Here it is folks. Wrap your brain around it. The single fundamental line of reasoning as to why the Philippines is no longer the Pearl of the Orient, the Heart of Asia, the Pacific Center of Commerce, a Tourist Eden, the Garden of the Gods. Why it is a corrupt, polluted, underdeveloped, disharmonious place that lags other countries that started with the same underdeveloped footing.
The logic spewed unerringly from my Chinese made keyboard the other day as I was festering a different blog on America. My keyboard wrote:
If the Philippines struggles, I want to know what is the heritage that has produced the culture that allows the struggle to persist without solution. The answer is feudal thinking and abandonment of individual initiative to authority, where authority is extraordinarily self-serving. From that derives the need to raise one's self esteem by tearing down those who are successful. From that derives a whole nation that opposes success.
Filipinos have been under someone's thumb for so long - a colonizer, an occupier, a dictator, a warlord, a rich land baron - that it is impossible for them, as essentially subservient people, to push forward under a strong sense of independent achievement. It is hard to be optimistic or take risks or be considerate of others when you feel you have nothing yourself and will be penalized if you step out or speak up. If someone nearby succeeds, it engenders feelings of envy and stirs up efforts to denigrate that person and bring him back down to a level field of ineffectual inertia.
America worships achievement. It's heroes are those who are successful. Steve Jobs. People praise them, seek to emulate them, not condemn then. From that emerges an entire nation driving to do better, to grow, to innovate, to compete, to win. To make profits and live well. The nation makes sure its citizens have a voice, through the media, through the courts, through right of expression.
The Philippines is the opposite. Success breeds jealousy. Opposition. Condemnation.
It pushes down.
Authority breeds closure and preservation of power. It shuts the doors to challenge and reserves the power to bring change (or, more accurately, to enforce the status quo) for a few powerful businessmen.
The courts do not let the people be heard. Fees block the poor. A backlog of cases allows evidence to go stand for years and go stale. Corruption lets the well-to-do buy justice. There is a reason Kris Aquino has no problem getting an annulment while common women, trapped in abusive relationships, are held in battered bondage.
Ambition is a dirty word. To aspire is to be seen as wanting to become one of those egotistical, oppressive jerks who have the power to lord it over the powerless. It is frowned upon. Carry a book and you will be called a "librarian" because it diminishes you. One of the most important qualities of a successful advanced society - reading - is condemned by those who are jealous of someone who likes knowledge.
Many parents would rather see their kids drop out of school than become more successful than they are. Their kids' success would confirm that they have lived their lives being less than they should have been.
That is brutal stuff, to think of oneself so poorly that the primary motivation is to prove that the OTHER GUY is the failure. Point out the flaws. Insult his upbringing. Ridicule his failings. Undermine his success if possible.
The dynamic is quite amazing, eh?
The drive to fail.
Perfected in the Philippines.
The way to correct this, of course, is to build success into the framework. See it, praise it, put it in the education system (to aspire rather than simply to be obedient), end favoritism in hiring and promoting that suppresses ambition. Open up more opportunities for people to grow and succeed. (Winning on Showtime is not succeeding, by the way.)
I fear that no one sees the problem. They are AFRAID to see it, afraid to SAY it, for admitting it would mean that all they have stood for is wrong-headed. And it would bring a great deal of criticism from the proud and the insecure.
It is easier to blame the colonizers (who left over 60 years ago), or the President who always seems to run things more poorly than the Jesus Christ he is expected to be. Or the weather. Or the oligarchs. Or the beast "corruption", which is nothing more than successful achievement in a society whose read-out of right and wrong is upside down.
So how in God's grand delight is anyone going to inspire productive zeal hereabouts?
The whole social climate oppresses. It does not inspire.