Selfish society

Al Gore came and went. And Moody’s rained on the President’s parade. The President (who seems morbidly afraid of being here for the Edsa 1 anniversary) is back to wooing Joseph Estrada. The Philippine Daily Inquirer ponders the meaning of a Selfish society. The Inquirer editorial says a selfish society is one which doesn’t recognize the need for individual self-control. Self-control certainly isn’t the mark of the administration, which is raising the ante in its confrontation with the Senate. One blogger texted me saying the Palace is taking a page from the Clinton versus Gingrich playbook, which resulted in the US Federal Government being shut down for some days, and Clinton blaming Gingrich for the mess.

As the President’s pet party, Kampi, gears up to push for Charter change, the Social Weather Stations head Mahar Mangahas participated in a round table, presenting the public’s opinions on Charter change.

The main points of the SWS presentation were:

  • Extensive education on the Constitution is called for.
  • Suggestions for Cha-Cha do not come from the grass-roots; their role is to approve or disapprove.
  • The (parliamentary) idea of fusing the legislative and executive branches has a fighting chance.
  • The idea of removing the present term limit on the chief executive IS NOT popular. (On the contrary, most favor shortening the term of GMA.)
  • The idea of a unicameral legislature IS NOT popular.
  • More foreign participation in the economy is now welcome.
  • The idea of having regional governments IS popular.

You can download the SWS presentation by clicking below:


To give the historical perspective on past efforts at Charter change (and writing constitutions), the Philippines Free Press blog has two articles: Constitution Day, written by Teodoro M. Locsin on the 18th anniversary of the 1935 Constitution (incidentally, Claro M. Recto’s birthday), recounts how that charter was written and the excitement surrounding its final approval; his descriptions of the personalities involved help bring them back to life. United Behind Quezon, from 1939, describes the first Cha-Cha Express: one can infer from reading it why, in 1971 and ever since, the public has been skeptical over similar-efforts.

RG Cruz has a remarkable entry on the ethics of covering a disaster confronting his own organization.

I myself am against noontime variety shows. I always have. The last time I sat down to watch one was during the days of Student Canteen and Kwarta o Kahon (on days I’d be sick and unable to attend gradeschool, and only if my father didn’t catch me). So in truth, details such as those provided by Rasheed’s World, surprise me. There are two facets of our culture, in particular, that drive me to distraction: the “blow out” and the “balato.” The puritan in me would outlaw such behavior along with having more than the minimal number of baptismal and wedding sponsors. I can’t bring myself to object to the “pasalubong” though because I do like giving -and receiving- pasalubong.

Mike Tan proposes substitutes for the kind of noontime variety shows we have now. The perennial answer as to why noontime variety shows can’t be cancelled, is that the public and the advertisers want it. In truth, news and public affairs divisions in all the networks rather resent showbiz and entertainment shows, which gobble up all the prime time slots. During Media Nation 3, which focused on media and the advertiser, Nielsen (the ratings people) presented some facts on media and advertising. You can look through the Nielsen presentation by clicking below:

Ac Nielsen Presentation  Media Nation -1

The statistics are interesting and food for thought. One statistic was particularly interesting for me: teenagers devote twice as much time to the internet as do older groups. Since my work is primarily in print, I think that’s positive news. Most people in media are worried about declining readership, and the stark possibility that once those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s -arguably the bulk of newspaper readers- pass on, there will be no newspaper readers left. I’d think of it another way. If only a small minority at present read the papers (say, half a million at best, daily, who read the papers out of a population of 80 million plus!), is that minority really disappearing or reading the papers in some other manner? I’d think that the percentage would actually remain the same -as many among the elders who read the papers is reflected in the number of teens and young adults who read the papers, but online.

In other matters:

Michael Jackson is now reduced to wandering the earth, traveling business class. (Hat tip, PJM Feeds).

Luis Teodoro is offended by Filipinos abroad like Hillblogger, and suggests they shut up and let the real people with brains -like the revolutionaries- solve the nation’s problems.

Sassy Lawyer limits her diet of opinion writers -and I can sympathize with her views on the matter (on my part, though, the rise in blood pressure is what helps get my day off to a perky start).

Thanks to Philippine Commentary for a kind and contemplative entry.

And this, takes the cake, as far as the spirit of enterprise goes: “Twenty pesos to stop singing, M’am!”

Cellphones: are they the new evil? And Bulletproof Vest reports the end of an era: no more telegrams (I still remember when people sent them to each other).

And finally, a lecture:

Lost in Cyberspace: A new Perspective?

In the popularisation of computer technologies and concepts within the
realm of commercialization and market exploitation, a systematic
destruction of creative space has taken place: where culture is homogenized
to enable “free trade”, and where social and economic organizations
congruent with the principles of life are transformed into a wasteful and
profit-obsessed consumer society. Underlying this debilitating and
disenfranchising environment is the loss of cognitive worldviews that might
allow individuals and groups to develop and articulate their own creative
spaces by relating personal views to wider cultural contexts and
perspectives. While the cognitive/linguistic term “articulation” relates to
the concept of movement in space, the concept of “perspective” is related
to a more static view of space. Does immaterial articulation relate to
material space? In their lecture, Fatima Lasay and Trevor Batten will
explore alternative articulations of space that consider cognition and
language as important spatial elements. Vital elements that have been lost
in cyberspace.

Lost in Cyberspace: A New Perspective?
Lecture by Fatima Lasay and Trevor Batten
February 18, 2006, Saturday, 2-4 pm
Fee: Php120.00
Contact Persons: Ms Fanny San Pedro/Ms Joy Victoria
Contact Detail: 6312417 / [email protected]

This lecture complements the exhibition Juan Arellano: Drawing Space which
is ongoing until April 2006. The Lopez Memorial Museum is at the ground
floor, Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Ave, Pasig City.
Museum days and hours are Monday-Saturday, 8am-5pm except Sundays and
holidays. For more information call 6312417 or email [email protected].

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

34 thoughts on “Selfish society

  1. Luis Teodoro is guilty of the same crime his letter-writing reader commits: avid overgeneralizing.

    While I admit there are Filipino-Americans (and other Filipinos around the world, whether dollar-remitting or not) who are just as he describes, there are probably just as many who are not. And yes, I may be described now as “Filipino American” and, yes, I’m certainly NOT a fan of GMA and her administration. But, no, I don’t believe applying American solutions to Philippine problems is particularly an “intelligent” thing to do — and there are many others like me who think the same way.

    And what’s this “Us Vs Them” mentality he seems to be promoting here? It’s this kind of attitude among Filipinos that keeps us divided and that impedes — or at least delays — true progress. I agree the woman was condescending and irritating to boot — but so was he in his rebuttal.

  2. cvj, mlq3

    I think Teodoro was referring to me. The letter that he quoted liberally from was mine which I had blogged here in MLQ3’s blog before sending it to both the Inquirer and the Tribune that published the same letter.

    But Teodoro was thoroughly mistaken as to my marital identity. MLQ3 would know that I am not too keen on the Belgians (see one of my earlier postings).

    I didn’t know about Teodoro until MLQ3 blogged his name here. I am under no illusion that Teodoro knows how to shoot but only from his mouth – he frothed from the mouth too eagerly, his article reflects the belchings of a wretchedly dead brain.

    There’s one thing I’m sure of however, is that if overseas Filipinos left the problem solving to the likes of Teodoro, the Philippines will end up with more dead brains like him. Frankly, the country can do away with a Luis Teodoro.

  3. cvj,

    This is the letter that caused Luis Teodoro to froth in the mouth.

    Destabilizers in government
    First posted 00:03am (Mla time) Feb 04, 2006

    Editor’s Note: Published on Page A14 of the February 4, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

    Bravo for your Jan. 25 editorial titled “Suicidal provocation.”

    By their recent pronouncements and press releases, officials of the Arroyo administration, including her not-quite-able generals, are themselves propagating dissent and challenging the discontented Filipinos and soldiers to stage an armed revolt. By their reckless actions, they themselves become instruments of destabilization against the Republic.

    The nation should come to its senses! Can’t the people see that their very own government has just threatened to utterly destroy an already very wobbly Republic?

    The media should continue to expose the ineptitude of Secretary Mike Defensor, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Generoso Senga. Their pronouncements definitely cause destabilization. Their motive is evident — they want to divide and conquer.

    The media and the intelligent people left in the country (what with over 8 million or so Filipinos of better caliber having left for greener pastures abroad) should train their guns on this corrupt government before it transforms the country into another Rwanda!

  4. a de brux, maybe the filipinos overseas have begun reducing their contributions to jose ma. sison? hence teodoro’s bittterness. just asking.

  5. It may be incorrect to label it a culture of “selfishness”. But in a competitive world which waits for no one, people have learned to rely on themselves, primarily. And in the Philippines, where government cannot be relied upon to provide help or services, that attitude of relying only on oneself, family and friends becomes more crucial. The credo is: “if I don’t help myself, who will?”.
    But the Filipino version of the “Me Generation” is different from the U.S. version, despite the fact that they both have roots in the information technology revolution and globalization. The U.S. version rose to prominence in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, thanks to the boom in Wall Street and Silicone Valley. The new wealth created among young people gave rise to the “yuppies”, self-absorbed, well-to-do young people who wanted to enjoy life in new adventurous ways. The Filipino “Me Generation” may not be as wealthy as their American counterparts, but they are wired to the world and they, too, want to have their share of the good life.
    In the U.S., this “me” culture is very pervasive. Even Oprah Winfrey and her pop psychologist sidekick, Dr. Phil, frequently discuss the importance of self. As a matter of fact, Dr. Phil wrote a bestselling book entitled “Self Matters”. Naturally, mass marketing has gotten into the act. Now, the U.S. Army, eager to enlist new recruits, has focused on the youth with a slogan: “An Army of One”. Meaning, the Army brings out your individual talents and self-esteem.
    Even Japan and China have expressed alarm at the inordinate focus of their youth on self. They, too, have their “Me” generations.
    Is this a bad thing? I do not know, and I don’t think the verdict is out on this yet. What is apparent is that this is a response to the rapid pace of change and technological innovation. Cable TV, the internet, cellular phones have really made the world much smaller. And young people worldwide now have more values in common. And usually, it isn’t focused on their neighborhoods and communities. I remember mlq3 once remarking how, on the internet, entertainment news trumps the more serious news, by a mile.
    Even Dean Raul Pangalangan, in his column in the Inquirer today, quotes the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, thus: “With all due respect to … Frantz Fanon, the fact is, the wretched of the earth want to go to Disneyworld, not to the barricades. They want the Magic Kingdom, not Les Misérables.”

  6. mlq3,

    Funny that you linked Teodoro to JoMa Sison.

    Here’s what a journalist friend e-mailed to me this morning after I asked him who Teodoro was. (This journalist friend is in Europe this week; we had lunch yesterday and guess what we talked about? The Philippines, Gloria and the political mess.)

    Here’s what this journalist friend wrote:

    “Luis Teodoro is a real communist. I think that up to now he still defends JoMa. I’ve met him a couple of times and even wrote a humor colum for him back when he was editor of a Catholic-church backed (???) news agency during martial law. Of course he can’t begin to know anything about you, but you can safely cut him some slack: he can be pretty acerbic, he has a sharp (though leninist) appreciation of politics, plus he hasn’t sold out all these years. Also he’s probably — like me — had his share meeting Filipino-Americans (in particular) who wring their hands piously and write condescendingly about the Philippines — you know the type I was referring to yesterday? Educated through Reader’s Digest, only idea of politics is red-neck Republican? As American as apple pie? Since he clearly knows nothing about you, you can either correct him, or just let his tirade pass you by. You both have other targets.”

  7. noontime shows will always be around.maybe what has happened should make us more critical of what sort of shows networks do.
    we should demand value oriented shows.
    and if they are game shows, to make sure that talent & skills are truely rewarded.
    and not sort of game shows that exploit peoples weaknes.

  8. A slight correction to A De Brux’s observation of Luis Teodoro. He wrote Teodoro “he hasn’t sold out all these years.” He did: Teodoro was part of a small group of ex-leftists and pseudo-leftists that Adrian Cristobal recruited to the Presidential Center for Advanced Studies (PCAS) in 1972. PCAS’s function was to be the think tank group of the Marcos dictatorship, to write about and refine the dictator’s “democratic revolution from the center,” using words, phrases and arguments liberally looted from the CPP publications. PCAS became more notorious when it was placed at UP Diliman, in clear violation of the UP’s academic freedom. It was attacked by faculty and students at that time as a blot on the university (together with the UP Islamic Center, by the way). Not a whimper or signs of solidarity from Cristobal’s radicals.

    Teodoro never renounced PCAS (it later became the Presidential Center for Strategic Studies, which was housed in this huge building near Cubao) and continues to be proud of what he did there: being a mercenary of the dictatorship. When Cory came to power, and a bunch of us from UP led by Randy David were asked by then Asst. Executive Secretary Jun Factoran to take over and evaluate PSSC, we entered the place and saw the sullen faces of Teodoro and a couple of other people. It was a strange sight: there were everybody else, laughing and crying that Marcos was gone. There was only mourning among the members of that group. Double mourning on Teodoro part, I presume, for having his Maoist and Marcosian patrons eased out of power.

    Last I heard, Randy David still has a copy of those who served in this think tank — lots of people who now claim the high ground because they believe that Joema Sison is still the Ayatollah, and the CPP the rightful heir to Bonifacio.

    So when I read or hear Teodoro rant and rave about the injustices and oppression of the world, I just remember PCAS/PCSS, and Teodoro’s angry look that fateful day of — I think it was — February 28, 1986.

  9. Thanks very much Jojo for the input but it wasn’t me who said that Teodoro “hasn’t sold out”. Twas a friend journalist who wrote because he thought so; to be honest, I wouldn’t know if Teodoro has indeed sold out or not.

    I have not heard of Luis Teodoro nor knew of his column until MLQ3 linked his column to me here.

    What you said about Teodoro is news to me – I’m very surprised how one could be a commie and a pro-Marcos at the same time!

  10. Sorry, but I was actually amused and I snickered when I read Mr. Teodoro’s tirade. Quite a good model to imitate toward a more picturesque language.

    He does bring out a number of good and factual points, irregardless of where he is coming from. And he must know and be convinced of them. How else to explain the passion and “anger” in this particular writing.

    But Gigi introduced a very crucial point, “..whether dollar- remitting or not..”

    I suppose if one wants to give more weight and credibility behind one’s causes, one should follow the old tired cliché: If you want to play, then pay.

    What are one’s active and “value” stakes in the old homeland, other than it being the land of birth, where relatives continue to live, where one continues to occasionally visit, etc?

    If none, then shouldn’t we fall silently behind, and allow the active stakeholders to either lead in the road to progress or down the briny deep?

  11. Sorry, but I was actually amused and I snickered when I read Mr. Teodoro’s tirade. Quite a good model to imitate toward a more picturesque language.

    He does bring out a number of good and factual points, irregardless of where he is coming from. And he must know and be convinced of them. How else to explain the passion and “anger” in this particular writing.

    But Gigi introduced a very crucial point, “..whether dollar-remitting or not..”

    I suppose if one wants to give more weight and credibility behind one’s causes, one should follow the old tired cliché: If you want to play, then pay.

    What are one’s active and “value” stakes in the old homeland, other than it being the land of birth, where relatives continue to live, where one continues to occasionally visit, etc?

    If none, then shouldn’t we fall silently behind, and allow the active stakeholders to either lead in the road to progress or down the briny deep?

  12. Amadeo,

    You don’t believe that 8 million Pinoys exported abroad by DoLE have been remitting dollars, ringgits, stirling pounds, euros, etc. and therefore have not earned their right to ‘play the game’ or that many Pinoy expats have lost the right to criticize government just because they live abroad?

    Don’t get me wrong, I would be inclined to believe that you are right BUT I know many Pinoys/Pinays abroad who pay higher taxes than Luis Teodoro ever does or ever will to the Philippine government – these same Pinoys/Pinays have more than just a passing ‘value’ fancy for the Philippines and have invested more than just a dollar worth of journalistic prancing in homeland Pinas.

  13. Kampi and the return of the Puno clan will surely hasten the doomsday predictions of a de brux

  14. Whoa Holyfather! Take it easy now!

    Tell you what – I don’t believe in divination and certainly am not a Casandra incarnate either (unlike Gloria Macapagal whom FVR said was Joan of Arc re-incarnated and who is better at doomsday predictions than you or I will ever be).

    Now if you believe in ‘kulam’, you could certainly help give Gloria a nudge or help push her out of Malacanang and make Prof. Randy David’s ‘post-Gloria scenario’ a reality…

    What say you Holyfather?

  15. a de brux, i’m no closet Maoist but had a similar reaction (although i do not ‘froth’) as teodoro when you wrote a similar comment on mlq3’s weblog a few weeks back.

    It was one of your usual eloquent, stirring call to arms which may actually get people fired up. It probably was having the desired effect until the last paragraph when i got confused on whether you were calling for a revolution against GMA or provoking a civil war against the Filipino expatriate community. No one takes kindly to being looked upon as inferiors, least of all, would be revolutionaries. Besides, as i’ve said on that thread, the mix of intelligence among both population groups is probably the same…

  16. Needless to state, Mr. Teodoro was way off mark in his over-generalizing.

    Of course, the sources of those inward foreign exchange remittances have active and value stakes in the old homeland. Thus, they can and should play.

    And BTW, it is egregiously unfair if one singles out the Fil-Am group because as late as a year or so ago, 2/3rds of the total annual remittances are still sourced in the good old USA. And the last time I calculated, total remittances accounted for 5-6% of the country’s GNP. Quite a tidy contribution to an economy that now prides itself in foreign exchange gains and foreign currency reserves.

  17. CVJ,

    Yeah, I get the gist… Ah, bad, bad, bad Anna! Shuldvebeen teenyweeny bit more explicit (there, just gave her a nasty slap on the wrist – that’s more than Gloria does to her erring friends in government!).

    Gotta be extra careful from now on – certainly, never in my wildest dream did I call for a civil war between Pinoy expats and homeland Pinoys! Why, Gloria would LOVE that because a civil war would keep her glued to Malacanang and I ain’t gonna fall (and her cabal of thieves) is the ENEMY and not the Pinoys, homeland based or overseas based…

    When I said what I said – kinda scathing I must admit – it was really against Pinoys who work for, support and still live by Gloria’s and her government of thieves’ dogma that Gloria rules whatever it takes!

    I hope this ‘call’ here below will stir more than just a hair on my compatriots’ heads:

    “Hang Gloria and her cabal of thieves by their toes, their fingers, their noses or their ears but HANG them for their systematic corruption and the crimes they commit with impunity against the nation and its people!”

  18. Correction:
    – never in my wildest dream did I call for a civil war between Pinoy expats and homeland Pinoys! Why, Gloria would just LOVE that because a civil war would keep her glued to Malacanang and I ain’t gonna fall for that bait, the sort of crap that will allow Gloria to continue to divide and rule the nation. Gloria (and her cabal of thieves) is the ENEMY and not the Pinoys, homeland based or overseas based…

  19. a de brux, more recently, taking into account your exchanges with Amb. Cruz and your gut reaction to the ULTRA tragedy on Ellen’s weblog, i belatedly realized that i may have misconstrued the intent of that last paragraph. Disembodied texts tend to take on a life of their own outside the hands of the author.

  20. a de brux
    i think it will be the advertiser who are in a better position.
    i’m disturbed that up to this moment abs has not canceled wowowie.i’m woundering w/c advertiser would consider a show like that yet after what has happened. there is lots of junk on tv.don’t get me wrong but lots are on abs.

  21. personaly people, i salute all those pinoys all over the world for all they do in pumping up our economy.
    i think that going to other countries & being exposed to other cultures can be an enriching thing.
    i really could not make heads or tails of what teodoro was writing.maybe he was trying to prove something.certainly, w/ all due respect to him.i also tried reading his article.but it was like watching a lousy movie & not finishing it.

  22. A de brux-

    As one of your Filipinos of “lesser caliber”–and there happens to be over 80 million of us over here–I do find your remark offensive.

  23. renmin, yes i agree w/ you that it’s unfair & offensive if not being totaly blind to say pinoys are of a “lesser caliber”.
    i have been around & i have seen how compitent pinoys are all over the world.
    i have seen how brave & couragous pinoys can be to compit.
    it’s sad that we have the bad habit of bringing each other down.we are really our worst kalaban!!!
    it disturbs me that that we have so many achivers at all levels & yet you rarely if not at all hear about them.
    makes me wounder what system of goverment is needed so that we may highlight what is positive & good in us?
    but i also realize that there is no system in this universe that can heal bad attitudes, fillings of selfrightiousnes or of having all the answers.
    just last night i was w/ childhood friends & school batchmates who have all diferent levels of achivments in contributing positivly to society.there was no time to be judgmental or critical of goverment.although we are all well aware of problems.we did not stop there & make ourselves miserable.

  24. Renmin,

    You ought to read what I wrote again.

    If you believe that you are one of the ‘lesser caliber’ (your words, not mine) Pinoys, not my problem at all but yours!

    Now, if you believe that you are one of those intelligent people left behind – and I believe there are plenty of them back home – by the 8 million OFWs, then well and good.

    If not, just tough!

  25. A de Brux,

    An entire discussion revolving around your e-mail to Mr. Teodoro….

    Brain drain brain gain….no use labelling…any label or brand hurts like branding cattle….

    We are all humans wherever planet we are in….

  26. it’s obviously wrong to “label” anybody.
    we have to have a world view of everything and go where our talents are better rewarded.
    if you wanna be also have to think big.
    if in a way we are suffereing from a “brain drain”.
    it’s probably better to ask ourselves why & pinpoint the problem.
    certainly the “pinoy politics” is not doing much to keep our talented people in our shores.
    i think our pinoys who show that they are world class are bringing our country honor.
    in a way they make up for those that are here but fall short of making a difference.

  27. Karl,

    Goodness gracious!

    Oh man! Wake up!

    I said a couple of times in this blog that I didn’t know Luis Teodoro (whom someone has LABELED a die-hard Commie) even existed before MLQ3 published his name here – therefore I couldn’t have sent him an e-mail before reading about him here.

    The guy must’ve picked up my letter from either the Inquirer or the Tribune which caused him to become ballistic, frothing from the mouth and then went on the attack not only against me (whom he LABELED as being married to a Belgian) but also against every Pinoy/Pinay abroad.


    I wonder why Luis Teodoro didn’t include (in his attack on overseas Pinoys) Jose Maria Sison, the single most contemptuous petit bourgeois living in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands, partying, dancing, karaokeing under a Marx-Lenin-Mao label while comfortably directing CPP-NPA (hit?) operations (as CPP Chair Armando Liwanag) in Baguio, the Isabela mountains, Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Samar, Negros provinces and in most of Mindanao!

    Hasn’t Jose Ma Sison been offered by RP government a Philippine passport to enable him to go home as well as a safe house in RP by no less than FVR seconded Speaker JdV? But Sison consistently refused because as he’s said before: “There’s a 10 million peso bounty on my head by the military!”. (Geez, that says a lot of things of Teodoro’s friend, doesn’t it?)

    Luis Teodoro’s great petit bourgeois apparently self-labeled die-hard Lenin-Marx-Mao friend in Utrecht is actually eligible for extradition to RP. Wonder why the DOJ ain’t doing anything about it…hmmm!?

    Oh well, perhaps, you are right: Filipinos overseas have reduced their contributions to Jose Ma Sison and that sort of Pinoy oversight got Luis Teodoro ranting, raging, raving MAD against overseas Pinoys/Pinays.

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