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Mar 20

Coping mechanisms

Ruins of Legislative Building

Tony Abaya’s column Stability from Failures, got me thinking the other night. A country that has undergone repeated national traumas: the defeat of the 1896 revolution; the defeat of the First Republic and the Filipino-American War; the Japanese Occupation; the depredations of the Hukbalahap; the First Quarter Storm and Martial Law, including the economic collapse of the early 1980s; and so on.

In Dusk and dawn in the Philippines: memoirs of a living witness of World War II, the late Antonio Molina recounted two jokes that made the rounds during the Japanese Occupation.

The first:

” Filipino asked another, ‘Suppose you see Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Emperor of Japan both approaching you. Whom will you greet first?’

“‘The Emperor.’

“‘Why?’

“‘Because Our Lord Jesus Christ would understand.'”

The second:

“Thus, during the buy-and-sell boom, an activity engaged in by almost all the unemployed and idle professionals, it is said a man went to confession.

“‘Father,” he said, ‘I accuse myself of having stolen a dynamo.”

“The confesor asked him, ‘Big or small?’

“‘Well, not too small. It was a four-horse power.’

“Quickly the priest told him, ‘Sold! I have a buyer!’

Here’s an extract from one of the drafts of the late Enrique Zobel’s memoirs, in which he recounts the immediate effects of the War (as background, his father, Jacobo, was at the time in Bataan, as an officer under Gen. Vicente Lim’s command):

Exactly as father predicted, a few days later, Manila became an open city and much to the surprise of everybody, the banks were all closed. And I wondered: where would we get our next meal? We had some money left over, but not enough to last us for a week. Even Ayala y Cia – occupying Filipinas Building, at the foot of the Jones Bridge, had no money to pay its employees. All the banks were closed.

The Japanese, as expected, came in, and took over most of Manila. At first, they were peaceable. They did not treat the Filipinos badly because Manila was an Open City.

My mind was constantly on how we were to survive. With what we would eat. Mother was in hysterics. She had never bothered about where the money came from and only knew how to spend it. A thought occurred to me that I would get my father’s horses from the Manila Polo Club and put them in the harness, hitching them to carretelas which Floren and I would drive. At least we would get a daily cash income.

First, I negotiated the sale of father’s stamp collection to a friend of Mascuñana, head of Archives. This friend was a Jewish trader of stamps in Ermita. With that money, I went to Pasay, Calle Zamora, to a carretona, which was owned by Mang Sendong. (Today, the children of Mang Sendong make jeep bodies; but then, they only made carretelas.)

I negotiated for two carretelas using as down payment the stamp collection and later on, some silver and ornaments that mother had in the house which were sold to pawnshops and different small stores in Ermita.

I went to the Manila Polo club, Floren and I. It had been taken over by the Japanese cavalry and I asked to see the commanding officer who was a lieutenant. I explained to him that I was a Filipino and wanted to get my six horses back and bring them to my house. He stared at me, laughed in my face, and then he asked me why. First he asked me to prove that I was a Filipino. Of course, I had no proof. I said the fellow with me knows me; we were raised together – Florentino de Lara, who today lives in Calatagan, retired.

We had a heated discussion. I mean heated, as I started to shout my lungs off. Although I was 14, I was taller than he was. I don’t know how but between his anger and some persuasive talk, I was brought to Fort Santiago. I did not know what the hell Fort Santiago was. But when I realized this was where they kept all the prisoners, I started getting worried.

I was introduced to a major who interviewed me. I explained that the only way we could make a living, my mother and I, were those horses. (I was lucky it did not occur to them to ask: What about your father? I would really have been in hot water then.)

He asked me to tell him the horses’ names and describe them. That was easy. I described my father’s grey pony, Sultana, whom when you tickled her nose, would raise her lip. She had a scar on her left front leg. I went down the roster of horses: Sultana, Panthera, Rumba, Mani, Pal-o-Mine and Bobby Shot.

While we were talking, I noticed a little chap staring at us. After a while, he got involved in the conversation. Of all people, he was the head of the Kempeitai. He was Gen. Ota. Kempeitai was the Japanese Gestapo. And he asked me why, who was I; was I American? I said no, I was Filipino. He said: You can’t be. So I explained that my mother was Spanish. So he said: Oh Spanish! I know some Spanish. And he started dilly-dallying – “buenos dias,” etc. And then he said: What are you doing for lunch? Nothing. So he invited me for lunch, at his house.

He was occupying the house of Juaquinito Elizalde (he was in exile, saerving as the U.S. Resident Commissioner when the War broke out) on the Boulevard, beside President Quezon’s Roberts Street residence in Pasay, which was also occupied by a Japanese general. (Juaquinito Elizalde’s house became the U. S. Ambassador’s residence after the war; then it was demolished and now Sunset View towers stands on that lot).

Of course, in those days, a meal was rice and fish or rice and chicken, if you could get chicken. Otherwise, it was rice. Well, he had fried eggs, he had Japanese steaks, etc. And then he asked me if I could make it every Thursday, and I could have lunch in exchange, I could talk to him in Spanish. He just wanted Spanish conversation for one or two hours. Obviously, I amused him. So we made a pact. In fact, after about three or four times, I brought my mother along who also ate there. Hence, we spoke Spanish. He was a very nice, quiet person, considering the title and position he occupied; at least with me.

What is funny was, towards the end of say, three months, one day, during the lunch, he said: Enrique, you are alone, do you want to pick up your father at Capas? I turned white. And he said: Why haven’t you brought up the subject of your father? I answered back: You never asked me. So after lunch, he offered the use of his car to pick up my father in Capas. So you can imagine when I went to Capas, a young boy of 14, getting off in his car, that every goddamn sentry saluted Gen. Ota’s car. I went to pick up my father, carried him bodily into the car, and brought him back to Manila.

A fellow prisoner, Ernesto Rufino, asked me: Enrique, how the hell can you come in that Japanese car? He was there in line when I picked up my father. He was simply amazed. Where did I get this thing? I did not answer back. I just smiled, you know, and said: Someday, I’ll tell you.

I brought father back, and he had improved from dysentery; he was 86 lbs. He could survive only on soup because anything else would just come out.

Anyway, that first day at the Manila Polo Club, they gave me the horses at the end of the long argument. They said: At such a date, go pick up your horses. They did not give us the saddles. They gave Floren and I the horses and the bridles. So bareback, we took the six horses back; one boy on each horse, and one horse on either side, to Malate, where the stables were, empty by then.

The problem arose of how to feed the horses. Every afternoon when the sun came down, we would bring them to the Boulevard and spend three to four hours there and have them eat the grass before training them with the caretela.

Part I of the training session was getting two bamboo poles and having the horse trotting around with a long rope on his rein and us driving him from behind, getting him used to the bamboo poles on each side.

Well, everyone did very well except for Pal-o-Mine. He started kicking, and got loose. Floren and I were training them in bathing suits and shorts. I ran after the horse in a bathing suit and finally caught him near the bomberos in Azcarraga where the children play “sipa.” So I found myself holding a tired horse, crowd around me, in a bathing suit, and how can you explain the situation? Anyway, I rode the horse back to Malate.

We got those horses taught. My first customer was my grandfather, Don Enrique. We delivered him to his office every morning and then brought him back in the afternoon… Then in the evening, in the last “pasada,” we would end up every night in Pasay, near the Polo Club, Pasay Market to buy “zacate,” which had been cut in Makati.

So we would fill up both caretelas, paid in cash naturally. After delivering the load to Ayala, it was back to Pasay, then to Escolta, back to Pasay, I made about four rounds a day. With Floren that’s eight rounds, total. That was a lot of money then. But with that, I fed my mother and we all survived. (Lunch was rice with whatever Belen, our cook, could put in. Floren and I both ate the same food.)

We traded Mani for a mestizo horse. Floren had a funny experience with that horse. One evening he got a family of Sikhs up the Jones Bridge and the weight was so much that it pulled the mestizo pony up in the air and the caretela fell on its rear, until the Sikhs shifted weight to the front, and horse and caretela came back to earth again.

Consider the effects of the tremendous inflation that took place during the War (see Charle’s Mock’s September 2, 1943 diary entry). Now this requires further study, but what we do have by way of accounts such as the many diaries recently published of people who lived through World War II, is that they were immediately faced with the problems of inflation, a breakdown in law and order, and a situation where old skills weren’t necessarily relevant to the current situation.

The whole point of these stories from the Wartime generation (and middle and upper class voices at that) is that it might be useful to explore the coping mechanism of society viewed as an organic whole and less by means of its component parts. To do that requires exploring common behavior.

Some notes, based on a discussion about a week ago with friends online.

  • For some time now, you often hear observers bewailing the behavior they notice among OFW’s, that their purchases go towards consumer items like appliances and jewelry, then vehicles and land. Previously, they were criticized as follows: that they did not save, were obsessed with appliances and other items, with jewelry, and so on. But all the consumer items are actually, in a sense, portable wealth: appliances can be pawned, houses may not have been completed but land bought or occupied… so the coping will take place.
  • This actually points to how entrenched across classes crisis coping mechanisms are. Coping mechanisms constantly revalidated over time, and most recently by the collapse of banks, the predatory political class’ scraping the public barrels, etc.
  • You could even argue these lessons go back to the formative years of our nation-state: the Philippine Revolution and the War (both within living memory during the War itself) taught people not to trust banks, and governments, with the old middle and upper classes survived the way many intend and are doing it now: pawning portable wealth, and retreating to the land when possible, trusting, not in currency or institutions but the family.
  • This crisis is like the 1980s economic crises, serving the same purpose in transmitting from one generation to the next, the coping mechanisms that saw the older generations survive their eras’ crises. In the 1980s, those who lived through the war and the years of terror and uncertaintly during the depredations of the military and the Huks, instinctively knew what would carry them through. Same lessons as during the War. Do not trust banks, government institutions.
  • The amassing of appliances is no different from the purchase of pianos and phonographs prior to the war and the pawning for emergency cash… it will tide the new middle class through just as it tided the old middle class through the war.
  • We don’t realize how extended the formal economy is, and how it meshes with the informal one: for example, many fancy shops in Makati do most of their real business in Tupperware Party style gatherings, in part because the wealthy do not want to be seen purchasing in public, but also because it takes place in a style reminiscent of the underground economy. Another example is how the “Multiply.com economy” is already fairly large, tapping into behavior similar to the buy-and-sell economy that began in WW2 but which has never ever really gone away.
  • The salaried class is not like salaried classes in other countries again because of the buy-and-sell sub-economy. Note the prevalence of rackets, even among salaried individuals or their spouses, or their extended families, in good times and bad.
  • The so-called hoi polloi, the urban and rural poor, are an integral part of all these economies (formal and informal), whether as the staff, or in many respects, the consumers and providers, too; so the informal economy goes all the way to the top and all the way to the bottom, buy and sell, barter and exchange is as much a habit of the wealthiest classes as they are of the poorest, as is the hoarding and land-obsessed (for security) mentality.
  • A good example of enduring wartime habits is that from the wealthiest to solidly old middle class villages, converting empty lots to food growing has been a feature since the 1950s, with a portion for the family and the rest for the employees.
  • In the first place the system of extended families always includes a cross-section of society as even the wealthiest will have poor relations, they are bound together in terms of behavior that overlooks wealth in some aspects and accentuates dependence in others.
  • This brings up feudalism both as safety net and as a code of behavior that won’t go away, because crises reinforces it; if feudalism is as much about obligations as it is about privileges, something again overlooked by academics in the case of the family system although it’s broken down in all other non-family respects (e.g. among tenants and landlords; but as Kerkvliet pointed out, the tension vs. landlords since the 1930s has been as much due to peasants’ desire for landlords to return to their old feudalism and less to a truly widespread demand to overturn feudalism, as it about the wealthy maintaining only a sense of impunity while abandoning traditional expectations of them by the poor).

I think the insight to pursue is in the same manner that anthropolgists are finding more and more of the prehispanic culture having survived, you will find that we have been conditioned by the great traumas of our national existence to deliberately pursue what you find people pointing out to be our national consuelo de bobo: we missed out on the boom, but we muddle through the regional busts. We have been conditioned by our great national traumas to keep our goals limited, and our options unrestricted to those that the formal economy expects.

This also suggests that instead of unrest, what we might see happening, as the economic crisis wears on, is, instead, an increase in underground economic activity, combined with both increased pressures on the government for patronage, and with that, increased clout on the part of the government, since people will be grateful or at least, calmed down, by favors granted.

This ties in with an observation by a former Metrocom officer, who I once asked about conditions during the rice shortages of the early 70s. Were there riots? No, he said, people as a whole do not go berserk; small groups might, and individuals do; but what was remarkable then, he said, was how people accepted harsh conditions.

34 comments

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  1. SEO Philippines

    Do you think China would occupy us too?

  2. Dominique

    As regards the appliances, people buy them for their utility (and perhaps the status), not as investments. The situation may have been different in the past, when appliances lasted much much longer; not so today, where they’re almost disposable commodities with short life spans. Also, most appliances are bought under installment — appliance companies actually act more like lending agencies than anything else.

  3. TheEQualizer

    The best coping mechanism:There is an appointed time for everything.

    http://www.biblesociety.ca/free_scriptures/escriptures/ecclesiastes3/ecclesiastes3.html

    Ecclesiastes 3

    1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

    9What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

    10I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

    11He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

  4. mlq3

    depends who buys under installment, for people who work domestically, yes, but ofw’s cart them home. and you can see from the (again informal) repair economy how they have a much more extended lifespan and thus, value, than you’d otherwise expect.

  5. Carl

    • Missing out on the booms, muddling through the busts.

    • Conditioning ourselves to keep our goals limited.

    • Increased pressure on government for patronage, increased clout on the part of government from a grateful people.

    • People willing to accept harsh conditions.

    Those sound like fertile conditions where tyranny can thrive.

  6. BrianB

    Accepting harsh conditions is the direct result of an immature government that the populace do not trust to do its job. patronage, yes, but its job, no. A population that likes strikes and rallies is a population that, in the bigger picture, has faith in its government. A child who absolutely fears his parents do not go into tantrum.

  7. BrianB

    The behavior you see, Manolo, is the behavior of a people who have to cope on their own with no help from a competent governing body, which do nothing in the way of providing a direction for progress or an established level of civilized behavior through the influence of the law.

  8. BrianB

    It’s not really about our economic history. Other countries have their eras of financial traumas. What’s missing in our country is a government of that has influence over hearts and minds, a socio-cultural force, in other words. In other countries, government is the most influence of such forces. In our country, it’s just a tax collector with a persistent but hollow persona in media.

  9. BrianB

    I think you’ve missed this all important factor in your analysis.

  10. Bert

    Totally agree with BrianB.

  11. UP n grad

    Attitudes and mores are not handed down genetically…

    We have been conditioned by our great national traumas our parents, teachers, uncles, aunts and other elders to keep our goals limited . . . .

  12. Seth

    What happened to the previous post about Nicole the “rape victim”? Why was it removed?

  13. Carl

    While others rally around a proactive “Yes we can” spirit, we temper our expectations with a resigned “pwede na” or “things could be worse” attitude. This may be a coping mechanism for a disillusioned people, but is it a desirable trait? Is merely surviving and coping more important than constantly aspiring for something better?

    BrianB makes the point that this is a symptom of a people whose leadership has, time and again, let it down. And UP n grad indicates that disenchantment has been handed down through generations. To protect the next generation from becoming embittered and frustrated, elders condition the young to keep their goals limited.

    It’s a story of survival, adaptation and restraint. But it’s not very flattering or inspiring.

  14. UP n grad

    Attitudes and mores are not handed down genetically…

    We have been conditioned by our great national traumas received suggestions and even direct instructions from parents, uncles, aunts, teacher, priests and other elders (plus a number of our peers) to keep our goals limited. What is that age when we allow ourselves to disagree ?

  15. mlq3

    That is also a function of our history, first, the inability of the revolutionary government to properly extend the writ of law; second, the manner in which law and order collapsed with the victory of the japanese; third, the essential absence of law in guerrilla areas; fourth the difficulty the third republic had in extending the rule of law in the face of guerrilla vendettas and the rebellion of the Huks; fifth the banditry that took place even with the crushing of the Huks and then the replacement of the rule of law with the dictatorship in 1972; sixth the slow implosion of the dictatorship in the late 70s to early 80s, where one economist says corruption became endemic for the first time in 1983; seventh, the fifth republic constantly under attack from left and right in the late 80s and early 90s; eighth, the continued difficulties of law and order in a country beset by the cpp-npa, milf-mnlf rebellions and the challenges to institutional stability from within… so yes, it’s a given that government regulations and institutions are viewed as something to save against and work around, which is what i pointed out in my piece.

  16. mlq3

    No one said they’re handed down genetically. But culture can be handed down, and less by direct training and more by watching and thus, learning. People can disagree, and some will succeed or leave and find success. Many others will see that old lessons/experiences/examples are revalidated by current experience.

  17. Carl

    Manolo, I gather from your explanation that we failed, throughout our relatively young history as a republic, to clearly establish rule of law. And that this has created a culture that has no respect for government regulations and institutions.

    I can see that the elite think that they are above the law. Some minority groups, such as the Muslims, think that our laws don’t apply to them and that they are bound by a different set of laws. The poor think that they are oppressed by the law (hence, laws are meant to be broken or worked around).

    So is disdain for rules of conduct and procedure the reason why we come up with unconventional methods of coping with crises?

  18. mlq3

    carl, i don’t think it’s disdain, it’s more along this line of thinking: why pin all your hopes on institutions, esp. government institutions, or formal institutions in general, when they’re subject to being shut down, going bust, being abolished, by internal and external forces? and it applies to all classes. the point of EZ’s account is that even the wealthy operate from this assumption, and so, risk-taking is always limited with a kind of hedging your bets in mind. furthermore, everyone considers the law an obstacle best ignored, circumvented, or subverted. this doesn’t seem to be uniquely filipino, either.

  19. Leytenian

    Coping in relation to the general public behavior is part of our culture. We have an enduring culture. I may even say that it’s an emotional culture because the behavior evolves around family and close friends. In times of crisis, this big support becomes the shock absorber. It’s advantageous and less damaging emotionally. If it is good? People can only cope according to the present condition within his/her society. Coping is securing life’s basic commodities. In economic sense, the availability of supply. Today coping behavior is closely related to how government react to the demand of goods and services. The faster it can create solution, the faster the people can cope.

    Even if we assume our behavior as a ” mind set of LIMITED goals” by parents, uncles, family , priests and other elders will not excuse leaders to ignore such behavior. It should actually be the focus of governance and one of the basis for finding solution.

    Goals are dependent to the availability of supply and demand. The balance of Supply and demand is the function of government leaders. They are expected to perform.

    When goals are limited mentally, it doesn’t mean that in reality it is as such. People can be trained and can be subject to economic changes. Goals cannot be set but actually becomes automatically set when opportunities are available. Goals are also directly related to the wants and needs of an individual.

    Today, we can call our own pinoy COPING Mechanism as equivalent to consumer’s confidence index in the modern world. When confidence is low, people can be coping. With PINOY working overseas, its enduring culture will be towards his/her advantage.

    Since our general public coping mechanism is advantageous to our culture then we need a leader that understand who we really are ( our skills, our behavior as a people and our talents ) to drive our economy.

  20. Leytenian

    George Bush with GMA.

    Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that — in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the — of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. (Laughter.)

    it was a “pasumbingay” in bisaya or in tagalog ” “nagpaparinig” in a nice way. In my interpretation, pinoys can be trained just like the cook in the kitchen. We have so many talents and yet there’s no incentives to stay in the country. Leaders must provide an opening for that opportunity.

  21. BrianB

    Manolo, in the very beginning, people accept the law without question, then they see the powerful providing exceptions to family and friends, so begins the disillusionment.

    Ibig sabihin. Mga pamilyang oligarch talaga ang puno at dulo. If we reacted righteously, and mean reacted for what’s good for the entire nation, these oligarchs wouldn’t be living today.

  22. BrianB

    There are even recent examples of this behavior that also brought disillusionment, even way before the GMA era.

  23. Carl

    “everyone considers the law an obstacle best ignored, circumvented, or subverted. this doesn’t seem to be uniquely filipino, either.”

    Yes, that kind of attitude isn’t uniquely Filipino. Even in the U.S., the Conservative Right upholds individualism and laissez-faire, believing that “government is the problem, instead of the solution”. So if government and its institutions are the primary authority to uphold laws and regulations, they are seen as obstacles.

    The problem with that kind of attitude is that it is self-serving. It wishes to ignore authority when it comes to business or making money. Yet it views as essential the protection of rights to life, liberty and PROPERTY (and also the right to bear arms, presumably to ensure that protection). That is why the tongue-in-cheek definition of an American Conservative is a rich, white, Christian, gun-loving, paranoid who hates government, taxes, minorities and the poor but loves the constitutional provisions that allow him to protect and enjoy his money.

    The consequence of the Conservative movement’s push for less government is the present economic crisis that has, ironically, discredited the Capitalist system and equated Capitalism with runaway greed.

    There is a similar kind of cherry-picking with regard to laws and institutions in the Philippines. The elite will ignore, circumvent or subvert the law when it comes to taxes or to regulatory requirements (such as labor laws and environmental compliance). But it will uphold as sacrosanct the right to property and free enterprise. The lower classes can ignore, circumvent or subvert the law because they have nothing to lose. It is the middle class that is generally the most law-abiding. Not necessarily because they want to. But they have something to lose, yet they don’t have the leeway to maneuver that the elite have. For example, most of the middle class’ income is taxed at the source and, because they don’t have the elite’s clout and resources, they have less leeway to circumvent or subvert laws.

  24. Karl Garcia

    “As regards the appliances, people buy them for their utility (and perhaps the status), not as investments.”(dominique)

    Of course you buy them because you need them, they become investments because most gadgets can be pawned even old model cell phones and laptops. Ok lets include tvs and radios.

    As to their being on installment.”Credit” that to the credit cards partnership with the merchants.

    Come to think of it, when going gets rough, those appliances get to go even if you are just on the first month of payment.

    As to the ofws paying them in Cash outright, I don’t think that is the case.We live in credit and deficit spending.OFW’s families included.

  25. Karl Garcia

    Someone said why we could not be like Japan, who rebuilt itself from ruins, after WW2.

    Maybe we were not devastated enough, sure we lost in 1896,Fil-Am war , we were abandoned by the yanks during ww2, but we never got a taste of total annihilation, or anything near to that unlike Japan and the others.

    In Japan, even american academicians , those with new ideas to offer like total quality management came into the picture.And of course their inherent value of Kaizen called for continuous improvement.
    e tayo daw naimbento lang ang jeepney,napako na tayo dun.
    (u can ask benign0)

    In that Abaya article ; he says because we suck in exports and tourism,now we are in better shape than the rrest. A few commenters here say that because we have a primitive banking system, we don’t have the same problems that the developed nations are having problems with.
    Call it luck,call it coping, somehow we rise to the occasion.

  26. mlq3

    karl, look at the photos of manila, cebu, etc. after the war. what the japanese had was a national cradle-to-grave system developed before world war 2 (it’s described in niall ferguson’s “the ascent of money”) and which endured until the 1970s. that, and the thorough occupation of japan which did not regain sovereignty until 1951 under a constitution that to this day, was not written by any japanese.

  27. mlq3

    Brian, again, you are looking at it with an outsider’s lenses. “family and friends” goes up and down the line, if you reacted righteously, no one would be left living. Disillusionment was not raised by me, because it requires a commitment that I don’t think has existed for some time. I’m talking about a more instinctive sense of priorities, in acquiring portable wealth and land, as things that can tide people over when institutions fail or falter. These priorities also limit against risk-taking, precisely to avoid a hard fall. Taken on a national scale, this mentality gets validated during events such as what we’re seeing, globally, now.

  28. J_AG

    MLQ3— …….when institutions fail or falter

    Social contract and the validity and sanctity of contracts backed up by a tolerable system of arbitration or justice is the basis for societal development. Even the non-informed know these do not exist in a feudal society.

    Hence the material base of individuals or families have to be grounded on material possessions that count. Gold and or land.

    Modern industrial societies fiscal policies and monetary systems are still alien constructs in feudal societies where the royals have control of both under their fiat authority. The so called checks and balances are mostly superficial in nature. Government positions are essentially capital investments or considered primary assets.

    Hence the most corrupt so called institutions in the state are the BIR, BOC and the BSP.

    It is not only tolerated but most are clueless on how so much is stolen right before their eyes and are complicit in the plunder.

  29. Karl Garcia

    Oh yes,
    Manila was the second most bombarded place in the world (just next to Warsaw).
    Those ( almost) daily bombings are more traumatic than any atomic bomb.

  30. BrianB

    MLQ3

    You took the head of the argument while I was already at the tail, Manolo.

    Why is do cope relatively without consideration for the leadership of government? You mentioned the mentality that seems to ignore institutions and rule of law. A “coping mechanism” in other words that does not have a national scale. Kanya-kanya. That was the reason I gave you. In the beginning, Filipinos took the law and the government at face value, then came the exceptions, so the disillusionment.

  31. mlq3

    Brian, what beginning? I cannot think of an era where it wasn’t as it is, the majority subject to the often capricious and definitely usually arbitrary control of the chiefs.

  32. BrianB

    I have no ancient papers to support this theory, but I bet when we officially became a democracy, the majority of Filipinos accepted it at face value. It wouldn’t have taken much to spread equality, fairness and freedom. But what can you do, the government of the educated rich wasn’t interested in these things.

  33. mlq3

    If you take you take-off point as the period of democracy being established, then I’m more inclined to agree with you. There is, on one hand, the collapse of feudalism with its traditional notions of obligations and privileges, which led to the rise of peasant unrest in the 1920s; then there was the swift collapse of law and order with the onset of the japanese occupation and the dog-eat-dog years that followed, which saw the traditional leaders of communities fleeing to manila and then returning to reclaim their own after the war.

  34. Liam

    So, in short, the abrupt and oftentimes violent transition from one form of social-political-economic set of systems and condition to another forcefully transformed/evolved the Filipinos into a selfish but multi-talented individual devoid of a sense of community with his fellow men aside from those coming from his own clan and close associates..

  1. Topics about Banking » Coping mechanisms

    […] Just Above Sunset placed an interesting blog post on Coping mechanismsHere’s a brief overviewExactly as father predicted, a few days later, Manila became an open city and much to the surprise of everybody, the banks were all closed. […]

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