Victory gardens and that “Perfect Storm”


Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? When things are relatively easy, no one wants to rock the boat. When times are tough, we’re told everyone’s too busy trying to keep body and soul together to want to rock the boat. The former is what I heard from middle and upper class types, to justify their reluctance to be politically engaged. The latter is what I hear from them now, to justify their continuing reluctance to be politically engaged. A further difference I’ve observed, on the part of those previously politically engaged: they are too tired and too battered by the ongoing economic downturn to literally afford to remain politically engaged.

Which suggests that as those with businesses, property, a middle class lifestyle, etc.focus on trying to keep afloat or protect, they will retreat from the political scene: leaving it wide open to be seized by whom?

Well, there’s the Roman maxim: fortune favors the bold.

In certain opposition circles, the term “a Perfect Storm” has gained currency, even before Typhoon Fengshen came on the scene and struck such a blow at the administration, that even among its supporters, a certain amount of hostility has set in (to give just one example, the parents of a friend have been fiercely supportive of the President since 2005, and I view their reactions to events as a kind of bellweather of the President’s political stock among her supporters; when Fengshen struck, they were so appalled over the President’s decision to go the United States that they’ve turned critical: the father, who is Ilonggo, is now actively hostile, the mother, a Cebuana, less demonstratively so, but their former enthusiasm seems irretrievably lost; other loyalists I’ve talked to seem to have been quite irked by the President’s chasing Barak Obama around).

Billy Esposo, for one, has gone further and put forward what he calls a “loose ball” situation, one (if memory serves me correctly) was first put forward by Fidel V. Ramos when he proposed solving the political crisis in 2005 by having the President commit to presiding over the shift from the presidential to the parliamentary system. I remember Ramos, on TV, at the Palace, saying he would look down from his Urban Bank penthouse office, at squatter colonies while wondering what would happen if the poor suddenly left their slums en masse, hell-bent on invading the gated communities in their vicinity.

Esposo’s variation on this theme was contained in a recent e-mail he sent out:

…the country is indeed headed for a “loose ball” situation. [A participant in a recent conference] admitted that if the situation deteriorates to the feared “loose ball” situation (food riots, have-nots attacking the haves, open hostilities between warring factions in the country, etc), even a united AFP (which it is not!) cannot hold the country together. The complicating factor is, of course, what hand will the US and China play in such a development.

I’ve said before that my personal view is that we aren’t important enough to have China and America devoting either energy or resources to physically carving up the country; and part of me thinks the “Perfect Storm” scenarios are more about wishful thinking than an actual probability that needs to be confronted. Mon Casiple, much more of a sober observer, puts it this way:

Some have predicted chaotic protests and even vigilante actions because of the high prices. To be sure, it has not been our history that economic issues directly lead to regime change. However, it has the legacy of setting the stage for regime change by rendering an incumbent administration politically vulnerable to a political offensive.

That offensive can take many forms: the mushrooming of protest actions, particularly on the day the President delivers her State of the Nation Address: the “Perfect Storm” scenario being put forward would then be in the nature of a prediction that’s come true; or there might be spontaneous eruptions of public indignation that could get messy if officials on the ground lose their cool; or even an impeachment effort in October -supported, covertly, by an administration coalition prepared to jettison the President ahead of 2010 so as to give itself a fighting chance.

As Casiple puts it,

The GMA administration certainly faces — f it is still possible — a heightened political crisis because of its unpopularity. If the inflation crisis — and more telling, the inept handling of the Frank national disaster — is linked in the people’s consciousness to the poor quality of governance by the GMA administration, then it will translate into a landslide win for an opposition presidential candidate in 2010.

At the moment, this is already the case. If the president continues on into 2010, she will be the only issue of the elections and, if the opposition know its stuff, it will trump anybody whom the ruling coalition puts up against their sole candidate.

For this reason, I find two items Danton Remoto posted in his blog, velly, velly intelestink, indeed. Bopth involve Efren Danao’s column in the Manila Times.

The first is, Loren, Chiz firm up tandem:

Legarda and Escudero belong to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), although at the Senate, Legarda is with the minority and Escudero, with the majority. Legarda was number one in 2007, having won the most number of votes among all the senatorial bets. Escudero was number two.

… Escudero predicted that there would be no one-on-one contest between the opposition and the administration in the 2010 presidential election, “since no incumbent is running, and there is the question on who is really an opposition.”

The second is Chiz talks about 2010:

“GMA is not running in 2010, and it would be unfair to the people if presidential candidates should still use her as an issue,” he explained.

Indeed, candidates would be like shadowboxing if they will be punching at a non-opponent. Chiz said that instead of raising the GMA bogy, candidates should talk about their platform of government.

“Any candidate who runs on an anti-GMA platform is insulting the intelligence of the people. The people will vote for a presidential candidate because of what he or she intends to do if victorious, not because he or she is against GMA,” Chiz stressed.

This is a familiar strategy: we saw it when the Palace proclaimed the protests against it as “political noise.” Now you might jump to the conclusion that a Legarda-Escudero tandem is under construction as a kind of Trojan Horse for the ruling coalition. That might be premature. But it would be fair to zero in on how the NPC and Danding Cojuangco have skillfully played the game when it comes to the present administration and the political opportunities the pragmatic Big Boss and his party sees in 2010. What the NPC has, in its camp, is a potential dark horse for the presidency, and a formidable one, at that: and I don’t mean Legarda, but rather, Escudero. Again, without dwelling on anything negative, I do think it’s fair to say that he possesses many of the positive attributes of Ferdinand Marcos, not to mention a more contemporary style gift for gab. What other political camp has such young presidential timber, primed to capitalize on an increasingly young electorate?

But enough, for now, on speculating on what might be. Let’s look at what is, and was.

I once described Malacañang Palace as prize, pulpit, and stage: it is all of these things both to our chief executives and the nation at large.

One of the informal but most effective powers of any president, is the power to set the national agenda, simply by saying or doing something. As the country set out to recover from World War II, President Roxas took to personally growing vegetables in Malacañang Park. Such stunts have a value, politically, and I’m surprised Mar Roxas hasn’t taken to proposing Victory Gardens as a worthwhile effort for urban residents and communities to engage in. Or why the President hasn’t thought of something similar, considering the multitudes fed on a regular basis in the Palace. Even Laurel instituted a diet of mongo gruel in the Palace as a wartime austerity measure.

Today’s Malaya editorial says the administration’s actually made noises about boosting food production, but takes it to task for actually not meaning what it says, and embarking on what the paper views as unnecessary fussing over alternative sources of energy:

The Palace said among the measures are a stepped-up program to expand production to answer the food problem and energy conservation, tapping of alternative energy sources and intensified search for oil in response to runaway global crude prices.

Let’s look at these proposed measures to ease the impact of spiraling fuel cost. Conservation of energy will come by itself and not through government effort. With gas at P60 a liter, there will be fewer private vehicles on the road. Public utility vehicles will have to rationalize their operations, plying their routes only when assured of full capacity (no more empty buses careening on EDSA during off-rush hours). Households and business will also be forced to cut costs as a matter of survival.

The Palace should not promise the people pie in the sky in the form of biofuels, solar and wind powered generating plants which will take years to put in place and at a probably higher cost than hydrocarbon-based energy sources.

Food production, on the other hand, is indeed quickly responsive to expansion of areas under irrigation, introduction of high-yielding seeds and liberal use of fertilizers and insecticides. Rice has a cycle of three months from planting to harvest. So bigger investment in farms now will yield dividends in a relatively short time.

Is the government putting extra-ordinary efforts to boost food output? The way we are hearing it from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, rice production is no longer a problem.

But government has to be shown to be making an effort, when it comes to energy, and that includes kicking off the process of identifying, and harnessing, alternative sources of energy, precisely because it takes years to achieve: meanwhile, officialdom ought to consider that even as the streets have emptied, I don’t think anyone can say there’s been a corresponding reduction in official convoys. In fact, they may not have increased in number but have become more conspicuous, precisely because there’s less of a justification for the convoys to be barging past the citizenry. This is a minor thing, perhaps, but it sometimes spells the difference for citizens being appeal to, to cooperate in a national effort. Seeing an official SUV accompanied by a motorcycle escort does not put you in the proper framework to be receptive to an appeal for belt-tightening.

It was highly symbolic, though perhaps disruptive of efficient governance, for presidents to throw open the Palace gates so as to welcome the citizenry: Magsaysay and Macapagal were particularly remembered for this, with affection. When Marcos, on the other hand, turned the environs of the Palace into a sealed-off area, the public took it as a manifestation of how the presidency was being divorced from the people it was supposed to serve. If every crisis presents an opportunity, then it is up to every leader to seize or waste that opportunity. What consigned Estrada to the dustbin of history was less the sight of the middle and upper classes at the Edsa Shrine, but rather, the contrasting sight -or more accurately, widespread accounts of the sighting- of Estrada holed up in the Palace, armed primarily with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label, uncertain of what to do, as his allies squabbled among themselves and then deserted him. What has kept Arroyo at center stage was her refusing the relinquish the Palace at all costs, which inspired admiration even among her enemies.

But there is a fine line between true grit and the perception that succesfully holding on to power has hardened your heart to the plight of your countrymen. Never mind those long ago convinced that this is actually the case; it’s your supporters now becoming convinced of the same thing that is a problem.

For this reason, the opposition, if it had any imagination, could embark on Victory Gardens of its own… But I doubt any such thing will come to pass. Let’s hope gated communities consider plowing up their parks to make way for vegetable gardens, as a form of community outreach for their neighbors -or collaborating with urban poor communities. It bothers me that there are those seemingly pining for a “Perfect Storm,” which is like wishing your enemy will be scooped up by a tornado. It ignores the reality that tornadoes do not distinguish between humans classifying each other as friends and enemies.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

92 thoughts on “Victory gardens and that “Perfect Storm”

  1. D0d0ng answered my question if the military even during this tough times have free gas or diesel.

    re:militray housing
    at least alam ko nung pag alis namin sa fort nuong 1993;me mga metro na sila ng kuryente.nung panahon namin libre kuryente at tubig.

    ang problema 2005 pa umalis ang mga stay put, overstaying retirees ang iba ayaw pa umalis. so not evryone in the military enjoys the benefits of housing.

    sino ba ngapaalis sa mga navy overstaying retirees sa navy Mayuga yata FOIC nun,nakisabay sya nuon sa army commanding general

  2. cvj,
    “Cojuangco said the project will commence once the government has identified the locations that will be used for the project.
    “But certainly, [we] will use idle lands,” he said.

    the key word here is Idle land. Idle land must be utilized according to its highest and best use. the numbers are obviously not enough..

    The Victoria garden is about individual homes/gardens and the hanging garden of babylons from KG are great for highrises.

    the article is an investment. the contract between this group and our government in terms of loan guarantee is similar to subsidies. when $1000 is not enough, the government will subsidized. Overall , my theme song will apply.

  3. Leytenian, when millions are getting hungry, i don’t think supplying agri-products to a large corporation is the ‘highest and best use’ of the idle land (if it is indeed idle). Now more than ever is *not* the time to fence out the masses in favor of big business. If the numbers are ‘obviously not enough’, then that signals to me that there is a catch in SMC’s offer.

  4. cvj,

    the catch might be deferring SMC’s corporate income tax due and maybe adding donation for tax shelter. Very common practice for corporation and allowed by most government. The government will make money from individual income tax when businesses creates more employment.

    according to”Trade Secretary Peter Favila, who is also Board of Investments chairman, said the government is more than eager to grant tax incentives and other perks for this project. ”
    is this the catch?

  5. Perhaps, if they charge the 1000 to corporate expense, but I think the ‘catch’ also has to do with getting to use 1 million hectares of land free of rent as well as possessing buying power over the farmers (as sole purchaser) a-la Walmart. The latter is not too bad though if it means bypassing the rice traders and giving more share of the income to the farmers. IMHO, a faster way to do this would have been for SMC to source directly from existing rice farmers cutting off the middlemen.

  6. cutting off agency/middleman contracts are good too. a friend who is an engineer who works for SMC Mandaue Cebu plant said that SMC imports some kind of expensive wheat. With rising energy prices for beer production, cutting cost in oil is not possible. Cutting cost from other sources like local production of wheat is their best strategy.

    FYI and out of topic: he also said that SMC dumped its waste by paying bribes. If I am one of the government regulator , I could leverage this health risk issue for penalty when profits increase. Lots of ways to get our money back. It’s a matter of doing the job to regulate. It will create efficiency if regulators maximize its rules and regulations.

  7. The CBCP making suggestions on economic policy adjustments. More interesting is their call for a review of the oil deregulation law.

    Actually they seem to be the only credible NGO out there to get a reaction from government.

    I wish their call would be taken up by others as what is truly needed is serious prudent regulation of the oil and energy markets not only here but on a global scale.

    Firstly contrary to all the commentators locally there is no such thing as a global invisible hand that is determining the world price for crude oil.

    There is no clear transparent market system for determining oil prices.

    Between the integrated transnationals, the state owned and the independents in both crude production and refineries there are no functioning markets operating. Hence there is ample room for speculating which actually forces players to react.

    Just ask the government agency here in the Philippines.

    for the following:

    Information from Petron on the (Long term) contracted price from their main supplier of crude, Saudi Arabia.

    Production capacities and actual capacity utilization of refinery of each type of petroleum products. (To include production destined for export.)

    Information from Shell to include their actual price from the own integrated supplier of crude and figures on their reserves and the actual state of their reserves – Old fields, new fields and offshore sources.

    The same requirement for their production capacities.

    Chevron- their sources of crude from their contracted reserves and their costs for refining.

    We had seen my favorite realty broker Arthur Yap running all over the country pretending to be a rice farmer trying desperately to get information on the rice market here which according to all is heavily regulated by the DA. They haven’t a clue.

    Unfortunately they are the last to have information except when it comes to the time they have to import at any price.

  8. but then again, it is not only irrigation that is a problem here in the Philippines.. arable land is also an issue.. so as weather, etc. etc.

    if i correctly understood, magno insists that we follow a singaporean mode of development, where only high value work(banking,finance,outsourcing,etc) is being done here in the country, while low value work(farming and manufacturing to some extent) be done by other countries who are infinitely more capable and stanced to do such things..

    but then again, our problems (deteriorating education, migration of skilled workers, rising population) is what is keeping us from being able to pursue this mode of development..

    the NBN would have been part of this infrastructural effort, along with TESDAs training program rally that would have spurred this.. but, alas, when you work on something with dirty hands(actual or imagined), the work will turn out to be dirty as well..

    i do not know if i am correct about this, but i do think that the government is ‘purposely’ paying lip service to agriculture..

    for one, the preference to import ‘raw’ things is a so singaporean/qatari..

    two, for the past six years, no large-scale agricultural project has been undertaken by the government.. all major infrastructure developments were for support of a more contemporary economic development model (airports, road linkages to clark/subic, NBN, tourism,shipping)..

    the RORO is only a measure to ease the logistical problems brought about by the shift of manpower from agriculture, primarily by making Mindanao the food basket, while the visayas and luzon become industrial/commercial centers..

    even EVAT is a preparation for a more consumption-type of economy that this ‘shift’ was supposed to bring..

  9. @refusal to ‘rock the boat’

    perhaps the real reason for this kind of mentality is that it works..
    even if it sounds selfish, trying not to agitate things will make it easier for the middle and upper class, to make it in life..

    if there’s chaos in the streets because of demands for change, the OFW will find it hard to look for work as foreign agencies shut down, the government worker and the private employee will have no money in their pockets.. business will halt.. industries put to stop.. commerce will cease..

    but the biggest factor is, how can we be sure that what will replace the current system or administration will not be something worse.. that i think, is the greatest barrier to plans of change..

    self-interests and uncertainty..

    haha.. we’re not really gamblers are we?

  10. The most effective and prudent regulatory framework is mandatory transparency in all forms of trade.

    On all contracts from state owned companies. They are the worst for secrecy.

    On all futures contracts on who is actually doing the buying – speculator or an entity actually hedging a physical position.

    In the forex exchange markets in the country – all trades are being monitored by the BSP since all trades happen on the trading floor of the BAP.

    The last trade becomes the rate for the day. The BSP has the right to intrude as to who is doing the buying or selling. They also closely watch the NDF markets between the banks. (Hedging from speculating)

    Allowing complete deregulation is only possible with huge capital markets.

    Yet we allow the futures market abroad to determine our gasoline prices here. That is insane.

  11. “Firstly contrary to all the commentators locally there is no such thing as a global invisible hand that is determining the world price for crude oil. ”

    Hence, it is invisible because G8 and oil producers had been blamed for escalating oil prices while their own constituents suffered on runaway inflation on prices of goods and services. Saudis urged US Congress to tighten commodity market. It is for good reason though largely ignored. But if there is any indication of global invisible hand, it is the increased membership of new billionaires according to Forbes list of less than 50 yrs old largely from oil/energy contracts sector.

  12. Liam and leytenean: The singaporean model is “only high value work(banking,finance,outsourcing,etc) is being done in singapore, while low value work(farming and manufacturing to some extent) be done by other countries (or by imported low-cost labor)”. Do you not get the impression this model does not work in Pinas because Pinas poor are less educated and less productive?

  13. “The most effective and prudent regulatory framework is mandatory transparency in all forms of trade.”

    And it has the will to complete what it has set out to do like the US regulators on Enron and Arthur Andersen – break them up, sell the company assets and put the top officials in jail.

    Not the Philippine government on the recent Sulpicio debacle (can’t think beyond government takeover) and then let it resume operation. It is like giving SLI a glove treatment after killing about 800 (though peanuts to compared to how many Filipinos it has killed in the past).

  14. Big Mike and GMA and their so called economic managers decided to surf the waves of the deregulated global markets as it was the good way not to NICHOOD (that was FVR’s slogan) but BEAT THE ODDS to a first world economy by 2020 after the STRONG REPUBLIC failed. Then came the FIELDS to solve the rice shortage and now NOAH’s Ark to save us from the same global waves that have changed course.

    The benign waves that the government was riding (-low interest rates and disinflation was nice while it lasted.

    Why does everyone in this country believe that deregulation means that the state is helpless to do anything?

    Are the subsidiaries of the integrated oil companies here immune from scrutiny.

    The financial markets serve a purpose as a tool but they can not be allowed to become the end in itself simply to make money for shadow bankers and traders.

    Why doesn’t the BSP allow the full convertibility in the trading of the peso dollar rate. Simple in a completely deregulated environment hedge funds could mount an assault simply by loading up with sell contracts on any short period to drive a panic and the BSP would loose all its reserves in a short period thus driving the price even lower and result in a devaluation debacle. Now would be a perfect time for it.

    Then why allow our domestic energy markets to be subjected to the same

  15. @upn

    yep.. i did mention that as part of the problems..
    but i think that its the path that we should take..
    and i think it will work, although not now, not with our policies regarding the problems i mentioned (education, preference of filipinos for migration, and population control)..

  16. “the u.s., or even u.k. or japan, those kinds of people would be politically (or even commercially) dead and forgotten without hope of resurrection.”

    So right Bencard, look at what happen to Spitzer talgang he is totally nobody now in new York, even Jim Mc greevey..

    Sa Pilipinas lang talaga nangayari, na pagatapos mapatalsik si Erap at mapatunayang guilty, politically engaged people like Manolo and CVJ would passionately want him to comeback. Tapos yung hindi pa nako convict na katulad ni Gloria , they want her dead. Soooooooo unbelievable!!!!!!

  17. @ kg

    So as what hvrds is saying that DBP partly-financed the refleeting (de-modernization) of Sulpicio Lines with thirty-year old vessels, then the uncovered free markets-statist double agent would be a good poster boy for the shipping company.

  18. want him to come back? really? or want his bluff to be called and settle the issues once and for all? there’s a difference.

  19. <em.The Victoria garden is about individual homes/gardens and the hanging garden of babylons from KG are great for highrises.

    Leytenian, I know it was tongue in cheek,but all seven wonders(including the hanging gardens) of the world are extinct.

    it was vertical farming.victory gardens are ideal for rooftops and the front lawn and backyards of homes and of course the vacant mga binebenta na ngayon outside metro manila for gardening and farming purposes na mga lupa.

    on the invisible hand.secrets no matter how open it is are still secrets,how I wish they are transparent.if transparent they will no longer be invisible.

    but we have not used open and transparent information to our advantage for example the ched has a list of schools with the most board flunkees,yet we still enroll our children there.(another apples and oranges)
    the book prahalads the future of competition, where co creation of value can happen with the internet ;and companies can no longer dictate what they want ;was so convincing that it sold lots of copies, but is there really co creation of value. Even dell which advertises customization of computers can not deliver;have we seen dell computers that has a different configuration than the rest of them.

    pagasa has a website, do we care to look at it?

    maybe transparency can be in the form of one page or two page ads in the broad sheets;
    the more people will not read it.

    lumalayo tayo,on transparency of contracts,even employees of companies are not allowed to disclose what’s on their contracts (and yet they do).

    we bash the catholic church yet they are the only ones the government is listening to. call it clerico fascism,if they are the only NGO who can lower the price of fuel, then hurrah to them.

  20. psi sorry for the delayed reaction:

    So as what hvrds is saying that DBP partly-financed the refleeting (de-modernization) of Sulpicio Lines with thirty-year old vessels, then the uncovered free markets-statist double agent would be a good poster boy for the shipping company.

    yah,pero ang ganda ng commercial ng DBP ngayon eh, sasapawan nya si MR. Shuli .

  21. @supremo

    Escudero is not just a trapo. He is a DUMB trapo. He is young yes, which means we have to unfortunately live with him for a good 30 years (unless his masahista at the slimming salon he endorses saves us and strangles him.)

    A politician who puts hocus-pocus and religion ek-ek above science is not going to get us anywhere.

  22. “the key word here is Idle land. Idle land must be utilized according to its highest and best use. the numbers are obviously not enough..” – Leytenian

    Highest and best use is relative depending on public policy at the moment. That’s why you have DTI-BOI, DOF, NEDA trying to arbitrate what is best policy. You don’t just agree on the say so of SMC whose track record as Philippine champion is suspect.

    At the end of the day, the question to ask is what’s that gotta do with the price of eggs?

  23. cvj, of course it is still on track. nothing has changed since.

    we have not yet achieved the “intellectual wasteland” i have seen.

    we will.

    of course, we could always say Filipinos will plod along. but so do africans, somalians, and so on. mugabe is a product of social breakdown. no less will the future warlords of the philippines. i say warlords, because the state will really be no more. we will be back to what we were, separate islands ruled by strongmen.

    now, everything is not really that depressing. you see, darwin’s theory of evolution does not only apply to physiological evolution, but to everything that changes.

    as always, there are boom and bust cycles. but IMO, humanity as a whole is headed into a future that will select only the fittest social structure. unless humanity encounters such a drastic loss of knowledge as to practically bring us to square one.

    we have not yet reached my mark. that one last line, 2010 – will be the beginning of the end.

    GMA will go on. and then the countdown begins. how many years until we reach intellectual wasteland will depend on how fast everyone who has the capability to leave, leaves.

    you know the greatest tragedy of the philippines is that we have the best minds and talents in the world – INDIVIDUALLY. but when we start gathering together, we get STUPID and MEDIOCRE.

    sounds familiar doesn’t it?

    i’m bitter because i have given up on our country. there really is no hope. because you cannot help a people unwilling to help themselves. the biggest obstacle to change is cynicism. and that’s almost every filipino, me included. and our ranks are growing, not lessening.

    have you any familiarity with the physiological term “negative feedback?”

    it’s a term used to described the physiological reaction of the body that negatively affects us, even though that reaction was designed for our well, being.

    case in point: when our body lacks blood in certain parts of our body, our heart will pump faster and stronger. thereby bringing blood to those parts that need blood (and oxygen) the most.

    now, that same reaction has a negative feedback. when you are shot or stabbed, and you are losing blood, that same reaction will trigger. your heart will pump faster because your body needs more blood. but in pumping faster, your body is losing more blood. that’s why death due to severe blood lost is fast.

    our country has its own negative feedback: OFWs and their dollar reserves.

    you take the course the Philippines is taking to it’s logical end, what do you get? simple. that’s where i see us years from now.

  24. devi- Late: I’m still thinking about which is worse, an intellectual wasteland or a spiritual wasteland, but I sense cynicism approaching despair is evidence of a spiritual wasteland.

    Got it. spiritual wasteland is worse!!! 👿

    A country of “…don’t worry be happy” people 😉 strumming guitars and throwing flowers may have a future (a good tourist attraction) as long as there is no Kidnap-for-ransom-else-“off-with-your-head” operatives that gets media attention.

  25. UPn, we are a country of happy-go-lucky people! the problem is: those people are also cynics!

    that’s why we have a large amount of people unwilling to help themselves!

    you take away hope, put in bahala-na attitude, add a dash of fervent, crazy, illogical religiousness and you get the perfect measure of the majority of the Filipino people.

    God, you cannot understand the exasperation of talking to someone you want to help who’s unwilling to help themselves unless you’ve been there yourself!

    they’re our countrymen, they represent the largest segment of our population, and they’re the real movers and shakers when you come down to local politics. and they sell their power so cheap!

    cynicism is the domain of the emotion. not the spirit. we are so fucking spiritual, to a point that it’s already unhealthy. if you would categorize it, i’d say the despair you are talking about is evidence of an emotional wasteland.

  26. Devils, yes i’m familiar with negative feedback in the context of systems theory but i think what you’ve been describing is a positive feedback loop albeit one with negative results [aka vicious circle]. (Negative feedback is one that tends to bring the system back to equilibrium.) That minor quibble aside, i agree with your prognosis although I view the problem of being stupid and mediocre when coming together as more a problem of cooperation and coordination which makes it an easier problem to solve once we set our mind to it.

  27. actually, it’s the hardest problem to solve.

    put ten bright guys in the same room, and you’d get ten different ideas on how to solve the problem. and no one willing to budge that theirs is not the best one.

  28. Devils, that would be a worst case scenario, but such kind of group dynamics don’t usually turn out that way even among Filipinos. Problems of coordination and cooperation are easier (but by no means easy) to resolve compared to the alternative situation where the problem is inherent in the Filipino as an individual. For one thing, realizing that the problem is how to foster cooperation will render all that navel gazing about the Filipino psyche and cultural traits (both positive and negative qualities) moot [aka not worth discussing].

  29. when our body lacks blood in certain parts of our body, our heart will pump faster and stronger. thereby bringing blood to those parts that need blood (and oxygen) the most.

    Devil, bigla nagising si tandang kiko sa manga scientifico talastas mo. Pero ngayon medyo na tulongan na nang manga bagong discobre “drugs” and puso sa pag bomba nang dugo at di masyado maghihirap.. andiyan ang “blood thinner”, statin, at lahat na BP lowering medics at yong pinakabagong discobre, medyo maykamahalan lang, Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, malaking tulong ang manga ito sa ating Puso, liban lang pang may kumplikasyon o gumagamit nang Nitro, huwag hanggang di maekssamin MAIGI nang cardio or family doctor…

  30. “i’m bitter because i have given up on our country. there really is no hope. because you cannot help a people unwilling to help themselves. the biggest obstacle to change is cynicism. and that’s almost every filipino, me included. and our ranks are growing, not lessening.”

    We arrive at that conclusion a long time ago. Meaning, you cannot wait for someone to make your life better. You have to do it yourself. You cannot be waiting for a political messiah with iron hand, straighten the country’s direction. The last person who has that caliber was stashing billions in Swiss accounts. Since then Philippines is going downhill to the dogs with its bandaid approach, overtaken by neighboring countries even in just very basic role of food sufficiency – importer for more than 15 yrs. The food test equally applies to country. The parents can hardly meet other needs of the family (child education, clothings, energy bills, transportation, health, shelter, etc) if they found hard enough to provide food on the table.
    The positive thing, Filipinos look for outside opportunities.

  31. “put ten bright guys in the same room, and you’d get ten different ideas on how to solve the problem.”

    Please remember, the ten bright guys are not running the country. The leader will only pick up the closest idea to his own agenda. And Filipinos don’t elect leaders because of ideas, too.

    Variety of ideas give you opportunity. But ideas are generally useless if not implemented.

  32. devils, coming from another “cynic” (by your description of the term), i said it before and i say it again. our problem is not that we have “the best minds” and talents” who just couldn’t get our act together collectively, but that we have too many wise guys and hardly any wise men. look at our “leaders”, “economists”, “scholars”, “political scientists”, “men of letters”, “historians”, “journalists”, lawyers and judges, clerics, educators and professors. it seems, these people (perhaps including me) could not express an opinion without it being clouded by political biases or motives. good ideas are usually shot down either because of knee-jerk suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of the proponent, i.e. perceived “corruption”, or because ayaw maging “sikat” yon’g proponent, i.e. envy.

    as long as we are not able to divorce personal politics from everything we say or do in our everyday life, “negative feedback” will always be there to hound us to total perdition.

  33. “greatest tragedy of the philippines is that we have the best minds and talents in the world – INDIVIDUALLY. but when we start gathering together, we get STUPID and MEDIOCRE”

    As they said in the Catholic faith, the Church is not run by democracy. In similarity, exercise of political power is not an application of best minds and talents in the world. It is rather rewarding friends and alliances to protect minority interest and hold of power.

  34. Don’t give up on the sick man of Asia, not just yet. Yes, things are bad. And sure, things will get worse. There are symptoms, but the country will not be a failed state. Just watch the oligarchs and taipans. If there are signs of huge disinvestments and capital flight, then let’s start worrying.

    Yes indeed, the poor will get poorer and the rich will be richer. But until we enlarge the economic pie, we have to live with the realitiy that we were born with a silver spoon.

    I tend to agree with the observation that over the years of the Philippine Republic, the government has been a necessary evil. Neither here nor there, neither good nor bad for the people. But we have to have one if we are to function as a civilized society and a recognized as State.

    And taking off from Mang Kiko, OFWs, or their remittances for that matter, are not a “negative feedback.” Rather, I will treat as them “antibiotics” to keep help heal the infection but definitely not as artificial life system, as the “patriot” Neri would have it. Call it kapamilya or kapuso. but there will always be kuya to make sure that little sister go through college.

    But Devils is right. The times leading up to 2010 and immediately thereafter are crucial for the patient. Those s could spell recovery or worsen the infection. The months of living dangerously.

    Need you doubt?

  35. nash,

    All I’m saying nash is GMA’s generation is over. Skip Villar, Legarda, Roxas, Fernando and everybody else in that generation who wants to be President. Ika nga sa gamot expired na ang mga yan. It’s time for those who were born in the late 1960s to lead the Philippines. I don’t care if they are trapo or not.

  36. UP N
    “Liam and leytenean: The singaporean model is “only high value work(banking,finance,outsourcing,etc) is being done in singapore, while low value work(farming and manufacturing to some extent) be done by other countries (or by imported low-cost labor)”. Do you not get the impression this model does not work in Pinas because Pinas poor are less educated and less productive?”

    the model will not work in pinas not because we are less educated but maybe non productive because our government do not know how to create employment for our people to become productive. the filipinos are tired. the expectation of righteous performance has been promised but broken. the system of good governance do not exist.

  37. @supremo

    yes, but we should ALSO skip the rotten eggs (even if they were born after 1960)…otherwise we are just trapped in a cycle. hindi lang gamot na expired ang iwasan, pati rin ang PEKENG gamot.

    kaya nga ‘trapo’ for the word ‘traditional’ defined as a negative trait.

    by 2010 we will be 90 Million, that’s a large talent pool.

  38. @cvj

    re: negative feedback…you are so geeky. LOL. indeed, electing trapos is like positive feedback, we are trapped in a cycle….

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