Our society: looking back

Even as China earthquake magnitude revised to 8.0, here at home, 4.6 magnitude quake hits Calapan City. And Typhoon Cosme claims eight lives.

Jeepney, bus fares up.

Banko Sentral toying with the idea of pumping additional funds into UCPB. While San Miguel’s thinking of taking over the Bank of Commerce.

And Hermogenes Esperon is made a human Colt Revolver and named chief presidential peacemaker.

The Inquirer editorial looks at the appointment of Jesus Dureza, former head of the peace process, to the Press portfolio. The editorial says it can only result in Dureza’s reputation being diminished, and along the way takes a look at how Dureza’s predecessor shrank in public stature:

Bunye has appeared on television and been published in the papers countless times … But out of all that footage and film stock, one image will define him for all time: that time, three years ago next month, when he appeared before the cameras with two compact disks in hand, just as the “Hello, Garci” scandal was breaking. He told a rapt nation that he had evidence that the President’s alleged wiretapped conversation with election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano (the CD in one hand) were a fabrication, because the conversation was actually between the President and a certain political aide named “Gary” (the CD in the other hand).

This bold attempt to immediately contain a political crisis immediately backfired, because it turned out that the object of the wiretaps was not the President, after all, but Garcillano. In other words, and as the recordings and transcripts circulated or published online immediately made clear, President Arroyo’s supposed conversation with “Gary” could not have been part of the Garci tapes.

The flaw in the plan to cover up the crisis was that it was based on a faulty reading of the problem (Palace operatives thought it was the President’s phone which had been bugged). The faulty reading of the problem, however, proved that there was in fact a cover-up. A Palace official – the President’s spokesman, no less – had been caught with both hands inside the CD jar.

Much later, under questioning in Congress, Bunye alleged that the package of CDs had only come into his possession, sub rosa. He said he didn’t even know where the package came from. The brainless excuse, from an otherwise careful lawyer, led many to conclude that Bunye, at the very least, was part of a cover-up about a cover-up. If Bunye really did not know the provenance of the two CDs, why did he present them to the media? As his old and new friends from the banking industry might say, It doesn’t compute.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas offers up an interesting glimpse into the strict limits on the judiciary, and says the JELAC is basically unconstitutional:

Under our Constitution the judiciary as judiciary may not give advisory opinions whether to the President or to Congress. As judiciary, its language must have the force of law which must be obeyed. Advisory opinions do not command obedience. Giving advisory opinions can demean the judiciary.

It is true that individual justices sometimes give advisory opinions. But they do it on their own, and improperly. Neither they themselves nor the courts are bound by such opinion.

In the 1987 Constitution there is also a provision which says that the “Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.”


(photo above taken at Mendiola last Saturday; “Suportahan ang Presidente. Ibagsak presyo ng koryente.”)

Amando Doronila says the government and the Lopezes would both be better off if they manage to pull off a compromise when the President and Manuel Lopez, big boss at Meralco, meet today:

The Bohol summit is the first time that the Arroyo administration is confronting the economic power of the Lopez family, which has during the past 50 years survived attempts to crush it by several post-war governments, notably those of President Diosdado Macapagal, Ms Arroyo’s father, in the 1960s and President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s who confiscated Meralco and ABS-CBN with martial law powers. In those battles, the Lopezes fought with their media weapons, something they are now using to damage the present administration, with considerable success.

The current Arroyo-Lopez confrontation is no less fierce and no side is emerging unscathed. The summit in Bohol has far-reaching implications for the balance of power between the political sector’s interventionism in business and autonomy of private sector economic power centers. It is not a battle merely between Ms Arroyo and the Lopezes.

The meeting ought to be compared, then, to Napoleon and Czar Alexander of Russia’s Treaty of Tilsit, famously described as a meeting of two sovereigns on a raft. See Two hundred years after the ‘peace’ of Tilsit.

My column for today is An essential experience . Some reminiscing about a childhood visit to Santa Ana Church kicks the column off (some pictures over at Traveler on Foot). I’m uneasy with terms like “Kingdom of Sapa,” which is supposedly what the area we now know as Santa Ana was, because it may be a misleading description of the locality in pre-Spanish times.

Anyway, the column came about because last Saturday, I had the chance to visit Gold of Ancestors: Pre-colonial Treasures in the Philippines at the Ayala Museum. Any museum display involving gold artifacts is a sure crowd-pleaser (see Market Manila), and this display is no exception.

Until this exhibit was opened, the collection of the Central Bank of the Philippines was the focus of public awareness of prehispanic gold artifacts.

The sadly no-longer-updated blog, Pu-pu platter — a delectable selection of oriental appetizers, contains an extract from Ramon Villegas’ Ginto: History Wrought in Gold (see photos from the book, in Flickr):

Harrisson compared Borneo finds with gold artifacts in important Manila collections, particularly of Leandro and Cecilia Locsin’s (Harrisson 1968: 43). He concluded that the Limbang hoard shows close Philippine affinities, though the group is strongly “Javanese” as well. Second, small but significant “Hindu-Buddhist” influences are suggested, or more vaguely as Indonesian (“Indian”) influence rather than anything “Chinese.”

Also, “as in West Borneo, few gold pieces can be dated very early and the major goldsmithing appears to have occured after 1000 AD — and perhaps especially between 1200 and 1400 AD…as in Borneo so in Philippine pre-history, remarkably few fine things of gold seem to have been made later than about 1400 AD — perhaps because of a change in trade patterns and export requirements to the mainland after the start of the Ming dysnasty (or the equivalent), and/or the new attitudes evoked by Islam after 1400” (Harrisson 1968: 77)

Finally, he reiterated that Philippine gold artifacts in general tend to be more elaborate and better crafted than most from West Borneo.

Harrisson looked at the Dr Arturo de Santos collection (part of which was acquired by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) as well, and observed that “…the range of Philippine gold jewelry…includes many pieces of a complexity and finesse that is beyond anything attempted in Borneo” in so far as what had been found at that time (Harrisson 1968: 56).

Throughout Indonesia there was a relationship between gold artifacts and the ruling aristocracy, in the class-power centers which developed on the coastal plains around the middle of the 1st millenium AD (Harrisson 1968:44). Precious metals were worked ‘exclusively in those areas where the influence of Hinduism was strongest’: he includes Java, Bali, southern Celebes and the coastal districts of Borneo. These areas developed as centers with established hierarchies, which necessitated the conspicuous display of wealth (Harrisson 1968: 47).

There was a demand for gold, which the Philippines could have supplied. It would be reasonable to suggest that one of the main sources of Javanese and Bornean gold was the Philippines. That trade would have been important enough to have been direct, by-passing minor pass-on players say, in Sarawak or Sulawesi. Moreover, the early interest in gold from the Philippines would have been in the raw material rather than wrought artifacts. In turn, local interest would have been on goods not made of gold, which they had plenty of.

To paraphrase Harrisson, “This, in turn, liberated the (Filipinos) from conventions in gold-craft not ideally suited to local materials and outlook, thus producing the much livelier (forms) seen in Manila” (Harrisson 1968: 80). Indianization in Philippine gold ornaments, therefore, was a matter of selective adaptation, rather than wholesale adoption.

Incidentally, a comment by pupuplatter on May 3 in Market Manila is well worth reading, with its account of the conquistadores avidly excavating graves to loot them for gold:

Your ancestors in Bohol, Cebu, and elsewhere in the Visayas were also wearing beautiful pieces of gold jewelry that they crafted with their own hands. In 1565 Miguel Lopez de Legazpi issued a proclamation in Cebu requiring Spanish soldiers and sailors who dug up Cebuano graves in search of treasure to properly declare their finds to the authorities in order for the King of Spain to take his “royal fifths and rights,” his majesty’s “cut” in the loot.

Such a great “quantity of gold and other jewels” was found in the “many graves and burial-places of the native Indians” in Cebu and so invested were Spanish officials to collect what they deemed was their rightful share in the stolen goods that more drastic measures had to be taken.

The commenter then quotes a Jesuit writing about a hundred years after Legaspi:

“I do remember that once when I was solemnizing a marriage of a Bisayan principala, she was so weighed down with jewelry that it caused her to stoop - to me it was close to an arroba or so (1 arroba = 25 lbs.), which was a lot of weight for a girl of twelve. Then again, I also heard it said that her grandfather had a jar full of gold which alone weighed five or six arrobas. Even this much is little in comparison to what they actually had in ancient times.”

pupuplatter, in another comment on May 4, provides a reading list, too (and since all good things come in threes, pupuplatter also points to online resources for Philippine artifacts held in Spanish collections), and this caveat:

I doubt that the makers of what has been called the “Surigao Treasure” were Muslim. Islam came to the Philippine rather late, less than 200 years before the Spanish conquest. We should also avoid idealizing, even as we begin to appreciate, the pre-colonial past: some of the pre-colonial jewelry recovered in Mindanao and elsewhere may have been hastily buried to hide them from Cebuano, Tagalog, or Samal slave raiders and looters. And it is difficult to determine who the “original” inhabitants of Mindanao really are. For much of the Spanish colonial period, agents of the maritime state of Sulu conducted slave raids throughout much of the Philippines. (Bisayans in particular resented this since before Christian conversion they claimed that they were so mighty that they would have been the ones looting, pillaging, and slave raiding their way across the Philippine waters.) These slaves gathered pearls, bird’s nest, wax and other products that were then sold to the agents of the British East India Company who, in turn, sold those products to China. It’s a complicated, global history.

The danger of romanticizing things is something I pointed out in my column, too. All the bling was not freely given, I think it’s safe to assume. The exhibit actually goes to great lengths to use precise terms -e.g. “stratified society”- and to point out that these were items meant to convey wealth and status

Rizal’s “Nuestro perdido Eden” and Bonifacio’s nostalgia for the blissful, civilized, land of the Taga-ilogs may just have been places with societies not too different from the kind of society we criticize today. The rape and rapine of conquistadors took place with the help of native allies, leaders playing what may have been, to them, simply the latest round in the power games they were used to. Sociologists and anthropologists have been pointing out how local cultures have survived foreign influence; and we’ve all heard anecdotal evidence of this (a friend once told me, for example, that in the vicinity of Iloilo, babaylan could be found until the 1950s). I haven’t read anything on the subject but it seems circumcision could be a cultural holdover from the days of Islam.

There are two things I mention in my column all-too-briefly. The first is The Laguna Copper Plate Inscription (Ambeth Ocampo, in a column, recounted that he’d had dibs on buying it but rejected it; he also says there remain many unanswered questions concerning the artifact). Here’s the inscription, as reproduced by Hector Santos:


As Ocampo recounted in his column, the story behind the discovery of the copperplate, and the debate over its authenticity and what the inscription means, is quite interesting. See The Laguna Copperplate Inscription by Paul Morrow (which has a Filipino version) and Sulat sa Tansô´: The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, a Philippine Document from 900 A.D. by Hector Santos.

As for the inscription itself, Morrow puts forward the inscription transcribed into our Latin writing system, while Santos provides the first translation by Antoon Postma and then his own translation. Morrow was also asked by Santos to do another translation. Here is Morrow’s English approximation of his translation:

Long Live! Year of Siyaka 822, month of Waisaka, according to astronomy. The fourth day of the waning moon, Monday. On this occasion, Lady Angkatan, and her brother whose name is Buka, the children of the Honourable Namwaran, were awarded a document of complete pardon from the Commander in Chief of Tundun, represented by the Lord Minister of Pailah, Jayadewa.

By this order, through the scribe, the Honourable Namwaran has been forgiven of all and is released from his debts and arrears of 1 kati and 8 suwarna before the Honourable Lord Minister of Puliran, Ka Sumuran by the authority of the Lord Minister of Pailah.

Because of his faithful service as a subject of the Chief, the Honourable and widely renowned Lord Minister of Binwangan recognized all the living relatives of Namwaran who were claimed by the Chief of Dewata, represented by the Chief of Medang.

Yes, therefore the living descendants of the Honourable Namwaran are forgiven, indeed, of any and all debts of the Honourable Namwaran to the Chief of Dewata.

This, in any case, shall declare to whomever henceforth that on some future day should there be a man who claims that no release from the debt of the Honourable…


The Ayala Museum exhibit displays the text of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, and it made me chuckle, because of the way it bristled with honorable so-and-so and honorable such-and-such. Our obsession with titles certainly goes back a long, long way.

And the second item I mention is The Boxer Codex. A brief introduction to this document and what it contains was written by the late Petronilo Bn. Daroy. The codex is used as the launching pad for connecting the little we know about prehispanic life, with the items on display, in the video presentation of the Ayala Museum.


Take the image above, which is from Wikipedia, and is one of the Boxer Codex’s illustrations of Tagalog notable types.

And take a look at the biggest crowd-pleaser in the exhibit, below:


This is from the Surigao Treasure, and you can immediately make the connection between the 10th-12th Century object and the 16th Century illustration. Weight? About 4 kilos. It’s something the curators suggest might be an Upativa, a symbol of belonging to the Brahmin caste. A general sense of what an Upavita is, and its ritual significance, can be gleaned from reading Upavita and Rules of Chanting. In the extract from Villegas’ book at the beginning of this entry, and in the articles of Morrow and Santos, one grey area in our prehispanic past is how we define the colonial period, in the first place.

I recall attending a lecture by Prof. Luis Camara Dery (see Milestones in Moro historiography for a glimpse into some of his writing) and if memory serves me right, he said that Lapulapu was a Tausug.

It’s interesting to see how Lapulapu himself could be the subject for more interesting discoveries to come. See a lecture delivered in Biliran Province by Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga, From Bagasumbul to Naval: A Historical Review:

These were the questions that led me to theorize that the great victory suggested by the folk mind was probably the native victory over the Spaniards in the Battle of Mactan in April 1521, that the person referred to as Bagasumbul was Lapulapu of history, and that the people who walked behind his steps were the legions of Lapulapu followers who were among the earliest settlers of Barangay Caraycaray.

And so, after the writing of the annotated history of Naval in collaboration with several local intellectuals in 1989-1990, which was published in Kinaadman journal in 1992 (Borrinaga, et.al., 1992), I proceeded to write another paper with the tentative hypothesis that Lapulapu was the person attributed to as Bagasumbul in our folklore. The paper was published in the same journal in 1995 (Borrinaga 1995).

A dozen years after its publication, I still collect evidence to strengthen the Mactan-Naval connection and to bolster the “Lapulapu was Bagasumbul” theory. At the least, this theory has not yet been totally debunked or refuted in the literature.

Returning to Dery, if Lapulapu wasn’t a Cebuano, this is a problem if you subscribe to the cartoon version of our past. Or take this article on The Muslim Rulers of Manila, which basically points out they were Brunei royals. You would then have to start defining what you mean by native and non-native, by colonialism, too: is it colonialism if involving alliance and conquest by a European power, and not if it means one ethnic group being ruled by members of a family from another ethnic group? What does it say of Cebuano assumptions concerning their identity, if Lapulapu was, indeed, Tausug? Or for Tagalogs if Rajah Matanda a member of an interrelated set of ruling families in Manila, Sulu, and Brunei and the grandson of Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei?

This is simple if you view it from the point of view of a pan-Brunei sort of identity, with Brunei as the center; but you’d be dodging the question of how they came to be leading families of those areas.

And this brings us to the Upavita above. In general in quest of a prehispanic identity we go back to a Muslim one; but that identity, in turn, was it imposed or adopted? If imposed, then the colonial period might have to include a possible Islamic conquest of areas that were formerly Hindu in terms of belief and culture (the story of the spread of Islam in Indonesia would be useful to look at, from this point of view, as Bali became the Hindu holdout in the otherwise succesful Islamic conversion and conquest of the rest of present-day Indonesia). If by conversion, and without force, how was conversion achieved? Was it a case of rulers ethnically different from their subjects, adopting a new faith and their subjects going along with the conversion? Or something in between?

Anyway, this goes to show how very many interesting questions need to be discussed both among the experts and with the public. See Jessica Zafra’s Newsweek article on the exhibit, Going for the Gold: A new permanent exhibit offers tantalizing hints to the Philippines’ precolonial history.

Some photos:


A sword hilt from the Surigao Treasure.


A belt. The collection features many other belts, and clasps, as well.


At times, the terse captions were frustrating. What on earth is a penannular, for example? The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archeology says,

In the shape of a ring, but with a break at one point. Often used to describe brooches and torcs as well as arrangements of posts, slots, and ditches forming the walls of round houses and enclosures.



These “chastity covers,” or “ancient pek-pek protection” as I overheard one young museum visitor excitedly put to to a companion, were conversation-starters but how they were used (were they to preserve the modesty of the pudenda of the dead, or meant to preserve the virginity of living daughters?)


A kind of costume for what may once have been a household image. The spread of Catholicism resulted in the destruction of household images, and while the image this gold costume was once meant to adorn no longer exists, it does indicate the general appearance of the image, and also, it’s not far removed from the lavish costumes for Catholic religious images.


There is also an extensive collection of porcelain and other kinds of wares on display, from China and places like Thailand, recovered from graves and shipwrecks, on display. I’m completely uncultured when it comes to appreciating pottery and when confronted with porcelain my eyes glaze over. All the porcelain brought in from overseas, though, points to what I described as the precolonial origins of today’s “Gucci Gang” types. The Datu’s wife may not have worn Prada, but she might have spat out betel-nut juice into a porcelain bowl from China.


Anyway, people who appreciate these things are quite delighted by the pottery objects on display.

My column closes with a mild criticism of the exhibit. This book:

“The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead” (Heather Pringle)

among other things, discusses the problem of human remains when it comes to museums. Do you put them on display, and let people gawk at them, or having studied them, return them to the descendants of those remains? The question has led to a more respectful attitude towards human remains both during and after archeological excavations. I found little tangible signs that such an approach has had in impact here, at home. It’s something that needs to be pointed out in the case of exhibits such as the Ayala Museum’s, as one question that comes to mind is, what happened to the remains of those from whose graves these artifacts were taken? Not so much in terms of what can be done, decades after these excavations took place, but in case future finds come to light.
[Incidentally, once more, an appeal to the kindness of readers: if anyone can help be get a copy of Integrating History and Archaeology in the Study of Contact Period Philippine Chiefdoms, by Laura Lee Junker in the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, I’d be very grateful.] Thank you to pupuplatter for sending it to me!

See this 2005 entry on Pre-European Philippines and China over at ThirtySomething v 4.3.

In the blogosphere, Ellen Tordesillas points to a series of workshops citizens can attend, to understand how the national budget is formulated.
The journalist-versus-blogger debate, French style. See French Politics which is a great blog to follow for exposure to the richness of French political discourse.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

122 thoughts on “Our society: looking back

  1. For those who believe in natural rights, the fruits of labor is property. Land is the means to acquire it in organized agricultural societies. Who owns the rivers and the seas?

    Why will land be titled to a select few. The idea that the lucky sperm club members should own and control lands beqeuathed to them is a sacrilege.

    All men who so desire should have a share of the fruits of the earth through their own labors.

    Why did countries revert back to distribution of lands and assets to jump start their agro-industrial development.

    Because most of these countries first developed their trading outposts first and later reverted back to agricultural/industrial development by command to change an event in history.

    Their natural evolutionary process of climbing up the ladder of development was inverted. Trading entrepots imposed by outside forces.

    That process of trading entrepots like Manila, Cebu etc. neglected the agricultural sector. So you have two social formats. Manila which is more integrated with its premeir colonial master while the rest of the agricultural sector lies moribund and stuck in primitve means of accumulation of the surplus. We sell crude resources in exchange for finished goods. If we were a country of 10 million people we could very easily ravage most of the islands for survival like we have already done.

    While the accumulation of exporting resources (forrests)have seriously depleted the natural reservior of the country and now reverting back and trying to “modernize” a carabao rain fed agricultural system is more problematical.

    Case in point; In the U.S., it is the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that has the responsibility over all the rivers and waterways of the U.S. The natural erosion that occurs when rains bring with it top soil and rivers have to be continuosly silted. That silt is then redeopisted over acres of farms as it carries with nutirents of the soil.

    Here in the Philippines the loss of arable land is continuing and the process of water depletion is contuing. It is allowed to wash into the oceans.

    More progressive countries have very strict land use laws and follow this very strictly as land has a social function anbd economic function.

    There is one philosophical reality that Adam Smith came out with before Marx. The value of eveything (price) is dependent on the labor value used in its creation. That is the foundation of property.

    In all economies you have labor divided into the productive sectors and the unproductive sectors. The agricultural and industrial sector are the productive sectors while the service side is the unproductive sector. Again this is based on Adam Smith which Marx carried forward.

    When Smith and later Marx referred to the productive forces they were referring to the productive sectors of the economy.

    It is the labor valued expended that creates the natural price of things. Then these creations are then sold in the market for the market price. The fight ensues over that surplus generated. Who owns most of it and who shall preside over the sharing. That creates the eternal conflict between the workers and the one who owns the means of production.

    The artisan class were to become the members of the proletariat. They are the builders. Your modern day engineers and scientists. It is they who will later move to reintegrate the agriculture sector into raising the productivity of growing food.

    They will literally move mountains and create new rivers and systems of irrigation.

    The wonders of China during the early pre-industrial years is they constructed like the Romans before them engineering works to create irrigation systems for their farmers.

    But here in the Philippines the trading mindset which was imposed by the colonizers created a nation of traders/bankers. No builders. Hence the Philippines except for the rice terraces have no engineering landmarks built by man. Till today this mindset for trading still remains. We export our productive labor since there is no labor market for them.

    That is not an accident. That was deliberate policy. That is precisely the policy imposed by the British in the colonies that was America and India. The U.S. fought a civil war becuase of that clashing policy. Gandhi and Nehru led that fight for economic autnonomy that led to political autonomy from the British.

    The entire basis for measuring GDP is based on labor value added. The key is labor prodcutivity through the use of capital equipment. But it is precisely productive labor that also built the machines. Once again the artisans, engineers. If a country does not utilize its own labor to create that kind of productive value then the country will not go anywhere.

  2. More on the new global elites, which includes criminals and terrorists:

    “This void is often being filled by a small group of players — “the superclass” — a new global elite, who are much better suited to operating on the global stage and influencing global outcomes than the vast majority of national political leaders.

    Some of this new elite “are from business and finance,” says Rothkopf. “Some are members of a kind of shadow elite — criminals and terrorists. Some are masters of new or traditional media; some are religious leaders, and a few are top officials of those governments that do have the ability to project their influence globally.”

    Read further:


  3. Opps, BrianB, I keep on learning on this site. Frankly, I don’t know what “monad” is haha.

  4. “The landowners were rarely Spanish — there were so few of them around in the first place — even though their descendants may have “whitened up” through strategic marriages.” – pupuplatter

    We are not really arguing if Spaniards were the landowners per se. We are after the discussion if the system of land ownership that Spaniards established ironically deprived some people of their property rights during that time. Descendants of these people if it can be proven could still rightfully fight for what truly belongs to them. So much time has passed and titles — a trick to produce spurious titulos is commonly used by those are in power to deprive others of their property — are only the ones being used to prove ownership.

    Eventually if under our laws, Spanish property laws are being followed, then we can change/amend the laws or add laws if our view is to give people what are theirs by right. Aside from titles, legislating new laws can be backed by scholarly studies to trace what has transpired in the past. Agrarian reform law actually has been a good start but the oligarchs have just gotten scot free and has held on to their land (mine, mine, all mine). Why are the so many squatters in our countyr? Cheap question, with very expensive answers.

  5. “thanks. The way he uses the word “property” is almost similar in concept to a monad. Hence, all human justice begins with “property” and hence every man is his own property and so on. Doesn’t really apply.” — BrianB

    Actually Locke uses “property” in two ways. First, generally referring collectively to personal property, as extension of everything that one consciously knows as his under natural law, meaning his life, liberty, his estate, his aspirations and so forth. Much of these he explains clearly and strongly defended under the Second Treatise.

    And second, he used property as a concept of economics. The details are contained in his other works. This concept has been built upon by other economists such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Refer to comments by HVRDS.

  6. just a note on madonna’s comment. the problem in establishing some sort of righting of past wrongs in the manner proposed, is that to do so would entail the kind of historical or even legal sleuthing that would grant the landowners an enormous advantage. in the first place the ones keeping track would the landowners, they would have access to research, to documents, and that includes the destruction of embarrassing or incriminating documents in the archives, something apparently taking place all the time. also, there is the question of permanence and identity -the wealthy and landowning would have a more durable presence, while descendants of the dispossessed would not -no baptismal much less land records, you might glean in general terms what sort of people lived where but as for specific individuals they wouldn’t have been chronicled, not even in tax documents -not to mention they would have moved, or been moved, etc.

    in the face of these handicaps the solution lies in identifying sectors and using the powers of the state to force some sort of equalization process, as i’ve pointed out the british did this by basically destroying the political influence of the aristocracy through death duties, which broke up most of the large estates and the hold aristocrats had over people living in them or dependent on the economy created by the great estates. at the same time the middle class was enlarged and the great mass of extremely poor people that were the majority as late as the eve of world war i were given the benefits of the welfare state, with nationalization of industry, etc.

    since we never industrialized, the primary economic activity the large landowners are interested in is rent-seeking, living off rents from tenants or interest income, etc., never quite making companies efficient because it’s easier to derive concessions from pals in congress, etc. economies of scale but not in terms of modern-day economic activities although for example there have been great dividends to the landed who built office buildings to rent out to outsourcing companies, etc too.

    one assumption has been that if we create a middle class larger than what we have at present, it will push for modernity and participate in the break up of the power of the large landed families. i’m not so sure anymore, at least for the middle class that was already such prior to martial law. i am a little more hopeful about the really new middle class that’s emerged since the diaspora began, but only marginally so.

    my favorite example is what i saw in san carlos city where a portion of a large estate was turned into a gated community: the new homeowners being nurses, seamen, nannies, etc. these are people whose parents were literally serfs; in one generation they made the leap from serfdom to the trappings of middle class life without the acculturation that formerly kept the middle class aping the ways of the upper class. the aspirations of this new middle class are patently consumerist, but the whole psychological stranglehold of those used to being obeyed has vanished, and they’re at a loss about what to do about it.

    here enters, though, a problem related to the problem of land which is the vulnerability of the either less relatively well educated or not well connected, which is they have yet to form a constituency that can extract concessions from those still ruling the roost. open warfare hasn’t worked, because for every peasant going to the hills there are two others willing to be hired as security guards and soldiers, cops, etc. and enforce the will of the landlords, etc. in the past the middle class trained in the image of the upper class would, in moments of crisis, find its interests merging with those of the upper class. again, my favorite example is when the diliman commune was proclaimed, middle class residents in the area banded together to hunt down the students. this is a unity of fears and interests the present administration has understood quite well and which continues to disappoint and amaze reformist types in the opposition.

    about the only place where there is more of a chance for autonomy is in the urban areas -to my understanding, a majority of filipinos, now- which also happens to be why acts of protest tend to happen more in urban areas where there is both safety in numbers and a kind of anonymity from association in political movements, than in the provinces where even the informal check on the power of the authorities is susceptible to a veto imposed by means of the gun. because the old habits of obedience are disappearing, those in power have to maintain it both by increasingly sophisticated means (muddling the issues, bring it to court, etc.) that appear to “strengthen institutions” and by old-fashioned thuggery: CPR, and the entrenching of warlordism in the provinces. even a dynamic, “new” population like what you see in davao, for example, is in the thrall of duterte and what is the essential difference between him, ali dimaporo in the past and even mayor binay in makati or hagedorn in palawan? yet all would have a certain mass appeal and some an appeal to the newly-middle class and even the frightened upper class.

  7. Manolo, i’m glad that you acknowledge the need to use “the powers of the state to force some sort of equalization process” and not just rely on trickle-down [aka ‘ramdam na ramdam’] effects.

    Given that, i think the best we can do is to ensure the succeeding Presidential elections are clean enough to reflect the aspirations of the masses. At some point, a Hugo Chavez/Evo Morales-type will hopefully emerge and the powers of State will then be used to the benefit of the majority. Should that President need to resort to Duterte-type tactics (which i personally wouldn’t encourage), at least it will be the Oligarchs, and not just petty criminals, who will be on the receiving end for a change.

    The masa tried to elect their champion with FPJ but at that time, the Middle Forces were on the wrong side of the fence. I hope the Middle does not repeat the same mistake.

  8. Manolo,

    It’s not all about money. What do you think will have been the effect if your grandfather have institutionalized the culture of democracy, i.e. teaching kids to value their karapatan and their power as citizens in a democracy instead of the usual disciplining?

  9. cvj: Evo Morales represents “rural-versus-city” warfare. As one would expect, there is the classic separation-of-church-and-state battle, e.g. abortion, population control, sex-education.

    But one of Morales most notable actions was in 2006 — seizing of church-owned land. [The seized lands adjacent to a Marian Shrine in Copacabana were originally given to the shrine decades ago by the Bolivian government where income derived by use of the land would help support the shrine. Morales declared that the lands were “unproductive”, seized the land, subdivided, then handed over to seven of Morales party loyalists. [I don’t think “seizing church land” was one of Morales’ campaign slogans, though, political animal that he is.]

  10. brian,

    i happen to think the code of citizenship and ethics though not couched in the terms you’d prefer, is as good a place to start as any -and no corresponding effort was ever made by subsequent administrations. and definitely, there was more of an effort to actually go head to head with the students, for example, than in subsequent administrations except perhaps for magsaysay and marcos: his proposal for partyless democracy, for example, was fought out through two addresses and actual debates with students, and when he saw their opposition he dropped the idea.

  11. brianb, i think you forgot that for every “karapatan” in a democrcy, there is “responsibilidad”. you can’t teach one and not the other. the problem with most of today’s kids is that while they are so focused on their rights, they are largely oblivious to their obligations. thus what we have is a society of whiners, bellyachers, out for instant gratification without paying their dues. at the first sign of trouble, blame the parents, the government, the society, or the world. in fairness to the kids though, most of their elders are not raising them right.

  12. in fairness to the kids though, most of their elders are not raising them right. – Bencard

    Yeah i don’t think Diosdado Macapagal raised her daughter right.

  13. cvj, don’t use my use my thought to sneak in your rant. make your own, will you, smart boy?

  14. and cvj, i was referring to today’s kids, not forty years ago. the way you talk, you seem to belong to that kind i was talking about.

  15. bencard, i don’t think kids are even taught their rights, or obligations. my experience during the debate on charter change was that college students only had hazy notions at best as to how their government worked, not a clear idea of what the constitution contained or the logic behind the constitution’s provisions, the purpose of the bill of rights and what those rights required was tabula rasa to the vast majority.

  16. I confess that during my student days, and I suspect it remains the case for today’s Pinas high-school and college kids……. my understanding of Bill of Rights is more from American Constitution thinking(“we hold these truths to be self-evident”) than from the 1987 Constitution or its prior versions.

    I also draw a zero with regards what my Catholic religious instructors have said (or what the Bible may contain) about “bill of rights” for citizens.

  17. Dear Mr. Quezon,

    I would like to thank you for giving feedback to the article I posted on Traveler on Foot last May 12, 2008 which I inadvertently referred to as The Kingdom of Sapa and the Maytime Fiesta in Old Sta.

    After further research, I found out that Santa Ana de Sapa was the name given to present day Sta. Ana when the Spanish friars establish the mission in the area. That area is part of the upper river kingdom called Namayan (or Lamayan). Thus, I’m changing the title of the said article to Kingdom of Namayan and the Maytime Fiesta in Old Santa Ana.

    I would like to thank you for the feedback that prompted me to make the necessary updates regarding the said article.

    My apologies.

  18. It is very obvious that our educational system needs revision in terms of educating publics regarding bill of rights. Additional classroom hours must be implemented. Education is the key and the Youth is our foundation to progress..

  19. Hello!

    Sorry for joining this thread late, but alas and alack, there’s not enough time in a day for all we want to do!

    Just a quick comment. Lapulapu, whoever and whatever he was, has come down to us…and rightly so…as a hero, but his ancient pre-Hispanic Filipino opponent, Humabon, has been portrayed as a heel.

    I suppose this reflects some deep-seated Pinoy sense of fairplay, etc.

    But let’s reconsider.

    Humabon had to “welcome” a pesky foreign interloper, babbling about some strange religion and faraway sovereign, knowing next to nothing of the stranger’s background.

    When the stranger offered to help Humabon militarily gainst some uppity vassal, Humabon agreed.

    Humabon agreed, again, when the stranger brashly offered to make the first attack without any assistance from his newfound native allies.

    We know what happened next.

    Humabon then tidied things up by slaughtering all foreign survivors he could get his hands on (at a feast he hosted for them, if I am not mistaken).

    For this, we Pinoys look askance at Humabon.

    But, somewhere up there, Odysseus, Sun-tzu, Caesar Augustus, Kautilya, Ibn Khaldun, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Ricehlieu, Talleyrand, Metternich, Canning, Cavour and Bismarck are smiling.

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