evolving from there. Those disappointed with Edsa 1 start from the premise that an economic upheaval precedes political freedom, which, basically, is founded on the belief that the rule of law is possible only when an economic oligarchy is eliminated first.

    World history has shown the gradual evolution of systems from monarchies to democracies. But revolutions are only the dramatic transition points, in that the act of revolt is an inevitable part of the process or progress towards democracy.

    The difference between Edsa1 and the classic revolutions is the transition or revolution from one man rule to the rule of law was done peacefully. In that way, Edsa 1 represented a paradigm shift in the conduct of revolutions.

    The question then is what political philosophy guided Edsa1, was it economic upheaval precedes transition to a rule of law or does rule of law allow for economic freedom to flower?

    • Madonna on February 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    “does rule of law allow for economic freedom to flower?”

    Easy answer. Rule of law post-Edsa I did not allow for economic freedom to flower. Very obvious. 23 years later. And the country is much worse, as far as indicators for the well-being of majority of Filipinos are concerned.

    • J_AG on February 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    One man rule of law to a rule of law of the jungle….

    The evolution was from monarchies to liberal representative governments. Why this predilection in using terms like democracy.

    A revolution is about regime change. An attempt at a societal shift. Except for the revolutions in China, USSR and the U.S. most countries went through the evolutionary process.

    In the three cases previous wars had essentially weakened the prevailing power structures economically in all three cases.

    There is no such thing as an economic upheaval. Unless a massive natural disaster occurs. Markets are not machines that are seen as engineering systems by economic engineering technocrats. They are an important part of social institutions that depend on human relationships. When disputes arise over control and possession of material values even brothers will go to war. When arbitration and dispute mechanism’s are not in place you will have political conflicts.

    Hence politics are integral to the resolution of economic difficulties. They are inseparable. Most mainstream economic technocrats are only versed on very narrow quantitative aspects of economics. They see themselves as scientists unfortunately. Hence without exception they almost always get blindsided. They are no better than witch doctors.

    Edsa I happened simply because Marcos did not put in place a clear process of succession. All his economic technocrats failed to see the massive pressures building up in the financial system. They were totally blind to the political economy embedded in institutions. The very institutions that they thought would hold up. They were not trained otherwise and were operating with blinders.

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    The question remains can economic freedom occur in a society where the rule of law is not held as the first principle?

    Madonna, would we have been better off under one-man rule?

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    by economic upheaval I meant an economic revolution an overthrow of the oligarchy, the feudal system

    • mlq3 on February 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    which is why, if one adopts this divergence, the middle and upper classes and the portion of the masses that made the transition to middle class since 1986 (a very big chunk, and the most revolutionary change of all, the leap from serfdom to middle class in one generation!) are more in the tradition of the “glorious revolution” in the uk while the increasingly beleaguered left and others look to the paris commune for inspiration.

    • mlq3 on February 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    well ninoy was very clear about it, the goal as he saw it was to solve the succession problem by convincing marcos to set in place a transition; as for the ultimate goals, it was a return to the status quo ante, as he pointed out a minimum was a return to the bill of rights enshrined in the 1935 constitution written, as he put it, “by the founding fathers.”

    as for what edsa achieved, a return to the status quo ante broke the logjam the country was in. if you refer to the chart on gdp in alba’s paper:

    Economic briefing by Dr. Michael Alba

    we have never reached the spectacular growth we achieved post edsa, which was brought to a halt by the coups of gringo/enrile.

    • BrianB on February 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Economic revolution? Manuel, I understand, economic upheaval resulting to political and social revolution but what the heck is an economic revolution? Something like the New Deal or the industrialization of the late 19th century?

    Sefdom to middle class. Manolo, daming poor na never naging serfs. Even the Lopezes and Aranetas have very poor relatives, and I mean dirt poor. Di sila serf, poor lang.

    The serf-to MC people are quite useless in improving our non-democratic situation. Some of them are worse in attitude and beliefs than the current feudal lords. At least feudal lords have finesse and they know who to respect. The new MC can be very annoying, and definitely not worth dying for in my opinion.

    Why even bother wrapping an idea around real people (and that’s 90 million very real individuals)?

    • Blackshama on February 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm


    EDSA 1 toppled the Marcos regime and the Constitution that propped it up. EDSA 1 may have lived up to its promise but Mrs Aquino lost no time in replacing the old toppled establishment with a new one not different from the old. The Marcos regime may have fallen but the institutions that supported it were never replaced.

    A revolution requires a REDISTRIBUTION first in the wielding and exercise of power, political and economic. None of this ever happened.

    You also missed out the role of the Church in your analysis. The pretended power of the Church also has to be redistributed and this is the reason why Mabini himself favoured a Filipino National Church. The National Church should be under the revolution.

    None of this happened. The Aglipayan revolution was killed right from the start. The Roman Church still is not a National Church even if it is headed by Filipinos.

    I also dispute your analysis that the present regime has left most us alone. The GMA regime’s Marcosian tendencies have been revealed time after time. First in its state of emergency decrees, curbs to SMS messaging etc. But in a more integrated wired society, GMA can’t pull out the plug without pulling her own plug. I agree with you that she’s no Marcos. The technological times are so different. But GMA is always in test mode, continually re-adapting the old ways into the new. The Bayani pink and blue parade is an outward manifestation of Neo-Marcosian ideology. The only diff is that MMDA personnel are civilians while Marcos used the Military. Another difference is that it turns over the nationalist and ideological cliches in colour. Who would have thought that pink and blue can be ideological colours?

    This is the same reason that everyone is reminded that Nazism can arise again or as the Eastern European Roman Catholic bishops have reiterated, that Stalinism can rise from the grave. While it will have the trappings of capitalism and liberalism, it will still enslave.

    • mlq3 on February 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    i agree, brian, in that if one considers a middle class as the bedrock of a liberal democracy, it ain’t necessarily so unless they’ve been indoctrinated in civics (hence i fully agree with your advocacy of teaching kids the bill of rights, i saw that up close during the anti cha cha campaign when kids were utterly clueless about the constitution, much less how the society it envisions is supposed to operate). the old middle class always aspired to be upper class but was indoctrinated enough in liberal democracy to criticize the upper class and work, at times, for political change for the interests of the many and not just the few. but they’ve been driven out and left; theyve been replaced, and possibly in greater numbers, but the new middle class as you pointed out may have more in common with the warlords etc .

    • mlq3 on February 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    shama, main point was, she has avoided the central mistake that eventually doomed fm, which was, to muscle in on the business and upper class’s interests. as the upper class does, so does the middle/manegerial class follow, which is why every time there was a rally people waited to see, as with 1986 and 2001, if the big bosses would descend from their penthouses, signalling the middle class to take the plunge; they never did, or never in unison so as to send the signal that this was crunchtime. the church on the other hand has gone back to the instincts of cardinal santos rather than sin even as rome stripped the archdiocese of its territorial influence. no difference between fm and gma being in test mode or figuring out that the fetish for “technical legalism” as fm himself put it, is very strong in our society, and turning it to their advantage. she, like he, has a shrewd appreciation of the latent powers of her office and the use of patronage.

    • BrianB on February 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    mlq3, my point is, why rely on the Filipino’s ever-changing attitudes? The idea and idealism should be good enough given that we’re not exactly trying to be original here. The Bill of Rights as center to our democracy is nothing new. In fact, it IS the constitution. My advocacy therefore is simply the simple no-frills ENFORCEMENT of the constitution. I honestly don’t like much of the Filipino as is, but nonetheless I would be happy enough if rights were in the foreground of day to day life, not in the background or in a dark corner somewhere.

    Banking on the current feelings of Filipinos… that, as Benigs would say, is as sure a way as any to the the poor house.

    Besides, I bet my life Filipinos would appreciate the constancy of old beliefs and principles to the progressive ideas of the sociologically aware. Given that pinoys are self-conscious, insecure, unsure of themselves, and always in denial of their own thoughts and feelings.

    • rego on February 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I believe most people don’t see the difference between economic crisis and no crisis at all, Filipinos have been in a recession-way-of-life for an eternity.- ramrod

    And some are just not mature enough to give credit where credit is due….

    • Carl on February 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    If by rule of law we refer to the corrupt legal system that has prevailed post-Edsa, the balance of power only shifted from a single dictator to a thousand tinhorn despots.

    And regarding peaceful transitions from one-man rule to democracy, EDSA was not unique. Spain was much more successful when it peacefully transited from one-man rule to a Monarchist democracy. Not only was it generally peaceful, it also resulted in great economic gains for the country. Per “The Economist” (May 15, 2008 edition) Spain is the 8th largest economy in the world, ahead of Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. EDSA failed to bring about economic improvement. So Spain’s transition trumps EDSA in more ways than one.

    I agree with J_AG’s observation that Marcos contributed to his downfall by not instituting a clear process of succession. To his credit, at least Franco planned his succession well. And the benefits are obvious.

    As for the transition of a big chunk of the masses to the middle class, that is primarily due to Marcos’ instituting the export of labor as a policy of government. That is not a result of EDSA. All administrations, post-Marcos, simply carried on with this Marcos brainchild.

    It’s not to say that the policy exporting our of human capital is laudable, but, let’s be honest, nobody else has come up with a better economic idea. Until today, the OFW phenomenon continues to be the bedrock of our economy.

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm


    Capitalism to communism or the other way around is an economic revolution. Sudden and arbitrary redistribution of wealth, the prohibition against private property, a complete turnaround from private enterprise to complete nationalizarion is another example.

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 6:42 pm


    “A revolution requires a REDISTRIBUTION first in the wielding and exercise of power, political and economic. None of this ever happened.”

    EDSA with a new constitution and the importance it placed in the rule if law rather than one-man rule provided the tool for the REDRISTRIBUTION you speak of. Redistribution is only possible under a just society and that is one that operates under the rule of law

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    monarchist democracy sounds like an oxymoron and a euphism to one who believes that a republic is the only true democracy

    • manuelbuencamino on February 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm


    what happened in Spain was a succession from Franco to Jaun Carlos.. The transition came when Juan Carlos moved away from francoism to a more liberal society. It was not an easy transition as an attempted coup by franco remnants proved

    • Carl on February 27, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    If there was any redistribution of wealth due to EDSA, it was from one faction of the elite to another faction. More of a sideways redistribution, rather than top to bottom.

    The Marcoses surely had to give up some of their wealth. So did Jose Campos, Lucio Tan, Antonio Cojuangco, Antonio Floiriendo, Danding Cojuangco. But, as we can see today, they got to keep most of their wealth. They continue to be just as wealthy and powerful. It was all a matter of sharing some of the wealth with Peping, Tingting, some Aquino Administration officials and the Kamag-anak, Inc. And it wasn’t even all that painful for them because they only gave up what they had to pony up to Marcos, anyway. In most cases, they even gave less than they would have given Marcos, so they ended up with net gains. That’s why Imelda is so mad at these cronies.

    • Carl on February 27, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Monarchist democracy may be an oxymoron, but it exists in the U.K., in Spain, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. All of these practice a much more transparent form of democracy than the Philippines. And, despite the connotations of a monarchy, these countries are far removed from feudalism. Unlike us.

    The transition from Franco to the King was planned by Franco from the time the King was a young boy. Franco took a personal hand in the upbringing, training and the studies of the King. So it was planned and orderly. And the transition to democracy was also planned, albeit in stages, in such a way that the militarists would be slowly eased into accepting a democratic state. There were bumps, to be sure, but the attempted coup was carried out by a handful of low-ranking soldiers and was easily crushed, although they managed to hold some parliamentarians hostage for a while.

    Had Marcos not been overly paranoid, and had a planned succession, he most likely would not have been overthrown. Marcos’ problem was that his wife wanted to succeed him and he knew she wasn’t the right choice. Marcos was henpecked, while Franco wasn’t. Franco had the luxury of being able to choose the successor he most saw fit, because his wife didn’t meddle.

    • FreeSince09 on February 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Our Country is still stuck in a feudal fiefdom mindset. Period.
    The moment the ruling classes become decadent and mismanage is the day their will ber uprsising

    • UP n grad on February 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Marcos in thinking of succession probably thought of the question — “Who should be next president? None of the presidentiables are qualified.”

    His mistake was for him to think that he had responsibility for the question when the succession-responsibility (look at the constitution!!!) is for the President to leave the office on schedule at the end of his term and to depend on the people choosing the next Malacanang resident.

    Same mistake that Hugo Chavez is committing — none from the rich, none from the middle class and definitely none from the poor — not a single citizen is better-quzlified than me (the idiots say) so “President-forever” — FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

    • cvj on February 27, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I do not get the distinction between the ‘old middle class’ and the ‘new middle class’ and why you liken the latter to the warlords. Where is the dividing line between old and new?

    • Madonna on February 28, 2009 at 2:08 am

    Manuel B,

    I think everyone here does not want to go back to one-man rule as per the Marcos era. However, nothing really changed post-Edsa I as far as power relations are concerned. Sure we got surface-level free elections back and democratic institutions, and so forth. One thing that you could not discount was that at least during the early years of Marcos (I was not even born yet and when Edsa I happened, I was in elementary school — but I heard from the older people that the early years of the Marcos era was ok — there was a solid population policy, order and so forth), the greater part of the people were united under a vision of his New Society — a society where more or less people would be economically better off. I think Marcos sort of mixed the goals of socialism or communalism of the pre-hispanic datu rule and constitutionalism as per liberal democracy (rule of law) — what he didn’t expect was the opposition from the landed oligarchs, which was a power tour de force. He wanted to break feudalism — but got cronyism instead. He ushered in his own set of cronies to fill in the power void.

    Now, let us for one instance assume that Marcos’ goals as far coming up with a more equitable society were real and the country as a whole would be better off, with a more robust economy and better quality of life for the majority — that is, before he declared Martial Law, what’s the danger of revisiting his ideals and goals and adopting some of it in our present situation?

    The crucial question is: is the goal really of the all parties, classes, groups, for the welfare of the country, that is, for the majority of our people? Are we united or do we just assume that everybody could fend for him/herself, as so many who are too liberally inclined (steeped in the Western ideals of individualism) believe (we still hear a lot of “it is the fault of the voters for electing such clowns/fops”)?

    • mlq3 on February 28, 2009 at 3:23 am

    cjv, pls. refer to my old philippines and new philippines columns and my elections are like water, etc. pieces for pcij where i first explored this distinction. it’s the socialization and acculturation that spells a deep difference between the two. which is why the old middle class was a force demanding more liberal democracy particuarly in the 50s and 60s but after panicking in the late 60s and 70s briefly tried to restore it then voted with their feet when they got squeezed out by post edsa populism, warlordism and so forth; it helps explain why they gravitated to emigration abroad while the new middle class formed by the ofw experience seem less touched by exposure to liberal democracy abroad (for those exposed to it) but also, why they are more interested in harsher methods with exposure to saudi, etc. nondemocratic regimes…

    • mlq3 on February 28, 2009 at 3:27 am

    i disagree, i think franco would have been very surprised with how juan carlos turned out, he tried to mold him but it seems juan carlos had a keener instinct of what would save the throne. if you read preston’s biography of juan carlos, it was a close shave, the falange was utterly shocked by the king’s embarking on a democratic and socialist liberalizing of the government and society. the falangists perhaps failed to notice their kids were tired of the old conservatism and embraced a liberal regime; and the last gasp of the right, the attempted coup in what was it, 1981, collapsed when the king threw his prestige behind democracy in public and behind the scenes asserted his royal authority to prevent the muntiny from spreading.

    • mlq3 on February 28, 2009 at 3:31 am

    carl, if you look at the “glorious revolution” of the british, it approximates what you describe, but the distinction for them as for us, was that it cut the monarchy and the presidency down to size; allowed for the expansion of growth in the periphery. it took the cork out of the bottle and you only have to look around you to see the huge number of new middle class areas in the metropolis and as far as cavite and laguna, all formerly fields, and in the provinces. the growth has taken place and even the powers held by certain groups have become more diffused, though i do think there’s been a dramatic reconcentration over the past few years.

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