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India and the Philippines redux
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on November 16, 2007 95 Comments 19 min read
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This was the original e-mail inquiry, I received on September 24, from the Department of Foreign Affairs:

I am writing because someone suggested that i inquire from you, apparently because in one of your articles, you mentioned about social, cultural ties between the Philippines and India long before the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1949.

Now, I’d like to ask if indeed you have the materials on the subject and if i can procure copies from you. We only want to show that the Philippines already had relations with India before the formal establishment of diplomatic relations.

We badly need it, in preparation for the President’s visit to India this coming first week of October.

Thank you so much for your cooperation.

[name of official]

South Asia DIvision

Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs

My response on September 30 was, as follows, making reference to Explainer Episode 56: The India Model:

Thank you for your inquiry. May I refer you to the script of my TV show, which tackled the points you raised.

The Philippine and Indian independence movements were aware of each other. The Nacionalista Party dominated the peaceful efforts to secure independence from the USA, in the same manner that the Congress Party did, in India.

A Russian Scholar quoted Gandhi’s praise for the Philippines achieving Commonwealth status and Gandhi said, he would have accepted a similar means to independence if it had been available to his people.

We achieved independence in ’46, India in ’47, we are contemporaries as among the first colonized peoples to recover our freedoms without the need to wage war.

In the 1950s under Nehru and here at home, we both followed the path of an inward-looking economy. The Philippines and India have both been seeking means to break out of the limits of what the Indians call the “License Raj.”

Note Octavio Paz’s comments on historical links, mangoes, chiles, between India and the Philippines, mention the Sepoys who settled in Cainta, mention Ninoy Aquino’s admiration for Gandhi, mention how GMA’s father, DM, opened the windows of Philippine diplomacy and governance to the lessons of the Indians and their democracy.

I hope this will be of help in an important endeavor for our country’s diplomacy and economic activities.

I followed this up with a second message five minutes later:

You may wish to add that even under the limits of colonial rule, in the meetings of Asian diplomats and officials taking place in Washington during WW2, future Philippine diplomats including Joaquin Elizalde, first Phil amb. To the USA and later SECFORAF, met with Indian counterparts and this included frank and open discussions on the challenges of future independence. These meetings took place in 1943 and were the basis of a confidential report written by Arturo Rotor, the noted writer, then acting as Executive Secretary for the Phil. Commonwealth [government-in-exile].

When Gandhi and Nehru were imprisoned during World War 2, President Quezon attempted to send an appeal for their release through the British Ambassador in Washington, Lord Halifax, but Halifax said any attempt by Filipino officials to communicate with Indian leaders would not be permitted (this is documented in the diaries of Francis Burton Harrison).

The two incidents mentioned above predates both Phil. and Indian independence and our formal diplomatic relations by several years.

Quezon and Gandhi also said nearly identical things which should strike an emotional chord.

As it turned out, the President decided to focus on something else, entirely, which is described in SEAArch – The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog as,

It’s not so much and archaeological story as it is a political one. The Philippine president attempts to revive ancient “ties” with India by citing Indian cultural influence by way of Srivijaya and Majapahit. I find it quite funny that the basis for reviving ties is not so much because of any historic ties with India per se (whatever “India” was in the past), but by the fact that Indian “culture” was transmitted to the Philippines. Which doesn’t really say anything, does it?

But then again I’ve long argued that President Macapagal inflicted amnesia by trying to steal the thunder of the Left, and reclaim the Philippine Revolution for propaganda purposes; by so doing, he made the narrative of Philippine history senseless as the peaceful campaign for independence was ignored. But that is our actual link with India as it exists, today. Though no link in such things is ever as precise or as satisfactory as one would want.

As the Conclusion of what I’ve selected as Book of the Week puts it (giving an insight into the more prominent differences in opinion between Gandhi and Jinnah, or Jinnah and Nehru), taking the example of an Indian political leader,

The ways in which the institutional context worked to delimit potential expression is particularly well illustrated in the rather strange career of M. K. Dixit, the city’s leading political figure during the 1920s. Between 1919 and 1923 Dixit had been an extremely important noncooperator, committed to a Gandhian agenda. He rallied the population to boycott the legislative elections, he helped to sabotage local self-government in the city by insisting on the program of national education, he contributed to undermining the municipality’s scheme of universal and compulsory primary education, and he backed a pan-Islamic movement for the sake of securing Hindu-Muslim unity. By the late 1920s, however, he had become a member of the provincial legislature, a staunch advocate of urban reform on the municipal council, a man with close ties to the collector of the district, and a person partially identified with Surat’s most significant communal organization–the Hindu Mahasabha. A cynical perspective, of course, might see Dixit as a chameleon who had simply shown different colors at the time of noncooperation. No doubt, he, like most political figures, had opportunist tendencies; he was certainly aware of the audiences he would need to cultivate to maintain his political influence. But he was also consistently committed to fighting for the Indian nation and to representing his city. Pursuing these ends led him into the politics of local self-governing institutions. Once he attained a leading position in these structures, he faced increasing pressures to adhere to communal and liberal rhetorical and ritual paradigms. A close reading of his politics suggests that rather than making constant calculations in order to secure his immediate material advantage, Dixit had undergone a resocialization in which his conceptions of the political world had changed; otherwise he might have been easily able to return to a Gandhian idiom when the civil disobedience movement erupted in 1930. The range of possible ways that he felt he could present himself and his causes had seriously narrowed. In advocating and defending his roles as municipal president, provincial legislator, and spokesman for the people during the 1920s, Dixit came to redefine his values, even his self-identity.

As the author, Douglas E. Haynes, observes,

The tale of Dixit is a familiar one to Indian historians (and indeed to observers of the contemporary Indian scene), who are accustomed to seeing once-radical politicians seem to abandon their social commitments and tame their political rhetoric once inside municipal councils, parliamentary halls, and government ministries, and in positions of national leadership.[3] This systematic pattern in late colonial politics suggests that something more than a series of unconnected personal sellouts was taking place. Rather it testifies to the potent conditioning influence of the institutions and discourse of liberal imperialism tied almost inextricably to these institutions. In retrospect, it is now possible to recognize that the most successful colonialisms–the ones that exerted the most complete hegemony over the colonized elite, the ones that left their colonies voluntarily after peaceful negotiations rather than disruptive revolutions–were often those that had most completely established structures of political representation and self-government. For in these colonialisms elite figures often opted to bargain with and resist their rulers on a political and discursive terrain set by the colonizers’ institutions and culture. Independence for these societies often took a form that mid-twentieth century imperialists, whose views themselves reflected the impact of this bargaining with their subjects, would regard as safe, rational, and even legitimate.[4]

At which point, the comparison, not necessarily flattering, with the Philippine experience:

India thus ends up bearing some similarity to the Philippines, where imperialists with an even more extreme commitment to inculcating liberal democracy among their subjects assumed positions as colonial rulers at the turn of the twentieth century. In their Southeast Asian colony the Americans set up representative institutions at the local and provincial levels almost from the onset of colonial rule in the effort to coopt the ilustrado, the conservative landed and business elite. By 1907, a national legislature had been established. Thus emerged what Peter Stanley has termed the “Fil-American Empire,” an imperialism in which the ilustrado became virtual junior partners. Within this unusual colonial relationship, the elite made frequent recourse to the same American ideology of “benevolent assimilation” that had sanctioned imperial rule as it struggled to achieve its political interests, greater representative powers, and, eventually, independence. Liberal democracy achieved ascendancy in the islands’ central arenas of politics, isolating other potential philosophies and languages on the periphery.[5] The accommodation of the Filipino elite to the discourse of American imperialism sometimes took an exceptionally exaggerated, almost sycophantic, form that most Indian nationalists would surely have found pathetic and contemptible. For instance, at an event in 1938 commemorating the conquest of the islands, Manuel Quezon, the chief architect of Filipino independence and the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, said of the first time he had seen the American flag raised over the Manila Harbor four decades earlier: “Little did I realize then that I was witnessing what in ultimate result may prove to be the greatest event of modern civilization in the Orient. Little did I know in my immaturity that I was beholding the birth of a new ideology in Asia–an ideology based upon what was then a strange, new conception in this part of the world–a conception that government is, ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’–a conception based upon the magic words–liberty and freedom.”[6] But the language of liberal representative democracy became the chief ground of contending colonial policies as well as a means of expressing supplication. So successful was the colonial effort of “political education” that, for several decades after independence, Americans would point proudly to the Philippines as a “showcase for democracy,” hinting that their imperial venture (in contrast to those of the Europeans) may not have been such a bad idea after all.

In contrast to the Indian and Philippine experience, stands that of Vietnam:

Vietnam provides a striking counterexample to the Philippines and India. There the French gave only limited play to representative institutions, creating a colonial council and a handful of municipalities that gave voice only to a few among the emerging Vietnamese elite. Those who adhered to the Constitutionalist party–the most important organization espousing constitutional tactics–were never more than a tiny coterie of friends and associates. There was always a much larger number of the elite who perceived that they were excluded from council politics, that the political gains of the Constitutionalists were negligible, and that those whose voices were too loud would be subject to direct repression, no matter what language they were speaking. These figures turned increasingly to radical alternatives, most importantly, Marxism. Marxism provided a language of resistance against the French myth of mission civilisatrice; it insisted that European colonialism was a selfish, barbaric institution that had as its inevitable objective the plundering of the colonized.[7] But Marxism was also transformed in the process of becoming Vietnamese. Free from the discursive constraints of working within colonial structures. Ho Chi Minh and his comrades fashioned a syncretic rhetoric that evoked sentiment deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture. The use of family metaphors in referring to the relationship of revolutionaries to the people, the conscious evocation of the rich Vietnamese tradition of resistance to foreign oppression, the value placed on folk songs and peasant culture, and the shaping of a revolutionary moral code grounded in a Confucian value system all offered a possibility for creating strong bonds with the peasantry.[8] Marxist revolutionary rhetoric seems to have achieved in Vietnam a success that Gandhism never accomplished, in part because the liberal alternative was so thoroughly discredited by its obvious inapplicability to French colonial rule. Radicals inspired by this indigenous form of Marxism led the Vietnamese peasantry in a violent revolution that compelled the French to leave after the decisive defeat at Dienbienphu, and ultimately produced a communist state closely aligned with the Soviet Union.-

The author then suggests this might provide the stimulus for further research:

Such a brief comparative sketch can hardly capture the full range of factors that contributed to the development of political culture within these three societies. It sets aside such complex issues as the relationship between material interest and cultural production, the role of resistance from below, and patterns of individual variation among the elite, all issues that have figured in this study of Surat. Most important, in its sketchiness, it obscures the everyday processes of struggle and negotiation by which men and women among the colonized gave shape to their cultures. But it does suggest a broad hypothesis that might prove worth testing in other studies. To return to the typology developed in the first chapter of this book, liberal imperialism encouraged cultural accommodations to colonialism that were within hegemonic limits, it discouraged the production and spread of fully counterhegemonic languages that could inspire confrontation with colonial power, and often it successfully left its mark on postcolonial society in the form of representative institutions and an elite committed to constitutionalism and evolutionary progress. By contrast, in colonies that had experienced more repressive imperial regimes, where elite figures felt that their political mobility and access to power were blocked, the psychic and institutional legacies of imperialism were often more easily challenged and dismantled.[9]

As I pointed out on my show, there’s something remarkable about gigantic India facing off with the Philippines as one of its main rivals in the call center industry; but even a superficial look-see at India’s and the Philippines’ paths to independence and their democracies, suggests to anyone, I think, the potential not only for greater mutual understanding but for problem-solving, too. As Re-constructing Colonial Philippines: 1900-1910 by Patricio Abinales points out,

The U.S. Congress approved the colonization of the Philippines but refused to provide sustained financial support for the undertaking. In fact, the Congress allotted only $3 million for the Philippines in the entire period from 1903 to the formation of the Philippine Commonwealth. One economist called it colonial administration “accomplished ‘on the cheap.’ “Financial constraints were also complicated by the difficulty of attracting Americans to govern the colony. The solution to these problems was found in generating revenues from the colony’s own resources, particularly the existing crops that the colony was exporting abroad later years of Spanish rule. Enhancing this export economy, however, was not easy. American legislators, especially those coming from the agricultural regions of the U.S., vigorously opposed proposals that Philippine products enter the country tariff-free. As a consequence, the so-called “free trade” that introduced under American rule was not so free. The U.S. was very selective in the choice of Philippine products that could be exported to the American mainland. Only sugar, hemp and coconut were allowed open access to the U.S. market; and even these products would later be taxed in American ports. Selective entry of these goods however was enough to resurrect the export economy, and by the end of the decade much of it was re-energized because of the American market.

The second issue–putting people into the administrative and political structure–proved more successful because the Americans early on opened up the structure to Filipino participation. It is general knowledge that even as the war against Aguinaldo was raging, the Americans were already able to recruit prominent Filipinos to their side. These collaborators became the backbone of the Federalista Party, a party committed to full American control as well as the medium for introducing the party system to the Philippines. The Federalistas were also supposed to become the dominant Filipino party in the soon-to-be formed Philippine Assembly and American backing initially helped them to mobilize Filipino support.

And as he then adds,

By the end of the first decade, “regular provinces” comprised half of the Philippines. These provinces had elected and appointive Filipino officials, many of whom owed their positions to Quezon, Osmeña and the Nacionalistas. Combining their local political experiences learned from the last years of Spanish rule, with the “political education” they were getting from the Americans, the Filipinos proved within a short period of time that they had the ability to be equally adept at governing the colony. In its first year at work, the Philippine Assembly had already shown a marked adeptness in introducing additional provisions or new amendments to existing colonial laws, and in negotiating with the Philippine Commission and the Governor General over matters of policy formulation, funding and government personnel changes. Quezon and Osmeña were at the top of all these processes. They were fast becoming astute leaders of the political party they helped build, of the Assembly that they presided over, and of the colonial regime they co-governed with the Americans. If Rizal was credited for having conceived of the “Filipino,” and if Bonifacio and Aguinaldo were the leaders who gave this imagination a reality with the Revolution, to Quezon and Osmeña must be given the distinction of helping construct the political and administrative structure that would be associated with the term “Filipino.” The Americans may have created the colonial state, but it was these two leaders who gave flesh to it and putting the foundations that the future Republic would stand on.

But this also resulted in a problem that would continue, post-independence, though unacknowledged in terms of its origins:

A major reason for the American success was the cooperation extended by Muslim and Cordilleran leaders to the Americans. They regarded colonial rule as a means of protecting themselves against Christians and “lowlanders.” American military officials reciprocated this cooperation by resisting the efforts of Filipinos to extend their power to the “special provinces.” A working relationship eventually developed between these community leaders and the Americans whereby the former were given minor posts in the provincial government (“tribal wards” in the case of the Muslims) in exchange for agreeing to recognize American sovereignty. U.S. army officers who administered these areas also became their protectors against Filipino leaders, doing everything they can to limit the presence of Manila and the Nacionalista party in the Cordilleras and “Moro Mindanao.”

The only major resistance came from the Muslims at the hills of Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak, when the army declared a ban on weapons and raised head taxes. American military superiority prevailed and over a hundred Muslim men, women and children were killed. Politically, however, these actions eroded the army’s standing and opened up an opportunity for Quezon to attack military rule in Mindanao. After the massacres, the army was forced slowly to concede authority to Manila and the Filipinos. The army’s powers were also clipped once the U.S. Congress authorized its partial demobilization, and once the American president ordered its withdrawal from the special provinces and its replacement by Philippine Constabulary units. Many American officers also preferred to continue their military careers in the U.S. mainland, seeing very little prospects in just limiting themselves to the Philippines. All these problems emboldened the Filipinos to assert their political presence in these special provinces. This was something that a weakened military government could not repulse anymore. In 1913, the army conceded its power to the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, a body controlled from Manila and by Filipinos. The Cordilleras’ status as a special province was also terminated and the Nacionalista Party began recruiting its first “Cordillerans” to join the organization.

Two major features therefore characterized the first decade of colonial rule. First was the full and effective unification of Las Islas Filipinas under American rule, and second was the division of colony into two major zones of administration reflecting the histories of their respective populations. These two zones were eventually unified under the Filipinization policy, but the distinctiveness upon which they were based continued to affect overall colonial development. Muslims and Cordillerans remained staunchly pro-American and anti-Filipino, while Christian “lowlanders” continued to mistrust and maintain a low regard for these “wild tribes.”

The result were rebellions in Mindanao and the Cordilleras in the 1970s and 1980s onwards.

And on an entirely unrelated note, this is clever and amusing:


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  1. The difference economically is the people. The Indian elite are loyal to India. The Indian middle class are ambitious. The only class in which we can match up or better India is in the lower class.

    Politically, India is more idealistic. Our politicians are realists and the smartest of them are opportunists. They glory in their wiliness just like petty thieves. Filipino leaders are shallow and incredibly myopic.

    And Indians have bigger penises!

  2. The difference economically is the people. The Indian elite are loyal to India. The Indian middle class are ambitious. The only class in which we can match up or better India is in the lower class.

    Politically, India is more idealistic. Our politicians are realists and the smartest of them are opportunists. They glory in their wiliness just like petty thieves. Filipino leaders are shallow and incredibly myopic.

    And Indian men are bigger, with a few exceptions.

  3. “The U.S. Congress approved the colonization of the Philippines”..
    yes, by a wide margin of ONE vote. Such is destiny. Had it been otherwise, we can speculate that France could have seized the opportunity to fill the void posed, and we could have followed the fate of Vietnam, where “Radicals inspired by this indigenous form of Marxism led the Vietnamese peasantry in a violent revolution that compelled the French to leave after the decisive defeat at Dienbienphu..”. As fate would have it otherwise, America embarked on a colonial effort of “political education” and they could now “point proudly to the Philippines as a ‘showcase for democracy'”.
    showcase of democracy ??? hmmm…

  4. The period of the socialist ‘license raj’ was the time when the Indian conglomerates led by their business maharajah’s like Tata, Ambani and Mital were formed. When government changed its attitude towards business in the early 1980’s, these industrial conglomerates were already in place to lead the economic takeoff. Here in the Philippines, we have not had such a formative incubation period but instead chose to go directly to the liberalization phase.

    When you adjust for their tone, we have much to learn from the Indians if only we take our racist blinders off. Just as many Tsinoys are racist towards Pinoys. So are many Pinoys racist towards Indians.

  5. When and where was there a national “swadeshi” movement in the Philippines participated by all classes of Philippine society?

    The main philosophy of “swadeshi”- self reliance leading to the civil disobedience to the British Raj. A united populace of hundreds of millions vs a handfull of British Imperial soldiers and bureaucrats. Gandhi united a country of thousands of villages into a nation.
    Best epitomized by the salt march to break the British monopoly on salt where Indians were not allowed to make their own salt.

    Pandit Nehru, the aristocrat moved to lay the foundation of the industrialization of India. His legacy is the brain power that the university system created in science and engineering. Together with China they comprise till today the example of a closed economy compared to the model the Philippines followed since time immemorial.

    Simple formula to use in determining how open or closed an economy is the % of imports relative to total domestic GDP.

    Allmajor trading countries including the U.S., Japan and the E.U. also have about the same ratios.

    India’s main problem till today is how to break the feudal structure still prevalent in their agriculture sector that serves as the foundation of the caste system.

    Plus of course the technological capacity of even old India far surpassed that of the Philippines since time immemorial.

  6. America’s ‘benevolent assimilation’ of the Philippines was a major reason why we had our independence peacefully granted to us rather than violently fought for.

  7. But the question is: Was it worth it? Would we have a better country if the Philippines made a violent yet complete breakaway from its American colonial masters? It would have resulted in a tabula rasa, a clean slate with which to start all over again.

    Unlike what happened, in which the independence that was granted came with so many strings attached that the hands of post-war leaders were tied up that the national interest was inevitably linked with those of the US’.

  8. Ronin, that alternative history where the Hukbalahap would have won (just like their Viet Cong or Mao’s guerillas) is interesting. Who knows, if the Huks had destroyed the oligarchic elite at that time, we may be growing like China or Vietnam right now.

  9. cvj: perhaps. I remember my former pol sci professor who remarked that our nation needed a bloodletting to purge the old blood and start anew. To use another metaphor, a tree bears better and more fruit after it is pruned. He went on to say that that is one reason why EDSA 1 was not as successful as it should have been; it was a half-baked revolution, if at all. The Marcoses and their cronies went scot-free, instead of being lined up against the wall and shot.

  10. Ronin, on the ‘bloodletting part’, i’ve had extensive discussions with Devilsadvc8 and others here and in my blog. I’ve stated my position that i don’t think it’s the bloodletting per se, but the dismantling of the old elite that counts, or at least reorienting their productive energies towards industrial development. If it can be done peacefully as in India, then so much the better. Although i must admit that news of the (un-)timely demise of a corrupt politician/warlord kind of makes my day. 😀

  11. cvj,
    I ,for one, am against any bloody revolution but it beats me how to dismantle this elitism thing.

  12. cvj: Yeah, I know ‘bloodletting’ an old issue. But there’s the crux of the matter. You spare some of the old guards and they would continue to interfere with the changes being made. On the other hand, as history shows, it is difficult to rein in the killings once it starts.

    The phrases ‘dismantling the old elite’ and ‘redirecting their energies’ sound good, but would these work, especially if majority of them still give priority to their self-interest? They would always act out of the need to preserve their gains, not for altruistic motives. If this is so, then it can only result in a ‘trickle down effect’ for the majority.

  13. Broadening the middle class may be the more moderate way of undermining the elite’s hold on the system. The real question then is, how do we broaden the middle class? As of now, from what I understand, it has actually been shrinking. The gap between the haves and the have nots have widened so much in our country.

  14. “The gap between the haves and the have nots have widened so much in our country.” – Tsinoy

    …and this will continue unless the elite in power do something for the good of all–sincerely, I may add. There should be noblesse oblige, right?

  15. “…and this will continue unless the elite in power do something for the good of all” – ronin
    ________________________

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy, in a speech at the White House, 1962

  16. Here are the past and ongoing attempts by other countries to address inequality:

    China – what: communist revolution violent:yes successful:yes
    Vietnam – what: communist revolution violent:yes successful:yes
    Malaysia – what: New Economic policy favoring bumi’s violent:no successful: yes
    India – what: swadeshi (refer to hvrds above) violent:no successful: yes
    Korea – what: US Aid/land reform/heavy industrialization violent:no successful: yes
    Taiwan – what: nationalist mobilization/land reform/light industrialization violent:no successful:yes
    Venezuela – what: Hugo Chavez’ commodity (aka oil)-based wealth redistribution violent: so far, no successful: too early to tell
    Bolivia – what: Evo Morales nationalization violent: so far, no successful: too early to tell

    Below are my own suggestions:
    1. As i’ve previously mentioned, i’m hoping that the next leader of the country (whether he/she be democratically elected as i would prefer, or a dictator), would summon the 300 (or so) wealthiest families of the Philippines to Malacanang and ask each of them for a workable plan to redistribute a portion of their wealth to the poor (e.g. as seed money for livelihood programs). This plan, once agreed upon, should be closely monitored by the grassroots organizations for faithfulness of implementation and quality of execution. Within the elite, they should also agree to police their ranks of would be cronies.

    2. Abolish (or nationalize) all private/exclusive schools to prevent the ascendancy of future Mike Arroyo’s, Danding Cojuangco’s, Ricky Razons and Gloria Arroyos and their elitist clique.

    3. Break up ethnically homogeneous ghettoes like Binondo and Greenhills to prevent a parallel nation within a nation with its own sub-culture.

    4. Nationalize all Church property and redistribute for housing and industrial purposes. Tax people according to religious affiliation.

    I’ll add to the list if i think of anything more.

  17. That being said, it’s just proper to note that the China of today has become more unequal than the Philippines (based on the GINI coefficient) but perhaps the fast pace of economic growth (and the Communist dictatorship) has so far prevented unrest.

  18. “Yeah, I know ‘bloodletting’ an old issue. But there’s the crux of the matter. You spare some of the old guards and they would continue to interfere with the changes being made. On the other hand, as history shows, it is difficult to rein in the killings once it starts.”

    ronin, as cvj has said, both of us has had extensive discussion along these lines somewhere in this blog.

    the trick i think, is to draw the list right from the start of who needs killing, and once purged – the killings should stop.

    personally, I’d start with the Marcoses and their cronies and go from there to Erap and Arroyo and their cronies. i think that would free up a large portion of the pie being kept from the rest of the population.

    restitution is not enough. annihilation is better.

  19. Wow. D

    I learned much from this entry, thanks so much! This will certainly be of help in our History classes. 🙂

    *please forgive me if i go out of topic*

    On behalf of the Theresians from Cebu, I also thank you for giving such an informative talk. Being the managing editor of the publication staff, I’ve also realized during the talk *and the FORWARD slideshow* that STC, although it has been 75 years since its first foundation, is pretty much behind in terms of print media leadership and publication. It is understandable that our publications may have commenced publishing *there’s really little background information on it* later than the FORWARD (USJ-R publication), but I dream for, and wish to achieve such a standard as put out by the FORWARD editorial board.

    It’s not possible for us, I’ve realized. High school pa lang kami, but we have the power to change. (Like you mentioned, “do you want to change the world?”) I wish to improve our school’s standards in terms of print publication. I dream of creating issues that can be held memorable for students. Memorable and collectible issues.

    Do you have any advice on this? On how to establish such impossible-sounding project, and to present the ideas I have to the administration and such? Sir, I may ONLY be a high school student, but my dreams for the school publication may be the greatest legacy we can leave for the school. I only dream, and hope for the best.

    Thank you, once again! It was nice meeting you, albeit unexpectedly. 🙂

    I’ll be back from time to time~! 🙂
    –Joanna Santos, STC-Cebu

  20. it’s gratifying to know that recognition is given to the negative role of our elite in society and that suggestions are now starting to come forward in how to mitigate (in as peaceful a manner as possible) their further influence in philippine society.

    to your list cvj, i’d like to add the following:

    – a sustained, consistent, and determined opening up of our economy (of which it cannot be sanely denied that india and china has done in the past few years, resulting in their recent growth);

    – further development of our educational system; and

    – deliberate and determined reform and implementation of the estate tax (with exemptions for the lower and middle class), so that wealth will be distributed to the greater society and not merely parked with a small number of people who never worked for it.

    it is simply unacceptable that with 80 million people, we have to content ourselves with leaders whose pasts involved collaborations with spaniards, americans, japanese, marcos, and gma.

  21. “3. Break up ethnically homogeneous ghettoes like Binondo and Greenhills to prevent a parallel nation within a nation with its own sub-culture.” – cvj

    Include Navotas…

  22. hmmm…interesting ideas….I never though killing people would be a viable option in this democratic space….

  23. cvj

    curious lang ako…doesn’t this smack of the dictatorship you all harrassed me about? Where’s the democracy in all of this? I am confused???

  24. Jemy

    Not all the elites are bad. The problems really are those rent seekers. Like you said, those who don’t work hard for it but rather uses influence and corruption to enrich themselves. This includes all politicians, businessmen who seeks favors and grants bribes

    There are people who also have worked hard and made their living and became successful in their endeavor.

    Sadly, the overall effect is more negative than positive just because of the sheer control the rent seekers have over the resources of this country.

    Then again, I always have argued that people are saints until temptation comes along….you never really can get the measure of a man until he’s faced with these temptations. SO who’s to say who can best lead the Philippines out of its predicament?

  25. Broadening the middle class may be the more moderate way of undermining the elite”’s hold on the system. The real question then is, how do we broaden the middle class? As of now, from what I understand, it has actually been shrinking. The gap between the haves and the have nots have widened so much in our country.”

    PTSP(Proud to be a Special Pinoy)Disappearing middle class.We are now called the “New Poor”

  26. “Broadening the middle class may be the more moderate way of undermining the elite”’s hold on the system.”

    Jobs should be created. Construction related jobs for the urban areas and agriculture related jobs for rural areas. The government should issue bonds to construct enough apartment buildings to house 5 million people in Manila. Do the the same thing for other big cities. Expand the program to distribute 1 million has. of land at 1 hectare per farmer. Make another 5 million has. available.
    We should try these things first before we start killing people.

  27. cjv, you can add one of how are other ways where the very wealthy, or the Elites (as most would call them) can do to avoid the class struggles and help their fellow and somehow bridge that income gap: Give…

    Peter Munk- Chairman and Ceo Barrick Gold Mines-Handed the Toronto General Hospital Heart and Lung Centre (named after the family) his own money of $50 millions as he said the good thing about being a millionaire is having a million opportunities to help. Also He said his grandfather and father spent their last days in the same hospital, some kind of payback.

    The Labatts family- known for the Beer the family owned, but made their fortune in Mutual funds, instead of Yatch, a multimillion for the Sick Kids Hospital, and the Family Patriarch said that is my Yatch…
    And many more…beside paying their taxes….

  28. curious lang ako…doesn’t this smack of the dictatorship you all harrassed me about? Where’s the democracy in all of this? I am confused??? – Proud to be Tsinoy

    There is always a probability that Washington Sycip’s ‘Filipinos have too much democracy‘ or your own ‘Filipinos are not ready for democracy‘ memes would prevail. If that happens, we might as well make sure that any dictatorship that would emerge will be channeled to the benefit of the majority. We would not want a dictatorship that preserves the gains of the current elite as that would be the worst outcome. A to-do list like the one above would come in handy.

  29. Jemy, as far as trade is concerned, i am predisposed to agree with the principle of opening up the economy. My bias has always been in favor of freer trade. However, hvrds makes a good point that the successful economies of India and China among others would not have developed their own industrial base if they opened up too early. Since i see you as an expert in this topic, what guidelines would you suggest on what sectors to open up and when?

  30. CVJ

    Not trying to pick a fight here…just want to know your stand then…so as long as the dictatorship is benevolent (ala Lee Kuan Yew) then it’s ok?

  31. Not trying to pick a fight here…just want to know your stand then…so as long as the dictatorship is benevolent (ala Lee Kuan Yew) then it’s ok? – Proud to be Tsinoy

    No, i’m not ok with a dictatorship. I think a benevolent dictatorship is a contradiction in terms. Take it from the ‘benevolent dictator’ himself:

    I can assure you that in Singapore, when we decide that they are breaking the rules of the game, the unspoken rules as to how we survive, how we have prospered, then either their head is broken or our bones are broken – Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew issuing warning to SIA Pilots at the World Brand Forum, Channel News Asia, Dec 2, 2003

    So i hope you won’t be under any false illusions as to what it means to be under a dictatorship.

  32. mlq3, that was a nice account of history of our relationship with india (or lack of it), especially your grandfather’s courageous effort for gandhi that naturally did not sit well with the british colonialists.

    i cannot agree with your criticism of the late president diosdado macapagal’s action and motivation for changing our independence day from july 4 to june 12. the way i see it, june 12 marked the first formal declaration of philippine independence from any foreign power. it was the fruition of the labor, blood and sacrifice of the katipunan as first organized and led by bonifacio. this is a historical fact, and no amount of profound analysis and rationalization can change that. the tragic internal political rivalry that led to the fratricidal episode between the magdalo and magdiwang factions should not detract from the significance of june 12 in the life of every filipino, and neither should the divergent ideas of the recognized leaders of that day as to what to do with the newfound independence.

    macapagal’s decision to rectify and set the record straight should be lauded rather than belittled or ridiculed. then as now, such action constitutes a courageous and righteous move that not too many of our past presidents could have made given the “lapdog” predilection vis a vis “america”. arguably, macapagal’s defeat by marcos (who became the “darling” of the americans) in 1967 could have been largely attributable to the former’s perceived defiance of uncle sam.

    in any event, i don’t agree that the june 12 proclamation by macapagal was intended to be a leverage for any concession or whatever, or in retaliation for a rebuff, real or imagined. why do we always have this kind of mindset?

  33. Bencard,

    But the Philippines became a colony of the US until 04 July 1946 (was it 1946?) when the country became FINALLY independent so why shouldn’t July 4 be Independence Day?

    The fact that Filipino revolutionaries died so that Aguinaldo could declare independence from Spain on June 12 a century before doesn’t alter the fact that we were colonized by another western power until 1946.

    If you are after facts, these are facts … I personally wouldn’t impute date change on some motive. I go by the fact that the country became once and for all technically independent as a nation were on 4 July.

    Perhaps, best thing is to have 2 independence days? (A bit odd but heck, why not?)

  34. i thought we were talking about the FIRST declaration of independence from foreign domination. u.s. colonization of the philippines was, i would say, an “accident” of world history. it was apparently an unintended consequence of the spanish-american war which started with the sinking of ss maine in cuba. in any event, the july 4, 1946 declaration was, in effect, a restoration or recognition of the june 12, 1896 proclamation.

    the u.s. colonization was pursuant to the treaty of paris which was entered into between the u.s. and the vanquished spain after the philippine independence was already declared. of course, the defeat of spanish colonizers by the filipino revolutionaries was with the help of the americans. i contend that at the time of the “cession”, spain had no more valid title to the philippine territory and therefore, the transfer to the u.s. was at best defective and at worst, void.

    in any event, the june 12 declaration was the filipino’s first taste of independence, short-lived though it might be but no less genuine.

  35. ronin on, “He went on to say that that is one reason why EDSA 1 was not as successful as it should have been; it was a half-baked revolution, if at all. The Marcoses and their cronies went scot-free, instead of being lined up against the wall and shot.”

    I totally agree. No respect of the masses. Masses can be bought and paid to do strike, etc.

  36. cvj on, “1. As i’ve previously mentioned, i’m hoping that the next leader of the country (whether he/she be democratically elected as i would prefer, or a dictator), would summon the 300 (or so) wealthiest families of the Philippines to Malacanang and ask each of them for a workable plan to redistribute a portion of their wealth to the poor”

    That is against the constitution. Business is free-wheeling unless you invoke new state policy that the elite will fight for its survival. The elite can easily finance military takeover to secure elite’s interest.

  37. cvj on, “2. Abolish (or nationalize) all private/exclusive schools to prevent the ascendancy of future Mike Arroyo’s, Danding Cojuangco’s, Ricky Razons and Gloria Arroyos and their elitist clique.

    3. Break up ethnically homogeneous ghettoes like Binondo and Greenhills to prevent a parallel nation within a nation with its own sub-culture.”

    Retired generals are running the paramilitary forces of the elite. These generals have strong ties with current ranking officers. Military coup financed by elite is faster than a president can make 2 & 3 as policy.

  38. cvj on, “4. Nationalize all Church property and redistribute for housing and industrial purposes. Tax people according to religious affiliation.”

    There will be strong condemnation from international community and spin the economy to bankruptcy.

  39. To make it feasible, the leader have to take pre-emptive military option, so the military is cut from the elite and put the entire country under military rule, implement 1 through 4 by the barrel of the gun.

  40. CVJ

    Reason I ask the question is because of what you’re proposing. They are certainly hallmarks of what a dictator would ostensibly do to get the masses to fall in line…it contradicts everything I thought democracy would be about.

  41. MBW

    Baka dapat June 12 should be Declaration of Independence Day and July 4 should be Freedom Day. (He he, it’s all semantics really)

  42. Alright, enough socioeconomic political nonsense comments. Let’s comment on the “100 movies 100 comments 100 numbers” video.

    No. 93 – Movie: Midnight Run
    Charles Grodin, the passenger, singing …93 bottles of beer on the while, annoying the hell out of Robert DeNiro, the driver. From the movie “Midnight Run”.

  43. And another thing. The video is from the Alonzo Mosley Film Institute. Alonzo Mosley is a character in the movie “Midnight Run”, No. 93. Alonzo Mosley, FBI agent, played by Yaphet Koto from Tacoma, WA. I went to school with Yaphet’s son, Fred. My only claim to fame.

  44. Once again it seems that business realties and economic realities are being mixed up. Words like free trade and open economy are being discussed without realizing the context of the use of these words.

    Henry “Hank” Paulson has recently stated rather strongly that the U.S. follows a strong dollar policy. Yet everyone is predicting the collapse of the dollar yadah, yadah.

    “Paulson’s efforts to strengthen his rhetoric began Nov. 8, when he said “the U.S. has a very competitive, strong economy that’s proven itself over many years.” The next day, he told reporters in Washington “the dollar has been the world’s reserve currency since World War II and there’s a reason.”

    Most people still are not aware of the role of the dollar in the world economy and the almost total dependence of the developing economies on it. Three words that determine the reality of the U.S. strong dollar policy come to mind. OiL (Fossil Fuels), Military and Technology.

    Military Midget

    “What’s more, next to the U.S., the euro area is a military midget, and geopolitical muscle counts. It’s a major reason why oil and other commodities are priced in dollars. Sterling’s loss of reserve-currency status followed the U.K.’s loss of military might, its colonial empire and economic primacy.”

    `Exorbitant Privilege’

    “The dollar survived these episodes with its No. 1 status intact. The dollar’s share of global official reserves fell from 79 percent in 1977 to 49 percent in 1992. Now it’s back up to 65 percent, with the euro a distant second at 26 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.”

    “Reserve-currency status allows the U.S. to enjoy low interest rates and reduced transaction costs. It enables the U.S. to borrow large sums in its own currency, which French President Charles de Gaulle criticized as America’s “exorbitant privilege.”

    “And being able to deal in dollars makes doing business easier for U.S. importers, exporters, lenders and borrowers, while creating opportunities for U.S. financial institutions. It also boosts the demand for U.S. financial assets, pushing up stock and bond prices and driving interest rates lower.”

    “Then there’s seigniorage, technically the interest-free loan the U.S. receives from the millions of dollar bills held offshore. “Printing a $100 bill is almost costless to the U.S. government, but foreigners must give more than $100 of resources to get the bill,” Palley says. “That’s a tidy profit for U.S. taxpayers.”
    Michael Sesit, Blomberg

    Some would call it ‘benevolent imperialism’ but it is imperialism nevertheless.

    The total market valuation of the Chinese stock market would come to only 2% of the U.S. stock markets.

    Plus the Chinese are forced to receive dollars for most of their exports which are simply ledger entries and some green printed paper backed up by the Government of the U.S. which does not have that many assets to begin with.

    The greatest Ponzi scheme on the planet.

  45. I’m hoping that the next leader of the country (whether he/she be democratically elected as i would prefer, or a dictator), would summon the 300 (or so) wealthiest families of the Philippines to Malacanang and ask each of them for a workable plan to redistribute a portion of their wealth to the poor (e.g. as seed money for livelihood programs). This plan, once agreed upon, should be closely monitored by the grassroots organizations for faithfulness of implementation and quality of execution. Within the elite, they should also agree to police their ranks of would be cronies. – cvj

    I have posted in the other thread what I think are certain historical bases of our elitist, patrimonlialist and hierarchical system.

    Let me fast forward here to more contemporary events.

    The political instinct of Ferdinand Marcos, it is fitting to note, has served him well in his practical analysis of power politics in the Philippines. One of his claims was that the scourge of the country has in the main been the oligarchy of economic elites, some 60 families of a population of 40 million then. These families, mostly of Chinese descent, by their elitist bent and plutocratic complex, think they own the country (of about 85 million souls today), so for them it is just right to govern it – through their trapo surrogates.

    Marcos’ solution to the problem was to dismantle the old power and wealth. Unfortunately, by doing so through the use of dictatorial powers, he created another version just as virulent.

    Cory Aquino and the EDSA Revolution that ended the dictatorship restored political and civil rights to the Filipinos, but she stopped short at confronting her own shadow and those cast by the reinstated oligarchic clan of which she is a part. She’s just a transition leader, the convenient excuse.

    Aquino’s successor, FVR, a West Pointer and a Marcos cousin, was well aware of the “perverse symbiosis” between the oligarchs and trapos, yet he knew as well without doing a Marcos any meaningful change initiative on his part would have limited chance of success. His reform programs could have picked up more steam if he was accorded longer time to lead. In the end President Ramos conducted himself as a good soldier and decided to respect the constitutional limit of his presidential term.

    Supposedly populist Erap, once a Marcos lieutenant, was seen as a threat to “the rules of the game.” To the chagrin of the established elites, President Estrada has closely associated himself with the Binondo Chinese (Rizal’s Chinaman?); he in fact has driven a wedge between the “new immigrants’ and the “Makati elites.” Consequently, his term was rendered short-lived. It was however under Erap’s watch that many more of the Marcos cronies sneaked back to power.

    Wily Gloria Arroyo is the quintessential conservative (i.e., she has professed not wishing to be great, or adventuristic, intending only to “conserve” – even after EDSA II had swept her to power ahead of her schedule after evicting the “Champion of the Poor” – the old tradition and ideology of “market and democracy,” thereby keeping intact the existing wealth and power distribution). So, logically, in the presidential election that followed, the Establishment opted for Arroyo to rule instead of another Erap in FPJ, the Opposition candidate and Man who would have been Da King.

    The oligarchy of the economic class likes it when the political class like Arroyo, beset with one scandal after another, is helpless, a lame duck. If she can’t effectively muzzle her way, the powers that be could simply sit tight, allowing the system to operate by auto-drive.

    On the other hand, the oligarchy secures itself from external pressure for as long as it toes the Washington Consensus line in an “almost sycophantic” fashion even as on the sly it nurtures relations with its “roots” from China, the awakened Dragon with creeping global extremities. That way, it gains more confidence of having wider latitude to navigate the waters of regional as well as global political economy

    A crack in the wall has however begun to appear as more and more of the oligarchs’ counterparts in the region have been consistently outperforming them. That nasty sore spot exposes the Philippine version of oligarchic regime as one of a lower or inferior form especially in the eyes of the “move-on” Filipino middleclass. As a result, this class has become increasingly “relatively deprived” even while going through some sort of enlightenment, as well as perhaps conscience-stricken by the inhuman plight of the vast hoi polloi and the Payatas horde.

    To cut the chase, the holy mess the Philippines is in today has been about the extreme disparity in wealth and power between the oligarchs and the rest of society. The problem is confounded and yet propped up by the twin ideology that’s supposed to serve as the solution – the “market and democracy” construct first hailed by MLQ as the “new ideology in Asia.” For, what was seen as “the greatest event of modern civilization in the Orient” did not seem to fit the following Philippine realities outside of some borrowed idealism:

    – First, the Philippine oligarchy is exceedingly family-centered which has yet to subordinate its ancient roots to the Filipino nation-state. (This baggage is non-existent in longtime world economic power Japan and in the “tiger economies” of Taiwan, South Korea and China which are all essentially homogenous societies; on the other hand, city-state Singapore has confronted this problem by decreeing integration, while Malaysia has institutionalized affirmative action for the Bumiputra, the “sons of the soil.”)

    – The oligarchy is content with rent-seeking and paper entrepreneurship and of late is ignoring or failing to make the most of the OWF-generated boon as a medium for sustainable growth and development. Even as corporate entrepreneurs the oligarchs are still basically engaged in family-enterprise capitalism (where as owners they, rather than professional corporate managers, continue to be in control of the entrepreneurial decision-making) but, take note, are somehow disposed to leapfrog right into to modern financial capitalism (of the speculative financier type or as traders in money), possibly skipping in the process the productive and employment-generating stages of industrial and managerial capitalisms

    In a nutshell, my preferred prescription for a successful solution to the scourge of oligarchy includes:

    – The “tsinoy” oligarchs must do a Rizal (himself a direct descendant of Cue-Li Lam, an immigrant from Fujian, China) to form the Second Filipinos (the First Filipinos being Rizal and co.).

    – Like the pariahs and the pirates of the ancient (who were the direct ancestors of the First Filipinos), the oligarchs, matching the risk taken by the OFWs, must venture into vigorous productive entrepreneurships.

    – As risk-takers, the oligarchs must not allow their resourcefulness and imagination to be needlessly constrained, contained or contaminated by what was once touted as the “new ideology in Asia,” those pre-conceived notions of “market and democracy” that are themselves being re-imagined to obviate the inevitability of fading or dying away in a “creative destruction.” Instead, they could just attach a neutral appellation to the transformation process, a tag as simple as Design A or Design B.

    The design could be something like operating under a Bayanihan Pact, an entrepreneurial arrangement where the oligarchs emerge as national business elites in partnership with the State, a representative group from the private sector, and the bureaucracy (hence, there’s no need for a bloody confrontation) in the nature of a Philippine, Inc., just as a Japan, Inc., a Korean, Inc. or a China, Inc., of recent time or the French, Inc. the British, Inc. or the American, Inc. of the old. Voluntary seed money for the venture from the 300 wealthiest elites will be welcome.

    The U.S., the most advanced economy today, differed in economic strategy from the longer established European powers. Alexander Hamilton argued that a young country should use measures to shield its own industries from the vagaries of the market.

    – Once the venture works, a sizeable portion of the windfall to begin with will be expended for the development and upgrade of the Philippine educational system.

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