This trait means leaving everything to chance or “letting the circumstances take care of itself”. It implies fatalism under the pretext of trusting in Divine providence. By saying “bahala na”, a person resigns himself to luck as he believes the end-result depends ultimately on fate. It is a Filipino’s way of avoiding rationalization or good reason. It is the same as saying, “Que sera sera (whatever will be, will be)”.
The Filipino’s “bahala na” attitude is everywhere and with everyone. It could apply on big or small circumstances. For instance, a student who suddenly feels lazy to do his homework will just say “bahala na”. In this case, he resigns himself to whatever could happen in class the next day.
This negative Filipino trait tends to be the cause of laziness by so many people. A lot of poor people resign themselves to the kind of life they have thinking that it is what God meant for them to have and He will take care of their needs. Their belief is that life finds a solution for itself.
Filipinos are fond of starting a project with so much enthusiasm. This enthusiasm is so contagious that it spreads like wildfire. At the first sign of problem or difficulty, this enthusiasm is consumed as fast as it has spread. This is the quintessential Filipino trait “ningas kugon” meaning “grassfire”.
This trait is the reason for the Filipino’s “show-off” attitude; why so many projects are left unfinished and government officials corrupt.
The picture is this: when you put several crabs in a crate, they will all try to climb out in order to break free. You’ll observe that when one gets a bit ahead, the other crabs will pull him down. A lot of Filipinos are like these crabs. Whenever one sees another progressing in their own field, others become resentful and instead of seeing the achievement of that person, they will try to highlight everything negative about him in an effort to bring him down or tarnish if not lessen the person’s newly-acquired good image. It is an unhealthy competition in a way.
Instead of doing things that could help one to develop and become better than his competitors, Filipinos devote so much of their time gossiping and back-biting. It is their way of deviating people’s attention on their inadequacy by focusing on other people’s faults.
This means resisting all efforts to a reconciliation. Because of the Filipino “amor propio” or ego-defensiveness, it is very difficult for them to surrender their pride. It is noticeable that most Filipinos find it difficult to say the word “sorry”. It’s better for them to act tough (”matigas”) rather than say sorry because to do the same is to sacrifice their precious pride.
Mañana or “Bukas na”
This is the Filipino habit of leaving for tomorrow what they can do today. Most Filipinos have this habit of postponing their actions for a later time thus reducing accomplishments. Filipinos are fond of saying “bukas na lang” (I’ll do it tomorrow) due to laziness. As a result, the work they produce is crammed. This arises from an indolent mentality that a problem will go away by itself.
“Kanya-kanya“ (to each his own)
This is the Filipino self-centeredness and lack of regard for others. This happens when most people are similarly situated such us in a calamity and in instances where family is involved as “blood is thicker than water”.
In instances however when the others sis not meet the same fate, the Filipino helpfulness comes out. If one is able to help another without danger to himself and his family, they will readily extend a helping hand.
A reference to the many-sided star fruit, the term is applied to someone who changes allegiance for personal convenience. The allusion is that the person is not only double-faced, but multiple-faced. This was evident in the Marcos downfall where his cronies and enemies turned against him and embraced the Aquino government. These people are said to be “balimbing”.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Today, modern Media consumers have become accustomed to receiving their information in even smaller packets – text messages, “tweets”, sound bytes, “status updates”, etc. Users have unprecedented access to computing power too. They manipulate audio-visually represented data on their computer thanks to the user interface revolution that started with the point-and-click graphic screens commercialised by Apple and Microsoft back in the mid 80’s. These “desktop icons” increase usability but insulate users from their logical underpinnings.
What does this trend towards increasingly abstracted and simplified representation of ideas, information, and data mean? Hold that thought while we consider the example of something more tangible – the transport and distribution of physical goods in an economy – that we can use to illustrate the point I plan to make.
In the old days when people used to produce what they consume, an “end-product” was not regarded in quite the same way a Twenty First Century tween would see her mug of Starbucks hot chocolate. A subsistence economy consumer would most likely be aware of most of the value of the tangible economic input into, say, the wild pig thigh he is munching into – the hunt, the kill, and the butchering of the beast. The value has substance and is derived from real assets and capital – the hunter’s skill and weapons and the planning that went into the hunt, for example. In contrast, the only palpable source of the value in the Starbucks drink a modern-day city slicker would discern is the brand experience – the stoking on the ego of walking in and out of a trendy establishment, the pride in being seen holding in one’s hand a tall paper tumbler that conspicuously sports the green circular logo. The coffee beans that give the beverage its rich flavour may have come from South America or Africa, the milk accounting for its texture from Australia or New Zealand. None of it matters. Indeed, there is no way the average Starbucks customer could be aware of such details.
We can see in the above example how what drives the coming together of the underlying substance of the products we consume involves the hard disciplines: production, transport, and logistics. But what gets the product its sustained hold on its market is emotional and sensual appeal.
As such, retailing is not capital-intensive at the low-end, and at its high end, capital is applied almost entirely to the splashing of image and gloss. Indeed, the value of retailed goods is accounted for overwhelmingly by brand and packaging. In wholesale and bulk materials handling, most capital is tangible engineering and civil-works related (ports, warehouses, shipping and hauling, freight and materials handling, etc).
Now let’s take a logical leap into the realm of information products – stuff brokered by the Media industries. The same principles apply.
Pulp science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek are immensely successful Media franchises built upon the visual appeal of the contrived imagery depicting a technologically advanced future. Spacecraft zoom around using propulsion devices that on a superficial level are consistent to basic propulsion principles; i.e., energy is shot out a vehicle’s rear end highlighted by a luminescent plume, and the vehicle moves forward. Ignoring the question of what sort of fuel could possibly generate the kind of power over the sustained periods exhibited in the scene, and where in the craft it is stored, the science looks right and the consumer is happy.
Same thing could be said of the technological jargon of Star Wars and Star Trek. Hyperspace or warped space are actual legitimate theoretical constructs that are bandied around in these tales. But they are used in non-sensical conjunction with other concepts in those movies, e.g. “fire up the hyperdrives for the jump into hyperspace” in Star Wars and “accelerate to Warp Factor 5” in Star Trek. Not considering that hyperspace is not a place that one can “jump” into nor a speed that one can “accelerate” to, again, the science sounds right and the consumer is happy.
Televangelists, motivational speakers, “life coaches”, and, yes, politicians are to ideas what retail is to tangible products and pulp sci-fi is to scientific theory. People that are involved in these trades have the gift of the gab -- a people skill they turn into successful business enterprises. Their originality comes in the way they package sound conceptual frameworks that deeper minds spent years (or entire lifetimes) refining. You will see successful politicians and entertainers mix and match legitimate terms derived from large bodies of internally consistent and logically sound thought systems into clever but meaningless slogans and platitudes.
All good fun in all of the above illustrative cases – that is, if they don’t cause serious chronic delusion or life-threatening lapses in judgment for those that consume these end-products. So now take the case of how “people power” (an arguably legitimate 1986 phenomenon) was turned into a monstrous lie and propagated over the two and a half decades subsequent to the original one. One of the terms that can be likened to those nonsensical combination of otherwise legitimate terms (like the “accelerate to Warp Factor 5” thing I cited previously) is “institutionalized People Power” – a favourite pseudo-philosophical construct of Filipino politicians. In his Inquirer.net article “Yes, he might”, Conrado de Quiros provides us with an excellent example of its perverted use (my boldface applied):
Noynoy, like his mother, has the power to tap into People Power. That is the one huge ally he would need to fight corruption. That is the one huge ally that will be there to fight corruption.
Cory formally institutionalized People Power – it’s a provision in the Constitution – but never really used it in the course of her term. The provision was left for the politicians to pervert, not least Arroyo who used it to oust Grace Padaca and Ed Panlilio and to try to change the Constitution. Noynoy holds the key to it. If he discovers it, he will raise, like Aragorn who conscripted the dead kings and their legions in “Lord of the Rings,” an army mightier than any of his enemies can muster.
Indeed de Quiros is spot on in his allusion to the mysticism of a fantasy tale such as The Lord of the Rings. An invocation of “people power” is indeed comparable to the “conscription” of airy-fairy “dead kings and their legions” that a fantasy piece such as this entertains us with. In fiction of the fantasy genre, anything can be explained away or resolved with arbitrary introduction of magical concepts that do not require logical explanation. Our heroes besieged by a fierce dragon with scales impervious to the sharpest blades and arrow heads? Easy. Introduce into the storyline a rare metal from which a special sword needs to be forged to be wielded by only the bravest warrior in the army. Then the story becomes all about a quest to reach the mines at the other end of the realm which is – surprise, surprise – the only place where the fabled metal ore could be found.
Here's proof that beginning June 2001, Paras indeed was in Leitmeritz, but as invited passenger in the car of Sir Lucien, for an event organized by Dr Sir Fritz Hack-Ullmer and Sir Manfred Holtzmann!
No one sent Paras to go there!
Paras told a blatant lie when he claimed that IHQ SENT him to Leitmeritz!
And Paras should stay KGOR, even get KGCR, take Mushake's place?
Mushake did something good to the KOR, he was a good researcher, donated substantial amounts to the KOR.
Paras is pushed by Quiambao again? And who else, now that Esguerra is no more Supremo to sign KOR memoranda with the logo of Dr Jose Rizal being openly ABUSED as well?
Why must such ABUSE happen in the KOR?
Why must we allow a Quimbao to ruin the KOR?
OK, Samuela is perhaps half-blind to only see Lazir's write-ups, not Quiambao's and his own mistakes!
And who is Quiambao to DICTATE to Lazir to tow the line if Lazir says "NO!"
Lazir operates to expose CROOKS like Quiambao, Esguerra, Samuela, Paras, Nollas, Guansing, Alcoba, Plueckebaum...
for country and people!
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Pendulum Swings: It’s Official – Philippine Government Completes Transition From Devious to Slightly Above Witless
The past couple of days has seen the Philippines in a transition. After 10 years in the Presidency (four in Erap’s time, plus another six punctuated by “Hello Garci”), the devious stonewalling and sophistication of Pres. Gloria Macapagal gives way to the incompetence and witlessness of the incoming administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III. Even as the emo politics crowd is fawning over Noynoy, the stark realities of the challenges of governance sink in the list of “agendas” are getting longer. The bigger question is when the euphoria subsides is when will the finger pointing start and who will it point to? After all, victory has many fathers -- and failure is a bastard.
One Last Call For Sophisticated Stone-Walling and Cunning
It is but natural that Arroyo, like any other leader, would like her legacy to be remembered by people. Whether one was shown the door via constitutional processes(Nixon, Johnson, Bush, Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Gloria Arroyo) or extra-constitutionally (Sadam Hussein, Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada), “legacy” takes on a higher sense of urgency when one leaves the office in bad taste.
I have nothing against remembering legacy -- if it is for real. There is the kind of legacy that one leaves and people remember as you having actually worked for it. Reagan’s legacy was bringing the Cold War to an end (the vacuum left by the Soviet Bear was rapidly filled by towelheads adept at asymmetric warfare); Bill Clinton’s legacy was globalization and free trade (APEC and NAFTA); FVR’s legacy was Liberalization of the Philippine economy; and Erap’s legacy was a book of Erapism jokes The point being that -- a leader’s legacy is dictated by the choices he/she actively made and pursued when he/she was at the wheel.
Arroyo’s legacy is a legacy of sophisticated stonewalling and cunning. I have to hand it to her -- Philippine politics is a den of snakes -- and she put them all in their place. Gloria was always 10 steps ahead in the game. Her detractors were always left with an empty bag. For all the loud talk on ZTE-NBN -- no one has produced a smoking gun directly implicating Gloria or her spouse. People can have suspicions, and that’s okay. But when the suspicions are not proven by evidence beyond reasonable doubt -- the adage is “if the glove does not fit, you must acquit”.
Gloria kept her cool at the height of the Jocjoc Bolante mess. And used everything within the law to exercise her executive prerogative. When this was questioned in the SC -- some parts of her various positions on executive powers were rejected and some were upheld. If anything, that showed me that democracy was working and that constitutional processes were at work. Gloria essentially showed the Senate and Congress -- she’s the Chief Executive and the line needs to be drawn. I am all for that.
But, there’s legacy as an endowment, a bequest. And there’s “legacy” -- stuff that just happened while you were sleeping, eating, talking. It is within this context that I read Gloria’s recent pronouncements on her legacy -- bringing the Philippines on the verge of First World status. In a recent address she made to the diplomatic corps during the 112th Independence Day Celebrations, the Inquirer (which is now shaping out to be Noynoy Aquino’s door mat along with its TV mouthpiece ABiaS-Completely Basura Network reminiscent of Ferdinand Marcos) wrote:
The country has come a long way from those tumultuous years, posting 35 quarters of growth against the “headwinds of a global recession,”
She said her government had put the Philippines on the map of call centers and business process outsourcing, “changed the Manila skyline with modern skyscrapers; brought development to the provinces; connected the nation from north to south, east to west; and delivered a modern election that will change the phase of politics in this nation forever.”
“We will leave a legacy of hard work, a strong and stable economy and renewed global engagement, major investments in health care, education and physical infrastructure”
“I know much work remains to be done, but I am determined to turn over to a new government a new Philippines, one that is ready for the challenges bringing the nation to the verge of First World [status] in 20 years,”
Hold it right there. The President’s speechwriters have been really pandering to the President this time. For a couple of reasons, here they are:
1 -- The “Growth Despite Headwinds of Global Recession” Myth
The Philippines’ protectionist economy has not come a long way. Rather -- the Philippines neighbors, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan -- have come a long way. For instance -- South Korea’s economy was so shot in the 1950s, the Philippines was next to Japan -- forward a few decades, South Korea IS now First World status and just yesterday Arroyo was saying -- “determined to turn over to a new government a new Philippines, one that is ready for the challenges bringing the nation to the verge of First World [status] in 20 years” -- yeah, right.
Fact is -- the Philippine economy is a bit out-of-touch with the global economy. Thus when the global economy tanked, it wasn’t affected much because it wasn’t in the playing even. In layman’s turns, the Philippines is a wallflower in the global economy. The Philippines is an insignificant economy thereby there is not much inflows and outflows into it -- BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the recession. It’s like saying -- the Philippines football athletes are superior to FIFA finalist players when it wasn’t even in the playoffs. It does not make sense -- but when you repeat it long enough, you start to believe the bullshit.
2 -- Put the Philippines on the map of call centers and business process outsourcing
Mar Roxas will disagree with Arroyo on this. Oh wait, Mar Roxas used to be Arroyo’s DTI Secretary. Kidding aside, the Philippine government stumbled into the BPO industry by accident. It was not out of a conscious and deliberate program to develop the industry. Rather, it was at the tail-end of the trends that drive the industry.
In 1997, Malaysia was trumpetting its Malaysian IT Super Corridor as an alternative to Silicon Valley before the dotcom bubble burst. At the same time, India was already providing grants to its students to get certification in the education programs that allowed Indians to grab the best employment opportunities. India was also inviting foreign IT schools to set up and operate schools in India (note: foreigners are not allowed to own schools in the Philippines by the Aquino constitution). What this did was to create a base of professionals around which the BPO industry grew. In contrast, Philippine schools are still stuck up in that bullshit about the conflict between “liberal education” and meeting the needs of the economy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have the emo activists and their “nationalistic and scientific education” -- I wonder where they got their model, North Korea?
On BPO Infrastructure -- this means having the telecomm infrastructure, the power infrastructure vital to a knowledge-based information-centric industry. The Philippines has failed miserably on these grounds. The DSL services are lousy, the broadband services are priced ridiculously high, whaddya expect when you have a monopoly by PLDT. Look across to South Korea and its internet stats that make even the United States weep.
Arroyo is not really in a position to brag. Rather she ought to be telling Noynoy that the competition is knocking at the door. And if he doesn’t shape up, the Philippines will be left in the dust again -- the plans of becoming a First World country has just got pushed back to another 10 years -- 2030! And just to prove my point, please view the UNCTAD presentation below:
The Philippines has a tendency to crow about and rest on its laurels and then remain complacent. It better think again, there is competition out there and unless it has its act together -- the Philippines will be blown out of the map.
3 -- Changed the Manila skyline with modern skyscrapers -- and created more slums as well
It’s another of those this happened on my watch therefore I must have been responsible for it thingie. Very well then, let’s take this at face value. While it is true that Manila skyline had changed -- so had its landscape. The face of poverty cannot be seen in skyscrapers -- it is seen in the ghettoes and slums that dot our urban centers and rural areas, Manila is not the Philippines.
As you can see, this is the kind of intellectual dishonesty which turns people off. The sadder thing is that the masses wind up getting the impression that all intellectuals are dishonest -- thus causing the masses to vote for the likes of an Estrada or an Aquino. Sure they are not smart -- but at least when they fumble, it will make a big bang. In contrast having smart people at the helm poses significant risks because they are smart -- they will know the ins and outs, the loopholes, the technicalities. The point being that sure we don’t understand the details, but the big picture is you are doing something wrong but you are just being very smart about it. That pisses people off. And when people are pissed off -- they will behave irrationally.
4 -”Delivered a modern election that will change the phase of politics in this nation forever” (Fact check: Didn’t Gordon author that bill?)
This gets my goat so much so that I can add Monumental Bullshit to Arroyo’s Legacy. Sure she signed it into law. But how come she didn’t think about passing a bill similar to this when she was still a Senator? She is also taking credit for a job that was done by Senator Dick Gordon.
Out of the frying pan and into the grill
On June 30, 2010 -- the Philippine gets to say goodbye to Arroyo’s bullshit (but not for long -- remember she has re-invented herself into a Congresswoman -- that’s another story) -- only to have Arroyo’s bullshit replaced with Aquino’s bullshit.
At the same Aquno’s toadeys are mustering up a list of alibis on why Aquino will not be able to do the job. WTF? You guys were warned that Aquino will not be able to do the job BEFORE the election. A person of sound mind and reason would have voted for someone who can do the job. What were you guys thinking when you voted for Aquino? Suddenly, it just dawned on people that -- they did vote a turd into the Presidency. The voters are relieved from Gloria’s deviousness but Noynoy’s incompetence is now coming back to bite them.
Apologists lining up to provide alibis for performance failures
Noynoy most recent cop-out has been “give me time to fix the government”. Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz said a mouthful:
Ligayen Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz agrees that Aquino is inheriting tough problems so he needs Cabinet members and advisers with an upright values system. “I’m sorry I have to say this but if I say otherwise I would be lying. I do not think he (Aquino) is very brilliant and therefore he really needs advisers with upright thinking whose values system is sound,” Cruz said in an interview with Bombo Radyo Dagupan.
He said Aquino has good intentions but he needs competence and character to achieve his goals.
“To me that’s a good beginning, the right intention and apparently he wants to straighten crooked ways happening in our country and I wish him well,” Cruz said. “ I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible. We have to give him the chance. Let’s hope we will go up. We cannot afford again to be business as usual.”
He was impressed, however, with Aquino’s first press conference after he was proclaimed the winner of the presidential race.
“But that’s only an interview, mere words. Let’s see in his first 100 days,” Cruz said. -
Archbishop Cruz, did you watch this video?
Better yet, have a refresher, watch a Gordon interview, watch and weep -- Karen Davila gets Pwned by Gordon.
To all those who were talking about winnability and the lesser evil, Who really is the loser now? Tama na naman si Gordon, si Perlas, at ang Antipinoy.com.
Aquino’s list of gaffes is growing and it’s not July 1 yet. This will be a long six years. It’s not that you guys weren’t warned.
We didn’t vote for Aquino -- YOU DID. And by golly, YOU, kabayan, will be remind of that -- FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS.
Unsolicited Advice Flying Left and Right
Whether it’s the business sector, the religious sector, the educational sector -- agendas are flying all over town and straight to Malacañang Palace. What does that tell you -- it signals that Noynoy still does not have an agenda, or if he has one, it is terribly unsuitable to the requirements of the situation on the ground.
So here’s an unsolicited advice to the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, the Management Association of the Philippines -- you knew all along that Noynoy was not fit for the job, but you rolled the dice on “hope” and wind up pushing the Philippines closer to hopeless or even increasing the degree of hopelessness in this deity-forsaken country.
You broke it, you own it. Put up or shut up… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS.
There’s nothing about this situation that we haven’t said before.
The cycle of national karma repeats itself -- the Philippine electorate is doomed to do so until it learns the lesson -- pick the most competent and honest guy, and most of all -- seek the truth, you will never lose.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010
An Old Jewish Man
A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.
So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.
She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.
"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?
"Morris Feinberg," he replied.
"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"
"For about 60 years."
"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."
"I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."
"I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man."
"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"
"Like I'm talking to a fuckin' wall."
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The good news about corruption is that it makes for good campaign fodder for politicians who happen to be running at a time of widespread public frustration over its endemic prevalence. The bad news is that come the time for said politician to deliver we find that corruption is not exactly the tangible beast it is made out to be during the campaign.
Indeed, even the family publicist of the Aquinos cannot help but continuously highlight the reality of what won their unico hijo that lucrative seat in Malacanang…
Aquino, who ran and won on an anticorruption platform and has promised to prosecute officials enmeshed in corruption scandals, is expected to rally Filipinos to help him govern the country.
The above statement is spot-on with one important thing. President-Elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will need another “miracle” of the sort often attributed by his mouthpieces to “people power” of the “Edsa” sort. Seriously. That’s because corruption is not some kind of well-defined bogeyman that any lone bozo can snipe at from a distance. Corruption is more like the alien monster in John Carpenter’s classic film The Thing. Its DNA infiltrates every genome of every organism that inhabits a society it fatally afflicts — to the point that even the very person who fancies himself as the anti-corruption “crusader” embodied is compelled to apply the litmus test to himself.
Case in point; even one of the most widely-recognised approaches to “measuring” corruption in a society — Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which rates entire countries on a scale from zero (really bad) to 10 (really good) — has not much to go by beyond perception abstracted from survey responses. Nevertheless, it gives a baseline from which we can draw a few interesting insights. Here is the Philippine CPI track record so far over the last nine years — each item indicates Year, Rating, and (Country Rank):
2009 2.4 (139)
2008 2.3 (141)
2007 2.5 (131)
2006 2.5 (121)
2005 2.5 (117)
2004 2.6 (102)
2003 2.5 (92)
2002 2.6 (77)
2001 2.9 (65)
Needless to say, the Philippines’s lack of improvement in its absolute rating is punctuated by the steep decline in its international ranking. It does not take the insight of a rocket scientist to pitch these numbers as an indictment of the last nine years of President Gloria Arroyo’s administration. But, see, that’s all in the past. The really inconvenient thing about the past is that while it is useful as hindsight it is quite immune to the effects of “action”. The future on the other hand is different. The future is out there for the picking. It is yet to be made.
The question is:
Can Filipinos make their future?
It all depends on what we mean by “make”. For me there are two ways things are made. The first type of way something is made can be illustrated by considering how the pride and joy of Filipinos — the rice terraces — came about. It is an absolutely magnificent structure to behold; the product of centuries of consistent toil. Hold that thought while we consider the second type of way something is made. For that second type, we use the former American naval base in Subic Bay to illustrate it. It is as wondrously magnificent as the rice terraces, though perhaps not as commanding of emotional appeal.
So here’s the question that will reveal the key difference between the nature of the minds of the people who built these structures:
Which of the two was a product of a future aspiration?
Part of the answer to that question can be found in the timeless words of national treasure Nick Joaquin in his regard for that other national treasure, the rice terraces:
About the one big labor we can point to in our remote past are the rice terraces–and even that grandeur shrinks, on scrutiny, into numberless little separate plots into a series of layers added to previous ones, all this being the accumulation of ages of small routine efforts (like a colony of ant hills) rather than one grand labor following one grand design.
Suffice to say, the original “builders” of the rice terraces most likely never foresaw the accidental grandness of the outcome of their work, but to the builders of the naval base in Subic Bay, the expected outcome was crystal clear from the time ground was first broken.
Today, the government of Noynoy Aquino has two options to consider with regard to fulfilling their “anti-corruption” promises. The first option is to approach it the same way the “builders” of the rice terraces did, and the second option is to approach it the way the builders of the naval base on Subic Bay did.
Indeed, an effort to “eradicate corruption” is one that goes up against a systemic beast. For corruption — the type such as the one endemic to a backward society such as the Philippines’ — being systemic can only beaten by systemic solutions.
An “anti-corruption” campaign is by no means new. Look back to what I wrote way back in 2003 and consider just how unoriginal the whole concept of an “anti-corruption platform” comes across to me today…
Asked what is Philippine society’s most challenging malaise, most people will answer without much reflection — corruption.
What must we do to cure this malaise? People are even quicker with answers:
Prosecute the offenders!
Refuse to give bribes!
Set an example!
Corruption is Public Enemy Number One!
There are enough of these half-witted sloganeering campaigns to serve as election campaign fodder for the next 100 years.
And the beginnings of a solution that could be engineered from this clear understanding of just how intangibly beastly the issue of “corruption” really is was already evident to those of us who applied a bit of brain to the matter at the time:
What can we do differently this time?
Our failed efforts to combat corruption are echoed by the hollowness of the above-cited slogans. They have one thing in common: They all address the symptom and not the root cause. Corruption is a mere symptom of an underlying dysfunction — lack of trust. And as we have shown above, our attempts to stifle the symptom merely nourishes the environment that breeds it. By attempting to stifle corruption with controls, we nurture an environment of mutual distrust. By making self-righteous calls for “discipline” and “restraint”, we merely highlight that Filipinos are, in fact, an undisciplined and unrestrained lot and enforce our perception of one another’s untrustworthiness.
The key, therefore, is to put forth some semblance of clarity around the aspired to results of the anti-corruption effort we are “encouraged” to rally around over the next six years of Noynoy’s administration. Only in this way can any solution to “corruption” come across as engineered and therefore serious. The road to such seriousness could begin with this question, Mr President:
What CPI rating can we aspire to see the Philippines garnering from Transparency International at the end of your term in 2016?
Perhaps the challenge really does not lie in motivating the Filipino people to rally behind you, Mr President, but more in providing them something to rally TO.
The tendency of the Filipino to equate masculinity or virility with the ability to procreate is also at the root of some Filipino male’s irresponsibility and infidelity that occurs after marriage. Since a man is more of a man if he is able to have a woman and to beget children, his “extra-curricular activities” are regarded as part of his “pagkalalake” (being a man).
One speaks of “machismo”–possibly meaning “manhood” but more accurately indicating the man’s cultural manifestation of his virility. Through sexual relations he can prove his capability, while otherwise he has few possibilities of exercising his “prowess.” The Filipino father exercises this type of authority in his family, resulting in a state of submission by the woman and her daughters, while fostering in the male descendants a feeling of superiority.
Unlike the man, the Filipino woman is considered a true woman only if she bears children and is “close to God, is hardworking, is faithful and remains loyal to those dear to here”. Before marriage, the Filipino woman is expected to keep herself a virgin for the man she will marry. Unwed men are not expected to do so; he is in fact given unlimited freedom in sexual matters as part of his pagkalalake. This is why Filipino girls must be watched and chaperoned; they are to be protected from the fact that boys are privileged to do as they please! Incidentally, when a man has many daughters and no sons or fewer sons than daughters, people say that his daughters are his “pambayad ng utang” ng kanyang pagkalalake (payment for his debts for being a man). In short, daughters are regarded as a Filipino male’s punishments for his sexual irresponsibilities before or during his marriage: it is his turn to protect his daughters from the sexual irresponsibilities of other men.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Culture, in the practical sense in which most people understand it, is the unique combination of attributes that make a particular group of people a definable entity. The noted Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede explains it in more exacting terms:
“Our shared human nature is intensely social: we are group animals. We use language and empathy, and practice collaboration and intergroup competition. But the unwritten rules of how we do these things differ from one human group to another. ‘Culture’ is how we call these unwritten rules about how to be a good member of the group. Culture provides moral standards about how to be an upstanding group member; it defines the group as a ‘moral circle’. It inspires symbols, heroes, rituals, laws, religions, taboos, and all kinds of practices - but its core is hidden in unconscious values.”
The old anthropological notion of cultural relativism holds that “all cultures are valid,” and so no culture can necessarily be judged as “good” or “bad,” but simply as “different.” From this point of view, our perception of flaws in the Philippine culture that prevent the country from effectively developing and prospering is formed from erroneously comparing the culture to others – apples to oranges. The Filipinos who get hopping mad when Adam Carolla points out – crudely, but nonetheless accurately – certain cultural flaws, or who take to the streets to defend their table manners are (though they most likely don’t know it) expressing the relativist point of view. The problem with relativism, according to one of the idea’s most formidable critics, Professor Renato Rosaldo of Santa Clara University, is that “...the idea of separate but equal cultures no longer seems accurate. Cultures are not separate; they are not confined to their own individual museum cases. They exist side by side in the same space.”
Cultural definitions, therefore, are only relevant in terms of comparisons to different cultures. That is a bit of a problem as well; just as strict relativism is not a rational way to view culture, neither is its polar opposite, universalism – there is not, after all, such a thing as an “ideal” culture against which all others can be judged, yet cultural judgments are unavoidable. The culture examining itself must understand the components of the “recipe of attributes” that make it what it is, and which of those may be out of proportion to the others to cause the social ills it suffers. Externally, cultures must have a common framework with which to understand each others’ makeup so they can productively interact.
It is this latter requirement which led Hofstede to conceptualize his Cultural Dimensions in the mid-1970’s. Hofstede was the founder and first director of IBM’s Department of Personnel Research in Europe, and took a scholarly interest in how culture affected the workplace, in particular in the conduct of international business. His Cultural Dimensions framework, which evolved into its current form with the publication of his book Cultural Consequences in 2000, defines culture in terms of five dimensions:
Power Distance Index (PDI): The Power Distance Index is an expression of the degree to which the subordinate and less-powerful members of organizations and institutions (in any scale of social unit from the society as a whole to the family) in a culture accept that power is distributed unequally. It is in that sense a “bottom-up” definition of inequality – a description of how much inequality is endorsed by the “followers” rather than how much it is imposed by the “leaders.”
Individualism (IDV): Individualism has its opposite in collectivism, and describes the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. The description is inverse, of course; the higher the score for ‘individualism’, the less integrated and group-oriented the culture is. As Hofstede explains, “On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.” The word 'collectivism' in this usage is a social rather than a political description, although the two sometimes coexist (such as in China, for example).
Masculinity (MAS): Masculinity is a way in which to generalize gender roles in society. In Hofstede’s original studies he determined that women’s values differed much less than men’s values from one culture to another, and that men’s values in any particular culture could be described in terms of a point along a continuum from being very dominant, assertive, and competitive (very male, in other words) to being modest, caring, and nurturing (very female). The degree of Masculinity describes the distance of the culture as a whole from the very female end of the continuum; the higher the score, the more Masculine the culture is.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI): The Uncertainty Avoidance Index is a description of how strongly the culture seeks to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity; in Hofstede’s words, it “ultimately refers to man's search for Truth.” Another way to describe the Uncertainty Avoidance Index is as a degree to which a culture ‘programs’ its members to be uncomfortable in new or unstructured situations. For example, a culture with strong uncertainty avoidance tends to be one which is strongly religious, and adheres to a rigid body of laws, rules, and social conventions. In anthropological terms, high uncertainty avoidance is more universalist and intolerant, and low uncertainty avoidance, or the acceptance of a higher degree of uncertainty, is more relativist and tolerant.
Long-Term Orientation (LTO): Long-Term Orientation is a dimension that Hofstede added later to his framework, after he had included more Asian cultures to his studies. It is drawn from the Confucian philosophy, but is nevertheless applicable to cultures without a Confucian heritage; the easiest way to understand it is as a description of a culture’s perception of Virtue. As Hofstede explains, “Values associated with Long Term Orientation are thrift and perseverance; values associated with Short Term Orientation are respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'.” Although Hofstede himself doesn’t draw the conclusion, his data suggests that a Long-Term Orientation represents a more Eastern outlook, while Western cultures have a comparatively shorter-term orientation.
The application of the framework in business is obvious – as well it should be, since that is the use Hofstede originally intended for it. Understanding the differences between cultures is critical; an American businessman accustomed to the highly-individualized, short-term orientation of his own culture will be thoroughly stymied if he tries to rely on those modes of interaction with an Asian counterpart. Most good businessmen know this, of course, at least on an abstract level, but what the Cultural Dimensions framework provides is a consistent basis of comparison for all cultures so the degree of differences can be conceptualized, and specific behaviors identified with particular dimensions. The framework is universalist in the respect that it is intended as tool to help people of different cultures find common terms of reference, but relativist in the sense that there is no ‘baseline,’ or ideal from which the dimensions are expressions of a deviation. There is a “world average,” and a strict universalist might consider this a sort of ideal, but it is provided by Hofstede as a statistical comparison rather than as a suggestion of a ‘perfect’ culture.
Cultural Dimensions of the Philippines vs. the U.S., China, and the World Average
So How Does the Cultural Dimensions Framework Help the Philippines?
The Cultural Dimensions framework is an example of what J.M. Balkin in his book Cultural Software calls “toolmaking tool”: by itself it cannot be used to repair the specific behaviors and habits that represent cultural flaws, but it can be used to build the tools to do so. As a simple example, consider what the Cultural Dimensions framework reveals when applied to a cultural shortcoming – the Filipino lack of assertiveness – recently discussed by AntiPinoy writer BongV. Values of “amor propio” and “hiya” (protecting one’s ego and not offending that of others) can be attributed to the Philippine culture’s high Power Distribution Index – meaning that social inequality is accepted and expected by those in inferior social positions – and the notion of “pakikisama”, or conformity, can be traced to the culture’s low measure of Individuality. The convoluted social mechanism of “utang na loob”, reciprocity or social debt, is explained by the culture’s distinct Short-Term Orientation – the respect for tradition, social obligations, and maintaining “face”. Thus the dysfunction is not caused by “lack of assertiveness,” or the behaviors it encourages, but by the core orientations of the culture – in Balkin-esque terms, not the programs or the output, but in the very operating system of the culture.
That may be an uncomfortable notion for some to accept. After all, if the fundamental dimensions of what makes the culture “Filipino” are changed, the result may likely be something which is “no longer Filipino.” Unfortunately, there is no comfort that can be offered on that account. Cultures do change; the ones that are successful are those that are able to periodically redefine themselves. At the very least, the Cultural Dimensions offer the Philippines a starting point, and a definition to change – all the people need to find is a reason and the courage to do so.
Balkin, J.M. (1998) Cultural Software. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Hofstede, Geert. (2001) Cultural Consequences, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Rosaldo, Renato. (2000) “Of Headhunters and Soldiers: Separating Cultural and Ethical Relativism”. Issues in Ethics, Vol. 11, No. 1.
On Thu, May 20, 2010 at 6:20 PM, Mr Zed
It is with much regret that I find it necessary to comment on the subject and in the way that I will:
Mr. Chito Collantes is what no Knight of Rizal should ever be. He singlehandedly destroyed not only the erstwhile repectable Canada Region but the very name of our noble hero Rizal. It goes back to 2005.
Two years ago I started to write a book on the travails of the whole 'Order' (in Manila, Europe and Canada), analyzing the problems and their causes but decided to put it on hold for the stress was just too much for my literally ailing heart. If I may say so, documentary evidence against this person is voluminous indeed. The same is true, by the way, with regards to similar issues (legal and all) against Lino Paras of Europe. It so happens that both individuals are close 'allies/friends'(?) of Quiambao who himself is identified as the major culprit in Manila.
What makes the whole episode truly sad is that the leadership in Bonifacio Drive is keenly aware of the facts regarding the issues with Collantes and Paras but they don't seem to care.
Looking at the pathetic political games people in the Philippines play, I have since stopped wondering why those folks at the KoR International Headquarters and their lackeys elsewhere behave the way the do. They mirror the ills of the country.
Lazir was also not personal, but he exposed Quiambao as TOO CLOSE with Paras & Collantes to really heal the ROT within, supported by Esguerra & Samuela, who then summarily & illegally expelled Lazir, naming the charges "bringing SHAME" to the KOR when what Lazir started to do began in 2006/2007! Fact is, Quiambao has been bringing SHAME to the KOR way back 1999/2000 (Missing Mushake Donation as then Supreme Commander!), April 2003 (Quiambao exalted Paras to KGOR in Florida for nothing!?), and similar things. Samuela wrote the KOR IHQ decision, what a fake! hehehe
As if Lazir will be negatively affected by such an expulsion?
It's like Hitler telling the US that the latter is expelled (per Hitler's decision), from the United Nations!
Those who care for the good name of Dr Jose Rizal should vote only for persons of Integrity, NOT Quiambao's favorites!
-happy Filipino Knight who sticks to his guns, character, integrity...with total PRIDE!
-brings SHAME to the FAKES!
Honorable Sirs, Brothers All:
Manila Convention is May 30. Issues as serious as these should be raised and addressed there. Similarly, the 3rd USA Regional Assembly will also be held in September. We should not pretend that situations like these are none existent.
*Without getting personal -- but on the basis of Rizalian principles of honor, dignity and integrity -- these issues should be addressed, or we risk having the Order rot from within.*
Written by Dr. Pablo S. Trillana III / Special to the BusinessMirror
Saturday, 19 June 2010 18:10
(Dr. Trillana is Supreme Commander of the Order of the Knights of Rizal and former head of the National Historical Institute)
On June 19, 2010, the nation marks the 149th birth anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Eleven days after that, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will take his oath as the 15th President of the Republic.
Rizal never held any office even remotely comparable to the presidency conferred by the Filipino people on Aquino. But the latter can learn a thing or two about leadership from Rizal.
Rizal’s life as an exile in Dapitan offers proof of his capability as a leader.
Immediately after he returned to the Philippines on June 26, 1892, Rizal was charged with smuggling antifriar leaflets. Within three weeks, without the benefit of a trial, he was shipped out to Dapitan. He arrived in that lonely Mindanao outpost, “the edge of nowhere,” as the writer Leon Ma. Guerrero described it, on July 17, 1892, and stayed there until July 31, 1896.
Before the Dapitan interlude, Rizal’s two incendiary novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, written and published in Europe, had made waves in the Philippines, opening the eyes of Filipinos to their dismal condition and pushing them to rally around Rizal as their redeemer.
The increasingly restive natives alarmed the colonial government. The latter would have been more alarmed had they discovered that on July 3, 1892, Rizal founded the La Liga Filipina, a sub-rosa organization whose aim was to establish an ideal society, whose members were pledged “to mutual protection against any adversity, to provide defense against violence and injustice, to stimulate education, agriculture and commerce, to study and apply reforms.…”
To nip subversion in the bud, Governor General Eulogio Despujol banished Rizal as far away as possible from the political vortex in Manila. Isolation, he figured, would break Rizal’s spirit and eventually render him irrelevant. Filipinos would forget him.
Despujol misjudged Rizal. Instead of rotting into oblivion, Rizal flourished. In Dapitan he found not a hermitage but a fount for creating social change.
Losing no time to plunge into action, Rizal talked his commandant-warden, Ricardo Carnicero, into granting him freedom of movement. In return, he promised not to escape. He kept his word, despite tempting offers from fellow patriots in Manila to bolt him out of “prison.”
As Rizal gradually established himself in his new environment, he put up a school for boys that became his laboratory for molding the “whole man.” Besides the basic subjects of reading, writing, mathematics, Spanish and English, he taught his pupils boxing, swimming, fencing and sailing. Agriculture and community work were part of his curriculum, as well as lessons that could be imparted only by real-life experiences.
Often, he took his wards on perilous field trips to test their mettle. Rizal’s whole man must not only be mentally and physically fit, he must also have the bravura to cope with the unpredictable world outside the classroom where intelligence was needed most.
Rizal also built a hospital that served a stream of patients. He earned good fees from the wealthy but treated the poor gratis. He continued to write poetry, sketch and sculpt. At the urging of Ferdinand Blumentritt, his Austrian friend, he worked on a Tagalog grammar and learned Visayan.
Fr. Pablo Pastells, then the Superior of the Jesuits in the Philippines, began a lengthy correspondence with Rizal in the hope of saving the brilliant Ateneo alumnus from his “shipwreck of faith.” Rizal obliged with an epistolary debate, substantiating his arguments with the writings of philosophers and historians whom he quoted from memory, because he had no access to a library.
Rizal was also in touch with leading ethnologists, botanists and zoologists in Europe, to whom he sent specimens of unusual plants and insects and sketches of unfamiliar animals, flowers and shells found in Dapitan. As a result of this exchange, a frog, a beetle and a lizard were named after him.
Rizal also engaged in the copra and hemp business. He formed a cooperative to help break the Chinese trade monopoly in Dapitan. He helped fishermen increase their catch by teaching them scientific fishing methods. He built Dapitan’s first water system, lit its streets, drained its marshes to prevent malaria and beautified its plaza.
He even played lotto and won, investing his winnings in a sizable farm in Talisay, a seaside barrio, which he turned into a working plantation.
Rizal’s removal from the mainstream, however, was not enough for his enemies who wanted him dead. In the last months of 1893, a certain Pablo Mercado introduced himself to Rizal as a relative and tried to worm his way into the hero’s confidence. Suspicious, Rizal reported the matter to his commandant-warden. On investigation the impostor turned out to be Florencio Namanan, who had been paid by the friars to obtain incriminating evidence against Rizal. Florencio was forthwith kicked out of Dapitan.
Several times during his exile, Rizal demanded that he be brought to trial and face judgment. Otherwise, if there were no further reasons for his exile, he asked to be set free. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
In February 1895 Rizal met the 18-year-old Josephine Bracken, the adopted daughter of one of his patients. The two fell in love, but were forbidden to marry in church unless Rizal “retracted his religious errors,” specifically his embrace of freemasonry. Instead of bowing to the clergy, Rizal chose to live with Josephine as his wife, believing there was no impediment to their union before the eyes of God.
In June 1896 Rizal was visited by Pio Valenzuela, Bonifacio’s emissary, who informed him about the Katipunan and the imminence of revolution. Rizal refused to endorse Bonifacio’s plans for an armed struggle because they appeared fatally inadequate, though he suggested revolutionary tactics that might help the Katipunan.
All told, Dapitan showed a facet of Rizal’s that is often overlooked because of his larger-than-life image as idealist-martyr: his down-to-earth notion of social change. So even as he aimed for the stars, his feet were firmly planted on the ground.
In transforming backward Dapitan into a progressive community, Rizal demonstrated that he had a full grasp of the demands of development, such as education, health services, infrastructure, livelihood, agriculture, security, and the many other factors that empower people to live a better life. Without patronage, without resorting to bribery or any shady arrangement, without the authority invested by high position, Rizal created a model community, a microcosm of what the Philippines could become given a leadership that cared for it, exactly as he had envisioned in La Liga Filipina.
Aquino can have no better mentor as he begins to govern a nation so hungry for a leader who treads the high ground but, at the same time, can translate his idealism into reality.