This blog has become stuck. I find myself going over the same tracks regarding Philippine culture. It is a limit of my ambition, I suppose, that I don't dig into new topics. There are several good sites that monitor important subjects such as the impeachment trial that do a better job of providing information than my factless opinion-mongering does.
My main interest is to understand the core Filipino values that generate the very different culture into which I have waded, for good and bad. I'm more interested in the framework, the social infrastructure, than the detailed acts carried out within that framework. Although some of those are juicy indeed.
I've got that framework sorted out fairly well, I think: poverty, a fundamental insecurity that shows up to make almost every interpersonal engagement a power contest, a lot of thinking that is isolated from context and veers off to dysfunction, and what I would term relentlessly inconsiderate and therefore non-productive actions. Filipinos make choices I would not make, but that is their prerogative. Like giving the Catholic Church so much power while letting the Church deny any responsibility for anything.
If I were to have a super-human power to impose three changes on Philippine society, I would impose the following:
- A revamping of public education, making it internet based, to free kids from the constraints of a stale program that is more focused on hollowblocks than generating a globally competitive caliber of students who are smart, psychologically healthy, and ambitious. Today, intelligent kids are dumbed down (45 kids per classroom) and opportunity is ripped from their lives; vibrant thinking and the joys of ambition are suppressed under an unimaginative, authoritarian model of instruction. It's tragic. Kids are precious but are treated here as if they were too much trouble.
- A revamping of the Judiciary to make it free to every Filipino, focused on quick action as a condition of being fair; efficient of process; and objective and scholarly in its rendering of law. Judges should be rated and paid according to specific metrics of quantity and quality of judicial output. Class-action lawsuits should be welcomed as a robust and legitimate legal processes. Open, fair and efficient courts would give the people an avenue for progressive action. They would not have to rely on a stuck-in-the-mud Legislature that benefits from keeping things the same.
- Actions from the Office of the President and Legislature that show they understand that the Philippines cannot compete globally as long as social mechanisms are hung up on a system of favors instead of competence. This "trade of favors" is the biggest, fattest, ugliest albatross in the world, holding the Philippines back from emergence as a wealthy economy. Favoritism can be broken down by enacting measures such as a fair employment law that bans hiring and promoting on ANY basis but qualification to do the job better than any other person. And continuing the anti-corruption effort.
I'm not sure who is in charge of socialization(personal interactions), so I don't have many idea about changes in that area. The popular media, I suppose. And schools could, but they evidently don't see that as a charter. Filipinos need the courage to recognize failure when it occurs -- looking earnestly for the reason WHY rather than whipping a scapegoat and thereby figuring the problem is solved -- and an ability to accomplish things without the kind of gloating that paints trees bright red. Actions, like trees, should represent themselves. I'm not a shrink, but I am reasonably sure that the psychological underpinnings of too many behaviors in the Philippines are unhealthy. There are too many blames, too many excuses, too much snarling and obedience (depending on which side of the power line you fall), too much associative pride, and too many hidden agendas.
Man, just stand up, and own up . . .
Overall, the nation's laws are good, but enforcement is really shitty. It would be wise to work purposefully to instill the kind of responsible, disciplined, considerate, modern behavior you see from overseas Filipinos, but not at home. This requires that officials hold people to account when they misbehave.
Fundamentally, I think people in power (old rich people) don't want to change all that much, either because they lack vision and aptitude to build things, or because they are risk averse. The main hope for improved social awareness and developmental progress rests with the blogging and social networking community as it engages in self-discovery and pressures the power people into working harder for the betterment of the Philippines. Mainstream media are starting to pick up ideas from the on-line community, so perhaps constructive thinking will percolate up and spread, and all the dysfunctional, nonsensical, inconsiderate, illegal stuff will stop.
I hope so.
Catch you later.