This morning in my half-sleep whilst sipping my strong Philippine coffee, Seven Flavors, if I get the translation correct, it struck me that I somehow feel more secure in the Philippines this year. It is nothing tangible, really. It is just a sense that the government is honorable rather than ruthless. It may not be competent, always. Who is? But it is not totalitarian and manipulative in the guise of sweet concern for the public, the sense I had of things under President Arroyo.
I also think President Aquino generally thinks about the well-being of the Philippines first, and his own gains second. That, too, is a reversal. It is inconsistent with how so many think here, where self-gain is all that matters. Principles like honor and integrity and compassion and generosity hold little stock. The "trade of favors" that underlies corruption in the Philippines is deeply and broadly rooted, and is essentially the foundation of self-dealing that undermines high-standing principles.
My wife and I were driving along a narrow road; we came upon a crowd of motorcycles, the owners of which were gathered at a cock-fight about 25 paces away. One of the motorcycles was parked in the road, blocking it. I honked. No one responded. My wife got out to try to get the attention of the owner. 50 guys turned and looked and someone told told her to move the motorbike. She is 4'9" and the bike was big, but she struggled to get it out of the road. Not one guy was gentleman enough to step over to help.
It is a frame of mind. You think of helping others, or you don't . . .